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courses offering unique learning opportunities for all, delivered by highly renowned 

Moor Hall Farmhouse 
Bettws-y-crwyn, Newcastle on Clun
Shropshire, SY7 8PH 
01547 510664


Last month we heard from 3 tutors that should have been teaching here at Moor Hall, which I thought was a lovely gesture from them and I am sure you all did too.

This month I have 4 more tutors writing to you. As you can imagine they all miss being here and miss sharing their creativity with you and seeing all the fabulous results, but they will be back.

Meanwhile I do hope you are all coping as best as you can and trying to be involved in the numerous on-line projects now available. It is not my preferred way of working I must admit, but I have been absolutely thrilled with the images the on-line students have been sending me with the projects that I have been offering. And what lovely comments I have been getting too. I will post a few images at the end of this newsletter.

But first I will hand over to four wonderful tutors who we all will sorely missed next month, but will hopefully be back in the Autumn.

We have Ruth Issett, Amanda Clayton, Dorothy Tucker and Matthew Harris who are all popping by to say hello with these personal messages.
16/17 September, 28/29 October, 2/3 December

Message from Ruth

An Observation or Just Observing....
Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn, and this spring has certainly has not been as any of us expected. Planned teaching was cancelled and even worse we have been confined to our homes. After initial frantic activity, I began to adjust and a new work pattern emerged. 

I found I needed a regular programme to my day and setting myself some targets. So we've walked daily through the deserted countryside near our home, a walk by the river and another up through the meadows and woods behind the house. I have particularly enjoyed observing the subtle colour changes in the hedgerows, verges and trees. Daily more wild flowers have appeared, first banks of pale yellow Primroses, followed by Forget Me Knots, then small bright Violets only visible when walking, peaking out from amongst fresh green foliage. Under the trees there have been drifts of white Wood Anemones, in the fields little yellow Celandine that have been followed by bold Dandelions. In the shady woods carpets of bluebells have emerged and then the occasional bright pink of a red Campion.

Back in the studio I have been putting together collections of colour. For many years I have been exploring the range of colour achieved when dyeing various weaves and fibres together. The fascination of mixing transparent colour and dyeing gives me such a buzz I have tried to make colour collections, such as acid yellows, responding to fields of oil seed rape and now I have to explore blues and violets! Throughout the winter I have been sorting through my dyed fabrics and made a number of specific collections. Gradually they are being converted into stitched and layered pieces of work. As I alter the proportions, play with the fabric edges I am building new selections, mixing colours again and stitching them together.

So the daily walk has made me look again at colour combinations, to observe the power of one colour over another and to try to use this in my work. Where is all this going? Along with my friend Dorothy Tucker, I am working towards some joint exhibitions called Colour Conversations, hopefully this coming autumn at the Knitting and Stitching Shows and then next May at the Museum in the Park in Stroud. So the days go quickly in a cloud of colour, sorting fabrics, arranging colourful collections and exploring how colours change when layered and stitched together.

Ruth Issett
May 2020

Rescheduled for 23/24/25 November
(However places will be offered to students down to attend 2/3/4 September in the first instance should that course not run......such uncertain times!!!!)

Message from Mandy

Creativity comes in many guises and actually after a shaky start to the lockdown I am now enjoying the challenges that this time is bringing. For some of us it may seem like the first time in your life that you do not have a deadline of some kind imposed by someone else. This is giving me headspace to put my own home and studio in order so that I can come out of this situation in a much stronger place physically, emotionally and creatively.

So what have I been up to and how does it link to Moor Hall? Well I am going through my home/studio and finding what is useful and superfluous to needs. Beautiful small collections are appearing from junk piles in the studio....you know all those items that you keep for a rainy day!

These are forming the basis for my 'Piecing, Patching and Pockets' course that will come soon. A much loved collection in a matchbox is developing into placements and arrangements that can be used as inspirations or stitched into pieces; as is more newly formulated bits and bobs that are becoming more precious in a different context.

I am looking forward to seeing students that I have met before and new ones too as we begin to enjoy working with others again in the brilliant atmosphere and location that Bobby generously shares with us. I wonder what lovely things you will bring with you in your little box?

