I’ve just come back from Dundee, Scotland, for a biannual printmaking conference called IMPACT. Back in 2009 I attended my first Impact conference in Bristol, and gave a talk on Marcelle Hanselaar and other printmakers who use animals in their work. I also put up a wall of printed proofs from the mask series. The 2011 Impact was based in Melbourne where I marvelled at the Aborigine paintings, enjoyed roo stew, and displayed my dancing dress prints. This year, Dundee was the host city, and they generously gave me a huge space to exhibit work; this was a great opportunity to try an installation of three series of works. First of all, a panel of 64 dancing dress prints fit the space perfectly.

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Next I put a long book up which was a variation on the Unending Forest. This shows the trees of West Wales (Aberystwyth) if viewed from the far west, and the trees of East London (Hackney) if viewed from the east. The forests are mirrored so the trees morph into a hybrid reflected landscape. The staff at Duncan and Jordanstone College of Art made the fantastic shelf to measure for the book on the day, and I like the colour of it, and the elegant triangular struts. 

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Finally, the forest prints fit into a little room which had been intended for my animation. I decided that it would be interesting to panel the walls of the room with the prints. If I had had time and energy I would have liked to create a really different world, with a darkened ceiling and pine needled floor, and a velvet curtain over the entrance. Inside I would like to have one of those old fashioned lanterns, perhaps with a candle, and people would go in to explore the spooky space alone. The music that Andrew McPherson made for the prints: Beyond the Moon, was playing on continuous loop in the space, which gave it a lot of atmosphere.ImageImageImageImage

The room which I had been allocated was next to two other artists’ shows which turned out to be my favourite in the whole group of over 50 different exhibitions. Paul Furneaux makes intensely quiet Japanese Woodblock prints and often layers the washi onto three dimensional structures such as hot water bottles (metal ones) or pole like constructions. His work is abstract and has a very beautiful colour palette, restrained neutrals next to glimpses of near fluorescent bands of colour. ImageImage

My other neighbour was Reinhard Behrens who had constructed an arctic hut and made some exquisite drawings of a fantasy land called Naboland, which at first glance seemed to be as if part of an anthropology museum had relocated to a gallery space. His collected artefacts of miniature clothing and furniture adorned the inside of a believable living area, complete with space for work and prayer, a backlit painting of a glacier landscape and an overall rusty retro aesthetic. He commented that the music from my forest room complemented the slightly mournful nostalgic air of his construction.

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Other shows that I really enjoyed were:

David Faithfull and Edward Summerton’s drinkable edition of beer called Perennial Drift, which took the idea of creating a multiple to its logical conclusions.Image

State of the States, a fabulous portfolio of prints from invited US artists. I was thrilled to recognise lots of names in the etching section! The prints were of a really high standard, and the vision ambitious and quirky, all strong points of the US printmaking vibe at the moment.ImageImage

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Sean Caulfield’s monumental woodblock prints were stuck to the wall– I think you can tell how large they are by the size of my shadow in the bottom of the picture.ImageImage

Liz Ingram and Bernd Hildebrandt’s long litho/ mixed media book on swimming called Turbulent Chroma: The Imperatives of Water and Body.Image

A great series of woodblock prints by Henrich HeyImage

There are many more shows and prints that I enjoyed which I didn’t photograph at all, the range of ideas and execution was very inspiring. David Ferry’s panels of Pop British culture, a wall full of money, Anita Jensen’s velvety ink jet prints of shells and film stills from Japan, and so on.

Of course the demos and portfolios were a lot of fun too. I particularly liked seeing a demo on conductive ink which inspired a lot of hilarity as a battery placed over the two printed lines could complete circuits and activate either light or sound: here the nose glows.Image

Tim Moseley had some beautiful books based on the haptic experience: books that challenged the viewer to tear and modify in order to “read” them. He prints colour on both sides of translucent Japanese paper and then binds the pages in trastional book format, but also sticks pages together. The act of tearing the work in order to explore what lies between the hidden areas feels very transgressive!

