Let us take a moment to reflect on old spaces in a constantly changing landscape. Some of the best architectural design of late 1960’s and early 1970’s has matured (as I mature) into beautiful cutaways from the uniform regularity of the predominantly Victorian terraced streets that surround. There is a playful quality to some aspects of council estate design that still warmly lures me into walking a winding circular wall or running up the slanted brickwork of a nicely rounded diagonal edge. Not all designs put into practice the held the values or ideals of their architectural creators, in fact many had the opposite effect creating dead spaces for more unsavoury business to thrive. I would however like to celebrate a few of the places that I hold in my heart with a fond nostalgia, as these were the bricks and trees of my childhood. From the first journeys on foot as a child to the outer edges of my universe (the end of the street) to the hours spent learning how to exist in this world as an individual among my fellow peers. Memories of power cuts, water fights, first tastes of alcohol and smoking and the beloved game of ’shit-stick’… I accept the world has changed and kids don’t have the same independence children of the 70’s and 80’s were afforded but these urban spaces with their curves and socially inviting layouts were an important part of my journey from childhood into adulthood as they will be for many others. Though we lived ‘hand to mouth’ for many years I feel lucky to have grown up in an environment that had a wealth in community and friendship when other forms of wealth were few and far between.
As we all know, there is always a first time for everything and I've only gone and done two riso prints. Let me tell you - they are beautiful. I think I am converted. I spend so long in the act of drawing for my images, you can spend days or even weeks on a piece of work which can then come to represent a 'time' in your life - even within only a small section of time things happen around you, what you watch or listen to becomes part of how a drawing grows. To then see an image transformed by a print process adds a layer of magic that can't be digitally manufactured. You can get close but there is nothing quite like the real thing.
Available to buy HERE
The good folk at Holodeck in Birmingham helped me through the steps of this crazy brave new world of printing with its offset overlaps and layering of colour
Waiting for divine inspiration is not always the most productive way to create work, more often than not we need some investment in our creativity. Inspiration too, does not always fall into our laps, we have to seek it out. To do something or go somewhere to experience life, to react to or be moved by an event is fundamental to feeding our creative process.
This week I am starting a new project. It's one that I have been rolling around my head for a while but not had the time to work on it, this morning I woke at 6am with a rather jolting internal brain 'prod' which said "Morning! Get UP and do some work!". So this week I kick start the new project... Cleared my diary and my desk and created this to get me started.
The shape of things. The collage process often throws out some unexpected results, just looking below the surface you can sometimes find your baseline visual structure - and it's looking GOOD!
The beauty of digital collage can also become a real hinderance by creating too many options. This is where the ability to edit comes in, ah, choices, choices...
Dreaming of new places to visit on a Sunday morning collage session. But while the sun is shining outside right now, time to appreciate the doorstep variety of adventure.
invitation - ME
A new step in the ever changing process of collage (for me). Ok, so not NEW - people have been doing this for a pretty long time now, but new to me. So while I get my head around this 'moving pictures' malarky I shall leave you with this little gem.
Ok, so it doesn't need to be a rainy day for a collage session to happen, sometimes you just need to roll with it. Part of what I enjoy about collage is the way an image can create itself, often pieces falling into place with almost divine intervention.
On a rather rainy Sunday after my morning coffee and magazine ritual I decided on setting myself a one day collage activity. The aim was to take apart ONE magazine and see what new visual communication could be created. This is the result...
As I stop to ponder back over 2017 I will firstly take a moment to mention the passing of two important people, which I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without them. The world of Illustration and of course the wider world has lost two of its gems. Gary Powell, thank you for all the fun times learning from and teaching with you, your sense of humour and 'silly streak' is greatly missed by all and your compassion for others unmatched. Paul Bowman, Thank you for 'taking a chance' on me after interviewing me on the steps of the LCC all those years ago, and for the encouragement and attitude about work, life and ethics I still live by and refer to till this day. Thank you both, I hope to bring a little of your style and attitude in to all my future endeavours.
2017 was also the year I broke my arm. I have always taken pride in my ability to risk assess at life and its many daily choices (obstacles). A skill that I have officially revoked from my personal arsenal of 'skills'. Remember kids, when having fun - health and safety first! It's a dangerous world our there, full of concrete ready to make contact with your drawing arms!
A mention, while I'm here, to the staff of the NHS at every level of care, Thank You! The NHS is a priceless gem to be treasured. From being able to walk in to the team in A&E and in a matter of moments being looked after by such care and compassion (even a total buffoon like myself - a special thanks for not mocking me) having emergency surgery to fix the badly broken bone within a day (making me part robot) and all the effort and care of getting me back in business so soon. The NHS does so well at looking after people, lets not forget to make sure we keep looking after the NHS in return.
The path is no more. Awash with rain and melted snow, transformed into a new landscape. The glassy ripple of the wintery north wind shimmers across the surface as I search for safe ground to tread my feet.
Tumultuous waves after a grey day of rain and drizzle on the Devonshire coast. Thundering across the surface of the half sunken rocks and chasing up the half submerged steps leading into the foamy chaos. White noise has never been so perfect as when you are standing at the edge of land.
