Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Life Drawing 10th March 2015

2 Colour line drawing, pen

It's taken me a while to get around to writing this post, partly because I've been very busy and partly because I wasn't really sure what I was going to write. The session went well and it was good to have a few more people there, more people seems to create a more energetic atmosphere I find. As always the model provided some excellent poses and I enjoyed the chance to just sit and draw for a while.

Continuous line, blind drawing

Continuous line, blind drawing

Continuous line, blind drawing

Continuous line, blind drawing

Usually when I come to write up the session I have a fairly clear idea what I'm going to say, I've generally focused on something particular in my drawing or been thinking about certain things that influence my drawing. This time, however, it's not until a couple of weeks afterwards and looking back at the drawings that I can see what the sessions drawings were about.

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line

It's a busy time for me at the moment and I think that's reflected in my drawing, there's a lot of quick, quite rough drawings and very few more considered drawings as my brain is going in lots of different directions at once and I find it harder to stop and really focus on one thing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I enjoyed doing some 'blind' drawing where I don't look at the page and try to capture the pose in a single line, I like how these drawings capture a sense of the pose even when they don't bear much actual resemblance and the proportions are almost always way out. There is a certain freedom to working in this way that I find very helpful, not worrying about the accuracy of the outcome frees the eye and the hand to draw what's there rather than trying to make it look 'right.' In all my drawings this session I think I was looking to pare things down and reduce the number of lines used to try and capture the essence of the pose (that sounds very pretentious but I can't think of a better way to explain it!)

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line

One of the things I did try and focus on a bit more was drawing faces. This is definitely my weakest area so I usually avoid it but I'd like to get better and the only way to do that is to practice. I always find when drawing this model that I think of statues and rock, he is very solid and I want to capture that in my drawing. As a consequence the faces I've drawn are very lined, making him  look a lot older than in real life!

Continuous line

Studies, pen


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

No Borders Exhibition

Exhibition View

Over the past few years as part of my work with Prism Arts I've been working with the No Borders group, a group of adults with profound disabilities who all attend Carleton Day Centre. It's been interesting, exciting and gratifying to see the group develop over time, to see their skill and confidence grow and to be part of this enthusiastic group who are always up for trying new things and pushing their boundaries.

'The British Army' Clay figures

'The British Army'

'The British Army'
Over the past few weeks I've been working with the group to put together an exhibition of their work from the past year. This has involved much discussion about what work should be included, how it should be displayed and what 'feel' they wanted the exhibition to have. It also involved a lot of preparation, mounting, finishing and general tidying up. The exhibition took place in their work space and was a great opportunity for the group to show everyone what they've achieved. The exhibition included prints, textile pieces, clay work and a sound piece.

'People Paint Print' displayed on perspex

'People Paint Print' (detail)

Prints on fabric, displayed on perspex

The group had some really interesting ideas for displaying the work, I particularly like the use of the big perspex sheets for showing work in the windows. Having the light coming through gives a totally different effect to if the pieces had been conventionally mounted and also makes good use of space! Other work was more traditionally displayed to show off the quality of the pieces, we wanted to create a really polished and professional show and I think we achieved this.

Thread Wrapped Branches

'Magic Tree'

'Sea Swirls' Print on fabric

One of the projects that the group has worked on over the past year was a beautiful sound-scape with artist Mark Newport. The group put this together with a slide show of images taken during their sessions which gives a real feel of how the group works and shows that the work is all theirs. We had this playing throughout the exhibition which helped create a really nice atmosphere and gave visitors and insight into how the group operates.

'Tree Colours' Thread wrapped card

Detail of 'Tree Colours'

Exhibition view

Exhibition view



Thursday, 5 March 2015

Sketchbook Making Workshop for Tullie House's Anselm Kiefer Exhibition

Making an envelope sketchbook

Another day another workshop, another workshop connected to Tullie House's current Anselm Kiefer exhibition. It really is a fantastic exhibition and I'm really pleased to be involved in so many of the engagement projects. I find Kiefer's work very inspiring and am intrigued by a lot of his ideas and the issues he addresses so it's great to be able to share that interest and explore it with other people. Today I was working with secondary school students on a mixed media sketchbook making session.

Two of my sample accordion sketchbooks

One of my sample envelope sketchbooks

This workshop, like the one I ran for Art Educators North West and the session I ran before Christmas, focused on using reclaimed and recycled papers to make interesting sketchbooks. Kiefer has made books throughout his career and also uses the book as a motif in his work. I like the idea of a book as a container (of stories, thoughts, memories, ideas, information and so on) which is one of the reasons I designed the workshop around books. Also, sketchbooks are always useful and are very personal items, a handmade sketchbook even more so.