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Finally, all good conferences have some good talks. About a third of the talks were great, but many were poorly delivered, and some with uninspiring or frustratingly dense content. One of my favourite talks was by Marjorie Devon, talking about how artists who come to make prints have been profoundly affected in the rest of their work. She had gathered some hilarious quotes such as Askin, “As far as I’m concerned (printmaking) is the best thing ever invented, better than sex and rocky road icecream”; Cohen, “(Printmaking) refreshes me, shows me new ways of solving old problems”; and Close, “Ideas are generated by activity”. Another inspiring talk was Suzanne Anker, who gave an excellent keynote speech on biotechnology, covering diverse facts such as the use of bio-ink on cell friendly bio-paper to print hearts that have an intrinsic heart beat, and pointing out that the replication of DNA involves the use of a matrix to make copies– a kind of printing of course! The best panel I came across was one on animation, with Ben Partridge, Nathan Meltz and Andrew Super each describing the use of time in their respective works. In terms of delivery, my favourite talk was by Richard deMarco, now in his 80s, who paced the hall like a hungry lion and proclaimed Scotland, “The oldest landmass in the world, the land of Macbeth, the land of the witches… I would like to congratulate you all for being in Dundee and not being in Edinburgh!”

Dundee Contemporary Arts down the road welcomed us to visit their workshop, complete with electronic etching press, and we also visited the Sister Corita Kent show in the gallery.

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All in all it was a super fun experience, and meeting lots of friendly printmakers from all over the world made every minute worthwhile.Image

Girls from Glasgow

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Girls from Norwich

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Tamarind master printers and the Aber crowd in one small pub boothImage

Paul Croft with a print portfolio APPPImage

Kari Laitenen doing a woodblock demoImage

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A big thank you to Umberto Giovannini, fellow printmaker, who helped me put the show up and take it down. Looking forward to the next conference when it comes back to Europe in 2017!

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I’ve got a few things lined up for the first months of this year…

  • Firstly, my solo show, Beyond the Moon in Aberystwyth School of Art Gallery is still on; it will close on the 8th February. This is aptly the date of the new moon which signals Chinese New Year!

Andrew McPherson, the inventor of the magnetic resonator piano, is planning to create more sounds that respond to the work on the wall, and we shall have a closing event on the 1st and 2nd of February. There will also be new beautiful limited edition 32 page catalogue available to purchase for £10 (please contact me if you would like a copy of your own).

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  • Next up, in London, I have a print from the shadow dance series in the 75th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wood Engravers at the Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, London SE1 9JH, from 29th January – 10th February. I shall be giving a demonstration of Japanese woodblock on the afternoon of 10th February.
  • Further up north, I am an invited artist for Impressit curated by Pete Clarke, Tracy Hill and Magda Stawarska Bevan at The Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Market Square, Preston PR1 2PP from the 23rd February – 29th April. I have been invited to display 16 of the dancing dresses, and shall reprint them in pairs for this show, as well as installing the animation in the space. The private view is scheduled for 1st March, and I shall be there, enjoying all that Preston has to offer! I am also teaching a workshop on printmaking that day.
  • In March I shall visit Belgium for the 9th International Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Prints in Liege, in the Salles Saint-George, Beaux Arts de Liege, where they have bravely accepted all 40 of the dancing dresses and the animation. I shall give a demonstration of my techniques at the Liege academy while I am there.
  • And finally, back to Wales it will be in late March for another show, Between Spaces, which will be at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre from 23rd March to 11 May. For this one, I think I might be making something new…

One day, when they’ve made a teletransporter that doesn’t scramble you into a million pieces when you get reassembled, I’ll be able to invite everyone to visit my show, even if they live a million miles away… In the meantime, here’s some photos and a video. The weird cracking noise on the video is my knee- too much jumping around on concrete I think! I absolutely love the sound of the piano which transformed the space into a performance venue and changed the viewing of the work into a piece of drama.



 

Click on this picture below to view a video we made of the show, with the piano playing on its own.

And here’s a picture of me looking pleased!

In all the fluster of New Orleans, I forgot to mention I’m in quite a few shows in the UK and abroad in the next few weeks.

1) Kicking it off will be a group show called Spring at the Smokehouse, with 50 artists all responding to the theme of spring. That show opens on Thursday 5th April more details are here. I’ll be showing my new dancing dress animation, Shift, in a vertical format, with a dress flying above it on the wall. There will be many other friends and colleagues at this show so please come and check it out.

