box plot cutting

July 31, 2014

Taking a break from cutting furniture and making the most of some of the slow hot days we’ve had recently I’ve been hiding under a dog rose bush making a new wood cut on the allotment. Working in response to the allotment plot, drawing imagery from my own space and those around me.  With the wider idea of having a contained piece of land to pioneer in mind I’ve been cutting the sides of an old wooden box.

Allotments are wonderful things, affordable and open to most ( I hope) in this world where land is at such a premium and owed by so few. I feel very lucky to be able to have this spot but everyone should be able to have a piece of land to work in some way if they want to. I’m pretty sure that the law still says if there isn’t land enough for allotments you can ask the council for more.

Anyway, here are some photos of the sides of the box, placed in the spots I drew from. Everything is growing so quickly at the moment that the views are not always that easy to recognise, it’s not my cutting skills.

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making a space

March 4, 2013

I’ve been pontificating for far too long over what kind of space I want to work in and how I want to work, finally I’ve just spent 3 days in the space that I currently have and did some of the things I’ve been meaning to do. It was fun.

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I cleared away my table and some of the many boxes of stuff that fill the studio. I knew I wanted to make a 3-dimensional response to a collage I’d done last year and that I’d also like to make some larger clay pieces of previous samples. I decided to keep things simple and only use what I could find in the room. I suppose I then cheated straight away as the sun came out and I spent half of the first day playing with the shadows it cast into the room.

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Later on I used objects to displace the clay I’d thrown into blocks. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but it’s coming from looking at canal basins and locks…places where we have taken chunks out of the ground to channel water, effectively creating sunken vessels..this links to a post I never made last year about contained water, the photos never posted are now below the clay pieces.

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The second day the sun didn’t come out to play so I got on with moving furniture about to reflect the space in the collage into the room…I used previous drawings to depict the foliage and made floor rubbings to mimic the strata of rock, the window was my door and the table my water channel. It’s not so easy to show in one picture….

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A small space full of angles. The third day the sun returned and I spent time photographing the shadows that came around and making a drawing.

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Drawing on paper of a drawing in a space from a collage/drawing. In spite of the cramped angles I’ve relished the process of working within a space and short block of time, only wishing I’d moved the desk and boxes earlier in my relationship with this present studio. Although it might make it harder to work with paper, next time I’d like to work outside so I can add water to the object, shadow,space, drawing equation.

A few weeks ago we went to the Roby church in Longsight to see a performance by Naomi Kendrick, David Birchall and Dan Bridgewood Hill. They’ve been working together improvising music and visual interpretation for a few years now and this lovely evening marked a break as Naomi is about to have a baby.

The evening proceeded as follows…

Dan, moving from guitar to piano and back played a selection of his own finger picking melodies that always make me want to swing and twirl around the place mixed with some great covers including a piece by Satie.  Dan’s work seems so complex that I guess it must be planned, but then as time stretches and it feels like we’ve meandered down so many different paths, I often wonder if we will ever find our way out, until the opening sequence or familiar motif reappears and there we are again, back in the room. Magic.

After a break for the tuck shop, Dave, sitting central in the intimate space, gave himself time to make the space, focussed and mindful. He played all over his guitar with rushes, murmurs and more stillness and used his voice to create noises at some points mimicking dialogue, looking from one audience member to another conversationally as he did so. I really enjoyed this, a great balance of challenge and charm. Dave has been improvising with musicians all over for some time now and seems to be developing his language and way of engaging people brilliantly.

