My town, Moretonhampstead, has a fantastic new resource for artists and art lovers.  Green Hill Arts has a fabulous ground floor gallery and upstairs, low cost studios to let.

The first art exhibition, The First Show, was open to works in all media – 2D, 3D, projection, performance, installation from local artists.  I submitted three of my art quilts, and it was great to go and see the diversity of work produced by my fellow artists.

A selection panel, made up of three artists from outside the town, then selected works from the First Show for the Local Open which runs from Saturday 25th February 2012 to Sunday 12th March 2012. Apparently this excited controversy amongst some people.  I knew about the selection from the start and thought ‘What the hay?  Whether or not my work makes the second cut, I’m going to take the opportunity to show it.’

I normally show my work at quilt shows (the obvious venue) though I tend to go for the ones which focus on fibre art and contemporary quilts.  I usually submit something to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.  It’s a shoo in, but that’s no reflection on the overall quality of works submitted.  I’ve also started to enter juried shows, which catch my fancy.  I was thrilled when ‘Winter Trees Wept‘ was accepted into Sacred Threads in the US last year.  I’ve entered Suncast Shadows into a juried European show and will find out if it’s been selected sometime next month.  It feels important to me, as an artist to stretch my exhibition opportunities and to put my work on the line in a submission to a juried show.  While it is no reflection on my work, or how satisfied I am with a piece, it does give me a thrill when my work is chosen by a more or less objective third person to hang in an exhibit.  It’s one thing that my famly and friends love my work and support me as an artist, but it somehow elevates my professional/artistic stature to be selected.  It’s like when a stranger buys a piece of my art work.  It shows that my work stands apart from me.

My work standing apart from me.  That feels important.  Otherwise my ego gets all caught up in my work and I’m afraid to show it, or become overly sensitive to criticism.  I read a biography of the photographer Diane Arbus recently.  The biggest thing I took away from it was a recollection from one of her photography students.  Diane said (and I paraphrase) ‘Don’t expect other people to love your work as much as you do’.  But it’s wonderful when they do, or better yet, love it in a different way than you intended.

Anyhow, two of my art quilts have been selected to be in the Local Open.  I was very, very pleased when I heard the news.  Also very pleased that my work was chosen for a mainstream art show.  There’s been a long history of quilts and textile-based art being viewed as ‘women’s work’ and perhaps not taken as seriously as painting, sculpture and work in more ‘familiar’ media. The other thing is that when I decided to move to Devon from Scotland six years ago, it was to immerse myself in the rich brew of artists and craftspeople in the West Country.  It feels great to be making a name for myself and standing out among such a fertile population of creative folk.

There was a private view on Friday 24th February and I handed Steve the Canon.  He took some great photos.

Artists Dan Shread, Melinda Schwakhofer & Alan Bennett

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