Thursday, 14 November 2013

Bell Girl Etchings

So I did the first two etchings for my story and I was quite pleased with them. But my tutors weren't that keen and suggested I shelve the project for the moment. I think they worried that it would take too long to complete and the images weren't in my usual style. C'est la vie. I've got plenty of other ideas to get on with. Here they are anyway.

I had also played around with an alternative ending. If you read the story up to and including Bell Girl VI then continue here...
7. After several uneventful years a young man started coming in to the library on a Tuesday morning and he shyly complimented the Bell Girl on her delicate porcelain skin. Although he was rather short the Bell Girl thought he had very kind eyes and she started to look forward to Tuesdays. They became friends and had lunch together in the park every day and talked about books and fed the ducks and picked blackberries.

8. Then one day the young man knelt down in front of the Bell Girl and asked her to marry him. The Bell Girl knew she would have to tell him her secret even though it might mean losing her dearly beloved friend. However, much to her surprise, when she had finished her story, the young man leaned across and kissed her gently. Naturally the bell girl could hardly contain herself and she knew that any moment they would hear the loud, discordant clanging which she had tried so long to suppress.

9. Now in some fairy tales that kiss might have transformed the little man in to a prince and changed the Bell Girl into a princess. But not in this one. However, what they heard surprised and delighted them both. The sound was delicate and melodious to their ears and so lovely that everyone in the park looked up and smiled.

10. I don’t know if the couple lived happily ever after but they did open a book shop next door to the church and have several children.  And in the evenings, when the bell ringers were practicing, they would all go up in to the bell tower and dance and clang and ring and sing at the top of their voices until it was time for supper.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Bell Girl X

 But what they heard surprised and delighted them both. It was a delicate, melodious  sound which was so beautiful that everyone in the park looked up and smiled. Then holding her friend’s  hand, and with her hips swaying gently from side to side, she walked out of the park to start her new life and hopefully live happily ever after.


                                                                                             THE END

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Bell Girl lX

This happened several times over the next few weeks. Eventually the bell girl realised that next time they met in the park she would have to explain herself even though it might mean losing her dearly beloved friend. However, much to her surprise, when she had finished her story, the lady leaned across and kissed her gently. Naturally the bell girl could hardly contain herself and she knew that any moment they would hear the loud, discordant clanging which she had tried so long to suppress.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Bell Girl Vlll

After several uneventful years a beautiful lady started coming in to the shop on a Tuesday morning and she complimented the Bell Girl on her delicate porcelain skin. They became friends and had lunch together in the park every day and talked about books and fed the ducks and picked blackberries. Then one day the lady asked if the Bell Girl like to join her for supper? Much as she would like to have done so, her friend declined.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Bell Girl Vll

By the time her elderly parents died the bell girl was a young woman. She tried very hard to live a very quiet life so as not to upset anyone and found a job in the library where there was very rarely any excitement. Through a combination of meditation and deportment lessons she managed to keep the clanging to a minimum. So much so that the townsfolk forgot that she was a bell girl at all

The Bell Girl Vl

"The answer is simple!" said the third doctor and instructed the  old man to make a very slim porcelain dress for their daughter which would not leave room for the clanger to swing so wildly. The Bell Girl too liked this idea as narrow skirts were more fashionable. But, after a week or so, her legs were black and blue with bruises and she was unable to walk properly any more. With regret she put on her bell shaped dress again.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Bell Girl V

When a boy called to ask the Bell Girl to a dance the clanging noise reached such a crescendo that the couple decided it was time to consult someone else.
The second doctor thought about the problem for some time, then he suggested stuffing the Bell Girl's skirt with wool. to muffle the noise, This she did because she loved her parents. But, after a while it made her feel fuzzy and she became tired and listless. Eventually. when the Bell Girl had grown very thin, the stuffing was removed.

Monday, 30 September 2013

The Bell Girl lV

The noise got so bad when the bell girl reached puberty that the old couple decided to consult a physician. He suggested adapting the apparatus he used to help children with ricketts and polio and made a kind of splint to stop the clanger from moving, But it was extremely uncomfortable and the bell girl could no longer go out and play with her friends. Although she endured it for the sake of her parents, the couple could see that it made their child very unhappy. So after a few months they had the splint removed.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Bell Girl lll

The old man and his wife loved the little bell girl and nurtured and cared for her as if she was their own child. Her little bell would tinkle prettily as she laughed and played. It would also ring when she was upset or excited. At first the couple found this charming but, as the child grew older, the bell rang louder and less melodiously. As the years went by it seemed that any heightened emotions would set it off, clanging and clanking so violently that the girl's dress would often crack and have to be patched up.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Bell Girl ll


The next day, when he went in to his workshop, the old man found a china bell on his bench which had been fashioned into the shape of a beautiful sleeping child. He called to his wife. Just as they were wondering who had made it, they were astonished to see the child open her eyes. As she cooed and chuckled, the little bell under her skirt tinkled delightfully. And her skin was indeed as smooth and delicate as porcelain.

