Tuesday, 23 November 2010

London Trip

Returned last night from a weekend trip to London and a flying visit to Tate Britain.  Had a peep at the Saatchi Gallery and ended the visit at The Royal Academy to see the Glasgow Boys (  Tate Britain was full of greatness and a joy to spend a couple of hours before it closed looking at some old favourites.  The Glasgow Boys was a really good exhibition of artists with whom I was not previously familiar and whose capturing of light and colour held me spellbound.  It was well-attended but I managed to see everything without being trampled underfoot.  

I found most of the Saatchi gallery's current collection predictably dreary.  It neither excites nor shocks any more.  It was however, interesting to hear a guide trying to justify some juvenile dross to a party of schoolchildren.  Despite the no entrance fee policy these days, it was very quiet, with a collection of gallery attendants who were barely civil.  It all felt a bit parallel universe.  But hey I'm only a punter.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Collagraph II

A second run of collagraphs with chine colle.  It's starting to feel like a race against time before the Festive Season takes hold  and everything grinds to a halt for a few weeks.  Although it is good to get work out at any time of the year.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Been painting, making little boxes, small sculptures and working on some collographs for a change.  This little landscape is a collagraph with chine colle and is headed to Australia with 3 others in the series.

I have also been working on making the studio a warmer place to work during the winter months.  Last year was a battle with condensation damp getting into everything and the summer was such a non-event that I knew I was going to have to get some heat going.  I now have curtains at the windows, some old underlay and carpet on the floor and a thermostat on an oil radiator to keep the temperature level.  So far so good.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Book Binge

Yesterday I came across a second hand book store with a table outside and a sign saying 'free to good home - help yourself'.  And needing no encouragement, I came away very happily carrying four old hardbacks and some ancient engineering plans to use as Altered Books, including this poor battered thing with a very beautiful cover that I am sure can be brought to life in some way.  Funny isn't it, the small things that can brighten the dullest day?

An Origami Moment

I have been exploring ideas for One Hundred Boxes and have been folding paper in an origami kind of way - immediate apologies to any origami purists for this folded work in newspaper and tracing paper.  A few months ago I started looking at ways to use all the bits of artwork lying around the studio - files and files of paper experiments that hadn't quite worked out.  I began a journal with some of it and then the boxes were born and the focus has shifted in that direction as a way of recycling with an autobiographical emphasis. 

I am finding it interesting to see where the wandering, creative mind travels and the little boxes are proving very useful in giving a structure and starting point to the work, whilst allowing free-reign to fill the boxes with whatever is developing from one to the next.  The discipline of recording each one is very useful for progress.  Some of them still need changes and some are on the shelf awaiting a bolt of inspiration to move them along at all.

Feel a bit more blog-happy this week - moved the furniture around and changed the decor a bit. (Blogger seem to have dumped a lot of their design templates?)

Friday, 24 September 2010

Mid-Blog Crisis

It's coming up to 2 years since I began the blog. Perhaps this is the time to take stock, maybe there is a 2 year hiatus common to bloggers:).  There are times I enjoy posting and times when it feels a chore and I would rather be in the studio or vice versa!

Living in a rural environment, I do feel isolated from other artists and very much enjoy looking at other artists' blogs for the inspiration and the camaraderie I miss, having previously enjoyed a city-based studio practice.

But this does not solve the current dilemma of where to go with This Artist's Place.  I quite like the format on One Hundred Boxes - no dialogue and just images with media description.  I don't think I gave much thought initially to blogging and it has evolved in rather an untidy way with my posting whatever I was creating at that moment - more a sketchbook of ideas and thoughts than a coherent entity.

I have noticed that many of the bloggers I follow have moved, created additional blogs, given up, been amalgamated into zines.  There must be a natural lifespan to blogs with  many changes on the journey.  Where do all the dead blogs go?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Steve McCurry Retrospective, Birmingham City Art Gallery

Called in to see the Steve McCurry Retrospective at the Modern Art Gallery bit attached to Birmingham City Art Gallery and was quite bowled over by his absolutely sensational photography.  Amazing colours, thought-provoking images - check out his website or better still if you are in the Birmingham area,  go see it - it runs til October 17th.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Small Object


Sometimes everything goes to plan and at other moments it's an uphill struggle and this week has been the latter with a brain in underdrive and frustration levels in overdrive.  I have been working on the latest small box and just can't get the composition right.  I think it might have to rest on the shelf until I find out why it won't hang together.

I've been doing some camera practice today to take a break from the studio - closeups of small objects like this old tin box that houses my pins, needles and cottons for those repairs I never do.

