Saturday, 19 October 2013


I was thinking today about an idea floating around in the back of my mind for a project. I haven’t been trying to think about it too hard because sometimes it seems you have such a good or a clear idea but it’s too good to be true – it came too easily and that might be because you’ve seen it somewhere, it’s someone else’s work that you’d forgotten about and your unconscious has reinvented it as your own. Still it doesn’t matter, there’s nothing new under the sun and art is about influences and reinvention.

One thing that the painting teacher told us which I found really helpful, it is so obvious but it hadn’t struck me until he said it. “A painting is not the thing. It can be inspired by something, or based on something, but it becomes something else entirely.  People get worried about representing this thing but you are not trying to recreate it. You are making something completely new, a painting.”

In the same way, if I am influenced by someone’s work, whether I know or remember it or not, and I go and make something, whatever I make becomes something in itself. My style, my work, even if it’s not original or cutting edge. I have to talk myself into acting sometimes, there’s always doubt and lack of confidence to stop you. And in the end, who cares but you?   (also more practically, there’s a lack of space. Where am I going to put this stuff once I’m finished?)

So, this idea is a compound of things. I want to make a house structure, like a children’s playhouse – so this might involve some kind of metal frame, or maybe a light wooden one. The frame needs to be delicate, sketchy, though. Like it might fall down at any minute. I’d like the walls & roof to be made of prints which are printed on some kind of glassine or see through, or semi transparent paper. They could be photo based, or etched, or something, I’m not sure. Maybe a combination of different techniques.  It could be lit from within like a paper lantern. At the same time I quite like the idea that people could crawl inside it to have a look.  And to hide away, relax, have a lie down.. 

I was thinking where this might have come from and realised there’s about a million sources.

Katherine Jones beautiful, luminous greenhouse type etchings. 

My prints dangling from the clothes rack to dry, reminding me of tents we used to make from the clotheshorse when we were kids in Wynchgate. (This has just triggered a painful memory – voila. That’s the theme of this work, memory and how it makes you.)

The Thames Parade of Lights and fish lanterns made of paper.  

Walking at night and seeing other people’s lit up windows,they always look so cosy and homely when you’re outside.

Russell Hoban’s Amaryllis Night and Day and the dream-like bus made of Japanese rice paper. 

Lorca’s poem about a house “located in the foundations of rainfall”  “a tent surrounded by the sea and broken panels dripping brine.”  

It’s about the basic shapes you draw as a child when you draw a house, and how you picture home as a child, and how you remember it later. How you project scenes of your childhood onto a remembered image of your home.  About what home means to you and how fragile it is, physically and as an idea. Anyone can lose their home at any time. (I saw a great work in the Whitechapel open, two artists had made a plastic wendy house, fairly standard and realistic, but the windows were boarded up and bricked in. It was very disturbing and moving. ) And in your life you’re always trying to create a home, based on early experiences, either to recreate it or to react against it.

I could go on, but I won’t. Going to let it percolate for a while.

Monday, 7 October 2013


Final 3 colour block print, finally.


I'm not sure that this image reads clearly. And the ink is a bit muddy and crude. Still, I learned a lot doing this, mainly that I need help with registration (lining the three plates up so they print in the right place.)

There might be a case for a little bit of cheating mixed media enhancement by colour pencils to make it easier to see what it is.

It has given me a newfound respect for artists like Paul Catherall and Gail Brodholt - the latter also prints using reduction linocut method, (using one plate and cutting each colour away successively) which is also known as the suicide method.

Still, it's all a learning curve.   It  would be good if I could show it to a tutor  so they could give feedback and advice, but paradoxically I also don't want anyone to see it.

Speaking of which, I found this yesterday - an article by Kurt Ralske on criticism in art school, (Kurt Ralske was in Ultra Vivid Scene, who I loved in the 80s, and is now a successful artist and teacher.) Though I have to say, so far on the Fine Art course at City Lit the tutors are all absurdly positive in their feedback. We are going to come out thinking we are GENIUSES.