2) I’ve been invited to be a guest artist in the 8th British Miniprint show, which opens on the 12th April in London Print Studio. My print is a big one, to show off how cute and small the other prints are, I’m sure! Other guest artists include Guy Langevin, He Weimin and Ana Maria Pacheco. More details here.

3) On that same day, I have 3 books in the 6th International Artist’s Book Triennial, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2012, on the theme of Love. All my books are about love, I realise. More details here.

4) Next up will be a group Lino show, Linoleum: The Cutting Edge, in Hemingway art, Oxfordshire, opening on the 14th and a celebratory steam roller event on the 28th April, more details here.

LINOLEUM art show invitation

This is from the blurb: Artists from the UK, USA and Germany present works that push the boundaries of the seemingly simple linocut artform, through large-scale prints, installation and animated films. The artists are Victoria Browne, Steve Edwards, Bill Fick, Wuon-Gean Ho, Scott Minzy, Nick Morley, Carsten Nicolaus, Chris Pig, Peter Rapp and Mark Andrew Webber.

5) I’m in the Glasgow International Book Fair on the 28 and 29th April, with East London Printmakers, should be a fun event.

6) Finally, one month away, but counting down, I have a solo show in Ludlow, Material gallery, opening on the 6th May.

PS) Oh yes, just got mentioned in the Guardian on Friday, my book cover for the Tiger’s Wife was singled out as different from the rest, in a good way. Nice!

I promised myself I would never again venture up north in February, but found myself in Liverpool, Preston and Manchester this week, and loved it!

First stop was Liverpool, with its shabby buildings conveying a sense of elegant (or otherwise) decay.

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I stopped off at the wonderful Bluecoat where there was a very arresting show by Gina Czarnecki. Her work is about the human body moving in space, and I found her video work very inspiring. The portrayal of frenzied and slow motion arabesquing movement is really beautiful.  I also loved the castle made of clear resin, much like spun glass, which is due to be encrusted with thousands of donated milk teeth in the four years to come. I wish I had retained my extracted wisdom tooth from a couple of weeks ago to add to the project!

There was another whimsical show called Republic of the Moon in FACT which was a great combination of sound, smell, installation and imagery. I particularly liked the “Moon Goose Analogue” by Agnes Meyer-Brandis, who has taken geese hatched and raised as if future super star astronauts. These cute fluffy things have been named patriotic space age names such as Boris and Svetlana, and spend their days wandering around happily in a lunar landscape space station in Italy, with a live feed to Liverpool.

Next stop was the University of Lancashire in Preston. It was surprisingly mild. I checked out the largest brutalist bus station in Europe and then the Harris museum.

There was  nice print show about walking the land, with multilayered boggy coloured meshes of paper installed in a quivering column above the central stairwell, by Tracy Hill, my host.

I toured the print department and had instant print studio envy when looking at their beautiful Columbian press. They have a very spacious department run by Pete Clarke and Tracy Hill pictured here.

I gave a talk on my work to local artists and students as part of their Art Lab talking Prints series, and showed them some of the latest video work.

For a nice review of what I talked about, please see the link here http://artlabcontemporaryprint.co.uk/?p=642

Afterwards I laid out a selection of prints from the past 12 years for them to view.

On my return trip I went via Manchester. It was rain rain rain, so a good opportunity to lurk around inside some great galleries, like the Portico Library where i saw a show on Victoriana, taxidermy and penny dreadfuls, and the Manchester Museum of Art. Ken Currie’s huge dystopian cityscape and Antony Gormley’s flying man were my favourite pieces in the Museum, alongside Grayson Perry’s ironic map of society (and technically brilliant etching) “Print for a Politician”.

Finally, I attended a private view in the Chinese Art Centre: Chen Man, a young photographer from China. Strangely enough, no-one mentions that she is also very proficient in Photoshop. Her images of women are stylized, glamorous, objectifying and sexual. The show is lavish! Fantasy female faces with luscious lips are printed larger than a metre high, and the imagery is appealing, commercial and desirable. (Shu Uemura sponsored the opening event with make up remover)… I liked seeing a successful female artist in such a solo show, but couldn’t decide if the vision presented was empowering or degrading to women.

Wooo hoo, a whole month of August in the UK for the first time in 5 years. (Hmmmmmmmm, I’m not sure if it was worth it, as the sun failed to appear, we had major crazy riots on our doorstep, and all my jobs suddenly got a lot more demanding!)

