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.

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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…

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

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…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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pictures of the installation to follow!

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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…!

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

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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.

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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

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 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.

 

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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!!!

 

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