Tuesday, 29 May 2012

End of Year Show coming up!

Things are hotting up for the final show - and final assessments.  Lot of frantic people being busy.  I am relatively calm...but I still have a lot of work to do including sorting out my research file and writing up my records and sketchbook entries.  But there is plenty of time..... I hope!

Monday, 28 May 2012

More filming

Today I had another go at filming my paper strips, having seen how the first efforts came out and having a (slightly) better idea of what kid of images I wanted to create.  I rigged up a kind of stage set in the painting studio with sheets of black card on the floor and making a wall behind, of sheets of card fixed to the edge of a long strong table, which I could stand on to scatter the paper strips.  With assistance from James, who kept a watchful eye on the camera settings and angle, I let the strips fall from about 5ft high, onto the black floor.  They scattered beautifully (it was a slightly higher drop than previously, and a slightly bigger floor area too).  

The resulting film is about 3.41 minutes long, which is about right, and has sharp sound of the paper falling - it sounds a bit like rain.  In fact, the sound is almost too sharp - it was a very hot day and windows were open os there is a slight roar of traffic throughout, enhanced by an emergency siren at one point: I don't know how to deal with this so will accept it and leave it in, as added context.   The angle of the camera is such that the 'horizon', i.e. the edge between the horizontal floor and the vertical backdrop, is almost exactly in the centre of the film, and this enhances the impact of the growing heap of paper, white against the black background.

Here is a still of the paper pile at the end of filming.

I was pleased with the result and I think it will stand well as it is, without any need for editing or further work.  Just a title, which Wesley says he is going to do, constant in style, for all the films to go on the show reel.  

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Bath Holburne Museum

A day out in Bath on Saturday included a visit to the city's Victoria Art Gallery, where I confess to having been distinctly underwhelmed by an exhibition about art and sport.  Lots of small sculptures of sprotspeople of various kinds, but not my cup of tea either sports-wise nor arts-wise.  I felt this was simply attempting to cash in on the olympics year.  I am not sure whether the works had been specially commissioned: if not, I am surprised that so many small and accommodating pieces could be found, but perhaps I ma a sports dinosaur and this really is a fruitful commonwealth for sculptors.

Then I walked the length of Great Pulteney Street to visit the Holburne Museum which is a small but imposing Georgian house facing back towards Pulteney Bridge and the city.  

It was originally a hotel, so the blurb tells us, and converted into a gallery about 100 years ago.  It has had a major upgrade and extension in the past few years, only re-opening to the public about 18 months ago.  The extension is all at the rear of the building, and on first sight looks pretty dreadful - black pillars and lot of smoked glass.  My i-phone photo is not very clear but gives the general impression of the back view...

But the extension does warm on you - and on a lovely summers day, with the garden full of elegant people having elegant lunch from the museum's up-market cafe, it all looked rather splendid.  Inside there is a sizeable permanent collection including glass and ceramics as well as 18th and 19th century portraits.  

On the top floor there is space (in the new extension) for small special exhibitions.  The one currently on view is stunning: Portrait Sculpture is a study of how the human head has been used as a subject for sculpture and various forms of 3D portraiture, from classical times onwards.   This is the Silstone Head, described in the catalogue as the striking head of a North African carved in green siltstone in the 1st century BC. with incredibly detailed carving of the hair.  

The whole exhibition is a wonderful selection - there were probably less thn 40 pieces in total gathered from various homes including the V and A and the NPG - which demonstrate the enormous range of sculptural work, and how effective sculpture has been in recording the personalities and scale of our forebears - somehow more lifelike than painted portraits, and some, of course, taken from death masks and so exactly reproducing the features and form of the departed.   There is even a waxwork from Mme Tusssaud's, which looks tawdry by comparison with the 'real' sculpture - and is ironically of Sir Henry Moore, who own work was so diametrically removed from the wax-works.   The range is wide and comprehensive and includes a magnificent and hugely more-than-lifesize head by Ron Muek

                                                           Ron Mueck, Mask II, Anthony d'Offay

Friday, 25 May 2012

Lines and drawings

I came across more images of drawings by Sol le Witt the other day, including this one, Wall Drawing 86....

