I thought the two on the left were rather fun, but these cuties on the right appeared recently (courtesy of Pete) and beat the socks off them.
Was musing still on Angel Place (it has that effect) and decided that the word Grace on the stonework is a very good summary of the whole painting. It has grace.
A little unfair, I realise. I know it was sunny in the south because that's where I was last week, but I'm sure it was (nearly) as sunny in the north. I was on one of my periodic trips, this time to include picking up the rejected prints from Bath and seeing the exhibition.
What can I say? The standard was high, of course it was, it always is. Comparing to last year, I would say that for me there were fewer knock-out works, less range of work, but also fewer 'why on earth?' pieces. The prizes seemed (to me) to make more sense this year too - I didn't always agree (why would I, necessarily? My judging standards mostly come down to how much I like a piece, I don't know enough to say whether something is 'good' in other ways), but I never found myself gawping in disbelief either. Equally, while I certainly don't have strong feelings that I should have got into the show with one of my prints (it'll be back to my comfort zone for me from now on, I suspect), neither do I feel that either of them would have looked particularly sub-standard on the wall. Which is faintly comforting.
Somehow the notes I took this year aren't proving terribly evocative, but maybe that reflects my less intense reaction to the show. Unfair - there was some wonderful work. I stuck with the unwieldy foldy catalogue this year and scribbled on that, and some of the things I've written aren't helping. Next to one piece, for instance, I have put 'Nearly really nice'. Fair enough, I'm entitled to my opinion - if only I had the foggiest idea what exactly the opinion was formed around, what the picture was, what on earth I meant. Another note for a different pic says 'Like enough'. Well that's alright?
So how to do this? In random and scattershot fashion seems a good idea, but I could start with a couple of the prizes.
One of the works that won a prize (that prize being to be shown later on at the Rostra Gallery) was definitely one of my favourites. Called Angel Place (by Andrew Lansley), it's fairly large, shows a reasonably typical Bath house and is set off beautifully by a dusty blue-grey background that emphasises the cool evening shades of the image and really makes the difference (another of his pieces, while also beautifully executed, had nothing like the same heft). It has an almost other-worldly feel to it and I just can't quite put my finger on what makes it so special - which is great; why on earth should I know how the magic works? The sky is painted in the most amazingly delicate strands - perhaps that adds to the somehow pure ambience. It can't all be in the name.
The drawing prize was won by Paul Newman's Langdonhill 3, soft and misty, delicate and evocative, altogether lovely. His other, even mistier, work - Bellever Tor (Sudden Mist) - was just as lovely. To have such skill with a pencil - I'm envious, but I know it also must require oodles of time and patience and attention to detail. Not my particular quality set, so I guess the lack of drawing ability on my part matters less than it might.
Other winners included Bob Rudd's Llangrannog (watercolour prize) - a worthy winner (how can I dare to sound so pompous?) but I preferred Tim Wilmot's Road to Mount Uludag, Turkey, simply for the heat and light that poured out of it - and Leslie Glenn Damhus' Lady Playing with Cat's Cradle (portrait prize), which is delightful (loved his work last year too) and is, I know, a portrait in its way, but in a more mainstream portrait vein I very much liked Miche Watkins' Betrayed. Good grief, my tenses are all over the place. Was, is, I'm tying myself in knots, but I'm not going to try to get them all to match, so never mind.
Here's a picture of Dog. Well, no, of course it isn't. It's my half-a-second sketch next to the catalogue entry to remind me of what the image was like (ignore the first scrawl - that, believe it or not, is a star to mark a work I like). No use to anyone else, of course, but it works for me. However, Sally Muir has a site containing many dogs, all eagerly waiting to leap off the page - have a look.
There were plenty more favourites, but I'll just pick out the ones I seem to have made comments about. I love the brightness and the blues and yellows of Susan Kirkman's Landscape; the way the wooden substrate lends all its texture to Rosie Mack's Black House (I have a suspicion I've been starring her work in the catalogues for years) ; Chitra Merchant's Lumen (I should save up for one of her larger screenprints); Fay Stevens' Trace: Element (I think it was on felt?); Joanna Wright's Two Hellebores (my comment simply say 'teacup' - there was a teacup); and the small, intense, beautiful Memories by Lyn Harradine.
