Monday, 14 April 2014

From the Studio - Artist in Residence at New Art Gallery Walsall

Here are a few photos from the studio this month. I am Artist in Residence at New Art Gallery Walsall (4 Feb - 20 July 2014). I've been getting the walls and floor covered in a mega drawing ready for my Studio Event on Sat 26th April, 2-3pm. Click here for details and how to book. Come along for a cup of tea, explore the studio, hear about my work and forthcoming exhibition at the gallery, and a chance to have a draw and play with materials. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Dr Martens Wall Drawing Commission - the film

Here's a little stop motion film made by Annik Media for a commission I did for Dr Marten's in March 2014.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Dr Martens Wall Drawing Commission

I spent a few days at the Dr Marten's last week doing a commission for their headquarters. We have a wonderful film of the whole process in the making (thanks in advance Annik Media) but in the meantime here's some snaps from behind the scenes (including the heritage centre and an incredible factory where I got to see the whole process from cow hide to Dr Martens boot! And got myself a gorgeous complimentary pair of midnight blue 1460s... Big shoe fan = very pleased!). Proper photos and a film to follow soon...

Monday, 24 February 2014

The New Art Gallery Walsall Residency

The larger than life female characters that underpin many of the stories represented in the Gallery's archive are the focus for this extended residency in the Artists' Studio, culminating in a large scale work for The New Art Gallery Collection and a Long Gallery display to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the opening of the Garman Ryan Collection (9 July). 

The incredible archive and art library at the Gallery have been the focus for the first part of my residency. This research period will allow me to interact with the rich archive of stories of the women behind the Garman Ryan Collection (Kathleen Garman and Sally Ryan). I've started by reading biographies and histories of the people and the collections. If anything stands out to me, I can then search the archive catalogue to see if anything is available to look at. For example, I read that Theodore Garman annotated many of his books with strange notes about his personal life, and some of these books are in the archive. Also, some of the original letters between Sally and Kathleen are archived, which can help explain how the Garman Ryan collection was formed.

There's more about the residency here and also details of a studio event on 26th April. 

Below are some photos from the studio documenting my first few weeks. 

This life size drawing recreates the moment that Jacob Epstein's wife, Margaret Epstein, shot Kathleen Garman (of the Garman Ryan collection). Kathleen and Jacob Epstein had an affair for many years. They had three children together, and finally married in 1955.

A wall of 'family portraits':

Starting points for reading:

Some new work in progress:

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Updates and Exhibitions

I haven't been blogging recently due to lots of deadlines heading into the New Year, so I'll cover a few bits in this whirlwind update.

I'm really looking forward to being Artist in Residence at The New Art Gallery Walsall from 4th February - 20th July. You can find out more about it here, and I'll be blogging throughout the residency. The extended residency in the Artists' Studio will culminate in a large scale work for The New Art Gallery Collection and a Long Gallery display to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the opening of the Garman Ryan Collection (9 July).

Battle of the Unicorns (After Delacroix), 2013, is in the NN Contemporary Open Exhibition until 26th January. More about the show here.

In April 2014 an exhibition at MAC will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. The Centre's emphasis on the analysis of mass media and pop culture has shown many echoes in my work, and been a fascinating starting point for two new commissions for the show. I've spent loads of time working in their incredible archive over the past month. Find out more about the project here.

I've been working on a new commission following a residency at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Made from the identical viewpoint as Samuel Lines' View from the Dome of St Philips Church (1821), this landscape includes references to a very contemporary world of 2013. I climbed to the dome of the Birmingham Cathedral to retrace Lines' footsteps nearly 200 years ago. Historical landscape tradition sits alongside a modern scene, investigating the relationship between fantasy and reality in everyday life. The work will be presented towards the end of January.

Finally there are still a few copies of the first edition of The Mermaid and the Lion left, available here!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Week 4 at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

I have spent the last month researching the collections during my residency here. I have now finished at BMAG and moved back into my studio. I’ll be channelling these ideas into a new commission for BMAG for January. The residency has encouraged a new direction for my work, where my public facing studio encouraged conversations and interactions with staff and the public. These daily conversations have fed into my artistic process and encouraged me to rethink my relationship with ‘the gallery’, and the editing process that I go through while making work. It has also given me an insight into the direct art historical context of the materials I use, and how drawing and works on paper have been used.

The studio itself has been a significant influence on how I’ve been working.

 The view looks out onto Victoria Square and Town Hall.

 The space has been used for both workshops with the public and my daily studio practice.

These sketches are the beginning of the exploration into my new work, which evoke familiar motifs of journeys, place, and landscape.

 During my time here, I have looked at a huge range of landscapes and topographical views in the collection.  I also spent some time with photographer David Rowan, who showed me the work he had done documenting the view from the roof of the building, and also how the roof and dome at BMAG have gradually been restored. This has pushed me to think more about the importance of viewpoints within a changing city.

I keep coming back to this painting within the collection, titled ‘Birmingham from the Dome of St. Philips Church’, painted by Samuel Lines in 1821 (the church is now a cathedral). 

It was made from the dome, which is inaccessible to the public now. The dome was then the highest point in the town, and still seems very high – it is said to be the same level as the cross on St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It is a fascinating perspective on the city and I was captivated by the idea of recreating this view today.

This week I met with Catherine Ogle (Dean of Birmingham) and Rob Hands (Head Verger at St Philip’s). Rob and I climbed the precarious tower to the top of the dome, then compared the views. Thanks to a compass and a selection of historical maps, I worked out the angle from which Samuel Lines created his painting. The original painting was made pointing southwest – I overlaid old and new maps with arrows to give a rough idea of the angle:

I will be spending the coming weeks exploring the idea of this view, or ‘prospect’, and its historical and cultural significance. The BMAG team will be documenting my new commission and its development. For now, here is a view of the clock from inside the tower and the gravestone of Samuel Lines himself, in the graveyard of the Cathedral.

I’d also like to add a huge thank you to all the staff at BMAG who have been generous with their time and resources to help me develop this residency and commission.