Finally finished my animation Shadow Boy and Shadow Girl

You can click on the link to view it here :  https://vimeo.com/208883758

This work has taken me a while to complete, as I started this series of prints two summers ago when visiting Crow’s Shadow Press in the USA.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.54.44

Crows’s Shadow Press is located on a Native American reservation in the eastern high desert of Oregon. This print studio is surrounded by rolling grassland and huge clouds. Distant views of the mountains are filtered a luminous blue with the atmosphere.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.51.48

The area feels ancient. In front of the studio there is a small graveyard: a scattering of graves on a grassy plot, complete with plastic flowers, windmills, flags and clothing, all in homage and reverence.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.52.06

If you were to sit there for a while, you would only hear the fluttering of flags, the crisp rustle of insects in the dry grass, and perhaps the gentle creak of your own muscles and breath.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.52.32

I started to imagine what it would be like to become and then not become again in this place. I started to make a series of prints of a boy and a girl, dressed in clothing from the 1850s, during the time when formal traditional clothing was being abandoned for western styles.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.52.55

In the animation, the boy and girl emerge from the darkness, defined and described by a sequence of white lines. Gradually they change shape and expression, they appear to get older, more serious, lighter and brighter, until eventually they are carved away completely.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.53.09

The images are from two reduction linocuts which I carved and printed in sequence, using only one type of mark: a carved horizontal line. I made 14 prints of each image, one set of prints for the boy and one for the girl. Then I created thousands of in-between frames in photoshop by deleting the frame in front to reveal the frame behind and saving it as a new image.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.53.36

It was difficult to continue to carve away at the figures until almost nothing was left, as it felt like destroying the individuals themselves. I learnt a lot with how much can be said with very minimal lines.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.53.55

In some respects, the progressive carving and whitening of the block could be read as a loose metaphor for the whitening of indigenous populations, as well as a reflection on blurring of the past…

Here it is again https://vimeo.com/208883758

I’m happy to say that the work will be displayed in China next week.

I have taken a selection of 160 frames at life size (each frame is 15 x 20 cm, and there are 80 frames from each sequence) and placed them side by side to show the working process. The inkjet prints of these frames are a rich and velvety black. As the prints do not exist any longer, because the blocks were entirely carved away, it is nice to bring the prints back to life again. The animation and the inkjet prints will be displayed alongside each other in Changsha Normal University in Hunan province, China, during April 2017.

crow girl poster for changsha sheet 01_eecrow girl poster for changsha sheet 02_ee

crow boy poster for changsha 02_rejigged_eecrow boy poster for changsha 03 rejigged_ee

Pictures of the installation to follow!

Advertisements

HKK, a gourmet Chinese restaurant based in East London, contacted me late last year to see if I would make them eight huge prints for their Chinese New Year celebrations. As I love a challenge, I said yes.

feast-1-mini_ee

The storyline was about an Emperor who threw a birthday feast: here he is writing his invitations.

feast-2-mini_ee

The ingredients for the feast were gathered from far and wide: here they are aiming at the hawk in the sky, while people (and an enormous chicken) look for fish in the river.

feast-3-mini_ee

Chefs created new and beautiful dishes from the fruits of the land and sea.

feast-4-mini_ee

The banquet hall was decorated with splendid finery: I imagined these strange silver flagons shaped like rooster heads.

feast-5-mini_ee

The emperor arrived to the feast carried on a palanquin by four women (why not?) over a lavish staircase, inspired by the one that goes up to the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City.

feast-6-mini_ee

The Emperor was offered wine from a jade goblet (modelled with oak leaves taken from the design on a Dutch lamppost from Amsterdam) with gold dragons as handles.

feast-7-mini_ee

He joined his family and guests for a toast to health, happiness, abundance, peace and prosperity. The VIPs wore pearl necklaces and women had fresh flowers in their hair.

feast-8-mini_ee

After the meal, they were entertained by acrobats and ribbon dancers, harp players and singers, roosters and jugglers.

img_7391These prints were designed in four days and carved in japanese vinyl (gomuban) over 11 days: a record time for me. I made use of the Royal Academy Schools’ library where I found lots of books on Qing dynasty clothing and customs, and admired paintings of ancient landscapes, throne-rooms and interiors. I was buoyed along at this crazy pace by adrenaline and the looming Christmas deadline for approval of the images.

img_7618

Once approved, I scanned them and enlarged them to 133 x 76 cm each, and started phase two of the project: screenprinting them onto delicate shoji paper to hang in the restaurant interior. Luckily my studio, East London Printmakers, was quiet over the Christmas break, so I had enough space to work…!

img_7906

img_7893

img_7894

This stack of paper took over 100 hours to print… done in only 6 days.

2_img_5935_blog

Finally some of the work was picked out with gold leaf. It’s not that obvious on a backlit image, but the gold shimmers in the light.

img_8170

Here are some installation shots of the work in the restaurant HKK Shoreditch, London.


The work is up until 4 March (extended an extra three weeks!) 2017. Let me know if you go along!

http://hkklondon.com/ 88 Worship Street, Broadgate Quarter, London EC2A 2BE

http://www.eastlondonprintmakers.co.uk 42 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR

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.

img_5475

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!!

elp-studio-warmer_invite_text_e

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

orchis-one-1000-pixel-squre_e

 

Orchis Two

orchis-two-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Three

orchis-three-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Four

orchis-four-v2-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Five

orchis-five-1000-pixel-squre_e

 

Orchis Six

orchis-six-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Seven

orchis-seven-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Eight

orchis-eight-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Nine

orchis-nine-1000-pixel-square_e

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 2016, 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.

A complete set of Orchis books has also entered the collection of the British Museum (Nov 2016)

The Orchis prints were awarded the Atelier Presse Papier Prize, Trois Rivières, Canada in June 2017.

 

dance_couple1_red_grey_img_1350_e

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

dance_double_green_img_1363_e

dancing

dance_two_pink_indigo_img_1379_e

intertwined

dance_purple_lovers_img_1343_e

tumbling, blurring, merging

img_0778_orchisfive_7a_e

colliding

img_0777_orchisfive_7b_e

diagonal lines signifying cuts in time

img_0776_orchisfive_7c_e

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.

ENGLISH GARDEN009_e

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

ENGLISH GARDEN007_BW_e

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

ENGLISH GARDEN001_BW_E

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

ENGLISH GARDEN003_BW_e

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).

ENGLISH GARDEN004_BW_e

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

ENGLISH GARDEN005_BW_e

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

ENGLISH GARDEN002_BW_e

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

ENGLISH GARDEN006_BW_e

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

ENGLISH GARDEN_all_e

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