Launching Collage Now

23 Jun The Hell that is Trump by Peter Williams

The Collage Now exhibition opened Tuesday 13th June, and the private view and official launch took place on Saturday 17th June with a great turn out.  Plenty of visitors have been calling in and most people are spending quite a lot of time taking it all in.  There have been quite a few sales too.  There is a wealth of detail, books and other collage-related pieces that photographs cannot do justice to.  Feedback has been great so far, with many people appreciating how the exhibition brings together diverse techniques of contemporary collage:

  • collage with found and prepared materials,
  • montage with narrative or political content,
  • reliefs and assemblages (2D and 3D),
  • décollage (collaged layers are sanded, cut into or torn away)
  • mixed media collage,
  • found poetry
  • artist books.

There are 13 different artists featured.  Most of the artists on display work in Shropshire, some are recognised and collected internationally.

There is an opportunity to see the work of Anwar Jalal Shemza, an important modern artist who was born in Pakistan, and later lived and worked in the UK until he died in 1985.  His work features in the collections of the Tate, MOMA in New York and many other public museums worldwide.  The five pieces included in this exhibition are from the Roots series, produced around 1977.  They are on loan from the private collection of a Shropshire based art collector.

Malcolm Tillis is also collected internationally.  He came to collage after a life in the arts as professional classical musician (Halle Orchestra), a designer and a writer.  Now in his 90s, he continues to work prolifically in Shrewsbury and Spain.  He has published three books of collages.  F. Lanier Graham, distinguished art historian and former Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York had this to say:

“As I look at the collages of Malcolm Tillis I am astonished to see such a continuous core of creativity, and such endless explosions of joyous imagination.  I know of no abstract artist alive today in any country whose art is more lyrical.

What Tillis has done is far beyond exceptional.  From a quiet corner of England has come a profound affirmation of humanity, a precious gift to the history of art.  When the definitive history of abstract collage is written I predict that there will be a chapter on what Schwitters did in Germany, what Arp did in France, what Motherwell did in the United States, and what Tillis did in England.”

For further details see: http://www.malcolmtillis.com/

Despite our digital age, traditional methods of combining images and materials remain an exciting way to interpret the world visually, often creating surprising effects and new narratives.  There are no rules.

Here are some photos of the exhibition and from the preview, some of the images are courtesy of photographer, Pat Jones:

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The curators, Peter Williams and myself, looking slightly apprehensive or perhaps just tired…

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Peter works mainly with collage, montage and photo-montage, utilizing found objects, often paper ephemera and a range of other materials. He has recently shown an interest in Robots allied with time and space travel and has used some old OS maps as a basis for image making.

He is an art Psychotherapist and has worked with young children, adolescents and families. Peter worked as an art tutor at Shrewsbury HMP helping to run an art group for vulnerable men.  His work has been shown at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Glasgow, Keele University, Sheffield University, the Gateway and the Bear Steps Gallery in Shrewsbury, the Willow and Cube Galleries in Oswestry, the Chester Open and other venues.

He works out of a studio based in the Participate Contemporary Gallery on Riverside Mall, Shrewsbury alongside other artists.

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My work on the right sitting very proudly between the work of Anwar Shemza (left) and Peter Williams (out of shot to the right)

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An opportunity to fully expand my book In Parallel and Entwined so that the frieze on the reverse pages can be seen

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Five superb pieces from the Root series by Anwar Jalal Shemza, loaned from the private collection of a Shropshire based collector

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Peter Williams and the great Malcolm Tillis, who called in to see us on the opening day

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Some of Malcolm Tillis’ work (right) alongside the work of Gretchen Christman-Johnson (upper left) and London-based artist, Paul Bott (lower left)

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Gretchen (photo courtesy of Pat Jones)

Gretchen was born into a family of artists and musicians and has continued in that vein for most of her life.  She has always loved studying nature and its individual parts as they relate to one another.  She is also constantly on the lookout for different ways to express old themes and to use artistic expression as a way to comment on history as well as current events.

Gretchen has been a student of Stuart Brandt and Jack Baker of Santa Barbara, California. She says her greatest teachers are her eyes as everything artistic comes from observation and the willingness to remove roadblocks from experimentation . This is her second collage exhibition as she usually works in oils, watercolours, colour pencils and pastels.

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Malcolm discussing finer points with Ted Eames

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Ted Eames’ joyful and provocative work

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“Frozen  Forests are Full of Feisty Fifties Film Stars”, Ted Eames

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Ted – the man to Trust (photo courtesy of Pat Jones)

Ted was born and bred in Shropshire and returned to his roots some 13 years ago after spending most of his working life in Oxford. He now lives in Wem.

