I have just been very fortunate to take a couple of weeks out in Italy visiting two lovely friends, one in the Abruzzo region and one in Rome. I always have a sketchbook with me and try to take time out to sit and draw the things I am seeing. On this trip I especially took time for drawing in Rome spending several hours at each of the places I went, sometimes until I couldn’t feel my fingers any more! It is quite a strange sensation when the sun is burning the back of your legs through the layers of clothes but your fingers are frozen and turning blue…
This is a challenge I found on instaram run by Sarah Maker and have been following others who have participated for a long time and have longed to have time to take part. FINALLY this month I have and became some what enthralled by the title of ‘gather’. So much so that I have made three books inspired by the title.
All of the books are made from left over materials kept in my studio until I found a good use for them…apparently this was it!
For those of you who can’t get over to Sheffield to see my current exhibition her is the blurb for your perusal…
‘An Attic of Curiosities’ is a frivolous yet thought provoking foray into the world of women. Using objects that immediately evoke femininity to create a range of cyanotype prints coupled with overheard snippets of conversation a narrative is constructed. This narrative will probe the personal memories of the viewer and speak of how as women we need each other to share our lives.
Sarah is a collector. She collects objects and ephemera along with a plethora of related stories some truth some imagined narrative. Her practice is about documenting, recording, collecting and sharing stories. The process is important especially if that process has some element of surprise in the outcome and ritual becomes part of the process especially when it comes to drinking tea. Tea is also used in the process of making the cyanotype prints. Experimentation is vital and mark making in its broadest sense provides the tool to search and discover ways to document, catalogue and interact with these objects unfolding layers of narrative.
Sarah works with artist’s books, found paper, cyanotype and found boxes as there is something so delightful about collecting ideas whether thoughts or marks and encasing them within a protective exterior.
Throughout the centuries groups of women have stood together through all sorts of situations side by side sharing their lives, supporting each other, sharing stories and drinking tea. Sometimes these groups create something; either from necessity or simply for pleasure. How many knit and natter, stitch and bitch or similar groups have we seen advertised in recent years? There is something special and powerful about the collective strength and support of women. These groups have also been a place to share stories and remember important events and the objects created soak up those stories and exude something of their creators.
The Gee’s Bend community in Alabama is one such group. A group of black women living in one of the poorest areas of the United States from the mid 1920’s who began sewing quilts and creating beautiful pieces of practical art for their homes using remnants from clothing that were to hand. Early examples are often a range of blue tones as they were made from denim trousers often not fit for wearing anymore so the useable areas were cut out and reused in this way. These creations echo an earlier tradition born out of necessity in Northern Japan. Japanese Boro (Boro translates as ‘scraps’ or ‘rags’) is the art of mending and patching garments and household textiles to make them last throughout the generations. These were also made with blues, blacks and greys as vibrant colour was reserved for the rich. The cycle these creations have experienced, from necessity in poverty to the expensive and prized collector’s pieces they are today, is fascinating.
The cyanotype process echoes the colour of both Boro and early Gee’s Bend. The paper has been found and collected over a number of years much of it left by family and used out of necessity for this project. Each print is soaked in tea for different lengths of time to create a wide range of tones and, also to echo Sarah’s own addiction to the drink, there is nothing that cannot be fixed with a good cup of tea!
The objects represented were all once owned by women. Some of these women are family and friends and some are unknown, as the objects were searched for and discovered in people’s drawers, charity shops, car boot sales and flea markets. Each tells a story of its own and adds to the collective narrative. The snippets of conversation were overheard by a wide collection of women all keen to help with this project, which in itself echoes the many generations of women before us who have rallied around each other, encouraged, and lent a helping hand.
I’ve just put up an exhibition at Makers on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield.
It’s all cyanotype related and collages in boxes in a beautiful little quirky attic space. I’ve made it as cosy as possible so you can sit and peruse for as long as you like! If you would like me to pop down for a chat let me know.
I started this a little late this year due to the Book Fair preparations but better late than never. It’s always a great opportunity to focus on drawing and this year I kind of ended up with the theme of ‘Tea Paraphernalia’ . In my little world tea is one of the most important things so seemed an appropriate focus of my drawing attention! I think there may be some kind of little book coming from these I’ll keep you posted. Here are some of my favourite drawings.
October 5th was the first Sheffield Artists book fair which saw 55 stalls representing about 90 artists! It was a day of fantastic inspiration and lovely new friends and connections. I’m sorry to not have posted sooner but as the main organiser and curator of the event my time was swallowed up a bit! Especially managing the Artist’s Book Centre website mine took a back seat. Anyway here are a few images mostly curtisy of Anya Uhren as I was too busy running around to take any! If you are interested to see more about the artists involved check out artistsbookcentre.org.uk if you’re local to sheffield there are a number of things going on you can get involved with.
I have the total pleasure of running a workshop on Wednesday 25th September at Kommune, Castle House. It is open to all abilities and you get something to drink included in your ticket. Come and join me if you are free! Book tickets on eventbright
So as well as drawing old buildings I love making studies of natural things. More often than not there is some kind of interesting pattern, shape or colour palette that unfolds the longer you study the object.
This month I am away from the studio so don’t have all my usual stuff to hand (although I am collecting things to use when I’m home). So I decided it was time to get on with some drawing practice. In recent years I have discovered a new found love of drawing buildings, especially old ones, so that has taken up quite a lot of my focus.
This book is a more general one. It’s not about one specific place as such but the whole of Kerala. It broadly covers a number of the places I visited in the area many of which were outside and related to nature. Kerala is a lush green and fertile land producing many fruits, vegetables and spices. Many of the spices from Kerala are world famous I realised when I got home that I have black peppercorns from Wyanad, Kerala amongst other things.
The materials for this book came from the packaging of some Ayurvedic toothpaste I bought to bring home, a masala tea box and some remnants of banana leaves picked up at a couple of different markets. The shiny lush packaging echoed my experience of Kerala. The banana leaves add something natural to the mix and I particularly love the two tones of the different leaves. The only matchbox that was suitable to house this theme was one with sunflowers on the front enhancing the rich natural aesthetic.