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As you know, I run a couple of courses for Spike Print Studios in Bristol. One of them – Paper Structures – was given a rave review recently by Ellen Wilkinson:

Ellen Wilkinson reflects on Paper Structures: Book Arts Unfolded

The Spike Print bursary, awarded through Spike Island’s Associates programme, enabled me to take up a place on Paper Structures: Book Arts Unfolded at Spike Print Studio in 2017–18.

I embarked on this course with a long-standing interest in artists’ books and an existing creative practice that spans visual art and writing. The course challenged my assumptions about the kind of work I thought I’d make through the year and reminded me how important the not-knowing is in creative development.

Paper Structures: Book Arts Unfolded has playfulness and experimentation at its heart, and the invitation to play was especially liberating; I let go of the worry of being artistically consistent, of feeling the need to make coherent work that neatly fits into my ‘practice’, as it appears publicly. My peers showed me different ways of looking and seeing. I took risks and thoroughly enjoyed the act of making and thinking-and-not-thinking, and followed the circuitous paths that appeared. I ran headlong down dead ends, spent hours making things that went straight in the bin, felt momentary delight and rambling exasperation: essential elements in creating anything of value.

I have new practical skills in bookbinding, box making and toy design. I tried to trap tiny paper minnows inside handmade Japanese paper but they darted away from me. I found the simplest pleasure in folding paper into 3D forms then fell down a rabbit hole of mind-melting mathematical variation. I moulded scissors from paper but they snipped themselves into self-referential confetti. I built a staircase that went nowhere. I got lost in a mirrored Cricut maze.

I left folded orange printer paper in daylight, then unfolded the sun bleached sheets and saw a calendar that recorded the final weeks of the course. This became the piece I showed at the end of year exhibition. The marks left by the light continued to fade during the show. My interest in the marking of time – which in the past I have expressed through photography and video – has found a new form in paper.

When I look back at the maquettes, the tests, the 3D sketches I made throughout the year, what surprises me most are the clear threads of ideas running through them. The act of unconsciously playing, of pressing pause on my self-critical brain, far from resulting in an incoherent mish-mash, has uncovered new ways of articulating my artistic concerns. This course enabled me to make those discoveries and leaves me with numerous lines of artistic enquiry to follow.

–Ellen Wilkinson, July 2018

(An aspect of writing that I’m very interested in is when authors – particularly of fiction – use parentheses to say the most important thing: far from being parenthetical, the brackets contain the bit that really matters. These parentheses contain Emma Gregory, who led this course with generosity, insight, challenge, support and many, many questions. Thank you so much, Emma).

And thank you Ellen.

 

 

The lovely and talented print artists / curators at Liverpool John Moores University, namely Neil Morris and Hannah Fray, have asked me to create an edition print for A Liverpool Bestiary.

What’s a bestiary I hear you cry? Here’s an article by Professor Sarah Peverley, teacher of Medieval and Renaissance literature in the School of English at the University of Liverpool to explain.

As a woman of a certain temperature (to quote insightful friend Justin) I’ve been thinking about libido and the beast within. I imagine my libido to be male. I know, so sexist. I depict him as a featherless cockerel, the image ‘plucked’ from the obscurity of a background detail in an early multiple block letterpress illustration.

This character is strutting, but he’s not got much to offer. Performance is important to him, hence the curtains.

The hyacinth is a moving part. Keeps drooping / dropping out of the frame altogether. I love this print because it makes me laugh both at and with myself.

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being cocky

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it moves

 

 

This month I have been drawing using a mashup of print technique:

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screen printed mother and child onto feint proof of Diana Bloomfield’s engravings

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continuing the mother and child motif

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mother, grandmother, child photopolymer and screenprint

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overly complex?

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simple but bonkers? lithograph and screenprint

Check out the a-n website. It’s a useful source of information for artists on opportunities, advice, insurance, daily rates, arts news, jobs. You can join the network of artists using it to connect, consult and blog about their work. The joining fee is cheap and once a member you can apply for a bursary. That’s what I did. They gave me a travel bursary to fund European networking and I’ve had the most amazing time. Read my blog on their site for more info.. Photo of lovely Kölner Graphikwerkstatt, one of the three remarkable print workshops I’ve visited in Europe over the past six months.

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Working towards a trip to Kölner Graphikwerkstatt. The purpose of this visit is to reconnect with Jutta Vollmer, whom I met at Liverpool’s John Moores Uni through EightDaysAWeek.

Jutta and I began working collaboratively when paired for the project PenPal in 2011 and 2012. Something integral to the partnership rang true.

Thanks to funding from a-n The Artists Information Company we have the opportunity to reconnect. At the time of applying for the funding I wasn’t sure why I felt the need but I’ve since given this a lot of thought.  Take a look at her instagram feed. I have a love hate relationship with the treatment of surfaces – decoration and pattern. I recognise this as an element of my practice needing serious examination. I think I will be able to look into it with Jutta. I’m going to suggest we create double sided drawings or prints and fold them, as a starting point. Also, using layout pads and carbon copy paper, draw sequentially and see what happens. She has a very solid drawing practice.

Here’s a recent record of play to provide visual (screen printed) content:

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Today’s research is documented here.

I came back from Alkmaar with a number of lithographic prints, drawings really, in that each one was unique. They were the subject of a short critique with the wonderful Press Play group at Spike Print Studio. I determined to work on them further.

In my head: box rooms and simple buildings left to rot. Nature reclaims. You lose a thing and you gain a different thing.

The drawings derive from natural forms. I imposed a very simple built form on the drawing by folding it.

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The folded drawing is a folded plane, mathematics. Instead of the back and the front it has interior and an exterior spaces. Exposed / enclosed. Pleats shorten distances: what was rectangular has become square.

To explore the interaction between the drawing and the folds, or drawing with folds, I took an element of the drawing and made 12 small drawings. Random thoughts whilst making the drawings: Laurel and Hardy, other artists who use ladders, bonfires and Glenville, trapeze, ambition, aspiration, so close, coming together, crossing, going nowhere, perspective, pairs and groups.

 

Then I improvised, folding each one in response to the drawings. Some worked and some did not.

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There was one I couldn’t fold.

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I looked to see if I could join any of them together.

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Then I photographed a couple of them inside the folded lithographic print. I was thinking about architecture, architects, explosions, creeping.

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Brain dead, I went to Boots to collect repeat prescription.

On the wonderful Press Play course at Spike Print Studio we have been doing some work on critique: techniques for giving and receiving feedback without pain. Our research included working through the ‘Q-Art’ book edited by Sarah Rowles. Fascinating. (I warmed to certain of the interviewees immediately.) We had a ‘crit’ of the work I brought back from Alkmaar. Am now working on the next stage of development for these lithographic drawings. The session was at Spike, as you can see from this photo.

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