Writing about an exhibition - especially an open exhibition, where the work is so enormously varied - cannot do it any justice at all. Visit, that's my advice. I'll certainly be going back for another extended browse before the show finishes at the end of May.
Just finished a weekend course at Hot Bed Press, sewing book after book after book - glorious! The ever-lovely Elizabeth Willow was the tutor who led us with dancing hands through two days of learning long stitch, japanese stab stitches, coptic stitch, palm leaf books and more - and every new technique resulted in another gorgeous book for us to add to our growing collections. Not to mention that she provided us each with a box to keep everything in! And Elizabeth surrounded us with little things of incidental beauty, from a collection of summery floral china saucers (for the one session of gluing) to a needle case made from frayed velvet, so that the whole experience was a pleasure in every way. Really, what better way to spend time?
For now, what I really need to do is go practise all the various stitching methods, slowly and often until they're really bedded in. And I need to do it as soon as possible, before forgetting starts to set in. Then I need to use those by-then-well-honed techniques to make lots of exciting new books - the ideas are queuing up already.
Elizabeth had a display of her books on a side table - one particular book caught my eye and mind, called What is to be done? and full of her signature sideways take on the world. It was (inevitably) delightful, eccentric, unbelievably feel-good, with unforgettable phrases as 'grow monstrous marrows and cress on cotton wool'; 'hips and haws and dubious mushrooms'; 'drink fire and woodsmoke from a bottle'. Loved it.
Continuing the bookish theme, I have recently been reminded that I need to make 100 bookmarks by June - something that, because I signed up for it well over a year ago (possibly two?), I had more or less completely forgotten. Oh well, I've still got time.
In spite of what I said, disappointed not to make it into the Bath open this year - though I feel a little peeved that I had to phone up the gallery and ask. Still, never mind. Move on.
Lots of news about the Bath Open Art exhibition opening today. Alas I don't know if my work is in there or not. Presumably not, as I haven't received a postcard. They seem to have received more entries than normal and I had my own doubts about the prints I submitted, so I refuse to be too disappointed. I'll pick them up next week.
We hung the show in Warrington today - that would be Artists' Proof, the joint exhibition being put on by the Regional Print Centre Wrexham and second year Complete Printmakers from Hot Bed Press. It was a little uncomfortable while everyone's numbers of pics were trimmed back to fit - what? not that one? not this one? - but once we were past that point it was all about unwrapping, arranging, rearranging, attaching to hooks, a hundred tiny jigs to get the prints hanging straight and looking good next to their neighbours, then standing back and admiring our part in the operation. Curator Emma Kelly saved us from having to cull our own work and did the deciding of what looked good where - we were her willing assistants. Tomorrow's the opening - meanwhile, here are some snaps from before:
and here's a sneak preview of after:
and because it seemed an awful shame to let all those other framed works go to waste, we've put up an impromptu show at Hot Bed Press - the spare exhibition, as it were. Just a couple of photos here - too much reflection on the other prints:
Artists' Proof - our exhibition at the Gallery at Bank Quay House in Warrington - is nearly upon us. Little groups of framed and mounted prints are dotted all around Hot Bed Press:
Tomorrow it's the taking of everything - framed prints, prints for the browsers, browsers, stuff to clean the glass, other stuff to finish off any not-quite-ready-to-hang work, bags for all the rubbish (see all that bubble wrap? see all those cardboard corners?), lists, more lists - over to Warrington for the hanging. And on Thursday it's the open evening, 6-8pm, everybody welcome.
I make prints and book arts, though nowhere near as often as I'd like - no good reason, just an inability to get on with things. I occasionally go on about landscape (with which I am mildly obsessed) and various of its elements, and I like to pass comment on exhibitions I visit.