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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Ceramic Jug: Mixing Building and Decorational Techniques

I've started working more and more with ceramics due to what's been readily available to me.

My most recent creation is the jug that I will show in this post. My aim was to combine a range of techniques to make a functional item. I wanted to keep the strong graphic approach I show with in my prints, using bold colours and shapes.

When building the jug I used pinch pot, coil and slab building techniques. I decided to make simple surface decoration by in-laying coloured slip. When the jug was at the leather-hard stage of drying, I sketched on my design, and used a lino cutting tool to incise the design in to the surface. I then filled these lines with the coloured slip and when that was dry I scraped it back, so it was flush with the surface level.

I wanted to highlight the features in the form of the jug through the slip in-lay design, as well and try to keep and show a balance with in the piece.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Ceramics Summer School at Hills Road Sixth Form College

This post is moving slightly away from Printmaking, but I wanted to include this update on the arty happenings of the summer!

This July I was given the opportunity to teach the Ceramics Summer School at Hills Road Sixth Form College. I showed a group of 5 adults a range of techniques and how to use them over the five days. We studied pinch pots, coils, slab building, throwing, slip decoration, press moulds, air traps, glazing techniques, the use of oxides, burnishing and the possibilities of combining glass with ceramic work, to name but a few!

I really enjoyed working with the small group, as it meant each student got lots of attention and encouragement, which made it possible for them to achieve some really great outcomes. They were also really open and responsive to experimentation, and using it to inform their progress over the course. Each person paid attention to the various tutorials they were shown, but it was interesting to watch how they all took my advice in completely different directions.

The 5 day course was split over 2 weeks, with the weekend in between, as I made use of this time to bisque fire the work. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Week 1 were days allocated for making. We were very lucky with the hot sun outside, which helped to dry the work, ready for it's first firing.

When the students returned on Monday I taught them various glazing techniques, which they were then free to get started with, and continue the following day.

Here are some pictures and videos taken throughout the course (courtesy of Emma Wilshaw).

Slab built sculpture inspired by the work of Richard Deacon, made from a paper tenplate.
A wind-chime made from pinch pots to be strung together to make a jointed fish after glazing
Alex working on a slub built sculpture
A birdbath made from a press mould, drying out in the sun
Helping Alex construct her piece
Pouring glaze and dry-brushing oxides on the bottom of the birdbath to the left
Glass feature in the bowl of the birdbath after it's final firing
A little cat bowl by Carys

Pam's collection of owls making use of low temperature, brush-on glazes
A bowl made in a press mould by Carys making use of glaze and glass as form of decoration

Emma's final sculpture

And a few video clips from demos....



Monday, 28 July 2014

Cambridge Open Studios: ArtWorks Ltd. Call for Entries Exhitition 2014

This month my piece, '3 Pillars', was selected for the Cambridge ArtWorks Ltd. Open Call For Entries Exhibition 2014. It was open to the public during the middle two weekend of Open Studios (12th and 13th, 19th and 20th July). A little thumbnail of my work even made it on to the poster for the show!

The exhibition looked really strong and I always enjoy a nosey round the artists' studios at this light and airy location.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Hills Road Art Dept Staff Exhibition at The MichaelHouse Centre, Cambridge

At the same time as putting on the show in the Grafton Centre, I was also showing some of my larger work at the MichaelHouse Centre on Trinity Street, Cambridge, along side my colleagues from the Art Dept at Hills Road Sixth Form College.

The centre is an old church that has been renovated in to a cafe but still has the original nave, where services and events are still held. It has a light, airy, modern feel about it. The site really lent its self to the exhibition, and I really enjoyed making use of the large arch ways in the architecture as frames for my work.

During the Private View I had a chat with the principal of Hills Road Sixth Form College, and we agreed that the large boards will now be on display for all to see, within the college, which is really exciting, and good to know that they will be seen!

Changing Rooms with Changing Spaces in the Grafton Centre, Cambridge

As part of their residency within the Grafton Centre, last month, Changing Spaces took over the former H&M shop and issued an open call to students and alumni of Cambridge School of Art to submit a proposal of how they would transform the inside of a fitting room. I was lucky enough to have my proposal chosen!

There were 8 cubicles, the interior of which was designed by 8 different artists. The downstairs of the store was occupied by Blue Contemporary Art Agency, showing chosen works from selected painters. Upstairs was showing film projections, installations and performances by Neuf Film Collective and whole mix of drawings and paintings by various artists. A lot of the work on show had been produced on site, especially for the show, which was open for the public to view as it was in construction, as well as the final, polished exhibition, which was named Mind Your Head.

30 artists were involved in showing their work in total, and it was a really exciting project to be a part of. It was fun working in the space and I got to meet some really interesting people. It was both hectic and thrilling to pull the whole thing together in just a few days, but we did it!

