Tuesday, 31 May 2011

How exactly am I Supposed to Photograph Glass?

Ever since I started my blog (exactly 100 posts ago, incidently) I've skirted around the issue of producing new work, hinted at something in the pipeline (what a strange, bizarre phrase). And, at last, I've think I 've got somewhere. I don't want to get too happy in case it gets jinxed. But, I tentatively, think I might have finally 'moved on'. It's been a tricky one, because the old work was successful and did sell, but I was losing the will to live just producing the same old pieces to order again and again and again. I really felt I was selling out on my own creativity, a bit. Then, last year, things changed. They kind of had to really. I'd reached a fork in the road, not just creatively, but in life too. At this stage I made a decision that from that point I would only ever do things that felt right, that I truly believed in, everything I did would have integrity. And, do you know what? These days it does. Life is too short to waste on things that don't seem right,  pull you down, or don't actually matter. So behind the scenes I've been fiddling and tweaking and trying and swearing and finally I think I'm getting somewhere. I have a complete, framed piece of work that I'm pleased with (well 8 out of 10 times that I look at it). I've only shown it to two people; my dad and a friend whose opinion I really respect. It's about structure (all the recent ironwork references), but structure has always been an integral part of my glasswork anyway, and layering with other media... here are some quick photo sketches whilst I figure out how on earth I'm actually going to photograph it properly.

The funny thing is that I always anticipated my new work would be big, some sort of grandscale. This actually about 4x6 inches! What an idiot I am... there are big pieces on the way, but I really can't get them to work out yet.

Monday, 30 May 2011

I Remember (Little Flags)...

 I remember (many, many, many moons ago) being set a coursework assignment for my Maths GCSE. Which I passed despite my greatest attempts not to. The task was to write a formula that could be used to work out bunting length requirements at church fetes. I never quite accepted why I needed to be able to work that out? Anyway. Fast forward several years (and I do mean a significant number) and my house is decked in an ever-growing flurry (?) array (?), whatever the collective term is, of homemade bunting. I know it's not particuarly edgy, nor even pretty (I never quite achieve true prettiness) (probably because I aspire too much towards edginess... goodness, such extremes to be caught somewhere in the middle of), but each little flag is made up from a salvaged fabric or texture that has a memory associated with it (is that too cheesy?). There is the fabric that my mother made my dolls house (Sindy) curtains from, the material from a skirt in my childhood dressing up box, the wiggly white paper that I used to present my final major degree project in, scraps from little daughter's outgrown stripey tights... even a page from the Habitat catalogue that I spent hours dreaming over when I bought my first house...

The bunting can't keep expanding forever though. It just can't... think of the dust! So I've been gathering fabrics to make a quilt. The same sort of things... my favourite polka dot shirt, which is now to worn out to wear anymore (some great memories associated with that one!), lovely outgrown bits and bobs, again, from little (but growing) daughter, some fabrics from an old much-loved student project... Have not really got very far at all. I don't really even know how to make a quilt. But the fabric is mounting up, cut into triangles, ready for when I am brave enough (or stupid enough) to begin...

Bunting sketch: Tomorrow, or maybe the day after, I'll layer this sketch with glass and wire and frits. It might look terrible (more than likely), but on the other hand it might just work out...

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Photo Sketches: Today I've Been working on...

 Have been thinking (as ever). Am actually really now starting to love the idea of little photo sketches. Little snippets of what I've been seeing and doing. There's thousands of them in a folder on my desktop. My rationalisation is that these images are part of my visual journey (what a cheesy phrase!), well maybe even more than that, they are at the core of what I do each day. I can't help but see my life as little fragments or as faded or discoloured images. My artwork has been about fragments and memories for years, but now my recording of life itself has become a bit like that too... hmmm what was it Mr Wilde said... something about life imitating art. Am seeing more and more evidence of this as the years roll by. So anyway, I'm going to record some of these images on my blog. I've always used my blog as a sketchbook, but now I think I need it to be more like a diary. I'm intrigued by the way that Rustika uses her blog to map her thoughts, I read every post and they always touch me... So here we are: This is where I'm at today...lots of work in progress, lots of sketching, both in ink and in wire. And a new pair of Converse that need breaking in (my old pair lasted 12 years and died on Tuesday this week). Let's not mention the guffaws that errupted when I proudly opened them... hmmmm...

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Not Quite Pretty

 I've noticed that I take photographs constantly. It's probably very annoying to those around me on a daily basis. Always seemingly trying reference or record some bizarre little thing I've noticed, that my mind won't quite let go of. I have to take pictures, just have to. It's a bit like a compulsion these days. I don't quite know what I think will happen if I let a visual reference pass me by. I think I worry that I might need it later and regret not taking it. These are what I snapped today. They all seemed terribly important at the time. And actually, although not quite properly pretty, they are little memories that I will use again in my work at some point. These are almost like little sketches in photograph format, just snapped and twiddled with on my Iphone. Not worth using my proper camera for. But actually, sometimes I prefer these unplanned, spontaneous images. I think they kind of, somehow capture the truth in what I'm seeing a little more.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

One Day I Will...

