Friday, 30 December 2011

(Belated) Christmas Greetings

Christmas 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Cracker-Fest

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It's been a serious cracker-fest this year. We've made Christmas Crackers with four Art Clubs, Santa's children, and finally I managed to bring crafts through the doors of Bishopsgate Institute, as we got the volunteers making crackers at their Christmas Party, suitably supported by wine ...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Felted Advent Calendar

IMG_3577[1]It's something of a work in progress, but I thought I'd share it while the season was still festive! Here's my felt advent calendar, made in honour of our house warming and filled with fortune cookies. Each guest was invited to choose a significant number and take the cookie within. Next year, I hope the numbers will be attached through a decorative array of textile beads ...

Monday, 12 December 2011

Collograph Christmas Cards

IMG_3510[1]I indulged in the glories of Paperchase textured wrapping paper with Heart young parents group, to make collograph Christmas Cards. It was hard to bring themselves to print with such exquisite papers, but they did it! Here is Rowan's.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven

My recent visit to Dulwich Picture Gallery was not only for the reunion with old masters, but to see the Painting Canada exhibition, featuring Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. My Canadian Mr Liam has talked of these paintings ever since we met, but what I thought was a journey as a surprise for him, turned into one of the most inspirational gallery visits I’ve made this year. Pictures in books and calendars had seemed vaguely reminiscent of the fauves and Cezanne, and I wasn’t sure what new discoveries I’d find.

But these guys were amazing. They did something right in capturing the ethereal wildness and ‘otherness’ of extreme wild places. It was the boldness of colour that somehow never lost their realism. The bravery of painting one piece almost entirely in pink and mauve, without it ever looking feminine or delicate – merely evocative of the mysterious sunsets you find when surrounded by water and mountains (see above: Evening, Canoe Lake, 1915-16). And the contrast that I have long loved in some of Kandinsky’s ‘Murnau’ paintings – of very, very dark against deeply rich colours. Managing, somehow, not to look false, but to capture my favourite moments of sunshine, in September as the sun lowers and the shadows become long, and the grass reaches and impossible shade of green.

I’ve not worked much with landscapes, and this is something I’ve struggled with since my trip to South America, where the landscapes hosted my most profound experiences. Group of Seven challenged me to open my paintbox and try again, revisit my sketches and my photographs, tackle those colours and take them further …

Monday, 5 December 2011

Bassie's Signature

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Bassie is a member of Octagon Club, the Orleans House group for teenagers with disabilities. Every time I meet him, I am mesmerised by Bassie’s artistic intelligence. He reminds me once again of the purely contrived boundaries between ‘professional’ and ‘naïve’ art, as he intuitively applies ideas and concepts to his projects that career artists might think of using as identifying features for making a name in their own work.
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In this case, Bassie eats a bakewell tart each week during the break. And after the break, he finds a way to include the foil case of the tart in his work, making it an intrinsically distinctive, original ‘Bassie’ master.

During my recent collograph project, therefore, Bassie cut up his wrapper and added it to the complex and dynamic collage he had already created. Here, you can see the original collage alongside the prints which he took from it.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Return to Dulwich

It’s been a goodly while since my last visit to Dulwich Picture Gallery, and what I hadn’t realised is that finding myself back in that place, among such familiar paintings, would be like a reunion with old friends. In my excitement over more contemporary art and illustration, I’d let myself forget what an incredible array of paintings lives within the cosy walls of DPG. It was a unique tour of nostalgia, from the earthiness of Murillo’s peasant paintings (see Two Peasant Boys and a Negro Boy, above), and the elegance of the Gainsborough’s Linley Sisters, to Rembrandt’s Girl at the Window and the drama of Boats in a Storm by Backhuysen, evoking memories of thrilled classes of 7 year olds creating the sound effects for the painting … the swish and the swoosh of wind and spray, the cries of ‘help’ and the heaving and hoeing of ropes and sails.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Those Magnificent Kids and their Flying Machines

