The Women’s Arts Association opted for some imaginative fun in their autumn show. “Picking Up The Thread” is on show at Butetown History & Arts Centre on Bute Street until November 29th. The theme is fibre and the interpretation has a wide range. Each Women’s Arts member was to bring a guest or heirloom, and there are over 50 pieces to see.
The images on the poster are by Sonja Benskin Mesher. In the cabinet are sculptor Dilys Jackson’s cloth doll and clothes which she made while ill aged 13, and a sampler of tatting (a form of lace-making) by Amy Trout. Dilys writes that “She worked for Vickers Aircraft Co [applying as A Trout ie they thought she was a man] and then was appointed Lecturer in Aeronautical Engineering at Southampton University. She was an Esperantist and a Horticulturalist.” The tatting is lovely too.
On the wall above the cabinet are the framed cross-stitch by Jacqueline Alkema‘s mother which she designed herself from a corner of her garden. Jacqueline – better known as a painter – has added fibre in her piece “Sleeping beauty woke up” including a scary needle.
These are Sonja’s “so do i” and her guest Ann Conway’s exquisite sheep. Judy Stephens – a brilliant quilter – has a broken shoulder but still sent “On the Edge”, which is above Shirley Ann Owen’s “In Expectation” with painted knitting.
Aida Garton’s wall hanging “Afon Morlais” is near to Sian Barlow’s silk screen print “Seedlings”: Sian is Rebecca Croxford’s guest and has just completed her Access course at Carmarthen College of Art. Other guests are friends and wives of the members.
I wasn’t sure about entering a silly horse picture which I called “Rugs” (something horses need in winter). Kay Keogh (who framed it for me and has her own piece, “Stiff Dress” on show) likes this, but calls it “Flasher” and the horse does look a bit startled. My heirloom is a pair of satin hand-sewn knickers from the 30s made by my grandmother, aunt or mother – they all sewed.
Rebecca Croxford’s satirical dolls “Boy in Da Corner” are great. Here are some in a box, next to Caryl Roese’s “Casgliad Cerrig” (Collection of Stones). In the background are Dinah Guilfoyle’s grandmother’s muff and her own piece, “My Lady Garden”. Dinah also brought her great-grandmother Fanny Jones’ christening gown, which is exhibited in a case above Claudia Carillo’s tree wrap with its Xmas trees and foxes.
Jenni Steele sent a video “Memory Drawer” of the artist showing a friend some treasured clothes folded away in a drawer. Next to the screen is a suitcase, Aida Garton’s mother’s “all that remains of all that she made for us” tin button box with a coleen on a map of Ireland on it, buttons”.
Gwyn Price’s “Twine” combines wood and felt ropes. On the chair are Heather Small’s “Tree of Life”, a hand made and painted silk cushion, resting on Julie Ann Pritchard’s Irish table cloth of linen and crochet edges from her paternal grandmother.
Julie, a poet who leads guided walks in the Valleys, gave a powerful performance at the exhibition opening (left). Women’s Arts earlier elected their new Chair, Patricia Ziad, at the AGM – I am delighted to have passed the Chair into excellent hands.