Friday 20 April 2012

New Shoots?

I love Artist Multiples, small, portable pieces of art that give you a hint or a flavour of an artist's work. Over a period of time I've been developing some Multiples of my own, the most recent being a series of images printed onto seed paper and presented using old postcards to create the package toppers.

The postcard was from Open Places Open Spaces in 2003 - an early digital image called Primavera which features, amongst the layers, buildings from Northampton town centre and a friend spouting flowers from her mouth. 

The seed papers contain a mixture of wild flowers and after soaking can be planted. I'm doing a test at the moment and have planted one of the images to see how it grows. I'm calling these multiples "The Seeds of Change" and they are currently available at Longdogs Bazaar on Etsy.  They are £5 each with free postage in the UK or three for £10 plus postage. They are A6 size, light, easy to post and make a nice gift! All the digital images are also available in other sizes and on a variety of supports.

This set feature images which combine buildings and plants / weeds seen sprouting in, on and around buildings

This image contains images of my first whippet, Shelley, bounding about in Wickstead Park


These are reproductions of older collographs - an original print of Willow Woman (in the centre) plus two other green Man inspired pieces are now part of the IOTA Collection. "Based in Glasgow (Scotland), IOTA is a private research collection of representations of the green man. IOTA seeks examples from all periods and from all cultures"

During the mid 1990's I was very inspired by the writer Angela Carter and intrigued by one of her stories The Erl King, so began making a series of images with people being seduced into the woods by an enigmatic character with branches or leaves sprouting from his head. I also started making smaller collagraphs and the Green Man /men / women with sprouting heads began to appear. It also coincided with a firm belief that we need to take more care of nature, so many green spaces are being eaten up by housing and industrial units, we need to look after what is left.

Last year I made The Sweet Smell of Success - a Limited Edition of 30 silk lavender bags, each with a distressed digital transfer print on the front and filled with English lavender

The remaining few are also available  at Longdogs Bazaar on Etsy.

I have put a few small framed prints up for sale 

House Sitter

To The Sea

and there are still a few pieces of my second jewellery collection left. The collection was developed after making a piece of work for the second Held in the Hand collection - part of the innovative  Held in the Hand and Touch Tables projects initiated by Leicestershire County Council Heritage and Arts Service. They, along with 9 other major museums have been longlisted for the second annual Clore Award for Museum Learning, which recognises quality, impact and innovation in museum learning initiatives. The New Vistas / Wider Horizons Big Draw project I developed with Back To Books last year was shortlisted for an Epic Award and for a Drawing Inspiration Award.

Friday 13 April 2012

Day Five - It is Done!

Cover - fabric map design 'Jensen', produced by Liberty (also used in Miles & Dacombe Ticket Exchange bags) recurring maps - showing sections of the Manifold Valley in Derbyshire


Note to self - it really is time to....

 All pages stuffed to bursting and ready to post to Brooklyn on Monday.
I worry that things may tear, fall out or come unstuck
and that I haven't made this very easy to scan
but I've loved making it and hope 
others will enjoy it too.

You can see it here

or check it out from the Brooklyn Art Library Call Number: 187.16-9

Day Five - Frantic Activity

On the final stretch now that the magnetic poetry stamps have arrived - although the words I wanted aren't all there, but  I did find two sets of alphabet stamps hidden away in 'safe places'. I wanted to use stamps because of their unpredictability and to make up for the fact that only I can really read my handwriting, especially when it is small.

 Halved envelopes become pockets to hold textile samples, 

 laminated pattern pieces and shift tags

 The tags have had more added to them

On the reverse there is a little postcard stamp in which I've written a thought, memory or observation :-

"The texture of the world is worth exploring"
"I am the ghost of winter and the promise of spring"
"I want to wear the landscape"

"I am trying to follow another direction"
"There are many doorways, paths, options"
"A day walking the canal side. Huge foxgloves"

The surface of the table and most of the dining room is now covered with the signs of my frantic activity and I keep having to remember to wash the ink off my fingers before touching anything else. The Postman has been especially welcome as I also received a wonderful surprise parcel from the amazingly talented Tara Badcock who I am hoping to meet in person some day! Best of all there is a real, hand written letter, so I'm taking a break now to read it!

