“Mummy, can I hold ‘The Project’?”

Today began with a reflection about ‘place’, something which is important to my work as I will leave it at a location every Friday to be ‘found’. Why I choose the places that I choose does hold significance, sometimes quite meaningful (a place full of memories) or sometimes purely visual (a forgotten place, somewhere that looks weathered). But the photo is as significant as what is being placed. 

But what has been ‘placed’ before now has not involved the circle; images of magpies/ silhouetted stags/ butterflies and other things seen as I potter about across Cannock Chase, but not a circle. That’s been separate until now. 

So, back to noticing how symbols including the circle are used to mark the ground we walk on and a flippant joke made about ‘circlebombing’ in the  Birmingham workshop. The circle encompasses something to make it a focal point- so what if there were an actual circle to capture interest in something before unnoticed? The colour in a rusty sign, the texture of peeling paint, the form of weathered paper?   Today began with these thoughts. And as my daughter and I walked along the beach, the two markers in my pocket became tools for us to ‘mark’ what we found visually appealing.    

As the two of us explained what we had been doing (my daughter with a suddenly extended visual literacy I noticed) I came across a plastic circle in the sand…..synchronicity! So the marks we made next became bigger and in places more noticeable. 

The discarded plastic circle took on a meaning of it’s own- my other daughter asking in an important voice 

“Mummy, can I hold ‘The Project’?”

The next stage of ‘The Project’ will intertwine with our family life I think rather than occupy a separate space in my life. Thoughts are already forming…

Artfag 2 

So now is the time for the first stage of the ATS to settle and for ideas to be streamlined. Having made my resolution to create the time and space to allow myself to pursue my own creative dialogue, a piece if advice given to me by a practising artist friend comes to mind: 

“It’s time to cast your stone and follow where it rolls.”

So no more doing ten projects at the same time, time to put a hold on collaborative ventures and focus on one thing; this. 

I have set out my aims for the week ahead and in the meantime am not at home to do any of those things. So instead I have been using the tools I have with me to start to collect and play with images related to the circle theme and it’s continuation. This has been my creative space over the last two days-    

 Gathering images of concrete textures and other surfaces worn by time and location; making circles in the shifting sand of the beach with my family; noticing random markings on pavements; looking at how concrete as a material can be combined with other media-all of these things are in the melting pot. 
It has also been reassuring to continue dialogue with the others in the group- we seem to all be plugged in to the collective consciousness as the parallels in our visual quests are becoming evident. This is going to get good!! 


Artist Teacher Scheme Day Four

Today dialogue was important; about confirming what had ‘seeped’ in over the last few days. It felt significant to highlight our journey by being back in the room we painted with Lucy. We exchanged envelopes to draw on, we talked with each other about ideas moving forward, we considered our working space. 

For me conversation over a cigarette cemented my thoughts on ‘what next’ (thanks to Chris for listening, again). So I have made a few resolutions to make the time and space for what comes next.  


Artist Teacher Scheme Day Three

Today was a challenge. Not the practical activities but the place it has taken me. Working together in the morning we added to the drawing structures from yesterday; the outcome became a cohesive and three dimensional series of marks and spaces, a playful experience and one approached with camaraderie.    

The process of making marks in space in this way allowed a dialogue and dissection of the internal processes in all of us. An observation that came up was about how removed from our original ‘intentions’ to develop personal work some of this process had become. 

The second outcome of the day involved physical mark making and interaction with a large roll of paper and sound bites. We soon began a collaborative visual journey using coffee and tea as our principal media with folding and ripping to distort the paper. As this process unfolded, interaction with the paper surface became more tactile and about touch as well as visual composition.    

I found this process totally immersive and it felt totally natural to share the process with Melanie and Chris. For me the folding became reminiscent of pattern cutting and textile construction – how the marks became fragmented through this process was visually pleasing (cue purr moment!) It also had the qualities of Japanese calligraphy which I love. 

The sticking point came for me when we had to write; this sent me into a real ‘out of comfort zone’ moment. I think maybe because I found myself so immersed in the work I didn’t want to start using my left brain, not sure.    

 In adding words to the drawing I wanted to convey pairs of important points- in a way I feel now like what I wrote doesn’t matter but the massive thing that has struck me today is how vulnerable I now feel. Where I flippantly thought on day one that this was about deciding upon ‘what’ I should be drawing/making etc I have discovered it goes way deeper than that. Eek. ‘Deeper down the rabbit hole, never to be found again..’ as the song currently playing goes….. 

So let’s see what tomorrow brings! 

Artist Teacher Scheme Day Two 

Another inspiring building for our second day together, with a chance to look around the excellent space and printmaking facilities. After a train journey noticing concrete in it’s various forms and states of weathering it felt exciting to be walking up the steps of Margaret Street sixteen years after being there to train as a teacher. 

Today a different empty space greeted us and we all reflected how we felt the same sense of excitement and nerves being faced with something new. Sarah Goudie spoke eloquently about her inspiration and the deconstruction of her drawing process. We were guided to continue the visual dialogue we had started yesterday so for me the composition of the circle became a marker for spaces that I wanted to link. My ‘drawing in space’ became a physical representation of my interaction with the hole-marked wall and then extended to involve others present. The ‘red thread’ found a place which could mark the energy lines not visible to the eye. 

As the afternoon progressed it was fascinating to ‘read’ the lines that everyone had drawn and my usual curiosity surfaced as to what would happen if we swapped ownership? A few circles happened to ‘leak out’ and join others work! 

The closing stage of the workshop led me to think about how you could record the lines made by the work if they were removed. Photographing the shapes in the structure helped me to isolate key areas of line and form to focus on: 

 Tonight’s homework is to respond to the workshop; I have produced a set of drawings to incorporate tomorrow. To be continued……


Artist Teacher Scheme 2015 Day 1 

Today I met three other artists who are going to play an important role in shaping where my work goes next; we are all participants in the ATS scheme which will culminate in an exhibition at NAGW in July 2016. We will be guided/ challenged/ mentored along the way by other inspirational people. Today it was the turn of course leader Elena Thomas, NAGW gallery director Zoe Renilson and artist Lucy McLauchlan.    

Reflections on sharing our initial ideas and preoccupations included just how personal and essential to us as creative people this process is. Will our preconceived and visualised images be realised or will the dynamics of working together allow something as yet unimagined to bear fruit?

‘Connections’ remain an important theme for me and the following quote about ‘the invisible red string’ intrigues me. Mapping, marking place, impermanence and soul connections are at the forefront of my mind.

Having done a backstage tour of NAGW the surface qualities of the concrete walls struck a chord with me; the marks made by casting were tactile.  

My thoughts turn to the concrete/textile surfaces co-engineered by Trish Belford with Tactility Factory. Casting here I come?