Exhibition – ‘Work in Progress’

Yesterday I visited an exhibition ‘Work in Progress’ which is by a group of OCA Students and Tutors based in the South West, at The Old Brick Workshop, near Wellington, Somerset.

Great to see this new initiative come to fruition for OCA Students, it wasn’t something that was happening whilst I was still studying with the OCA, but good to know there are some individuals who are willing to take on the task of organizing and applying for funding, etc. It was nice to see quite a number of familiar names, some that I have met, and others I may have come across on the Student forums. And, as always, great to see the work. A good cross section of work from the various disciplines, and some interesting methods of display encouraging visitor intervention- I got to play with acetates and a lightbox, taking a Polaroid photo of my effort to stick into a little sketchbook with other peoples efforts -good fun. I also enjoyed seeing the experimentation evident in much of the work, like the Seaweed drawings. I hope the exhibition is a success for them with lots of visitors.

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Exhibition – Rita Ackermann : Turning Air Blue

I had seen this exhibition advertised and was intrigued that her work was made with washes of chalk – my immediate thoughts being about the fragility of the work and how it is (if it is?) fixed for a big exhibition. I hadn’t felt moved to go, but later found myself there, at Hauser and Wirth Somerset, anyway. I was blown away by the work. The scale of the work is what struck me first, and then the depth in these works which initially appear quite simple. Closer looking reveals fragments and traces of drawings that have been worked over. Figures appear through the layers in this fragile landscape.

I still found myself intrigued by her process and with a little searching later found an article that gave an insight –

‘Ackermann primes the canvas with traditional chalkboard paint before drawing out a figurative scene in chalk. The drawings are then partially washed away in vigorous sweeping gestures that oscillate between the visible and invisible, revealing only limited emphasis on method, subject and production. The repetitive steps of layering and erasure cause the chalk lines to dissolve in a cyclical process through which new abstracted images and shapes emerge. These are then further overworked with spray paint, prior to a final fixative seal.’

So, interesting for me to see that she does use a fixative -obvious really! This has been one of those technical dilemmas that I have spent time thinking about in relation to my ‘Trace’ drawings and how they might be exhibited.

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Creative Pathways Bursary 2017

Now that a few weeks have passed since the end of Somerset Arts Weeks 2017 I’m just going to reflect a little on what being a recipient of a Creative Pathways Bursary has meant for me. I was commissioned to make an Artist Book in response to a location with mentoring by an experienced artist.

As a result-

  • It has been a great boost to my confidence and a good motivator to make work.
  • It has given me the opportunity to explore in depth the range and diversity of what an ‘Artist book’ can be, and to practice and develop some of the practical skills required.
  • It has given me the experience of working to a commission and the negotiations required to make sure the brief has properly understood, and then developing work according to a certain time scale.
  • It has been great to have the guidance of a mentor with such a wealth of experience.
  • As well as providing a new platform for my work, it has given me the experience of being part of a bigger project and the opportunity to be involved its preparations.
  • During the event I helped steward on a number of days which enabled me to talk with visitors and get some direct feedback on the work.
  • It enabled me the opportunity to spend time in creative and environmentally sensitive location at an opportune time so as to experience an ancient meadow at what must be its peak time – alive with insects and wild orchids.
  • Through spending time at Dove and as part of the Creative Pathways project I have met a lot of people, many artists/creative’s, so extending my network locally.
  • Through providing a focus for making that was a side step from my evolving practice, it has allowed time and space to think about my practice from a slightly different perspective and how it might develop.

Overall, I have found it to be a very rich experience and feel as though I have learned a lot during the time devoted to this project, and this has been made richer by the support and guidance I have received too.

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Workshop : Material Resonances.

On Saturday I was lucky enough to go to a Workshop : Material resonances with Louise K Wilson and Stephen Felmington at Clayhill Arts, nr Bridgewater, Somerset that was part of  Prospectus, which is a pilot project developed by Somerset Art Works and funded by Arts Council England. Both artists gave illuminating and engaging talks about their individual arts practice – an interest in the cold War being an interest they share. In the afternoon Louise gave a Sound workshop, but I chose to join Stephen in his experimental Drawing workshop exploring peripheral vision and memory to alter focus and levels of attention.

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Exhibibition – Frances Hatch : ‘With Red Earth Under My Nails’.

Managed to get down to the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton today and catch the last day of Frances Hatch’s exhibition, ‘With red earth under my nails’. A fabulous collection of work focused on capturing the sense of place through the use of materials found on site. Great to get up close and be able to appreciate the textures and energy in the works, and also to have the opportunity to look through some of her sketchbooks and get a sense of her process.

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…..and now it’s gone!

On the final weekend of Somerset Arts Week I spent a day as Guardian of the Tree House Library Books. It was a great opportunity to take a closer look at the other Artist Books that have been made.

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I got a Golden ticket!

My recent work that has evolved through getting a SAW Creative Pathways Bursary to create an Artist Book for the ‘Amazing Space II: Spirit of Place’ Project at Dove Studios has led me not only to explore the world of Artist Books, but to also consider more deeply the nature of the material the majority are made from – Paper. So, I was over the moon to be one of the recipients of a ‘Golden Ticket’ – a limited number of tickets issued for a tour of the historic paper mill, St Cuthberts Mill, near Wells, Somerset – open to the public for the first time. They are the makers of well known papers Bockingford and Saunders Waterford.

I have previously made attempts at making paper using natural materials or recycling materials, but obviously on a small scale. It was fascinating to see the process unfold on an industrial scale. To see how the pulp comes into the Mill, how Calcium Carbonate is added to adjust the pH and ensure its acid-free archival quality, to see the rollers used – individual to each type of paper, the beautifully stitched watermarks, the bank of rollers to make and super dry the paper, the addition of size, the resulting massive roll of paper, the rigorous testing for quality, and how the quality control maintained, particularly of the top-end papers, is done by human eyes, sheet by sheet, then packed by hand. It certainly made me appreciate more the qualities of the papers and why they will cost more than, say, an average cartridge paper. It was also a great opportunity for asking lots of questions about the process, Kathy, our guide, seemed very knowledgeable about both the history of the Mill, but also paper-making and its process. I feel as though I came away with a new respect for paper and information that may well feed into my next attempts at paper-making. We shall see!!

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