Wall Drawing 86

Ten thousand lines about 10 inches (25 cm) long, covering the wall evenly.
June 1971
Black pencil
Private collection


The Bykert Gallery, New York


R. Holcomb, Kazuko Miyamoto


The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (whose web site link is here) describes it thus: 

In 1970, Sol LeWitt further distilled the formal vocabulary he used in his wall drawings. Whereas bands of parallel lines characterized his earlier graphite wall drawings, he later began to isolate the single line as a basic conveyance for his ideas. Additionally, LeWitt relaxed the requirement of applying lines in only the four absolute directions, fostering new relationships between his verbal instructions, the performance of those instructions, and the surface on which those instructions are performed. 
Noteworthy in Wall Drawing 86 is the disparity between the simplicity of the instructions and the seeming chaos they produce on the wall. The number of lines drawn here is derived from a traditional Eastern concept that ten thousand is a unit emblematic of all inconceivably large numbers. Lines are applied at the singular discretion of the draftsman, who is instructed only to maintain the length of the lines and appearance of evenness across the surface of the wall. The even distribution is conditioned by the dimensions of the wall, giving each iteration of the drawing a different level of density. Other aspects of the lines (their orientation, how often they intersect each other, etc.) are decided by the draftsman as the drawing progresses. The operation of restriction and flexibility results in a visual marriage between pattern and intuition. 

My drawings of shredded paper as it fell onto black paper were made using a kind of system (i.e. trying to match as exactly as possible the places where the paper shreds happened to fall) with in-built randomness (i.e. the random falling of the strips) and there is a certain similarity in the way the marks appear on the drawing.  

I also came across another of his drawings, Lines from the Midpoints of Lines, 1975, an etching in the National Gallery of Australia (the image was copied from the NGA website here)

Sol le Witt, Lines from the Midpoints of Lines, 1975, etching.

The NGA website catalogue describes the work thus....

In a work such as Lines from the midpoints of lines, one of a series of etchings entitled The location of lines 1975, LeWitt's humorous side emerges. Each of these lines occupies a place on the sheet that is designated by a set of complicated instructions. For example, in the upper left corner a line is accom-panied by the following description of its location: ‘A line from the midpoint of the left side to a point halfway between a point halfway between the mid point of the top side and the upper left corner and a point halfway between the midpoint of the top side and a point halfway between the centre of the page and a point halfway between the midpoint of the left side and the upper left corner.’ In this absurdly long-winded sentence it becomes clear that the instructions supposedly governing the work are poorly suited to account for the simple fact of lines on a page. Here the artist gently pokes fun at his own practice while making an important point about the relationship between art and text: Pictures and words are totally distinct realms and even the simplest image is ultimately beyond the reach of verbal description.

This is very interesting - as on first sight I thought the sections of 'text' sitting on each drawn line were not real writing, but some kind of non-text, rather than the detailed instructions for the location of each line.  

I find Le Witt's drawings intriguing.  They are so siple in concept and execution, but the effect is often quite impressive.  I like the bigger, more random ones better than the strictly geometric earlier ones (all those different ways to fill a square with drawn parallel lines in various directions seem to me to be rather tedious).  Moreover, although it looks impel, drawing like this is difficult to do - either to maintain a systematic copying or shadowing of a drawn line, or to maintain constant density of line over a large (sometimes enormous) canvas.  But the end products are, to my mind, compelling and convey a sense of balance.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Feeling good, being adventurous

I'm feeling very pleased with myself this evening, as I've just been down to my allotment, and back, on my bike. To most people, this would be nothing exceptional. But I'm a very wobbly, new cyclist who has found it takes enormous courage and determination to get on my bike. So tonight I made the extra effort, and was pleased that the journey took ten minutes instead of twenty walking. It's a fraction over a mile. And while I was there, I did a bit more weeding of the raspberry patch, removing mares tails and bindweed while both are still small and not too invasive. 

I brought home yet another big bundle of rhubarb from this enormous patch... 

 And this post is another first.  Written laboriously with one finger on my i-phone, this is the first time I've blogged by phone. Now all I need to do is upload a photo from my phone and I think I will have earned some kind of milestone award! (The photos here were added from the computer, at home, later).

Monday, 21 May 2012

College, 21st May

Things are hotting up at college, towards the final assessment and end-of-year show next month.  We only have one more Monday studio session after today.... and there is still a lot to do.

This morning started with a group tutorial with Mark, mainly about writing our evaluations, and preparing for the show.  After that, we were free to work on our projects.  I had booked a video camera and tripod to film my paper scraps, and I had brought in a large box full of scraps, plus some black cloth as a backdrop. 