What creativity happened this month was mainly in the form of making more frames (more dresses) for the animation that is so clear in my mind. I worked on 10 new prints, which must have been a print every 3 days or so. The parallel lines and repetitive marks are a self imposed language of restriction to see what will happen with a simply pared down undulating line. The whole month’s work culminated with an exhibition in Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery in East London- a huge exhibition space in an impressive olympic site style building- as part of a group show called “The Fishwick Papers” with 50 other members of East London Printmakers.

I was super lucky as the centre of the gallery space is divided with a huge steel framed pair of columns rising up from the factory floor where salmon are smoked, which provided a perfect setting for the dresses as an installation. I put one set of dresses facing outwards and another set facing the cylindrical pipes, which were so shiny they reflected the dresses back again. The dresses look like skins and much like the twisted fish that hang on strings downstairs.

These aren’t good photos- I realise I must go back and take some more that are more descriptive… Anyway, if you get the chance please go and have a look for yourself!  Here is the blurb

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Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery is proud to present “The FishWick Papers”, an exhibition of works by 50 members of the studio East London Printmakers, inspired by the liveliness and colour of the Hackney Wick area and its printmaking heritage. Artists have researched how Hackney Wick presents itself at this moment, the history and future of the area, the many lives of people we have never known and will never know, their trades and stories, and they have also taken inspiration from Fish Island and the Smokehouse itself.

The exhibition presents an extensive range of highly imaginative approaches to most traditional and modern printmaking techniques in a broad spectrum of scales and formats. It includes work by Dolores de Sade (British Institution Award 2011, J K Burt Award 2010, Ede and Ravenscroft Award 2010), Wuon-Gean Ho (Printmakers Council Price 2009 and Birgit Skiold Memorial Trust Prize 2010), Fabio Coruzzi (BBC production 2011 “Show me the Monet” 2011) and Umberto Giovannini (Premio Guidarello 2009).
The exhibition was inspired by William Chamberlain (Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery) and curated by Katja Rosenberg and Charmaine Watkiss (East London Printmakers).

http://smokehousegallery.org/

East London Printmakers (ELP) is a group of artist printmakers based in Hackney, managing a spacious and modern printmaking studio providing an open access facility for a wide range of processes. ELP also runs workshops for anyone who wants to learn printmaking and organise regular exhibitions and events for members.

www.eastlondonprintmakers.co.uk

The exhibition will be open Opening times: Thu – Fri 5-9pm and Sat – Sun 12-5pm and by appointment (07799 411 587).
Formans Restaurant will be open during the private view and at all times during the show.

I think it was over a year and a half ago when we first went to the Freud Museum in NW London to discuss having a show in this beautiful house. Certainly, the theme of dreams resonated strongly with me, as I was working on the sleeper prints at the time, and was completely obsessed with sleep and sleep movements as I think I must have been sleep deprived!

Last year: in 2010, I made a print a week for the first 29 weeks, and these prints finally became the animation Lucid Mask which has been installed in the museum on the first floor landing. The animation is playing on a digital frame which is located underneath a forbidding portrait of Sigmund himself, on an antique desk with a wooden stool where you can sit and plug into the music and watch the piece.

I’m very pleased to be part of this show of work by East London Printmakers, as there are many strong and beautiful works of art that fit seamlessly into the fabric of the building. My favourite pieces include Katherine Jones’ sculptural mobile with silhouetted and abstract houses, dresses and organic shapes on the landing, and Liz Collini’s box of crumpled dreams, silvery printed text on fine paper which make billowing semi translucent shapes in a perspex case, located in the lounge with the famous couch. Katy Goutefangea made a beautiful series of books from prints off embroidered pillowcases, each displaying a line from a related dream or nightmare, and printed with ghostly grey inks on crisp tissue. Marta Claret painted over various pages of a text of Freud’s with adorably sweet depictions of savage wolf and child imagery, providing a comical diversion from the solidity and seriousness of the half obliterated words.

I am really proud of how the work in the show uses  printmaking as a vehicle  for eloquent and expressive ideas, jumping out of the two dimensional illustration in many instances where appropriate, rather than being slave to the technique and processes of the medium.

For more information, please see the Freud Museum’s website http://www.freud.org.uk/exhibitions/74033/dreams/

It’s on until 10th April 2011.