Monday, 30 August 2010

A Small Collection of Boxes

The boxes now number six - although I want to make some changes before I post the latest  on the One Hundred Boxes blog.  The last box contains a butterfly that died in the studio resting on white painted twigs (the black box above).  The box itself has a glass window and I have placed mirror card at the back of the box to catch the reflections but which looks fine in the studio but is proving problematic to photograph.  I also feel that it needs something else and am not yet sure what to add.

Serendipity seems to be at work too and I am finding boxes everywhere to use - not quite a hundred yet but getting there slowly. 

Thursday, 19 August 2010

One Hundred Boxes

Lying awake last night, it seemed a really good idea to start a new blog for the Autobiographia Boxes (?!?).  I thought it would spur me into action to set a goal and see what happens along the way.  So I have entitled it One Hundred Boxes.  I may never actually reach the hundred but it should be a good way to concentrate my mind and build a body of work for this project. 

So just the boxes, notes about the size and media and keep it simple.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Altered Pages

At other moments I am using rescued books to see what will happen to them in my hands.  Having been quite captivated by altered books for a while, I am gathering a small collection of old hardbacks from charity shops, the greyhound rescue stall and any secondhand bookshop that practically gives away unloved tomes. 

The hardback fell away from these pages and it was impossible to make neat folds as the paper was too stiff - quite an unusual weight really.  So, it acquired this pot-bellied untidy look, the folds are quite tight and has a lovely solid feel to it.  Do not weep for the book, it was a horrendously pompous work by Thomas Carlyle. (Apologies to Carlyle fans).

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Autobiographia Boxes - continued

box, gelatin print, layered acetates, pebble, silver wire, pearl
temporary home on studio shelf with graffiti fish
It's been a busy few weeks - family visits and dealing with the high summer crops of fruit and vegetables from the kitchen garden.  The studio has, as ever, taken a back seat, but I have been popping in and out when I can to continue with the Autobiographia boxes.

This box refers to childhood summers spent in Suffolk.  I was put on the train alone in Liverpool and travelled to London under the care of the guard and had taxi fare to change stations for the Saxmundham train, where my aunt would meet me and then 6 glorious weeks of freedom and a bicycle to roam seashore, marsh and countryside around Aldeburgh.  I was 11 when I first went on my own and although it is unthinkable these days, I am sure it accounts for my independence and lifelong lust for travel.

The quote comes from a biography of George Crabbe, poet of Aldeburgh born 1754.  His children thought that on his death, "...he would fade into the sea mist and disappear before our eyes."  The pebble came from that beach and I love the hole in it that has been worn away over the centuries.

A small homage to a place that will remain forever in my heart and a time when life seemed simple.

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Autobiographia Boxes

I've been working these last few weeks on these little boxes as a kind of autobiography - bits of old work combined with precious odds and sods that have travelled with me over the years, collected pieces and gifts.  The print is one of the little series of gelatin plates I did a while ago reflecting on the wild undergrowth in my garden and the ivory bird and bead came from an incense burner that was given to me over 40 years ago, by an uncle who had travelled to Australia in the 1920's via what was then Ceylon. He is long dead but the memories and wonderful tales he told of his life as a wandering musician linger on

I like the smallness of the work - 2inches square

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Re-Post Gelatin II - For Buried Treasure Collaborative

I've had a couple of entirely sensible questions about what do you do with the gel plates once you have them in your hot little hands!

Here was the subsequent post I made in October last year, which hopefully gives you an idea of how to print from them.  Many of the images on the blog have been taken from straight monoprints using gelatin plates or manipulating the image using Adobe or Gimp software. (e.g., Previous Posts - Meditations is a monoprint, Bye Bye Birdy is a digitally manipulated print using the same bird template and some textured wallpaper samples I got from the local hardware store).  Really interesting to experiment with paper shapes, leaves, string, paper bags etc., you do start to see possibilites all around you!  And to overprint and see what happens with the combined images and colours.
Final image
Gel plate with impressions left by placed objects

First print taken
Inked up gel plate with assorted items laid on top

Just figured out how to load multiple images! Not too sure why it has loaded in reverse order but here is some of the output from the day - the gel plate (bottom image)was first inked up using water based printing inks and a roller, then I laid a variety of stuff on top of the inked plate - ribbon, leaves, bit of lace, rubber bands. I placed a sheet of cartridge paper over the top and gently hand rubbed the back of the paper to obtain the first print. No need to go mad here just a smoothing over the back of the paper really.

Then I removed the items and placed a second sheet of cartridge paper over and gently rubbed the back of the paper to pick up the imprinted images left on the gel.

I have used 130g cartridge paper for this print.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Re-Post for Buried Treasure Collaborative - Making a Gelatin Plate

As part of a collaborative with New York Artist Seth Apter' and his blog The Altered Page, I am re-posting 'Making a Gelatin Plate'.  The idea is to air a previous post that you particularly liked. The participating artists can be found from July 15th over at The Altered Page blog under the title Buried Treasure.  A celebration of the work of  the many, many online artists we love to browse.