After a quick tutorial from Wesley about how to use the video camera, I wandered the college searching for a quiet place in which to film.  The only place seemed to be the cubby-hole where people can store portfolios, a tiny broom-cupboard of a room, with very little floor-space but with a door which closed.

I set about rigging up black cloth and sheets of thick black paper to make a backdrop and to block out the racks of portfolios, and then squeezed the tripod into a corner, with the box of strips balanced on a cupboard.  

Off I went - switching the camera on to run on its own, and scattering strips from above.  The trouble with this was that, because of the tiny space, I couldn't actually see into the monitor of the camera, and had no idea how the film was coming through.  When I paused, to zoom in and then out, I still couldn't really see if the angle was any good.  

When I finished, and had a look, it seemed to me that the lines of sight were very short and constrained (they really were!) and although the film had worked on the most basic of levels, it was hardly going to make good piece.  Rather dispirited, I gathered up all the paper scraps, undid the black screens, and trailed back to the print room to reconsider.  I was close to giving it up as a bad idea.

But then I realised that, during the lunch hour, other rooms were empty and quiet, and also more pscaious.  I went into 04, the painting room, and it was empty of people.  I found a bit of floor-space and covered it with black card.  I found Maeve-Ann, who had been saying, earlier, that she was not terribly busy, and asked if she would give me a hand, which she did very willingly.  With Maeve-Ann operating the camera, I could concentrate on dropping the scraps.  We shot one film, just of the scraps falling, and then we gathered them all up and shot another 5 minutes, this time with me in the shot, dropping the paper pieces.  This looked much better, and the pile of scraps grew wonderfully on the studio floor.  Since I had cut more over the weekend, I hadn't seen the size of the full pile before... and it is now BIG!

Then Maeve-Ann set the camera running again without telling me, and so we had a third, quite long, piece of film showing me playing with the scraps, rather like playing with sand on a beach, and she and I talking about what they mean, as we gathered them up and put them back in the box a second time.  The heap was so big, it was possible to dig right into it and make mountains and sharp jagged sculptures out of them.  Some of them reminded me of the images of the twin towers after 9/11, when the jagged pieces of the buildings stood out against the sky.  Some just reminded me of playing with sand-castles with children, letting the strips fall through your fingers, and watching the shifting shapes of he mound as they moved.   It was great fun to do, and surprisingly tactile.  Actually, the whole business of dropping the pieces was extremely satisfying, and cathartic.  It really did feel as I'd intended, as though I was letting go of years of academic study.  It might have felt better still if I'd been able to use real work papers, but in the end it hadn't proved possible to get hold of those kind of papers.  And over the decades I have sweated quite enough blood over academia too.  

By the end of half an hour or so, I had really quite a decent amount of film - and I'm very grateful to Maeve-Ann for her help as it was very tricky to get the angles right and I would have been struggling to do all this on my own, and it was also very good to discuss it with her as we worked.

Later I saw Wesley who helped me down-load the film from the camera, and showed me the briefest outline of how to edit it using i-movie.  So tomorrow I will see if I can take the best bits of these films and transfer them into a single run which would be fit for showing on the show-reel in the final exhibition.  If need be, Wesley has offered to help me get this right.  Also Mary, who has done some film editing during her A-level course. So I will be well-blessed with advice on this...and I'm sure I'll need it as I'm still struggling to get onto the same intuitive wavelength and the Mac designers.  

I also had a useful tutorial with Mark this afternoon about my plans for the final show, and the idea of having a kind of 'sand box' on a plinth in which the strips will be placed, and people encouraged to handle them.  I then saw Jan in the workshop and have left him a drawing and instructions about materials, dimensions, etc, and he says he will make this for me for next week.   I had thought I'd like the box about 3' x 2'6"... but on the way home I thought perhaps a square would be much better, to allow the pieces to fall in a circular mound, and so tomorrow I will alter this to ask for a 3' square box.

I finished the day feeling I had made real progress and cemented my plans for the final show - which fortuitously also require very little by way of further preparations, once the film is edited.  Which means I can concentrate now on tidying up my sketchbook, organising my research file, filling the gaps in this blog, and also preparing my portfolio for the UWE interview on 12th June.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Southville Saturday, 19th May

I am so lucky to live where I do!  Today has been a lovely mixture of neighbours, community, art and gardening, and music still to come.  And all within a few minutes walk of my house.

This weekend it is the Southbank Bristol Arts Trail (website link here) and for two days there are lots and lots of houses and community venues open to the public, showing art work and crafts of all kinds, for sale and just for admiring.  I have spent a happy afternoon peeping into artists'  houses and discovering treasures and surprises.

Alongside the arts trail, the North Street Spring Fayre has taken over the shopping street at the end of my road, and it has been carnival time, all day, with the road closed to traffic (it was markedly quiet this morning!), lots of stalls in the road, selling and inviting and informing and entertaining people passing through - and lots of yummy food on offer too.  

But because I am a hardworking soul, I had started the day with a couple of hours on my newly acquired allotment, which is about a mile away, and is in a lovely open site with a clear view to the Clifton suspension bridge, and slow goods trains occasionally running alongside.  I have only had the allotment for about a month, and the very wet weather has meant I have had far too little time on it so far.  But I am making progress with digging, hoeing, and clearing it, and soon it will be fit for planting.  Today I explored the allotment shop and bought seeds for peas and beans, chard and beet, and courgettes.  And some lupins for green manure, so I can get growing on the whole plot even though it is rather late in the season to be starting out.   I haven't had a vegetable garden for about 25 years, so it is pretty much like starting from scratch.  But I've been very lucky in inheriting a plot (well, a half-plot to be honest) which has not been abandoned for very long and is in essentially very good condition.  So I hope that I can concentrate this summer on getting to know it, growing a few easy things, and planning for a more adventurous season next year.

This is the allotment looking east....my territory runs as far as the huge rhubarb patch, half way down on the left hand side.

This was how it looked on the day I was given it, at the end of a very sunny March.  Since then it rained almost constantly for 3 weeks, so I was unable to do anything at all.  But in the last couple of weeks I've managed to get down several times, and now I have dug and cleared quite a bit, and I'm ready for planting.  My friend Moira has already planted some potatoes (she is sharing some of the plot as it is more than big enough for me).

And this is the plot looking west, including enormous compost bins, beyond which there is another patch of about 8 ft which has been languishing under black plastic, is clean and clear, and is just longing for me to do something really interesting with....watch this space!

Tonight I'm off to hear Charles Hazlewood and the Army of Generals in a concert of Purcell and Handel at St George's.  Treats all day long.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Looking at Art group, 17th May

Today we had the second full meeting of the South Bristol U3A Looking at Art group.  We went to the Grant Bradley Gallery in Bedminster, where they are showing the finalists of the RGB Photographic Competition, and a smaller show of 12 prints by a Bath photographer called Colin Powell.  More info about the show on their website here.

There were 12 of us in the group today, and Sylvie Duncan start us off with a well-judged but short introduction pointing out the things we could look for in viewing the images, including subject, form, composition, texture, the use of contracting light and dark, colour/monochrome, the type of paper and printing, and the choice of mounting.

We then spent about 30 minutes having a good look at the images, which were very varied in subject matter, style, scale and effect.  One of the gallery staff came and gave us some further thoughts about the competition itself, and some of the technical issues we could look out for in making our own photographic images.  And finally we had a bit of a free-for-all discussion about what we'd seen and learned.  It was a very useful session, and everyone, even some who started out saying 'I'm not interested in photography",  had things to say and had found things to hold their interest.

I found I really liked the portraits, especially several striking black and white portraits, which were immensely strong in conveying the sense of the person behind the face.  I wondered whether the choice of black and white is the trick here.  We see people and faces around us all the time, always in colour, and very often without really looking at them.  Partly because, culturally, we have been trained not to look closely at the faces of people we don't know: it can be seen as intrusive and sometimes an almost hostile thing to do.  By taking portraits in black and white we remove the distraction of colour - it doesn't matter about hair colour or the clothes being worn.  And we are also allowed to look closely, to really study the face, the lines, the skin quality, the shapes and expressions.  Which we could not do if the real person was there.

I found the several colour portraits less compelling.  I also found that I did not terribly like the  prizewinning image, (shown above,  copied from the grant Bradley website linked above, and by Gareth Iwan Jones).  In the Gallery, it looked less like a colour photo, and seemed to be almost entirely black and white except for her scarf and her very red lips.  I was confused because it seemed to me to be so obviously  contrived, constructed, a posed 'character' rather than an 'ordinary' but real person.  I wasn't sure of the point of this constructed person.

Moreover, its title, "The Third Woman' was obscure to all of us.  Whereas for some of the photos, the caption seemed to be an integral part of the whole, and added meaning, in this case it caused puzzlement but no enlightenment.

