Whewwww I can’t believe it’s been ten whole months since I last wrote a blog post. Life has changed, the world is upside down, and I’m still making little linocuts to soothe the soul, inject humour in the day, and explain to myself what I think is going on.

horro scroll colour

The first few weeks of working alone, isolated in my flat in East London, were a mix of relief at stopping my commute, tinged with fear of the virus. I would spend hours looking at my phone, wading through pages of horror stories, like an unending river of disaster and dread. I couldn’t really do much but worry about my parents.

pray to blossom colour_e

The tree outside the bathroom window became a wall of blossom and I would open the window really wide, and stare out into the breeze, and pray that everyone I know would stay healthy.

Bracken House garden print

Likewise, the communal gardens were bursting into leaf, and it was just so nice to sit under the dappled shade, even though my thoughts were of death and destruction.

blue mood_e

Sometimes I’d make myself extremely sad by wishing hard for a hug. Then I’d think, that as no-one had seen my face for days and days in real life, that perhaps I didn’t have a face anymore, and that I was in effect just a paper bag ghost.

dream lunch colour

My paper bag ghost would still be hungry. I’d think of my dream meal, inspired by mum’s mackerel with belly stuffed full of curry powder and onions, with blistered skin and sweet sticky rice. The sun was shining every day and I would set the table on the balcony and make myself a bowlful of raspberries with sweet vanilla ice cream.

send help in colour

Somedays I didn’t speak out loud all day, and my train of thought would start to crumble, as if my sense of identity, without a listening ear, was optional.

I'm doing fine

Somedays I would start drinking at 4pm to see if it made anything better. Somedays I tried video conferencing parties with friends. It didn’t really help…

covid zoomin_e

There are undoubtable benefits to working from home. I can now attend zoom meetings while sitting on the floor of the bathroom, with no trousers on, if I want to.

two metres colour_e

I can go for a jog in the neighbourhood and terrify the locals by infringing on their two metre zone.

yoga bum_e

Facebook Live videos of exercise classes have become my favourite moment of the day. With all the isolation, inactivity, stress baking and comfort eating, my bottom is getting bigger, but at least it makes mum laugh.

home studio at night

Anyhow, this series is ongoing: I have many more prints that I would like to make. My tiny desk in the corner of the living room is a lot more than I would have had if I were living in rented accommodation in one room, as I did for the past 20 years. And the best thing about a handmade print (oh! actual ink on actual paper!) is that you can chop it down, scribble on the back, and post it to wonderful people, like an old-fashioned talisman.

I'm doing fine blue

PS.

I gave a talk on my print series a couple of weeks ago, and mentioned some of these prints towards the end. If you are interested, have a watch here (it’s 23 minutes long, and was a seminar hosted by the Centre for Fine Print Research, University of the West of England, Bristol.)

https://vimeo.com/413495704

 

 

 

 

Life zooms on, meanwhile dad remains stuck in a care home in Oxfordshire after breaking his neck, and cannot venture into the wider world. So I started to make linocuts as a visual diary of my life. These are prints I made to comment on what was happening at the time, to pin on the fridge, or on the walls of his room.

RA Schools Lick the Moon_ee

I was lucky enough to be invited to be a print fellow at the Royal Academy Schools last Autumn, so started to make prints about this iconic place: the corridors with elegant arching vaulted ceilings and huge north facing windows lit by moon-like lamps…

RA Life Room Heads_ee

…the life drawing room with a collection of impressive casts of Roman and Greek busts…

RA Life Room Statues_ee

…I put myself into all the prints like a sort of old-fashioned selfie, and added some arms to Venus, with a cell phone, just to bring her back to the present day.

RA Life Room Skeletons_ee

The schools have a fabulous chef called Sephy who feeds everyone til they are rolling with contentment. I will never forget the pork chop that was bigger than my face and reminded me of a map of Africa.

RA Schools More Meat Than I Can Eat_ee

The print room itself has a beautiful old Columbian press that I tried to make an etching of. In fact, as my linocuts are better than my etchings, here is a linocut of me trying to make an etching.

