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.

27 July 2017

Poetry Thursday - Anne Stevenson and John Clare celebrate a humble weed

"thou humble flower" (via)

They won’t let railways alone, those yellow flowers.
They’re that remorseless joy of dereliction
darkest banks exhale like vivid breath
as bricks divide to let them root between.
How every falling place convoys their smile,
taking what’s left and making a song of it.

Anne Stevenson (b.1933)

While looking for a picture of ragwort, I came across another poem about it, by John Clare (1793-1864):

Ragwort thou humble flower with tattered leaves
I love to see thee come and litter gold...
Thy waste of shining blossoms richly shields
The sun tanned sward in splendid hues that burn
So bright and glaring that the very light
Of the rich sunshine doth to paleness turn
And seems but very shadows in thy sight.

26 July 2017

Getting out the pots

The surfaces in my (reclaimed) studio are overrun by ceramics made over the past three or four years -
These are the ones that interest me more -
The idea is to make groupings of them - families perhaps, or "conversations" - and the sticking-point, in terms of exhibiting them at all, is how to display them. (Answers on a postcard, please!)

A chance to exhibit a group arose and I spent quite a lot of time finding The Group. Yes it was fun -
Singletons, and backgrounds

Groups, and angles
The shortlist -
Porcelain books

With metal threads

Made with sinamay scraps - see the fabric version here
I chose the "splash" group, and it will be in the Readymade show at City Lit until 29 August. The PV is 5.30-7 on Thursday 3rd August, do come along if you can - there will be work from students in all sorts of media.

25 July 2017

Drawing Tuesday - Southwark Cathedral

The weather was good, so some of us stayed outside. I found an unappealing view of largely unappealing buildings and decided to have a go anyway -
Cheesegrater and Walkietalkie take centre stage

Bamboo pen and india ink on top; felt pen beneath
 The bronze lettering ran along the parapet, attached to the stone - but the colon had fallen off. I looked carefully at the letter forms and their spacing, but looking is quite a different thing to freehand drawing! The numbers come from memorials inside the cathedral.
 The real thing -

Sue's statue -
There's not information about the piece nearby. An image search finds that it could be a Roman - or Greek - warrior, or Minerva - indeed Minerva it is, by Alan Collins - he also has work at Guildford Cathedral.

Carol found several items of interest, including the shoes of Edward Stuart Talbot (bishop of Southward 1905-11) -
Judith's courtyard scene -
Jo's door, carefully fitted to match the masonry -
Najlaa found intriguing "trail marks" in the garden - they represent paths travelled through life -
They are part of the memorial to Mahomet Weyonomon, a chief of the Mohegan tribe in Conneticut who had come to London in the 18th century to achieve justice for his people but died of smallpox and was buried in unconsecrated ground. This "domed medallion" (or sculpture; drawn by Sue) is linked with him - it symbolises the spiritual force that flows through all things.
Janet captures the interior of the church -
Joyce's stained glass window, from afar -

Extracurricular activities

Sections of a monoprint - the ones with "bird shapes" and other nature - selected and sewn together by Joyce -
Another piece Joyce made in a Pauline Burbidge workshop - quilting first and printing after -
Sue's Norwegian clouds -
Judith has been making intriguing stackable sculptures -

Carol is continuing with stories of the adventures of Duck, Tiger and Giraffe, based on events in the life of her grandsone -
Najlaa has been wrestling with bargello patchwork -
And Janet has been quilting, but it's a bit of a secret just yet -


some of us went to Intaglio Printmakers, in Playhouse Court off Southwark Bridge Road
Its basement premises is filled with desirable, enticing supplies -
On the way to the tube we saw some of the minor wonders in the area, including the Hop Exchange and, across the street from it, this wonderful facade -
Southwark was the epicentre of the hop trade in the 1860s.