Monday, 27 October 2014

Recent Graduates Exhibition at the Affordable Art Fair

A selection of my work was on show at the Recent Graduates Showcase at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea. I dropped my stuff off on Monday and was persuaded to return for the PV on Wednesday evening. It was REALLY busy. 
A huge space at the entrance to the Fair is given over to the Graduate Exhibition. The Rabbitmen were displayed differently, again (see below) and the Frog Prince was on a plinth right in the middle of the room. Birdbabies and StoryKeepers were also on show.
Thousands of people will see my work over the next few days which is great but it's really made me think about a lot of things, particularly about the presentation of artwork. There was SO much good art on show in the gallery spaces (mostly really reasonably priced) all competing for visitors attention. 


A child ran off with the Frog Prince's crown over the weekend. He looks even more forlorn without it, in this photo taken by the fair organisers. Little did I know at the PV that the Frog Prince would soon no longer be mine. He's going to live in Scotland. Not in a castle but in a very large house.

Friday, 17 October 2014

20:20 Print Exchange

Later this month some of the members of the Gloucestershire Print Co-op are taking part in an annual Print Exchange with other print workshops round the country. I decided to take part this year.
Each artist produces an edition of 25 prints each measuring 20cm x 20cm, [paper size]. In return each participant will receive a portfolio of 20 randomly selected prints from all over the UK and Ireland. Last year 585 artists from 40 print workshops created 14,625 prints.

Instead of making a new print one of my options was to use a little etching which I made on the 'Introduction to Etching' workshop at uni last year. The print wasn't that exciting - it was my first ever etching after all. Inking it up in different ways didn't really improve it, so then I experimented with colouring the print with watercolours. Painting prints seems to be frowned upon by purists but it really brought this little etching to life. Enough that I thought it would be acceptable as my contibution to the exchange. I printed and painted the edition of 25 over 2 days last week and I've just finished numbering and signing them ready to send them on their way. Now I'm looking forward to seeing what prints I get in exchange...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

RWA OPEN EXHIBITION - Coaching Emerging Artist Award

The Rabbitmen were selected for the RWA Annual Open Exhibition and I attended the PV this afternoon. I left it to the curators as to how the figures were installed and they arranged them on several small shelves at head height and above. I was quite surprised although I don't know why really. So far everyone has organised them differently (and that freedom to group them in various ways is part of the work). Looking up at them feels quite odd to me (as well as being a very unforgiving vantage point!). Interesting though.

 I was also lucky enough to be awarded one of the prizes. 'The New Creations Coaching Emerging Artists Award'. My prize is £240 worth of creative consulting with a company called New Creations Coaching. I'm looking forward to finding out whats involved. I think it will be really useful to me at the moment. Stephen snapped this photo with his phone as I was recieving my prize.

I will have to go back to and have another look at the exhibition. I noticed work of some particular favourite artists of mine, including Nicola Bealing and Kerry Phippen but it was very crowded (as PVs should be) and I'd like to have a good look round when it's quieter.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Starting an MA in Multi Disciplinary Printmaking

At the end of September I came back from a relaxing couple of weeks in Ireland (staying with my lovely aunt and uncle) just in time to start my MA in Multi Disciplinary Printmaking at UWE.
The first semester is mostly taken up with workshops covering various printmaking techniques and starting a Critical Jourmal covering all our art related activities.
When I first started at UWE I went straight into the 3rd year to finish my BA which I found quite difficult. Everyone was really friendly but they had all been there for 2 years already. It's really nice to be on a course from the begining, starting with everyone else. Also I get to do some printmaking at last - although I will also be continuing with my ceramic work too. I'll keep you posted.

I was on holiday for most of the View Gallery exhibition and for the Bristol Affordable Art Fair (where the DrugStore Gallery showed some of my pieces). But I did sell work at both venues which is great news. Just need to keep the momentum going...

