17 March 2018

Society of Bookbinders Book Arts Day

 Book artists had set up their tables
 and chairs were out for Tracey Bush's talk, which took in her books on the Thames and also the making of her prize-winning book "Dusk", based on moths and resembling a moth trap used in doing counts for surveys -
"Dusk" is the centre of attraction
 Batool Showghi had a range of her luscious unique books, based on photographs -
What struck my eye was the one about picnicking in Iran, the photos held down not by glue but by the Iranian textiles and machine stitching -
 ... which looked so graphic on the back of the page -
 Good to see Camberwell Book Arts students represented -
Some artists - quite a few! - were new to me -
Louise Weir, with illustrations for Dickens' "Great Expectations"

Domitilla Biondi uses a scalpel to sculpt the surface of paper
... and many more...

In the afternoon, at the monthly meeting of Hooked in London, I tried out a new book structure that was being demonstrated by Anna Yevtukh, a single-page binding. I had to use the papers on hand ....
... and the result smelt of cherry liqueur ....

Subtle factors like smell and tactility were mentioned by Tracey in her talk. She had planned to do the cutouts in Dusk with a laser, but when it came to it she didn't like the effect ... because of the smell. [In library school, Prof Ettlinger pointed out this property of books to us neophytes - something we hadn't thought of before, but something he had relished for years!]

"Dusk" was enclosed in a japanese-style case, with velvet inside to increase the tactility - instructions for such a case are in this book -
which has been on my shelf for years. Shortly after buying it I used its instructions to make bookcloth backed with japanese paper -- and coincidentally this bookcloth turned up during the recent clearout of my papers (it wasn't thrown out; I still hope to use it for a book one day).

16 March 2018

Another dustcloth day in the studio

The clearout project continues. Yesterday the bottom shelf of the paper storage got "the treatment" -
Not only has at least half the paper gone (via freecycle) but there is some clear floor - wrought out of this sort of chaos -
It's much the same for any studio clearout, isn't it?

Today's first task is the top shelf of the paper storage, which doesn't contain paper - it contains tools and ... surprises ... and rather a lot of dust, because it hasn't been disturbed for a few years!

I knew the stamps were lurking in the back, but had misremembered how many -
Various charities ask you to cut around the stamps and send them along (they get £20 a kilo for them). That little task would take me forever - I remember how long it took to tear the corners off the envelopes. They come from manuscript submissions at BMJ in the days before digital submission, when everything came double-spaced in several copies, in envelopes, hundreds of them every week. I'd seen Tom Phillips' use of stamps to frame some of his Curriculum Vitae series and realised that it was time to revive my stamp-collector activities...

Postage stamps are, after all, a craft material - some good ideas here - I'm sooooo tempted to put them back on the shelf and relegate them to the semifinals of the Studio Clearout game.

Another surprise on the top shelf was several boxes of postcards -
and there are bound to be more in another part of the room. Again, these hark back to the pre-internet days, and to the days when I was discovering all sorts of art and craft  and "needing" all sorts of "inspiration".

(Looking back on your younger self, there are things you wish you'd known - "focus on one thing at a time" is what I'd tell myself. But maybe the scattered-enthusiasm phase is something everyone goes through ... and some get to the focus-and-develop phase more quickly?)

The stamps, the postcards, and the tools had sat ignored on that deep shelf for at least 15 years. The tools did get used - I had a little trug from Ikea with the necessities, hammer, screwdriver, pliers, etc, and they all fit nicely ... but once Tom started using the room as a carpentry shop, it was a case of The Invasion of the Space-Snatchers. I shall empty that trug and put back what I need, and let Tom look through the rest -
The unwanted items can go out on the wall for someone to take home. (A very handy recycling method!)

Even with the stamps and postcards temporarily replaced, there's room for the ceramics materials, and a place to put more once they're found and sorted -
Isn't it wonderful to see empty space?

Now, a few of the "historical" finds along the way ....

.....life drawing (A1 size, charcoal).......

 ...... still life (charcoal)..........
............using pastels (thank you Veronica Slater for the demo at City Lit) .....

 .......reduction lino cut (Ormond Road Workshop; late 80s?)............
Senufo inspiration; also printed on fabric for cushions
 .......screen print...........
based on Braque's birds 
 ...........watercolour (A1 size)...........

..........botanical illustration.........

I did keep some of these, "for now".

Trial run - chips and dip

Trying out a recipe for hummus made with butternut squash and harissa.
Butternut & harissa houmous
The photo that comes with the recipe shows some flatbread for dipping, and there's a recipe for that as well, but it includes yeast and seems to be quite time-consuming. Gone are the days when I'd effortlessly whip something like that up - or need to.

Instead of chaining myself to the stove I bought some seeded tortilla wraps and turned them into tortilla chips - very quick - but you DO have to keep an eye on them or they can overbake very quickly -
Cut into triangles and brush with oil, transfer to
heated baking tray andbake for a few minutes
As for getting hold of ingredients - the largish supermarket across the street had harissa, but not tahini ("what's that?") - whereas the smallish "organic" shop up the road had EIGHT kinds of tahini -
So lucky to have great local shops (and cafes)! And a farmers market every week! It was not always thus........

