Normally I don’t write about the studio where I make most of my work, but I should. It’s been my favourite place to retreat to and ponder on life, and allows my prints to develop and grow of their own accord. This year I have had the privilege to be the chair of this organisation, East London Printmakers, which is a group of around 200 artists (and 40 keyholders) who all love making prints. The studio has been based in Hackney for over 14 years, a grimy part of London (remember those riots in 2011? they happened outside our front door) until it became a hip, bespoke playground for the rich and bored. And inevitably, the rents shot up and we were forced to think about moving, or folding. So we moved.

elp-studio-warmer_eeeMoving house is like throwing everything up in the air and then trying to relax when you can’t find it any more because it landed somewhere unexpected. Anyway we’ve done it. Thousands, literally thousands of hours of plotting, planning, constructing, sanding, polishing, painting, packing, moving, organising happened. Mainly all of it was done by members and studio keyholders for free… Of course the presses were moved professionally by the very excellent Giles of AMR and Mike Kirby of Linecasting Machinery, and new walls and floor and heating and lighting had to be installed as well… And the new landlords, Acme studios, have been incredibly welcoming: contributing practically and financially to helping us move in.

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East London Printmakers is now based in a beautiful studio (42 Copperfield Road) sandwiched between the canal and the park, close to Mile End station. We reopened 1st October and are planning a party on 22nd October. This is a studio warming party, to invite people over to come see us, and find out more about printmaking, to thank everyone who has supported us, and to invite continued support for the future.

img_5441The press release is below. Please come!!

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PS> One of the rewards will be this print in pink, or the one above in blue, which you can come and print yourself and take away for a fiver!! If you can’t make it, let me know and I’ll save one for you… elp-studio-warmer_pink_e

I’ve finally got round to photographing the Orchis prints (which make up the images in the Orchis books) on their own. Each print is 20 cm high and 91 cm long; on a webpage they tend to look like a smallish black squiggle. So I’ve added in close-ups in a section below each main image, which allows you to see more of the detailed carving and printing.

Orchis One

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Orchis Two

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Orchis Three

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Orchis Four

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Orchis Five

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Orchis Six

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Orchis Seven

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Orchis Eight

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Orchis Nine

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The prints are linocuts carved on three panels of Japanese vinyl, printed with black sakura ink on lambeth cartridge paper with a French American tool press, which has exerted enough pressure to stretch the print by 1-2 cm longer than the original blocks. Some prints (Orchis 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9) have been wiped and re-inked to achieve the different depth of greys. Some prints (not photographed here) have had a small bit of red colour pencil drawn on top to add highlights.

Orchis Four as a flat print has been accepted to the Society of Wood Engravers’ annual touring show, and will start off by being displayed in Bath.

79th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wood Engravers, 44AD Art Gallery, 4 Abbey St, Bath BA1 1NN  44AD Gallery 11 Oct – 5 Nov. Private View: Saturday 15 October, 2.30 – 5.30pm.  http://www.woodengravers.co.uk/79th-at-44ad-gallery-bath/

When the prints are folded into a book format they become a very different object: the long panorama is collapsed into a set of shapes that bring separate parts of the image close to each other. For me, books are portable, secretive and tactile. The images are read individually, rather than remaining in constant comparison.

A complete set of Orchis books will be displayed in the University of the West of England in Bristol in February 2017. More details to come.

 

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Around November 2014 I started to make this series of works about bodies

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dancing

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intertwined

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tumbling, blurring, merging

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colliding

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diagonal lines signifying cuts in time

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faces hidden in the forest.

My works are often stories told from the heart; I think the colour makes them more emotional. In the above prints I used colour blends and irregular shifts of the paper to make playful variations: each one is totally unique. They are screen prints 112 x 76 cm large, so each was the absolute limit of my arm span.

The studio is shut at the moment, so this is a strange time: thinking rather than making, reflecting rather than doing, planning over running. It’s probably good for me!!!

 

WG show invite june 2016My mum, a former nurse and midwife, is a constant source of amusement for the whole family, with her clear ideas on celebrity drugs (‘I just want a happy death’), keen interest in UKIP, and dirty humour when it comes to talking about the body. Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 13.40.52She has been a brilliant model to film over the past two years: a natural actress who loves having the camera listen to her radical views. Getting older and weaker has made her more inventive, more resilient and resourceful. Even though the journey to see my dad in the care home is a four hour return trip, and her vision and balance is ropey, she will still plug into her ipod, hop on the bus and enjoy the ride. Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.47.42She definitely has the balls. So, I made her a ring with a pair of balls which she gleefully refers to as Mao’s testicle ring (she misheard me when I said I’d made a ring with mouse testicles).  pendulous ring The above is a 3D file which was then printed on a 3D printer in wax. This was then attached to a ‘tree’ for casting in silver. Most of the rings I’ve been making over the past couple of years are hand-built and carved out of wax, so working with a 3D printed model is a new departure.IMG_1221IMG_1713 1As she has also survived breast cancer, I made her a breast ring too, which is meant to be worn with the nipple fitting snugly in the palm of the hand.IMG_2532_e_breast ringOnce I got into the idea of rings as trophies of desirable or missing body parts I couldn’t stop making them. Here is the bush ring. IMG_2503_bush ring_eThe film I made of my parents, Stoke Junkie, alongside more rings, books and prints will be displayed at the Royal College of Art Sculpture building, 15-25 Howie Street, Battersea, SW11 4AS from 26 June to 3 July. 12–8pm every day (apart from closed on 1 July). Drop me a line if you can make it! I’d love to show you around.

