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21 December 2007

New Year, new people and places

As I get ready to go on holiday I am hoping it will provide me with time to step back, relax and be completely refreshed. The Cape Verde Islands should be somewhere so different from my every day experience that I can come back with energy and insight to create significant work

Look out for dates when 'Slow Making' conversations are going to happen and please get in touch if you are reading this blog, I would like to have feedback

Wishing you a Happy and Creative 2008

A new project

Selected for Salthouse 08 'SEAhouse, LIGHThouse, SPIRIThouse' means that I have the opportunity to work on a series of structures, to go on the beach, across the marshes to the churchyard. This means being outside, balancing work again, willow and wetland stuff. Direct interaction with people will happen after this, in a series of workshops and conversations.

This opportunity, going back to Salthouse to do this work seems another occasion of good timing. The combination of adventure, physical and spiritual as well the contemplative aspect of this work is what I hope to show in the final pieces.

I want to invite a diverse group of participants, church groups, artists, environmentalists to take part in the workshops and conversations. So please contact me if you are interested. I am also looking for commissioners and funders for this work. If you think you would be interested in owning the finished work and want to be informed of progress, look out for more postings - or get in touch for further information.

Sketches and plans

I have been sketching a series of forms related to lanterns, 'Weaving a Walk' linked to beacon churches and lighthouses. Trying out various willow forms - which means I have used it much more than in the previous three or four years. I find there are shocks about the lack of control and skill, as well as finding I have memories of making and adapting previous structures. The greatest challenge is going to be making a structure in willow as large as it needs to be, while still being an elegant form.
I will be modelling the form many times before I am satisfied with it.

The largest lantern forms will be places to hold about six people at one time to share stories and experiences of their physical and spiritual adventures. To discuss awareness of the environment and the non-human inhabitants who share it, their influence or otherwise over the lives and decisions

27 October 2007

Staging at Late Shift

Staging at the Late Shift was more interactive this time, and more successful.
Surrounded by works collected by the Sainsbury family together with exchanges and conversations, the work made much more sense.
The online quilt has been updated and currently has more then a hundred contributions, there are still more to add and it gains strength as it grows.

Slow Making is always in the back of my mind while I am working on Fair Trade - Material Matters, does this make a difference to the end result? I am not sure, but it does mean I am not in a rush to declare it finished

23 October 2007

Fair Trade - Material Matters for Black History month

This month's Late Night Shift at the Sainsbury Centre is linked to Black History Month, which gave the opportunity for Fair Trade - Material Matters to consider sense of identity and belonging, as well as the issues of nomadic, travelling and displaced people.

There will be opportunity for people to contribute their self portraits. I look forward to having this occasion to interact with artists again, will it affect the way they choose to depict themselves in this situation?

31 August 2007

MA Show

Exhibition preparation at Norwich, it seems a strange place to be. I have selected some things to show but as always they may not express what I had intended. Showing Fair Trade - Material Matters as a static exhibition and without the interactive process gives the work a significance I am not sure I can relate to. Stitching the new drawings has taught me so much more - I even find the rhythm and technique of the artists comes into the way I stitch each time - so each one has a real charecter. The hanging process lends a status and separation which it has not had before.

Bringing work from the allotment to a public space, together with chairs and tools which are very personal, makes me feel vulnerable and very uncertain. It has an attraction to viewers I can see that, it is very elemental and maybe non-gallery.

Tim Drakes animations are currently the most successful part for me - I had intended to show only those, with earth and charcoal on the floor....maybe another time!
Images to follow...

My 'Slow Making' article is available for audience to read, a few take advantage of this and find it interesting to read. It has been published this week in No 42 of Landscape and Arts Network Journal

06 August 2007

Dancing forward again

The positive outcomes of going to Moscow are starting to happen (see entry for 29th March) I have been invited to go and draw in rehearsals, classes and performances of the Bolshoi ballet while they are in London. I will do this for one of the three weeks they perfom at the Colisseum, starting 12th August.
As the MA show at Norwich goes up two weeks later this may not be ideal - but this opportunity is not to be missed.
Having made work about 'Dancing with your shadow for the last 10 years, this feels right to do in conjunction with writing about Slow Making.
The unplanned and unimaginable happens when you allow time and space.

