Monday, 15 December 2008

V&A Day 1 - Part 2

Here's another clip from the first day of the workshop we ran back in May. Clare shows us two early samplers from the 16th century, now part of the V&A's collection. Well I don't need to explain much about them otherwise there's not much point showing the clip. Enjoy.

Sunday, 7 December 2008


Last week I met up with the wonderful embroiderers for our regular catch up and for another day of creative play. This time exploring pattern making using grid paper and black marker pens. We built on the idea we used for the sampler-culture clash event in Sept, where we invited members of the audience to create patterns which we would use to turn into sound. We've started to do that by the way, so I'll post some of the results soon.

Continuing with our philospophy of collaborative creation, we worked in pairs on four 2 metre sized grid papers, spending twenty minutes on each, then moving round to the next one so that everyone had worked on each design twice. We didn't use any reference material, just what ever happened to be in our heads at that particular moment.

We came up wth some quite amazing and varied designs given the timescale and the process. The idea is to use these as our musical scores and translate them into sound compositions, so we have a complete piece and then sample sections and re-work the pieces. I've no idea what they're going to sound like. We'll also be using the patterns to create embroidery pieces, again both whole designs and sampled sections woven together to create new compositions.

Here's a selection of photos from the day and a couple of the final pieces.

Thursday, 27 November 2008


I've just got back from Birmingham, after very kindly being invited to talk about Sampler-Culture Clash at the Dress and Textile Specialist's annual conference. It was a nerve racking gig talking about the project in front of such expertise, but it seemed to go down well and the participants were very supportive.

I really enjoyed the day, having the opportunity to meet curators from museums across the UK and Ireland and to talk to them about samplers in their collections. I particularly enjoyed the talk by Linda Fairlie and Bruce Morgan from East Ayshire Council about their collections, including the ayrshire wool blankets, with their distinctive stripes. I have a few which I still use, courtesy of my mother (who was born in Glasgow, with her extended family all living in Ayshire and mostly working as miners). I got home and checked the label of one - The "C.B.4" Loudoun Cheviot Bath Blanket, which is great and says "Made under the shadow of Loudoun's Bonnie Woods and Braes".

Also, the story of the UK's last Jacquard loom punch card machine - tragically no longer in service. It would be so fantastic to get that up and running again, and to work with the operators to create new punch cards based on some of the (binary) patterns we've been creating recently. Apparently, the man who last operated the machine is also a pianist - it would be great to meet him. Wherever you go the connection between textiles and music raises its head.

I'm looking forward to following up by visiting several of the museums to find out more about their sampler collections. One idea with Sampler is to tour the project across the UK, producing new work specific to each location, so today was perfect to start to make those connections.

Thanks to everyone at DATS for inviting me, and in particular Zelina Garland (DAT's Chair and Curatorial Services Manager at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) for all her help.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Well coming back

"Well coming back. 1990..chubb rock jumps upon the scene" - one of my favourite hip hop tunes Treat 'Em Right by Chubb Rock

I've finally had a some time to go through the videos of the first workshop we ran way back in May. I thought I'd share some of the events and discussions that took place during that week, so you can get a better idea of what we've been up to.

This was the first time that all the collaborators had met and, as such, was the very start of the process to explore whether we could bring the worlds of embroidery, music/dj-ing and spoken word together, using the common word "sampler" as the starting point.

Day 1: 19 May 2008.

Clare Browne very kindly hosted the first day at the V&A Museum - deep in one of the textile archive store rooms. The idea for the first day was to enable the collaborators to meet each other, introduce themselves and their work, and then to learn more about some of the samplers in both the V&A's and The Embroiderers' Guild's collections - the techniques, the meaning of motifs, the evolution of sampler making and the social context in which they were produced. These samplers would be used as the initial inspiration for the rest of the week's activities.

So to kick thigs off here's the first clip from day 1, with Clare reading from A Schole House for the Needle..more to follow.

A Schole House for the Needle

Here's the full text

A Scole-House for the Needle by Richard Shorleyker was first published in 1632 as a pattern book from which the embroiderer could work. You can purchase it from the Embroiderers' Guild's on-line bookshop.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Thursday Club

Quick post to let you know that Jason Singh and I will be talking about Sampler - Culture Clash and giving a short improvised performance next thursday 6 November from 6-8pm as part of the Thursday Club taking place at the Ben Pimlott Building, Goldsmiths College in New Cross, London.

"The Thursday Club is an open forum discussion group for anyone interested in the theories and practices of cross-disciplinarity, interactivity, technologies and philosophies of the state-of-the-art in today’s (and tomorrow’s) cultural landscape(s). The Club is supported by the Goldsmiths Digital Studios (GDS) and the Goldsmiths Graduate School.

