Saturday, 28 September 2013

Cowprint calendar is coming together!

What a great Cowprint meeting we had on Tuesday evening! It was handing-in day for the calendar images; everyone made the deadline and brought along beautiful images, all very different but all complimenting each other very well indeed. It was a real joy to lay them all out in order, and quite extraordinary how, despite us all going away and doing our own thing, they all flowed from month to month so well. There's a surprising continuity between them which is very pleasing.

Now all that remains to be done is the final scanning and formatting (all thanks to Irene) and it's off to the printer. We're printing just 200 and I'm hoping they will fly off the shelves. If you want one, place your order soon!


Front cover: Tim Watson
June: Ruth Barrett-Danes
December: Jo Price

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Homage to Francis Bacon

I had another creative project on the go this summer, a slightly more unusual one. It was a charity fundraiser called Go Pig!, started by a colleague at work to run in tandem with the Go Rhino! initiative, a community project set up by Marwell Zoo to raise awareness of the conservation issues surrounding rhinos in the wild. Large rhino sculptures were decorated by local artists and placed around Southampton for people to enjoy. And very popular it was too.

Our pigs are somewhat smaller (transparent plastic piggy banks) but all two hundred were distributed swiftly with the brief to decorate and fill with cash by whatever means; this will be donated to the same charities as Go Rhino!.

Something like 70 of the 200 pigs have been decorated so far and photos sent back to my colleague to put on the intranet at work. There are some fabulous creations and pig-related puns abound.

I thought my own contribution ought to have a printmaking element to it so I have made a portrait of Francis Bacon (see what I did there? Groan...) in what is effectively drypoint on one side of the pig. My plan was to shine a strong light through it so the engraved grooves would cast a shadow, showing Bacon's face. As the pig fills with coins (hopefully), the shadow will gradually disappear but the portrait will appear in white on the pig itself. That was my plan. I have got some really great shadows from flat perspex drypoint plates in the past (a useful way to see what the final print might look like) but concave plastic - or is it convex? - that's not so simple. Add to that the fact that the plastic fractured as I engraved it, and the white spirit I used to take the permanent marker drawing off with turned the plastic opaque, and you will understand me when I say that it didn't turn out quite as I had hoped. Not my finest hour... which is somewhat embarrassing as I had a few people telling me they were expecting Great Things from me. We covered a lot of stuff on my Fine Art degree course but decorating plastic piggy banks got missed off the syllabus somehow. Or maybe I was away that day...

Anyway, picture of the shadow above and drypointed side below.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Chicken murderer

Okay. On to the next image. This is for my lovely, cheery, unruly chooks who were untimely despatched by a murderous fox in July. I miss them, even though they trashed the garden and forced me out of bed early on cold winter mornings. And the eggs - oh the eggs... Those I really miss too. Even the best organic ones don't come close.

Anyway, this image will be a two-plate print; etching and aquatint and solar plate. Colour, Texture, line, diagramatic elements... I think my work is moving forward in the way I wanted.

Studio update

Dear me it's been a busy old summer. I've had work in three exhibitions, finished my 20:20 edition, Cowprint calendar print, Go Pig! pig and started on a new image. And in between making cups of coffee for visitors at Wool House and erecting gazebos in the rain for the Red Hot Press Wayzgoose, I've also had the house rewired courtesy of the amiable Simon.

As quiet, tidy and efficient as the aforementioned was, it was three weeks of disruption; much moving of furniture and general 'stuff' from one room to another until there was nowhere left to move it, here in the House of a Thousand Extension Leads. We are more or less done now though, and a good job it is too; well overdue so a massive weight off my mind. Thank you Simon.

I also took the opportunity to have the studio rewired and extra lighting and sockets put in. With a little bit more painting of the walls done, it's really beginning to look like a proper studio. I have much more space to work in now too; major work on property always affords a good opportunity to have a clear out and pass on unwanted items to those who can make use of them. I still had a lot of my dad's machinery and power tools from when he built his aircraft so these now have a new home at the Gosport Men's Shed, newly-founded by Martin Corrick of The Navigation Log fame.

So, with the studio sorted, the calendar image done and almost ready to print, I have no excuse not to get on with making new work and hopefully increase my output a bit. First of all, I think a bit of a sit down is needed...


Monday, 9 September 2013

One out, three in

spellbound exhib 
We took down Double Exposure at Wool House last week and submitted for Spellbound... and so all three pirate babies toddled onto the walls of the 14th Century wool store; the first time they've all hung together. Although it may not be obvious, they fit quite well with the brief - 'dreams, stories and imaginings that connect us to the wider world'. As I've bearded on about in previous posts, these are stories of an imagined journey combined with some autobiographical stuff. The third image, 'Then strange ground now', is about the homesickness I felt when we returned 'home' to the UK in the 70s. Southampton was home to my parents who had emigrated to Canada in 1953. To me, home was Seattle, Washington where I'd spent the first five or so years of my life. Being dragged from there, where it was always sunny; where there was plenty of space and the colours were vivid, to this other 'home', where little brick houses squeezed shoulder to shoulder, stretching up into the cluttered sky and grey people puttered along narrow, wiggly roads in tiny cars; where it rained constantly... I can still feel that lump in my stomach now, just remembering the journey from the airport. 

Of course, those feelings didn't last too long and although never forgotten, the life in Seattle was carefully stored away in the memory banks of past experience. I do find it odd though, how easily and how strongly I can still feel that particular experience. Indelible; etched on my psyche.

height over flat water, high suspended nothing, then strange ground now, looming, towers tight close-huddling, colour-losing grey damp, dull heartsick ache...