Whixall to Bettisfield Moss Walk

29 Nov

Now we’ve had a few frosts and even some flurries of snow, its good to look back on the Summer.  On what was probably the hottest and most humid day of the year, I joined a small band of artists from Participate Contemporary Artspace for a walk starting from the car park by the Llangollen Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

We had been permitted access to the Furber’s Breaker’s Yard, which I had seen from a distance on previous visits.  It was a forbidding place and I was always curious how such a monstrous eyesore could ever have developed next to one of Britain’s largest peat bogs and a site of major natural significance.

 

After 50 years of operation, the breaker’s yard has recently been taken into the ownership of Shropshire Wildlife Trust so that it may be restored to nature as part of the Marches Mosses or, more specifically, Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses.  Shropshire Wildlife Trust is working very closely with Natural England and Natural Resources Wales to develop and deliver restoration plans.

There is some information on Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve here and from Natural England here.  The Mosses straddle the Welsh and English border, and there is a feeling of being at the edge of the land.  The landscape has many rare flora and fauna, and it has a particular haunting atmosphere that I am attracted to.  It is worth visiting in all seasons.

The scrapyard site has been cleared of most of the cars, but there were some 100,000 tyres remaining in huge piles. And on close inspection, much of the 6 hectares was covered with a scattering of pulverised fragments of metal, plastic and other vehicular materials.

 

We had a good wander around, taking in the atmosphere.

 

Black rubber cascades

Engulf this delicate land

Slender stems rising

 

 

 

Smashed fragments glisten

Tokens of dreams subsiding

Old codes turn to rust

 

We left the scrapyard, and followed the canal to the junction with the Prees Branch of the Ellesmere Canal. We then zigzagged south and west via Moss Farm and Moss Lane into Bettisfield Moss.  At first, we passed along beautiful grassy pathways through woodland.

And then we reached the open wetland of the Moss.  The land is quite flat, and in some places it becomes difficult to get bearings and sense of direction.  We were unable to make a circular route and had to return to the original path into the Moss.

It doesn’t take long to notice the biodiversity though.

 

Heat hangs heavily

Over quivering parched grass

Dragonflies darting

 

At the time, I resolved to create some artworks to document the walk in some way, but time has flown with busy activities, and it is only now that I am reviewing these photographs, and thinking about what to make.  I’m starting with some drawings which could lead into some paintings and a small book.  Watch out for that sometime soon.

 

 

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It’s a sign

30 Oct

To quote from Cool Hand Luke: 

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”

Signs Copyright 2017 All rights reserved, Andrew Howe

Your Perfect High Street

15 Sep

As part of last weekend’s Heritage Open Day events, I was delighted to be invited to run a workshop at the Unitarian Church on Shrewsbury’s High Street.  According to the inscription on its frontage,  the Unitarian Church was built in 1662 and was where Charles Darwin came to worship.  And I had a beautiful old room with stained glass windows above the street to work in.

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The suggested theme was designing a perfect High Street.  Arguably, Shrewsbury already has one, and so in preparation for the event I began to explore by taking a series of photos of details along the street.  Details that may go unnoticed unless you really slow down and look.

Participants helped create a collage of my photos as a grid during the workshop, and then people added their own thoughts, ideas and memories on sticky notes within the grid:

 

 

 

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My preparations also included a pen drawing of the elevations of both sides of the street, which became quite addictive.  I completed it in about three days, although certainly can’t vouch for its accuracy of detail.  It was interesting to see the differences in scale of the buildings and see them without the dominating colours and branding of the retailers. The Unitarian Church, which can seem quite an impressively large facade from street level, actually appears to be one of the smallest buildings along the whole street.

 

The workshop was aimed primarily at families with children aged 8 and over, but many adults dropped in and got involved too.  There were around 35 participants over the course of 3 hours.  Besides the photo collage, the activities began with thinking about the kind of activities that might take place in the High Street and which are more important.

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I made a few initial suggestions, and quickly realised just how many different activities already go on in our High Street.  Participants then added their own ideas, moved activities between “important” and “not important” and voted with red dots for the ideas they agreed with.  I deliberately missed out quite a few activities like shopping and gambling to see if there was any reaction, and surprisingly only one person added “ice cream shop”… and this was in the “not important” zone.  Someone else added “independent businesses” as important.  Hear hear!

The activities ranked in the highest zone of importance/votes were (approximately):

  • Homes for living,
  • green space,
  • learning,
  • seating,
  • street art,
  • a litter free environment,
  • having a strong community,
  • independent businesses,
  • walking/strolling/wandering,
  • healthcare,
  • theatre/street performance,
  • exercising democratic rights local political issues and public debates.

