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Poetic Encounters #3 Ursula Troche

29 Mar

My final “Encounter” was with writer/artist/performer/psychogeographer/life model Ursula Troche and our work began before Ted Eames launched the project.  I met Ursula briefly at the World Congress of Psychogeography at the University of Huddersfield last September, and started reading her blog shortly after.  I liked her wide-ranging perspective on experiences often derived from walking, and how she combined fresh instinctive responses with careful research to build interesting pieces on subjects ranging from mining and pit-closures to mapping to women’s rights to train journeys and so on.

We struck up a dialogue and began discussing a project on the theme of borders and boundaries.  Ursula grew up in Germany, and although she has lived in the UK for a long time, she is aware of an unseen “border” between herself and people she meets in this country, which perhaps allows her a slightly different, objective perspective on what she finds in the UK.  I was moved by her poem “Circular Ritual Insight” – simple ideas about migration/immigration and regretting a loss of humanity and kinship, but sincerely written with an insistent repetition that is hard to ignore.  This became a clear starting point for me to respond to once we began considering taking part in the Encounters project.

Meanwhile, Ursula was busy writing poems in response to some of the artwork she saw on my website.  This began with my Traces series from the In Parallel exhibition and she also responded to one of my mixed media collages from the In Parallel and Entwined book I made last year.  Circles and lines interest Ursula and she finds connections with these forms and subjects that she is investigating.  So for example, my works incorporating maps and landscape features of Shrewsbury, drew attention to the river loops around the town and adjacent Frankwell, and the line of flow of the River Severn.

“…

Sweet settlement behind the riverbank

Town in a circle, Frankwell in the other

River circles, flowing in a line

Town circles, lying side by side

…” (Extract from Severn Circles Traces © Ursula Troche 2017)

The poem Circle World takes a wider view considering what is needed for more harmonious global relationships.  There is a link back into Circle Ritual Insight too.

“Circle-World

Large point of ever-return

Held in its four corners, four

Directions, four hands, of

Time and continents

Hold it! Together!

Finger by finger, wind by earth

…” (Opening to Circle World © Ursula Troche 2018)

As my original collage was bound into a book, I produced a similar larger version for the exhibition:

Circumscribed, mixed media collage

I was running short of time before the exhibition, in order to produce another work in response to Circular Ritual Insight, but then by chance found a couple of images in a magazine of dancers from Gabon in Africa, and two mannequin hands touching.  They fitted the poem perfectly and were of just the right size, so they were destined for a collage.  I managed to obtain a suitable map of the globe and, with a bit of precise and intricate scalpel work, there was my collage:

Circular Ritual, paper collage

As a further reflection on the holding of hands, I recalled my series of works about the relations between successive family generations in my exhibition Imperfectly Natural.  This piece seemed to tie in with the poem, as it considers how despite strong parental bonds, we are all alone in the world and must forge new bonds and make friendships with our fellow humans.  Hands, of course, are how we begin to feel and explore the world from a young age.

Working with Ursula is very easy going, with lots of ideas flowing.  As with both Kate Innes and Paul Baines, it is great to find themes and beliefs in common that can feed into new art works.  I’m looking forward to continuing with our borders and boundaries work.

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Poetic Encounters #2 Paul Baines

25 Mar

For the second of my Encounters, I was delighted to be paired up with Paul Baines, since I had enjoyed seeing his exhibition of paintings and artist books at Shrewsbury’s Gateway Gallery 3 a year or so ago, and I had been looking for an opportunity to make contact to discuss his work further.

Paul’s early work was inspired by Pop Art and work from the 1950s/60s, but in recent years he has turned to a fully abstract painting style.  He has developed a form of visual communication that is founded on ten Projects that express his own ideology and political beliefs.  His books combine poems with graphic designs, sketches and drawings.

“Empathy with society’s disadvantaged” is a primary driver behind his work.  I was intrigued by how such passionately held beliefs could be expressed using pure abstract forms.  Paul quickly explained how he has developed a visual language that is inspired by whichever of the ten projects he is focusing on, and after some closer looking at the work, I began to be able to read some of the “vocabulary”.

I reflected on how abstract concepts are defined, often with very precise definitions that society takes on as a consensus.  So for example, the dictionary defines “empathy” as:

“the power of imaginatively entering into and understanding another person’s feelings”

Everyone has their own experience, memories and thoughts about what this means to them.  We also have an understanding of what terms are by what they are not.  These references are in constant flux as experiences change and things redefine themselves, which I guess is a post-structuralist way of looking at things.  So I saw Paul’s paintings as a way of taking definitions back to that moment when inchoate thoughts emerge in response to perceptions from the world, and when, thereafter, terms become defined within our mind.