Which is something I need to think about for my final project piece(s), for which I still don't have a title, and must do before much longer.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Mumbles and a quilt, 16th May

I took the day off from worrying about art today, and drove to Swansea to visit my very dear, long-time old friend Alun, who is facing some tough times health-wise.  I hadn't seen him for a couple of months, so it was good to have time to catch up, and also to admire the completion of work on his lovely house in Mumbles, which has been exquisitely renovated and extended, complete with a room dedicated solely to being his library, another room for a study/office, and a wonderful open-plan sitting room/kitchen/dining room all opening onto the garden.  He also has organised a labour-saving gas-fired wood burner, a very swish kitchen and bathroom, and fabulous sea views from almost every window.  He is only a few minutes walk from the water's edge.  The weather was lovely, so Swansea Bay was at its summer best.  We had a nice stroll along to Mumbles for lunch, and then coffee at the legendary Verdi's ice cream parlour.

I had taken him a quilt, too, which I had made from a bundle of fabrics bought at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC two years ago, and made for him last year and intended for his 60th birthday, but somehow it wasn't quite finished then and the moment passed.  But now it was the perfect gift, and he seemed genuinely pleased to have it - and best of all, it fits perfectly on his big squashy sofa.

So when he is in the thick of debilitating treatment in the next couple of months, I hope he can snuggle under or on this quilt while he's watching rubbish telly or reading co-op history, or whatever, and it will act like the rainbow quilts I made for my children when they were small - which came with the message that "no-one can be sad under a rainbow quilt" - so I hope Alun won't feel so bad under a star quilt either.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

College, 15th May

This afternoon I decided to do a proper reflection and review of my project so far, because I feel as though I have been getting stuck, not making progress, flitting from one idea to another, and not getting on even with the essentials, e.g. updating my note/sketch/ideas book, or finishing my research folder.  Luckily, most people were busy and so the main print room was almost empty and quiet, so I could settle down and read through everything, starting with my original Statement of Intent.  It proved to be a very therapeutic process, as it reminded me of the strong ideas I had started out with, and allowed me to see (a) how much exploratory work I have done, which seems to me to be quite a lot, and quite wide-ranging; and (b) to see that I have been on a rather circuitous journey, but that I have now almost arrived at a place which makes sense for the final presentation of my project.  I came away at the end of the day feeling a lot happier, and with a (long) list of things i now need to do to finish off the background.research/ideas work, and to complete the pieces for the final show.

There will be two pieces.  One will be a properly made film of the paper shreds falling.  I've booked a video camera and tripod for Monday, and will bring all the paper shreds into college and find a quiet place to do the filming here on Monday.  That should leave plenty of time on Tuesday to edit the film, and it can go on the group 'show reel' which will be prepared and run continuously during the show.

Secondly I'm going to organise a big flat tray-shaped plinth, ideally about a metre square but it will probably have to be a bit smaller than that.  It will have an upright 'wall' all round it, about 5 or 6 inches high.  Inside I will line with black paper and/or paint it matt black.  I will pile up all the shreds of paper inside the box.  The idea will be to invite visitors to touch the paper, to pick it up and door it, run their hands through it, like sand in a sand-pit.

I may, if time allows, also make a small book to go alongside the paper box, to link the box and the film with the concept of deconstruction,  throwing away, creating new.

I am trying to hang on to the principle of "less is more" but my piece is so conceptual I'm a bit worried that it may be too obscure.  But it depends how well the film comes out...and/or whether the pieces in a big aback box work either.  I might end up with just one or the other but not both.  NO harm in having options, even at this late stage.....

Monday, 14 May 2012

College, 14th May

We had a very useful, if scary, session first thing, for the whole cohort, full- and part-timers, about preparing for the end of year show next month.  We have to make definite proposals for exhibition space/walls/plinths/film/whatever next Monday, so this was very helpful preparation, and lots of advice on why not to do, what works, what doesn't, giving ourselves enough time to hang properly, etc, etc.  This was followed up by workshop time, which I hadn't prepared for very well, so I ended up doing some late library work, checking references for my research file and bibliography, and so on.  I did, though, have a useful tutorial with matt, and firmed up y ideas for making some kind of short film of my paper shreds falling.  I did a try quick test piece yesterday, holding my i-phone camera in one hand, and gently dropping the paper shreds with the other. It worked in terms of showing that the images could be made to work, and - most of all - the sound was good.  I had put big sheets of black paper onto the kitchen floor, and the sound of paper falling on to paper was strong - when the flow of paper built up, the sound was rather like heavy rain, or running water.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Stroud Textiles

