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KIRA – Kingsbrae Residency for the Arts, Canada

Kingsbrae-02I’m (well, I was when I wrote this two days ago) in Halifax (not that one, the one in Canada) waiting for my flight home to the UK after a month spent at Kingsbrae Residency for the Arts in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Time spent in such a beautiful place has had a profound effect on my soul, whilst I’ve also had the rare chance to dedicate a complete month to my printmaking practice.

Kingsbrae-03Alongside four other artists, I was selected from over 250 applicants to spend July here housed in a restored New Brunswick mansion with a dedicated studio on site and next to Kingsbrae Botanic Gardens, of which I had full access to, to develop my artwork.

Kingsbrae-06Whilst spending a whole month solely creating monoprints has been intense and hard work, it has also allowed me to have a continuity to my practice which has meant my technique has improved, I’ve been able to experiment with different styles and have been re-inspired to ‘do’.  I’ve also had the chance to connect with the St. Andrews art community, which is an extensive and engaged group of people.

Kingsbrae-04The best and most special part of the residency has been the chance to spend time with and get to know the four other artists – generous, talented, funny and wonderful – I have made four new friends for life – thankyou.

Kingsbrae-05Oh, and seeing over 20 humpback whales surrounding our boat, blowing air, tail-slapping and breaching was pretty amazing too…

Kingsbrae-01

Natural:History (a fable of progress) or, ‘oh no, we’ve killed the last unicorn’

Nat-Hist-02So – a belated post about my three-month exhibition at Gallery Oldham, in which Richard Dawson and myself presented a series of works exploring the era of the Anthropocene, questioning humankind’s impact on, and changing relationship with, the natural world from the 19th Century to the present day.

Currently Climate Change caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) presents an extreme threat to life on our planet and this, combined with loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction and pollution were issues explored in this exhibition.

Nat-Hist-01We each presented a series of artworks that, whilst varied in style and technique, all aimed to highlight these themes, and engage people in thinking about and exploring them further.

Nat-Hist-04I aim to do a post (or at least photos) of each of the pieces I created.  However, the works I was most pleased with were:

The Denial Machine (an ode to lying) Or, ‘are 97% of scientists wrong?’ a vending machine that spat out RIDICULOUS quotes from climate change deniers

Splendour awaits in minute proportions (The Dovestone Doomsday Vault) Or, ‘272 seed specimens displayed by colour’ a seedbank of a local beauty spot

The Greatest Hoax Ever Perpetrated (The Drowned World) / (The Death of Grass) / (Earth Abides) a triptych of dioramas with classic science-fiction titles presented as reality from a dystopian future following climate change

Nat-Hist-03We got some great feedback and a rather lovely review from Robbie di Vito at Corridor 8 that says everything we wanted to say about the exhibition far more eloquently than I ever could – it’s here

 

The Absence of Nature

The printing, upholstering and final result of ‘The Absence of Nature’ chairs.  The blue chair, entitled Chair (The Presence of Nature) Or, ‘Life’ is upholstered in a six-colour screenprinted fabric.  The white chair, entitled Chair (The Absence of Nature) Or, ‘this should be an empty space on a plinth, though the plinth wouldn’t exist without nature either…’ is upholstered in a single colour screenprinted fabric.

The piece is meant to highlight the beauty, detail and intricacy of nature against the bland, colourless state of the alternative, exploring biodiversity and the loss of nature.

The fabric was developed during my AA2A residency at UCLan in Preston.

Gallery Oldham Residency

paper-flower-test-header

Next month, I’ll be completing a residency at Gallery Oldham and creating work in response to one of their upcoming exhibitions ‘Art Forms in Nature’ which opens in mid-October.   The exhibition, touring from the Hayward Gallery, features work by Karl Blossfeldt and I am using his images as inspiration for an installation of weird and wonderful plants made out of paper.

For the second part of the residency, I will be offering drop-in workshops to add to the installation – making oversize blooms out of paper, using lots of different techniques such as origami, paper cutting and folding.

The event and workshops, called Nightshade, are also part of the Manchester Science Festival – there’s lots of different things to see and do during the ten day event – have a look at the programme here.

I’ve been doing some test pieces for the installation, concentrating on creating poisonous, carnivorous and parasitic plant forms.

 

Animating Lordship Lane

I’ve just finished a commission for arts event ‘Animating Lordship Lane’ in East Dulwich, London organised by Fantasy High Street.  ‘Mille Fleurs’ was a curtain of suspended paper flowers, for the window of a fragrance shop called Roullier White, which moved and rotated in the breeze to create interest and animation in the window.  I also ran a paper flower making workshop during the event, whereby we made tissue paper flowers, origami flowers and origami butterflies.

Most of the flowers for the ‘Mille Fleurs’ commission were created from thick watercolour paper, stamped and laser cut into various shapes and then hand rolled to create the curve of petals.  Other flowers were created from floristry crepe paper (a much thicker crepe paper than normal) which allows for a lot of stretch and shaping to create delicate petals and flowers.

Thanks to Miriam from Roullier White for the fantastic photos!

It’s all Bentley’s fault…

Infes-PANO

Following last year’s project for Bentley Library where I worked with local groups to create a community library chair, I’ve been itching to have a go at making/upholstering another one. So, for a recent exhibition at Hot Bed Press, I decided to create some screenprinted textiles for a new piece of work in the shape of a Parker Knoll armchair.

‘Infestation’ is upholstered in silk, hand screenprinted with hundreds of beetles which appear to be crawling out of the chair.  Each piece of material features an individual design created from my drawings of beetles.  There are about 100 different species of beetle in the surface design from the Javan Fiddle Beetle (Mormolyce phyllodes) to, my favourite, the Long-Necked Shining Fungus Beetle (Datelium wallacei) – you can’t beat that for a name.  The chair also has it’s very own beetle legs, brilliantly made by Arbarus.

Infest-2

The work is part of an ongoing series in which I’ll be exploring chairs and similar products, questioning their form and usability (does a chair have to be functional to be a chair?) and reimagining the original design and finish to manipulate reaction and perception.

To create this installation piece I firstly used Photoshop to generate full-size artwork from scans of my beetle drawings, which I then turned into screenprints.  I created individual screens for both the fill colour and the key layer (the final line).  I’d pre-cut and labelled the individual pieces of silk for the upholstery so I could control which part of the pattern was on each part of the chair.  Once the fabric was printed, I set about upholstering!

Leaf Prints at The Lowry Hotel

Silver-Birch-detail

I’m currently showing some of my leaf prints in a lovely exhibition called Inky Fingers at The Lowry Hotel.  Produced by Comme Ca Art and curated by Andrew Magee, the exhibition showcases the work of six printmakers from Hot Bed Press including myself and Andrew, Jez Dolan, Samuel Horsley, Gwilym Hughes and Robert Helnow.

The exhibition runs until 17th November so two more weeks to go and have a look!

Deutzia-Rosea

Silver-Birch Hazel