You can see pictures from the evening on Naomi’s blog and the great and varied work of Dave here and Dan here. Here on this blog I am showing you the drawings I made whilst watching and listening to the final act- Dan and Dave improvising together whilst Naomi attempts to identify and record a response to the sounds on a large sheet of paper. I have seen them do this together a few times now, it’s always a lovely and privileged  experience – watching 3 talented people responding creatively to each other. Often lasting 45-60 minutes it’s great to spend time meditating with them on the creative act, the rhythms and energy it can take on. Over time Naomi has developed a visual language for this activity, attributing certain marks to sounds and feelings. The drawings she makes are intensely layered and very organic, some look like mushrooms, jellyfish, thunderstorms. Whilst drawing Naomi wears black and its interesting to watch her as part of the image, a dense black mark moving across a vast white page generating lots of smaller marks. On this occasion the page was brightly lit sending Naomi’s shadow out before her over the drawing. This is what I drew.

life, death and drawing

February 28, 2013

Last week I got up early and made my way to London to meet dear friends and unintentionally set out a nicely themed day. Not wanting to stray too far on a Saturday we first visited the Foundling Museum to see their collection of tokens and swatches of fabric kept to identify parent and child.  Tokens included playing cards, rings, bent coins and my favourite, a hazelnut, a little dented but still intact. The fabric swatches came from those brought in with each child and were attached to a list of the wardrobe and belongings left with them entered into a thick ledger. The parent kept the token to reclaim the child when they were able and this did happen but sometimes they came too late and sometimes not at all. The power invested in these small tokens through the emotion and responsibility attributed to them is really something.

For more tokens and objects invested with power we walked over to the British Museum’s Ice Age Art exhibition where the keen eyes and hands of humans 40,000 years before us described the limbs and movements of animals perfectly. I’m a little baffled by my feeling that although we’ve refined our tools and materials in 40,000 years we have not been able to improve our drawing skills. If anyone could enlighten me or add to it, please do! (I’m afraid I didn’t read much of the interpretation material).  Perhaps the person making these drawings at the time was considered a master, perhaps they all had that level of skill – having never been told they couldn’t. Again I was moved by the animated version of the cave paintings projected across a cave wall….if only there had been more of this….and resolve again to reflect on the ways cave paintings were intended to be seen: on a particular journey, to create a narrative and a learning experience. I suppose we use this approach in lots of ways now, down to the psychology of supermarket layout, but I’d much prefer a rambling adventure through caves, hollow ways  and undergrowth.

Finally we had a quick glide around the wonderful Wellcome Collection’s Death exhibition after the attendant had informed us that “there would be no more Death in 15 minutes”. A brilliant suite of prints by Otto Dix and some lovely old photos of people posing with a skull. I was surprised that each piece of work seemed to have skulls or skeletons in it (though I might have missed something in the rush) and I wondered if we could make work about death without a reference to our skeletal frames. I think we can and do, but maybe that wouldn’t be so befitting for the Welcome Collection.

a blustery bluecoat morning

February 4, 2013

Last week I took the train to Liverpool on a bitter cold windy morning, it was great to walk round the city for an hour or two, pushing against the wind and looking up just in time to see some great architectural detail, so many good buildings and sites to see. I didn’t take my camera so you will just have to imagine the cobbled streets full of sailors and goods coming off the boats, well they were there at some point in time, I’m sure that I saw them.

I went to the Bluecoat Arts Centre to see the Hayward Touring exhibition of prints by the wonder that is William Kentridge. I’ve enjoyed his work for some time now, having poured over my copy of Supercontemporanea:William Kentridge I’d  only seen a couple of his brilliant animations in the flesh so I was a bit taken aback by the 4 rooms full of his incisive prints. Some prints were made in collaboration with other printmakers and many were editioned by others, but there is no escaping that the drawing belongs to Kentridge. Most of the work is black and white, often including collaged papers, domestic objects, text. The physicality of the human body is evident not only in depiction but from the torn scraps of paper, smudged lines,layers of ink and fingerprints in the etched plates that describe moving flesh. Politics, human frailty and  transience are all brought together into a theatre of images. He does make good images.

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This, of course is not one of them, but something I did years ago around the time I first saw his work – 7 FRAGMENTS FOR GEORGES MÉLIÈS . I made a drawing of myself dive into the dappled light.