Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Exhibition at Cliffe Castle, Keighley

The Inspired By Landscape Exhibition is now up and running at Cliffe Castle until 15th January 2012.

The opening on Saturday afternoon was well attended with lots of people coming over from Hebden Bridge, Bradford, Leeds, Harrogate and even Chester. 

Until the doors opened on Saturday I'd not seen the complete installation with all the projections running and the lighting in place so it was a lovely surprise to see that everything worked well together.  The giant charcoal drawings of the reservoir valve towers looked suitably dramatic on their individual walls overlaid with the projections of rippling reservoir water, with the blue light behind giving a feeling of space.

Big thanks are due to the very hard working team at Cliffe Castle, who really put the time in to ensure the large octagonal gallery was looking its best.  Special thanks to Paul Mahoney for his technical wizardry with masking the projections so precisely and understanding the effect I wanted to achieve. Thanks also to Mark Wharton for filming the water with me.

Something about all the different lighting used in the show makes it strangely difficult to photograph. The projected water disappears if you use flash, but without it the ripples take on a reddish cast. On the above photo I've had to do a lot of Photoshoppery to make it more like the real thing and its still not right.  I'll be going back with a tripod to have another go but to get the true picture you'll just have to go in person!

Friday, 23 September 2011

The exhibition starts tomorrow

Well thats it, the artwork is all installed and everything is out of my hands now. Tomorrow, Saturday, sees the opening of the Inspired By Landscape II exhibition at Cliffe Castle, Keighley from 2 pm till 4pm.
Anyone reading this and in the area is very welcome to attend.

Here's a photo of the entrance to the edifice that is Cliffe Castle, I love the tower and wish it were possible to go up to the top floor where there must surely be the ghost of the mad woman in the attic, a sinister monk, giant moths, or at the very least a flock of blood-sucking bats?

Owing to a broken car, I'll be travelling over to Keighley on the scenic 500 bus again tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it as there'll be a merry throng of friends from Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd on the same trip. We just need a bit of sun to light up the glowing autumnal rushes along the moor road over to Oxenhope and illuminate Leeshaw and Leeming reservoirs as we pass. Because thats what my exhibition work is all about. 

Monday, 19 September 2011


Not sure if it was the right decision to avoid showing any photos of the big drawings here until after the Exhibition Preview but I do so want their size and monumentalism to have maximum impact at the show. I like a surprise every once in a while and hope the people who've been following this blog and who are coming to Cliffe Castle on Saturday will feel it was worth the wait.

The drawings are being exhibited with an extra added element I haven't mentioned here at all.  This is something completely new to me and involves equipment, other people's expertise and much that is beyond my immediate control so at this point I don't know for sure it will all come off.  I believe the drawings are strong enough to stand on their own but really hope the other bit can happen because it should transform and animate the whole exhibition.

Big Paper

Last Friday I went down to Machpelah Mill early, took down my 3 big drawings and rolled them up.
It took over 2 tense hours as I was working on my own and had to think through every move to avoid doing anything to damage the paper. The evening before I'd given them all a huge final spraying of fixative and the room still stank of chemicals.

It felt weird rolling up the drawings and making them disappear, they've been such a presence in the room over the past 5 weeks and it hardly seemed credible all that work could be reduced to this insignificant looking parcel with its lop sided masking tape carrying handles.

My friend and colleague Chris Herbert gave me a lift to Cliffe Castle in her camper van.  The drawing roll travelled in style - luxuriating on the fully extended bed and arriving at the gallery in perfect condition.

The installation date had been put back until today, so this morning it was the Keighley bus for me, the 500 which goes up over Oxenhope Moor and via Haworth.  The moor looked delightful in the early morning sun and it was good to reacquaint myself with the uplands after weeks of grafting indoors.

At Cliffe Castle not everything went to plan and although the big drawings are now up there's still a lot to do in a very short time.  I've got to go back on Thursday to review things.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The other side

Last week was taken up with an all out effort to finish the reverse side of my book 'Watershed Journey'.
Originally the book was conceived in terms of having a blank back side so to speak, or to be more honest I just hadn't really thought about the back.

The whole thing was an experiment, which might have gone wrong at any stage and in fact at one point I got stuck and had to cut off two pages! So it was a surprise to find myself using this work for the exhibition invite card.

Then we decided to display the book on a plinth, to be viewed from all sides, so I knew I had to continue the journey on the reverse.  These photos show various stages in the making. Temporarily I blu tack the collage pieces into position, thus allowing for changes of mind as things go on.  When I'm happy with the relationship between all the images I laboriously peel it all off page by page and glue permanently. Quite a fiddly process, and sometimes a page gets a last minute reorganisation.

I don't know how the stylistic aesthetic of 1950s textiles/wallpaper has crept in.  My vision of the linear fields of rushes have just made it that way.

Eventually my studio space becomes a nightmare of heaps of ripped up paper which has to be searched through to find that elusive perfect little strip...

Monday, 5 September 2011

Inspired By Landscape II

The invites to the exhibition preview have been printed and sent out.  I'm very pleased with how its turned out.  Originally I wanted the format of a pop-up map but this was not feasible and now I think the mini concertina is a better idea, as there's more room for my artwork.

Below is the email version of the invite.  The only way I could capture this was with a screen grab so the links are not functional.

The Enfolding Landscape - Alternative view

Arranged in a circle the book form becomes a whirlpool of energy.  I vowed I'd never make another of these as it took so much time and effort, but I'm already thinking about where I could take it next.