My work was brought back from Moscow by Joseph Backstein, I collected it from his house in London to find that I have about 65 fantastic new self portraits to stitch into the blankets. A lot of work, it will take time...

This will now be part of my MA show at Norwich.

06 July 2007

Slow Making expressions

Thinking about slow making I have spent more time looking, feeling, sitting and finding ways of expressing the relationship I have with materials, not trying to make any 'thing' in particular

Writing about 'Slow making' has been hard, it really doesn't come naturally to express my thoughts in words but to both define and share a philisophy of making effectively and seems to help the physical making process.

Speaking to others about the idea has been encouraging, 'Slow Making' is obviously an approach to life and being ready to happen, complementary to the speed of emails and blogs. It is a conversation to have, a live, slow event including a meal and possibly making in community.

Using the charcoal made there
on old brown wrapping paper, I have this hanging in the allotment studio.

22 June 2007

Allotment Studio Space

Every time I think about Slow Making now I breath differently, listen to my breathing and heartbeat. The allotment studio provides space to do that away from all the mechanical and technology, how much does the individual's body rhythm affect what they make and do in life? I expect more than we are aware of.

Using the Allotment studio for a workshop was challenging, both for me and participants. It is a space I use for isolation, quiet work and as often as I can without power tools. The contrast of having five or six others, making noise alien to the site was sometimes very disturbing.

I lay down very few guidelines, to see whether the sense of place manifests in the behaviour of visitors to the place/site.
I am not sure this worked, but it did give me information to work with and for the next one. What I observed was that it is easier to demonstrate displacement visually than express the sense of place or belonging. This was shown by setting up photo-shoots and wearing of clothes never seen here before!

The conversation about Slow Making will be published as part of my MA, I am currently drafting a definition, this is what has emerged so far.

'Slow Making is done with reflection, care and consideration of the
environmental effects of the source, process and use of materials. Slow Making is always a collaborative process, either environmentally or socially.'

There is a Blog with a manifesto for Slow Making

30 May 2007

Slow Making - Sense of Place

Working more on Slow Making I have been spending time in the allotment 'shed' which is more studio now than ever. I am really enjoying the new atmosphere there, using it early in the morning and late in the evening when the light is more dramatic.
What is Sense of Place and how to convey it visually? Not by a landscape painting or a sculpture, or by film, there are not enough senses involved in receiving those.

Poppies have self seeded in Fred's disused allotment - all I have done is take away the other 'weeds' as they have grown, this has produced a riot of rich colour. The sight of them has brought out stories about older allotment holders growing poppies to treat ague and make a solution that was put on the babies dummy to help everyone sleep. One or two people have been invited to the allotment to see the sight, I like that - a piece of work made instinctively and exhibited without any planning or advertising! I feel like this is a real expression of both Slow Making and Sense of Place.

The next phase of my exploration into Slow Making is inviting artists and writers to express Sense of Place with Slow making in mind, I think I know what I mean but will they? Are the two separable, I think they are two parts of the same thing.

29 March 2007

Setting up new threads

Setting up new work projects and starting new projects has the same feel as setting up a loom, the threads are laid in place to construct what any weaver intends will be their perfect piece of cloth - of course that is always impossible but you would not start if the aim and hope was not there!
In my case the threads are made of phone calls, meetings and emails. Planning the times and places, preparing materials for work to be facilitated and constructed.

While setting up the new work relationships, I am very aware of the phrase that Cary Outis gave me years ago - that as a weaver I should be careful of loose threads in my life, it is always better to tie them in or cut them off as you go into new ground. He was relating it to relationships and whole life actions, not just textile activities. I feel at the moment as if I am still tied to Matter and Memory and all that happened relating to Moscow. It has been an isolating experience to be part of, at once included and excluded from both the Art School group and the exchange group. maybe a useful experience but not a positive one right now.
Difficult to see the possibilities becoming positive.

22 March 2007

New Pace: reflection and review

Being forced to stop work through illness always makes me review my work habits. I have not walked or done any restorative work in garden or allotment for a long time. I have been indoors for most of the winter and almost missed the early spring - either through too much indoor work or being away.

