N A R R A T I O N S & F A B R I C A T I O N S


    I've recently been stitching wall hangings. Large appliquéd cloths containing quotes. My current work-in-progress has seventy words totalling 457 letters. Each character has been scaled up, traced in reverse, fused to fabric, and then individually cut out with a scalpel. Each word has been ironed to a contrasting fabric strip, backed with a stabliser, stitched, stablising layer removed (in fragments), before being finally measured, re-fused and applied to the background cloth for final stitching.

    Seventy hours and over 1000 metres of thread - so far. It has been labourious and I have become obsessed totting up hours and quantities. The repetitive nature of the different stages has obviously given me too much time to think. Could I have bypassed an element here or there? Would it be more efficient doing it this way rather than that? Making samples at each stage has afforded me choices, but there have been no short cuts.

    Perfectionism can be a crippling trait, and many of my friends (fellow creatives) are the same. We are hard taskmasters, particularly on ourselves, so it can be extremely helpful when someone - whose standards of perfection you trust - says 'Enough!'

    I regularly need to remind myself of the happy accidents that have led me to produce unexpected and joyous results. Random elements within planned work such as the initially patchy transfer printing in my Borders and Boundaries wall hangings that led to me replicate the 'error' throughout the series. I almost always embrace these chance mistakes since their very randomness in my otherwise ordered planning excites me.

    And yet I adore imperfection in things beyond my control, such as the peeling painted doorway (tessellated, above) that reveals decades of layers beneath, and of course, the wonder of imperfect beauty found within the natural world, which forces you to stop and question what you are actually striving for.


    London Group Open 2017 (Part 2)

    Wednesday 22 November - Saturday 1 December

    The Cello Factory, 33-34 Cornwall Road, Waterloo, London SE1 8TJ

    [see link for opening times & related events]

    Winter Open Studios

    Thursday 23rd November (6-9pm)

    Friday 24th / Saturday 25th / Sunday 26th November (11am-6pm)

    Cockpit Arts, Cockpit Yard,

    Northington Street,

    London, WC1N 2NP


    On being invited to participate in a forthcoming exhibition of surrealist work, I decided to revisit a piece I'd long since packaged away.

    The idea to tip each finger of a pair of long leather evening gloves with a thimble had come to me in a dream. Feeling that the unconscious fusion of the two held a greater meaning than both being a form of protection, I spent several hours contemplating the significance.

    The Latin name for foxgloves, digitalis, means ‘relating to the finger’, while in German it is called Fingerhut - thimble - or literally finger hat. Fingertipped... Thumbells... Thimblerigger (a swindler)... Glove compartments... Pins and needles... Lady’s fingers...

    When I'd finished, I consulted a dream analysis website:

    GLOVES: "Consider the phrase ‘handle with kid gloves’ and how you may need to be more cautious in some situation. Or perhaps you are overly cautious. Alternatively, wearing gloves may mean that your creative abilities are still latent."

    THIMBLE: "To use a thimble in your dream indicates that you need to tend to the needs of others instead of pursuing your own self-pleasures." (Tenfold?)

    GLUE: "To dream that you are gluing something together suggests that you are piecing together aspects of yourself and acknowledging those previously rejected parts. On the flip side, you may be too clingy…"

    The thimbled gloves still reside in their box, and I submitted three other pieces for the exhibition.


    8 August - 3 September 2017

    at Hastings Arts Forum

    Curated by Jo Welsh, with work by Brian Catling RA, Gus Cummins RA, Kathleen Fox, Jane Hoodless, Antony Penrose, Katherine Reekie, Jo Redpath, Tim Riddihough, Mick Rooney RA, Jacob Welsh.



    Amid the thimbles, gloves, ebony and hair, I continue to work on my bio-medical project and, though it is still underwraps, I am pleased to announce that I have recently joined forces with curator Liz Cooper. Together we challenge each other, ourselves - and the topic in hand…


    My only encounter with a Death's-head hawkmoth was in Kensal Green Cemetery, on the grave of the nineteenth century 'Colossus of Equestrians', Andrew Ducrow. His Greco-Egyptian mausoleum is - as you would expect of a circus performer - large and impressive, just like the moth.

    Moths fascinate and repel me in equal measure. I may even be Mottephobic, such is their affect, but that day, standing beneath the shadowy trees, barely breathing, the sight of this largest of British moths (it has a 12cm wingspan) was extraordinary and memorable.

    The Death's-head hawkmoth has a sinister reputation, doubtless due to the skull motif on its thorax that gives it its moniker. The Latin names of its sub-species: 'atropos', 'lachesis' and 'styx' are taken from Greek myth and all relate to death. These are brazen moths that raid beehives for honey undisturbed due to their ability to mimic the scent of bees, and if irritated in the world beyond, will produce loud, mouse-like squeaks.

    The Victorian entomologist Edward Newman wrote: "…let the cause of the noise be what it may, the effect is to produce the most superstitious feelings among the uneducated, by whom it is always regarded with feelings of awe and terror."

    Its literary associations with the supernatural and evil have indeed fostered superstitious fear and bad omens. The species unsurprisingly features in 'Dracula', as well as works by Poe, Hardy and Keats, and is cinematically recorded in 'Un Chien Andalou' and 'The Silence of The Lambs'.

    There is even a specimen in the Museum of Zoology at Cambridge, retrieved from the bedroom of George III by his physician during the monarch's second bout of 'madness' in 1801. Though I don't know which is the more intriguing; the eerie insect or the story of its regal provenance…

    All of this caused me to return to my box of human hair, which en masse shares a tonal colour palette with the Death's-head hawkmoth, yet never seems to diminish. The ever-lasting - mothproof - properties of the medium (and wanting create something substantial to make a dent in its content) made hair the appropriate choice to capture a Death's-head hawkmoth, albeit one ten times its size.

    This work will be on display in my studio alongside other new pieces during Cockpit Arts Open Studios from 9 to 11 June 2017 - should you wish to see it in the flesh…

    Opening times:

    Friday 5 - 9pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am - 6pm

    Cockpit Yard, Northington St, London WC1N 2NP

    Main image: Igor Siwanowicz


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Artist Jane Hoodless presents a personal glimpse at some criminal, cultural and curious aspects of British social history, and shares a little of the inspiration and research behind the work she creates.

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