The poem I wrote first was in direct response to Paul’s Project 1 “to promote empathy and compassion” which he was able to translate into a painting.

Detail

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My poem was inspired by a train journey back from a day out in Birmingham just before Christmas last December 2017:

Evening Train

Stuffed together on the evening train

Feverish with festive banter

Bodies lurch at each juddering halt

And others gently check the sway

In silent kindness

 

In the cold clammy air along the station platform

Legs crumple in slow collapse

Anxious faces offer help

As a young daughter looks on bewildered, mute

A calm lady relays questions from

The ambulance approaching

Her assurance brings relief

To all, as we wait

© Andrew Howe, January 2018

The second poem proved more difficult.  Although, both Paul and I had existing work to respond to, all of our work for the exhibition was created afresh in collaboration.  We met just once but maintained a conversation by various messages.  I saw digital images of the paintings not quite realising just how textural they were.  My attempts to write something in response to one of the other Projects that Paul has defined did not flow well, and so instead I drafted something which described observations from an urban walk, and which tried to capture a spirit of being in tune with the Projects.

Its about acceptance; acceptance of the passing of time and experiences.  Nothing matters and everything matters. And before we, as individuals and as societies, attribute values to things influenced by memory and abstractions, there is a beginning.  The beginning is the moment. In that moment, she, he, this or they merit the same attention and respect as her, him, that or them.  It is up to us, then, to defer, delay, suspend or change the process of valuation to allow for alternative meanings and interpretation.

All and Nothing

Step on

Swish of tyres, glistening wet tarmac

Bass thump, door slam

Dachsund shivering

Two women laugh

As one holds the other’s arm

I’m not the fairy, I’m not

Step on

Ahead of the flow

Sweeping through

Erasing, smoothing

Double yellow slinking by the kerbside

Becoming silver ribbons catching low sunlight

Step ahead

Hooded man hunched over phone

No mate, there’s only one pack left

We sent all the others back last night

Plastic fragment quivers on hawthorn branch

Bent signpost, and a scattering of cable ties

Step on

Its all here, these are the facts

Streaming onwards in all directions

Leaves and sweet wrappers spiral in the breeze

Cardboard boxes trampled into mulch

Pigeons clap flapping

Coos echo in dank empty building

Windows blinded by OSB and ply

Webs of shattered glass, and a half peeled sticker

Electric drill screams, and a second starts up

Pulsing, phasing around one note

Step on

Dirt-blue sleeping bag rucked into door way

Upturned beer cans, and two copper coins

Step ahead

The flow washes over

Golden reflections shimmering on cracked paving

Long shadows flicker across railings

Black man in parka coat

Grinning and laughing

At me or with me?

I wave in salute

We’re alright

Step on

© Andrew Howe March 2018

Paul was able to create a painting in response.  These are the finished works in the gallery:

The paintings are powerful and work extremely well in this gallery setting.  It was a delight to meet Paul and I hope to maintain our conversations in the future.

Poetic encounters #1 Kate Innes

20 Mar

In my post about collaborations, I mentioned that I have been working with three other writers/artists to make work for an exhibition called Encounters that opened this week at the VAN Street Gallery in Shoplatch, Shrewsbury.

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The project was the idea of Ted Eames, and it brings together over 20 pairings of visual artists and writers, one artist making work in response to the other’s work.  There have been similar such collaborations in the past, but rarely in such numbers I suspect.  Having been involved in the installation of the exhibition, I had a chance for a brief preview.  I am fascinated by the diversity of work produced, and can’t wait to go back to spend more time absorbing it.

My own work comprises six paintings and collages with Kate Innes and Ursula Troche, and two poems with Paul Baines.  Perhaps on first viewing it appears quite diverse/eclectic, but there is a common theme which links everything, although this may not be immediately obvious.

In this first of three posts, I will discuss the work made with Kate Innes.

Of the three pairings, the work with Kate involved the most discussion and interaction in the development of each piece of work.  We found many common interests and a similar sensitivity to the landscape and the human history within it.

Kate is a published poet (Flock of Words) and novelist (The Errant Hours).  She writes beautifully about the rural landscape, with a knowledgeable eye for the detail of flora, fauna, and geology.  There is also a historical/mythical content to her work which clearly links with her background in archaeology and in museum education.

My drawings of abandoned dwellings/cabins were an initial starting point of interest, and in particular, the curious dilapidated structure which I had found whilst walking near Shelton on the outskirts of Shrewsbury.

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Kate, too went on foot to visit the place, and like me was drawn to the atmosphere of this small patch of woodland high above the River Severn which can be glimpsed through the trees.  A group of people have been using the area as a gathering place and trees are marked with paint, bits of fabric and plastic, like totems.  It felt tribal or ceremonial, like an ancient sacred site.