Ted has been active on the poetry scene for some years and has a collection of poems out. He writes a monthly blog at www.maintenantman.wordpress.com

Influenced by the work of, amongst others, John Heartfield, Peter Kennard and Max Ernst, Ted has become more and more engaged in collage making over the last few years.

“I see collage and montage as an increasingly relevant medium in contemporary society. I like the potential for surrealist expression, for philosophical comment, for satire and for humour.”

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More of Bamber’s finely crafted work

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Bamber with his amazing cabinet “Full of Wonder” (photo courtesy of Pat Jones)

Bamber Hawes’ work is varied in style and is a meditation on the beauty and wonder of insignificant things and found objects:

“I am inspired to use anything from mother of pearl to rotten lino, MDF or brass in my art and espouse the design philosophy of “truth to materials”

Found objects and components that have caught my eye while making furniture and other commissioned projects. These small framed squares have an underlying theme, story or structure in the finished work. By choosing the items, arranging, rearranging, then rearranging them some more into the tightly restricted 200 x 200 mm squares of grey board, I transform things that have no value into small works that show off their inherent wonder.”

More information at: www.bamber-art.co.uk/

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Found poetry and collages by Emily Wilkinson

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Emily (photo courtesy of Pat Jones)

Emily is a Shrewsbury-based artist and poet working with collage, paint, poetry, writing, textiles and bookmaking.

In 2014 she was artist in residence at Wenlock Books, resulting in nine month’s worth of generous funding from James Patterson’s Independent Booksellers Grants to work with children using art and poetry.

Emily has exhibited in Scotland and Shropshire, and she has created installations at events such as Wenlock Poetry Festival.  She has strong experience in delivering public workshops and in community engagement and regularly teaches workshops in mixed media art and words. Emily is currently working with care home residents in Herefordshire as part of the Courtyard Art Centre’s Colour Me Purple project.

More information at: https://emilywilkinson.net/

Rosie Read

Rosie Read (photo courtesy of Pat Jones)

Rosie is an artist and teacher, graduating from Camberwell in Ceramics in the 1970s.

“I have been teaching ceramics, painting and drawing, and history of art for many years at 6th Form College and in adult education.  My work has been shown in exhibitions in the South East, France and the Marches.

I was Chair of Castle Artists in Bishops Castle for many years, and currently a Trustee of Visual Art Network.

At present, I work in my own studio in the Market Hall, making “Boats”(papier-mâché, cardboard and found objects), painting and assembling collage using layers of papers, mostly archaeological subjects and memorabilia.  I also produce watercolours of local landscapes and seascapes.  I use inks, watercolours and acrylic paint in the main and often incorporate text in my work.  On a lighter note, I paint fruit and veg.

Creating is one of the most important things I do!  Maybe the most important.”

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Heather Prescott with some of her collages, prints and handmade books (photo courtesy of Pat Jones)

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From Heather’s Tread Lightly project (photo courtesy of Pat Jones)

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Seeds of Enlightenment – Prescott and Martin (photo courtesy of Pat Jones)

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Angela Martin (photo courtesy of Pat Jones)

Heather Prescott is a printmaker, illustrator and designer.  She makes artists books because she likes to tell stories and because making books brings together all the disciplines she enjoys including collage, printmaking, drawing, watercolour, typography and design.

Heather studied Graphic Design & Illustration at Camberwell, post graduate printmaking in Brighton and then gained  MA (dist.) in Art & Education at University of Central England in Birmingham.

Angela Martin is a cartoonist, illustrator and printmaker.  She studied Textile/Fashion at Middlesex Polytechnic and later did an MA in Textile History at Winchester School of Art and retains an interest in textiles through research and lecturing. Angela has run workshops and courses alongside freelance cartoon work. Her education work has developed into coordinating community arts projects and working with a variety of people young and old. Arts projects include Sheepshape, Hatscape and Art Allotments.

In 2009 Angela and Heather started a collage collaboration called Art Allotments which ran for a number of years. The two artists sent each other envelopes containing their rejected art work of drawings, roughs, prints & abandoned ideas together with interesting ephemera and text.  They in turn created collages quickly and intuitively using the received materials.

Peter’s fabulous Trump collage attracted plenty of attention.  Visitors are invited to write a poetic message or make a collage, perhaps on a climate related theme, or on an issue in which the Donald’s words or actions threaten peace, so that we can make an art installation in response to the work.  Some opted to throw missiles at the work.  A “Pin the tail on the Trump” game was another good suggestion…

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Many visitors took part in the Art Allotments workshop led by Heather Prescott and Angela Martin, assisted by myself and Peter – making collages recycled from “artistic compost” of rejected work and other collage bits.