Friday, 27 September 2013

The Bell Girl l

So much for blogging twice a week!
To make up for it a little I am going to post something every day for the next 10 days!

I started back at university this week and the first thing I'm working on is a little tale which I am going to illustrate with etchings. I hope to make it in to an Artists Book of some sort eventually, with text on one page and the etching opposite. I've started drawing out the images and refining my story and will speak to the print technicians next week to see if my ideas are do-able (so everything may change!)
Here is page ONE of


Once there was an elderly potter and his wife who had always hoped for children but had not been so blessed. One day the old woman picked up one of the little bells that her husband used to make and her eyes misted over. "How I wish we had a little girl whose skin was as smooth and translucent as this porcelain and whose laughter was as gay as the tinkling of this little bell."

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fleeting Visit

Well - I'm back at last but not for long - off down to the New Forest tomorrow evening after work. Just time to show you this little acrylic painting I did today.

See you soon....

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Red Riding Hood Pieta

Just got time to show you one last drawing before I'm away for a two or three weeks - first to London then to beautiful North Devon. I'm hoping to go to lots of exhibitions and to take lots of photos and return with lots of ideas ready to start back at university in September.

Charcoal and chalk on card (30 x25 inches)

This recent drawing is fairly large, but it is of a quite small sculpture of Red Riding Hood which I made last semester. As you can see, the composition was based on the huge statue of the Pieta by Michaelangelo which is the most well known depiction of mourning I could think of.

Below are a few photos of my little 3D piece itself.
The wolf, the doll and the tree stump are made of porcelain and the clothing is cotton stiffened with PVA. It's about 7 inches tall.

Friday, 2 August 2013

More Charcoal Drawings

A pair of Hansel and Gretel dolls (who rather look like they've eaten all the decoration off the gingerbread house) and Albert, a well loved and quite battered 1960s push along dog.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Just a quick one.... show you a recent drawing of Cawdelia and Ronnie.

Charcoal and chalk on card (36 x 24 ins approx)

Currently, Cawdelia is sharing Ronnie with some recent visitors to our house. She is a bit perplexed by 'the girls', as I like to call them, but she is being very gracious (so far).

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Sophie Ryder - More Rabbit People

At the weekend I went to see the Sophie Ryder exhibition Monumental at the RWA in Bristol. Particularly interesting for me as, for many years she has done a lot of work around animal/human hybids. There is one hare/woman she has obsessively cast and carved in various materials and drawn and painted in works on paper.

Also in the show are some wire drawings which are huge and quite amazing. As the title of the show suggests, many of the works are very large, but up till recently the only piece of hers that I was really familiar with was The Minotaur and the Hare situated on The Promenade in Cheltenham.

Closer to home, The Wet Paint Gallery in Cirencester has an exhibition of some of Sophie Ryder's smaller sculptures and prints. Seems we can't escape from rabbit people.    

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Two Grey Rabbits (one in stockinged feet)

Charcoal and chalk on card (28 x 25 ins)

I've been trying to do some drawing the last couple of weeks. Not of anything in particular - just whatever takes my fancy on the day. Charcoal mostly. This drawing is based on two little porcelain sculptures of rabbit men I made right before the end of term. They are both about 10 inches tall

Friday, 19 July 2013

A Few More Ceramic Bits and Pieces

Thought you might like to see some more of my attempts at making fairy tale related ceramic pieces. I created these a few months ago now. They are all made of porcelain clay, cast and then altered in some way. I made the egg when I was on a resin workshop and thought the duck girl might like to look after it. You cannot see it very clearly but the sitting girl is holding a glass shoe which is too small for her.

Some of them would look better with a bit of colour....maybe....?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

John Lendis

I was intrigued by the description in the Cotswold Open Studios' catalogue of the latest paintings by John Lendis. "His new body of work is a pursuit of Ophelia through the Cotswold villages and through the lives of the artists who used to inhabit the places where Lendis now lives and works". So I went to see for myself and met him in his barn of a studio situated in the middle of the countryside.

When I arrived he was chatting to another vsitor and lamenting the fact that his cadmium red oil paint was taking weeks to dry on one of his large paintings. It was due to be shipped overseas imminently. Later he was very forthcoming in replying to my enquiries about the inspiration and ideas behind the images depicted in his striking and fairly large canvases. Ophelia has been imagined so many times by so many different artists that she seems to now have a life independent of the Shakespeare play. His red haired muse glides amongst the reeds in 'Kelmscott' or stares out at a snowy cotswold scene in 'Elsinore'. My personal favourite was 'Southrop Ophelia' (below) which I saw later at his gallery exhibition.

Southrop Ophelia, 2012
Oil on Linen
180cm x 200cm 

Mr Lendis has said that for many years he has used the symbol of the fox to signify the myth of the artist which now, in these recent works, encounters the myth of Ophelia. However the painting reminded me momentarily of  Gauguin's Loss of Virginity (1890) where the little wolf is sitting on the girls chest. It also called to mind some of the ideas I looked at for my Uni dissertation on 'Fairy Tales, Fine Art and Feminism'. I was researching the work on Little Red Riding Hood done by the artist Kiki Smith who tends to depict the relationship between the girl and the wolf as one of outsiders collaborating. They understand each other. And there is a suggestion that the heroine recognises something of herself in the animal. I think there's a hint of that in this painting too.

Having recently moved back to settle in the Cotwold countryside, Lendis sees this area as representing a timeless romantic spirit, rather like Ophelia herself. I have never come across his paintings before now, but apparently most of his work in the past has been an exploration of his personal relationship with the landscape or place where he lives. But he has left room for the viewers own interpretation of his images which is an aspect of great narrative painting that I enjoy.

The following week I travelled up to Moreton in the Marsh to see his exhibition entitled 'Brook'  at the Celia Lendis Gallery. It was well worth the trip. Take a look here and read more about his work. I found his images really inspiring and it has sparked off loads of ideas for my own work.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Conversations with a Bird

I am just putting away all my works on paper from last semester at uni into my plan chest and I thought I'd show you this little series of paintings which I did a while back. (They are all acrylic on card and about 16 x 12 ins).

I originally bought the doll at a car boot sale so I could make a mould of her head which I then cast and used on the first ceramic bird doll. But then I couldn't resist painting some pictures of her (once I'd sewn her head back on!). I think she's quite old.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Cotswold Open Studios and learning to 'Trust in the Process'

Last weekend about 20 Cotswold artists, designers and makers opened their studios to allow the public to get a glimpse of their working practices and work in progress. I spent a really pleasurable afternoon exploring some of these very varied creative spaces which were set in the most glorious countyside. I don't travel through the North Cotwolds very often and, even though it really is manipulated and manicured within an inch of its life, I was reminded again how beautiful it is and how very English.
The artists I spoke to were also very generous with their time and expertise answering questions very patiently and genuinely. And their work was pretty inspiring too!
Since being at UWE I have started to work in quite a different way to previously. I am finding that the process of making the sculptural things gives me the time and mental space to develop ideas for works on paper.This suits my temperament much better but self confidence has always been a bit of a challenge as far as my art work is concerned. I was very encouraged by the feedback I received from my tutors at UWE (one of them, Richard Webb, took part in the Open Studios). However they ended by saying...  
    "Through drawing and making you have allowed concept to begin to emerge and become clearer -a very good example of practice as research. What is the work telling you? Where is it leading you? To  move forward you need to trust this process"
Obviously different artists have different ways of working but listening to the artists who took part in the Open Studios did confirm what I really already knew. It takes time and experience to fully trust that the work will lead somewhwere worthwhile. And hard work and perseverence. The more you make/draw/paint etc the more you trust your process. Confidence is a by product of putting in the hours. I know this is stating the obvious really but sometimes I get so bound up in thinking about stuff when really I just need to get on and start to actually do it!
The Open Studios taster exhibition at the Corinium Museum is still on.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Mini Prints and a bit more discipline (hopefully).

I am the first to admit that I have not been very good at regularly updating this blog with all my 'news, views and work in progress' since I started it last year. However, it is a reqiurement of the Professional Practice module of my degree course next semester to create some sort of online presence. So, I really must get in to the habit of blogging about twice a week and be more disciplined about setting the time aside to do it. They say it takes 6 weeks for a habit to form so by September updating my blog should be second nature to me... maybe...hopefully...

Here are the two prints that I put in the Mini Print Exhibition at the Printmakers Gallery last month and I'm pleased to report that I sold a few (which is always encouraging)! They are both collagraphs, 10 x 10 cms.