Today’s research is documented here.

I came back from Alkmaar with a number of lithographic prints, drawings really, in that each one was unique. They were the subject of a short critique with the wonderful Press Play group at Spike Print Studio. I determined to work on them further.

In my head: box rooms and simple buildings left to rot. Nature reclaims. You lose a thing and you gain a different thing.

The drawings derive from natural forms. I imposed a very simple built form on the drawing by folding it.

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The folded drawing is a folded plane, mathematics. Instead of the back and the front it has interior and an exterior spaces. Exposed / enclosed. Pleats shorten distances: what was rectangular has become square.

To explore the interaction between the drawing and the folds, or drawing with folds, I took an element of the drawing and made 12 small drawings. Random thoughts whilst making the drawings: Laurel and Hardy, other artists who use ladders, bonfires and Glenville, trapeze, ambition, aspiration, so close, coming together, crossing, going nowhere, perspective, pairs and groups.

 

Then I improvised, folding each one in response to the drawings. Some worked and some did not.

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There was one I couldn’t fold.

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I looked to see if I could join any of them together.

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Then I photographed a couple of them inside the folded lithographic print. I was thinking about architecture, architects, explosions, creeping.

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Brain dead, I went to Boots to collect repeat prescription.

On the wonderful Press Play course at Spike Print Studio we have been doing some work on critique: techniques for giving and receiving feedback without pain. Our research included working through the ‘Q-Art’ book edited by Sarah Rowles. Fascinating. (I warmed to certain of the interviewees immediately.) We had a ‘crit’ of the work I brought back from Alkmaar. Am now working on the next stage of development for these lithographic drawings. The session was at Spike, as you can see from this photo.

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Oooh. I am learning a lot this week courtesy of Grafisch Atelier Alkmaar.

Dutch: the word I hear most often from master printer Marja Veugel as she tries to teach me how to make a lithograph on stone is ‘Nee’. ‘Nee nee…’ slowly with a gentle shake of the head meaning ‘don’t worry but that’s not the way’. ‘NEE!’ loudly with a sharp movement, meaning ‘keep the clean sponge out of the oil’. All her nee’s are nuanced.

Here she is teaching me how to registered second and third colours using pins and two holes made with an etching tool in the actual stone. Infinitely patient.

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Prints in the rack this morning. (Great inks by http://www.hawthornprintmaker.com: charcoal black, carbon black and dense black but water soluble. Proving it’s possible to print with a water soluble ink from a greasy litho mark.)

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Using gum arabic to create whites before tusche is dribbled onto the stone:

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Tomorrow I’m off to the Netherlands where I will reconnect with the wonderful artists of Grafische Atelier Alkmaar. Planning to make a lithograph with their master printer Marja Veugel. I hope to establish a way forward for a couple of projects and I’m giving a talk. This visit is part of  a larger project funded by an Artist’s Newsletter travel bursary. I will be sharing the experience on this blog and, if you around, I’m giving a talk GAA will host next week:

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Amazingly I did something about the entry below. I am referring to the difficulty in finding other people to talk to about one’s work. In part it was happenstance I admit but I ended up proposing a new year long course to Spike Print Studios. The course includes sessions on stuff like ‘how to have ideas’ and supports artists at around MA level who want to look at what research might include in reference to their own work and how they might build a more robust research practice. It’s a serious undertaking and we give this a lot of thought but the approach is as playful as possible. I’ve taken as my model The ABC project created by Matthew Burrows (artist, curator, educator).

The course – Press Play – is full of good people with open minds and interesting things to say, honestly the group has been a revelation. I love them because although I’m ostensibly leading the sessions I’m learning all the time and one thing I have learnt is that I work well in collaboration with other people.

This was confirmed a couple of months back when I was given the opportunity to make a series of pieces with Sarah Duncan. She has been making the most exquisite photopolymer etchings for a while now and together we messed about with a couple of these prints, the circular light wells in the corridor on the first floor at Spike Island, mirrors and lenses and came up with a truly lovely series of installations which we called Project Gemini.

I am actively seeking people to collaborate with as a result of these experiences and the Artists Newsletter people have seen fit to back me with a travel grant. The first adventure involves artists in the Netherlands courtesy of Grafisch Atelier Alkmaar. I went there a couple of years ago to take part in their festival of print and I’ve been desperate to get back there ever since. I will be working with lithographer Marja Vleugel on some stones and hope to coerce a couple of others into some collaborative drawing.

A difficult thing about wanting to develop as an artist (outside an arts school) is finding other people willing to give you critical feedback. The budget for this project included money for crit’s from Neil Morris and Emily Speed. (Thank you Arts Council.)

Neil Morris’s work:  highly skilled but not showing off, Neil as family, Neil as career artist, Neil as mood, it speaks to me. Neil’s experienced enough to have seen fads come and go and come again. Emily Speed’s drawing is inventive, brave, conceptual. Emily’s interests are wide and her attack is academic, she does proper research. One to watch. Superb artists and lovely people.

Last week I went back up to Liverpool to meet with Neil and Emily and have crit’s – looking at the work in the exhibition closing next month and my next project, which examines dimensionality using drawing.

Although I met with them individually they were pretty much in agreement. (I thought I’d got away with x and y but actually these people see straight through me… probably everybody does.) We talked about the ‘politeness’ of the work in relation to the beautiful room it’s in and the ‘heritage items’ incorporated in the central display cases. We talked about what it might be like to be less polite and show less respect for the original objects. We talked about what could be made to work outside the current venue and whether the work had a life beyond the show. Also, about presentation and the current trend in the visual arts to ‘devalue’ artwork by displaying it in an off-hand manner, and what it might do to the relationship between the onlooker and a piece of my work if I were to do that. And a whole lot more besides..

When someone really takes time to think about your work it’s a sign of respect. I was buoyed up. Thank you.

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Link to YouTube video about the exhibtion…