And all of a sudden June is upon us

So as you may well know, we’re leaving the UK on June 25th with a one way ticket to Canada, where we will be giving a new life a go on the IEC visa for the next 2 years. Months have melted into weeks and then soared into days, with that odd combination of time feeling simultaneously fast and slow.

It’s weird how May seemed so chilled. The end of June still seemed far enough away that we felt like we had forever to get everything sorted. I will admit though, towards the end of May I started having printmaking anxiety dreams. Dreams in which I arrived at the studio and all of the screens were strapped up ready to ship off, completely un-usable. And another one in which my rooster litho stone had, for some reason, been carved into as if it were a lino block – only leaving the lines raised, with the rest of the dream involving me struggling to make an edition. Niche anxiety dreams right? What happened to the teeth falling out or just endlessly falling?

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I’m really going to miss this place

Over the last week or so, that anxiety has gradually shifted into an interesting mix of acceptance and focus. I have managed to get my head around the fact that there just isn’t time to complete the multitude of projects that I have lined up in my head. This has allowed me to concentrate on a select few things – making a frame for the print I’m giving my cousin as a wedding gift; printing and framing a gift for my grandma; finally editioning the roster litho; and trying to use up any excess book cover screen prints and recycled paper folios that are still in my 2 plan chest drawers.

The result of this has been a very satisfying and productive last few days in the studio – having made over 40 sketchbooks, editioned the rooster, and made 4 frames for various people including my cousin and grandma.

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Despite the stress of leaving such an amazing space and opportunity behind (albeit to pursue a lifelong dream) – I feel that being forced to let go a little bit over the last week or so has been a really valuable experience. Yes I will always strive to do more, and to do better – but sometimes you just have to go with what life gives you and mould yourself to it. Things don’t always have to come to fruition right now, because you can always find a way in the future if that’s what you need and want to do.

Arts Facilitator training at London’s October Gallery

So on the 9th May I went along to one of the free CPD sessions run by the October Gallery. The session lasted just over 90mins, but was probably the most informative and productive 90mins I have ever had during a training session!

Expertly delivered by Becky and Georgia, the gallery’s education co-ordinators, the session took us through a practical example of how to run a gallery-based art workshop. We went through about half an hours worth of activities, each of which had a common thread running through them which gradually opened up the participants to get involved and to interact with the exhibition on a meaningful level.

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For the first activity we were each given a couple of photos, which were images of sections of the artworks on display. We then had to find the work and leave the image on the floor infront of it. Such a good idea! It quickly gets you engaged in looking at the work on show in a more active way.

The second activity involved a red and a green card. The idea being that now you had to chose a piece you liked – placing the green card on the floor infront of it; and a piece that you didn’t like – placing the red card on the floor infront of it. There was then a short period of time where cards were pointed out by the facilitator and the corresponding ‘chooser’ was given a chance to give constructive reasons for their like/dislike – thinking about colour, form, materials, composition etc. At this point the facilitator was able to pick up on key points made by the participants and give relevant background info on the artist and their processes.

Then came the circle game. Each participant is given a small card circle and a piece of chalk. There is a large piece of kraft paper taped to the floor, which the participants have to throw the circle at it, and then draw around the circle. Then you have to keep throwing your circle, trying to get it back into the last circle – each time drawing around it where it lands. After a few throws you can then continue to throw and draw, or you can begin colouring in your circles. This activity is a ‘game-i-fied’ piece of collaborative artwork, and in this particular context was used as a way to explore the idea of creating a composition in a similar way to the artist whose work we were looking at – using chance.

We then sat and talked about how to then encourage participants to evaluate a session, before splitting off into small groups to make our own workshop plans which we later talked through infront of everyone. This last part was incredibly useful, and each group came up with some really nice ideas for alternative games and activities that could be used to accompany the exhibition that was on there.


At the time, they had an exhibition on called ‘Benchmarks’ – which included a selection of printed works by El Anatsui – it was a great show! He’s someone I’ve been aware of – but not someone whose work I’ve been massively in to, even though visually it is really interesting (he crosses that odd boundary of Artist / Conceptualist, getting others to make his work for him, which I sometimes struggle with.) I first came across his work through Art 21, in this video showing his studio practice:

Anyway, I’m getting off topic….the training was awesome, and if you’re in London and are looking for some gallery/exhibition space based training then you should definitely check the October Gallery’s CPD page out!

 

Getting back into it

So since the move things have felt a little stagnant. Upheaval can really make it feel like you’ve hit the pause button within your personal life, while everything else races on around you. I don’t know where the last 2 weeks have gone! All I know is that my etsy is feeling a bit stale (although I did sell a bag last week), and that life is too short to get stuck in the oh-my-gods of a sideways shift in your day to day life.

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Screen set up ready to print my new fabric labels

Simply getting back in the studio last Tuesday to print labels for my bags was enough to get the ball rolling again. Sometimes you need something like that to force you back into action. So last week I spent Tuesday eve, Wednesday day and Thursday eve in the studio working on various bits and pieces – some etsy stuff, and some lithography. I managed to finally etch the 2nd colour layer for my white rooster commission, and after a few teething problems managed to get the main image layer printed on some paper samples I picked up from John Purcell Paper a couple of weeks ago.

 

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2nd colour layer for the white rooster litho

I’m still new to lithography, so when the ink wouldn’t wash out of my closed stone I did feel a pang of anxiety! Paul assured me that the ink should still take, it just might take a little longer to get an evenly inked print. I spent 4 hours in the studio last Thursday, partly sorting out my new etsy packaging, but mostly stressing over getting my white rooster litho to print like it had before!

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White Rooster commission on 4 different types of paper

I’m so happy I’ve got the White Rooster proofed on a few different types of paper now, as it means I’m closer to getting the edition done. I tried out Fabriano artistico in traditional white in both 225 and 300gsm, Zerkall 902 smooth in 225gsm and Simili Japon in 225gsm. I think I’m going to go with the Simili Japon, top right in the picture above – it’s nice and smooth and is a lovely warm white, which I think suits the image better. So excited to be editioning my first lithograph!!!!