StoryKeepers at AAF, Bristol along with work by Benjamin Buckley and Lily Urbanska

Monday, 8 September 2014

From View Gallery website

First Impressions 2014 Winners

Congratulations to Lizzy Drury and Kate Williamson who were awarded first and second prize at the First Impressions 2014 student art exhibition.
A packed gallery admired 50 pieces of amazing art created by students from the South West region and further afield. The art work for the exhibition was selected from hundreds of submissions and then a judging panel, including celebrated Bristol artist Beth Carter, deliberated hard before choosing the top 2 artists.
The work of this years winner, UWE graduate Lizzy Drury, covered the entire back wall of our gallery with her triptych ‘Abandonment’. These stunning graphite drawings not only were visually spectacular but had an intriguing narrative that kept us captivated. Many viewers were debating the story behind the content that evoked mixed emotions; some people found the work sad and unnerving, others were amused and fascinated. We are looking forward to working with Lizzy next year as she makes new work for a show in the gallery (the winner’s prize).

Runner-up, Kate Williamson, also at UWE, attracted huge attention and conversation about her 3 sculptures, The Frog Prince, Baby Bird and Rabbitmen. These beautiful porcelain (and other materials) pieces are technically impressive and high in aesthetic quality, but it is the narrative that stood out for the panel. The Frog Prince and Baby Bird achieved a level of anthropomorphism that many artists attempt but so few succeed in this way. They pieces were touched and talked to with such sensitivity. Whereas the narrative in these two pieces was reasonably straight forward, based on known stories and myths, the Rabbitmen left the door wide open for the viewers interpretation. In placing the pieces in various positions the interactions and conversation of the installation changed, providing a moving narrative that is personal to the viewer. Kate’s prize is to be taken by View to one of the top art fairs in London next year where her work will be admired by thousands of people.

Congratulations to Lizzy and Kate and to all the students who made the exhibition stage. In the opening night we were delighted that some of the students work was selling and attracted lots of enquiries. The aim of First Impressions is to give students exposure and also the opportunity to experience the whole exhibition process, from submission through to exhibiting and potentially sale.
The standard of First Impressions is increasing each year and we are already looking forward to seeing next years submissions.
Comments are closed.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Good News!

I was awarded the 2nd Prize at the PV of the First Impressions exhibition in Bristol! The prize is for the View Gallery to take my work to an Art Fair in London next year. I also got to meet the sculptor, Beth Carter (who was really lovely) although I was rather nervous and have since thought of loads of things I would like to have asked her...
Lizzy Drury, who was on the DAA course with me won the first prize with her beautiful drawings of deconstructed teddy bears.
These photos come from The View Gallery's Facebook page (there are loads more on there).

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The View Gallery Student Exhibition

The catalogue is now available to look at online. There is some amazing work. The winner will be announced at the Private View next Thursday. Wish me luck...


Monday, 28 July 2014

Visiting Exhibitions in London

I haven't been to see any exhibitions in London for ages. (When I helped out at the graduate exhibition a couple of weeks ago there was no time to go out). So at the risk of getting Art Overload I am catching up on what's on at the moment. My first ports of call have been Tate Modern and Tate Britain.

However it was an uncomfortably hot day and Tate Modern was really heaving with people and I think that affected my appreciation of the exhibitions somewhat. I really didn't feel as beguiled as I thought ought to be by the huge Mattisse exhibition. The story of the last years of the artists life is so familiar and through the crowds of people I think I just saw what I expected to see. No more, no less. It was interesting to see how 'hand made' the 'cut-outs look with their occasional rough edges and glue stains and the faint outlines of preliminary drawings still evident. In reproductions the colour looks completely flat (as it is meant to) when actually you can see the varying density of the paint and the brush marks of the assistants. And I must say that I have seen his stained glass windows in books and on TV many times but I found that in the flesh the organic forms combined with the colour and light were really powerful in their simplicity. I will be going again to the exhibition with a friend before it finishes, may be it'll be quieter then.