If you can’t make it, the film can be viewed at low res on vimeo here https://vimeo.com/170349107 (sorry the sound quality is not great)

And the trailer is here https://vimeo.com/168034112

There is a beautiful English Garden in Battersea Park.

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It’s just the right mix of wild and tamed plants, with a messy fountain and a pergola draped in wisteria.

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When you step through the gated wall, you can see tangled spearmint and trimmed box hedges which hide discrete benches for catching the sun.

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I wanted to make a print of this garden that would recreate this space.

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It’s a bit fictional as I had to draw it the right way round and join previously unconnected areas together in my linocut (which of course reverses everything).

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So you can see the fountain twice, once from close up and once from further away.

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Anyway it’s almost 4 metres long, and made of nine linocuts each 30 x 40 cm.

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I’d love to make this into an installation: like a space into which you could enter and listen to the bird song…

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The only problem is that the sky is missing, and the breeze…

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(Print number nine should be between the top row and bottom row of prints)

I’ve been obsessed with the word Orchis (the ancient Greek word for testicle) ever since I discovered that Orchids were named after the shape of their bulbs.

orchis books line_eIt amuses me that such a lavishly feminine flower comes from such a masculine shaped object. orchis one straight_eI’ve been working on this series of prints called Orchis for the past few months. This has led me onto making these works about sexuality, touch and desire, involving orchids and chrysanthemums, amongst other symbols.

orchis two solo_eI wanted to make images that convey the feeling of closeness to another body and communication through emotion.This is not from an external view, a photographic view, a logical view, but from feeling, the sensation of being inside one’s own skin: a rendition of position, muscle memory, and distortion around a point that radiates from the inner eye.

orchis three solo_eThe landscapes are internal ones that flow and merge from bodies into plants and flowers, jungle and folded fabric, between figures that are solid and those that seem to shimmer and disappear.

orchis four_solo_eI wanted to make black and white linocut prints with a binary code that could potentially appear blurry; lines that evoke sensation rather than logic.

orchis five_solo_eIt made sense to fold the prints into a book form, rather than display them as flat images on the wall, as I wanted the viewer to touch the books and alter the shape of the sculptural space that they make, and also rearrange the timelines and view the pages in any order.

orchis six solo_eThe books have a very simple accordion fold, such that each of the three panels that make up the linocut print come out towards the viewer. The unfolded print is about 92 cm long, which fits nicely within the arm span: a book that tests the limit of the arm stretch.

orchis seven_solo_eThe accordion fold makes a syncopated rhythm to the shape of the print, which can be read in any direction. The folds can be manipulated to hide sections and join parts of the image to distant areas.orchis eight solo_eWhile the prints are related, they are each a chapter within the series rather than one continuous story. Nine was the natural number that happened. When eight books are lined up in a row, they fit the length of the ninth book on display.orchis nine solo_e

I had fun deciding the colour for each book’s cover, which is made from fabric covered book board. The title Orchis and the number of the book are printed from a laser cut block which was made to the shape of my handwriting. I used these blocks to print acrylic size, and then applied gold leaf. orchis one_lowview_e

Having made them all, I’m now thinking of ways of displaying them such that they can be viewed as a whole, but read one at a time.

Orchis Series (2016)

Handcarved and printed linocut in three panels on lambeth cartridge, laser cut block and gold leaf text, leporello. Edition 30 (1-5 will be a complete set). 295 x 157 x 5mm

crow boy7-8_076The animation I was working on is finished! I put the sound track of carving wood onto the background. crow boy9-10_020

I changed the name of the animation to Shadow Boy as the work was started at Crow’s Shadow Press in eastern Oregon, and also because the boy is probably not native Crow.

crow boy10-11_002I learned a lot about how I work, as the animation involved hours of forensic reconstruction of my carving technique.

Here it is: vimeo.com/164877854

 

Shadow Boy animation will be shown in the brand new gallery space in the architectural-award winning Leicester Print workshop, alongside all the 10 linocut printed pages from the book, Swallow Span. The show is titled Light Line, and is a two person show with artist Angela Harding.

I chose the title Light Line as a description of what it is like to carve lino, as I was aware that Angela also works in this medium. Linocuts involve carving channels into lino to leave a light, or white line. We both work from dark to light, and use similar tools and materials. The phrase Light Line is a sort of pun on the phrase, Life Line, which for me is a comment on the act of creativity and expression, as well as in the more literal sense of the strong narrative elements of both of our work…

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Brush drawing for the dog who speaks Crow

I will be in Leicester giving a talk on my work on Thursday 14 July at 6.30 pm (doors open at 6pm, entry £5). All welcome!

50 St. George Street, Leicester, LE1 1QG. http://www.leicesterprintworkshop.com/

Light Line: Angela Harding and Wuon-Gean Ho

3 May – 31 July

(PS. Sometimes links don’t work, so here is the vimeo address on its own: vimeo.com/164877854 )