Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Enfolding Landscape - Double-sided flag book

At last The Enfolding Landscape is finished.  The photo doesn't do it justice, hopeless lighting, scruffy floor and no time to set up a nice shot but I guess the furniture gives a sense of scale.

At the Cliffe Castle exhibition it will stand on its own plinth with a perspex lid.  I wanted it to be bare naked on the plinth but the curators think it will be too vulnerable because Cliffe Castle is visited by large numbers of young children.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Giant charcoal drawings

I've finished the second of my 3 giant charcoal drawings and here's a couple of close-up photos to show texture detail. Can you guess what they are yet?

There's now less than 3 weeks before the work must be completed.  I have to take all the exhibition work to Cliffe Castle, Keighley on 12th September so they can have 2 weeks to organise the hanging for the preview which is taking place on Saturday 24th September.

It all feels too scarily close, so tomorrow I'm straight on to starting the third drawing. The giant sheet of paper is already fixed up and ready to go.

My space at Brooklyn Studios in Hebden Bridge is too small for doing these drawings so Trevor Smith the owner of Machpelah Mill has very kindly agreed to let me use the large basement room there.  The windows look out onto the canal and its very peaceful, which is just as well as I'm starting to feel the strain of my deadline...  

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Extended Flag Book

I'm alternating days now between the giant drawings and the extended flag book. Yesterday I collated all the dried print sheets, folded the spine pieces and cut out all the 'flags', having devised a system for cutting multi sheets at a time (basically using a lot of bulldog clips!)  I don't use a guillotine and prefer a long steel rule and a very sharp knife for greater accuracy. The day just flew past.

Couldn't bear to go home without doing a quick blu tack temporary assembly of the spines and a few of the flags to get an idea of how its going to work out.  The book is so long the only place I can work on it is the hard concrete floor of the gallery at Brooklyn Studios.  My knees and back are not very happy as you can imagine.  For some reason this photo makes me think of salamanders or dragons.  Salamanders, being amphibians, can live in water and on land so the association is quite apt as my book is all about the interconnection of land and water on the uplands.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Hung out to dry

The print drying rack is almost full with A2 woodcuts of reservoir water, ready for cutting and folding.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Large scale drawings

Ever since hearing that I'd been awarded the year 2 Watershed residency I knew I wanted to take the opportunity to stretch and challenge myself, especially when I realised how large the exhibition space is at Cliffe Castle. Consequently I'm having to think big.

I've started work on the largest drawings I've ever made. The paper dimensions are 5 ft wide by 8 ft tall for each drawing!  Just finding a suitably large, empty wall space has been a challenge, not to mention fixing up a sheet of paper that size.  Interestingly though, after a very short while it just seems normal and not a problem.  I'm using charcoal. Its one of my all time favourite mediums and ideal for the purpose.

If all goes to plan I'm hoping the drawings will make a strong impact at the exhibition so I want them to be a bit of a surprise.  All I will say here is that they are of structures connected with the water gathering system, so you may well guess what they are.  Here's a couple of texture details.

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Enfolding Landscape - Bigger Book

A while back I mentioned I wanted to make a longer, taller, double-sided version of the Enfolding Landscape book for the residency exhibition at Cliffe Castle. I started work on this over 2 weeks ago.

Three new A2 blocks needed to be cut, each 60 cm long and 42 cm tall, featuring the cotton grass and two versions of rippling water.  The birch plywood blocks are considerably harder than the Japanese ply but I like the crisp lines you can get in this surface.

Anyway it was a mammoth cutting job with lots of areas that needed to be completely cleared and I had aching arms, wrists and fingers for days.  In the photos you can see where I've painted the design onto the block as my guide for cutting.  Sometimes you can't stop the gouge from carving deeper down into the layers than is necessary, so the block looks a bit rough, but none of that will show in the print.

I realised that I had seriously underestimated the number of prints I will need to pull.  Including the covers and all the flag 'pages' I will have to ink up and print the A2 blocks 84 times!

On Monday and Tuesday I printed all the cotton grass ones on one side, using black ink.  Here they are in the drying rack with part of the ornate converted mangle press peeping through behind. The oil-based ink I like best takes a few days to dry.

On Wednesday I started printing the water and today I wanted to complete that part so I've needed to work really hard to print 31 sides - all day, hour after hour, inking and printing. Its amazing how much ink you need to cover A2. I forgot my camera so can't show you but the print rack is full of lovely bluey grey sheets now.

On Monday if I can face it I'll print the reverse side of all 22 cotton grass pages.  Then the printing will be over and it'll be long sessions of folding, cutting and gluing.  At this stage its easy to lose sight of what you're trying to achieve, and to feel a bit overwhelmed by the drudgery but hopefully I'll have the stamina to get to the end.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Outdoor Art Group go to Widdop

Here we are on Widdop Dam at the start of a wonderful Sunday of drawing, photography, poetry and sound recording for the inaugural trip of the newly formed Outdoor Art Group.

The heroic 906 bus brought us up from Hebden Bridge on a switchback ride through Heptonstall and Slack, along the tops and round a couple of hairpin bends, to get us in the mood for shaking off any preconceived ideas about a sedate Sunday stroll.

Soon enough we were bounding down the rushy north bank, organising base camp under the trees and setting to with cameras, pencils and the occasional quill pen made on the spot from moulted feathers the Canada geese had kindly left for us.

As you can see at the end of our lovely day we were all none the worse for our adventures, despite the odd tumble and a mud paddling incident about which I will remain silent!  The 906 provided a reliable though bouncy return trip back to civilisation.

The beautiful Widdop landscape inspired a whole array of delightful images and thoughtful poems from the group and to see a slideshow of their work please click here. This is a special page devoted to the activities of the group, with information about the next trip when this is available and contact details if you'd like to get involved.