Fiona Rutherford, Textile Artist

Fiona's Blog

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February 18, 2009

John Lewis window in Eldon Square Shopping Centre, Newcastle

A knitters hands

Newcastle to St. Etienne

December 2, 2008

picknicking French style in a timber forest

the design lab shop
lace wire fencing
somewhere to hide
the entrance to the vast eco- lab exhibition

water sustainability?
Charlie and Anne compare British and French dry toilets…

I loved the huge graphics on the side of containers

Newcastle Design Exchange/Echange Design St. Etienne 

So, last week I went to France for three days to visit the  Biennale Internationale Design in St. Etienne and to meet up with French designers as part of a creative exchange project.
Four members, including me, of Designed & Made in Newcastle met four members of Collectif Designers + from St. Etienne. We met for the first time on a very cold Monday knowing little to nothing about each other and feeling bleary eyed from a very early flight from Stansted. I think everyone felt a little uncertain at the start and there was quite a bit of hesitant Franglais going on. However, there is nothing like a warm welcome, good French food and a glass of wine to relax everyone.

My exchange partner is Philippe Moine a product designer and furniture designer and one of the founding members of CD+. It’s an interesting combination because we have very different ways of working but on a personal level I don’t think we are miles apart in our thinking. 

We spent from Monday to Thursday morning, when we left, on a hectic tour of some of the many exhibitions on around the city and visiting the workshops/studios of our French design partners . I would love to have had the time to see more.

Charlie Arnold, the curator, and her husband David were great company and also organised the visit superbly so that not only did we take in a huge amount but we also enjoyed ourselves in the process. I knew them both already from when they used to live in England and had worked with them on a previous project so I knew I was in good hands!

Anne Bechard-Leaute from the Arts Faculty at Jean Monnet University had organised a team of her students to act as interpreters. They were a very cheery bunch and when the going got tough linguistically they were always there to help. Anne also organised a video team that filmed all the studio visits and the exchanges between the French and British designers. Anne was also very good company throughout our stay.
Our visit ended in the wee small hours with us all in a bar in St. Etienne. I like to think is an indication of how well everyone had got on rather than a reflection of alcoholism. I feel we all gained a vast amount from our visit. Now we move on to the next stage of planning our collaborative work and looking forward to the French coming to Newcastle.

There is going to be a growing amount of communication on the blog

These are just some of the photographs taken from our visit to the Eco-Lab and Batiment H exhibitions. The Biennale is set in the old armaments factory that St. Etienne’s industry was based on and is now being regenerated and is the base for Cite du Design. The buildings are derelict and provide a vast and fantastic backdrop for a contemporary design exhibition. 

St. Etienne:


October 23, 2008

Crossing the border to Scotland

Harbour doorway in Crail

Fishing boat weather vane Anstruther harbour

Childs drawing in Dunino church

Shell house in Anstruther

My sister’s house in Fife is an old fisherman’s cottage and looks out to sea. I love going there to feel energised again. The light both day and night is always changing as does the mood and colour of the sea from soft deep blue to angry dark grey.

The train journey has to be one of the best views of the wild rugged coastline that borders Scotland and England. I never tire of looking out on to the sea that welcomes me home.
For centuries fishing and the sea has been the lifeblood of the communities along this north east coastline. It is a way of life that is dying. These are some of the images taken from old houses and doorways around the harbours of Crail and Anstruther.
I loved the childs drawing engraved on to an old church pew. You can imagine their boredom at being confined to a Sunday sermon when their heart was outside and free on the sea.

Different Perspectives

September 18, 2008





B.S.W. Studio, Exeter.

Jilly Edwards opened her beautiful studio and gallery on Friday 5th September with the exhibition Different Perspectives. I was showing my work along with Fiona Mathison, Fiona Hutchison and Jilly Edwards. As the title suggests the exhibition set out to show the diversity of approaches to contemporary tapestry weaving. Although we might have the same name, Fiona, our artistic differences differences are clearly evident in our work.
It was a chance to show “Having a Blast” – my first tapestry to come out of my Australian sketch book. It was also an opportunity for Fiona Mathison to create an outdoor sculpture that as well as it’s aesthetic qualities triumphed against lashing rain and high winds!
The exhibition is part of Devon Open Studios. This is a two week artist networking event that opens up artists gallery’s and studio spaces to the public in one of the most creative areas in England.
Thank you Jilly and Robert.
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August 26, 2008

Tokyo to Tyneside

Here’s something a bit different.

The Tokyo Picnic Club flew in and parked thier Motherplane outside the Baltic centre for contemporary art to create Picnopolis an alternative outdoor eating experience in and around Newcastle.

People old and young climbed up the steps to sit on baby planes and eat, drink or look bemused.
Great fun. What a pity the weather has been so unkind.

The plane flew off today back to Japan.

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