Folk Art at Tate Britain was a rather weird and a wonderful collection of extraordinary objects
created by ordinary (often unknown) makers. Folk Art is a vast subject and, as if to make the point, the first display as you entered the exhibition was of outsized objects made as shop signs. If I had brought a child with me I would have told them that someone had used the huge key to break in to the giants castle and make off with a random collection of huge shoes, kitchen implements and toys (and here was the proof of their daring).  In fact it was a 'wonder full' exhibition altogether. We will never know who decided to paint a horse’s vertebra so that it became a mini-model of Methodism’s founding father John Wesley or what prompted Irish labourers to fashion the peculiarly fetishistic “God-in-a-bottle” sculptures. The exhibition certainly succeeded in  showing that creativity and innovation have always permeated every aspect of everyday life  and can pop up in the most unexpected places. I'm thinking now that I'd really like a 4ft teapot....

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Another Exhibition Over

The Synecdoche show closed on Sunday evening and was generally considered a great success. I'm pleased to report that I sold quite a few pieces. I still find it quite a challenge when someone looks at a print or a sculpture and asks me "what is your work about?"  I shall have to work out something pithy and succinct before next time.
I also did some swaps with some of the other students which is always a nice thing to do. The sculpture below right is by Marius Bremer who will be finishing his degree next year. It is now sitting on my mantlepiece.

Photo: After months of planning and a busy but great week Synecdoche Art is finally back in Bristol! Such great feed back from everyone who visited- on with the next exhibition!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Rabbitmen are in Crafts magazine....

advertising the Synecdoche exhibition in London! It felt amazing opening my copy and seeing them there.

Yesterday I packed up and delivered the artwork which is going in the exhibition next week. My contrbution is all very rabbitty. Accompanying the herd of rabbitmen is the original rabbitman collagraph and the Rabbit Suit for Mr Messerschmidt. The exhibition is being organised and curated by fellow students from UWE and I'm taking my turn at invigilating next Saturday. So if you're in London next week do pop in to the Embassy Tea Rooms, Union St, SE1.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Degree Show photos by Mark Tan

Mark Tan is a really talented printmaker and had a studio space next door but one to me at university. He took loads of fantastic pictures of our degree show (including my work) which you can see by clicking on the link below...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

It's all over...

So, the show is over and I've collected all my stuff. I can't quite believe I've finished my degree. And I really wasn't sure about the way the tutors displayed my work but I've had loads of encouraging comments and emails. Over 400 postcards of the Rabbitmen were picked up by visitors! I've even sold quite a bit.
I won't have my final results for a few weeks. Until then I think I will take some time to regroup, take stock, and make some decisions. But I have started work on a new collagraph print which may go in the Synecdoche exhibition in July. And I'd like to go to see a few exhibitions in London. And visit my aunt in Ireland. And clear out my mother's loft. And the garden really needs some attention....

Rabbitmen waiting to hear where their final positions will be in the show

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The 'Story Keepers'

The tutors at uni have at last decided which pieces of mine are going to be in the degree show and how they want them displayed. A mixture of 2D and 3D work has been chosen. So I thought I'd make them next in line in the series of posts on some of the ideas and influences behind my work.

I think I will start with the Story Keepers. (There are more pictures of them on my website)

When researching for my dissertation about fairy tales and fine art I discovered that as far as anyone can tell stories of magic and mystery have always been with us. Plato called them 'old wives tales' but they were not only told to children. Long before they were ever written down as 'fairy tales' they were passed on by word of mouth. And, although there may have been a basic plot structure, the details of the stories changed with each retelling to suit the type of audience, the time and place and the motives of the storytellers (who were usually women).

I started to think about creating some sort of timeless female characters who had heard all the stories over the centuries and kept them safe until they were needed again. Originally I imagined that that they had swallowed the stories, keeping them inside a huge, smooth cone shaped body but having childrens faces. (I was looking at the work of the surrealist Leonora Carrington at the time and she often painted children in big cone shaped cloaks.) And at one stage I toyed with the idea of giving them nun-type headgear (I adapted an origami pattern to make a prototype out of paper). But eventually they developed the ear trumpets and the more bulbous patched and worn out bodies, although they still have young faces.