I had spent some time constructing patterns on my computer from reduction lino cuts I had made in the studio. The designs were made to scale then tiled and printed on to A3 sheets. I made my own wheat paste and covered the inside on my fitting room with pattern!


Introducing, in order of appearance… 

Philip Cornett       Lorna Collins       Kelcy Davenport            Kavinash Thomoo         

Jane Hellings              Amanda Morgan             Peter Jackson                Katy McDonald

Eight artists, eight rooms. 

Changing Rooms is upstairs, towards the back of the building. Connected by a long passageway, each changing room is confined, segregated and immersed deep within the heart of consumerism. You are invited to explore these individual spaces, meet your own reflection, push your level of visibility, and take control of your narcissistic obsession with the selfie. Will you succumb to being passive recipients of capitalist culture? No matter where you go, your reflection is inescapable.
Prepare to be consumed. 

The cubicle space as somewhere to display work was an unconventional challenge I hadn't experienced before, but it was really interesting to work in such a small space, with mirror fixtures, reflecting the hypnotic designs. It was definitely an opportunity for a selfie of two that I couldn't resist!

It was great to finally see my designs up on walls, as I've wanted to do something like this for a while now. Being within the changing room felt like taking a step inside my brain!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Faith and Belief in Snowdonia

Last weekend my friends put on a private party/mini festival sort of thing out in the mountains of Snowdonia national park in Wales. It took us about 5 hours to get there but it was so worth it to be a part of something truly magical. We were blessed with good weather along with some spectacular scenery and surroundings to spend the bank holiday weekend in.

Our camp was set up loosely around an old barn, with an inscription on the fireplace reading 1511, however, the people who now own the barn and know more if its history reckon it was built around 100 years earlier than this. Not much has changed in the interior and it still boasts most of its original fittings inside.

The Site (Photo courtesy of James Waddingham)

The Site

The barn where I set up the installation
When my friends picked me up in Cambridge, I was quizzed as to why I was bringing so much of my art stuff with me, to which I didn't really have an answer, apart from one of the organisers had told me to bring it! When I got to the site, I was shown the upstairs of the barn. I was so excited because as soon as I saw it I could envisage my work set-up in there and how it would all work!

The original fittings and quirky bits in the structure worked perfectly with the banner from the Faith and Belief installation, and we managed to use the beams and stone walls to our advantage to hook the flags on to. All the pieces seemed to fit together like a jigsaw and I was totally buzzing and couldn't quite believe how perfectly it worked!

The banner filled the doorway shape in the middle of the room and there were just enough flags to go round the perimeter. The rough texture and grey of the stone walls against the crisp white and bright colours with the bright sunshine streaming through the windows reinstated the original concept and thought process behind the project in the first place: comparing my artistic practice to a form of faith, belief or a religion and how it can make you feel the same enlightenment and uplifting effect as a god can have on someone who follows a religion; its all about what you believe in, whether it be a god, art, music. Fact or fiction, pursue what makes you feel happy, chase what makes you feel alive.

It was as if they were made for each other...

Flag patterns Vs Stone wall patterns

Streaming sunlight

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Fibo-Seed: Multi-Block Reduction Lino

Last summer I made a trip to The Eden Project in Cornwall. I was interested to see the biome constructions that house the plants inside like huge greenhouses, simulating warmer conditions, but mainly excited and intregued to see The Seed sculpture in the heart of one of the buildings in the Eden Project: The Core.

The Biomes at The Eden Project

The sculpture has been carved from a piece of granite that took artist, Peter Randall-Page and his team, two years to find, and two years to carve and weighs a whopping 70 tonnes!

I was blown away by the piece. It was tangiable, tactile, appealing and accessable to and audience of all ages. The way The Seed is displayed, inside a sort of circular white room, tapering up in to a funnel that opens out to a window above, which lights the object, made me feel very small and enforced the realization that nature is all around and should be respected, embraced and protected by man-kind, as it provides us with so much, which, sometimes, we can be blind to.

The Seed was carved completely by hand

The might Seed, by Pater Randall-Page
Back in Cambridge, around about the same time I found out about the Fibonacci sequence, as a result of a conversation at the pub with some friends. I spent a long time the next day researching it and watching various videos explaining about it on youtube.

As a reaction to both of these things I began to note down ideas for a new print. I created a new piece called Fibo-Seed using 2 lino blocks, and six layers: A reduction lino multi block. My bedroom floor became my press, with the pieces hung on a make shift line to dry for each layer after it was hand-burnished on my homemade registration block!

After 6 layers of ink I ended up with a limited edition of 22 of these. If you like the piece and want one to hang on your wall they are available to buy from the Saatchi Online shop by following this link.