When I heard the news about the Duke of Edinburgh stepping down from his official royal duties in the autumn of 2017, I immediately saw an opportunity for a project that would celebrate his contribution to The DofE Award since 1956. My idea was to use the names of people who had completed their DofE Award at Bronze, Silver or Gold. The names would be woven onto cotton tapes and used to assemble the Duke’s portrait with dressmaker pins on canvas. The response to the callout to put forward a name was fantastic and within a week I had gathered the names of 100 lucky participants. Some people put forward their own name while others put forward a friend or relatives name as a surprise gift. I received a name from Canada, and a Gold DofE participant who collected her award 38 years ago at Buckingham Palace from the Duke himself. By special invitation the portrait also includes the name of Double Olympic Champion Dame Kelly Holmes (Silver Award), also well-known TV presenter Jim Rosenthal (Gold Award).
The portrait measures 88cm high x 72cm wide, it took 209 hours to assemble and used 130grams of dressmaker pins. The portrait will be exhibited in the window at The Makers, 47 Church Street, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 1AE from Friday 17th November until Friday 24th November 2017. It will be displayed for the first time alongside the WW1 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary of the royal couple.
Now available to view at The Makers, 47 Church Street, Ashbourne, DE6 1AE. (closed mondays)
Red garment labels are scarce in second hand circles and it took five years to gather sufficient used labels to produce Red Cow. The work evolved following my visit to a farm to study pedigree Ayrshire cattle, dairy farming and new milking technologies. The farm in Somerby, Leicestershire, has 120 Ayrshire cows; their milk is used to produce (the world-famous) Stilton cheese. The Ayrshire is both practical and pretty, with her smart red-and-white coat and is often described as being any shade of red and white with brown. The used labels in this collection reflect these colour ways and were gathered between 2003-2013, the labels are assembled on canvas using only dressmaker pins.
Inspired by the word exhibition official opening, Jane Austen 200 years.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Dennison at BBC Radio Nottingham this week, promoting my opportunity for Duke of Edinburgh participants to be part of my next portrait. Also lovely to meet Diana Ali at the summer exhibition launch at The Institute of Mental Health, Nottingham. You may have seen Diana presenting the BBC Big Painting Challenge.
What a fantastic year!
It began on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II birthday with an invitation to exhibit the royal portrait in the window of bespoke tailors Meyer & Mortimer, Mayfair, London. The portrait then toured to Smalley's, a Gentleman's outfitters in Nottingham for the official celebrations in June, followed by an invitation to attend a street party at Bakewell Old House Museum, Derbyshire. The royal portrait made from names taken from a Derbyshire War Memorial then spent the summer at Derby Museum, where residents were thrilled to find WW1 family names in the artwork. Finally in 2016 the portrait was selected for exhibition at the prestigious Bishops Palace, Wells, Somerset. It was here that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall viewed my work hanging amongst the historic portraits in the Long Gallery.
Also worth mentioning is my portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, a collaboration with three of Churchill's selected outfitters on Savile Row and St James, London. Known as Britain's 'Best-dressed PM' Churchill's portrait toured to the three windows in the Autumn of 2016.
My work also appeared on BBC FOUR MAKE #craftbritain in June and in several newspapers and publications including Country Life Magazine and The Radio Times. 2016 concluded with a commission for Bromley House Library, an artwork to celebrate 200 years of this amazing library in Nottingham Market Square. Please feel free to visit the library to view the work in the new reading room.
I am now looking forward to 2017, and to sharing my work as new projects and exciting collaborations evolve.
Best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year. Joy Pitts.
9th July - 25th September 2016
Delighted that the Queen Elizabeth portrait constructed using WW1 names taken from the Cenotaph at Ilkeston Market Place is available to view at Derby Museum this summer.
Joy Pitts (MA Fine Art 2005) has completed a label portrait of Sir Winston Churchill to coincide with the issue of the new five-pound note featuring Sir Winston Churchill later in 2016. Continue reading....