Amanda Clayton
May 2020

Rescheduled for 19/20 October 2020

Message from Dorothy

I am so sorry that Outlining and Quilting on 8/9 June has had to be cancelled. I will miss being with you, Bobby and Martin in the sumptuously green and beautiful surroundings of Moor Hall this summer.
In February, before the Coronavirus took hold in the UK, I was in India on a tour arranged by Polly Woolstone and Julia Oxlade to see textiles in Odisha and West Bengal, particularly kantha. In Kolkata this included visiting the Gurusaday Museum's wonderful collection of old traditional kantha, some between 125 - 130 years old. 

I anticipated that any modern kantha we came across would probably be stitched on a commercial basis or project managed. 

A one-day workshop with a group of women in a community centre in Bolpur Manab Jamin, Stantineketan was immensely informative but it confirmed what I had expected: The designs were marked out onto a single layer of brightly coloured cloth using perforated tracings from a repertoire of set motifs. I knew that any family heirlooms kantha resembling the stitched layers of white muslin I wanted to find were likely to be carefully stored away at home. With this in mind I prepared a small kantha to take with me which given the right time and place I thought might attract some interest, even perhaps draw out a treasured gem. 

My plan worked! During the workshop, on seeing my kantha, a lady went off and came back, her granddaughter in tow as our interpreter, with two lovely old pieces to show us. (Images 6 -7 )

Everyone joined in with the lively conversations that followed. We all welled up, it was so moving. The following day we were invited to visit women's village, and another two surprisingly colourful kantha were proudly brought out for us to see. (Images 8 - 9 ) 

Spotting a roughly stitched patched and pieced mat hung on a washing line in another village us led to us handling a softly textured predominantly white bed quilt.  

I made the kantha I took with me by folding a piece of fine plain white cotton four times into a stack about A3 in size. To secure the layers together I turned in the raw edges and worked a line of running stitch around all four sides. I then drew some circles in the middle with a sharp pencil and stitched around each circle. I cut some coloured threads into sewing lengths, selected several needles, and packed these into a small bag along with my scissors, a thimble, a pencil and note book.
Once I was in India I looked for possible objects to include on the kantha, and as I travelled I began to draw and stitch just the simplest of outlines of some these onto the cloth. During the lockdown I have taken up stitching the kantha again which is both calming and absorbing. Having completed the outlining the objects I am now quilting the remaining spaces.

Many friends have said that they have been discovering their immediate surroundings and seeing things in much more detail. Our homes are filled with potentially interesting objects. Some these could be drawn in very simple outlines just for the record or perhaps in preparation for the Outlining and Quilting, Workshop with me at Moor Hall, hopefully to be rescheduled in the autumn. Meanwhile you might be tempted to start stitching a kantha. It's a great way of keeping safe and sane, creatively happy, relaxed and well.
All the best

Rescheduled for 20th, 21st and 22nd November 2020

Message from Matthew

'Upside down and back to front' is perhaps an apt phrase for where we all find ourselves at the moment. In many respects this project is about new beginnings, so when we finally get round to starting, it will be a real opportunity to think afresh about how to explore and play with visual material. It can be very hard, even at the best of times to allow oneself to 'play'  as if discovering for the first time but perhaps after the restrictions of lockdown, we will all be desperate to explore new territory, even if that's just in the mind and imagination; possibly the richest territory of all. 

Despite the difficulties, to be turned upside down and back to front can result in lost things falling out and revealing themselves!  Who knows. 

I look forward as ever to spending time at Moor Hall and working with you all. It will be Autumn rather than summer, so a good time for reflection. Look forward to seeing you all then.

Matthew Harris
May 2020

MY BOOK ~ Stitched Flowers

I have recently had a message from Search Press the publishers of my book 'Stitched Flowers'. They are offering 20% of all purchases and free postage and packing. An opportunity to buy my book or plenty of others.  

Here's how it works:
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The Search Press Family

* Please be assured once we have supplied your customer with their book(s) we won't store their data and we won't add them to our mailing lists. They remain your customers. 
Every warm wish and do stay safe wherever you are.

Bobby Britnell, Moor Hall Farmhouse, Bettws-y-crwyn, Newcastle on Clun, Shropshire, SY7 8PH United Kingdom
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