Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Oh its a Charmed Life.......................

This will take you to a lovely video by artist Felicity Powell who has curated an exhibition all about charms and amulets at the Welcome collection in London.

All works by artist Felicity Powell

Felicity currently has curated an exhibition focusing on amulets and charms at the Wellcome Collection in London.  I found this video, which is included in the exhibition, made by her, to be delightful.  
The process that is featured within the video i.e., playing around with wax and creating forms, is very much part of the method she uses to create her own artworks.

Andrew Graham Dixon said of her “ she is a reinventor of the medallic tradition in the modern day.

He describes “Hot Air” (above)  thus………….is a diatribe on the theme of global warming. On one side, a hydra-headed monster speaks with forked tongue; on the other, a pair of human buttocks surface from water like the back of the whale, farting clouds of foolishness into the sky.

Her medal itself reinvents the form itself, a kind satirical spool, on which is wound a ribbon of fatuities spouted by self-interested politicians”

Monday, 26 September 2011

Changes ??

 Just got an email through from Culture Inside which is just another one of those 'artists communities' websites that I was invited to join ages ago -  maybe 2 or 3 years ago.  As a matter of fact I did enter a competition that they organised for a project called Utopia/ Dystopia about a year ago, and had my work selected for inclusion in the exhibition in Luxembourg. 

"Why they so Shout?"     Igor Vaganov

Their current project, with the title "Changes"  was no doubt prompted by the uprisings taking place in the middle east and Africa.  Co incidentally I had decided to watch a Panorama report  on BBC1 television, about Syria.  "Syria: Inside the Secret Revolution - Panorama"

Reporter Jane Corbin with her team  (  scary profession war reporters !!! )  reported on the popular uprising in Syria, where for months people have been fighting back against President Assad's regime. Panorama's cameras went inside the country to tell the full story of those struggling against the dictator and the truth about his brutal crackdown against his own people.

And my god,  the people there are being completely brutalised and murdered by their so called leader Assad, excluding his cronies of course.

How can he stand the sight of his despicable self........  he has to maintain power at any cost.  That is not power that is utter repression and I hope the international criminal court in the Hague get hold of him and his henchman.    How can his wife ' Asma' known as "Emma" to her pals in London (she  was born and grew up in Acton, a bus ride away,  from where I used to live in London,  bear to have anything to do with this monster.  I wonder what she will say to Hafez, Zein and Karim about their daddy.  Here's a quote from her "All three monolithic religions teach us about the dignity of the human being, respect for others, openness and the value of human life".   Like me, she went to a christian school. and is a university of London graduate - mind you she did go into banking as a career so.............

cartoon by Ali Ferzat

If only it was this easy

Getting back to the Panorama reporter Jane Corbin, she set up an interview with a soldier who had defected and  he spoke of  colleagues being shot in the back if they were not cooperating by shooting the civilians - that 's why he felt,  he just had to  get out of the country and across the border.   Apparently he had requested that his face be concealed when the interview was broadcast.  He also relayed how the government hired thugs and civilians to pose as armed terrorists in siege situations ( video footage was shown of these 'poser' thugs )  and the soldiers would be told not to shoot at them as they were on the 'same side' as the soldiers - so the command was - "just shoot the civilians".   I am wondering what hole these vermin crawled out of  - perhaps they didn't like the salary being offered for mercenaries by Gadaffi or maybe there wasn't any more work available there.

There was mention made of a high up soldier in the army, Colonel Riad al-Asaad,  who had defected and is based in a bordering country and who is now obviously a wanted man by the Syrian regime.  He is recruiting defecting soldiers and others to form the "Free Syria Army",  in a bid to overthrow the Syrian regime.  He said that gradually an increasing number of soldiers WERE defecting.  However about 90% of the soldiers in the army are of the same tribal origin as Assad so that doesn't bode well unless their consciences  take the higher ground.   I fear its going to be a long and bloody struggle my heart goes out to them.


Igor Vaganov: 


BBC1 Panorama:

You Tube Syria videos :

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

No Ideal place to Start

It's been months and months since I have truly been blogging and I do feel the loss of it.  Speaking of loss - last Friday my dearest fluffy 'furbee' friend Mister Toby passed away.

