Saturday, 17 February 2018

Contemporary Collage week 4: Conceptual Wall Assemblage 'Head and Heart'

 Being a scientist  and generally making art  inspired  by landscape  or abstracted versions of things I've seen  and recorded, I find it difficult to work with concepts  and emotions  as themes.  But that was what we were  working with  last week. 
 The idea was to put up sheets of paper on the wall, pick a word based on 'states of being'  eg anger   and explore ways of expressing that in visual terms   eg what colour would it be , shape, size,  texture, quick/slow marks etc. We had an overview of   24 of these abstract terms and  examples of  how different artists had used them  eg Rachel Whiteread for 'volume'  casting the spaces under desks in resin ' and Luke Gottelier  for 'scale' making a studio for his hamster.
Working on the wall  ( or in my case a door) gave the opportunity to find links between different elements  and to expand to further sheets of paper.
We formed brain storming groups of 4 to discuss   our words and how they could be interpreted which was useful process, especially as I was way out of my comfort zone. 

As it's 3 years since I left Kew, this has been  on my mind a lot this week.  Initially my word was 'reflective'  but changed to 'regret'.  Working there for nearly 25 years, doing work I enjoyed and made a difference  both for conservation and in training people,  it was a large part of my identity. I used to squeeze art and stitching into any spare time. In the end I didn't need to find a job  but now while in theory I have all the time in the world to focus on art,  one of the main issues I've had to deal with  is deciding my own direction and motivation after being part of a team effort working towards long term goals.  I still miss my colleagues.   On the positive side , Faversham is proving a lovely place to live  and I've  already had  unexpected success in winning Fine Art Quilt Masters although now there are expectations of what I'll produce next! 

 So  lots of complex and conflicting  emotion there , how to express it visually?  I started off with a grid structure   of the growth room shelves and the  circles of Petri dishes , ideas about breaking out of the grid and  positive and negative  feelings.  

 I continue to have a bit of a thing about circles  and also the outlines remaining when you cut shapes out. This hasn't been part of my textiles so far but perhaps they should be .

At home , I finally got round to sticking in some more leftover bits in my 'scrap book' . 

Cwilt Cymru Exhibition 'Traces'

Not long now until Cwilt Cymru  exhibition 'Traces'  opens at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery. I'm honoured to have one of my  quilts feature on the flyer ( above) . 
I'll also be at the preview 'meet the artists' on Saturday 3 March 2-4pm 

Indigo Ripples 

Hidden Fractures

Fleet Mudflats

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Contemporary Collage Week 3: Exquisite Corpse, Cut and Swap Hybrids

Week 3 and I brought in  secondhand books on Greek mythology and Australian Insects and Spiders. These along with   bits from magazines  provided the material for  playing ' consequences' ( or exquisite corpse) , swapping heads , bodies and legs or creating hybrids from unlikely subjects. We were shown examples from various artists, I  was particularly intrigued  by work of Hannah Hoch.  
Having gone down the more obvious route (examples  above) , as in previous weeks, I became intrigued by the negative shapes left when figures have been cut out    and spent the rest of the session exploring these 

 Here I  cut out a figure , cutting down through 3 pages and then swapped the figures around in  different backgrounds  including reverse of figures and pages.
Extending the red marks ( above), adding a Greek coin (below) 

I then repeated the process  cutting out 1 figure from 4 pages , flipping the figure over (above) , colouring in the space that was left ( below) 

Then using some of the negative shapes from the figures and  the reverse of a leftover Greek statue  I pieced the collage below , then did a rubbing (frottage )of it on tracing paper using graphite 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Drawing Tuesday at the Petrie Museum: small pots

 First Drawing Tuesday of the year for me - an afternoon at the Petrie Museum . As on a previous visit , I had lunch in the British Museum Members Room then visited the current exhibition' Living with the Gods'. Having listened to  all the episodes either on the radio or as downloads on my phone, it was good to see some of the objects discussed, a mixture of old items and contemporary pieces.

The final exhibit , shown above, featuring the Lampedusa Cross ;small boats made from bicycle mudguards and burnt matches ; and  plaster casts of  tshirts  commemorating  drowned refugees brought a lump to my throat.
 The Petrie Museum's cases are so jam-packed with items, it's overwhelming and difficult to choose what to draw.  Having found a reasonably  comfortable chair  with a table to spread out , my tactic this time was to  draw whatever was in front of me: small broken pots with faded markings and quirky double flasks. 
There was also the  bonus of  overhearing a curator explain to a couple of students about how to handle, measure and photograph objects and where to find further information about them - fascinating. 

I mainly used different sizes of sanguine PITT pens  and  pencil  but also experimented with some  khadi papers. I should do more of this ,it's so much easier to work on a toned background adding darks and lights ( white gel pen) and the texture of the paper adds another dimension. 

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Contemporary Collage Week 2: Desecrating Dinghy Ownership

I had a wonderful time on Monday in Contemporary Collage class  ' desecrating'  the copy of  'Dinghy Ownership' I bought last week.  After  we were shown a variety of examples of artists  and altered books  I took a sharp intake of breath before starting - it feels rather naughty (or should that be nautical!) deliberately cutting out diagrams, ripping out pages, and painting and drawing on the text.

I spent the morning cutting out the diagrams with a scalpel ( I was complimented on my precision - but then I have been  using one for over 30 years dissecting plants )
Then after  lunch, some painting and colouring in.

After cutting out a few hull diagrams , I made a template and cut out some more  then added ink around the edges . I like the overlapping shapes  and what is revealed of underlying pages

On this page the cutouts  show  the  chapter on water and tides (I highlighted these words) 

I started  using the cutout shapes as stencils for  colouring in  the page beneath  with ink . 
The downside to working within  a book is only being able to work on a  spread at a time. Here I painted with acrylic all over except where a couple of  shapes had been cut out but the pages  stuck together while drying. Pulling them apart   left some ripped   white marks which I quite like!

2 sets of diagrams showing flows of currents: on one I extended the areas of black ; on the other I replicated the shape I'd cut out on the opposite page
Painting the stubs of the ripped out pages with ink is when I discovered the effects of ink  spreading to other pages along the spine. This led to  dripping ink deliberately all along the edges of the book when closed. Very satisfying! 
I painted both sides of the ripped out pages using a variety of techniques including acrylic both wet and dry brush; neolcolour crayons; pastels and wax candle resists with inks  
I can't decide whether to put them back into the book ( above) or use them for something else  ( I was thinking again of the structure of  3d weather chart from Contemporary Drawing Sketchbook course)

Some pages I painted lightly with white gesso to partly obscure the text and these I think I will reinsert in the book - I like the contrast of the white with the cream of the paper.  

And the what to do with the excised diagrams and shapes - put them back in the book, use them for another project or stick them in my 'scrap book'? 
I had to leave early  to catch my train so didn't see much of what others had done but there was some amazingly diverse  work going on ( many were using books with coloured illustrations and photos). I half wish I'd been a bit more adventurous   but I'm increasingly finding that  I get more out of using a limited palette and range of techniques but pushing how far I can go within those boundaries