Here are some of the pictures from my reference/sketch book 

making a pattern for the bulbous form

'Echo' (print by Aine Scannell)


'ear trumpet' mould from a bicycle bell

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Ten Line Tales

I have started a new page on my blog called Ten Line Tales. It's going to contain stories poetry and prose written by all sorts of people in response to some of the artworks on my website.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The end is in sight....

I'm almost at the end of my degree. This is a photo of my stuff waiting to be assessed. My website is all organised now (as part of the Professional Practice module). Just waiting to see what work the tutors choose for the show....

Monday, 26 May 2014

'The Daughter of the Minotaur'

The female minotaur sculpture is next up in my series of posts discussing some of the ideas behind my work. She has elicited a huge variety of responses from those who have encountered her. Some quite sinister. Perhaps because Jesus with little children is such a familiar scenario.
She is actually an amalgamation of several ideas and influences. My father used to tell us how, as a small child, he was occasionally taken to visit an old aunt whom he was obliged to kiss and hug. It is a common enough childhood experience. He used to dread it. To his young eyes she has a wobbly cow-like chin and huge breasts which he feared may suffocate him as he was clutched to them! The Daughter of the Minotaur represents those characters and situations which convention (and adults) seems to approve and accept but we, as children, are really not so sure about. Sometimes it's all in the child's vivid imagination (as with my father) but unfortunately sometimes the minotaur is very sinister. 

In this second piece I have started to develop the minotaur's story. She is not an altogether sympathetic character I'm afraid.

Her age should mean she is revered but her circumstances are not very grand. She is an imperious creature, sitting in a rather dilapidated armchair, reliant on relatives (those she still has power over) to do her bidding. I have put her on the sort of trolley a child might pull along.

One day I will create a series of pictures featuring my minotaur.
(This is a little drawing from my sketchbook)
But I will continue to be intrigued by other people's interpretations of The Daughter of the Minotaur.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Good Girl

A few people have asked me about the stories behind some of the sculptures which appeared in my post on photograhing my work.

I thought I'd start with this piece which actually has evolved a bit since I photographed it.

In several of the classic Fairy Tales the bad daughter/stepsister ends up with frogs and toads coming out of her mouth and the good girl (who is always the most beautiful one) has 'pearls and roses dropping from her lips...'
It's a good example of how moralising the tales are and when I was reading one of them some time last year I just thought oh!.. for heaven's sake....You really can have too much of a good thing!
So this girl has just been too much of a goody-goody.

The piece above is made with actual beads glued into a pile which was quite difficult and didn't really stand close inspection. However it was much admired on my shelf at uni so I thought I'd try and find an easier way to make more of them. Below is the latest version (although it's not such a good photograph)

I made a silicone mould of the original (destroying it in the process). Then I cast it in plaster. I painted it with pearlised paint, added a few extra beads and some roses. The legs are still made of porcelain.
I haven't got it quite right but it's getting there....

Monday, 19 May 2014

Frog Prince update

No, the life size Frog hasn't turned into a Prince even though he has been kissed quite a few times. But he is now finished and being assessed at uni at this moment along with all my other work. Here he is clutching his paper crowns looking a bit forlorn...

I thought you might be interested to see some more work in progress pictures showing the various stages in his creation.

I've already shown you the making of the head mould. It took 33ltrs of porcelain slip to cast it! I'm not actually communing with it here but checking that the last of the slip has drained out. 

The leg moulds turned out to be more tricky to use than the head mould. I would put the pouring hole in the side if I ever made such a thing again. Here they are drying in the sun with the arms and hands.

At least they didn't slump in the kiln which was my main worry. Paul, the ceramics technician at UWE, fired the parts very slowly just to be sure. They seemed to shrink even more than usual though.

The armature for his body is made of wood and a cut up mannequin torso. It's very sturdy!
He is padded with foam (and a lot of duct tape) to make him look rather portly and slumped.

Fitting his fabric covering was really difficult because the cotton I used was rather thick making the hand sewn parts very hard work.
Now he's patiently waiting for the right girl to come along!