Learn to knit again

Run in my first 10k race

Have the confidence to approach new outlets to sell my work (who am I kidding here?! I will never do that! The places where my work sells is due to friends getting sick of my dallying around and getting it in shops on my behalf) God. I could never do that.

Have every single last little scrap of remaining vertical space in my garden covered with growing things

Have a darkroom at home

Have a studio which is not in the most public space in my house

Know what on earth I'm actually doing?

Realise that whilst buying shoes may make me feel better for a short while, they will not lead to the ultimate state of happiness

I would really, really love to have my own shop

Be as self-suffient as possible without being silly about it. Well at least power my kiln from solar energy... as a start

Not be so stupidly afraid of so many things

Learn how to do small-talk

Remember to remember the saying on the little hanging thingy I recently bought for a friend's brand new baby 'There is no set path. Just follow your heart'. (Said friend does often remind me of this saying during the frequent times when I'm beating myself up for being rubbish at being me) Maybe I need to buy myself a hanging thingy with it on?

Friday, 20 May 2011

Bompas and Parr at Welbeck (Gasp)

 Back in the depths of March I spent a day in the beautiful (and I mean breathtakingly, dilapadated, paint-peelingly, decadently beautiful) Welbeck Estate (sadly I'm not permitted to show photos). I was chaperoning a group of our students who were spending a day working for the awesome Bompas and Parr. It was a cold, cold day, hidiously damp, driving rain. The type of day that really was designed for curling up on the sofa with a book and piles of blankets. We shivered all day, could see our breath forming plumes, even though it was indoors. After about 3 hours I resigned myself to it, my bones could not get any colder, my fingers had long since given up working. But it was perfect. Utterly perfect. The underground ballroom, lit only by candles, the neverending folly of elaborate tunnels and  the achingly fragile conservatory became the setting for a long-awaited event hosted by revered food artists Bompas and Parr. The 500 strong audience were taken on a journey through the darkness of the tunnels and underground rooms, carrying flaming torches, literally feeling their way, they encountered leeches, potions, dancers, music growing louder and louder. They followed the music into a vast oak pannelled library with a roaring fire, an orchestra is playing, the music is 'India Jones' and this is 'Taste O Rama'.

The audience settle down into seats in the library, at one end a massive screen has been set up. Two films are shown, the first is the premier of a short film made by our own students (who incidently have spent the day helping to prepare the whole event, and are now about to feed the audience), the second is a screening of 'India Jones and the Temple of Doom'. The audience are served food in flight trays, to be eaten as instructed at specific times during the film. The meal consists of 'antidode', monkey brains, an insect and some bloody, gutty type concoction, all created from foodstuffs by Bompas and Parr. Of course, I, being the big wimp I am, saved mine to bring home and show off gleefully to those unfortunate to encounter me in the following week.

It was an amazing  event, which truely transported the guests to a different place. It was escapism for all of the senses. I was so, so proud of our students, they worked incredibly hard, in difficult conditions and didn't once complain. Afterwards we all departed, and went our separate ways, me as fast as I could towards a very warm bath and fluffy hot water bottle. Living it up, as ever.

Last week my regular subscription to 'Crafts' magazine arrived. I've read this publication for years because it showcases cutting edge, contemporary craft and design. I was utterly, utterly delighted and shocked to see a four page spread about Bompas and Parr and the 'Taste O Rama' event, in which our students and our school was mentioned. If I'm honest, I might have actually blubbed a little, but only a teeny bit. I have a facade to maintain, after all!

Monday, 16 May 2011


Pattern. A little test to see if this image stays, or if it gets mysteriously eaten like my last post...

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

'Smile' Exhibition: Harley Gallery

'Thirteen makers have been specially selected to explore that simple and emotive word, smile, through their quirky work which captures the very British love of everyday humour.
From Lindsey Mann’s ‘apparatus for the promotion of cheeriness’ to Freddie Robins’ wool ball sheep; you will find plenty in this exhibition to make you chuckle. ‘Smile’ manages to capture many of the different emotions behind a smile, from those pieces that make you laugh out loud, to the giggly enjoyment in Eleanor Glover’s wooden letters, and the nostalgic warmth of Julie Arkell’s playful figures.' http://www.harleygallery.co.uk/

I escaped for an afternoon. Had heard whispers of this exhibition. And really needed to see some artwork, the Easter holidays were nearly over and I just needed to see something. The exhibition was magical, a little bit like an elastoplast on all the broken bits of my grown-up heart. I gasped a lot. And did the jiggly dance. A lot. The artworks touched on something deep, deep inside my soul. Not quite taking me back to childhood, but tapping into some sort of enchantment valve. A fleeting feeling of comfort. It was the works of Julie Arkell and Lucy Casson that affected me the most. Paper-mache oddly shaped figures wearing mis-shapen knitted garments, little tiny creatures hiding in the furniture. It was perfect. A little bit of escapism before the harsh reality of returning to the real world.

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