Kate H.

The Power of Limitations


I love haiku and have a large collection. I was fortunate to study haiku with Martin Lucas who is world published. I try to write, a great way to condense a thought, but they are always human based, senryu - the human haiku. This is me, always human based.

I can record memories in them and then they are dealt with. I have no interest in making art about my childhood memories, nothing wrong, I just want to be in the present and make about my current family.

I love the stillness of haiku.

Stash and Limitations - hahahaha!

I have no limitations working with my stash - S.A.B.L.E. Stash above and beyond life expectancy.

Stash in storage whilst my extension was built - wake in the night missing it

Released the stash as just moved into a new centre - loving it

My stash is my friends – literally:

  • From my nan and grandma, though not the pin cushion.
  • From Mrs Johnson who encouraged me.
  • My mum who bought me so much and her hoard when she died.
  • From Sylvia, her best friend, as she cleared out.
  • From Margery, one of my first Buddhist teachers.
  • Of the list only Sylvia is still alive. I stitch my heritage into my work and the love continues.

My M.E. restricts the distance I can travel therefore I have created a centre for teaching arts and crafts. I am established within my community. I am amazed at the warmth we receive and often receive gifts of fleeces and stash. These I can share with my students, not the first.

No, I cannot clear out my stash, not even a sandwich bag a week. Far too invested in it. It is very well organized and used. Step away from the stash!

I do, however, work within the limitations of my stash and have developed my work around it, because of it, through it. I cannot travel around to buy new, so there is a restriction here, and I am grateful for it. I use the Internet for essentials.

It is a broad hoard as I teach so many subjects. This is a benefit as I make connections across my work.

I do find that if something is limited, or coming to the end I am reluctant to finish it, as I want it to continue to be part of the collection. The Collection was created during the Enlightenment when people thought they owned the world in a cabinet. It is a strong emotional tie - good and bad.

Limiting Variables

My students' work is stronger with parameters than without. Interestingly, students will put rules to exercises I set to limit them more. I can spend a lot of time opening these up, removing the safety of tight limitations.

The processes I have developed are complex and could block creativity. By breaking it down into stages I can preserve "flow", and hence protect creativity and focus on content and meaning.

I struggled with your language of "scavenger hunt", but decided that rather than over thinking it I would jump right in with my current theme. I found it so useful to deepen the understanding of what I am doing. I have often produced artwork that I feel no ownership or understanding of where it comes from. I find myself giving sideways glances at it as if to surprise the meaning out of it. One piece took three years for my verbal life to catch up with my visual. To deepen and quicken this understanding was one of the reasons I wanted to take this course; I hoped journaling would be the tool to use. I found connections between parallel thoughts were made, in ahh moments. Moving into visual listings also heightened my awareness of constant themes and their relevance as I found the questions I am asking through my work.


I am working on the first and second stages of pieces for my theme. I have sketchbook ideas and am sampling in textiles. This runs alongside my Advanced Felt course, so two birds, one stone. I am on half term and am studio rather than centre based. I bought back a bag and a box of materials I can use, no more. I shall see where it leads. Although this is felt based we are following a hand embroidery syllabus so this is opening up new avenues for us.

Interestingly, exploring the content and imagery I really wanted to design rather than make. I had to discipline myself to not get sidetracked and to pursue earlier ideas that have value and have just not been done quickly enough (2 weeks in bed with flu). When time is limited discipline is needed to go deep, not just broad. But when was the last time I just went into the studio and free formed?