I think it's probably one of the most useful posts I made over the year for other artists and probably the one which sparked the most interest on my blog.  It was also a good point for my work, as it began to travel down many mixed media avenues and on all kinds of artistic journeys that I could not have imagined; say 2 years ago.

A week on holiday got me thinking about gelatin prints again. I really got into this last year and posted about it at the time but felt that there was more work to be done here and that I could also use the prints with my stock of digital images. There was very little information online at the time; there is a little bit more now I notice, but it was enough to get me started.

The drawback was the time it took to make the plates and the fact that the gel broke up quite quickly - you would just get to the point where you were making progress and it was getting interesting and the cracks would appear.

So for those interested in this here is the latest recipe for the gel plate shown above.

Makes a plate about 8x10 inches and 1/2 inch deep

1 Pack Dr
Oetker Gelatin (contains 6 sachets)
1 pint water at room temperature

plasticine or clay
Plexi-glass sheet or reinforced glass (not picture frame glass, far too fragile)

Newspaper torn into strips

Put water in pan and slowly add all 6 sachets one by one and stirring slowly with wooden spoon.  I mean slowly! When you have added all the gelatin powder heat slowly and stir constantly to dissolve the gelatin and then leave to cool down a little.

Whilst that is cooling make a dam with the
plasticine or clay on your plexi-glass. I previously used a tin tray but this is much better and you can make any size and shape you want. Just make sure it is pressed down onto the support and there are no areas that will leak.

Pour the gelatin slowly into the mould you have created and skim the surface with strips of newspaper to get rid of any scum and bubbles on the surface.

Leave for about an hour and a half in a cool place to set. ( I left it in the studio - it really does not need a fridge) Until it feels firm to touch.

Use sharp knife to cut right down onto the plexi-glass or glass and carefully remove the plasticine dam.

(This beats the previous recipe where you had do all kinds of stuff and then leave it in the fridge for 12 hours)

And the plate is ready to use...

Thursday, 3 June 2010


It occurred to me that rather than constantly trying to come with something new, I already have so many disparate bits of work here in the studio and it might be a good idea to collect these moments of creativity together and see what happens.

So I am using them to make a kind of meditative journal as a beginning  and just see what happens along the way.  I also think it will work into Artist's books and a couple of other schemes I am hatching. 

...and probably more Birdy for a while.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Bye Bye Birdy

Made some more gelatin prints today using one of the bird stencils and helped myself to some wallpaper samples from the local hardware store to use for the borders - they may soon become suspicious of my constant sampling and non-purchase of a whole roll.

I have been experimenting (last couple of post images and this one) with using curves in GIMP (or Adobe) which is quite interesting, particularly when using the 'freehand' tool and throws up all kinds of nuances that aren't always obvious in the original print.

I have called this Bye Bye Birdy - its probably time to give birds a rest and move on.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Fine weather and gel prints

I took refuge in the studio today, away from the heat and got down to the business of making art and a bit of a Spring clear out too - well not so much a clear out, more a shuffle.  You know the kind of thing - anything to avoid starting!  It's the first really warm weather we have had but I'm happier in the shade.  Off to London tomorrow for a couple of days and hopefully some gallery viewing.  After that I hope to have some more time in the studio and develop ideas that have been brewing since Australia.  And more time for this poor neglected blog.

The image here is one of 15 small prints (10cm x 10cm) I began in February - I wanted something very simple to give an impression of looking closely at tiny seed heads in the undergrowth.  I am now manipulating the images using GIMP or Adobe to see if I have sufficient for another Artist's book.

Went to collect some slumped glass from the previous week's session - it had not survived the firing and had shattered.  Tried another batch with fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Back from my travels and finding it hard to get back into the swing of things - not sure what I actually want to swing from.  Great time in Australia and wonderful to see art from a different perspective.  

I was particularly interested in the aboriginal concept of Dreamtime and quote from Wikipedia (Fred Alan Wolf from his book The Dreamtime):-

"Aboriginals believe in two forms of time; two parallel streams of activity. One is the daily objective activity, the other is an infinite spiritual cycle called the 'dreamtime', more real than reality itself. Whatever happens in the dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of Aboriginal society. It was believed that some people of unusual spiritual powers had contact with the dreamtime."'

That sounds better than any description that I could have come up with.  The little sketch here is something from my travel sketchbook.  My own Dreamtime - the whole experience has left me with so many ideas and an uncertainty of how to express them just now. 