Part of the creative process involves an almost involuntary compulsion to document and record the things that you find interesting. A long term interest of mine in the natural world and how it exists along side, under threat and sometimes in domination within our urban environment. There is a point in the year whereby the summers sun mixed with inevitable rainfall of the British summertime result in an explosion of green. Paths walked regularly throughout much of the year become impassable and views of landscapes blocked from sight.
A drawing to remember a point in time and space. What triggers memories of certain places and how often do we recognise them for what they are? This work is a continued investigation of memory through drawing.
I’m not sure what interests me more, seeking the familiarity in the unknown or the excavation of the unknown in the already familiar. Part of an ongoing current project, interconnected with a few other sideline projects this is a video sketchbook exploring a small area of woodland local to where I live. Sound is key in this collection of frames, an altered dimension of viewing to invite you into a new version of reality. Haunting cries and echoes of possibly familiar sounds creating a ghosted portrait of a landscape. Like a voice not fitting the face.
Well today is the last day of the year that was 2016. Aside from some of the more ‘memorable although we’d like to forget’ global events that have befallen upon our worlds this year I would like to take a step back and enjoy a few things that have made 2016 an inspiring place to be.
In February of this year I had the pleasure of taking part in the Brighton University european study trip to Berlin. We took students to a number of studio visits across the city, seeing museums and galleries and a visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial site on a day so bitterly cold that I could legitimately wear my balaclava (incidentally bought in the desert during a previous residency). Both Stewart Easton and myself were not prepared for just how much Berlin inspired and fuelled our work following our experience there. A city that honours the scars of its past but celebrates creativity through self expression and a ‘joie de vivre’ I have not experienced anywhere else. Berlin I salute you!
For nearly two months of the summer Stewart Easton and I took part in the Silver City artist residency program in Nevada. During our time there we each had a solo exhibition of our work, we ran workshops for the good folk of Silver City looking at ‘drawing and identity’ and ‘Stitching our history’. We journeyed across the desert to Idaho, saw a ten thousand year old canyon carved by a flood at the end of the last ice age, explored an undergroundice cave in the middle of the searing heat of the desert, rafted down a river, saw bald eagles and lived in a geodesic dome, to mention but a few highlights. And above all, we got to spend time with some amazing people in a breathtaking landscape.
During the whole of this year I have continued teaching at Brighton University and as a freelance Illustrator this has been a wonderful environment to step into. Being in the company of the level 4 degree students has forced me to introspect into my own practice, to re-examine my own working methods and allowed me to return to play within my own personal development. Watching people start their creative journeys is a joyful thing to behold.
Now looking ahead to 2017 I have new projects for the new year: I have recently been playing around with a few research projects one of which is incorporating art & exercise. The ’Art Run’ project is still in its embryonic stage with just a handful of sessions completed but some of the initial aims are:
- To look at how we ‘see’ our everyday environment
- To increase physical & emotional wellbeing through exercise and creativity
- Strengthen observational drawing skills though repetition of experience
So on reflection 2016 has taught me that it is easy to look at the world with wide open eyes when you visit somewhere new and exotic but also reminded me to pay close attention to the world I am already familiar with. When you set off on a new adventure to distant places you gasp at the sight of mountains or marvel at a dust devil spiralling into the sky but how do you look at your everyday environment with the same level of wonder? This is what I have planned for 2017.
The exhibition is officially open but only on for a few days. If you are in the 'Shoreditch' area this coming weekend (12-13th November 2016) then head on over to Outline Editions at Lo & Behold, 2B Swanfield Street, London E2 7DS.
'Sketchbooks, drawing and thinking' is an exhibition of drawings and collages from the perspective of the past and visions of possible future events. This collection work brings sense of a time and a place but in the existence of memory only, not now but then, exactly then in that precise moment in time. A view of an existence from a very specific point in space and time. I have examined the process of my ability to recall moments of past experience to bring a sense of a new space and time.
The exhibition will run from the 10th-13th November 2016 at OUTLINE EDITIONS, 2B Swanfield Street, London, E2 7DS. Private View 6-9pm Thursday 10th November 2016.
After a two day journey across an ever changing landscape we arrive in Stanley, Idaho, population 64… yes really! We pick up supplies and head into the tree line at the foot of the Sawtooth mountains. A left down a few miles of dirt road, then a further ten minutes of zig zagging deeper into the forest and spying little log cabins through the trees along the way. Engine stops and here we are, our home for the week.
On the road again we pass some interesting signage pointing towards some caves and a museum… well, a museum of sorts… just about the most creepy place I have ever been in to be honest. The building itself was interestingly macabre and remained so right up until the smell of the formaldehyde became quite overwhelming. The collection of rather perplexed looking stuffed animals mixed with various artefacts from around the world was topped off by the dead animals on the floor (not part of the display I might add)… At the point the enormous rat ran passed my sandalled feet I had to step outside. It’s no criticism on the place, the atmosphere was holistic and I know plenty of folk who would find it fascinating, in fact it is a bit like the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford... but a bit more... real!
We continued into the caves, you are handed a gas lamp and pointed in the direction of some steps that lead to a hole in the ground. Walking from the 90 degree dry desert heat a few feet into ice cold dampness of the caves is breathtaking… literally. The geology of this landscape is laying down some seriously good inspiration for my next set of drawings… so much to see still…