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Paul Bott and Peter get to work

Two of Paul’s collages are featured in the exhibition:

“I have three A levels in Art and studied at Waltham Forest Adult Education Centre.  I enjoy collages and abstract art and practice every week at my art group in Finchley in North London, which is supporting people with Asperger’s and Autism.

One of my pictures is based on a song by Freddy Mercury of Queen.  I live by myself in Muswell Hill, although on weekends I stay with my family.  I am very proud to be exhibiting in this exhibition.”

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The exhibition continues until Saturday 8th July.  There will be further workshops at the VAN Street Gallery, 18/19 Shoplatch:

Emily Wilkinson – Found Poetry and Text Art
Friday 30th June, 2pm-4pm

Cost: £12 (students etc £10). Please email Emily on emily.f.wilkinson@gmail.com if you have any questions about the workshop. Suitable for adults & teens aged 14+

See link below for full details

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/found-poetry-text-art-workshop-van-gallery-tickets-35006853441

Jacs Collins/Rosie Read – Collage
Thursday 6th July, all day

Opening, closing, opening, closing

6 Jun

After the first Shrewsbury Open Studios weekend last week, this week is busier as I took down my exhibition at the Hive today, and then must change around my studio in readiness for the second weekend of the Open Studios on 10th/11th June, whilst also preparing for installing the Collage Now show in the VAN Street Gallery on Monday 12th June.

Collage Now exhibition, VAN Street Gallery, Shrewsbury

My co-curator, Peter Williams and I did an interview yesterday about the Collage exhibition on Red Shift radio with Mark Sheeky in his Artslab studio.  A thoroughly enjoyable experience, and it was a real revelation to discover another layer of arts activity going on in the back of a fine old building on a rainy day in Nantwich.

Here is a link to the full programme:

https://www.mixcloud.com/RedShiftRadio/artslab-ii-26-with-mark-sheeky-on-redshift-radio/

The interview is in about three five minute slots, starting about 20 mins into the programme.  We didn’t get much chance to prepare beforehand so the interview is quite spontaneous for all three of us, and there is some interesting insight into the background to the exhibition, and our individual artist practice.  But not as much as I’d liked to have said about the contemporary relevance of collage or about all of the other artists involved.   Nice to have a chance to promote the exhibition to a different audience though.

For now, I’ll point out that there will be a free workshop event during the day on 17th June, with a private view from 5.30pm that evening.  I’ll say a bit more about the exhibition in a later post.

Shrewsbury Open Studios

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Its six years since the last time I opened my studio to the public, and this year there are 34 artists taking part.  Its a lot of work to prepare – in theory its a great opportunity to sort the studio out, which I do to an extent, but then end up shifting stuff out of sight only for it all to return when the crowds have gone.

Crowds is a slight exaggeration, as visitor numbers were a bit down on previous occasions, but there are a few factors at play.  The large number of artists taking part in the town centre has a impact on visitors willing to make the effort to walk an extra 5-10 mins out of town to my studio.  Plus the Shrewsbury event also coincides with open studio events elsewhere at Shropshire Hills art week and Borderland Visual Arts.  I’m expecting a lot more friends/family visitors next week though for an event organised by my wife, Julie.

Its quality not quantity.  I’ve had some fascinating conversations about my work and a whole host of subjects including maps, geology, edgelands, walking, mathematics, patterns, architecture and much more.  I’ve already made enough sales to more than cover the costs of the event, so with another weekend to go, I’m feeling pretty positively about it.  Here are some images:

It is an anxious time, allowing potential strangers into your personal working space (and in my case, my family home).  The open studio experience is quite different to the pristine gallery exhibition experience.  My studio is overcrowded with art work, so some of it gets overlooked.  But it isn’t a gallery, it just offers a little insight into where and how I work. The engagement with audience is more informal, and people seem to be less inhibited about asking questions and giving feedback.  Its been invaluable to hear some of the reactions to my work.

Come along next weekend!  Open Saturday and Sunday 10th/11th June, 10am to 4pm.

5 Park Avenue, New Street,
Shrewsbury, SY3 8JG.

This year, my daughter Eliza, is also exhibiting some of her artwork including paintings, pastel and other drawings, pottery and the three books we have published.  These are on display in the “Little House” in the garden.  She has been thrilled to guide visitors round her show.

