Small City=Big Culture: Two Exhibitions NOT to Miss

Visiting the Castle Museum this week, I was pleasantly surprised at just how bustling the whole place was with families; children everywhere, soaking up history!
A friend and I went to see the Wonder of Birds exhibition there:

What an inspired theme for a show..
Spanning time and cultures; natural history and art; the show starts with the drama of gilt. 
We entered to a wall - gold, enclosing a glass case - with an amazing ceramic hawk - from 11th century Iran:

Then on, into the space, we were bombarded by birds - above our heads, tiny brass offerings in cases, a sweet, vulnerable drawing of a dodo - alongside a Cedric Morris painting:

Contemporay, modern, ancient, Elizabethan, photography, medieval cartoon Swan Rolls, chalky mid 20th century landscapes, over 140 minute jewels of hummingbirds in a Victorian (of course) display case - birds were the main feature or an incidental detail, depending on the emphasis of the display.

Each section focused on a different aspect; cleverly colour-coded along the walls and on the information boards.
Both the content and the display itself were beautifully orchestrated, a delight. 
For a provincial city, stuck out (oh, how glad I am that it is) on the path to no-where, this is a competent and erudite show - get to it before it's gone - Finishes Sunday 14 September 2014.

Later, we called in on the exhibition; constructed by MA Curation students at NUA - Afteryears: Reflections on British Art 1046 - 1952, which finishes (the day before the Wonder of Birds) on Saturday 13 September 2014.
An early Patrick Heron; drawing from Ivon Hitchens, the very great Prunella Clough, Eduardo Paolozzi's Insect Wings collage (below), a Barbara Hepworth drawing - that reminded me of Elizabeth Frink's figures, Victor Pasmore (see further below) - all the classic mid-century Brits are here.

the space is really well plotted, the works having a flow through he show, with colours, geometry, composition, scale - picked up and played with - to create a strong exhibition. 
The curators have also related the art to the social context and the locality well - with a nod to the visitor and right here, right now - asking us to reflect on key questions with little evaluative question sheets and a pinboard

Victor Pasmore, Rectangular Motif, Black and Olive, 1950, Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © Estate of Victor Pasmore. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2014.
yummy colours and shapes

Reach Out And Haul In The Day....

Enjoyed a shortish day at work in the shed - making this medium sized piece. 
I printed the circles - with a 'block', made using little cork pads from the hardware shop.
I was inspired by the bits left randomly on my table after cutting up papers to collage last time I was in there.
I still like the white space - but exploring a slightly more loosely constructed composition across the surface. 
keeping it more open seems cleaner - a few pieces were becoming a bit cloggy and heavy with paint - but the intention was to leave room for the colours and shapes to breathe today.
Here's the whole thing: 

And here are three photos of fragments of the above:

I like the way that the ochre makes the black pick up the blues - giving the impression of being a sort of paynes grey.
Each of these close-ups could stand up as a complete piece - but sadly they are only areas from the top image, zoomed in on by my camera's lense.

...Recording, clipping and seeing the fragmented detail sections here has given me plenty of ideas for what to do next.

Below is the page from a new sketchbook, that I started today - some shapes I selected with thought and planning, yet others were simply what was left when I'd cut out those shapes.
It's the chance that intrigues me initially, followed by a combination of placement, instinct, questioning and reflective thought

A fragment of the sketchbook piece - thank you to Mr Hole-Punch who was very helpful this afternoon!

Recent Digital Playtime

One or two little recent digital-sketch collages - more on the website - HERE:

I Also Understand How She Must Have Felt

I Remember Sleeping Under the Stars

Love Weakened Like A Wilted Flower

These are about playing - and trying things - using and combining my own photographs with the random-ness of IT software to edit them...
I may get some printed as postcards, what do you think - good idea?

What's The Link Here Then?

Photographing precious paper pieces; carefully collected, clipped and collated - on top of my table, in the studio-shed. 
Circles and letterforms, black printing ink, mono-printed polka dots.
Re-arranging the random off-cuts.
Reflected light and diffused light with triangles.
Scaffolding at work - serendipitous addition of red door.
Then - finally - two long mixed media collages I made last week and a messy one.
That's what I have been recording with the camera on my phone - it's a rubbish camera. 
I need a new phone, so that I can get a new camera...bonkers isn't it - but that's how it seems to work...