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Ceremonial Trees / Bound with fluttering string / Tokens of faint hope (Andrew Howe 2017)

 

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High vantage over / River Severn’s lush meadows / Buzzard soars above (Andrew Howe 2017)

Kate’s poem “The Other Land”  captured some of the thoughts that come to my mind in these edgeland places:

…at the edge of places we don’t belong

even the twist of a rope that won’t tie
Or the path that unwinds in a wood
It gathers its strength on a threshold

…”

(Extract from “The Other Land”)

We discussed our responses to these enigmatic isolated and empty structures set in woodland, and explored some of the issues raised in my earlier post around Bachelard’s “Poetics of Space”, the temptations of the “hermit’s hut”, refuge/retreat, and the negotiations that must take place when two people take up residence.  The titles of my trio of drawings “When Adam delved”, “And Eve Span” and “Who was then the Gentleman” struck a chord with Kate, referring to John Ball’s speeches that helped inspire the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381.  These words relating to equality and social justice resonated.

I went on to develop studies for a painting of the shelter we had been to visit, which responded to “The Other Land” referencing certain features from the poem, like the coppiced trees.  These included ipad drawings, a charcoal study and two oil studies:

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“Shelter”charcoal study, 85cm x 115cm

I made two paintings, quite different in scale and in style.  The first was a small acrylic painting made in reverse on an acetate sheet, the second was a large oil painting on canvas:

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Shelter II, acrylic on acetate, 21cm x 21cm

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Detail from Shelter II

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Shelter, oil on canvas, 90cm x 120cm

I can see flaws that niggle, but in general I’m pleased with the brooding feel to the paintings.  There is just enough rawness, texture and painterliness in the markmaking.  The brief period for the collaboration (around 3 months) encouraged a disciplined approach and a need for some risk taking.

Kate crafted a poem entitled “Adam’s Return” which responds to Shelter, and also to the trio of drawings, referred to above.  To close this short narrative, she drafted a third poem specifically in response to “And Eve Span”.  The sparse, measured style and ambiguous timing or timelessness of the poems’ positioning is, for me, reminiscent of the novelist Jim Crace, or perhaps more distantly Cormac McCarthy.

“He found the gate unguarded – except by thorn –
the angel gone

The forgotten trees had dropped their fruit
and multiplied…” 

(the opening lines from “Adam’s Return”)

“And Eve Span”, pastel on paper

“...

Here they will live out their days
in a small and private place
intertwined as strands of wool
by twists of love and pain

…”

(Extract from “And Eve Span”)

It was a privilege to see how subtle changes in wording in the few iterative drafts enhanced the poems, shifting emphasis, refining rhythm, suggesting alternative perspectives, picking up on certain aspects of the paintings.  The three poems expand meaning and add greater depth to the paintings, and it was a pleasure to be a part of it.

 

Working Together

29 Dec

Over the last 12 years or so, I’ve taken part in several artistic collaborations, which have tended to flow alongside what I viewed as my main solo art practice.  This year, and, as I look ahead into next year, most of my time seems to be working on new projects with a range of artists and other people.  So my practice is transforming.

Working in teams, large and small, is integral to my experience as engineer/environmental consultant, but it has been a fairly slow realisation that collaboration is something I thrive on in an artistic sense.

Most artists collaborate at some point in their career, and there are famous examples like Warhol/Basquiat, Rauschenberg/Johns, Rauschenberg/Cunningham, Krasner/Pollock, Bunuel/Dali, Richter/Palermo, Abramovic/Ulay, Kahlo/Rivera and so on.  The work of some artists like Gilbert and George or Jake and Dinos Chapman is almost entirely one of collaboration such that the individual practices are indistinguishable.  One of my favourite collaborative partnerships is that between Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, which has produced some fascinating, mysterious installations and audio-visual works.

The artists can define their own “rules” or guidelines.  Sometimes, each artist produces their own work in response to a common theme, and the results are shown together.  Other artists work progressively or iteratively, each producing their own pieces but in direct response to the other artist.  This might depend on whether the two artists work in similar media or whether they take entirely different approaches.  Collaborations in which both artists work together to produce works that combine both their inputs can be very interesting because this often means that both artists have to move out of their comfort zone, take risks and negotiate.

That negotiation can be challenging.  Each artist’s work is usually a very personal expression, and so the collaborator gets to know the other artist and gains a little understanding of how they operate. One or both might feel that they must compromise in aligning input towards common goals.

For me, this is a stimulating environment because sharing work is when your art comes alive, open to response, re-evaluation, new interpretation.  Sharing with a public audience is important too, but sharing in a supportive space with a “critical friend” enables me to investigate work within a constructive dialogue.  It gives the work a sense of purpose that is difficult to achieve working alone.