Originally set up in October 2005 by GDS as a more informal setting for research discussions, it has grown to include over 150 members, artists,technologists, scientists, in fact, a growing diversity of people from different communities worldwide, that are now connected via a mailing list and online forum.

There are also regular meetings in ‘real' space at the Ben Pimlott site of Goldsmiths, University of London. Anyone can attend these events. By keeping these meetings free, informal and open to all, we provide a platform for diverse and open ended discourse, for people who perhaps would not have the opportunity to discuss ideas outside of their chosen discipline.

The Thursday Club brings together people from diverse fields and degrees of expertise, aiming to initiate discussion and debates among postgraduate students, researchers, academics, artists, theorists, and other cultural practitioners.

Since it focuses on interdisciplinary practices, the Club is interested to experiment with innovative formats of presentation that are appropriate to the nature of the subject. We particularly welcome the proposal of round table discussions, panels, screenings, 'hearings', live gigs and performance lectures as well as more traditional
presentations. We are also interested to platform experimental work-in-progress, of both practical and theoretical nature."

There's a really impressive and diverse range of UK and international speakers for the Autumn schedule, including Murray McKeith, John Levack Drever and Lawrence Upton, Harold Cohen, Tim Hopkins, Alexandre Antonopoulou and Dawn Scarfe, John Lechte and Liiane Lijn. So we're really honoured to be asked to participate and looking forward to the discussions. One aim of taking part is to get critical feedback from other people working interdisciplinary and crossdisciplinary and to develop ideas for potential collaborations with software programmers to move the research forward.

Be great if you could make it along and if you're at all interested in interdisciplinary practice I'd strongly recommend getting involved in the Thursday Club.

For more details contact:
Maria Chatzichristodoulou aka (Maria x) on

Monday, 27 October 2008

Diggin in Hamburg

The other week, my colleague Linda Florence and I were invited to run a workshop in the art school in Hamburg - which was fantastic by the way - thanks to renata for inviting us.

Whilst I was there I managed to squeeze in a bit of shopping. Thanks to all the students for recommending places to go. Hamburg has a fantastic selection of second hand shops, and to my delight second hand record shops - perfect for a bit of diggin'. The two I managed to visit were Back Records and Groove City. Groove City is a haven for the world of breaks and hip hop, with old skool ghetto blasters on the wall, trainer shop in the back.

Here's some of the gems I managed to pick up and spot on my travels.

Crate Diggin T.shirt

Behind the Beats

A fantastic book celebrating hip hop home studios, from dj's and producers including DJ Premier, Dj Shadow, J Dilla, Dj Spinna, packed with great photos. My favourite shots feature the studio of Farma G's "the Junkyard".

Behind the Beats is by Raph, published by Gingko Press
ISBN: 1-58423-197-1

A couple of 1 euro records picked up for breaks and samples

and last a great compilation The In-Kraut (terrible title) but it features some great tracks and breaks such as Why Don't you play the Organ- Memphis Black; Berlin - Heidi Bruhl and my favourite Undergroovin' - Eugen Thomass.

I'll definitely be back.

Sunday, 19 October 2008


As I've mentioned before women are the beating heart and soul of the sampler-cultureclash project. There has been a long tradition of embroidery as part of a young woman's education, social upbringing and cultural activity. Through the sampler project research we've been studying amazing embroidered samplers created by girls as young as 8 years old, such as this one from the V&A's collection by Mary Wakeling aged 10 yrs in 1742.

As part of the project we've been exploring the connection between embroidery made by young women in the 17th,18th and 19th centuries and the cultural, educational and social activities of young women (particularly urban young women)at the start of the 21st century. As part of that interest we've been looking at young women dj's, b-girls, spoken words artists and beatboxers and starting to find ways to involve them in the project and make those connections. Here's an awesome clip of 8 yr old (yes only 8 yrs old!) japanese turntablist sarascratch, she's tough!DJ Sara

Last evening I attended the b.young b.supreme event at the South Bank Centre in London, organised by Independance. Bsupreme aims to champion and support the development of women in hip-hop, and B.YOUNG is an initiative to give young women the opportunity to develop their dance skills, through a training and mentoring programme working with Nike artists D-Clash

The b-girls Hattie, Azara and Joanne who helped us out at the sampler-cultureclash event the other week in Brixton were taking part in the Dare2dance competition, as part of the dance group Stylinquents, mentored over the summer by Suzette Brissett. It was great to go along and give them my support. was a close call but fantastic news..they won. I'm sure they're going to go on to bigger and better things as they develop as artists. Just being involved must have been a rewarding experience for all the dancers. It was a fantastic event, which needs more support in order that it can continue and develop. The highlight for me, alongside H,A and J taking part and winning was the octagon battle later in the evening.

here's a link to the b-supreme website for more info on the programme.B.SUPREME
and here's a clip of a couple of the UK dancers taking part the other night.

and a huge thanks to Judi and everyone at Independance for the invite.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Archive Fever II

Just received some photos of the Archive Fever II conference I took part in last month at Goldsmiths, so i thought I'd post a couple. In one I look like I've turned into a preacher man..not sure what happened there. Thanks to David for the photos.