Thursday 12 April 2012

Day Four - Consolidation

 First pages with more detail added

I only had a few hours to work on the sketch book as I had meetings and paperwork to do today. The meeting this morning gave me the chance to explore possible ways forward with the wonderful  Morag Ballantyne mentor and coach in the cultural and creative industrieswho made me feel inspired and energised! I was so worried about being late that I left the component parts of my sketch book at Corby Community Arts, thankfully I was able to collect them on my way home. I also stopped off to look at box frames and envelopes at The Range - no frames but some useful envelopes to customise for the sketch book.

 The tear in the petticoat - iron hoop exposed

Laminated Shift pattern pieces - front with photographs from Snibston Mining Museum and Fashion Collection, back with map of the world. Plain machine stitching and loose threads.

The pollen is very heavy going at the moment, so when I got home I decamped to my bed with all parts of the sketch book, trying to resolve a few final problems and thinking more about how to use the envelopes. It's a terrible year for Hay Fever sufferers and at times it's hard to breathe, think or move so it's good to have something to take my mind off this for awhile.

 The Signal Man

Ancient miners tunic - blood lines and rail links

Still dreaming of the straight shape

Walking adventure in the rain - Edward Thomas Birthday Walk 2012

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Day Three - Scoping & Waiting

Today was a scoping walk with Jo for our Light Walks project, before the walk we took the rest of INTENZ away from the Old Library, then decided where the next walk should be. We made a detour to Earls Barton for lunch before arriving at our chosen route, round the reservoir at Sywell Country Park 

and had a beautiful walk which was full of birdsong, blossom and pollen! The rain held off long enough for us to get back to the car. There will be more about the walk soon on Undiscovered Networks. Back in my parents' garden I managed to catch a glimpse of a pair of Thrushes nesting in a apple tree in the garden next door.

The sketch book was partially on hold as I was waiting for some more stamps to arrive but I did do some work on the Shift labels that will become part of the book. These also fit with the theme of walks and journeys, the compass points to finding some direction and the postmark relates to thoughts in motion. I am using generic, commercially available stamps, almost in the spirit utilising found objects to embed in the images being created. When I make digital images I like to build up layers and bury text inside the image, using the stamps enables me to make layers in a hand to paper fashion.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Day Two - Studio and Dining Room

My plan for the day was to give as many of the sketches as possible a watercolour wash and whilst the pages dried I would make some other images using free machine stitching. I have gone back to the Shift dress as the source of my ideas. However I'm taking a much more personal approach, since my twenties I've been overweight. A couple of years ago I managed to lose a considerable amount, but last year I lost the plot again. How foolish, how self-destructive you might think, it was a stressful year, there was very little work and a lot of demands placed on my shoulders. Everything was a struggle and I just couldn't exercise or count calories for a moment longer.

When I started thinking about the shift dress, I could probably still get away with wearing one, but now my body is running away from me again. I am troubled by my body, how to look after it, how it is worn out and falling apart. Even when thinner, this fact was inescapable. The Shift dress has power because it is a simple shape. I have always longed to be a straight line able to inhabit a simple shape.  I long for freedom of movement. I don't fit. This first image is something about feeling uncontainable.

See also the Milan Kundera quotation from The Unbearable Lightness of Being which starts "The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground........."

Here are dresses that contain memories of a place I long to be - I find I would love to be able to wear the landscape.

These are a combination of shapes from 1960's pattern pieces and things seen along the Brampton Valley Way. I also laminated small pattern pieces which were made from maps, stamps and photographs, these will also be going into my sketch book.

Fabrics sorted and paint drying I attempted to start sewing, but my machine was having none of it. I did get some stitching done but not as much as I would have liked. I went to see if the only local sewing machine repair man could help, only to find that he'd sold the business and moved on without letting anyone know. The lady in the Florists next door wondered if he'd been one of the group who had won the lottery recently!

It might take me some time to get going, but once I do, I'm very determined. I took my machine home and asked 'the man who can' to undo the bottom of the machine and see if the works were clogged up with fluff. We found plenty. Machine attended to I started sewing again, but there was still a problem with the shuttle and the tension, threads kept snarling up. A very tiny piece of plastic has worn away or broken off and it's amazing to find that something so small could cause so much trouble! I did manage to coax enough decent stitches out of the machine to complete the samples I wanted to make. Then it was back to painting.

"weight |wāt|nouna body's relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it, giving rise to a downward force; the heaviness of a person or thing he was at least 175 pounds in weight.• Physics the force exerted on the mass of a body by a gravitational field.Compare with mass .• the quality of being heavy as he came upstairs the boards creaked under his weight.• a unit or system of units used for expressing how much an object or quantity of matter weighs.• any of several divisions based on relative lightness and heaviness into which boxers and wrestlers are classified for competition.• the surface density of clothused as a measure of its quality.• Printing the degree of blackness of a type font.

a heavy object, esp. one being lifted or carried.• a heavy object used to give an impulse or act as a counterweight in a mechanism.• a burden or responsibility.the ability of someone or something to influence decisions or actions a recommendation by the committee will carry great weight.• the importance attached to something individuals differ in the weight they attach to various aspects of a job.• Statistics a factor associated with one of a set of numerical quantities, used to represent its importance relative to the other members of the set."

Here is the dining room table after day two's activities.

Monday 9 April 2012

Limited Edition Sketch Book - Day One

Jackie Morris first alerted me to the existence of The Art House Co-op and their Limited Edition Sketch Book Project. I love the idea of sketchbooks but I don't always use them, I have a lot, some full, many half empty. My partner has been worried that I've given up making images, making my own work. I have a variety of pieces of equipment that have been languishing whilst I go out and inspire children and adults of all abilities to use their creativity. He bought me one of the Art House sketchbooks as a way of trying to inspire me to make some work for me again.

It arrived months ago, I put it in a variety of safe places and convinced myself I'd lost it several times causing that heart stopping 'why aren't you a tidy person' panic to set in. Thankfully the sketchbook kept finding it's way back to me but its pages stayed alarmingly empty. Here was my problem, I don't  know what my story is anymore, so what would I put in this book? I am constantly divided between 'illustrative me' and 'slightly more conceptual me', it is easy to fall into safe ways of working, so I tend to deny myself the pleasure.

When I showed Jo Dacombe, my collaborator in Undiscovered Networks, the sketches I'd done during my visits to Snibston, she was very encouraging, understanding that sketches are marks on the road to more complete thoughts or ideas. My Mentors were less convinced and perhaps they were right, their preparatory work was wonderful. Seeing how other people work is inspiring, trying to find your own voice is hard. Finally I said to myself (and my friends)

"Okay - stop paperwork and funding applications and get on with your sketchbook project. It's tiny, it has 24ish pages - what are you so scared of?" and one very sensible friend replied "every new sketch book I always scribble on the first page - stops it being precious!" I had been working though, it was going on in my head. I was combining the elements I wanted to work with, drawn from resources I'd been gathering. I did keep forgetting what my theme was. I thought it was a journey but I'd actually opted for thread and surface, eventually I decided to combine to two.

So today I have been sitting, filling the pages with quick pencil drawings, I've filled every other page and tomorrow the work will continue. I have to finish by the 16th, so I'd better get moving!

 Petticoat sketches

Dictionary definition:-

"petticoat |ˈpetēˌkōt|
nouna woman's light, loose undergarment hanging from the shoulders or the waist, worn under a skirt or dress.• [as adj. informal often derogatory used to denote female control of something regarded as more commonly dominated by men he was in danger of succumbing to the petticoat government of Mary and Sarah.ORIGIN late Middle English : from petty coat, literally [small coat.]"