He has gone to Cat Heaven.  He was such a character and I was so SOH fond of him.  It's hard not to be reminded of him as he spent most of his time in this house.  Nearly everywhere I look,  I am reminded of him poor sweetie.  If I look out the front room window - I am reminded of  seeing him crossing the road from his folks house,  to come  back over to us.     If I look at the 'perches' in the kitchen ( a bit like cat feeding stations) I am reminded of him.   It is sad to think I will never see him again.
The photo here was taken in August 2010 just over a year ago where he looks reasonably healthy.  I loved how he'd actually kind of look at you.  Not all cats do that.   Towards the end he was looking terrible and had lost his 'pep'.  It's an awkward situation when you have a cat practically living in your house except he isn't actually your cat.    I had previously mentioned to D and H. our neighbours ( his owners)  that we were concerned and felt that things were not right with him.  I think it was only then that we became aware that he was already 16 years old - we hadn't realised he was that age.

Its such a dilemma where animals are concerned in that,  if they are still eating (which he was) we tend to think they are kind of OK, but he wasn't.  All the while there was a tumour growing  in his liver.

That's what D. our neighbour, said the vet told him.  He had taken Toby to the vets on the  previous Friday and they had kept him in,  over the weekend and then sent him home with a months worth of medication.  But from the time Toby came home, after that weekend of veterinary treatment in their hospital - he was still not himself.     I gave him a final pat on the head as he sat at the foot of the stairs in D.'s (my neighbour) house.   By then Toby was just existing his spirit had moved out of him - away into the ether.   I was surprised that he had survived even that far.  I had thought that he might have passed away over the weekend.  Must have been horrible for D. having taken him back up to the vets on that Friday because he 'd obviously got a lot worse.  It was then  that the vets along with D.  came to the conclusion that it'd be for the  best,  to put him out of his misery and D. left the building empty handed.
That's the obverse of loving - losing - but we had so many sweet treasured times you dear little Toby - I was blessed to have you as my little companion for these past 4 years.

Artists Books

Outside of this event - the last six months or so I have been working on making an edition of artists books for the BookArtObject project.   The first bound books I ever made.   I am still in the process of sending them out to my fellow participants and so have not  shown them online so as not to spoil the surprise.
I have been documenting the process somewhat taking the odd photo with my digital SLR  and have set up a blog especially for my bookart.  I will gradually build that up with additional info about previous bookart projects.  Previous works have mainly been accordion format apart from one that had papier mache shoes and a scroll.

  There were so many trials and tribulations that I had to go through in order to make these works.  Although I am aware that my craft skills in book making still have much room for improvement despite immense effort on my part
I was none the less quite pleased with the final 15 books.  So far, I have received  four of the other participants books......................I can not say that much more for now.  Our project is going to be on exhibition at Impact 7, the printmakers conference being held on this occasion in Melbourne Australia - if you happen to be in the neighbourhood pop in and if you go along to see thta exhibition - there are loads of them on their program - take a photo and email it to me.


BookArtObject Website :

Impact 7, International Printmaking Conference:

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The lost Hour (Wood intaglio)

I made this print towards the end of last year for a print exchange at Dundee Contemporary Art Print Studio, I spent ages trying to find out about doing this technique but quite honestly there isn't wasn't much available on the Internet never mind in any of the fairly extensive  collection of technical books i have on printmaking techniques.  I already had this piece of wood cut in a circle shape and it had the same image - although I changed it somewhat on the reverse side.  This I had printed as a relief print.  I have a few proofs of it somewhere and will add it into this post, when I come across it.  I have been prompted to post this image in response to a conversation that's currently going on in the Baren forum at the moment.
A course being offered by Hiromi paper is advertised as "drypoint wood block printmaking" and this piqued someones curiosity - well I think myself that it's going a bit far saying that you can do a drypoint using wood as your matrix.  I mean the burr and so on ??!!!   For the print shown here, I used a small scraper  tool (with a triangular shaft) to incise the main lines .  I also used a scalpel for the finer lines.  To achieve the various tones I used Lascaux acrylic hard ground, diluted to about 3 strengths.  I seem to remember the diameter of this circle is 17cm.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

I tried to 'relate' to a paper Robot but it was an awful struggle !!