This still life is my favourite:

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In Parallel and Entwined

I received some great feedback on my show at the Hive from a variety of different people.  The venue attracts a good footfall for music/theatre events for all ages, and many different arts/performance/creative workshops, mostly for children/teens.  Here are a few pictures:

Space Explorers!

1 Jun Andrew Howe Space Explorers

My walking workshop event at the Hive stimulated some interesting responses.  May 23rd was a a beautiful warm Summer evening in Shrewsbury, and after my brief introduction in the gallery to my exhibition and ways of working, we set out for a walk of about 30 minutes.

Everyone was familiar with the town, so I wanted to try and break habitual ways of observation and remove some of the filters we employ when we walk from A to B.  Using input from participants I developed a simple algorithm to guide me on  route to our destination.  None of us knew where we would end up, so we just had to concentrate on being in the moment, taking in the overwhelming flood of sensory experience when we limit other distractions.  I walked at a brisk pace which was a frustration to some who wanted to linger and study passing views in more detail.  Overall though, the algorithmic walk was a fascinating experience, and most of the attendees began noticing details they might otherwise have missed.  I even walked through several locations around the town centre that I had never visited before in 20 years.

We arrived at Frankwell car park between the Guildhall and River Severn.  Clouds of mayflies danced in the low sunlight, a cricket match commenced in the sports field nearby, a fellow artist wandered by walking their dog, groups of kids hung about by the river – it was a relaxed atmosphere in which to gather materials to make art.  Participants made sketches, tracings, rubbings, photographs and recorded experiences in text.

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On our return to the Hive, and after some refreshment, we began making small collage/installations using some of the gathered materials.  We worked quickly and spontaneously to work with instinctive ideas.

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I was impressed with what could be created in a short space of time.  It was interesting to see how our collective experiences of the place overlapped and contrasted, how unique visual maps had been generated by each person.

Some of the work we made:

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Exhibition at the Hive

20 Apr

Here’s another opportunity to see some of the paintings I exhibited in my In Parallel show at Participate Contemporary Artspace last year, plus new paintings and my In Parallel and Entwined book:

The Hive,
5 Belmont, Shrewsbury,
SY1 1TE

24th April to 27th May 2017
Tuesday – Friday from 9AM – 5PM

During the exhibition, I plan to run a Space Explorers workshop from the Hive involving walking and gathering inspiration for creative activity:

Tuesday 23rd May 2017

17:30 – 21:00h

£7 per person.  Places are limited so book early please.

Call the Hive on 01743 234970 or see website for further details.

Andrew Howe Space Explorers

Open to everyone with an interest in using walking to find inspiration and materials for creating art work.  No particular artistic ability is required.  The workshop will encourage different ways of looking and spontaneity in putting ideas together.

Meet in the Hive Gallery at 5.30pm before setting out on foot into the cosmos.

Some paper and art materials will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own small sketchbooks, camera or drawing materials.

The walk will last 30-40 minutes, brisk paced over urban terrain, possibly including steps but no climbing.  There will be a short break for drinks and light refreshments after the walk and before the art making.  You are welcome to bring your own food.

 

The exhibition will feature some new works including my In Parallel and Entwined book, an oil painting triptych and a polyptych of 9 small mixed media panels.

The fire exit staircase appeared as a motif in the original exhibition.  I was struck by its sculptural form and yet its mundane functionality tends to make it “invisible” or easily overlooked.

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Rising, oil on canvas triptych, 3 x 300mm x 400mm

The other new work “Pieces” resulted from experiments with combining small scale panels mounted in grids.  I used different techniques of painting and collage, continuing the themes of the exhibition, to produce a large number of panels.  So far “Pieces” is the only finished work, but I expect to produce some more over time.  Putting individual paintings together in these arrays opens up more connections and narratives between paintings that would not work if I was to just combine images within one painting.  Next step may be to play around with the scale and formal/informal arrangement of the panels.

Andrew Howe, Pieces

Pieces, 150mm x 150mm x 9 mixed media panels

Pieces (detail)

 

 

Homely

11 Apr

I mentioned in an earlier post that my research following my In Parallel project has broadly followed two lines of enquiry: one using collage, paint and layering to explore relations between organic and human-made forms and ideas around mapping; the other is looking at edgelands in relation to the sense of home, belonging and security in a series of paintings.  The former works are predominantly process-led and abstract, whereas the latter are figurative paintings.

In these times of uncertainty and intolerance, I aim to raise issues with these paintings about isolationism, migration, refuge, outsiders, the other.