The theme of the conference was "Building a Virtual Archive: Collections in the making." My presentation focused on searching electronic archives, such as youtube and the art of crate diggin' (searching out and collecting obscure records). I consider there to be many similarities between the museum archivist and the crate digger. And I'm particulary interested in the phenomenum of collectors posting their record collections onto youtube, and the issues that brings up in turns of copyright vs the desire to share this music within the public domain. Here's a great short film on crate diggin', parts of which I sampled live during the performance. Free Samples

The evening before the event, I was running through the presentation, which was a standard powerpoint job and I thought there's something not right here, and it's a bit dull. Then I realised that I wasn't being true to the project's ethos of sampling, trialing and mixing things up. So I decided at the very very very last minute to give a kind of improvised performance - searching, mixing and scratching clips from youtube, one turntable and various vinyl from my collection, my AKAI MPC, and video and audio recordings from the Sampler-Culture Clash workshops we've run.

It was the first time I'd tried anything like that before, and in a more formal seminar type environment. Normally the room is dark, I'm drunk, and well the audience is drunk too!! Needless to say it was hmm..chaotic, particularly when my computer crashed half way through. As one audience member put it "yours was the distinctive presentation", which I took as a compliment. It seemed to go down well though, and was definitely more interesting for me in terms of presenting an idea in a lecture theatre setting. Something to think about and build on. If you were there it would be good to get your feedback.

I'll post a video of my presentation when I get a copy of the film. Oh and I really enjoyed the conference, with some really interesting and diverse speakers. I recommend you check the Constance Howard link on the right of my blog page to find out more.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Cross stitchin' Brick Lane

Just to say thanks to the fine and very helpful folk at Random Monkey Design for an enjoyable afternoon yesterday at their cupcakes, cocktails and cross-stitch event. It was a wet and cold sunday in London, but it was great to see over 100 people in 93feeteast getting into the cross stitch experience. Great cakes too. Looking forward to more of their events.

Here's the start of my ran out of batteries!!! Got to finish this one.

more info:

Saturday, 4 October 2008


Quick last minute post to let you know about a couple of stitching events happening this week in London town.

The fine ladies from the New Embroidery Group are taking a break from the world of performance poetry to return to their first love - embroidery. They are exhibiting at the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexander Palace 9-12 please make a trip and give them some support. I know they'd be delighted to see you. The show tours to Dublin and then Harrogate later this year.

For more info:

The second is the Urban Cross Stitch event Cupcakes, Cocktails and Cross Stitch at 93feeteast in Brick Lane at 3pm this Sunday 5 October.
For more info:

I'll be poppin along to see what it's all about. It seems like the perfect way to spend a sunday. Maybe see a few of you there for a Bloody Mary or five.

Oh, and for those kind souls who have enquired about their pattern to sound clips..Jason is away in India at the moment collaborating with folk musicians from Rajastan. So when he returns....

Monday, 22 September 2008

Cut 'n' Paste

One of the activities we asked folk to get involved in last Thursday was to cut 'n' paste an embroidered sampler from the V&A's collection. This sampler was produced by Mary Ann Body in 1789, aged 9.

Here are the instructions:

and here are some of the fantastic results:

Please have a go and e-mail me the image(s) of your result(s) to:


Saturday, 20 September 2008

Thank you

A quick post to say a huge thank you to everyone who made it down to Brixton on thursday to support the Sampler - Culture Clash work in progress event. It was an amazing evening - everything I was hoping for. There was a great mix of people and a really nice vibe. It was great to see people getting involved in the stitching (many for the first time), chatting and being so inventive with the cut n paste and pattern creation activities.

And of course a huge thank you to everyone who made the event possible - in particular the performers on the night: Jason Singh; Yusra Warsama; the embroiderers: Jan, Janice, Liz, Jacquie, Gillian and Moyra; the B-Girls Hattie, Joanne and Azara, Tom and Naz for dj-ing and Rob, Srdjana and Reuben for the visuals and filming.

Over the next few days, weeks and months I'll post clips of the performance, images of the pattern creation, with the corresponding sound, the giant sampler and the cut n paste work.

Once again thank you all for your support, and the amazing feedback we've received so far - it means a huge amount.

For those who weren't able to make it along, we're working towards a major event next year - so keep in touch. For now we're going to reflect on the research we've done so far and see where we take it next - so much more to explore yet.

Oh and if anyone has any photos or film clips of the event they could send me that would be top.

Saturday, 6 September 2008


"September" apart from being a classic Earth Wind and Fire song, is going to be a busy month for the Sampler - Culture Clash project.

I'm taking part in the the Archive Fever II conference at Goldsmiths on Friday 12th. My presentation will focus on the art of crate diggin', and the current trend of creating on-line archives of information, on sites such as you tube, rather than collections of physical objects. This throws up the thorny problem of the passionate enthusiast's desire to put stuff out into the public realm vs the owners of the copyright asking for it to be withdrawn. As result in many cases you have temporary archives - there one minute gone the next.
More info on the conference here: Archive Fever II

The second event is the Sampler - Culture Clash work in progress event on Thursday 18th September at London Printworks in Brixton. See flyer below for more info. The idea behind the event is to present some of the stuff we've been working on over the last six months and to engage the audience in helping to develop the project. We'll present a free-improvised performance mixing up embroidery, pattern into sound, beat-boxing, performance poetry, sampling, film clips and break dancing from a selection of Brixton B-Girls. I'm very excited to say that Rob Rainbow (ex-Light Surgeons) will be providing live visuals on the evening.

During the event, you'll have the chance to create patterns, a selection of which we'll turn into sound to use as a starting point for the performance; take part in creating a huge embroidered sampler and learn some new stitches working with some of the embroiderers and create your own poetry using cut 'n' paste techniques. There will be guest dj's droppin' their favourite breaks. I've no idea how it's going to go, it's going to be messy but it'll be fun.

We'd love to see you.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Thanks to Pat (one of the embroiderers collaborating on the project) for letting me know about the recent Brian Eno interview on Radio 4's Today programme. He was discussing his new collaboration with David Byrne and their hugely influential work My Life in the Bush of Ghosts first released way back in 1981 and the crucial role sampling played in the record's creation.

You can find out more about the album by clicking on the My Life in the Bush of Ghosts link above.

One interesting element of the site, is that they have agreed under Creative Common licensing to give people free use to "edit, remix, sample and mutilate" two of the tracks. Alongside that they've invited people to post any new tracks they've produced sampling or remixing the original works.

Click here for the link to the Creative Common site explaining this form of copyright protection, which enables you to change your copyright terms from "all rights reserved" to "some rights reserved".

I'm looking forward to finding what this level of copyright means in practice. Let me know if you've used it already in your own work. Copying has been key to both textile embroidery sampler culture and dj culture. I'll do a further post concentrating on this issue.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Stitched Consequences

Last week I met up with some of the embroiderers collaborating on the project. It was great to see everyone again and find you what they were up to and their future plans. What's great is that, although we're not able to all get together so often everyone is still hugely committed to, and excited about, developing the project.

We spent the day playing stitched consequences - i don't know if that officially exits as a term, but hey it does now. The idea was to build on the written consequences we had worked on with Yusra during the first workshop, which created an amazing series of spoken word poems. I do promise I'll post some of these asap.

The rules of the game. Well i'm sure you all know the rules of consequences but so you get an idea of what went on. We started by listening to the audio tracks we had recorded from the previous workshop, to use them as initial stimulus to starting to stitch. We each had a piece of fabric 50cm x 2 metres (cotton) and a random selection of threads that everyone had brought along. We each had 20 minutes to stitch some work anywhere on the fabric, any size, any stitch and any image. After the 20 minutes was up we passed the fabric to the person sat next to us to continue the work, taking it in a new direction. This continued until we had each stitched on each piece of cloth. The 20 minute limit meant that we had to be spontaneous and improvise with the threads we had, and not think too much about what we were stitching. Improvisation and spontaneity have been core throughout the project to date. At this stage it is all about experimenting and not being precious about what we create, and not thinking about the end product, but continuing to ask "What if?"

As always, there was great conversation during the day. It actually felt like a real luxury to spend a whole day, stitching, talking, and drinking cups of tea. People talk about the therapeutic qualities of embroidery, and when you spend time not thinking about anything else and get lost in the process of creation and the act of stitching, you understand what they mean. Here is a selection of some of the work created during the day. These will be passed on to the other collaborators who weren't able to make it along on the day, to add their input. We'll use them to inspire and create other stitched, visual, written and audio work.

A huge thank you to Liz, Pat, Jan, Jackie, Jacqui, Kathy, Kate and Srdjana.