Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Alistair Fuad Luke of Slow Lab

A talk by Alistair for Slow Lab at Wood lane last night followed up by my attending a workshop with other MA students and some BA this morning. The slow lab approach is very much in my own sphere as I always feel `I take too much time developing an idea
and that I should work faster . It is a relief to be given permission to do this and to hear other people reiterating this as their own experience ."Without reflection their is no consciousness , without consciousness there is no progress. "
He made references to Charles Jenks and posr modernisem and the idea of cyclic and linear time ,
The workshop involved group work redesigning a plastic milk bottle with ideas for use beyond the initial one . I will publish the results on the blog when I get them .He gave us an a to z of sustainable design .( see part below)

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Laura Watson of Saltwater

" Saltwater is a British label designed by Laura Watson who previously worked under Nicole Farhi before establishing the company in 1998.

Laura is originally from Cornwall and her background is clearly visible the earthy feel that all her pieces have reflecting a closeness to the sea and natural elements that are so deep rooted in the Saltwater ethos.

Saltwater combines traditional skills with more innovative techniques to produce textiles that have an understated richness of surface. The styling is simple with close attention to colour and detail which make these pieces very easy to wear.

I love the feel of English eccentricity that the Saltwater pieces have. You can effortlessly team a beautiful faded print skirt with a cashmere or arun jumper for a relaxed daytime look. " (website info www.saltwater.net)
All Saltwater collections: girlswear, homeware and womenswear (which this summer includes the prettiest, picnic-perfect cotton sundress and Guernsey jumpers for cosying into after a dip in the sea) continue to be designed by Laura from her Victorian house overlooking Falmouth harbour'

'The home is filled with beautiful pieces such as a vintage Ercol sideboard, a raspberry-pink Hans Wegner sofa, some rare, acid-yellow Charles and Ray Eames chairs, and contemporary Scandinavian glass and ceramics picked up in flea markets'

'Cornwall has an amazing creative heritage." Laura says. "I've always loved the work of artists such as Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. But also, my designs have a rustic feel, inspired by living here. I like things to feel slightly unfinished, but with beautiful details. I take time searching for fabrics and getting the colours right because I want Saltwater clothes to have a sense of joy - they're practical and unique. I want them to be clothes you can wear everyday but feel really special in'

Shy say and that it had not all been plain sailing but she loves what she does.She gave an honest report about how she set up the label with a backer for the finances a believing mirror as they say and that she did not aim to keep up with fashion rather developed her own style .I found this particularly useful as encouragement to follow ones own beliefs.
The tutorial was very useful as it is good to get opinions but from someone i the business even more so . She liked my designs and thinks I am on the right track and to keep on going .

Monday, 21 April 2008


Mike Woods from Tangerine , a multidisciplinary design company based in London , came to talk to us about his company and the secrets to a successful product design .He talked about understanding user aspirations and how it is important to do the right kind of research . Looking at what people want and the emotional qualities of a product . He also mentioned early prototyping to test the viability ie the costing ,looking for your own expert users to stimulate the design process therefore thinking about who your future market may be with or investigating a company who is doing something similar to see what the important trends are.He aslo stressed the importance of funtionality and branding .
When I spoke to him about my own work he suggested I think about the type of building that may hold my work , commercial or domestic and which rooms the might be in . All in all a very helpful experience given the stage I have reached in my work . To see more of Tangerine go to www.tangerine.net/

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Laser cut paper

I have had a revelation when layering up the laser cut paper pieces . I love the way these create shadows and a feeling of space and am investigating the possibility of making screens .My initial idea was to stretch printed fabric over frames and have them on runners so that the layers can flow across each other . It has also been suggested that I consider other materials such as routing wood or etching into metal or glass. I have been talking to technicians about the practicalities of realising this.The idea of a screen would also be a possibility for the Hidden Art Fair in the summer that I have decided to apply for to test market my designs .

The rookery

On the return from a walk at easter from the shore to the car park at Cadgewith on the Lizard we came across a very noisy and busy rookery . The birds were in full nest building mode and photographs were taken by all in a competition to see who could capture the best image . This was forgotten on return but reading The Poetics of Space brought this back to mind . The image of a nest as home, the feeling of home as a nest.
"A nest is a precarious thing and yet it sets us to daydreaming of security . Why does this obvious precariousness not arrest daydreams of this kind? The answer to this paradox is simple:when we dream ,we are phenomenologists without realising it . In a sort of naive way we relive the instinct of the bird , taking pleasure in accentuating the mimetic features of the green nest in green leaves ...The nest is a lyrical bouquet of leaves ..It is a point in the atmosphere of happiness that always surrounds large trees ..and so when we examine a nest we place ourselves at the origin of confidence in the world ....A dreamer might say that the world is a nest of mankind and an immense power holds the inhabitants of the world in this nest."
Bachelard G 1958 The Poetics of Space p102/104