Today a tremendous visit to Stroud and Nailsworth to see some of the work on show in the Stroud International Textiles exhibition and in the accompanying textiles artists studios trail.  Running at the same time is the SITE Stroud artists festival and arts trail.  I went with friends Glen and Tony Eastman, and we tried to see as much as we could,  but the trails extend way beyond Stroud and Nailsworth and there was a lot we couldn't manage in a single day's visit.  However, the weather was fabulous, an especial treat after the relentless rain of the past few weeks, and the towns were in festive mood, probably more because of the sun than the art.  We saw some wonderful work.

First off was the main exhibition, Select Pairings II, Conversations and Collaborations, at the Stroud Museum.  Here the festival had paired up textile artists with other creatives, and invited them to work together to produce new pieces.  The results were exciting and innovative, showing the strength and diversity of individual artists' work, and the sometimes surprising things which can happen when unusual couplings of talent are made.  I liked all of it  but the things which particularly caught my attention included the combined textile and ceramic work where Alice Kettle's stitch drawings on linen were complemented by Helen Felcey's understated porcelain vessels, so the whole thing looked like a table set for a meal. like this....

This image, and more, from Alice Kettle's website here.

In similar vein, I also liked the work by Sharon Blakey and Ismini Samanidou, who combined delicate fabric, printed with semi-legible text, alongside cast replicas of table cutlery, and the imprint of these into paper.  The combination of object, stitch, line and texture was compelling but very simple, and referred, I think, to the memory and ritual stored up in shared meals, shared experiences across cultures.

One example is here... 

The image is taken from Sharon Blakey's MMU website entry  here, where there is more about her work.

Another very interesting pairing was that between textile artist Jane McKeating (website link here) and Jilly Morris (website link here) who works with enamel and drawing as well as stitch.  They produced a series of curled forms, each quite small and embellished with bold drawn or stitched lines and wrapped threads.  My photo doesn't do the work justice but gives a flavour of their collaboration.

There was much to admire in the exhibition, more information on the SIT website here.

Then into Stroud to visit some of the open studios in the textile and arts trails.  There were separate printed guide books for each, beautifully presented but lacking in decent maps, so we wandered about a bit, and managed to completely miss some of the out-of-town venues because the map was so poor, and/or because the signage on the road was unclear.  That aside, the information about artists was good, and we found the main sites  we wanted to see.

The Stroud Valley Arts (SVA) building in John Street was a treasure trove.  I particularly liked the textile studio work, including particularly the felt by Anne Rogers, and the hand printed or hand-painted textiles by Jenny Bicalt.  

I was fascinated by the work of Emily Joy (website here, from where the photo next was copied) who had built a kind of double ended printing machine out of two old-fashioned laundry mangles, one end could take and print type, the other end could print a kind of braille.  

She had used this to print and over print on a continuous loop of paper, so that the text and the braille eventually almost obscured each other, and the meaning (or memory) was distorted and obliterated.  I thought this had big resonances for the work I'm doing in relation to deconstructing and obliterating the text of my old working life.  It also resonated with some of the work seen in the Lost in Lace show in Birmingham earlier this year.  

Upstairs there were several other artists whose drawings and paintings were very striking, including Bill Jones (link here) whose indian ink drawings were very appealing, reminding me of John Piper's Welsh landscapes seen recently in Cardiff; and Zoe Heath (link here) whose small paintings and drawings, some incorporating found objects or papers, and some using script or nearly-script, were quite arresting.   Lots more about all of them and more on the SVA website here.

Heading out of Stroud we made a detour and stumbled across an open studio hosted by Sophia Hughes and Anne James, whose sculptural forms and abstract acrylics, and ceramics, respectively, were well presented in an entrancingly nice garden setting.  Anne James's ceramic dishes and forms were particularly interesting, with soft forms, dusty glazes and the odd flash of gilding.  I liked the simplicity of her work, mostly quite small pieces, understated but unusual.   It was good to have a conversation with her about her practice and new directions.   Details of their work is on the SITE Festival Artists' Trail brochure accessible here.