Well what I mean is ......... the participating artists, which included me, were all sent a package by M.U.B.E..  This is  the Museum  of Sculpture in Sao Paulo,  Brazil, where I have previously exhibited.

The idea or should I say 'brief' for this project  was that we would somehow 'transform' it by means of our own interventions with ideas / art materials and so on,  and so forth.

When it arrived in the post and I looked at it I remember tossing it aside and thinking oh my gawd I can't work with that horror !!
I considered not bothering to do it at all as I had so many things on my plate ( for a change!!) but then thought no - I have made a professional commitment and I should at the very least have a go at it.  If I then find that I really can't find a way to work with it - then I will withdraw.

Eventually managed to find instructions online and my clever friend Tatiana, who dropped round with her 5 year old son ( who loves all robot related matter)  put it together for me in no time.
So there it stood on my work surface  as a 3d cardboard robot and unfortunately I just didn't like the thing.  I imagine if I had - I might have given it a name.  So for now  it was just the "thing".

Eventually I decided that I could only work with it very much on my own terms as in I would take it apart lay it flat and then see if I could somehow make it into a collagraph plate of sorts.  The image above shows my initial  experiments with the lay-out of the pieces.   I thought  it  had the look of  South American iconography and textile designs so I started looking into that.  I came across some nice bits and pieces during the course of this research.

As I was doing this in a hurry I didn't take too much note of the sources and information regarding the little creatures that caught my eye.  Often they were just small details in a rug or a featured image on a piece of ceramic.  Made me remember a little figure I had used in my paintings when I was doing my bachelors degree and how I had found that quite liberating.  I had seen it on a billboard  poster, during the course of my long bus journey in North London up to the campus.  How wonderful it would have been to have access to the internet, at the time,  instead of 'lugging' huge piles of usually large heavy art books around in my shoulder bag which of course didn't do my back any good.

So I settled on a layout of sorts and stuck the pieces down onto some mill board.  I varnished it, back and front, and then proofed it but realized much to my annoyance (with myself) that of course the pieces were too raised up from the base plate.    It was a big plate and had taken me quite a while,  to ink up - so I thought "oh what the heck  - it's a unique piece of work I can just keep working on it 'as is' ".

Loved this little image with the jaguar warrior suit,  I came across too.    I seem to remember that these were the items that were placed in the burial site with the Aztec warriors and Lords.  A bit similar to the way the Ancient Egyptians "packed for the journey".     Mind you the Chinese did it in even more of a 'big way' as in,  when you consider the guy who had the Terracotta army created to accompany him to the afterlife - to ensure nobody tried to push him around.   Talk about being paranoid .......or maybe just O.T.T.

So that's what I did - I collaged it a little and also worked onto it using my trusty Carbothello pastel pencils (water soluble).  I got there in the end using five of the pieces from the pack.  I specifically wanted it to be a 'fold-out' print too so that it was like some map or thing that would be put into a pocket.  Hence the folds.


Museu Brasileiro da Escultura   M.U.B.E.

Betty Esperanza's short Video made as part of making her  Troyart piece.

There were about 300 pieces in total in this exhibition and I just could not select  just one or two
pieces to include in this post - best to have a look at the project blog.

Troyart Blog

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Gelatin monoprint with drypoint + Engraving on Foiled Card

Made this fairly recently- first the gelatin monoprint which I still have not really got to grips with.  I used the recipe as given by Linda Germain and had trouble getting the gelatin plate out of the flat container.  After about 3 attempts I finally got hold of a pink plastic tray from my good friend Tatiana and that worked.

The other problem I had, was with getting the water based speedball inks,  to roll onto the surface of the gelatin -  it just would not cooperate.
I then sent off for a rubber brayer - unfortunately I could only afford a small speedball one.  I have not tried it out yet as I have been otherwise engaged with making a whole heap of 'background plates'.  

