Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A slight refractive error - here's one I made earlier

Last year I joined Stroud Artists' Books at Stroud Valley Arts, a space for artists to meet up monthly and share their ideas for books and practice. 

Each month there is a theme and the theme for February 2014 was, Lens, and for that I used the format of a maze book.

I've just retrieved the single copy I made and looking at it now, I've decided it is a good idea to put this into production for BABE 2015: Bristol Artists Book Event at the Arnolfini 

This event is in 10 weeks on Sat 11 and Sun 12 of April (crikey)!
In my trawl around the net I discovered that the letters used in an eye test are Optotypes (test symbols).

They are not, however, letters from any ordinary typographer's font, they have their own particular, simple geometry in which the thickness of the line equals the thickness of the white spaces between the lines, and the height and the width is five times the thickness of the line . . . 
The type in the title is designed to fade away . . . just as our eye sight is prone to do with age!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Making Sourdough in Northamptonshire

Where did the month go . . . when I arranged Mr B's Christmas present (a day course in making sourdough bread with Vanessa Kimbell) it seemed so far ahead, and now suddenly it's upon us!

Friday 28 January dawned sharp and clear for our drive up to Northamptonshire, and The Sourdough School. Of course, the best thing about arranging this course is that I can include myself!

I'm a somewhat erratic bread maker, with unpredictable results, mostly good, but occasionally not so good. Last Friday taught me that that is mainly down to over-proving . . . Vanessa's classes, although relaxed and informal, are clear on why certain principles need to be adhered to. However, she also shows how 'recoverable' errors are, and just how forgiving the process of making sourdough is . . . and, we get to return home with our own sourdough starter. No excuses!!

Clearing up at the end of the day. Bread proving in well dusted, cloth lined, wooden proving baskets from Bakery Bits.

Proving time estimated to allow us time to get home to cook the loaves tonight.
Getting ready to take my goodies home.
Back home, and what could be better than a good glass of red, some very tasty cheeses and an utterly delicious sourdough loaf.
Feeling just a tiny bit proud of my first sourdough . . .
Henny, tapping on the window and requesting her share!

Friday, 5 December 2014

F'4Arts Fifth Winter Show

Froxfield is a small village, with a preponderance of visual artists. Over the years four of us have come together to hold a winter exhibition, really, a very good excuse for a big party on a Saturday night!

Last weekend we held our fifth (fifth, I cannot quite believe it..) winter exhibition in the village hall, and true to form it was a great weekend with a good many visitors.

Any artist that puts on their own show will know how much work is involved, but as soon as the show is up and running most of the pre-show kerfuffle is largely forgotten. 

My phone snaps just aren't able to communicate how good it looked, but as the screens are over six foot high, the visitors eye-line wasn't cluttered with all the background visible in the photos . . .

Almost ready.                  
Last minute titivations and ready for our visitors . . .
A very Big Thank You to all our visitors, especially those who came out on a cold Saturday evening and made it such a good party.

I sold out of this print (only made in an edition of 4) so I was a happy bunny.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Cover to Cover - a sketchbook project

A group of open studio artists met up on the 3rd November for the launch of Cover to Cover 2015 and to collect our sketchbooks. Co-ordinated and organised by Isabel Carmona-Andreu Cover to Cover is a sketchbook project for West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios 2015.

It's a sketchbook exchange project that is designed to help us to push our creativity - the aim is to develop how we explore themes that interest us as individuals, and as artists, and how we can seek contribution to our ideas from other artists.

We were allocated a group (maximum of 8) and met our fellow members. Each of us received a sketchbook containing our details and our chosen theme. Then we work on that theme (over the the next three weeks) before exchanging it with a pre-assigned group member for them to carry on working to our subject. Choice of media up to individual artists, but must work to the theme of the sketchbook.

I had decided upon a Hedgerow Hodge-podge. A sketchbook for a seasonal exploration of the plants found in the hedgerow and field margins on the Wiltshire/Berkshire borders, as I'd like to carry on with the ideas developing in my seasonal sketchbooks.

Early summer sketchbooks . . .

Mid summer
Sketching in the summer months is one of my favourite things, as it allows me to wander off . . . and spend quiet time looking and listening.
Late summer
I'm really interested to see how others interpret this subject matter.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Absence and Presence
: A Printmaking Response to the bombing of Al Mutanabbi Street

A car bomb was exploded on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, on 5th March 2007. To date there have been three artist made responses to this action: 130 broadsides by letterpress artists, 260 artist books, and 125 writers and poets have contributed to the anthology al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here. The project as a whole includes participants from 25 countries. 

The latest response, Absence and Presence is a printmaking project. Printmaking makes an impression, the mirror image from the plate and just as the bombing of Al Mutanabbi Street is reflected in the work produced by letterpress and book artists, writers and poets, now printmakers will be witness to this event. 

“Absence and Presence: A Printmaking Response to the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street” is co-ordinated in the UK by Catherine Cartwright 

It's a privilege to be invited to be a part of a global coalition of artists, poets and writers, and I've taken time reflecting on what my response would be.

In the end, for me, it all comes down to one thing, to live a life with freedom from fear. Simple things such as a visit to the market, or the library without the fear of violence . . . reliable clean running water . . . mutual respect and trust . . .

Al Mutanabbi Street is a street of booksellers and as such I started with words. Powerful things, words. Evidenced, throughout the ages, by the burning of books and the persecution of poets and writers. 

To reflect and respond to the bombing of the bookseller’s quarter in Baghdad I wanted to create a print that required careful examination. All that is absent is hard to read, because all that is absent is hard to find in Baghdad . . . all that is present is easy to see, because we can see it all too clearly . . . all that is present is linked and therefore those words too are linked . . . all that is absent is fractured, therefore, yes you've got it . . .

To be part of a global coalition that states that wherever people talk freely and creativity breaths, that's where Al Mutanabbi Street starts, has made me conscious that wherever people feel they have deeply ingrained and often historical grievances (Ireland, Scotland, Wales also?) we must all take time to listen to each other because our freedoms are hard won and too easily lost. Writing this I realise that I've missed out one very important word in my print, empathy. 

Empathy with people we feel fundamentally opposed to? Hard. But I suspect that until all parties try this nothing much will change.
The text I've included on my print comes from Aung San Suu Kyi who succinctly sums up the importance of living in freedom from fear.

“Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. 

It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that, might is right, to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.” 
Aung San Suu Kyi