Finally, we made it to Nailsworth, where I wanted particularly to see the group show in the wonderfully named One Fat Quarter, a delightful old building now converted into studio space used by several textile artists.  Anne Weldon's work stood out for me - stunning white on black appliqué, minutely detailed images of winter trees, translated into stark black and white silhouettes.  One was a triptych on 3 panels with a n image of a stand of grand trees - which I thought much more evocative that the David Hockney Big trees paintings which I saw at the RA in February.   

These are my photos, taken at the show, and don't really do justice to the delicacy of her work.  

I thought her work was truly original, very simple but hugely effective in terms of both direct representation of an image, and evoking feelings of time and place and weather alongside the image itself.  Anne Weldon had also done some tiny b/w machine stitched pictures, and I bought one as a memento of the day, and of her work in particular.

And then home.  All in all, a delightful day, full of surprises, and I came back with my head swimming with images of the work I'd seen.  very inspiring, especially some of the textile work, and a reminder to me that stitch is still an important part of my creative vocabulary, and one I will try to return to over the summer.  

Friday, 4 May 2012

4th May: more scattered strips

Today I tried to develop my strip paintings from last week, bt continuing to cut them up and re-order these secondary fragments, as I began to do on tuesday at college.

Firstly I cut the strips I'd made on Tuesday into yet smaller pieces, and then rearranged them into a random heap on the kitchen table...

 And then into an increasingly conscious arrangement to replicate the sense of scattering/exploding which was in my very first thinking about the project theme...

I liked this result, but it didn't look so well on the table, so I repeated the whole thing onto a sheet of black paper, and i liked this better

So I painstakingly glued them down, one by one, as seen here...  The complete piece is about 3 feet square.

I think I may try to do something with this via photoshop: the sense of fragmentation is heading in the right direction for the effect I have been trying to achieve, and I am also getting keen on the idea of producing some prints as part of the final piece(s).   My photoshop skills are not very advanced, so this may be quite a stretch for me and there is no longer a great deal of time for wholly new things.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Quilting inspiration

To the monthly meeting of Bristol Quilters last night, a group I joined last year but have been notably absent form meetings (largely because Wednesday nights also means Red Notes singing and I have had split loyalties).  From now on Quilting will win out every fourth week.

It was an interesting presentation from Hilary Gooding, who is a member of the Contemporary Quilts group of the Quilters Guild (as am I), and she showed a wide range of quilts from her earliest 1970s Laura Ashley hexagons (we all did them...I still have several examples in a basket somewhere), through to some really very interesting small journal and abstract quilts made more recently.   Her message was, essentially, try new things, try design, try drawing and observation, there are no rules.

I haven't actually done amy quilt-making for quite a while now, but I am beginning to have itchy fingers and I plan to do some serious sewing once the Foundation show is over.  And the BQ group is a nice way to stay in touch, pick up a little inspiration, and share ideas with like-minded obsessives.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

College, 1st May

After feeling a bit deflated yesterday, I resolved to use this afternoon to try my own kind of 'cut out' method, inspired by looking last night at the work of William Burroughs.  I took one of my A2 card-print pieces from yesterday,

and sliced it randomly through the big guillotine and then arranged the pieces to make a similar shaped piece.

And then I took the pieces and cut them some more, and did it again, and got a more complex arrangement.

And then I scatted them about with less care, so they overlapped and made an irregular shape.

I am not quite sure whether, or how, to take this further....but I have brought them all home and will explore further in the next few days.

Later I had another tutorial session with Abi,  and showed her what I'd done with photocopying small strips of cut-out text on Sunday and she suggested we tried this on the college's bigger A3 printer/copier.  Which we did, and also used some bigger pieces of shredded paper from the college office.

These are the ones with bigger strips... which I rather like, particularly the negative, with black 'ribbons' on a white background.

These are done using my carefully cut lines of text, the first with a background of black card placed on under the lid of the photocopier, so you still see the paper as white with black text, but you also get interesting echoes and shadows where the lid hasn't made complete contact with the screen itself.

This is an 'ordinary' photocopy, just scattering the cut-out words and phrases onto the screen.

These images, especially the ones in negative mode, highlight the negative spaces between the strips of get, and I liked those.  But once again, I've made some interesting images but I can't see quite how I could use these towards a purposeful finished piece.  But this exercise also, helpfully I think, took me one step still further away from the original paper.  However, I am not sure how I could develop this, and I don't want to be constrained to photocopying.  But perhaps there is something there still for me to draw or paint.....