Flights of Fancy

Flights of Fancy is an exhibition of decorative interior themes from the 1920s and 30s and shows original samples of wallpapers produced at this time with floral growths , flowers or trees designed to grow up the wall or "drops" which hang down from the cornice or picture rail . (Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester ) There are also borders . Most of these designs are cutouts bought ready to paste as the homeowner wishes . This put me in mind of the contemporary wallpaper designers such as Rachel Kelly who surely must have studied the designs from this era to have come up with their own interactive wallpapers and put me in mind of my own work and thoughts on cutouts , laser cutting , fabric cut-work, applique.
There is much hand painted and stencilled imagery with large scale flowers such as hollyhocks .there are also samples of old catalogues and books with delightful descriptions and information:
"Charming in its first glimpse of loveliness this decoration enables you to bring indoors the fragrant beauty of an old world garden. "

Also books from the era including one entitled: The Florimel Decoration from Studies in Harmony, Wallpapers 1931; Creator: untraced, John Line and Sons Ltd (for); Creation Date: 1931 .
The Courtenay Decoration is a 1920s frieze "of flowers and foliage against a deep blue trellis" with a coordinated cutout "trail" sold by the yard "
Could this somehow be done with fabric perhaps with a pre-bonded piece for people to iron on where they wish, to a blind or window piece or other interior textile? Could I be looking at wallpapers as an outlet for designs ? Lots of food for thought and a thoroughly fascinating and entertaining exhibition . See Selvedge Issue 22 p28/29 for a review Christine Woods and images featuring the Hollyhocks.
This also had a nostalgic feel to me and put me in mind of my grandfathers house in Morecambe with 1920s 30s influences of decoration, Clarisse Cliff ceramics and the hollyhocks that my father grew at the entrance to his green houseat our house in Ilkey .I can remember being amazed by the scale and beauty of these flowers but have never managed to grow them myself they really are the epitome of the English cottage garden.
Yet another example of outside inside .

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Comments on The poetics of Space

Gaston Bachelard's classic look at how we experience intimate places . The more I read this book the more it makes sense of my own work and the explanation for why the representation of nature within buildings is so poignant and important to us . If , as Bachelard suggests "the house is a nest for dreaming a shelter for imagining" then images of nature provide security and a space to dream . The need to daydream is not something so much explored in todays potentially frenetic lifestyle the space to dream can be limited by "our homogenized space ....suffused by television and video games , fluorescent lighting and plastic floors , air conditioning ssytems and too small closets" .
On the subject of trees.
"Poets (artists /designers )will help us to discover within ourselves such joy in looking that sometimes , in the presence of a perfectly familiar object , we experience and extension of our intimate space
"If you want to achieve the existence of a tree
Invest it with inner space
That has its being in you . Surround it with compulsions.
It knows no bounds , and only really becomes a tree
If it takes its place in the heart of your renunciation."
"A tall shuddering tree always moves the soul"
As Rilke wrote ...Silently the birds fly through us.O I who long to grow , I look outside myself and the tree inside me grows."
We can be so busy entertaining ourselves and filing time ans space that our inner space can be damaged and eroded. To create images or objects that draw the eye and lead to dreaming of past , future or fantasy creates more space and feeds the soul.
Bachelard G. 1958 (republished12994) The poetics of space Boston , Beacon Press.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Dawn Dupree workshop

Dawn Dupree Talk

I discovered Dawn Dupree's work a few years ago and although it is far more fine art than my own admire her practice and have had a chance to chat to her about the practical aspects of creating your own print workshop when I saw her at Chelsea Crafts Fair . We were fortunate enough to get paces on her master class talk at Trelowarren near my present home and to attend a talk by her about her work .She studied at Goldsmiths and has fine art influences such as Rauchenberg and Sigmar Polke . She works a lot from photographs which have a very strong sense of composition and structure (art forms in themselves) . She very much includes the world around her ie London and has a recent obsession with shopping trolleys . Her drawings are quite abstract and she uses a combination of discharege print , pigment print wnd additional detail in flocking and foiling .A very inspiring experience.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Frank Auerbach

On Visiting the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester to see the Flights of Fancy Exhibition I came across a charcoal drawing of a female model head and shoulders similar to the on above and was mesmerized . The drawing , by Frank Auerbach a german born british painter , had been redrawn 80 times from the same model with three layers of paper and heavy marks and parts almos rubbed away to nothing . " Auerbach layers multiple sheets of paper as much as half an inch in thickness and in some parts of the drawing he may erase so heavily as to go through several sheets. "(Wikipedia Frank Auerbach)
The result was an image of extreme beauty and atmosphere charged with history and emotion.I am sure I must have come across him before but it reminded me of my own drawings particularly figure drawings where I draw over drawings and in my textile pieces where the layering of fabrics and images create depth and interest and resolve to revisit this technique .
On researching more about the artist I found that he has an exhibiton current at the Abbot Hall Gallery in Kendal close to where my close friends live . I also resolve to visiti the exhibition before it closes in June !

