walkintostaithes

I was very lucky to spend 12 days of December working at Staithes Studios on the North Yorkshire coast. The studio belongs to Staithes Studios Gallery owners and printmakers, Stef and Ian Mitchell who had invited us to work there in response to the locality. Staying beside the studio and working alongside my partner, letterpress printer David Armes, we fell into an easy routine, to keep warm, refuelled and on task; both restful and stimulating.

gemma-phone_20161220_016

Each day we walked for an hour or so and then returned to the studio to print. Often David would go ahead of me, find a path, take photos and notes for his own letterpress prints while I walked round the harbour to draw the water meeting it’s banks whilst the tide was in. The natural bay and man made harbour at Staithes was a great place to continue my study in contained and flowing water.  I plan to work these drawings up into woodcuts.

gemma-phone_20161220_037

Later over coffee David would describe the walk to me and then I would go, with scribbled notes, to find the path and take down my own notes and drawings on foil card to ink and run through the press on my return.  This routine varied a little depending on planned routes or the weather. A couple of walks were a bit longer and needed two heads to find the paths – we always walked without maps. Some days it was bitter in the harbour but warm up on the cliffs. Some days too cold or windy to draw much and I realised that the metal etching needle I drew with was conducting the cold right to my bones!  This actually helped as my preferred drawing style is sparse and in the poor weather I relied on the briefest of marks and the impact of the view on my senses to ink the plate effectively on my return.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were so many wonderful textures around Staithes to draw the eye but when I came to walk and draw the landscape my eye always followed the posts, the lines that demarcated paths and skirted the contours. Though the drawings and plates remained largely linear and figurative the textures stayed in my mind and at my fingertips and led my approach to inking.

plateplusoffset

My intention had been to walk and draw a card at allotted spots throughout each walk. These would then be printed individually and together to give the impression of sequence and shifting perspective through a walk. I’ve always enjoyed layering images to convey a sense of movement and time. I had used the approach with (lightweight and easy to carry!) foil card to document a walk done over 5 days in 2009 and then reproduced in my artist’s books From Cromer to Hunstanton  and also as original plate and prints in Line and A Line, 2008 to convey the incremental changes of the cracks in my studio ceiling. Still, most recently I have been mainly focussed on relief printing and it took me a few days to warm up to drypoint on foil card, both in drawing and printing.  I’ve never actually had the opportunity to work solidly for such a period of time; there is always paid employment and life to distract. For those 12 days the shift in my printing practice was palpable and I’ve resolved to take time off  and schedule myself out of life next time I want to focus on a project.

backs-of-plates

By the end of the 12 days I had made 23 plates and 69 prints. I’ve brought them home to contemplate and perhaps compile a few into an artists book. Then a select few will get framed for an exhibition back at Staithes Studios Gallery at the start of March.  I’m looking forward to revisiting Staithes in the spring.

A big thank you goes to Stef and Ian Mitchell of Staithes Studios for giving us the opportunity.

 

 

 

a month away – a day there

February 19, 2014

On our second day in Beijing we got to meet Qu from, the now gone but by all accounts wonderful, artist run, Homeshop. We spent a day wandering the city together asking, telling, asking, telling.

Peking university Boya Pagoda

We walked through Peking University where old and new campus sit side by side. Anybody can go into lectures and participate in discussions with the classes and some owe their education to such opportunities. Groups who have discussion within the grounds have to be careful not to get split up.

new gate for poor area

We walked through an area where people new to Beijing often live. New rooms built one on top of another, within old courtyards, tight alleys winding through the warrens. The gate in the picture above newly built at one entrance to the area. We visited a grand, pay-in park, just next door, where the ruins of buildings stand as a memory of the western razing after the opium wars. In the space between the warrens and the park, washing hung in the breeze under the blossom.

washing in the trees

shadows in park

scooter mum

two months in brief

November 21, 2013

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A wedding book made first proof of steel sea etching

A large steel plate etched with the sea and proof printed many times as I learn how to wipe steel.

detail of 'basin';book of risograph prints

A book bound of orange fencing and Risograph prints made from canal basin line drawings, photographs, paint and watery objects. I’ll post a full look through the book sequence soon.

photo of an earthquake by Sarah Gillett

A visit to Margate and the Pushing Print exhibition featuring Sarah Gillett’s Earthquake installation,  above.

dreamland

A chilly afternoon with beautiful views, good company, warming ale and cheese.

sunset in margate

bookfair table

Another successful book fair in Manchester by Hot Bed Press, lots of lovely people and books, books, books.

A new routine, a little walking, a little making, a little walking a little making.

filled in doorway radcliffe

A visit to an archeology dig in Close Park, Radcliffe where an old tower was being dug, thought to have been part of a much larger complex.

trees in rainwater

solander boxes

A rush on Solander boxes, made for little crackd rabbit records yearly subscription.

allottment sky november

Autumn skies at the Southern Allotment, Manchster and outside the Walker Gallery, Liverpool.

liverpool sky november

ice

May 1, 2013

baikal ice 2

The frozen Lake Baikal has an ice road with actual road signs that is used daily between the freeze and the thaw. The road is replaced by hovercraft when it becomes unstable and a ferryboat in the summer.  We got to drive over this twice on our way to and from Olkhon Island late March. At times the van’s wheels spun and the driver moved off the road and back again while we held our breath, but of course it was perfectly safe, they have been driving the lake for years. From afar the water seems frozen mid-wave; in the shallows it looks like shallow waves, further out it looks like deep water, perfectly normal, except it’s frozen. If anyone can explain this to me please try.  Here are some close ups of the ice I took while walking around the edges of the lake near Khuzir.

walking the old road

August 20, 2012

This is 2 views of the old A625 which once snaked it’s way up the side of Mam Tor. The landslips and earth movements of Mam Tor,   ‘ the shivering mountain’  caused the road  to be patched up many times,  reduced to a single lane road and then finally closed in 1979. Tarmac as ancient geology, sheep and walkers clamber over it.

she shew me

April 30, 2012

..only when I moved to Manchester was I told of my incorrect grammar. But back in Norfolk I could say without note that my sister shew me, along the river Wensum, things I’d not seen before. My sister, having now lived there longer than me, walked me through the city along the river with its huge weeping willows and shew me the old pump house near Barn Road, some good public art – it looks like it belongs there – on the Quay side and a parasitic birds house in a tree beside Cow Tower.  She shew me the Jarrolds Printing museum, only open on Wednesdays ( it was a thursday) and a new bridge – rusty metal and wood..mmmm near Pulls Ferry. We walked over to see parts of the old city walls, out past the football grounds and Carrow Bridge House, tucked away up the side of a hill. She says they reckon parts of the wall were taken as raw materials, built in and around. People are living with the wall in their homes today and might not even know they have a lookout post in the attic, flint arrowheads in the cellar.

We also walked into Surrey House the Norwich Union building that took up all the marble Westminster Abbey couldn’t afford, lining almost every surface with it. We saw an  early air conditioning system and a gold and green skeleton clock made for the Great Exhibition. The clock played 12 tunes, 1 for every hour, the workers disabled it as they couldn’t get enough work done, unable to resist the urge to waltz the  marble floors whenever the  chime called them.