Sunday, 13 December 2015

Visit to 78 Derngate, Northampton - an ambition realised!!!

This is going to be rather a giant post, photos wise, but just wanted to share this wonderful place!!!!! Its great to realise an ambition and dream. I have wanted to see the mackintosh house in Northampton for a very long time - 20 years+ probably!! Well today I got the chance as we were doing a Northampton road trip!  78 Derngate is a Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed house, commissioned for the Northampton model engineer W J Bassett-Lowke. Mackintosh never visited but it was wholly deisgned bu him in 1916, just as WW1 was happening. Its a very distinctive place...wonderful to see in its completeness, the vision of a brilliant architect and designer. Its only a modest size house. And space is used to a premium, with tucked away cupboards and sweet little space saving devices through out the house. You get to walk through the house freely too, with helpful staff to hand to ask questions or take the tour of the house with.

To read more, visit:

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Collingwood College, Surrey - 260 Year 9's headdresses! front and back....

Here is one of the headdresses showing the two sides, the front and the constructed back. You can see that its mainly a folded head band, with a curved support and a front decorative panel. I used fabric sample books cut up for the front pieces. feathers then made with A4 paper cut up and the whole thing assembled using staples, clear sticky tape and double sided tape too.


Cut paper Brazilian headdresses and 260 Year 9's!!!

Last week I had a full-on couple of days at a huge school in Surrey – Collingwood College. I knew it was going to be busy – the project was two days in school with 260 Year 9 pupils spread over 10 lessons, so about 55 min each. It was alongside a dancer doing Brazilian dancing and also Ravin Jayasuriya from One Voice Music doing drumming workshop – the aim being that the students could wear their headdresses as they drummed or danced! It was all part of a whole college Enterprise Week.

I spent time in the studio making a mock up and a lot of what I found was that was card and layered paper was needed together to give strength to make the headdresses stand up. At heart it was about construction and paper engineering.  I knew too with those numbers that it would need to be component based that allowed for customisation, so I made a headdress in three main parts and then the addition of cut paper feathers. With so many coming through PVA glue wasn't the answer for sticking together, so I ordered a load of staplers and double sided tape and Selotape so that the pieces could be put together quickly and cleanly, with the students able to take them away straight away and wear them.

The headdresses worked fantastically well. All the students were engaged and made a piece, but what was magical was just how many wore them straight away around school and wanted group pics taken. It was really magical to see, especially with the Year 9 boys. I think the project worked so well as it gave then permission for be organically creative, but also have a pattern to follow so that success was guaranteed too. It worked so well too because it involved team work, individual learning and hand eye coordination, team work, paper engineering to work out how to support shapes and weight and brought them together as a a class.

Have a look at the some of the 260 that were made!

Over the two days we got the delivery of the lesson down to a fine art. The head of art – Kathy Witt would introduce me and then I would deliver the lesson and then the head of art or class teacher wrapping up with discussion evaluation and gallery.  I was so impressed with the department. There wasn't really a house style...lots of varied and broad work on show. The staff too were incredibly friendly and just lovely to work with. It was all very concentrated but I was able to talk to all the students about being an artist and what I do and the art teachers were really glad to have me as a real live artist in the room.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

My red shoes - artefacts of a child who had a mother

You may think that the work I make is generally just illustrations of places I have been. Views of places that I have loved and visited and that is  about it. Well, there is other works I make that though seemingly simplistic, hold a lot more depth and content than would first appear. Take these little red shoes. They are currently at my exhibition at Alfred East Art Gallery, Kettering in the "Views and Shoes" exhibition that closes this Saturday. 

These shoes belonged to me when I was a little child, probably about three. I still have them... in my "precious" biscuit tin in the loft. They are artefacts of proof that actually as a small child I did have a mother that would have put these on. You see, when you have a death of a mother as a child - I was five - there are things you hold onto to make sense of it. Artefacts that prove that she actually did live once. They are the things I would fundamentally save from a fire... that and my photos.

For the exhibition "Views and Shoes" I wanted to make pieces based on them to link to my past history and my connection with the shoe cobbling trade. My father was a cobbler as was my father before that so shoes and leather seem to be part of my DNA!  Below are my fathers words describing his father and his cobbling workshop in the village. Its tiny I know.... I will do a transcript very soon and post on here so you can read it properly.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

U3A - the finished work!

Here are the finished pieces made on the adult paper cutting workshop day. It was a wonderful day. I met some really super people and it was great to show them what I do and for them to have a go too. I love teaching adults. It's fantastic to hear their stories  and to share local connections. A few of the women on the course had gone to my old school a fair time before me and it was so funny to compare stories!

All the little birds laid out.....

Lots of colour!

Requested by the group - table top gallery time!!!

Take one little bird....U3A adult paper cutting workshop

For the U3A adult paper cutting workshop I prepared pre-drawn sheets for the people on the course to work from. Over the time years I have been running workshops I have found that adults are much happier if they have some structure to work from. A blank piece of paper can be a very scary thing and can inhibit people hugely. So having a piece of paper with something on it means people have something to hang onto to start with.

SO.....I supplied everyone on the course with a little bird. hey were all hand drawn so all of them varied. Some had big beaks, small wings or the other way round! And what I had hoped happen did. Some people stuck to the image, but others customised it and made the bird into something more personal.

Here are the birds made of the day. Look carefully at each one and see how different the cut line is in each. A line cut with a blade almost is like a signature. It has its own individual look and energy! Notice too how the design was changed with the addition of grass, or flowers or incidental lines of decoration. It was great to see them being made and unfold.