This week has seen me at Westhope College playing with some glasswork, another area I have been wanting to try for quite a while.  Making a few sample pieces before I tackle any cathedral windows.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Journal for the Trip

I've been hunting; without success, for a good quality watercolour sketchbook and decided to make one up myself. And also wanted to continue with practising bookmaking, so it was a duel intent. Found the paper for the cover amongst some prints I made only about 8 years ago. It was worthless as a print but I'm quite happy with it is a journal cover and it has a nice heavy textured feel to it - ignorant of the ins and outs of printing ink at the time, I used acrylic paint and some linocut images layered into an abstract pattern.

I am heavy-handed with paint (watercolours usually flinch when they see me coming) and find ordinary sketchbook paper too lightweight to take a hammering.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Sydney Beckons

I did anticipate getting some work done this week but it hasn't happened. And last week I was Grandson-sitting over half-term, so it has been a couple of weeks of best laid plans going to pot. I have stopped beating myself up now and decided to go with the flow. (Flow sounds sedate but it has been more flying around like a lunatic for last minute things).

I fly out on Monday and am gathering together what I hope will be sufficient to keep me occupied and sane during the 22 hour flight - books, pens, sketchbooks, downloads - if anyone has any other ideas please let me know:(

I am really looking forward to seeing my youngest daughter and also looking at art from an Australian perspective - I hope I return full of ideas for new work in April.

I will post if I can during the trip and of course keep up with all my favourite blogs!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Madding Crowd

Just about finished the Artist's book using the gelatin prints of birds that I made back in October. I use the word finished loosely as I am not happy with several aspects of the piece, so this will probably be the prototype for something else. I spray painted the covers and found that pushing an awl through for the holes disturbed the paint - trying to rectify this with a paintbrush left rather obvious blobs on the surface. So lessons learned for the next one.

I have used Japanese stab binding.

The other piece is experimental, using an old gelatin print with some collage and chine
colle. The text is taken from Gray's Elegy - there's not too much left of this little book! I am currently going through the portfolio to see what I can re-use with more layers.

Oh! the studio that was tidy two days ago is chaos once more.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Artist's Book

Bitterly cold day outside and not much better in the studio today. I needed to do a tidy out before I go to Australia at the end of the month and I wanted to spend some time working on the prints I began a little while ago with the intention of making an artist's book. (I think I posted them under 'Birds on a Wire' as a working title but think that will change).

Over the weekend I trimmed the pages and worked knots into them with some very old embroidery thread - and I do mean old. They came from some my mother had during WWII. And today I looked at some ideas for a cover - the best option at the moment is the simplest one of the stencilled bird but will look at other angles tomorrow.

I am increasingly interested in the the link between women in families and their complexities. The birds have come to represent my youngest daughter leaving home and the threads represent the continuation within this family group.

Saturday, 30 January 2010


Experimented today with some 'failed' prints combined with collaged material and chine colle. I tore the epitaph from somewhere weeks ago and of course, now have no idea at all where it came from but never mind, I am more concerned with using the various elements together to see what happens.

I don't really want to start anything new in the next few weeks - so just being playful with odds and ends already hanging around the studio table.

(Just remembered the torn page came from Gray's Elegy written in an English Churchyard - I am glad about that, it would have driven me batty for the rest of the evening).

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Seven

I just noticed that my lonely follower of the past year has been joined by six others and that is delightful. So hello and welcome to the ramblings.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Grinding to a Halt?

Don't know where the last month went but here we are landed safely in 2010 - well, just about. The view from the steps of The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool shows the city grinding to a halt on Wednesday. The wheel distorted through the window of John Lewis whilst I was warming up with a cup of tea.

We arrived for an overnight stay and so I could catch the Rothko exhibition at Tate Liverpool and The Rise of Women Artists at The Walker art gallery but the snow arrived at the same time as we did and the day deteriorated as galleries, shops and just about everything closed - buses stopped and we returned to the hotel to watch the white stuff settle quietly over everything - our room overlooked the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Georgian rooftops and it all looked quite lovely from the comfort of our well-heated lodgings. I did get half an hour with the Women Artists and slid up to the Tate the following day to see the Seagram murals but by then the pavements had become treacherous, the Tate closed early, so I called a halt to the visit and we headed for home. Liverpool had no grit and had to borrow it from the Wirral; if hotel gossip is to be believed! It seems bizarre that a city of this size is unable to react to a few inches of snow but hey, thankfully I am not in charge.

I have not been in the studio over Christmas - a combination of my back still recovering and the ice on the inside of the windows. I am also planning a visit to Australia in the next few weeks - so my mind is hardly focussed on work at the moment - a bit of personal grinding to a halt on the creative side for a while.

Plans for 2010 - continue with the gelatin prints when my place defrosts and check out art Australia. Oh, and be kind to my back so it doesn't try this stunt again!