IMG_3479I gave them all the fun things we forget to play with these days ... post it notes (every shape and colour), sticky dots, letraset, marker pens ... and a few ordinary things. I asked them to let their imaginations go and invent a flying machine ...
IMG_3484Children's imagination is so liberating. I wanted to show you all their machines but here, for now, are Daisy's, Gaby's and Josephine's.
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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Latest in Textile Discoveries

Bonding Papers and Cloth 008I spent two glorious days at Morley College, learning how to 'bond papers and cloth' ... I had no idea what to expect but I'm always excited by the idea of discovering something I'd never dreamed of. And so it came to be; as if by magic, you can bond a sheer fabric to a photocopied picture and remove the paper from behind it. With all sorts of other side options, of course.
Bonding Papers and Cloth 001I should confess, neither of my experiments were free from struggles but I'm full of excitement about the possibilities. And I came to discover the full potential of heat transfer inks, something I've dabbled with but never really appreciated, along the way!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Textile Extravaganza

Textile Hangings 005My 5-8s spent the first half of this term exploring famous artists through textiles. Can you spot the inspirations?!
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We looked at Kandinsky, Picasso, Van Gogh and Matisse, and used a different textile technique to explore each ...

Monday, 14 November 2011

Collographing Movement

SAM_0763Here are the final collograph prints by my 10:15 Club in response to the Flux, Flow, Flight exhibition. It's the second time I've worked with collographs with this age group and limiting the textures available helped enormously to avoid some of my previous problems.
SAM_0772Not all the prints were blue, incidentally, but these were the most effective! Here are works by Felix, Leonie and Sebastian.
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Friday, 11 November 2011

Felted Treasure Hide-Outs

SAM_0671The therapeutic effects of felting ... Half term saw two blissful two-hour workshops in which we made felt pieces with hidden pockets, and trheaded beaded treasures to hide within.
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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Mum's Birthday Card

IMG_3439I thought I'd take a risk and share my Mum's birthday card before she's even received it! Mum and I have a long tradition of making each other's cards. But for me, I confess it usually means a last minute scan of the house for inspiration ...
IMG_3436 This time I stumbled across an old brochure for Kerala, picked up at a Destinations Exhibition. It seemed a stunningly visual opportunity to play with pop up. Techniques brazenly imitating David Carter's 600 Black Spots.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Galerie Esperluette


I am lucky enough to be living in the home of Gethan and Myles while they take their creative adventures to Marseilles. And there, they have set up a gallery in the window of their house. Easiest to peruse if you speak some French!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Pop-Up Madness

DSC_0035A fantastic day with an amazing bunch of 9-14s exploring pop-up. After going technical in the morning, learning how to create a range of folds, wheels and other surprises, we took to the spontaneity of collage in the afternoon before turning our extravagant backdrops into 3D scenes through pop-up.DSC_0030
These are the works, from top to bottom, of Isabella, Jesse and Andreas. Sadly it's hard to capture the 3rd dimensions of pop up in a quick photo at the end of the day.
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Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Magic of Movement

JasmineIt's always a good challenge to undertake a more technical project with 30 6-9 year olds in one day flat. And this was no less of a challenge than usual, but we made it, thanks largely to the stoic determination of my amazing interns. Flying creatures, with wings that flap through a kind of chop-stick motion.
KhushiThe current exhibition at Orleans House, Flux Flow Flight, celebrates the capturing of movement through every form of art. With this as a basis, I remembered the butterfly puppets that flew through the puppet shows in Val Paraiso. They seemed so simple at the time!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Halloween or Picasso?

Art 001In a challenge to imitate the styles of different artists through a range of textile techniques, here is Flossie's Picasso-esque portrait. I think it came out brilliantly, but it's sinister teeth do seem rather apt for this time of year!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Capturing Movement in Monoprint

Art 007 My 10:15 group at Orleans House Gallery are working on printing projects in response to the new exhibition, Flux, Flow, Flight. Last week, we used monoprinting from photographs to see if we could create the effect of movement.
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Art 009As always, I was impressed by the varied and experimental responses. Here are pieces by Leonie, Micol and Amber.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Penelope and Mariana