I could not smell or taste anything for more than a week - it affects my experience of life and I had not quite realised the power of smell before. It seems to be an almost subconscious sense. I know now that among other things I smell materials such as yarn, cloth, hair, paper and clothes when handling and selecting to work with; the experience is so intertwined with texture that I have found it difficult to relate in exactly the same way to work I am currently making.

I am now waiting for the work to be returned from Moscow - the realities of Russia seem more unreal than a good fictional film script. I just hope it resolves fairly soon.

08 March 2007

Next step on the path

In putting together a presentation at Norwich School of Art and Design I found it was a way of reviewing the whole event. I could step away for a while and work out the direction both for ' Fair Trade - Material Matters' and the focus for a new piece of work, or at least planning the next phase for linked work. I do not make unrelated work - it is always with the theme of linking places and people, always drawing the threads together.

The presentation for Education Annex - Matter and Memory will be available to view here soon

05 March 2007

The exhibition - Matter and Memory

Moscow, a combination of the slightly familiar and fantastically new seems to be the character of this place. The situation of setting up the exhibition 'Matter and Memory' brought new and extraordinary ways of finding possibilities in what appear to be impossible situations.

The conditions we worked for Matter and Memory in were unbelievable - a cellar with severe quantities of cement dust, without electricity and with water leaking through the walls - any really sane person would have walked away from this! We did decide that we must have jointly escaped from the White Cube asylum, and found ourselves in something even more bizarre. The practical experiences also somehow highlighted the happenstance.

Where else would I have been lent the ornate wall mirror from Kabakov's studio and had a dancer from the Bolshoi Ballet draw her self portrait. In the context of improbabilities, the fact that the German students exhibiting came from Staedeschule in Frankfurt and Kabakov's book was based on a series of lectures given there just seemed to be pre-planning for this event.

e installation was in dimmed lighting, difficult to photograph so lent itself to the black and white interpretation, and linked to an early 1980's image of students in the Kabakov studio.

I was comforted when I read this from an interview with both Ilya and Emilia Kabakov in 2004, I think I am beginning to understand Moscow a little. 'The Hermitage exhibition simulates a retrospective. In the first telephone call, they told us: you can't touch the floors, you can't touch the walls, and you can't put lights on the ceiling. And you can't close the windows and you can't open the door [laughter]. They said, there is nothing behind the door. I said, what do you mean, nothing? Is there a mountain or a street behind this door, I asked. Nothing means they didn't do the floors.'

We were of course promised catalogues from the Biennial organisers, but of course these were never found, the rumour was that they were sold to someone else...

'Fair Trade - Material matters' took on so much meaning that I could never have planned

28 February 2007

Practical arrangements

Do you really need to know stuff about travel preparation and practical arrangements for the Moscow Biennale?
Visas, tickets, money, phone calls, emails, messages - time delays in getting messages. Maybe it puts the work in context with reality, or at least the realities of Russia.

What is the work and what is the preparation? How to separate administration from work? When does a painting start to be a painting and not a selection of canvas, board, frame, oil paint and pint brushes. Would that be considered administration or relevant skill?

There are times when I question why I get involved in collaborative projects - or even with exhibition where there are three or more time zones! But then the next one is offered and it seems such a good idea!
You can tell I have tried not to allow the admin to affect it too much, or to get annoyed about the misunderstandings, but it must affect the work in some ways. Every time I am amazed at the proportion of time spent on practicalities and housework, I guess I should be used to it by now.

The process of packing up the work became a real combination of financial and aesthetic judgement, which I guess is fairly universal. Trying to keep the weight down to pay less excess baggage meant I took less, providing opportunity to select only the necessary and edit out the dross.
It did give me the task of finding an art shop in Moscow selling sketch books and drawing equipment - simple in most cases, but this being Moscow it took me 4 days to get to!

I think it was probably a good thing I didn't know what was going to happen when we got there, it really would have put me off going this time. But then I would have missed experiences like waiting for keys outside the gallery space to find Goran had discovered a kitchen which sold wonderful bread. Locals did not seem know about it, only the builders who shared a Persian language with Goran!

10 February 2007

Catching the thread

Trialling 'Fair Trade - Material matters at the Sainsbury Centre and Norwich School of Art and Design, as well as in my studio. Mainly in preparation for 'Matter and Memory' in Moscow - while still not having the money or paperwork to go. These occasions have allowed me to adapt ideas about what was necessary to have included in the exhibition and what would be distracting. Although people like to know how their drawing is going to be on-line it is too complicated to do the whole process while relating properly with contributors at an event.