These are on steel - that's after trying to do some aquatint sprays and etches on aluminium but they just didn't really 'take' and I got a horrible  straight line (with a blurred edge)  of unwanted tone ( a characteristic of the aluminium grain itself - I think)  so I have decided that, that's a wrap, at least where those plates  are concerned.  These were 'large-ish' plates by the way............. well 50 x 50 cm.  I tend to think that alumium is fine for medium to small size  plates but NOT good for large plates especially where the desired  areas of tonal etch are not interlinked.

Getting back to the gelatin monoprints.  Those that I did manage to do which were very much trials, were using water-colour paint and water based 'Caran D'ache' crayons.  I was working on a surface the size of approximately 30 x 45 cm so it was taking me a while to 'splodge up' enough colour from the little water colour pans and that was when I decided to refer back to Linda Germain's blog to look again at the materials she uses.  Speedball water based printing inks - so I ordered those.

The figure on the left was made using old "printers plates" originally used for commercial  lithographic printing.     I have had these plates for years  - I used to have those for when I taught monoprint classes but I  can no longer do these , because of my disability.

So as they are quite thin and lightweight (they are aluminium) I am easily able to cut them up, just using  a pair of scissors.  I had to paint this one with a couple of coats of acrylic hard ground (Lascaux) and then I scribed into it , which gave me the 'ink holding' lines.

It is very feint - this proof -  but I like how this integrates with the watery background.

The goat like figure on the right is made by scribing into 'foil-card'  such as you get with certain items of food packaging .  I can not remember which item of food it was - anyway it worked and what was good was that it didn't need varnishing.  It's a bit fragile though so it  had to be carefully cleaned by pouring veg oil onto a soft cloth and then quickly rubbing away the remaining etching ink. As opposed to drizzling oil onto it and then rubbing that with a cloth.  I have learned from experience that when cleaning collagraph plates which are on cardboard that its best to put a small amount of oil onto a soft cloth and then  quickly wipe away the remaining ink as if I am too generous with the oil it might seep into the lines in the print plate and basically ruin the plate for further use.  I did varnish the back of the plate for  protection easy cleaning and to add to its rigidity.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Grabado Nova Galicia 2010

 above: CD of the Catalogue for the 2010 exhibition. 

My work was not selected. I submitted 2 medium sized prints.  I noticed that most of the selected pieces were at the full printmaking paper size e.g., 100 x 80 cm , or thereabouts.  I really do find it a physical conundrum i.e.,  submitting larger works for these more prestigious exhibitions.  Most of my works (and especially the larger ones) are unique ( i.e.,  "non-editioned".

In the period 1999 -2001 - I did submit to a couple of big exhibitions such as Trois Rivieres (Canada) and another in Taiwan or China.  The prints, when they were eventually  returned were  pretty wrecked, and more or less just fit for the bin.  I would love to have other print makers comments on this dilemma ?
Maybe I should just send large ones,  once again  and see how it goes this time around.

What was a unique experience, for me,  with Caixa Nova Galicia, was that the organizers took the trouble and expense to send me a catalogue (not sure whether the catalogue they sent me was a full version - as it is quite slim).  Perhaps they are working to a tighter budget on this occasion.

I say this bearing in mind the usual standard size,  one would expect from a host such as this.  These people are like one of the biggest bankers in Spain/Europe.

BELOW is my winner of this competition.  I am never sure whether technical skill is held in higher estimation as regards criteria by the selectors but this piece stood out to me.  I mean art has to be interesting and meaningful more than anything?!........and  I would have thought -  thereafter technical merit?


Here is a LINK to a report on the event.
I found this on Caixa Novas Social website and translated it from Galician.
Incidentally I have a fondness for Galicia as I have exhibited there on 2 separate occasions.   Boy - they sure treat artists with respect over there AND  we were very well received and looked after.....when I exhibited there with the Riverside Artists group from London. 

Looks like R.A.G. have just had work in an exhibition in Beijing ( !!!).   Typical - that not that long after I have left London something unusual  in terms of exhibiting comes about ! -   I wonder if any of them went over there?  

