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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 …..

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 …

 

 

 

 

A Gig On #Caturday

24 Aug

omnichron 3

 

Husb and I just got back from a gig at Cinema & Co with the fabulous psychedelic band Omnichron. Of course, I had to have a scribble.

 

 

Here’s a lovely song for #Caturday  by Omnichron – it’s about a cat called Marmalade…

 

 

 

Heavy Metal

15 Aug

metal

I spent a happy afternoon at Swansea Print Workshop, starting to prepare for a new series of printmaking for my artist residency at The FIRE Lab. I’m planning a mixed bag of techniques based on my drawings en plein air of Victorian culverts. I rummaged around in the drawers of my plans chest to find some metal plates and came up with three copper (one partially used) and an aluminium. So my next stage is to prepare them for use. I’ll use Andrew Baldwin’s Sandpaper Aquatint technique for the copper and then a coffee resist combined with spit-bite for the aluminium.

Here’s a short video of Andrew demonstrating how to do Spit Bite.

And here’s one about the Sandpaper Aquatint

So Excited!

25 Mar

I’m getting excited now. The Sky Arts TV project I started working on what seems like aeons ago …. about 9 months …. is finally being aired tomorrow, Tuesday March 26th, along with the other visual arts projects from 9pm.

 

I was commissioned to create a new flag for Britain – that’s opening up a can of wurms as I’m Welsh and we Welsh have never been represented on the Union flag. The film shows my creative process, how I researched and developed what eventually turned out to be a massive woodcut print. It’s called “Here Be Dragons” which not only reflects the dragon on the Welsh flag, but it’s also an ancient phrase that used to be written onto maps to mark “dangerous and unknown territory” which is where I feel we are in the UK now.

 

Here Be Dragons small

 

“Here Be Dragons” also works as a spoken word piece, read aloud and the colour is a combination of chine collé and specific inking. If you subscribe to Sky TV or NOW TV, please drop by tomorrow at 9 and have a look at it.

 

It’s All About The Technical Details!

6 Mar

Dragon eye 2

March 16th and 17th at Swansea Print Workshop I’m running a course in woodcut printmaking using MDF.

“Q. Can you use MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) for woodcut prints?

A. Yes you can – as long as you get the technical details right.

Q. And how do I make sure that I get a nice quality print?

A. Again, it’s about getting the technical details right.

Q. And can I make these prints at home, without needing a specialist press?

A. Oh yes. But only if you get the technical details right.”

This short course covers:  safety, cutting, tools and tool maintenance, sealants, choosing the right papers and inks, printing with chine collé, printing by hand and press. At the end of two days you’ll have at least two original prints, one monochrome and one with colour, and enough know-how to get stuck into making your own original woodcut prints with MDF.

And you’ll get a chance to use this fabulous Victorian Columbian Press …

 

Please follow the link here if you’d like to book a place or find out about other courses coming up ….

Geeking Out

26 Dec

I love watching printmaker David Bull on YouTube. This is what is do for fun! Geeking out watching how other printmakers work. I find it so relaxing. It’s a lovely video.

 

 

 

 

In At The Start

23 Dec

sketch 1a

So I’m thinking of doing some more large woodcuts in the new year, inspired by my drawings of the Mari Lwyd and Neolithic stone monuments in South Wales. I’ve done a lot of work on both of these so there’s plenty to inform anything I do. I begin by making little thumbnail sketches, lots of them, trying out different compositions. To me, that’s a primary function of a sketchbook, trying out ideas and establishing a starting point.

sketch 1 small

Well, I’ve started, but there’s a long, long way to go… If you want to find out more about the Mari Lwyd tradition in Wales please click here. And here’s a short film about my en plein air drawings on Neolithic and Bronze Age sites across South Wales.

 

 

 

 

Foxing!

22 Oct

watercolours

I’ve been developing ideas for my commission from Sky Arts Art 50, working out my thoughts using my home-made walnut ink and Winsor & Newton watercolours onto Waterford watercolour paper. It’s a heavy, deckle-edged paper that withstands the very wet medium without needing to be soaked and stretched. I wouldn’t normally use such high quality paper for working though ideas, but this is vintage paper that I was given, that hadn’t seen the light of day for about a decade and it has signs of foxing .

Talking of foxing reminded me of one of my favourite film scenes, Garth from Wayne’s World dancing to Jimi Hendrix’ Foxy Lady. Here it is for those who can see YouTube 😀

 

design 3

 

Spit And Splatter

15 Sep

mad mari 1

Carrying on with the coffee lift plate I worked on at Trefeglwys Print Studio last weekend, after washing the coffee off the plate, leaving the black B.I.G. etching ground masking most of the aluminium, I dipped it in copper sulphate solution for quite some time to etch the exposed areas really deep so they’ll give a good strong black when printed. Then when I was happy with the amount etched, the B.I.G. ground was cleaned off with non-toxic paint stripper.

 

mad mari 2

Then I started to etch the rest of the plate using a spit bite technique, brushing and splashing and splattering copper sulphate solution onto the aluminium. You have to keep rinsing the plate because the copper sulphate leaves a dark ‘rust’ on the plate as it etches and this will eventually build up and stop the etching process. You can see it above – the darker areas to the left of the Mari Lwyd’s face. After the very precise and tight process of the mezzotint plate I also did at the workshop, I wanted to be much freer and looser with this one.

Tomorrow …. finishing the spit bite etch and printing the plate …..

And here’s one of Andrew Baldwin’s videos demonstrating coffee lift and spit bite

 

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