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Monday, 19 November 2012

Lino Blocks, Chine-collé, Arabic Calligraphy, Fossils, Caves, Giants and Street Pianos!

Lino block prints are quite quick and a lot less laborious to print compared with etching so, for the moment, I have been experimenting with this; combining it with one of my favorite techniques: Chine-collé. For these prints I have been using Japanese origami paper and imitation gold leaf with muted blue/grey ink for the single block print on top. The block was inspired by some fossils and minerals I had seen in  the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on a recent trip to the city. I also looked at The Giant's Causeway in Antrim, Northern Ireland and Fingal's cave, a sea cave on the island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland when designing this block. The forms have changed and are more geometric but still hold organic elements of the original Growth and Process design, as though its developing and changing. 

"Fossil Bloom"

Experimenting with imitation gold leaf

Initial experimentation with imitation gold leaf - still to be mastered but I quite like the results it has shown it that can be achieved

I have also been looking at the work of street artist, Retna, after reading the article, Lost in Translation, in Issue 20 of Very Nearly Almost magazine. He creates his own visual language that doesn't have to be read to be understood. Using a mixture of lively brushstrokes, playful techniques and skill, Retna produces bold, clear and eye-catching murals. I have also been drawing influence from Arabic Calligraphy writer, eL Seed, and the beautiful flowing shapes and curves used in his work. Please take a look at the links provided to see some of their work. 

Mixing all the influences I have been studying, along with my original ideas and concepts, I cut 3 lino blocks that work nicely together. Something a little bit different from my usual work. I originaly planned the blocks to be quite small to allow me to make smaller pieces, therefore offering ease of transport and storage. Although, it turns out that lino blocks work well for tiling, so me being me I have ended up making 3 x 1.5m long banner-type prints. Please not: The photographs included in this blog entry are the beginning of the project, not the finished article. The pieces are now fully printed although I have not yet photographed them in all their glory! My next challenge is how to display them. I was considering keeping them curved and displaying them as 3 half cylinder shapes... watch this space!

Relief printing in a very quiet studio - Luxury!

Enjoying mixing some of my favorite colours

Mixing the original Growth and Process concept with new Arabic Calligraphy inspired shapes

Examining positive and negative space

Hot off the press

Being inspired and looking at other forms of art is also informing my practice and keeping my brain ticking along with new ideas. The recent Festival of Ideas saw the arrival of 15 street pianos dotted around Cambridge, all featuring the inviting text - "Play me. I'm yours." They were decorated with the theme Dreams and Nightmares in mind and stayed around for two weeks between 24/10/12 and 4/11/12. There was one on my route to uni and work which made me smile and brightened up my day every time I passed it. It functioned as a piece of art, a musical instrument and a tool to encourage positive communication. I really loved how these paths crossed and brightened up darkening winter nights for the community and visitors alike.

As I was cycling home one evening there was a man playing the piano that was on my route. I stopped to watch him for a while and take some photographs. As I was doing so, another woman stopped and we ended up chatting, which would not normally happen, all due to the piano! When the man stopped playing, another couple of people who had been watching him started to chat with him. I really enjoyed the power it held, also how accessible and interactive the project was and the way it encouraged communication in such a positive way was brilliant to be a part of. I must admit, I do really miss the pianos! 

At first he played alone...
Then he was joined by one to talk about the music...

And then another!
The project also opened my eyes to how many talented people can play the piano in Cambridge! Bravo!

Last but not least, some hardcore printing has lead to some silly (but always controlled!) behavior in the studio. Here's a couple of snaps of me with my cheeky studio technician, Damien. Cleaning up but keeping him in line at the same time!