Banbury ArtFest 2017

Last weekend, myself and Victoria (of Victoria Anne Illustrations & Design) had a stall at Banbury ArtFest. This was the inaugural event; organised by Artist, Art Shop and Gallery owner Barry Whitehouse.

The plan was to house 30+ of the areas Artists and makers demonstrating their work in one place during the Banbury & District Show, an annual event organised by Banbury Town Council, so that the public could see how the art is made. With such a warm, sunny day, you couldn’t have asked for better weather to bring out the crowds!

Banbury & District Show

For our stall we decided to showcase Linocutting (me) and rubber stamp making (Victoria), with a bit of knitting thrown in! We are working on the format of our knitting event/s so stay tuned for more information on that soon.

Our Stall

I started the day by carving a design I had already sketched out in my sketchbook. It’s a vintage stand mixer to accompany the retro bowl and spoon print you can just about see in the background.

©Modern Parlance Photos

[Note: I’m removing a bit of lino from the tool in this pic, do not carve with your free hand near the tool, they are super sharp. Use a corner tool to keep the lino steady!]

I ended the day working on a linocut of the goats that were in the pop-up farm outside the tent. I’ve never carved animals before, perhaps it was the influence of the wonderful Melanie Charles and her animal portraits, as she was based beside us for the day!

It’s all ready to be inked now, when I have done so I will pop up a photo on my instagram.

The highlights of the day were being able to spend time surrounded by so many talented, creative people and having the opportunity to chat to them, as well as talking to the general public about what we were working on and about our course. We are so lucky to live in a community that is so richly populated by artists! It was also interesting how the main connection most people have with lino is from carving lino at school. This was something we definitely didn’t do; I was completely fresh to it as a medium about 18 months ago. My favourite responses were definitely from children; it’s really enjoyable to explain the process.

I think we learned a lot about how we’re going to market our work in the future, and how we can draw interest to our work. We’re already planning for next year!

I now have some work for sale at Church Lane Gallery. A linoprint of Church Lane and one of my retro bowl prints!

2017!

2017 has broken with the typical type of wet Sunday you’d expect. Its a gift to everyone sorely in need of a duvet day. For once, that isn’t me, the fire to get things up and running for the year is firmly lit!

My Christmas cards for 2016. A Christmas Bauble lino cut. I made 4 variations of this, 3 with red, blue and yellow in rotation and 1 that is just black. Lino is definitely something I want to work and improve on over the next year, and hopefully create some prints for my Etsy Shop.

Lino has really taken off this year, it was my friends at The Artery’s best seller, and rightly so as its a fab process and you can do it at home without too much fuss. If you’re in the Oxfordshire area, Barry is running a class on Lino Prints in February.

I have finished my first semester on my FdA course, and it is wonderful. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive environment, I have access to all the processes I could wish for and am challenged and pushed outside my comfort zone. I’m looking forward to starting a major project in a couple of weeks, I can’t wait to see what comes of it! I am blogging as part of my FdA over at KittyAF.

I had intended to write a post about the Access Course I was enrolled on last year, and I still do, so sit tight! I have a lot to say about the importance of this sort of course existing; without it I wouldn’t be where I am now!

Lastly, plans for 2017 as an artist separate from my student work. I picked up two concertina sketchbooks from a local charity shop a couple of months ago with a germ of an idea for 2017 in my mind. In 2015 I spent 6 months doodling every day, but called a halt to it because of the time constraints of my Access Course. The benefits of daily practice were massive though and I now have 6 months worth of ideas sitting in my studio for when I need inspiration. I’m still hashing out the rules for my 2017 project but I can tell you that it will be weekly and is likely to involve watercolour or ink illustration as I want to brush up on both of those! I reckon I can get 52 weeks out of the two sketchbooks.

My other plan is to set up my Etsy shop. Depending on time and inspiration it will be a mix of: zines, prints, cards and hopefully some acrylic items. Exciting times!

Wishing you all a creative and happy 2017.

What I’m Doing Now: Processing Ideas

The deadline for Processing Ideas is fast approaching, and as my attention is focused on that, here is a run down of what I’ve been working on for it.

The words I was allocated for my three words project were:

》tractor  》conceptual  》repeat

I have found using methods to generate ideas quite challenging, ideas generally just come to me and this has led to fragmented sketchbooks where I struggle to show both my thinking and a clear progression.  What can I say? I’m a work in progress! I am researching different methods of idea creation and generation.

Linocut

Having found an old Polish tractor manual, I looked through it for strong images that I could work with. I found a diagram of the steering and pedals of the tractor enlarged it and transferred it to lino.

linocut

 

After cutting it, I did a short print run,  mostly on [whatever the paper is] although I also printed one on a piece of wood patterned paper from Flows book for Paper Lovers as I liked the texture.

Ceramics

I took the linocut into ceramics with me, where I learned how to use paper clay. I pressed the clay into the lino cut, which took on the texture. I then experimented with cutting the clay up, and using slip to attach it to itself. I also used letterpress blocks as stamps and scratched into a piece of plaster to produce the stamps for the piece below.

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This is the result of drawing into to clay. I then pressed the plaster stamps of relevant words into it and finally coated it with red iron oxide. I can’t wait to see what they will look like fired.

Screen printing

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I’ve been doing a fair bit of screen printing, both for Mixed Media Practice (where I was screen printing onto felt we made) but also as part of my idea generation.

Xerox & Photoshop Manipulation 

I returned to the tractor manual to find more inspiration. I photocopied the title page, cut out the tractor and then ran it through the photocopier set on one-colour settings of Blue, Green and Red. I had some coloured card, so I slipped that into the photocopier behind the tractors and above is the end result. I scanned the tractors on their own and then manipulated them in photoshop to make a tri-colour tractor which I then arranged in a pattern.

This is just a small sample of what I’ve been up to! I will be sharing more on my portfolio pages over the Christmas holiday.

Materials & Objects in the Tate Modern Boiler House

The Materials and Objects exhibition at the Tate Modern covers such a vast range of ideas, media and artists that it takes a while to really take it in. Below I have selected some of the pieces that really caught my attention. They’re by no means an exhaustive look and it is really worth taking an afternoon to go and look.

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‘Work No. 232: the whole world + the work = the whole world’ (2000) Martin Creed

This is cheating slightly as it is on the wall before you go into the Boiler House. There are few things more visually appealing to me than a clean, rounded font lit in white, so it’s not surprising that I picked this, but I also like the fact it is tautological – an equation that can never be solved, and also that you can’t say for sure whether it is a positive or negative statement! It was commissioned for the Tate in 2000 to mark the change from The Tate Gallery of British Art to Tate Britain. You can read more about it on the Tate Modern website.

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‘An American Tribute to the British People’ (1960-4) Louise Nevelson

This is one of two Nevelson pieces in this exhibition. The other one (Black Wall) is taller than it is wide and painted completely black, which obscures the contents. The use of gold paint in the piece above highlights every surface making it an object that you can look at endlessly and see new and different features to it. Nevelson collected the boxes and items for her work from the streets around her home where such things were frequently discarded. To read more about her work in this exhibition go here

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A detail from ‘Ink Splash II’ (2012) El Anatsui

I think its apparant that I’m a bit of a magpie. In the case of Ink Spalsh II by El Anatsui, however, it was the vivid blue that attracted me rather than the gold. I especially like how dark it looks in the folds of the piece, which was made by weaving strips of aluminium bottle tops. These were then attached to each other using copper wire to create a metallic tapestry. As you can see from the photo on the Tate’s Website, the colour escapes the established boundaries of the piece by spilling over from the wall onto the floor.

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‘Behold’ (2009) Sheela Gowda

Behold by Sheela Gowda is a striking piece to look at, and that is before you realise it is constructed using human hair. The hair has been knotted and forms 4 kilometres of rope, which is then wrapped round and hung from twenty car bumpers, knotted further into netting, hung from the ceiling and pooled in coils on the floor. The work reflects superstition in the place Gowda lives; it is common for people to knot their hair around car bumpers to ensure safety from bad luck and accidents. Tate Modern page on Behold.

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‘Embryology’ (1978-80) Magdalena Abakanowicz

The final artwork I have picked out from my trip is Embryology by Magdalena Abakanowicz. It takes up a large room by itself; being arranged in two different mounds – one long and the focal point of the room, and another piled up in the corner. To me, the stuffed burlap sacks are reminiscent of the rocks and stones on a beach, but on closer inspection the texture of the hessian suggests something softer and more obliging.

 

Reduction Linocut

Popping in with a late-Friday night post (never let it be said that I don’t know how to party!) showing the end results of the reduction linocut I created on Tuesday. The basis for my design was the set of mark making ink drawings I did just before half term.

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Mark-making with ink.

They were created using everything from the end of my metal ruler, the tines of a fork, paintbrushes, a macron fineliner and my fingers. The first thing I did was transfer the basic ‘K’ shape onto a piece of lino by covering a photocopy of it in whiting an drawing on the back of it. I then traced over the chalk outline with a biro to give myself a clear outline to work with.