I did receive a lovely Christmas card from my dear friend Maire Gartland, who along with me was a member of R.A.G. from way back when.  She seems to no longer have a website?  I have two of her -   artworks on my walls.

Footnote: unfortunately  Jabier Herrero does not seem to have a website either - bah I was looking forward to having a look at some more of his artworks. !!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Opening of the mouth from the Book of the Dead

This exhibition has been on since last November at The British Museum and finishes soon  i.e., the 6th March 2011.

If I could and I was going to be in London - I would love to go along and have a look round this exhibition. 
I have always loved the Egyptian art of the Pharaohs.  Particularly the symbolic aspect the rituals the strange terms such as "The Opening of the Mouth" which is whats going on in this image.
However I am very fortunate in that my dear friend Linda Haslam brought me the publication from the British Museum about the book of the dead so I am able to look through that whenever I feel like it.  Thanks again Linda !!

Link to the British Museum

Dog and a Chair further development

I think I have posted this image on here previously - having worked on it further I had to conclude that maybe i should have left it as it was ..............  here are some images of the progress (as such!)
I  think this was how the proof looked after I added some Lascaux, acrylic hard ground so as to superimpose the figurative element which you see on the left.  I made sure I thoroughly degreased the plate before applying the acrylic - otherwise as I now from experience it WILL not 'adhere' to the plate surface.  After it dried I scribed into it to delineate the face and so forth...........

This shows the scanned proof of the plate with the dog n chair onto which I tried a few drawings I had on my files using Photoshop - I decided this 'skiing angel' as I refer to it, would look best.

I amended the proof )the first one visible in this post) and then endeavored to delineate it more strongly by scratching into the metal, with the drypoint too..

Here's the plate - onto which I added the Lascaux acrylic hard ground, you can see where I scratched into it, once it was dry.

This is a proof with the mouth area scratched dark but I decided I didn't like that after all, so its as seen in the first image above.  The amount of proofs I took of this little monkey is out of all proportion to the importance of this( just as a print )  but ho know what it is like when you get a 'bee in your bonnet' about "fixing"' a print you just ain't happy with.!!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Galway International Mini Print 2011

I received an alert from Facebook today,  informing me that some photos connected to me,  were viewable on a link.   I checked  it out and was pleased to find that   -  someone there,  had had the good sense,  to take  a few shots, at the recently held private view.  This being in relation to
the Galway International Mini Print Exhibition, which was organized by Lorg Printmakers.  I don't know as of yet whether this is something they have previously hosted etc or if this is the first one. 
Apparently the show was officially opened by someone called "James C Harrold"  (?) last  Saturday  and will run until the 26th of February, 2011.
An International Mini Print Exhibition - "it showcases a selection of miniature prints from some of the most promising international printmakers". it features work from eight countries.
(PLEASE NOTE  click on the Facebook link below to see more photos taken at the private view/ exhibition)

The selected artists:
From Ireland
Aisling BradleyKillian Dunne,  Tina Gaffey,  Joan GleesonAoife Layton,  Mo Levy and  Jennifer McCauley.


"David and Paleocene" by Killian Dunne

From England
Chris Davis and Terry Gravett.

From Poland
Lukkasz Cywicki. 

From New Zealand
Antonia O' Mahony.

From Argentina
Hilda Paz Levozah and Graciela Silvera.

From Scotland
Aine Scannell.

From Brazil
Pires Godinho Jussara Tereinha.

From Japan
Kouki Tsuritani.

From Australia
Cleo wilkinson and Sandra Starkey Simon.

Lorg Fine Art Printmakers Ltd,
Workshop and Gallery
Unit 8 & Unit 7,
Ballybane Enterprise Centre,

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Nightmare on Inkjet Street -- finally seeing the light

I am going to attempt a quick post as I am feeling in celebratory mood - its only because I managed to print out one 'chine colle sheet', using the upright paper input feed.  Nowadays I put a sheet of ordinary copy paper underneath the Japanese paper I print onto.  I must say that this paper which I purchased from Falkiners Fine papers (London) is not as opaque as the previous batch.  What I have done to ameliorate this,  is paint the underside of the printed out sheet, once its dry, with a thin layer of white acrylic.  Seems to work OK-  although I'd rather it was just more opaque.

