Friday, 1 November 2019

EDAM Exhibition "Meanwhile ..." : Javelin Journeys

4 months ago today , I was hanging my piece 'Javelin Journeys'  in the RK Burt  Gallery , my contribution to the exhibition 'Meanwhile...'  our final term project for EDAM course. 
 I'd found blogging about the taught elements of the course  very useful, using it as a reflective  journal on what I'd done and learnt. But I found it wasn't a useful tool when I was in the thick of developing ideas  and started using an A5 sketchbook  to capture my thoughts and ' park' things that didn't go  any further at the time for future  use.  I'm referring  to my notes there now in order to  write this post. 
I'd written here about my initial thoughts on the theme  we'd been given for our exhibition based on travelling on the high speed train from Faversham, my 'space out of time' . I explored several ideas using different images and media  including large scale charcoal drawings    which I displayed in the corridor show  ( below) 

Returning to the idea of using OHP's to enlarge and distort initial drawings, I traced a section of a photocopy of a map  of part of my route on acetate and projected onto the wall onto a sheet of Abaca tissue . In my research to find a paper I could stitch into without tearing, I rediscovered abaca  in my stash - it looks like paper but feels like fabric. It's made from the abaca plant ,related to banana,  which has very long fibres  and gives the paper extra strength.  
I traced the projected image with calligraphy pens, paying attention to marks and pressure of the pen. When folded, because the paper is translucent, the underlying marks  show through and folding the paper in different ways reveals different options. I was delighted when this image was used for the back of the invitation to the Private view for the show. 

And of course my experiments in couching/ stitching on the paper were carried out on my train journeys! 
 For my final  piece I was trying to work out  how  I could display theses multi-layered translucent maps  when I remembered  I'd done something similar  years ago with   ' Taplow Vase'  (below) using cotton organdie  booklets. Not entirely successful ( it looked too much like  a lampshade! )  

 With deadline looming for submission of photos for the catalogue ,  I produced booklets of traced maps on different translucent papers  as well as abaca  and  suspended them  in different ways. 

 We had different tutors each week to bounce ideas off -  Annie Attridge  had liked my  large scale  loosely drawn ink drawings of the  train route  and I'd bought some rolls of calligraphy paper to potentially do a larger version 
So  in my  improvised photoshoot, I suspended  some trial booklets from an expandable  net curtain pole ( used for hanging quilts) in front of these drawings to produced the  photo below. 

Back in class with a different  tutor,  working out suspending booklets from a paper tube  , initially using paper string ( but that was too  clumsy ), finally came to the conclusion that the smaller   booklets worked best   ( and didn't need OHP to produce them )  and that I needed lots ! 

So  I  took  photos  of sections  of  OS maps  from Faversham  to Stratford International   and  printed them out in black and white on A4 paper . I placed sheets of Abaca  over the top, traced   the trainline and other features , couched  black thread along the trainline,  then folded them in  pamphlet structures. It took ages!! 

I ended up with 2 sets  of pamphlets , of the same journey but drawn at different scales. So on my way into class I bought a set of labels from Paperchase to  try and keep them in order.   

 When I laid them out on my table, everyone commented on how effective they were, introducing an element of colour , in artspeak ' referencing' the colours of train tickets ! So I stitched them on.  They do make a big difference, it just shows how important it can be to receive feedback from your peers. 
 By this time I'd abandoned the idea  of a paper tube and had made a cotton tube through which I could put an expandable curtain rod . I  attached threads to each of the pamphlets  and sewed them onto the sleeve , pulling on the threads  and securing with masking tape  so I could roll it up to take home 
 Tutor Amanda Knight  had suggested  I display the booklets overlapping , in the shape of the schematic diagram of the train route.   The day before the exhibition hanging , I was working first on a sheet hanging up and then later with the rod suspended on wardrobe doors  until  about 9pm , adjusting the height   of each piece .  The threads kept tangling , reminding me of the perils of 3d work, why hadn't I done a nice framed piece! 

 I carefully rolled  it up in a cotton sheet and  placed it in a telescopic  tube  to take on the train for hanging   
I'd visited the gallery the week before and had already chosen  my preferred slot across  one of the corners of the downstairs gallery. Nothing  could go directly on the wall, we had to use the clip system on the hanging rail  but rifling  through the lengths of monofilament  I  luckily found a couple of short pieces  . It was the first piece to go up and then work on the walls was placed around it 
Although the gallery space was quite dark, because of the spotlights , the shadows produced were wonderful  , not just an artwork but an installation!  

 It was a fantastic experience, and I've had so many positive comments I'm encouraged to experiment more with mapping, using paper and 3D structures. I'm rather sad though  that the course has finished , lovely inspiring people to work with  and share ideas ( and frustations). It's not the  end of my   City Lit learning though , I'll be starting  Art in theory : Space and Place  soon and ' Surface, structure, Stitch' in January. And of course my #trainstitching is ongoing!    

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Daily Drawing: October

 Autumn fungi, wildlife,  fruits and leaves:  Train Journeys;  expeditions;  Matthew Harris  course at Lund Studios;  Mexican pine leaf basket; Anthony Gormley inspiration.   

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Back to Front and Back Again: Matthew Harris Workshop at Lund Studios

 Two weeks  ago, the final day of 3 day workshop with Mathew Harris   at Lund  Studios   was drawing to a close  with a review of what we had achieved.  As with Matthews previous course in Puglia it was challenging, thought provoking  with unexpected   results  and some interesting techniques and thoughts to take forward. 

It was pleasure to be back at Lund Studios for the 3rd  time,  with  lunches from Teehee , Steve's excellent coffee and apples from the  trees  just outside. 
 I was staying  again at the George in Easingwold , food as  wonderful as ever ,  they adapted the salmon dish for me  (  without the seafood)  and the apple mousse  with bramble sorbet was a work of art ( and tasted delicious).  

  Matthew  gave a fascinating talk on his  work  , both inspiration and processes  and he had a work-in progress pinned together so we could see how it did it.  He has work on show  at the Bluecoats Gallery in November 
 The  ' drawing and making' workshop  was entitled ' Back to Front and Back Again'  with the quote from John Cage  " Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make  " 
The idea behind it was to explore the potential of  scraps  of image,  mark and shape   from an initial starting point of individual imagery . 
 We had been asked to bring  a series of abstract images ( like the  material for ' Window' workshop mine were based  on  my drawings from my 'Javelin Journeys'
 We drew from our images  with Indian ink  on a strip of thin paper  which was then  painted with melted wax and ironed to  give it both translucency and some degree  of rigidity. This was then  folded  to make new connections between different areas. The idea was not to produce an artwork in itself but that it would form the basis  to draw from  

 We then repeated the process on a much thinner more fragile  Japanese/ Chinese paper ( 3 sheets glued together)

  We were then asked to respond to  these structures, to  make responses in other paper and materials

 At the end of  Day 1 I had created a range of   fragments  using torn handmade papers  and cardboard with a variety of  different scale marks , a lot of  them with  inked raw edges . 
  We'd been warned at the start that it might be a bit of a rollercoaster ,  with panic setting in  when you didn't know where things were going   but were advised to work through the process , to be open and experimental  and not to think  too much about what the original starting point  was or what the end point would be.  Still,   Day 2 was   a bit of a struggle.  I started out  combining   2 or 3 fragments that interested  me or seemed to work together , placing them  on small sheets of paper.
 Mathew  suggested  I worked directly on the wall rather  than on  paper and that  I started to overlap the pieces , showing me the catalogue of collages by Francis  Davison . Inspirational , especially his work with envelopes !

  So I spent most of the day  moving fragments around , taking photos what I'd done ( this is only  a small selection showing how it morphed from  fish to  duck to  running shoe! )

 Towards the end of the day , thinking about  how we would move into textiles if we wished  I started  painting/ inking some bits of fabric  with similar marks.  I managed to trip  on a step while carrying coffees  and banged my knee badly  so I needed a bath and  lots of wine that  evening  . 
 Lying  awake  during the night   meant that I came up with a plan of what I wanted to do the following day.  Firstly,   that I would repeat the process  of the first day in drawing on strips of paper this time using the Abaca  tissue  I'd brought with me , one already having  map drawings on it. I waxed one of them  and they're currently on  my design wall  waiting to be folded and manipulated
 Secondly , that the fragments as a whole composition wasn't working for me , that I would take them all  down and  work on making smaller compositions  using both paper/cardboard and  cloth ( thinking  in part of the work of Peter Sacks)

 I found this tiny compositions  very pleasing, both individually and placing them  together.  Discussing  with Matthew how to combine cardboard and fabric  with stitch he suggested  imitation of   the lines of the corrugations   by pleating /folding the fabric and using kantha stitch  and waxing paper to give it fabric like qualities.  

 My journey home  the following day  involved a rattly bus  going through torrential rain and gigantic puddles with spray up to the roof leaking through the windows  contrasted with  First Class train with table to myself and  wine to help with the knee and train stitching .
 I'd layered  5 pieces of  painted cloth   of different qualities from canvas to silk to  gauze   and stitched them  with lines of quilting thread ' referencing'   corrugations of  cardboard 

 I can't remember  now whether it was Helen  Parrott  or Matthew that talked about stitching through layers resulting in an  integration that you don't get by any other means.  The photos  don't do it justice  but   that's what happened here, with  hidden marks revealing themselves and additional texture from the rippling.  Very satisfying and something I'll be experimenting with further.