Studio Photos For The Website..

I am putting together a website (phew, what a time it takes...) at the moment - to be a showcase for my artwork
It is out there on the world wide web right now good people and you can visit 
There are still some things that I need to add - namely details for each individual piece in the slideshows - you know, title, dimensions, media used.
As part of the website, I thought it would be good to have some photographs of the studio, so I cleverly made a page called 'studio'.
Here are a few that we took - there are some recent images of my good self on the website - I spared you those here! Also, it means you may go and have a look at the website, if you want to see me with me specs on..
Anyway, enough of that. Here - for your delectation - is my beloved compact creative space:

If In Doubt, Get The Black Out...

One of my recent collages was a bit light; too 'pretty' - too representational and the colours weren't right.
I happened to be using black paint to produce some simple textured prints to collage with - and decided to slap on the leftover black with a roller - see how it goes - can't be worse...can it?:


I tried a few extra touches of found paper collage; a photo of a blue leather handbag (similar texture to the rollered ink on the watercolour paper). This resurrected colour just a little, allowing it to stand up to the black.
Looking at them now - reduced by photography to thumbnails - it appears to me that the top left is the more successful section..?:

It's the abstraction, I reckon. 
Figurative elements are simply too attention-seeking - shouting "Hey, look at me, I'm a flower!" Whereas, take those shapes away (ignore the noisy ones) and it allows the process, techniques, shapes and colour to be equals. Funny, eh?
Anyway - off to sleepy-byes for me...

My Turn To Learn..

This evening I am feeling fulfilled; reflecting on a happy self-indulgent day spent in the company of fellow creatives - under the gentle encouraging thoughtful tuition of the very most lovely Michael Brennand-Wood; (bit cheesy to ask for one of him - so) here's a photo I found online:

When I was an art student, he was already established as a textile artist and I remember seeing his wooden 'grids' that emulated the warp and weft of fabric which he then embroidered string, wire, paper and other media into.
Smiths Row gallery in Bury St Edmunds has a comprehensive retrospective of Brennand-Wood's work, curated chronologically, showing until September.

Today - Michael introduced the 'Overlays' workshop with a tour of his show - especially pertinent as the workshop was held IN the gallery, surrounded by his work:

I love the way that - on the face of it - a good deal of his art textiles appears fragile and delicate - but - be warned dear blog reader - reproductions are deceptive... The pieces have an edgy robustness - either in physicality (the use of metal) or in the subjects that Brennand-Wood contends with (war, slavery..)

Go to the website to read more about the exhibition here

Soon we got started - with an A3 wooden frame and a series of translucent materials - plastics, paper and fabrics. 
We had all received an email with a breakdown of what the workshop would involve a couple of weeks beforehand, which was really useful, enabling us to plan to incorporate elements that we use in our work already, should we desire.

Initially I was going to bring MASSES of stuff - 'just in case' - but last night I decided that I'd take my usual 'too much choice is stressful' view. So armed with only a limited supply of materials and bits and bobs to use, the restriction was refreshing actually.
I had intended to take more photos as the piece developed, but forgot:

It was a real pleasure to meet Juliet - who mapped out and encased beautiful shells and bone into her framework, before continuing to envelop and enclose them between layers of fabric:

Here are several photographs of the other attendees' pieces - which Michael left plenty of time for each of us to talk about and reflect upon:

Fascinating to see - and hear about - everyone's very diverse approaches to the workshop. 
The artwork made its own individual 'compact' impact - as Michael held each one up - but then, when passed around - and in your hands, on closer inspection, you saw intricate details and how the complex layering gave rigour and depth.
And - here's how mine finished up...

I am content with the way that layering the thin plastic sheet has built up a slightly 'milky' semi-transparency - which throws back some elements. I stuffed the back with more of the plastic and some crumpled brown paper before closing it in with white muslin.

Smiths Row Gallery and Michael Brennand-Wood are running a second 'Overlays' workshop on Sunday 17 August - so if you know anyone who'd be interested, I can highly recommend it
The new date is not on the website yet but email for details: