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Sunday, 12 May 2019

Work In Progress: 'Traveller' on show at Saltaire Art Trail 25-27 May

Traveller 2019 
This piece will be on display at Saltaire Mill in Yorkshire Art Trail between Sat 25 - Mon 27 May 2019.
You can check out other projects on instagram and Youtube.  Alternatively you can see other textile work here and my biography here.

Saltaire Arts Trail is a community arts event held annually on the late May Bank Holiday weekend. It offers an imaginative visual arts programme, celebrating the village’s rich heritage which surrounds Salts Mill.

The Arts Trail uses imaginative venues -  public buildings, the homes of Saltaire residents and outdoor spaces around Saltaire, to display visual art outside of traditional settings, as well as delivering new exhibitions and commissions.

This video shows how I created the piece:
 The piece is called Traveller and I am in the process of developing a wider series for this work. 

The central figure is walking alone in an abstract landscape. The figure’s form is incomplete disjointed and in part translucent. The figure is protected within an atmospheric diving suit walking across an open plane above sea level. The person is encased in the suit and detached from their surroundings; unable to connect. The person is not submerged, but they cannot breathe freely. The piece uses visual prompts for the viewer to interpret the work on their own terms. Is the traveler a Nomad or explorer? Are they aimless or pursuing a direction of their choice?

How Traveller was Constructed

The supporting images give a flavour of the process of this piece in development. I started with brainstorming words associated with themes of loneliness and isolation. These words have then informed primary and secondary image sources which become symbols within my work. The aim is for the images to be open to interpretation and help the viewer explore their feelings and emotions.
I'm aiming to develop a new series of work which is going to be titled Odyssey.
For now, here is a short summary of how Traveler was developed:
 I started by exploring abstract forms using inks and paper. I'm aiming to build towards a cohesive series of work. Therefor I wanted all the images to be rooted in the same initial process although all the images will be varied and different.
 Here is a selection of the images from my sketch book going through that process.
 I wanted all the images to be loose, chaotic and fluid. The tension however has been finding a pattern and relationship between these images.
These images were then scanned together and reassembled in a collage format through an editing software called Krita (which is like Photoshop but free!)
I then combined several of the edited pages from my sketch book to form a new composition. I have used this process in an aim to bring symmetry to the composition of work and the series overall. I am attempting to create a sense of balance with the individual image but also I am mindful about how the works will work together as a cohesive series.
 I explored psychological descriptions of isolation and loneliness and brain stormed the issues surrounding patterns of behaviour.
From these key ideas I then identified words I felt could be used to associate those thoughts and feelings
I used pinterest to collect lots of images that aligned to the theme of isolation and loneliness.
I want to create individual symbols which people can identify their own emotions. Although a person may not be able to describe initially how or why they identify with a piece I wanted the work to evoke an atmosphere and feeling that could resonate with them.

I developed the piece traveler as I was interested in the relationship of someone feeling lost, running away, or running towards something unidentified. I used the image of a deep sea diver as someone who explores unknown terrain but is also very cut off from everything around them.

 I am interested in art theory and took influence from Wilhelm Worringer (1881-1965) Abstraction and Empathy. The essay was written as a doctoral thesis in 1906 which was subtitled 'A Contribution to the Psychology of Style'. I was struck by some of the passages in the essay which resonated with the theme I have been exploring and trying to capture.  I wanted to create an abstract image which has symbolic anchors to help guide the viewer into certain directions of thought. There were two sections in this essay that stood out to me:
'Not that primitive man sought more urgently for regularity in nature, or experienced regularity in it more intensely; just the reverse: It is because he stands so lost and spiritually helpless amidst the things of the external workd. because he experiences only obscurity and caprice in the inter-connection and flux of the phenomena of the external world, that the urge is so strong in him to divest the things of the external world of their caprice and obscurity in the world-picture and to impart to them a value of necessity and a value of regularity. '

'...In the urge to abstraction the intensity of the self-alienative impulse is... not characterized, as in the need for empathy, by an urge to alienate oneself from individual being, but as an urge to seek deliverance from the fortuitousness of humanity as a whole, from the seeming arbitrariness of organic existence in general, in the contemplation of something necessary and irrefragable. [...] Popular usage speaks with striking accuracy of 'losing oneself' in the contemplation of a work of art.'
(sources taken from Art in Theory Harrison and Wood 1992)
The work needed to be open to interpretation enough so that any person can project their emotions onto the scene they are observing.  I want the place to feel unknown and with a tension without appearing overly threatening or chaotic. 

Once I had an image I was satisfied with, I edited the piece so that it could be printed onto fabric. I chose a printer called Contrado because they have a fabric called 'Scroll Paper Fabric'  ID:1963 which is really good at holding the ink without bleeding or fading and flexible enough to work without tearing the print itself.
Once I had the image from the printers the sewing into the piece took roughly three months to complete. Below is a step by step so you can see how it was all put together!

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Trip down to Bristol

Hey all I just wanted to quickly share the footage from my channel #BookDraw I caught when I delivered by talk on the Same Sex Marriage Quilt in Bristol. so that you can see it hung up in place! I am currently thinking through other places that I can display the quilt so if you are a charity or organisation which would like to host it's display feel free to get in touch.

I also was lucky enough to join a panel and discuss my thought on Pink washing which was really interesting and challenging because the issue is quite complex. There was lots of passionate chat from the students and the panel which raised a few issues based in the UK.

 Finally you can also see footage from the incredible seven deadly sin themed Vogue Ball. It was hosted in Manchester Academy in partnership with House of Suarez and Contact Theatre. If you have never seen it definitely watch this video!

Friday, 23 February 2018

I'm doing an artist talk in Bristol! LGBT+ Liberation & the Politics of Textiles

I'm doing an artist talk in Bristol which is pretty exciting. I'm going to be discussing the Same Sex Marriage Quilt which is on display at the Bowers Gallery in Bristol. For those who have followed this blog a little while will know I did this project back in 2015 so its great to have it back out on display and talk about the work. If you want to know more click on the labels textiles or equality quilt and you'll see my previous posts about the project

If you don't know about the project here is a little more detail about it. If you're local to Bristol please come a long and say I would would love to meet you!

A community quilt project which celebrates the 396 Members of Parliament (MPs) that voted in favour of same sex marriage bill 2013. The quilt is a political map with all 650 MPs constituencies.  He has been working with a range of venues and groups to get the public involved in the project. These include People's History Museum, LGBT Youth North West, Museum of Liverpool, FACT, The 1st National Festival of LGBT History, Homotopia, Unity Theatre and Schools Out. 

I worked with different groups to get the public to decorate hand drawn portraits of the 396 MPs that voted in support of the same sex marriage bill. The portraits have been collected together to form a political map of the UK and all the MPs constituencies. There were also 254 MPs that did not vote for the bill, for those gaps in the map people were asked to write messages of hope towards a more equal and accepting future.  

The project was made possible through successfully competing against 12 finalists for one of three mirco-residencies with People's History Museum in 2014. The project continued being supported through Homotopia's artist development scheme Queercore. During Homtopia’s 2014 Festival Unity theatre and Museum of Liverpool hosted sessions for the public to decorate the hand drawn images. The project engaged with community groups until all 396 contributions were decorated. From design to construction the project took two years to create. The quilt is 4 metres tall by 3.5 metres wide and was constructed with the support of Digetex and Source Unknown.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

My videos inspired by my trips to the Museum of Liverpool

I made a couple of videos in relation to my trip out to Liverpool You can see them all here!
The first video is a summary of my trip, in this video you can see some of the best bits while I provide a speed drawing of the a study I did of James Hanley which was a painting on display. James Hanley was a writer who wrote 'Boy'.

This was his second novel, his "first novel of the sea", was first published by Boriswood as a limited edition of 145 in 1931.

Boy is the grim story of an intelligent thirteen-year-old boy, Fearon, from Liverpool who is forced to leave school by his parents so as to help support the family, by working "on the docks as a boiler-scaler".He hates this job and after being beaten by his father Fearon stows away on a ship. When he is discovered, as the ship is shorthanded, he is signed-on to the crew. Fearon's suffering continues on board where he is sexually assaulted. 

When the ship docks in Alexandria, Egypt, Fearon has his first sexual encounter with a woman, in a brothel, where he contracts syphilis. On the return voyage this disease rapidly develops. The novel concludes with the captain smothering Fearon to put him out of his misery and his body given to the sea. Novelist Hugh Walpole, in a review, described Boy as "A novel that is so unpleasant and ugly, both in narration and in incident, that I wonder the printers did not go on strike while printing it".

Then, when it was reprinted in 1934, in a cheap (second) edition with a "scantily dressed" belly dancer on its cover, Boy was prosecuted for obscenity. See the full wiki source here

 While I was there I got inspired to make to timeline video of all the books that shaped me as a person  after looking at some of the community timelines on display at the Museum of Liverpool.This then moved onto creating a video about what was happening to me as I was growing up at each of those phases in my life. 

I hope you like it! Let me know if you've been affected by any of the same things I'd love to know!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Queer stuff going on in Liverpool!

I popped over to Liverpool for the Launch of Homotopia, it was so much fun!
 Liverpool is always so welcoming and friendly, everyone is so open and approachable which is really lovely and makes every trip even more special. The opening night was a frankic little tour across the city, it started in FACT, moved on to Liverpool Art Gallery and ended in Royal Standard and ended with an after party. There is so much to enjoy across the city though beyond just these three. The Walker gallery has Coming Out and Tate Liverpool has a pieces which link to queer themes as well. If you have not checked out Homotopia's full programme, I really recommend that you do Unity theatre is hosting a lot of performances across the next few weeks.
Below is a selection of pictures from the different venues I went to for full details of the exhibitions please select the links to their website and go check them out!

Royal Standard- Notes on Queerness

 Liverpool Museum -Tales from the city

Walker Gallery- Coming Out

 Tate Liverpool- Constellations