My two favourite prints from this lino.

In a reduction linocut, you create each layer of the print by carving away more lino from the same block. For this reason it is a good idea to make sure you make lots of prints of each layer, as you can’t go back and reprint previous layers. For each layer I kept one print of it at that point, and did one of each carving in black. I used these to create the gifs below.

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The progress of my reduction linocut, black and white prints.

To design each layer, I chose a different mark-making texture from my original sheet and tried to replicate it using my linocutting tools. There was an increase in detail with the first four prints, but then I had gone as far as I could with adding detail and so to get the last two prints I had to remove detail by cutting it out.

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Progression in colour

The last cut I made removed most of the detail that was left in the lino. It looks far more effective in the colour print than on the black and white one. Lining up each overprint was a bit of trial and error; it’s quite hard to line up the detail such as the rouge frame I did, when you can only see the edges, especially as once I’d warmed up the lino on the hot plate to carve it more easily it then bowed in the middle when I was trying to place it!
Some prints were more successful with being aligned properly than others.

I did an experimental colour print which you can see behind the acrylic laser cut ‘K’ above. Instead of printing each one exactly over the previous one, I rotated it by 90 degrees each time. This allowed the colours and patterns to play with each other in a different way.

Colour choice wasn’t something I planned with this piece. I chose the next colour each time by looking at the combined effect of the previous colours and picking what I thought would look nice over it, with little thought. I think in hindsight, a more subtle yellow colour would have worked better as the final one, or perhaps even black, just to frame it. I think that in future it would be good to do an additional print that is varying tones of the same colour too.

Trafalgar Square, The Tube & Public Art on the way to the Tate Modern

As a newly minted as an HE student who has never visited the Tate Modern before, I hopped on a train and headed down to London to visit the iconic gallery.

There were a lot of interesting sights and things of note before we’d even got as far as the Southbank, so I would like to share those with you.

Travelling across London on the Tube exposes you to a huge wealth of design history; from the signage and decoration of the stations to the textile designs (known as a ‘moquette’). The current moquette is called ‘Barman’ and features key buildings from London’s skyline, including the London Eye. Can you spot the others? 

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The fabric has been used on underground trains, starting with the central line in 2011. You can read an interview with the designers Wallace-Sewell here

The fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square was shrouded in wrapping when we were there but a few days later David Shrigley who, incidentally has recently done a collaboration with Tiger on everything from plectrums to a rather nice bag (that I think pretty much everyone in the Art building now owns!) had a sculpture called ‘Really Good’ unveiled.

I happened to be in London again a couple of day’s later, but in true Kitty form neglected to take a photo. Here is the photo from the Fourth Plinth website of it:

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‘Really Good’ (2016) – David Shrigley

I better find some other superlatives to describe my feelings for it; safe to say I love the positivity of its message and how the super elongated thumb echoes the height of Nelson’s Column.

Another interesting spot was on the outside of the Hilton London Bankside, a juxtaposition of exposed filament bulbs and tin ceiling tiles with a diptych by Niki Hare.

I am always drawn to strong blues and teals, but where this work really shines, for me is with the orange and yellow ochre letters, they stand out beautifully to my eyes. The tin tiles and filament bulbs feel historical in a carefully curated way; that sort of bulb is increasingly popular at the moment, which I think is a response to how displeasing energy saving bulbs are to the eye; these bulbs have a warmth and understated feel softens the harshness of a fairly modern building.

Finally, before entering the gallery, I spotted some interesting sculptures of heads. They lead you closer to the monolith that is the former power station and they are by a scultptor called Emily Young. I think what made them stand out to me was that the heads are beautifully carved but the back of the head is left natural. These are the ones that caught my eye:

‘Stillness Born of History II’ (2014)
(Onyx with Volcanic Pyroclastic Brecchia) – Emily Young

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‘Planet’ (2012) (Clastic Igneous Rock) – Emily Young

There is something entrancing about the smooth, carefully hewn features combined with the natural, rocky outcrop that is hidden behind the face. You can explore more of Young’s work on the Bowman Sculpture Catalogue website and on her own gallery page on her website.

Next time I will be writing about the Louise Bourgeois Artist’s Room and the Materials and Objects exhibition at the Tate.

Tate Modern Visit September 2016

At the start of our course, we visited the Tate Modern in London. I’d not been before so I wasn’t sure what to expect! One of the beautiful things about the Tate Modern is that they work with the fabric of the building. All around it you can see hints to its past life as Battersea Power Station.

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Our first stop at the Tate was to head down to the Tank Room to experience the Active Sculpture exhibition. This is a BMW sponsored exhibition comprising of three interactive pieces from the 1960’s as well as a new piece by Tarek Atoui.

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Zero to Infinity (1968-1997) – Rasheed Araeen

The first thing you notice when walking in, is the sheer scale of the tanks and their well preserved industrial quality, which complements the first piece of sculpture you arrive at: Rasheed Araeen’s piece ‘Zero to Infinity’ (1968-1997)

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A different view of the sculpture, taken whilst crouching down.

As per the artist’s instruction the piece is periodically rearranged, and had been the Friday before our visit. The idea is that there are an infinite amount of combinations it can be arranged into. It is important to Araeen that the symmetry of the piece is occasionally broken by this process of rearrangement. The size of the tank room belies the vastness of this piece, and from different angles, like the one above, it appears infinite in an entirely different way.

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‘Untitled’ (1965) – Robert Morris

‘Untitled’ (1965) by Robert Morris is a set of 4 large, mirrored cubes. These interested me, partially because I am a magpie with a fondness for shiny objects, but mainly because I discovered that by angling myself opposite to an edge one can disappear from the reflection entirely as you can see from the resultant picture:

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This interaction between the viewer and the piece is part of Morris’ aim, as along with other spectators moving past, the involvement of a person changes the way the sculpture appears and is perceived by everyone who is looking at that moment. I enjoyed experimenting with where I stood in order to make myself vanish, which is quite a surreal experience when you are expecting to see your reflection. 

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‘Revolving Vane’ (1987) – Charlotte Posenske

There were also a work by Charlotte Posenenske ‘Revolving Vane’ (1987) These were painted particle board cubes that can be rearranged by opening and closing different doors, to make different rooms. 

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‘The Reverse Collection’ – Tarek Atoui

At the back of the room were the instruments of Tarek Atoui’s ‘The Reverse Collection’. This was a piece of performance art that was performed daily, recorded and then overlayed with the previous recordings to create an increasingly rich and deep recording. There is more information on that here and you can watch a performance on TateShots below:

 //players.brightcove.net/1854890877/4811b2e3-75b4-4489-b1a5-21a18a61075e_default/index.html?videoId=5017637724001

After leaving the Tank Room, we took a quite detour into the room next door which was full of screens showing the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Primitive 2009’. 

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‘Primitive 2009’ – Apichatpong Weerasthakul

Whilst it was quite an overwhelming experience, the effect of multiple layers of sound and film was interesting, especially the way that by manipulating media you can create an entirely different narrative to the simple one that was filmed; in this instance films of a small border town into a ghost story.

We visited one of the Artist’s Rooms and the Materials and Objects exhibition in the Boiler House after we had finished in the Tank Room, which I will tackle in separate posts.

Rubber Stamping Workshop with Stephen Fowler

This morning, we had a workshop in rubber stamping led by Stephen Fowler.

Stephen is an Illustrator (Harrow, Central St Martins) who, after a decade spent working freelance for clients such as the Independent, chose to specialise in rubber stamp art. He has recently released a book on this subject entitled ‘Rubber Stamping: Get creative with stamps, rollers and other printmaking techniques’ [Lawrence King]. As well as running workshops, he exhibits at places such as Turner Contemporary (Margate) and creates Art books.

Stephen Fowler explaining the process to a group of FE & HE Students
Stephen Fowler

The rubber stamps are created from rubber erasers; Stephen explained that the limitations of size mean you have to get creative with them. It is better when starting out to use simplistic designs, so I chose my initial ‘K’.

I chose to add a little flourish in order to give myself something slightly more complex than straight lines to carve out. The design was filled in with a 2B pencil, and then the rubber was placed over it, and both the paper and the rubber flipped. I then rubbed over the back of the paper with a pencil which transferred the image to the rubber.

At this point it looks like it’s the wrong way round, but because you then apply the stamp to the paper, when you print it will be the correct way round. If you were to draw the design directly onto the stamp then you would need to draw it the opposite way round to your intended outcome.

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Cutting away the unwanted parts with a scalpel.

Whilst it is possible to use the same sort of tools you would use to cut lino, Stephen had us use a scalpel knife. Using the blade ensures greater control and makes it easier to prevent accidental cuts into the area under the stamp, which would affect the quality of the stamp.

