Tag Archives: cyanotype

Man Engine

12 Apr

manengine

Back last week I was rummaging through the drawers in my plans chest and pulled out some used paper that I thought could be reused and today I got my chance. Swansea hosted Man Engine , the largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, which has been journeying up from Cornwall. It’s amazing. I was invited to take part in a live drawing event (with afternoon tea) at Galerie Simpson on Swansea’s High Street to coincide with the behemoth’s progress through the city. It’s very slow moving so I managed to sketch the giant head outside the gallery on the pavement as it rumbled by. I drew with black, white and sanguine conté crayon and some of my home-made sepia walnut ink onto a recycled cyanotype print on Bockingford paper. If you want to know how to make walnut ink, please check out my blog post here.

Recycle, Reuse

1 Apr

cyanotype

I have some very big drawers for storing art and materials and I was rummaging through them earlier and found a load of papers that had been shoved to the back because I wasn’t happy with the work I’d done on them. So I pulled them out to have a think about how I can reuse them. This was a cyanotype experiment that hadn’t worked out and I already tried to recycle it by doing a life drawing on top, but I didn’t like that either. So now I’m going to try again – third time lucky? I don’t know what I’ll do yet, maybe I’ll have a digital play with it before deciding. It’s looming out at me quite darkly ………..

A Bit Stiff

20 Mar

Carreg Llafar

Husb and I paid a rare visit to a pub yesterday evening to see a live band, Carreg Llafar,  who play contemporary folk in the Welsh language. Being a rock chick, I’m not a big fan of folk music but I make an exception for Carreg Llafar who bring authenticity and atmosphere to traditional music. And it’s also a rare chance to hear a pibgorn, an archaic horn pipe. And to hear singing in Welsh.

cover

I drew onto a sheet of recycled cyanotype in my leather steampunk sketchbook. I used up all the paper a few months ago so I replaced it with leftover pieces from print and drawing projects. I used two Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, size F and B and also a white Derwent pencil to scribble highlights onto the deeper blue. I find it very hard to sketch musicians because they move about, their instruments are unfamiliar to me, they hold their hands at odd angles. Factor in that there’s a stage full of them and they have to be drawn in proportion to each other and that’s a very difficult piece of drawing to do. It took a lot of effort but even so, or maybe because of it, the end result is quite stiff. Never mind, it’s good practice.

Check out Carreg Llafar’s lovely music on YouTube below.

Breaking Out Of The Frame @ The Workers Gallery

15 Mar

See my print installations and more artwork by me and the gallery artists throughout March and April at The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in The Rhondda Valley. It’s a great place to visit.

I’ve been a printmaker for a long while, I majored in Printmaking in Art College back at the end of the 1970s and my lecturer, Andy Charlton a fantastic artist, was proper old school. Nothing wrong with that, but in recent years I’ve become disillusioned with the conventional way of exhibiting prints, in a frame on a pristine wall in a gleaming white gallery.

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I’ve always preferred art to be inclusive, rather than exclusive and so many galleries actively promote exclusivity, which puts a lot of people off even entering. And when someone does step over the doorstep, it’s very easy to walk by the rows of neatly framed artwork arranged on the pristine walls without stopping for a closer look or understanding the processes that have gone into the piece.

window 2

I’ve been trying to break out of the frame and display my printmaking in a way that develops a more interactive relationship with the viewer and also to move it into a viewing place that is more accessible than a conventional gallery. I’ve been experimenting with assembling multiple prints, starting with a work based on the cyanotype technique, a pattern for a Victorian corset and a series of sketchbook drawings of elder women.

I have exhibited them in sequence, hanging on a wall, and I also took it all apart and tied it to a clothes horse as you can see above.  I really liked the clothes airer scenario so I decided to do another.

frida paper

A while back, I had a small rubber stamp  made up from a silkscreen print I did based on the fabulous Frida Kahlo, an artist I admire very much. I printed it onto small leftover pieces of a beautiful Japanese Shiohara paper that I had been using for another print job .

I had been wondering what to do with them and I finally decided on making them up into a self-contained installation. I made a start by sewing them onto a very robust handmade paper – 300gsm – that I’d bought at the Tate Gallery a few years ago on an antique Singer sewing machine.

And then I assembled them onto a clothes airer. People seem more willing to walk around something three-dimensional and they look at the work far more than when it’s in frames on a wall.

hung

So far these works have been exhibited in an arts café, a conventional gallery, a pop-up artspace in a socially deprived area, and a shop window and will soon be going to The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley, a much-loved community-oriented artspace in what was, until the austerity cutbacks, the local library. The challenge now is to continue to break out of the frame and to find even more socially relevant places and ways to show my work.

World of Work Workers Gallery Poster

Met A Monkeh

9 Jan

Went to a wedding, met a monkeh! Seemed like a nice chap.

monkeh

On the arts front, I have finally finished the print installations that I’ll be taking to the Penarth Pavilion Gallery for a new show that opens next week, with work from Swansea and Cardiff Print Workshops.

hung

These small stamped images of Frida Kahlo were developed from a screenprint I did last summer. I did a series on nine women artists who inspire me and I made the rubber stamp of Frida as an experiment and I really like the result so I’m hoping to do the rest of the artists in the series. I printed these on Shiohara paper and stitched them to a heavyweight Tate Gallery Indian paper and sewed ribbon onto them so I can tie them to the wooden clothes horse.

constrained

These cyanotypes from drawings I made of elderly women are printed onto pieces of Bockingford paper cut to a Victorian corset pattern and I’ve used eyelets and ribbon to tie them to the wooden clothes horse. I’ve been working on these for ages and it’s been lovely to get away today for a family wedding, my wonderful nephew and his beautiful wife. Top wedding and great food at the Oxwich Bay hotel on the Gower Peninsula. Spectacular scenery despite the torrential rain.

Deconstruct Reconstruct

19 Dec

deconstruct

A little while ago I made a group of cyanotype prints from some original sketchbook portraits of older women. Each was printed onto a piece of heavyweight Bockingford paper cut from a pattern for a Victorian corset. I assembled them originally in the sequence that would assemble the corset, tying each together with purple ribbon and hanging the sequence from the wall. I am submitting these for an exhibition in the New Year and the gallery wants to exhibit prints ‘off the wall’ so I have had to rethink how I put this together. I took it all apart and tied it to a clothes horse. The clothes dryer represents a traditional female role, the corset would have been dried or aired on something similar. The way I tied the pieces was significant. I tried tying the ribbon with bows but it seemed too soft so I tied it with tight knots which seemed more in keeping with my title of the piece, ‘Constrained’.

I’m continuing to develop this piece at The SPace, at 217, High Street, Swansea. It’s open next week, Monday to Wednesday 11.30 – 5.00 and Thursday, 11.30 – 4pm if you want to pop in and see it.

The Blue Stones

21 Oct

pentre ifan

I’ve been thinking about how to develop the drawings I did last weekend in North Pembrokeshire. I have seven drawings from four different Neolithic sites and I thought that one or two of them might look good as cyanotypes.

Cyanotype is an archaic form of photography invented in early Victorian times by Sir John Herschel which results in a blue image. The original charcoal and carbon drawing onto marbled paper was done in the field at the enigmatic ancient burial tomb of Pentre Ifan in the Presceli Mountains in Pembrokeshire, Wales. This striking Neolithic dolmen is almost 6 thousand years old. It is a lasting reminder of Celtic ancestors and the site is inspirational. I worked quickly in the late afternoon Autumn sunshine to catch it before the sun went down.

I turned the original drawing into a negative and coated a sheet of Bockingford paper with the cyanotype chemicals. I put the negative onto the paper and put a sheet of glass over it. I exposed it for three hours in the weak Autumn daylight, as the Victorians would have done. It was then washed in cold water to develop it.

Here’s a lovely video from Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, showing how Pentre Ifan might have looked when it was originally built.

 

This artwork is for sale through Artfinder

 

 

The Last Of The Stones

20 Oct

marbled drawing

Here are the last couple of drawings from my weekend sketching ancient burial chambers in North Pembrokeshire. This one at Pentre Ifan is drawn in charcoal, carbon and white conte crayon onto Fabriano Accademica that I had marbled with black oil paint mixed with turpentine.

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stones 2

The Pentre Ifan dolmen, Nevern, Pembrokeshire

 

Pentre Ifan

Pentre Ifan

Here’s the dolmen drawn over a previous drawing of Maltese catacombs in home-made walnut ink. What next? Well, I’m doing some experiments with cyanotype. Hopefully, if they’re successful, I’ll blog them tomorrow.

Constrained, A Victorian Tapestri

22 Sep

constrained

I’ve finally finished the piece I’ve been working on for the exhibition ‘A Victorian Tapestri’  at the end of this week. It’s constructed of the 12 pieces that make up a Victorian corset, cut from a heavyweight Somerset paper. I coated each with cyanotype chemicals and printed them with some of my sketchbook drawings. I’ve called it ‘Constrained’ because it reflects the physical and social constraints endured by Victorian women. The cyanotype process was invented in Victorian times by Sir John Herschel, one of the earliest of photographic processes. I’ve tied the pieces together with mauve ribbon. The aniline dye Mauve was invented by the Victorian chemist William Perkin in 1856.

I decided on a corset when I saw the brief for the show, “all kinds of archaeological, historical, metaphorical, and allegorical excavations of Swansea’s Victorian heritage.” I have vivid memories of my Mam taking me to a corsetry shop called Madam Foner’s in Swansea’s High Street to be fitted for brassieres when I was in my early teens. She believed in ‘proper’ underwear and wouldn’t let me have those flimsy, pretty department store bras that my schoolfriends wore. So I had to endure an adolescence of engineered constructions that looked like they’d been built in a shipyard. The Victorian connection? Madam Foner’s was in a beautiful Victorian shop, now housing the rather lovely Galerie Simpson. Click here to see a photo of this gorgeous building.

 

The exhibition opens this Friday at Tapestri on Alexandra Road, Swansea at 7pm and runs until October the 9th.

Sunshine Prints

21 Sep

Cyanotypes adjusted

I did a whole load of cyanotypes yesterday for an exhibition and I had some pieces of paper and chemicals left over so, waste not want not, I coated the paper scraps and stored them away in a folder in a dark cupboard. Today, I shrank my negatives digitally and printed them out on acetate. We had a brief respite in the rain with some truly brilliant sunshine for a couple of hours around lunchtime so I put a drawing board onto the floor with the back door open, put the coated paper face up on it, placed the little negs onto the paper and a sheet of glass on top to keep them still.

washing

They only take 6 minutes in the UV Unit at Swansea Print Workshop, but I had to take an educated guess for today’s exposure. I left them for 22 minutes, checking regularly. I could see the cyanotype chemicals changing colour around the edges of the negatives. You can see the undeveloped images in the top photo. I removed the negs and rushed the little prints off to the kitchen sink and washed them gently in cold, running water for 20 minutes. Here they are above in the washing up bowl. I drained them and they’re now being pressed between boards and tissue paper to dry flat. I’m really pleased with the result. It’s a way of using my sketchbook drawings.

I think I might put these onto Artfinder tomorrow.

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