Sticky Merz Birthday Cake

Sticky merz cake18 months ago I had never heard of Kurt Schwitters or Merz, and then all of a sudden he started cropping up in my research, and in conversations about modernism, collage and the Degenerate Art which Hitler mocked and despised. I seem to be developing an interest in the period between the two world wars both historically in my investigations of the Basque children in Salford and in the artists I admire such as Paul Klee, Jean Miró and now Kurt Schwitters.

Anyway to cut a long ramble short, I went away on an artists’ retreat this weekend at the Merz barn in Elterwater to celebrate Schwitter’s birthday. It was a wonderful weekend full of creativity, good conversation, good company, music and fun.  On the Saturday we made costumes for a Dada procession. I’m not the sort of person who enjoys costume so I made a birthday cake out of sticks to carry which I later burnt on the bonfire!

Claire and  sticky merz cake

Cracked window web

cracked windowI found I was drawn to this repaired window of the mill. It invoked a feeling of protection with its thick, chunky, mould and dirt encrusted repair and the wire mesh of the safety glass. I also liked the fact it is cobweb shaped too!

Here’s my A2 sketch done with  wax crayon and pencil.

cracked window drawingAnd here’s the drypoint and carborundum print that it inspired.

cracked window printMy prints are quite crude because I’m just learning but take a look at these amazing prints by Ross Loveday

Cobweb Collagraph

Cobweb collagraph plateI really enjoyed the Collagraph printing, but it took me ages to start to ink the plate (above) because it was so beautiful in its own right and I didn’t want to spoil it!

I’m really pleased with the prints though.

Cobweb Collagraph PrintsThese are based on drawings I did of cobwebs covering part of a windowsill in the attic at Islington Mill. I usually draw on sheets of A2 paper so I can really expand on tiny detail. So the image below is actually A2 in size, with magnified detail of the inspiration for the print.

Islington Mill CobwebsIslington Mill Cobwebs (detail)One of the things I’ve started to enjoy about blogging is how all images become equal because however large or tiny they started out they are reduced to pretty much the same dimensions.

There’s some really good instructions for Intaglio collagraph printing on Bill Chambers website

Additional web storage

Web storageOne of the things I enjoy about blogging is the connections I make in my head while I am writing and sorting through pictures. While writing my last post, I linked the images and Ideas I am having now with a college project from 2008 on the theme of “architexture” inspired by our collapsing shed.  Part of that involved standing on steps and photographing and drawing the holes in the shed roof which provided a surprising source of inspiration. The detrius collected in the holes that the the spider’s webs protected proved particularly inspiring..

Here’s my sketchbook drawing of the above photo using mostly metallic pens.

SketchbookThis little web was the start of my fascination with the things we hold on to and of making art to protect them.

The outcome of this project was my “discomfort blanket” pictured below sunbathing on the roof of the shed, just after the asphalt had blown off in a gale!

Discomfort BlanketLooking back has been a worthwhile exercise, showing how far my work has progressed practically, but also realising that it is beginning to have more depth.

Out of focus cobwebs

Out of focus cobweb print 001 I have this fantastic device on my camera: an auto setting that slips really easily, so I’m constantly taking out of focus images!  The above trace monoprint was inspired by an out of focus image I took of the cobwebs around a window in the attic at Islington Mill. Here’s the original.

Out of focus cobwebThe artist Paul Klee used trace monoprinting in his famous piece Twittering machine (1922).

I have a thing about cobwebs, the way they attract detritus (like me!) so I think I might show you some previous cobweb inspiration in my next post…

In the attic: a place to reflect.

I’ve not written a post since December, and I hadn’t quite realised it was so long until I came to write this one. There’s been a lot happening and I’ve been re-evaluating what I’m doing and where I’m going.  Since Christmas I’ve been working on a really interesting project involving glass plate negatives from the 1950’s which I can’t tell you a lot about until it goes live, probably some time next year. Suffice to say it’s given me a little bit of stability income wise, so I’ve made the decision to use the remainder of the time to try and move my own artwork on. It’s still very much a continuation of what I did at college and still very much in my comfort zone.

DSCF6282To this end I’ve been working in the beautiful space that is the attic at Islington Mill.  I’ve made some connections over the last year at the mill, and thought the attic would make an interesting place to work. All that peeling paint and eroded wood and all those items, artworks and memories hidden away, waiting to be cared for fits very much into the way I have been working.  Bumping into Bill and Maurice – the directors – in a coffee shop, I took the plunge and asked if it would be ok  for me to do some drawing up there,”Yes” they said “why not make it a residency?”… Gulp…

It’s so true that if you don’t ask you don’t give people permission to say yes! I’m sure I read that in a book called “Unconditional Leadership” by David Robinson but I can’t find the quote without reading the whole book again!  It’s a fab book, so I’m happy to recommend it anyway

So I’ve been working in the attic since January on what I’ve been calling my “secret residency”.  All alone in that vast space, a fantastic time for reflection. I had hoped to create an installation up there, but having had the most horrendous flu in February and taking a while to get my stride back, this is no longer possible due to renovation work planned up there.  So I’m going to be doing an installation in their gallery at the end of July instead.

In parallel to this I enrolled on a year long printmaking course at Hot Bed Press, and have been using my mill drawings and inspirations as the basis for prints. I can see that eventually my prints will become inspirations for my textiles and my textiles will become inspirations for my prints.pool of colour

Looking at all the stuff I now have in my folder and having just read “Show your work” by Austin Kleon, I thought I’d put it all online through the blog. Firstly because I’ve found it really helpful to have things on the blog for me to look back on, either nostalgically or because it helps ideas to click, and secondly because I would be interested in other people’s thoughts.

So for those lovely people who follow the blog, be aware that I will be making quite a few posts over the next couple of weeks, but I am intending them to be mainly visual with only a little bit of text.cobwebs in corners