At the end of this week I’m heading off to a Quaker Meeting House in Somerset for a two day residential retreat modelled on Matthew Burrows’ ABC Projects. Very hard to predict how this will span out but there are four of us and we will each be the focus of consideration for half a day. I’m prepping for it now.

The other three artists are Chitra Merchant, Tina Hill and Caroline Case. All women and near enough the same age. I’ll let you know how we get on.

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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Oooh. I am learning a lot this week courtesy of Grafisch Atelier Alkmaar.

Dutch: the word I hear most often from master printer Marja Vleugel as she tries to teach me how to make a lithograph on stone is ‘Nee’. ‘Nee nee…’ slowly with a gentle shake of the head meaning ‘don’t worry but that’s not the way’. ‘NEE!’ loudly with a sharp movement, meaning ‘keep the clean sponge out of the oil’. All her nee’s are nuanced.

Here she is teaching me how to registered second and third colours using pins and two holes made with an etching tool in the actual stone. Infinitely patient.

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Prints in the rack this morning. (Great inks by http://www.hawthornprintmaker.com: charcoal black, carbon black and dense black but water soluble. Proving it’s possible to print with a water soluble ink from a greasy litho mark.)

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Using gum arabic to create whites before tusche is dribbled onto the stone:

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Tomorrow I’m off to the Netherlands where I will reconnect with the wonderful artists of Grafische Atelier Alkmaar. Planning to make a lithograph with their master printer Marja Veugel. I hope to establish a way forward for a couple of projects and I’m giving a talk. This visit is part of  a larger project funded by an Artist’s Newsletter travel bursary. I will be sharing the experience on this blog and, if you around, I’m giving a talk GAA will host next week:

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Amazingly I did something about the entry below. I am referring to the difficulty in finding other people to talk to about one’s work. In part it was happenstance I admit but I ended up proposing a new year long course to Spike Print Studios. The course includes sessions on stuff like ‘how to have ideas’ and supports artists at around MA level who want to look at what research might include in reference to their own work and how they might build a more robust research practice. It’s a serious undertaking and we give this a lot of thought but the approach is as playful as possible. I’ve taken as my model The ABC project created by Matthew Burrows (artist, curator, educator).

The course – Press Play – is full of good people with open minds and interesting things to say, honestly the group has been a revelation. I love them because although I’m ostensibly leading the sessions I’m learning all the time and one thing I have learnt is that I work well in collaboration with other people.

This was confirmed a couple of months back when I was given the opportunity to make a series of pieces with Sarah Duncan. She has been making the most exquisite photopolymer etchings for a while now and together we messed about with a couple of these prints, the circular light wells in the corridor on the first floor at Spike Island, mirrors and lenses and came up with a truly lovely series of installations which we called Project Gemini.

I am actively seeking people to collaborate with as a result of these experiences and the Artists Newsletter people have seen fit to back me with a travel grant. The first adventure involves artists in the Netherlands courtesy of Grafisch Atelier Alkmaar. I went there a couple of years ago to take part in their festival of print and I’ve been desperate to get back there ever since. I will be working with lithographer Marja Vleugel on some stones and hope to coerce a couple of others into some collaborative drawing.