Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Open Studio

We're having an Open Studio this Friday and Saturday, 1st and 2nd April

Yep, we're really going to do it on April Fools Day!

Come along and see what's happening and view (and maybe buy) textiles and art.

The address is 60 Union Street, London, SE1 1SG.

I'll be there on the Friday from about 2.30pm until 7.00pm and on Saturday from about 10.00am until 2.00pm.

I know it doesn't leave long for some of you to book airline tickets but I know you'll pull out all the stops! Ha ha!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How Do They Do That?

Last week I went on a Guided Tour of some of the historical art at Cardiff Museum. It turned out it was the same tour I had taken a few weeks previously. I should have figured that out from the title. Still, it was interesting because it was a different Tour Guide and she put her own slant on the pre-set script.

The Guide was a woman who had previously been in business but had decided to follow her lifelong passion for art by doing an MA in Art History at Bristol University. She now works as a Volunteer at the Museum while she works out how to earn a living from her interest in Tudor portraiture. And I thought I made life difficult for myself. I wished her good luck with that one!

At a couple of points on the Tour she handed round X-Rays of some of the paintings. These showed alterations to the original painting (often made at the request of the patron) and in one case a completely different picture! A landscape by Richard Wilson had originally been a portrait! Presumably the commission had been cancelled or the portrait had been rejected. Wilson obviously thought it a shame to waste such a large canvas.

Someone asked whether all the paintings were X-Rayed. Apparently not. An X-Ray is only taken if the Conservators notice something unusual.

Conservators look at art in a completely different way to art historians or critics. Theirs is a more forensic examination. For them it’s all about materials, technique, process and execution.

I find that fascinating.

I’m very interested in how and where people produce work. I’m interested in the place and the process behind what they do.

It’s why I’m so interested in Studio Practice and enjoy hearing about the approaches other artists take to their work.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be opening up the London Studio so people can come and see what’s happening and how it all works. Hopefully it will be interesting to look behind the scenes.

In the meantime have a look at this link to see other artists’ studios. It’s taken from a book in which painters describe their daily routines, how they lay out their studios, what custom tools they use, and when they considered themselves professional artists

Also, this link shows some of the home offices of crafts people (very neat, aren’t they?).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Art & Poetry

I recently came across this video, via twitter, in which Jennette Mullaney of the Metropolitan Museum explores the the link between Art and Poetry. It’s only a few minutes long but well worth a look.


I’ve always been interested in words and images; in poetry and art.

The first example in the video is William Blake’s illustrated poem “The Tyger”. This reminded me how much of an early influence William Blake was. He is known as both a poet and an artist through works such as “Songs Of Innocence” and “ Songs Of Experience”. Both of these were illuminated books that he printed himself in small numbers.

I used to write poetry and once produced a set of illustrated poems - a direct influence of Blake. I don’t know where they are now. Probably lagging some pipes somewhere.

Nowadays I don’t write poetry but I have discovered that by occasionally placing appropriate words within some of my images, I can add instant context and amplify the meaning.

This process will develop further as I write about some of my pictures - tell their stories - and possibly publish the pictures and the words together in some kind of book form.

Coincidentally, at Cardiff Central Library there is currently an exhibition of “Book Arts” - showing work by a diverse range of artists who make one-off or small limited editions of books. It’s fascinating to see how much relative weight the different artists give to image and text. The exhibition has been produced in collaboration with the Women’s Arts Association.

An interesting article about words and images in art is this Times review from 2009 “Words in pictures: the text big thing”.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Avid Reader

I’ve been an avid reader since I was very young.

A very early memory is of me sitting on the sofa in the Prefab reading a “Commando” comic book. It was very exciting. My brother ran in to tell me that a whole gang of boys were going over the park to play football and did I want to come. I really wanted to … but I couldn’t. I couldn’t put the book down.


In my early teens my Mother bought me a book to take on holiday. It was a collection of short horror stories. I read it on holiday in a caravan in West Wales. But there was one story I simply couldn’t understand. It was about a collector but I couldn’t understand what it was he was collecting. I looked up from the book and said “Mum … what’s erotica?”


One of the most interesting and formative books I can remember reading was “Pilgrim At Tinker Creek” by Annie Dillard. In it she recounts how, over the course of a year, she walks alone through the land surrounding Tinker Creek, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Roanoke, Virginia. As she observes the changing of the seasons and the corresponding behaviours of the plants and animals around her, she reflects on the nature of the world and of the God who set it in motion

I particularly remember one story she told about how she hid shiny coins by trees and rivers so that people would come upon them unexpectedly and be delighted.


Recently, when I’ve been out walking, I’ve been finding coins on the ground. It’s happened in Cardiff, Bristol, London and Pontyclun. At first it was just 2p, 10p and 20p coins. The last three times, though, it’s been pound coins. I don’t think Annie Dillard has been visiting Wales – I think people are dropping money and not realising it. I don’t know how that could happen, mind you … I can hear a coin drop at a thousand paces. The funny thing is that since I’ve been picking up coins, my finances have been picking up. Strange, no?


I still pick up sticks, stones and pieces of wood when I’m out walking. I take them home and paint on them, sometimes sticking words on them. Recently I’ve been painting them with gold enamel paint and incorporating them into pictures. It’s something about picking up that which is commonplace and giving it significance.

Sometimes I take these gold-painted sticks and wood chippings and put them back on the ground in Bute Park. I scatter them by throwing them randomly as I go.

I hope people will come upon them unexpectedly and be delighted.

I hope people who find them will wonder what the story is.

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