On a camping trip last year near Ledbury, I was fascinated by a caravan parked near an old agricultural shed in a woodland which was full of discarded/stored building materials, like found sculptures.  There was an edgeland or “outsider” feel to this scene. The caravan was evidently occupied, a man emerged occasionally, and there were rare glimpses of his partner, but it was ambiguous as to whether it was a permanent living space, or just a temporary visit.  I was drawn to the marginal, outsider aspect.

I took some photos, and made a sketch in situ, which I later made into a quick watercolour study in the studio.

Following further studies, I produced a small canvas with pinkish, “scratchy” ground.

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Away, oil on canvas, 355mm x 250mm

I like the small scale canvas, but for the next in the series I increased the scale.  This time I worked on the wrecked cabin/caravan I found near the Coton Hill allotments site.

I experimented with different coloured grounds and printed wallpaper.  I was unable to source any real retro wallpaper, and didn’t have the chance to get back to the caravan to see if I could scavenge some – its probably too mouldy now anyway.  I went with a slightly more restrained approach, reducing the palette, using a mix of warm and cold grey/blue/green colours.  How does the painted wallpaper affect how the image is read? Are we conscious that it is more mediated, unreal, or do we just see it as part of the painting, when everything else is painted?

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In other studies I reduced the subject into abstract shapes and textures, and played around with different viewpoints and spatial organisation.  I was looking for an impression of the interior without having to reproduce the actual layout/view.

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Get Away Study 5, oil on canvas 400mm x 300mm

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Get Away Study 4, oil on canvas, 400mm x 300mm

 

There is something about the grungy yellow brown colours and overly ornate patterning which marks the wallpaper out as originating in the late 60s/early 70s and conjures up childhood memories.  Viewers have commented to me how they are be “able to remember the homeliness but smell the damp in this scene”.  This is about faded, degraded nostalgia.

These studies show an interesting progression towards the final painting in which I bring all the elements together.

The title plays a role in interpreting this painting.  I toyed originally with naming it “While you were out”, perhaps implying that this was a scene of vandalism and violence, or merely the effects of the ravages of time once the occupants vacated the place.  Then it was “Get out” until a film was released under that name, so now it is “Get Away”.  This also has multiple meanings, on one hand it suggests a place of refuge, escaping the world’s harsh realities, later succumbing to dilapidation and decay, while on the other hand, it could refer to a more violent attack on the occupants.

I really don’t know what the story behind this cabin was – it is located down a private track, about half a mile from the edge of a housing estate, in an overgrown field adjacent to allotments and surrounded by beehives in a poor state of repair.  There was a heavy atmosphere in a quiet place.  So the ambiguity in the painting title is fitting.

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Get Away, oil on canvas, 650mm x 500mm

 

Motor Plantation

26 Feb

Thoughts and images from a recent walk in woodland below the local hills – not quite an Edwardian picnic:

The gleaming beauty that was yearned for
Striving to earn more
Slumps here amidst the trees
Silent and dull

The industrious and hopeful
Relieved the weary world of its burden
With the cogs and the pipes and the cables
They built a time machine
To explore the future
And looping back to these relics
Catch a glimpse of star dust
As the Earth reclaims its bounty

Now, diverted by brighter lights and shinier stuff
They rise up and glide away
into the gentle breeze
While others far below cling to the ground
against an icy wind

In Parallel and Entwined

19 Jan

Another new book!

My preparatory studies for the In Parallel project included a number of black and white collages, drawings and mixed media works on brown/neutral paper.  I had had it in mind to continue these and develop them into an artist book.  The themes of everyday details and office work suggested the use of manila envelopes as the ground for the studies.  The variety of tones and hues of these envelopes and parcel paper is large and so the combination of studies is quite visually pleasing.

The studies are diverse but all referring back to motifs from the In Parallel project of maps, everyday details of the business park (air conditioning vents, manhole covers), elements of the landscape (disused railway bridge), and plant forms.  Methods include collage (using digital images, maps), drawings in a range of media, frottage and painting in gouache and acrylic.

I selected 25 of the studies to create a concertina-style artist book with a frieze on the reverse of the pages running the length of the book.  These are then bound into a clam-shell box with a cover that is itself a collage using strips of different brown envelopes/parcel paper, and applied acrylic medium as a smooth protective layer.

The original works are published as a single limited edition.

I self published a full colour paperback version on lulu.com, which retails at £12 + p&p.  Further details for purchasing here.

I’ll be launching the book during the exhibition at In Good Hands cafe in Shrewsbury.  See the news page on my website for more information.

The paperback version front cover:

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Here is a small selection of the finished studies:

Here is a selection from the frieze on the reverse pages:

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