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Cutting through the rubber with a scalpel was not as easy as Stephen made it look! It is a very different feel to using lino, but I think I had got the hang of it better with the second stamp! The first cut you make should be against the line of the design with the scalpel held in your hand as you would a pencil, and then you create a ‘v’ shaped notch by turning it around and returning along the outline with the blade angled towards the bottom of your original cut. To remove edges you can slice through horizontally until you meet the edge of your pattern. It is important to remember that you can’t undo the removal of the rubber, so it is best to make sure you are cutting the right bit before you start to cut.

For the second stamp, we were each asked to write a word on a piece of paper, and then to pick one of them to inspire us with a design. I pulled out ‘pointy’ and after an unsuccessful attempt at drawing a mace, I went with something holiday-appropriate; vampire teeth.

My designs from the day.

To ink them we used ink pads. This is part of what makes Rubber Stamping a really accessible way of creating art; it’s something you can easily do at home with little financial outlay, you can pick up ink pads and erasers on the high street for as little as £1 (Tiger is grrrrreat! for things like this) and then all you need is a scalpel/craft knife and some paper. Stephen also gave a talk to us in the morning before the workshop, and showed us some of his work, and there are just so many places you can take stamps due to the simplicity. My scalpel set was purchased from The Artery.

I look forward to experimenting further with creating stamps, I especially like the idea of creating mix and match ones and a set of custom type ones. Keep your eyes tuned on my Portfolio page over the next couple of months to see what I create!

You can purchase Stephen’s book on Rubber Stamping here, and find his blog here.

Banbury International

On Saturday, 16th July Visit Banbury are hosting an event – Banbury International – in the Community Garden behind Naomi’s Cafe. It is going to be an event full of music, art and food celebrating the strengths of our multicultural town and hopefully promoting unity and camaraderie.

We decided to be the catalyst for a wider group of people to be able to show that they too were standing in solidarity with their neighbours regardless of race nationality or ethnicity.
— Visit Banbury

If you want to read more about how the event came to be, pop over to the Visit Banbury blog: Banbury International.

[A poster showing a painting of Banbury Cross, with information about the event on it]

More details about Banbury International can be found on the Facebook Event Page.

It is a pleasure to be part of the group of Artists working on this event, especially as not only is it a cause dear to my heart thanks to my upbringing, but part of the reason I settled in Banbury in the first place. As an artist, you can’t help but to grow up and into the environment around you, and diversity and learning from people’s experiences is an important part of that.

As well as being involved in the creation and running of the art and craft activities, I look forward to sharing with you all exactly what I have planned for my piece, it’s the biggest thing I have ever done, so needless to say I am rather excited!

 

The Final Stretch of Access & A Fellow Artist Exhibiting for Oxfordshire Artweeks.

We’re well and truly into the final furlong of my Access Course. When it’s all said and done, I will write a post about my experience with the course. For now though,  I am working on (another) fairly personal piece; it revolves around family history and ways you can present it. A lot of my work for the last year has had a personal thread in it; I’m not sure if this is something that will continue into my degree or whether I just needed to get it out of my system!

WP_20160413_10_08_07_RichRory to the Doctor: “Do you even lift, bro?”*

I’m wondering if it’s customary to feel slight panic and wonder whether I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with what I have planned! I’ve always had a bit of a “go big or go home” attitude to my work, which caused me a fair bit of frustration as a teenager and I couldn’t work out how to make my idea come alive quite as I’d envisioned. Fortunately I have thought my final piece through, I have a to-do list and a 3d model of it.

Today is going to involve some experimenting, I am going to try marbling with my inks with the aim of creating some endpapers for a book. Other ideas for endpapers involve repeat patterns, and maybe a map. I still have some stories to collect for the books, but my family have been wonderfully forthcoming with their memories so far. If all goes to plan, I’ll be able to present them with something lovely at the end of this.

Roll on June 20th!

*A wire house comprised of cupboard door designs I created for the Buildings project. The Doctor and Rory are for scale, and possibly humour purposes.

*****

Oxfordshire ArtWeeks at Naomi’s Cafe Bar

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In the mean time, I’d like to let you all know that Ella Hendy [Facebook | Website] will be at Naomi’s Cafe Bar for Oxfordshire ArtWeeks. If you are in the local area, please come down and visit daily 11am – 6pm (8pm on Thursday) from 21 – 30 May. Oxfordshire ArtWeeks is an amazing venture, every year the county comes alive with a staggering amount and variety of art, and it is a brilliant way of supporting local artists and finding a bit more about what goes on in creating their work.

Ella’s work is wonderful and can often be found gracing the windows of Banbury’s shops and cafes. She also has a piece hung at the Jam Factory in Oxford currently, in an exhibition that is well worth a look if you’re passing that way.