I think we can guess at the kind of social-demographic I was dealing with.  Other suggestions I really liked included:

  • Temporary closure of streets to create play/community areas,
  • interacting and co-operating,
  • installations and performance platform for local artists (obviously).

Most of the workshop activity revolved around building a scale model of a High Street using card boxes and hand drawn frontages.  Participants could use my pen drawings and a montage of architectural design considerations as inspiration.  There were some really lovely buildings.

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Finally, as an activity to take away, I produced a sheet of some of the architectural details to go and find somewhere in the High Street.  You can download a copy and have a go yourself by clicking this link:  Look Closely

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Cabin Fever

1 Aug

Over the early months of this year and on into Spring, I went on walks in Shropshire with some friends of mine, and I recorded my observations of cabins, caravans and sheds of various kinds.  (Also see earlier Homely post).  Each place was evidently a place of previous or ongoing habitation, mostly by persons unknown.  The circumstances of their abandonment are also unknown or ambiguous, but provoking curiosity.  Certain of the places were so ramshackle or spartan as to be unlikely places of long term living in any sort of comfort, and were perhaps only used as temporary shelter, or even merely as storage.  In their woodland surroundings, these places could be viewed as idyllic retreat or desperate refuge.

The drawings have formed a series entitled “Inhabited”, which I hope to exhibit as a body of work at some stage.  As I made drawings, initially in charcoal and later trying out various studies using collage/mixed media, pastels and finally using an ipad, I pondered this precarious living and what it might feel like to exist in these places. My musings have spun off in many directions.  We could be looking at post-apocalyptic refuges, or take away the signs of modern technology and detritus, and we could be looking at some form of Mesolithic shelter or the transition to a Neolithic hut.

 

These first three studies were made from photographs taken in woodland on hills close to the Welsh border (see earlier Motor Plantation post).  This first drawing has been selected for the “Eden” exhibition at Participate Contemporary Artspace by curator, Katie Hodson.  The exhibition runs from 5th August to 26th August 2017 (11am to 5pm Tues – Sat)

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“When Adam Delved”, charcoal on paper, 420mm x 594mm

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“Retreat in Winter” charcoal on paper, 420mm x 594mm

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“And Eve Span” pastel on paper, 420mm x 594mm

Gaston Bachelard’s “Poetics of Space” was brought to mind as I reflected on my reveries.  It seems to be a bit of a cliché at the moment to be referring to that work – since making the connection with my drawings, I have read about three different current art projects also inspired by the book.  Nonetheless, it is a book that, as I have found, rewards re-reading and there are clear resonances with Bachlard’s writing as I begin to daydream about all my own experiences of house and home.

“Memory – what a strange thing it is! – does not record concrete duration, in the Bergsonian sense of the word.  We are unable to relive duration that has been destroyed.  We can only think of it, in the line of an abstract tie that is deprived of all thickness… Memories are motionless, and the more securely they are fixed in space, the sounder they are.”

“And all the spaces of our past moments of solitude, the spaces in which we have suffered solitude, enjoyed, desired and compromised solitude, remain indelible within us…”

“Great images have both a history and a prehistory; they are always a blend of memory and legend, with the result that we never experience an image directly.  Indeed, every great image has an unfathomable oneiric depth to which the personal past adds special colour”.

Bachelard is convinced of the importance of the house where we were born in informing our ongoing experience of houses/spaces.

“In short, the house we were born in has engraved with us the hierarchy of the various functions of inhabiting”

“…our attachment for the house we were born in, dream is more powerful than thought”

My family moved to a new bungalow when I was only a few months old so I have almost no recollection at all of the first house that I lived in.  So if Bachelard is correct, then this must be deep-seated in my unconscious.  I prefer to believe that all of the houses we live in create an accumulated experience of inhabiting, shaped most strongly by those formative experiences.

Bachelard goes on to discuss the primitive elements in our notions of inhabiting huts,

“… the  “hut dream” which is well-known to everyone who cherishes the legendary images of primitive houses.  But in most hut dreams we hope to live elsewhere, far from the over-crowded house, far from city cares.”

“When we look at images of this kind … we start musing on primitiveness.  And because of this very primitiveness, restored, desired and experienced through simple images, an album of pictures of huts would constitute a textbook of simple exercises for the phenomenology of the imagination.”

