31 July 2017

A sense of place(s)

The topic for A Letter in Mind this year was "a sense of place", and months ago I had had a sort of idea, but let it drift ... past the deadline. Then the deadline was extended, and on the very last day I happened to be at home with nothing in particular to do (and all sorts of things to avoid doing!), so I found some paper and started sketching out a few ideas -
 The idea was to cover the envelope with postmarks containing the names of towns I'd lived in throughout my life.  First I needed to research what a postmark actually looked like. Fortunately I knew exactly to find the big box of stamps recovered from envelopes at work, all those years ago -
Postmarks from 1993 and 1994, from envelopes containing
manuscripts of medical articles in pre-electronic days

The list in the little address book bought in Cambridge in 1974 was a big help, in fact it probably sparked the idea -
Seeing the photo, I noticed the line near the top saying "15 separate addresses before this!!!" Before noticing that, I had drawn up a list of those previous addresses, as near as I could remember, but seem to have forgotten two, somewhere. Some dates, the month anyway, are guesses.

Gersfeld, Germany 5/48
Ste Adele, Quebec, Canada 5/52
Ste Agathe 7/53
2635 W.10th, Vancouver, BC 7/54
18035 Ford, Pitt Meadows 8/56
17515 Ford Detour, 7/57
SFU residence, 5-8/68
(2187?) de Maisonneuve, Montreal 9/68
W 8th Ave, Vancouver 6/69
22?? York Ave 11/69
?? St Giles, Durham 9/71
6 St Monica Grove, 2/72
Trebaluger 68, St Luis, Menorca 11/72
and then to Cambridge.

For the past couple of years I've had a sort of idea to revisit all the places in the UK that I've lived - Durham (2), Cambridge, Holmfirth, Oxford (2), that's not so many really. I tried looking them up on the streetview, without much success. Best to go in person...

Meanwhile, with the hours-to-deadline for A Sense of Place ticking by, I had a different, simpler idea, and hopped on the Victorial Line with some envelopes, and pen, in hand -
Victoria line, southbound and northbound
The sections fortuitously divided themselves up, and the entire line filled three envelopes. Never mind the ragged margins - it got done and sent off. 

30 July 2017

Goodbye, Play-boy

The first unit of the Extended Drawing course, two years ago, started with a Playmobile figure - they are about 7cm (3") high - first with some warm-up  charcoaldrawings in various poses on two sheets of A2 paper, taped together. 

For the subsequent class we each brought in some pictures from magazines that didn't have people in them, and laid them all out on the floor, then chose one to use. It, or some part of it, became the background - and all the smaller drawings from the week before were rubbed out and drawn over.
 To give scale -
It's lying on the floor because I'm going to wipe off the charcoal and paint over with acrylics in splodges ... or maybe gesso, it depends on finding the gesso. On top of the base layer will go more paint and some stamping or perhaps monoprinting. Then it will be cut up to make little books. I enjoyed doing this last year and am looking forward to making a few dozen more.

So it's goodbye to the Play-guy, and to my struggles with those cliffs -
 The stoney foreground was good patternmaking fun -
 ...eventually with signs of impatience -

29 July 2017

Saturday round-up

This 'n' that from this week's photos.

A fascination with road markings and things-underfoot -

Fascinating - what a life she had! Photography not allowed in the exhibition (till 8 Oct).
Crossing the Millennium Bridge at evening

Not grafitti, exactly - a revelation of previous layers of paint

The wind blew the ghostly garbagebags about, but sometimes they
were at rest, filled with sunshine and the summer breeze

Hooked in London has a new meeting venue - I was thrilled to find
a Rocket Scientist mug, and to see the book that accompanies
the Surrealist Women exhibition at White Cube Bermondsay (till 17 Sept)

New River Path, Islington - truly an oasis. It was originally laid out as a park in 1860

The southern section includes the old watchman's hut

Old adverts in trendy Stoke Newington

The domino effect in Abney Park Cemetery, one of the "Big Seven"
new cemeteries of the 18302-40s. It's now rather wild

Midsummer flowers at the Olympic Park

The planting along the fence, on the way in to the park from Hackney Wick,
is less diverse than two years ago, and the building work is finished

Nice display of old tools in the windows of the architects next door
to London Review Bookshop, Bloomsbury

Tucked under the awning of an Italian restaurant near Smithfield Market

Old shopfronts in the Smithfield/Barts area

A revelation of pipework
Buying bread in Bermondsey

Nice coffee shop in Bermondsey

Reclaimed warehouse near Goodge Street

Walking upside down! Is this the famous "another planet"?
And on the home front, this little bit of protective cladding needs removing urgently, along with the sack of cement. The work surfaces are in use (if only for a sort of temporary storage!) and I delight in being able to cross the room without needing to make detours. Now I'm thinking about what would make it a welcoming studio. 

The flooring was meant to be practical but it is So Ugly! It will have to do for now. There's lots of storage space, including places for things that need to be right at hand, and lots of surface area for spreading out on - it's wonderful, but I don't seem to be using it. (Going out too much, maybe??)

28 July 2017

Art I like - Susan Hefuna's "Afaz"

What a wonderful surprise to find that the Whitworth, when I visited Manchester, had an exhibition ( ToGather; till 3 Sept) of Susan Hefuna's "cubes" and drawings. I'd seen and drawn some of her work a few years ago, and used it in the Large Sketchbook Course (2014)- and kept thinking about it.

"The exhibition takes the form of “mental map”, installed in several rooms at the Whitworth and parts of Whitworth Park. A series of palmwood structures, inspired by boxes seen on the streets of Hefuna’s native Cairo, are joined by a rich selection of drawings, vitrines, personal objects and a new digital experience by International Magic, all on themes of migration and separation, gathering and togetherness."

"All the world's a cage" said the Guardian's review. The palmwood structures are known as afaz, which means cage in Arabic. The structures, airy boxes a metre square, piled three high, are made "by punching holes into larger, stronger pieces of wood and pushing through smaller strips while the palmwood is still damp. The screens are laid out in the Egyptian sun to dry and strengthen and then tied together with hemp string to form these crate-like objects. ... Palmwood baskets proliferate in the strets of Cairo as containers, tables, chairs and surfaces. They might contain eggs or vegetables for sale, or a a street food vendor's tin bowls and beans."

Searching for images (the word crate is useful here!) I found quite a few, including these -
Gireed (palm-fibre) crates (via)

Traditional construction (via)
This is what Hefuna has done with them, as seen in the Whitworth -

In the rooms off this gallery are her drawings, usually layered, first drawn on paper and then a second image on a transparent overlay. "The second drawing is not a deliberated and slow response but both intuitive and improvisational" says the exhibition guide.

"Hefuna herself describes drawing as meditative. 'I have to really concentrate and surround myself with a very calm atmosphere ... I cannot draw every day, as I can't always achieve the right level of concentration. I have to retreat into my shell to create these series. What happens is, every so often I take a break and then an entire series is born. So if there is a phase with the right atmosphere and if I'm able to withdraw, then I need a few days before I can actually begin to draw. And then I can do them. I never make any preparatory drawings for my work, so I never know what will be the final results.' "

The Cityscape drawings (2016) are here

One theme in her work, in drawing as well as sculpture, is the
 mashrabiya, carved wooden window screens
"created using outmoded and disappearing carving techniques"

"infinity" series - needs a closer look

Colour corrected and close up
Translate (2015) - pencil and stitching on layered paper
(more here)
Ink on tracing paper -
From the Being series (2016) - more here

The various series of drawings are on her website - as are here installation/sculptures.