IMG_3419Moving house has kept me from drawing for a bit but I did spend a leisurely hour with my friend in Derbyshire, drawing from photos of her daughters. I'm not sure this is how I want to be remembered as an artist, but nevertheless, here are Penelope and Mariana ...
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Friday, 14 October 2011

Board Games and Beyond

IMG_3415The first night of Board Games and Beyond, a board games evening hosted by my friend Charlie Fish at the Ritzy, and I was mesmerized by Dave's contribution; as fun, playful, and inspiring as I might have expected from Dave. You won't be surprised to know that we can rearrange the letters as we like ... hours of fun to be had!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Adventures in Blogland

I found this I-want-to-touch-it illustration one of those adventures in blogland, where you follow link after link and find yourself in an unknown landscape of glorious illustration. I will probably never find my way there again, but I thought I'd share my destination! This is In Disguise by Silje Nilsen.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Revisiting my Childhood

In the throes of moving house, I crave a few familiar comforts ... so it seems a good time to revive one of my childhood favourite illustrators, Babette Cole. Most famous for Mummy Laid an Egg, our childhood evenings were filled with The Trouble with Mum, The Trouble with Dad, and the rest.
More recently my mum gave me the books they had from the time they knew Babette in Botswana, filled with stories of Nungu, surrounded by the exotic animals that filled my childhood dreams. These days, the Nungu books are my favourite of all. Perhaps they scratch my travel itch!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Working with Wire

IMG_3412For a display alongside the upcoming exhibition, Flux, Flow, Flight, at Orleans House Gallery, I was asked to make wire sculptures inspired by the lesser known works of Alexander Calder. Enthusiastic about the challenge and the opportunity for my gang, I was nevertheless a little apprehensive that it might prove a tricky way to start the term. Once again, however, my teenagers came up trumps and produced an incredible array of wire creatures, demonstrating their total versatility and willingness to try something new.
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Here, you see pieces by Oliver, Isabella and Leonie, from top to bottom.
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Monday, 26 September 2011

Su Blackwell

Continuing from last weeks post, Mysterious Paper Sculptor, I was moved to look up Su Blackwell, mentioned in the original article. Another mesmerising, fantastical creative who literally brings fairytales to life from the pages of books. This one is called "Out of Narnia", but I highly recommend visiting her website and losing yourself in this utterly magical world. I really would love to spend a weekend crafting from books ...



Friday, 23 September 2011

Rebecca Rabbit

Art 001 Inspired by Agatha Bibabbington, by my friend Rachel Craddock, I made a sock rabbit for my friend's daughter Sophia ...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Mysterious Paper Sculptor

Mysterious paper sculpturesIt seems that Banksy has taken to the delicate world of papercraft! This amazing artist has taken to leaving anonymous gifts carved into books, in the libraries and cultural institutes of Scotland. I know the idea of cutting into books pains some people, but nobody could be anything but delighted with the intricate beauty of these masterpieces, each bearing a subtle message in defence of the fragile future of libraries.
Mysterious paper sculptures

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Fimo Fairytales

Fimo Fairytale 003A glorious day bringing fairytale characters to life in fimo, with cute backdrops in which to make their homes. Above, the three bears outside their castle; below a fortune teller at work...
Fimo Fairytale 002(We won't mention adventures with interns, burnt fimo, toxic fumes, fire engines, ambulances and new ovens, except to say that all's well that ends well!)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Fabric Sketchbook

Art 002With a week of Welsh camping ahead of me, it occurred to me that it might be fun to create a sketchbook that didnt die in the rain. And so, my fabric sketchbook, quickly put together from scraps of fabric along with a little set of threads, waterproof pens, acrylic paints and, because I love them, luggage tags.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Woven Wonders

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Something I've wanted to do for ages ... get children weaving into household objects. But space and storage issues so often intrude into workshops that I had to wait until a full day with a large room and lots of children. And then we got going. Linking to the British Tapestry Group exhibition in the Stables Gallery, my 5-8 and 8-11 year olds explored a range of approaches to weaving and wrapping, including a collaborative project with objects ranging from lampshades to bins, and umbrella and a spatula. Here is our final masterpiece!
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