Frank Auerbach Etchings and Drypoints 1954 - 2007

15 April - 21 June 2008

An exhibition curated by Craig Hartley, Senior Assistant Keeper of Prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Frank Auerbach (b.1931) is seen by many as the most important painter working in Britain today. Abbot Hall is very fortunate in having acquired in 1997 a wonderful painting entitled JYM in the Studio, 1965, and just last year the artist donated his latest etching to the gallery.

In any collection of 20th century British Art, Frank Auerbach always stands out. Distinctive, energetic and yet calm, complex, profound, human. On first acquaintance his work, to some, can seem obscure, even crude or unreadable. But it is worth getting to know. Almost subliminal, its power and strength of feeling is striking, arresting and ultimately beautiful.

Frank Auerbach is equally fluent in any medium, and his body of etchings and drypoints, shown here in its entirety, gives a deep and fascinating insight into his art. Alongside the printed work, we will also be showing a small group of drawings spanning his career, as well as a selection of works from Abbot Hall’s collection to show the artist in context. Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue with an essay by Craig Hartley, the exhibition’s curator.

Auerbach has made less than 40 etchings and drypoints during his six decade long career, and this exhibition is the first to display his complete printmaking output since a show mounted by his dealer, Marlborough Graphics, in 1990. Since then, the artist has produced some of his most significant and assured works in etching, increasingly working on a larger scale on a par with painting. The exhibition begins with his early experimental drypoints, produced while still a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1950s, and reaches its climax with Auerbach’s latest etching and aquatint portraying David Landau, published in September 2007. An artist’s proof of this new work, fresh from the printer’s press, has been given to Abbot Hall by the artist, and we are delighted that this important example of Auerbach’s etching will remain permanently at the gallery as a lasting legacy of the exhibition.

For those who only know Auerbach through his paintings, it is probably difficult to imagine how he might find a visual equivalent for the tactile surface of his pictures in the linear medium of etching. But Auerbach has a strong appreciation of the magic of printmaking and in their distinct way his etchings reveal the essential quality of his art.

Lecture: Frank Auerbach by William Feaver

William Feaver, critic and curator, is a regular speaker at Abbot Hall. He has sat weekly for Frank Auerbach for some years and is currently engaged on a book in which all of the paintings to date will be reproduced

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Fractals , chaos theory and Penjerrik garden

A throw away comment from a friend on fractals relating to tree forms led me to research this phenomena.
"A fractal is an object or quantity that displays self similarity
frac·tal (frktl)n.
A geometric pattern that is repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry. Fractals are used especially in computer modeling of irregular patterns and structures in nature."
This is related to chaos theory.

On Sunday I visited two gardens one Trebah which is lovely( and as a matter of interest Falmouth students can get free entry-just show your student card) but there was something missing ?Although I took lots of photos and did some drawing there didnt sem to be a wide variety of plant forms which I assumed was due to the fact that it is only just spring and a lot of plants are still dormant .
Then I went Penjerrick which a garden I hadnt heard of which was a totally different experience and is described as one of the most beautiful and unspoiltgardens in Cornwall ad is only a couple of miles away from Trebah.(Glendurgan was closed .)

"Penjerrick Garden is near Budock, Falmouth, Cornwall

15-acres of subtropical garden, home to important rhododendron hybrids . The upper garden with sea view contains rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias, bamboos, tree ferns and magnificent trees. Across a bridge a luxuriant valley features ponds in a wild primeval setting. Suitable for adventurous fit people wearing gumboots
Mar to Sept, Sun, Wed, Fri (1.30-4.30). For NGS: Sun 20 Apr (1-4.30).
Discover hidden paths, duck under branches that grow across the paths, and marvel at numerous tree ferns and enchanting blooming shrubs.
Penjerrick was created 200 years ago by Robert Were Fox F.R.S. and his children, Anna Maria, Barclay and Caroline (R.W. Fox's brother, Charles was responsible for the Garden at Trebah and his brother Alfred for the garden at Glendurgan ).

They planted the upper garden with specimens collected abroad including rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias, azaleas, tree ferns and bamboos. The garden is also the home of the Penjerrick and Barclayi hybrid rhododendrons.

The lower part of Penjerrick is a dense valley garden reached by a wooden bridge. In this wild, jungle-like setting are four ponds and countless tree ferns that date back almost to the original planting of the garden. "

Which leads me back to fractals and chaos theory and the state of the world . The feel of Penjerrik is much more natural and exciting and beautiful there was a wildnesss about this garden that Trebah has lost although they no doubt are far more profitable as a business. As a species we seem to have a need to control and contain we want to feel safe and secure and yet by behaving in this way we destroy the very essence of what it was attracted us to something in the first place . Is this my attraction to tree forms where there is this random chaotic pattern that nature produces .
Interesting as well that all three gardens were created by the same family .Were they all as wild originally ? What were the personalities of the people who created them ?