Two of the collaborations I have been involved with in the past included the Cloud Gallery collective and my joint commission with Mairi Turner to document the development of new allotments at Coton Hill.  I enjoyed both collaborations.

At the time with the Cloud Gallery, in 2007, I was probably the least experienced artist in a group of 6 artists/Cloud Gazers yet all “team members” played a key role in delivering projects which included an eco-architecture camping weekend, a sculpture/installation and artist walk as part of the Greenhouse Shropshire exhibition in 2008.  Individual inputs were often fairly indistinguishable within the final output.  And it felt to me, that the synergy of all the artists enabled us to produce work that we may never have made as individuals.

My work with Mairi Turner also had a valuable sharing of insight, experience and skills.  In this case, though, each of us documented the project using photography in our own individual way without meeting on the site itself.  Our work was then combined together  in a book and in an exhibition.

A paper I read earlier this year describes a collaboration between two artists beautifully, poignantly.  The paper was entitled: “Heavens Above” by Andrea Toth & Judy Thomas, First published in 2013 by Art Editions North.  You can find it in Essays from the “On–Walking Conference” The University of Sunderland (June 28 & 29, 2013)  Conference was organised by Heather H. Yeung of W.A.L.K. (Walking, Art, Landskip and Knowledge)—a Research Centre at the University of Sunderland

Here’s a sample quotation which is very close to my way of thinking about collaborations, especially involving walking:

“…a collaborative art practice of walking together, merging experiencing, making, presenting, and social engagement. Our walks have become a platform to share ideas and make new work, providing not only motivation but also a safe space to explore themes of memory, space and spirituality, while being inspired by weather, light and the landscape.

The value of this relationship is huge. To be an artist is a predominantly solitary activity; to be able to have support and be supported gives great strength. Our combined experiences, thoughts and connections enhance greatly what might have been done individually. The collaboration is pushing us both to be more courageous and move out of our comfort zones.

Through a process of painting, photography and film, we are in a research phase, responding directly to the physical world, bridging to an inner spiritual world, through visual representation. The act of walking and getting into the landscape also gives us a chance to pause and reflect on our individual and collaborative work, which is an important and integral step in the creative process. Our ongoing questioning dialogue along with walking with others opens up thoughts and possibilities at a greater and deeper level than if done individually.”

Over the last 5-6 months or so, I have been working with artist/poet Emily Wilkinson on a couple of different ventures.  The first of these, involving walking with a groups of people to gather inspiration for creative writing and making collages, led to some pilot workshops during the November (Read more here on walking/writing and  collage).

During this time we also partnered with artists Ted Eames and Jamila Walker to form a new collective, called we are Here Here! aiming at collaborative, socially-engaged and participatory projects about place and community.

A second project with Emily involved exploring creative responses to a privately owned “secret woodland” in Shrewsbury, or as we termed it: a dappled glade.  We made work individually and in response to each other’s work. The woodland itself was quite neglected with a fair amount of fly-tipped material, overgrown scrub and ivy.  We decided to start a clean up of the woodland to make a small but tangible positive impact on a place that we felt a connection with.  Neighbouring landowners are generally in support of what we started and we might, perhaps, achieve something with a sustainable future in that community.

It remains to be seen whether Emily and I can capture some of our creative responses and work in the woodland in some finished pieces of art.

So what else might I be collaborating on.  Quite a lot it seems:

  • Ted Eames and I are partnering with the Lawley and Overdale Local History Group and numerous enthusiastic supporters to initiate a series of art projects/walks to raise awareness of a significant historical event that happened in Old Park near Dawley in the early 19th Century;
  • I am participating in the Encounters event, organised by Ted Eames and hosted by the Shropshire Visual Art Network, which puts artists together with poets in order to create collaborative work for an exhibition in Spring 2018.  I am working as visual artist paired with author/poet Kate Innes, and as a writer paired with painter Paul Baines;

At the launch of Encounters at the VAN Gallery

  • I have formed a collaboration with Ursula Troche, a UK based German artist/psychogeographer.  Our work (Ursula’s poetry and my painting) will feature in the Encounters exhibition and we are also developing an outline scope for a collaborative project involving walking;
  • I have recently started developing ideas and a scope for a very exciting project with Gareth Jones, an artist/academic based in Osaka, Japan.  The project will research experiences of walking in virtual spaces and real walks in our respective locations.
  • I have been accepted onto an international arts collaboration exchange which could lead to some very interesting work about place, and opening out to new audiences.  I’m just awaiting to hear further details about that.

Its early days to predict what, if anything, might emerge from these collaborations.  But then that is the exciting part of it – we have to work together to make it happen.

 

 

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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