Making envelopes

Preparing and selecting papers and making envelopes

During the workshop we focused on two types of sketchbook, envelope sketchbooks and accordion sketchbooks. Both are quite simple and relatively easy to master but they have a great deal of potential in terms of personalisation and development. Both can also be transformed into 3D pieces and I think would be really interesting avenue to explore. The use of reclaimed and recycled materials references Kiefer's multi media approach but also allows for the use of materials that are personal or have a meaning in themselves to be used, such as old exhibition guides or old letters.

Mixing different papers

Getting stuck in

The students were very enthusiastic and worked really hard all session, they got really involved in the process which was great and they came up with some great ideas and created some lovely sketchbooks. Almost all the students chose to make envelope books, which I was quite surprised about as I expected the accordion books to be more popular. One of the nice things about a sketchbook making session is that at the end the students all had a book to take away with them and work into as they were spending the afternoon in the gallery.

Some of the finished sketchbooks

Finished envelope sketchbook

A selection of finished sketchbooks

I think this was a very successful workshop as it allowed plenty of room for individual expression but was also accessible to a wide range of abilities. Having a useful and beautiful finished product was also a positive. I also think another reason it worked well was because the students could easily see ways to develop the ideas and use them in their own work. It was also a lot of fun!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Wrapping

Thread Wrapped Branch, 2015
One of the great things about the work I do is the way that ideas and techniques cross over from my personal practice into my work with people and vice versa. For example, when I began my Applied Textiles sessions with the No Borders Art Group in November last year one of the first activities we did was thread wraps as I thought it would be a good way to start having a play with colours and textures. In my first year at Uni we did a lot of thread wraps (which I didn't really enjoy at the time) and they are a good way of exploring how colours work together.

Thread Wrapped branch made by No Borders participant, 2014

Thread Wrapped branch made by No Borders participant, 2014

Thread Wrapped branch made by No Borders participant, 2014

One member of the group really got into the thread wrapping and her main project for the sessions was a thread wrapped branch. Inspired by her enthusiasm for the technique I did a thread wrapped piece of driftwood as a sample and really enjoyed it. It's a very therapeutic technique, quite slow and methodical which allows the mind to wander and explore different ideas.

'Scotland' thread wrapped branch, 2014

'Scotland' thread wrapped branch, 2014

'Scotland' thread wrapped branch, 2014

As well as enjoying the process I like the look of the wrapped branches and the ideas it stirs, it feeds back to my interest in dichotomies such as the hidden/revealed and exposed/protected. So, I decided to explore a bit further.

'Scotland' thread wrapped branch, in my studio

'Scotland' thread wrapped branch, 2014

'Scotland' thread wrapped branch, 2014

The sample piece I'd made was inspired by our holidays in Scotland; the soft, rain washed blues and greys of the sea and sky and the bright purples and pinks of the heathers. I also used a lot of threads I'd collected on holiday so for me this piece really has a strong connection with place and memory. In my further explorations I was more interested in looking at the ideas mentioned before rather than creating something specific to a time and place.

At work

In progress

Wrapped and dyed sample

This led me to work in neutral colours and I chose mostly natural fibres as I was thinking about dying the finished piece. I did a small sample to start off with, which I floated in a dye bath for a while before I began on a larger piece. As can be seen in the small sample different fibres absorb dye differently so when I was wrapping I used different threads in different sections but also did a lot of overlapping, to build up different tonal and textural effects.

Wrapping with different threads

Wrapped and ready to dye

Dip dyeing

As I was working one of the ends of thread worked itself loose. I was about to re-wrap it but looking at the work I decided not to and then deliberately left other threads hanging, I like the way they reach out from the piece, connecting to the space around it.

Drip drying

Wrapped and dyed branch

Detail

I thought about how I would dye the piece as I was wrapping and decided to dip dye it. I'm really pleased with the result, I like the changes but after discussion with some of my fellow artists I'm inclined to agree with them that the gradation needs to be a bit more subtle. So, next time I will be using a bucket to dye the piece so I can dip more into the dye at once!

Thread Wrapped Branch, 2015

Detail

Detail

This has been an interesting piece to work on and I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops in the future, I'm not quite sure where it's going but I've got a feeling it could be interesting and is worth exploring further...