On a walk alongside the River Severn from Arley to Bewdley, I passed by a large number of plotland dwellings.  I’m not sure when these were originally built, but plotland houses began in the UK around 1870 when marginal agricultural land was developed by self-builders largely outside the planning system.  Some developments remain, the most well known appear to be in Canvey Island, Basildon, Herne Bay, Shepperton, Dungeness and Jaywick. See here for an account of plotlands on the River Dee near Chester.

More obviously than other places I encountered, these cabins have been cherished and developed beyond their original construction.  In many ways, they appeared to be the ideal cosy cabin in the woods – yet on the damp, misty day of our walk there was more than an element of sinister, malevolence hanging in the air also.

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“Plotlander I”, charcoal on paper, 420mm x 594mm

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“Plotlander II”, 420mm x 594mm

Bachelard continues to explore the idea of the hermit’s hut:

“Its truth must derive from the intensity of its essence, which is the essence of the verb “to inhabit”.

This place on the outskirts of Shrewsbury inspired several studies – which I am continuing to explore.

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“Retreat I” collage/mixed media study, 420mm x 594mm

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“Retreat II” charcoal on paper, 420mm x 594mm

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“Retreat study”, graphite on paper, 297mm x 420mm

The last place, barely discernible as a cabin, so overgrown with ivy, is in a “secret” woodland in Shrewsbury.  I’m beginning a series of works about this one, quite magical, place – further news on that to follow.  For now here’s a preview of an ipad drawing, now beautifully printed as a giclée print at A2 size, mounted and framed.  Looks great, if I say so myself.

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“Who was then the gentleman” ipad drawing available as giclee print, 420mm x 594mm

The title of the latter drawing and two of the earlier studies originate from the speech made by radical preacher, John Ball, in which he insisted on social equality, and which led to the ultimately futile Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.  In reflecting on the drawings and on the long span of human history, I began to wonder if there was ever a time, or ever could be a time, when, even in primitive living conditions such as those depicted, one human did not, or will not, exert power over another.  Perhaps its a bit of a stretch to get from a drawing of a run down hut to the Peasants Revolt, but it was on my mind nonetheless.

Bachelard’s “Poetics of Space” focuses on the phenomenology of the individual experience in houses, nests and other nooks and crannies.  The house assumes a life and identity of itself, inextricably linked with its sole inhabitant.

“…that faraway house with its light becomes for me, before me, a house that is looking out – its turn now! – through the keyhole.  yes, there is someone in that house who is keeping watch, a man is working there while I dream away.  He leads a dogged existence, whereas I am pursuing futile dreams.  Through its light alone, the house becomes human.  It sees like a man.  It is an eye open to night”

But what happens when two or more people begin living together.  Clearly, the dynamic changes dramatically.  It seems there must inevitably be a tension, a contest between the individual connections with house, the relationship between the group and their house, and the identity of the house itself.  In that contest, is a source of power struggle.  Perhaps the desire for the “hermit’s hut” is stronger than we like to think.

Give me a hand

29 Jul

After a flurry of exhibition and creative activity, what better way to enjoy the Summer weather than a relaxing stroll around Telford’s Stafford Park Industrial Estate?

It was a baking hot and humid day at the end of July and a storm was building to the west as I made a circuit through the estate…

…before going over and across the roar of the M54, ambling around Priorslee Lake and the quiet suburbs…

…some found paintings:

then back into the estate:

I find something enticingly eerie about the huge monolithic sheds, the boom, clank and hiss of machinery, the almost complete lack of people visible, and the incessant movement of vehicles.  I feel a part of a larger machine, where stuff is made, moved around and, sometimes, stuff is brought back in.

Around lunchtime, some people, mostly men, emerge to walk around the block, to stand smoking, staring at the traffic, or to dodge across the road to the uninviting cafe for a sandwich.

“…And there’s no thanks
From the loading bay ranks…”

Always in such places, I recall the Fall’s “Industrial Estate” and “Container Drivers”, Mark E Smith… so clinical and relentless.  So evocative of my youth, listening to the Kicker Conspiracy EP, “Wings” again and again.

Detritus lies scattered in the verges and under every bush.  Landscaping so carefully planned for a life of minimal maintenance.

I am curious about the large numbers of discarded, or perhaps just lost, gloves.  Poignant remnants of human contact.  Always just a single glove.  Were they dropped by accident?  Or were they jettisoned once the owner realised there was no longer a pair?  Or are they a secret sign… a code between drivers … of a place they can go to escape?  Or are they a call for help?

gloves

 

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: