Monthly Archives: April 2017

Investing in the future – studio rebuild part 2

Dunure Studies
£75 (30 x 30cm) each
(Shadow box framed by Manchester Custom Framing)

Building work is so much easier when you invest early on. Encourage one child (or preferably two as it is always good to have a back up) to take things apart and occasionally put them back together again from an early age. Nuture a love of ‘making’ – Airfix kits, quilts, simple electronic kits, glitter covered gluey messes, Warhammer soldiers, tin foil covered shields and swords, anything they want. Support said child when they want to make a living by working with their hands. Provide interest-free loans with the Bank of Mum and Dad to buy all sorts of serious looking wood working and picture framing tools. Then sit back and enjoy decades of payback.

Yes, said son Cal (check out his framing business) put in a solid 6 hours yesterday during which he installed three LED lighting panels, the polystryene panels to make a 6.6m design wall, a bookcase and a CD rack. All for the price of a McDonalds!

When we first built the studio we spent a lot of the available money on insulation as I knew that it would be hard to form a good studio practice if the studio was cold in the winter. With the rebuild the main investment has gone on lighting. Because I have a day job many of my studio hours are in the evenings. I originally installed 6 fluorescent strips and although I used ‘cool white’ bulbs the light was still not great. And the light fittings hum. And they cast shadows which makes it harder to photograph my work. So yesterday we swapped 3 of them out for 60W LED panels. They are brilliant. White light without shadows and without hum. The other 3 have been ordered and Cal is on standby to install them. It pays to invest.

What is it about spring?

This last weekend was perfect. Blue skies. A balmy 20C. Blossom on the cherry tree. Coffee in the garden. And long, productive hours in the studio.

April and May are my favourite months. A combination of lighter evenings and some long weekends thanks to the Easter and May public holidays make it almost impossible not to hit my target of 20 hours in the studio each week. Being able to dry my breakdown screens outside speeds up the process and gives much better results than I achieve on screens that have dried overnight in the studio. And rinsing out printed fabric is much kinder on my hands when my cold water feed isn’t finger numbingly cold.

So this weekend I got up early enough both days to drive my son to work for a 7.30am start. I would like to say that I did this just out of love but, honestly, it was so that I could be in the studio before 8am each day! I spent both days happily printing more fabric for my Ruins series. When screens or cloth were drying I continued to work on small samples. Such a productive couple of days.

And the good times keep on coming … Easter means a 4 day weekend!! And chocolate!

In the cold light of day

Does this work? 1

Knowing that I have two major exhibitions with Helen Conway in 2018 is amazing. Although I’ve worked in series for the last few years this will be the first time that I get to create a cohesive body of work knowing the pieces will be hung together. And knowing the spaces where they will hang. Yes Helen and I need to make sure that our work will work together in each space but otherwise the sky is the limit!

And we have well over a year to prepare. We will have about 15m each of wall at World of Glass and a massive 30m each at Stockport Wall Memorial Art Gallery. And we only have just over a year to prepare!! Thank goodness Stockport will be in the autumn.

My hope is to create two completely separate bodies of work albeit both stemming from three parallel series inspired by the urban and industrial landscape in and around both venues. But I have to also be realistic. I had an amazingly productive year in 2016 but my output still fell short of what I need to achieve in the next year or so. I blame my very loud and bossy ‘voice’. It wants to work big. It insists on piecing lots of small pieces of fabric. And then it absolutely throws a tantrum if I don’t complete the work with hundreds and hundreds of parallel lines of stitch. And, much to Helen’s amusement, it even demands that I sew in all my ends.

Something has to change. I have to find a way to make smaller (and more affordable) works that I, but more importantly, my ‘voice’ can be happy with. So I have set aside the month of April to try new things. Can I make art that can be framed? Can I print onto paper? What happens if I print onto rough linen? Can I fuse my brick walls? Time will tell.