Tuesday, 28 September 2010

all over the place

Toady I went into an exhibition feeling a little stressed (too much to do - shouldn't really be swanning round exhibitions when I should be sitting at home ticking things off a list) and a bit unsure of how things might get going in terms of my college projects (wanting to start drawing/mark making but not sure how to go about it - the perennial blank page in a new sketchbook thing)...

...and came out feeling incredibly inspired, fired up, excited, full of what I'd just seen. I think it was exactly what I needed!

The exhibition was All over the place: Drawing Place, Drawing Space at the Leeds University Gallery. This exhibition brings together the work of artists working in a variety of media but all under the banner of drawing and all exploring a particular aspect of place or location through their drawing.

The exhibition opens with a series of quotes about 'sense of place' and the act of drawing. In particular this one from Emma Dexter really got me going:

"A drawing enjoys a direct link with thought and with an idea itself. Its very nature is unstable, balanced equally between pure abstraction and representation; its virtue is its fluidity. A drawing can be highly controlled and delicate, an act of homage, redolent of personal memory, or it can be automatic, responding to irrational elements or chance encounters of materials."
(from: New Perspectives in Drawing, 2005)

The work of Doris Rohr
(incorporating found elements and different media), Paul Edwards (energetic charcoal drawing of the texture of grasses outside his studio window) and Jayne Bingham (mixed media mark making that you kind of fall into as you look at the surface detail) were the ones that really stood out for me and made me want to go straight home and draw!

Of course by the time I'd got home and collected the kids and dealt with tea and all the other jobs that call for my time on a Tuesday evening it didn't quite happen, but it really fired me up and I have high hopes for later in the week...

This was the second exhibition I've seen at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery, the first being A Discipline of the Mind: The Drawings of Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham earlier this year which was equally as inspiring.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

making marks

I've been sorting through my art kit for college. At the same time I've gathered together some bits and pieces to give to someone I know who is just starting at art college, for part of their art kit.

They're all things I've found useful for mark making with all sorts of different media. How many different marks can you make with each one?

not-so-empty space

The first week back was always going to be a bit of a strange one. We've had the predictable mix of slight confusion, unsure-ness, and excitement. Things seem a bit slow and, eager to get stuck in, its hard to know quite how to get going on things.

My space is now full of images that relate to my ideas.

We had a crit on Monday when we had to present three ideas that we'd been working on over the summer. On Wednesday we were shaken up with an exercise to generate new ideas and to make us think about where were were heading in a year's time, what our direction might be and therefore who our audience is. For some of the group this really worked and got people thinking in new ways, challenging themselves. For some it was confusing. For those of us who had put a lot of thought, time and energy into our summer projects it was frustrating to be told to start all over again! What it actually achieved for me (once I'd got over the frustration of Wednesday) was to get me to think more clearly about what my themes where really about, how I can challenge myself with them over the coming months and to crystallise my three themes into the two that I will take forward from this point.

My themes are:
Beachcombing, collecting, incorporating found objects

green roofs, sustainable architecture, re-connecting fragmented habitats

Collection of images and source material now continues alongside the development of a colour palette

Current listening: Fleet Foxes

Thursday, 23 September 2010

empty space

Welcome to my studio space at college. Of course it won't be like this for long, in fact it is already full of stuff.

Start of the week: new year, new ideas, new enthusiasm.

Mid-week: ideas shifting, studio space and head filling with images, a fair smattering of confusion - great to be back!

Friday, 17 September 2010

roof space

I've spent part of the last three days in the roof space of Salts Mill. It is an incredible space that is only open for special events and is currently the venue for a photography exhibition as part of the Saltaire Arts Trail.

Asadour Guzelian's stunning photographs, that capture snapshots of public figures and key moments for use in the press, sit well in this stunning, yet unassuming space. This is no white washed, polished floored gallery space. In its un-scrubbed, paint-peeling, light-flooded state it has something of the grittiness of the exhibited photographs.

Some of those visiting are here for the photographs and some for the space. Many are pleasantly surprised by the other.

These photographs are key moments captured on film (or its digital equivalent) in such a ways as to mask the skill and experience that is behind them. What I mean is he makes it look easy! They are mostly moments in Bradford's recent history, often featuring public figures exposed as ordinary people, seen from a different angle. There is often a sense of humour in the situations although what they say is something entirely serious and important.

Sitting in the empty space this morning before the first visitors arrived the sun streamed in through the skylights. The room stretches out into the distance - in-feasibly long.

A runner of light and shade is laid down the length of the room, slightly off centre. The light this morning is unbroken in intensity, not like yesterday, when the runner receded and reappeared with the passing of clouds.

The exhibition is open for the rest of this afternoon and all weekend.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

printing sticks

I have this beautiful little set of 'printing sticks' which I can remember finding at my Grandparents' house as a child. They've made appearances at various times in the last few years: teaching, playing, working. I re-discovered them this week when I was playing about with ideas for the Christmas card experiments I was doing.

They're beautifully made, are double-ended, having a different shape on either end of each stick so as to maximise the number of different things you can do, and they are covered in the colourful evidence of past use.

They sit in this round box, presenting their simple but lovely shapes to the lucky person that pulls off the lid.

I have no idea how old they are, but there is plenty of life left in them and I know they are going to make numerous appearances in future card making projects.

now the paint has dried

on these sheets of print (acrylic paint) and wash (procion dye) I've been able to make my Christmas card samples. Don't really want to mention the 'C' word seeing as it's still only September but I have to think ahead as the shops want their orders pretty soon.

So this

became this

which went alongside these to make up the basis of one range.

Some weave experiments I did the other day on my loom...

planted the seeds for this

which became this.

And this

became this

which went alongside some other ideas in the same colours to make this group.

I then took these sheets of pattern, cut them up and combined different elements with machine stitch to make the little work of art that goes on each card. More on the finished cards another time...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

collecting colours

Once the rain stopped yesterday my garden was full of lovely sunlight and some beautiful colours that Frederick would have been particularly pleased to collect.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


In a week's time I'll be back at college and the next 9 or 10 months will whizz by in a blur. I've spent quite a lot of time over the summer sorting things out at home, getting the house straight, clearing and re-arranging. I've had some pretty big life changes to deal with over the last few months so it has been important to spend some time getting things in order before term starts.

The start of a new academic year (kids going back to school, new starts) coupled with a change in season (it's definitely autumn today) tends to get one a bit melancholy... looking back and forwards.

There is a story I often think about and at this time of year, with all the harvesting of things from the garden and making jam and chutney etc, it's really appropriate. It's a children's story, that I had as a child, with simple collaged illustrations called

by Leo Lionni.

Frederick is a mouse who lives with his family in a wall on the edge of a meadow. The mice get busy in the autumn collecting grain and nuts and so on to store for the winter. Frederick doesn't help them and none of the other mice can understand why - they think he's lazy but he's actually busy doing his own special work.

The winter comes and the mice eat the food they had stored and then the food runs out and they're all sad and cold.

Then Frederick uses his stores, the things he gathered during the summer.

He tells them all about the colours and the sights and smells of summer and their minds are full of beautiful things and the warmth of the sun and poems. And then they're all happy and they value what Frederick has done.

Frederick is an artist who is mis-understood for much of the time. But it is heartening to get to the end and find that his work is really valued eventually.

So when I'm immersed in the colours of the world, taking it all in, enjoying the sights, smells and sounds, committing it all to memory (or sketchbook, or camera) I often think of Frederick and his collecting of colours.