I will be teaching a workshop in March at West Dean College in West Sussex. As a new tutor to this renowned centre for the creative arts I have been invited to show some of my work in the College foyer in the run up to my course there. I have sent a variety of work to show in this exhibition, including: Spurn Cloth #1, the large art quilt piece I made during my 2012 residency at Spurn; 49 Beer Bottle Tops (shown above) and 76 Hair Grips (both incorporating found metal with hand stitch and natural staining); a selection of paper-based pieces incorporating rust prints, collagraph and stitch. The exhibition runs form 10th January to 10th March.
Now that the Shirt Collar Project exhibition is open and the final pieces have been revealed I can share a few images of my finished work. There is a full explanation of the process and decisions that led to these pieces over on the project blog. I ended up making three small book forms using the prints I made from my collar. I find the 3D nature of these pieces very pleasing. I often feel drawn to working in a more three-dimensional way and perhaps this project has taught me to go with that impulse. I really allowed the experimentation with the materials to lead me this time, with no particular outcome in mind: a really useful challenge.
A few months ago I was invited by Kathleen to be part of a group project involving some vintage shirt collars. The brief and some of the developments can be found on the project blog here. So this is what arrived back in the summer and has been pinned to my studio board while I considered what to do with it.
Last week I finally got round to playing with this item that is sort of a ‘found object’ except it is someone else’s find. I studied it as if it were some sort of specimen, investigating its make-up, structure and features. I drew it, photographed it, took prints from it and slowly took it apart, documenting the process. At each stage I took a print, initially blind embossing (putting it through the press with damp paper and no ink). The marks it made became slowly more ragged and dis-shevelled as the edges were un-done.
It was so pristine and white that I daren’t mark it with ink initially, knowing that once I did there would be no going back. Eventually I plucked up the courage to do so and now the collar lies in its dissected state, flattened and black with printing ink. The prints it made have wonderful detail where the loose threads caught the ink.
I like it as an object. It has a history and a story that I can never know. I don’t know yet what I’ll do to it next but I’m looking forward to finding out…
This is a section of my studio wall at the moment. I’m really enjoying the routine of working in the studio and at home. My diary is relatively sensible at the moment so I’m making the most of it. I’m working on a number of small projects, although they are all linked in some way (perhaps the link is me!) and some may grow to be much bigger: one thing really does lead on to the next idea. I enjoy the experimenting stage of any project, probably more than making the final work, which can be daunting for various reasons. Sometimes I can’t keep up with the ideas and all the things I want to try – the sketchbook becomes incredibly precious as a repository for thoughts and ideas. These are some of the things going on at the moment:
I’ve been playing about with the wool felt I use and some of my collagraph plates. I’ve also been playing with some 3D forms. I often have a desire to work more 3 dimensionally and I know this is partly satisfied by making book forms. This time the forms are vessels and I’ve been intrigued to watch people see them for the first time and assume they’re ceramic, until they touch them.
They work well as a group and I’ve enjoyed building up a line of them and seeing how they interact with one another. There are some for sale here in case you know of a shelf that would look good with a few residing on it!
Anyone who has been following my work over the last year or so will know that I like an unusual gallery space. This week last year I was exhibiting in the old lighthouse at Spurn – I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. Well, the next unconventional space is an old 1960s Sprite caravan that Stef and Ian Mitchell of Duckett & Jeffreys run as a touring gallery space. Over the next two weeks it won’t be touring but will be parked up outside their house in a stunning location in the Yorkshire Wolds. Stef and Ian turn their house into a gallery four times a year and invite artists to show their work. I was thrilled to be invited to do a ‘caravan takeover’.
I’m showing some of my Gifts from the Pavement work, including a few new pieces. I took my work over there yesterday in beautiful autumn sunshine. It was tempting to linger in the dry valleys that are so typical of the wolds, amidst pheasants and buzzards and berry-heavy hedgerows. Sadly I had to get back to do other things. I did get a sneek peek at some of the work going up in the house, particularly Helen Booth‘s and I really do recommend getting over there as there is some lovely stuff. There are directions to find Canada House here and there are some lovely images of my work going up over here. The exhibitions are open between 11 and 6 daily until 13 October. If nothing else it’s worth just to see this lovely part of the world!
I’ve been working on some small textile pieces that are part of the series of works called Gifts from the Pavement. These compliment the paper based prints that formed the original exhibition. They are made in the same way, building up layers of rust print, collagraph print (both using found objects from the Saltaire streets) and stitch, but this time on silk.
These ones have just gone off to the framers and I have a little stack to work on through the holidays.
The dust has settled after the Saltaire Arts Trail last weekend. It was a wonderful three days that were blessed with lovely weather and we had thousands of visitors to the various events happening as part of the trail. I had almost 2000 visitors to my pop-up gallery over the three days, which was amazing. I had some lovely conversations with people about the project too, which was great – until people came to see the work I really didn’t know whether people would ‘get it’, but they did! It was lovely to see children’s imaginations being sparked by the different shapes I’d captured and finding delight in recognising some of the items I’d used to print with.
I’ve had a few problems uploading things this last week or so but now I can catch up on a few of the things I was going to share about the Saltaire project
Wandering round the streets of Saltaire there are a whole range of carved marks in the kerb stones. I assumed these are masons marks and they seem to be referred to as those by many people. I found some discussion on line about whether they are benchmarks for the ordinance survey, but this seems unlikely. I then had a few conversations with people during my exhibition at and it seems that these marks indicate utilities: A little less romantic, but the most plausible explanation.
Some marks are in the form of letters, some are simple shapes. Whatever their provenance they make an interesting and sometimes playful-seeming addition to the pavement-scape.
These marks found their way into my collagraph prints for Gifts from the Pavement, recreated on the print plates by string that was found on the same streets.
I’ve been working quietly away at my exhibition for Saltaire Arts Trail. This time next week the event will be in full swing and the ‘village’ of Saltaire will be buzzing with people of all ages, inspired energy and a plethora of different art experiences for visitors to sample. One of these will be my exhibition Gifts from the Pavement, in one of two pop-up galleries on Victoria Road.
I posted a while ago about finding my ‘gifts’, the result of a kind of ‘beach-combing’ or pavement combing. Farley & Roberts (see post on Edgelands) refer to this kind of collecting of objects: “This is not beachcombing, but edgecombing” (p154). Saltaire, a World Heritage Site, can’t really be classed as an edgeland; it’s far too loved and looked after. However, the discarded or ignored details that I’ve explored here are generally over-looked, so there is an edgelands quality to them.
My collection of ‘combed’ textures, marks and shapes found on the streets of Saltaire has been transformed into a series of long prints or sections of a path, which will form the main part of the exhibition. As with other recent print-based work these are built up from various layers of different print techniques and texture: There are rust prints from found metal objects; collagraph prints, some made with found items and some from paper but inspired by the textures and patterns found on the street (drain covers, worked stone etc.); mono-prints using some of the natural items I found (leaves and seed heads); screen prints featuring scraps of found text; hand stitch adding a further layer of texture to the surface and finally a layer of subtle texture, almost like a rubbing, that makes the surface even more pavement-like. There are areas of intense activity as well as quieter sections. This reflects the ‘activity’ on the streets: some stretches were rich in points of interest, others much ‘cleaner’.
In the run-up to the Arts Trail the Saltaire Tourist Information Centre has some ‘Pavement Pieces’ prints (like little fragments of the main ones) and cards. I still don’t know exactly how the long prints will actually come together in the exhibition space until I get in there later in the week. This is slightly nerve-racking but exciting too. The book I’ve published to go with the exhibition is due for delivery on Monday and until I see it in print I won’t know if it really has worked how I hoped. Although the work is all made there are unknowns and challenges for the week ahead.
I took the opportunity to have some time by the sea, both at Bridlington and a little further up the coast at Filey. Despite the persistent cold weather we’re having there was some beautiful sunshine and it was quite a wrench to tear myself away from the beach. There were all sorts of intriguing marks in the bright white stones, some almost like stitches.