Anyway - I am feeling pleased about having had success with the Epson 2400 printer,  as on so many occasions it has refused to accept the paper.  Mind you on those occasions I was using the rear feed input tray and also the front input tray ( which were the more correct input points for the 'media types' !!).
Unless you have to contend with the 'cantankerousness' of these kinds of digital printers - then you can not appreciate the stress and frustration as well as disappointment that is very often involved.  I imagine there are many people who imagine that inkjet printing is a piece of cake - well it certainly isn't.  Its a major 'pain in the butt'!!.

After I had printed the Japanese sheet - I thought OMG I better do a printout of my "Tar Baby Come Out to Play" - while the Gods of inkjet are smiling !!!  So I did one of those - I also revised it and I feel improved on the previous version.  It's very subtle what I have done but I think it improves it.  Of course it will have the intaglio emboss element, added to it and then will be finished.

Same goes for the second one I printed,  which is called "Healing Chamber"  I have this one on my 'screen saver' on my computer and I really love this piece - it's one of my favourites.

I also managed to get some Lascaux acrylic wash resist, applied to a copper plate which the wonderful Bill Mc Kechnie at the FDPW print workshop, helped me apply an spray aquatint to, last Thursday.  I didn't have any red wine to add to the mix once it was painted / daubed onto the surface - and I COULD NOT find the tannin I made up ages ago and bottled.  I will see how it comes out when I put it into the ferric chloride at the workshop tomorrow.

I haven't got time to scan the excellent  instructions I came across in a book the mobile library woman brought to me last Thursday.  It shows how to do marbling using hard ground and a tray of water.  I am hoping to do an experimental day soon at the workshop with my good chum Angela Heidemann, and look forward to trying it out.  I will definitely post the article on here as well as document how myself and Angela get on.  Better get to bed now as I want to try to get up at a civilised hour in the morning to get to the print workshop.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Countries I have Exhibited in within EUROPE and My location

I think that this is a map from 1995, so there will, of course,  have been some shifts in national borders.Please feel free to comment on that.            Mainly I thought I would put a map of where I am based - just in case you are in the neighbourhood.  Dunfermline is just north east of Edinburgh, which many people will have heard of if only because of the ‘Edinburgh Arts Festival’ which takes place annually.  While I was marking this on the map I also ticked all of the countries that I have exhibited in, as far as I can remember.
Here's a Google map too.

View Larger Map

What ever happened to Mandy Wan ?

Mandy was someone who I hung about with while I was doing the post graduate printmaking course at Wimbledon which finished in 2000.  I always wonder what has happened to her - she was a gritty, hard working Hong Kong girl with lovely work and meticulously high standards.  We exhibited together at Wimbledon Library Gallery at one point along with Pat Paxson who was also very professional  individual.

Mandy also made wonderful ceramic objects.  The work above is about the ancient practice of foot-binding, which she made an installation about which featured rows of casts of foot-bound feet.  It was shown in an exhibition called "The Needle Woman" at the 198 Gallery in Brixton, London (Scroll down the page)


I want to try to use aquatint in my etchings more than I do and to play about with the wonderful spray gun we now have at the workshop.  It involves more walking about and standing (which exacerbates my pain) BUT ..............

This piece by Norman Ackroyd is just gorgeous.


I have been fiddling about lately trying to find some website or other where I can set up a portfolio website of sorts because I am unable to afford to continue my subscription to Other Peoples Pixels .  That is where I have my website until the 1st May 2011.  Fortunately I can hang on to my domain name and email package through the provider they use.  So I am hoping to have the portfolio url ready to redirect to by that time.

Here is where I eventually 'settled' although I have only uploaded 3 images or so thus far.  It's a photoblog on Wordpress and so far I think it looks pretty good, the 'theme' I am using is called "Duotone".
Heres a screen grab.