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What’s That When It’s At Home?

24 Nov

I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for decades, just getting on with it, doing my art, mostly sketchbooks from reality, life drawing and printmaking, while working with marginalised people – the homeless and the drug and alcohol dependent. As far as I was concerned, these were not two different things, but are inter-dependent. When people asked what I did, it took ages to explain. Now, apparently, I’m a socially engaged artist. So there we are.

Afghan refugee children

It isn’t just about how I integrate living as an artist with working with people at the edge of society – it also informs the artwork I do. For example, I made this monotype (above) from my first visit to Pakistan over a decade ago now. It was a relatively peaceful period and we were visiting the Khyber Pass and I was inspired by Afghan refugees travelling back to their homes.

walking to greenham

In my sketchbooks, I draw from real life, both the ordinary that’s around me every day and the special events like demonstrations and meetings. Here’s a drawing I did on the march to commemorate Greenham Common back last year.

Here Be Dragons small

Sometimes my work is directly political, like “Here Be Dragons” that was commissioned last year by Sky Arts TV channel.

Flag final

And the flag of Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd designed for the AUOB Cymru marches.

b

Recently, I’ve become an artist-in-residence and researcher in the FIRE Laboratory in Swansea University’s Department of Bioscience, working at the interface between art and environmental science.

Or I just draw people getting on with their lives on the streets of Swansea….

 

So when people ask what I do, now I say “I’m a socially engaged artist” and they go “So what’s that when it’s at home then?”

 

And it takes ages to explain …..

Take A Hike

23 Nov

There’s so much going on in Swansea this weekend and I’m going to give it all a plug because there’s a lot of people living in Swansea who are professional complainers and bang on about nothing happening, which isn’t true, so why not get into town tomorrow (Sunday) and take a hike around the city calling in on the fabulous things happening, all of them free.

SPW 1

Art and artists’ cards at Swansea Print Workshop

First off, start with the hidden gem that is Swansea Print Workshop which is having Open Days from 10.30 – 4.00 each day until Wednesday November 27th, with original art, artists’ cards, and amazing antique and modern machines dating from Queen Victoria’s era.

Open Days November 2019[10897]

Then stroll down West Way onto the seafront (about 2 minutes walk) to the National Waterfront Museum which is hosting the Green Fayre – I went today and bought some fab vintage tools and a really nice vintage glass brooch from Tools For Self Reliance Cymru who lovingly refurbish old tools.

tools

Jeweller’s pliers, a burnisher, a scraper (for mezzotint) and a glass brooch all for £7.50

Then round the corner to Swansea Museum , a proper old Cabinet of Curiosities sort of place which is now displaying drawings and screenprints from Swansea Print Workshop with its collection of antique taxidermy.

screens

 

And then if you want more, round the other corner is the Mission Gallery that has just launched its Winter Garden show and if you’re hungry for more – try out the Glynn Vivian art gallery that’s showing the official Swansea City 50 years exhibition and has a fab cafe too. Oh and they’re taking entries for the Swansea Open as well.

PHEW!!!!! If you’ve got a car you can also catch the last day of Deanne Mangold’s Open Studio at Class Glass in Llansamlet.

There, that should fill up anyone’s Sunday ……

We’re Not Proud

9 Nov

From November 9th at Cinema & Co, Swansea, the new BogArt exhibition by me and Patti McJones.

caco 1

Art is mostly exhibited in galleries and museums that can be quite intimidating to many people, so Patti and I took up an offer by Anna, the owner of Cinema & Co, to use her substantial toilets to exhibit some of our work. We call it BogArt – art in the bogs – and it’s very democratic because people don’t have to go to a gallery but everyone has to go to the toilet. We’re not too proud to show our work here.

The work will be up for a few months but please look at Cinema and Co’s website for opening times. And here’s a short film of us talking about it …

 

 

 

 

City Centre Thug

7 Nov

city centre thug

 

This image has had quite a lengthy journey. I did the original drawing (below) of a seagull, or city centre thug around these parts, at Swansea Museum weeks ago, working with Edinburgh-based printmaker Kelly Stewart, sketching antique taxidermy birds and bugs from the Museum collections.

 

 

Then I created a transparency to transfer the drawing onto a photosensitised screen. When it was exposed, developed and dried I tried out a load of trial prints onto cheap newsprint paper, using Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint, black with a hint of purple, and some printmaking medium.

And finally I printed an edition of 6 onto Fabriano Rosapina paper (285gsm) with one Artist Proof and one leftover, which is a reject. Fabriano paper comes from the Italian town of Fabriano which has been a centre for papermaking for nearly eight hundred years.

 

Shellac And Meths

6 Nov

cinema and co 2

 

So the new woodblock I’m working on has been cut and is now out in the shed drying after a coat of shellac and methylated spirits in a 50:50 ratio. It needs two more coats to seal it properly so I hope to be able to take a first proof from it sometime on Friday.

Pronto

5 Nov

cinema and co 1

I’m in printmaking mode at the moment, with a woodcut and a silkscreen in development. This woodcut will hopefully be ready for an event at Swansea’s Cinema & Co this Saturday, November 9th. It’s a free event with a screening of the marvellous film “Set Fire To The Stars“, poetry, music and new art throughout the building……

I’d better finish carving this block pronto ………

Heads On Show

4 Nov

Pakistan suite small

I did this suite of portrait heads based on drawings from my first visit to Pakistan a few years back. I used polyurethane foamboard, the sort used by signwriters, instead of lino or wood. The block below is the one on the left in the middle row above, inked up and printed.

flotex head

They’ve never been exhibited as a group before but they will be very soon, in Swansea’s Cinema & Co from this coming Saturday, November 9th.

Who Ate All The Pies?

31 Oct

scourge the seagull

Who Ate All The Pies?

I spent the afternoon down at Swansea Print Workshop, working alongside other artists, heads down, printmaking. I worked with two others, preparing silkscreens with Azicol photosensitive solution. I’m going to make a photoscreen from a drawing I did recently, of a seagull during a drawing day at Swansea Museum.

 

screen gull

 

I drew a stuffed seagull from their collection of antique taxidermy. There are loads of seagulls around here. They steal people’s food from their hands. They’re getting bigger. And more intelligent. One day they will take over the world!

Chine Collé

24 Oct

chine 1

 

I spent the afternoon down at Swansea Print Workshop preparing some chine collé to use with a vinyl block I made some months ago. I’ve tried printing it in several ways and I want to keep on experimenting with it. The image is based on a drawing of a stream bed I did on a field trip up towards the source of the River Tawe in the Brecon Beacons with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab . First, I cut some Hosho paper to size from a roll I bought from Intaglio Printmakers in London.

 

chine 2

Then I cut the chine collé from monotypes I made using Gelli plates a couple of weeks ago, creating abstract imagery using rubbish – used bubble wrap, fruit nets and old newspapers.

 

I’ll print the block over the weekend…….

 

 

B.I.G. And Baked

11 Oct

d BIG

After I filed and degreased my new copper etching plates, I cleaned and prepared a section of the inking up area of Swansea Print Workshop to apply Andrew Baldwin‘s B.I.G. hard ground to the surface of my plates.

c BIG

It’s built up in thin layers until there’s a fine, even amount of ground on the plate. Then it goes into the oven to be baked so it can be used to develop images onto the plate that will eventually be etched. So I baked it ……..

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