GUNBY BLOG - A New Landscape
I’ve started work on the next piece - one of the main pictures inspired by Gunby Hall that I’ll be showing at the exhibition at the Orchard Gallery there in August. It’s based on the parkland at Gunby and the glorious trees that punctuate the landscape there. It’s taken me quite a few weeks to actually start embroidering this piece as I’ve been feeling more than a bit anxious about tackling it. I’ve spent weeks drawing sketches, enlarging photographs to look at details and having a practice at a smaller scale version. Well, I’ve plunged right in now and am making steady progress. The landscapes I usually embroider, although based on actual scenes, are very much my own interpretation and I decide exactly where the trees go, the shape of the fields, the lie of the land. When you are depicting an actual landscape, one which you need to be recognisable, a different creative process needs to be employed. Instead of an instinctive, free-flowing process, it needs to be a process of planning and detailed observation without copying. I don’t think that there is any point in reproducing a scene as though it were a photograph because that doesn’t leave room for any emotional response to what you are seeing. Everything in the scene will have equal importance - there is room for interpretation and a descriptive process, but it needs to be more in a context of a recognisable landscape - I can’t really rearrange the trees to be more aesthetically pleasing, but instead choose which trees to concentrate the viewers attention on. It’s been interesting working in this different way, and to be honest, I have spent quite a while doubting that I was up to the job!
After some initial sketches, I then planned which threads colours I would need and how to create the feeling of perspective by using different tones of grey, white and black. I started stitching with the line of trees that marks the horizon and then planned the scale of all the sizes of all the trees. When you’re stitching onto wool felt, it’s time consuming and not always possible to unstitch mistakes, so getting it right first time is always my aim. However, this can add a level of stress to every stitch you make. To help me plan the landscape more easily and put the trees in the right places to make the perspective work, I cut out rough sketches of the main trees on tracing paper that I could move around and pin on to the felt. It’s very easy with stitched work for things to end up in a different place or be bigger or smaller than you intended because, unlike painting or drawing, you’re continually moving your artwork around on the sewing machine to create the stitches.
I then continued adding trees in layers using different shades of grey and black to give a sense of depth and aerial perspective.
I continued in this way until I was able to add in the fence in the foreground that separates the formal gardens from the landscape beyond. I have also now produced a smaller landscape based on the grounds at Gunby Hall as well.
If all goes well, I should be producing a limited edition print version of these pictures as well.
Look out for the finished pieces this August as part of the Collected, Captured, Cast Exhibition at Gunby Hall and Gardens (National Trust) near Spilsby in Lincolnshire.