RA Schools Columbian Press_ee

In January I went to Malaysia and Singapore with my mum, who dramatically declared it her last supper.

Fried Carrot Cake_ee

In reality we had at least 20 last suppers, and ate a lot!

Mobile Zombies Malaysia_ee

The current mobile phone obsession seems to spill into our daily lives, and I found myself increasingly surrounded by phone zone silence.

Mobile Zombies_ee

Normally I don’t mind, but sometimes it seems so ridiculous to see people dripping wet after having been for a swim, standing like statues in front of this portable screen. This is the changing room of the London Fields Lido, my favourite pool in the world.

Cried Eyes Out_ee

When I started this series, I was really sad about many things, including how little I can do to change my dad’s mobility.

Wolf Blossom Mist_ee

I don’t know what the future holds, but I feel that we carry our burdens with us: sometimes they feel heavy, but sometimes they help us fly.

IMG_0797Print maven, Seattle-based Brian Lane, has organised a portfolio for the Southern Graphics Conference in my favourite city, Portland, Oregon, that runs from 30th March to 2 April 2016. IMG_0776Entitled Dreamscapes: The Ebb and Flow of Time and Possibility, this portfolio asked artists to address their subconscious, where past and future collide.IMG_0801My dreamscape print is a linocut which I made last year, showing a woman’s face partly hidden and transformed by the petals of a white chrysanthemum. The chrysanthemum flower is from Asia, and white ones signify grief and bereavement, traditionally placed on graves. IMG_0777Lined up, the women and the chrysanthemums appear like masked warriors, eyes shut contemplating the past and protected against the future. IMG_0802

Dreamscapes Portfolio statement reads

 ‘Our subconscious provides unfiltered access to the storage vault of memories, observations, feelings, and the day to day minutiae that we absorb without knowing.  This storage is virtually unlimited, yet in the waking state we have trouble accessing this surplus of info and rely on our known thoughts and experiences to guide us.  However, in the sleeping state our brain is trying to process everything, resulting in manifestations that bridge past, present, and future realities into a subconscious soup of abstracted yet cohesive possibilities. Often we can barely comprehend what these dreams mean or why certain people, places, or memories have surfaced after being suppressed for so long. Our dreams and nightmares become the vehicle that travels down the vast pathway of our imagination.’

Participants include

—————–

1. Brian Lane

2. Abraham Mong

3. Wuon Gean Ho

4. Kyle Huntress

5. Chris Dacre

6. Mare Blocker

7. Tyna Ontko

8. Chris Rollins

9. Travis Moorehead

10. Virginia Hungate Hawk

11. Amber Chiozza

12. Ashley Shumaker

13. Sean Smoot

14. Emma O’Leary

15. Nikki Barber

16. Ben Beres

17. Charlie Spitzack

18. Amy Oates

19. NateStottrupdd_09_pushing_print

Also at the SGCI conference, Marilyn Zornado and Barb Tetenbaum have coordinated a printmaking and animation showreel, which will be displayed on a video monitor in the atrium at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), and at the Univ. of Oregon’s Grey Box Gallery. 33 of 55 submitted films were selected, spanning the entire range of print techniques and created by artists from all over the world. My linocut animation, Shift, which shows a ghostly dancing dress, will be there.

dd_28&32

Shift is on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTyCksf-cCo

Grey Box Gallery, 24 NW 1st Ave. Portland, OR  http://whitebox.uoregon.edu/

22 Mar – 8 Apr, private view on 31 Mar 5–7pm

I wish I could be hopping on a flight to lovely Portland tomorrow to join in the fun… If anyone goes, please take some pictures for me!

As the seasons turn in London, I thought I would finish the last print that I had planned for the Lansu project from this summer’s residency in the Chinese Garden in Portland. It’s a linocut 30 x 80 cm, called Lansu Pine, and I’ve shown it here in two halves as the image is so long and thin. As in the other prints in the series, there are lots of little people leaping around: are they playing or trying to escape? I have reprinted the whole series in black and white, which I think works well.  Originally I thought the prints might form a long book, but now I’m not sure, as each image needs some space to breathe. Something to ponder as the days draw in…

lansu_pine_right_e