15 March 2018

Poetry Thursday - Tiger Girl (Surprised!) by Pascale Petit

What joy to find, when flipping through an art magazine - RA spring 2018 issue - a poem inspired by, or related to, or springing from, a painting.* Instead of encountering history or conjecture or art-speak, we have something real to read - "news that stays news", was it TS Eliot who said that?

And look how composedly it sits on the page.

Tiger Girl (Surprised!)

When lightning flickers over my cot
and the air tingles

with the electric charge 
of the great cat's fur -

     I cross into the night
     where my jungle tent is pitched. 

wondering what is this angel
crouched above me,

     her coat of icicles,
     her eyes like meteors
     shooting into my face.

My hand is a brave monkey
reaching up to touch her fangs -

     while all the hairs of my body
     rise like wind in a storm

     as she brands me with her stripes.

Pascale Petit (b.1953) grew up in France and Wales. She trained as a sculptor at the Royal College of Art and was a visual artist for the first part of her life. She lives in London, where she tutors poetry in the galleries of Tate Modern and at the Poetry School, which she co-founded.

*If you closely at the top right of the page, you'll see the word FICTION - and on the previous page is a short story by William Boyd. But I'm not sure that poetry is "fiction" (nor is it "fact") - yes, like fiction (and all art) it's a work of the imagination, but why not just call it "poetry" - is that a scary word?

14 March 2018

Lisa Milroy at Parasol Unit

Known years ago for her paintings of shoes*, Lisa Milroy is showing paintings of garments ("Here and There" at Parasol Unit till 18 March).
First glimpse - real shoes and painted backgrounds, taken from
the patterning of the shoes, are on the floor

Composites - does the 2D clothing on the wall take you back to playing with paper dolls?

3D painting - the painting is on the fabric, sculpted as a garment
3D, as the "garment" starts to peel away from the canvas

2D painting - deconstructed garment

Viewers are invited to rearrange the garments on the wall ...

... so I did ...

Half "natural" garment, half painted ... which is the more "real"?

Don't know what to make of this ... the title was something like "nine garments for one person"

Simple and resonant! this goes beyond words to our feelings about our clothes
Somehow I missed seeing the first floor gallery:

"On the first floor gallery, the exhibition focuses on ‘There’ and presents a selection of monochromatic paintings that explore presence and absence, loss, time and memory – all themes recurrent in Milroy’s practice. Included is the monumental twenty-metre wide painting Black and White, 2004–2005, based on the artist’s studio, and Shoes, 1985the only work from the 1980s in the exhibition, on loan from Tate and a touchstone painting for Milroy."

* "Shoes have been a recurrent motif in my practice since I began exploring ‘still life’ in the 1980s. Shoes, 2012 presents a single shoe repeated in rows against a grey background. This shoe is defined by two independent yet connected surfaces: the hard black shiny exterior and the soft blue-grey interior. The bright interior spaces of the shoe carve out hollows within the dark surface of the painting, turning the empty shoes into vessels full of light. This imagery keys the emotional dynamic of presence and absence and the physical dynamic of inside and outside, which reverberates throughout all my paintings in the exhibition, and chimes with aspects of Jayne [Parker]’s work. A number of my paintings feature a female personage suspended in a reciprocation between body and mind, while other works focus on the passing of time - both predominant themes in my practice.
Lisa Milroy" (via; the joint exhibition is at A.P.T. Gallery, Deptford, till 18 March)

13 March 2018

Drawing Tuesday - Natural History Museum

From the gallery of the Mammals room in the Blue Zone of the Natural History Museum, you can clearly see the dust on the Right Whale skeleton.  I drew the front view twice: with grainy coloured pencil, and chunky graphite stick - both watersoluble, but I didn't try out the waterbrush ...
On to the side view - I was curious about those floating bones -
The heart-shaped bone is the breastbone (sternum), but the others? One day I'll find out ... it's fascinating that whales developed from a land mammal, some 50 million years ago, and still have vestigial leg bones. 

The "nose" - an extension of the skull - is called the rostrum, and the baleen plates go into the cavity above the lower jaw.
HB pencil; coffee wash added later
Apologies for the strange lighting effects on some of the next pix - cafe tables with dim light or spotlights are not ideal for photography.

Janet K captured birds -
 Carol zoomed in on architectural details -
 Judith found lovely feathers on the Victoria Crowned Pigeon -
 Joyce was among the colourful minerals -
 Janet B found an unlikely pairing in the Mammals room -
 Mags was looking for pleiosaurs -

 Extracurricularly ... Janet B had been drawing in a faraway museum last week -
 ... this led to "homework" - draw "a creature" - from life or from a museum or from a photograph.

Mags had been up north on a retreat, developing surreal collage and mark-making in piano-hinge books, among other activities ...