An important element of this work is developing relationships and interconnections between the people involved, so the fewer barriers the better - and technology can be a big one if used badly. I am beginning to learn the techniques of making it less threatening for both me and contributors, perhaps because I am not allowing the technology to threaten me!

The Sainsbury Centre allowed the work to be seen in a new light, it seemed to gain credibility. I didn't need to see that, as I was already sure of the work's strength, even if I found it difficult to express in words sometimes, but perhaps it did change other peoples perception of it. Sitting next to Henry Moore
, Degas and Matisse drawings it did feel right, the work belonged.

Following several sessions collecting drawings I then had to stitch the physical quilt and update the online version, currently there are 3 blanket panels, I am aiming for 4 before I go to Moscow, the image shows part of one. For the updated version online see FrostArt

05 January 2007

Web Quilt; developing community

Developing the on-line quilt with Josh's help, he is such a good teacher and I am learning to be creative with the web-site.

The unexpected bonus of making this has been the web-sites and interest of other artists who have done their self portraits, I am creating an artificial community which will have links and relationships. It will be fascinating to see what happens as a result.

The extension of physical to virtual community, and reading Tim Ingolds work about lines and links at the same time seems to have strengthened each part of the work, both in my mind and when I share it with others.

04 January 2007

Distraction and interest

Putting together complex work, I have enjoyed looking at references, reading and collecting a wider variety of material to find context of my work in a broader field.

The freedom and obvious involvement in development of ideas through drawing by Kounellis encouraged me to use my sketch book both more personally and moe infomatively. The whole book, material used and tactile qualities became integral to thinking process, much more satisfactory and so more infomative to both me and others.

Organisation of collaborative projects has to be the most frustrating way of working when they are in the early stages, and the most rewarding in the later stages. Working in sketchbook has to be the absolute opposite, instantly ideas can be realised and discarded if they seem non-viable

Focussing and maintaining energy to finish work, I had to spend time out side whenever the weather allowed to get the light, working on all the elements of Fair Trade Art has meant too many hours inside. I took the sketch book with me a lot of the time, and when coming in form the allotment one day saw this image - which also reminded me of William Nicholson's painting of Gertrude Jekyll's boots. I liked the physicalltiy of the leather and the potential of both boots and sketch book.

These images have some of the feeling and
pre-occupation about lines, links and traces, thinking while walking and working and on the allotment. Drawing lines by planting and harvesting, patterns in the soil in relation to working on the loom.

02 January 2007

Old and new year: people, materials and methods

The New year started as usual with our Open House party. A wide variety of people and ages come, this year included an old school friend Clare Anderson, from Woldingham who I had not seen since 1978 at our wedding until one cold early morning on the train from Littleport to London at the end of last year, 2006. I was on my way to the Royal Society's Art and Ecology conference 'No Way Back'. She was on her way to work, having lived in Cambridge since 1990 it seemed strange that our paths had not overlapped ever before., but it is great to renew a friendship.

The willow
growth has not been consistent over the last few months, it has been in new bud and branching and now it is cold, really cold for the first time in more than 12 months. First there was ice on the trees and bright sunshine, then icy fog where plants started to look like they really were dormant. It felt healthy to have the cold and a chance for new growth to happen without being infected by old diseases.

Looking again at the long term, for when I am not writing so much and start being outside and making more - not just because of the seasons but because I will have to to be in the air and sun light for health reasons. I have been installing work into the allotment space - making it more of a studio for reference and archive; a record of decay visually not scientifically. Using old seats as containers for leaf mould and recording the changes makes them more than just bits of discarded weaving and old seats and turns them into potential pieces of work.

Looking at other websites and blogs, I am even more certain that my idea of having a combination of blog and web site is right. Susan Bowman's combination of open access site and passworded journal is really efficient and looks good, though it is a bit prone to lists. I will be developing FrostArt to include this, using all the new toys - Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks. Sounds too strange at the moment - for those who all understand and use them already you will know how long it takes. Have I taken on more than I can cope with for 2007?

To many words not enough images - this will be remedied in the next posting