There seems to be too much going on at the moment - the Manchester Contemporary is on this week at Spinningfields from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September, and Hot Bed Press has a stand there; it also has something arranged for the Manchester Weekender (11th - 13th October); inevitably the Manchester Artists' Book Fair (18th and 19th October) looms particularly large for me; and there on the not-distant-enough horizon is HBP's 20:20 print exchange (have a look at the prints from previous years) - while the massive sort of 12,500 prints (sob) into 625 boxes might not be until the beginning of November, I have to print (and allow to dry) an edition of 25 somethings before then, and I haven't quite worked out what, when or how. In fact, I have to declare an interest of sorts in all of these events and, as a consequence of that, my brain is threatening to turn to mush. Why can't it all be spread over six months instead of six weeks?
At the end of summer and the start of autumn, if we're lucky we get some glorious, golden days that blend both seasons into something special. Autumn hints at the future with a touch of butter yellow here, deep red there and an underlying feeling of endings, but late summer warmth fills the world and sunshine gilds every leaf edge. The air is heavy and sleepy, and the default mode of getting around is a dreamy amble.
Today was one of those days and, by happy chance, also the opening day of the exhibition of work by Jen Nuttall and Natasha Lolljee at the Parsonage, Didsbury - a perfect place for a golden day. I'm afraid I didn't give Natasha's work as much attention as I might have, which wasn't fair, but I was there to see Jen's work and it therefore received the lion's share of my time. She has a lovely loose drawing style which translates into print beautifully through her chosen methods of waterless lithography and screenprinting. For many of the pieces here she had built up layer upon layer of imagery, often creating a dense texture that escaped its origins to become something else entirely, hinting at crumple, brocade, crushed velvet. There were massed horses and fountains, wild flocks of birds and buildings, in such profusion that there was almost an archaeological element in the work. You could imagine the infinitely slow and meticulous stripping back of these prints, the separating and laying out of all those layers. Some beautiful juxtapositions of colour too.
This was the biggest work - a wild guess would say 1.5 metres by 2 metres. but I really have no idea.
This one was behind glass, hence the splinters of light across the bottom. I've decided not even to show the other framed one because now that I look at it again, what I can mostly see is the room behind me ... and me, taking a photo. Shame - it was full of horses and had developed some wonderful textured areas.
These two are close-ups from the big work. So much colour!
And then, because it was a lovely day with dramatic sunlight, and Fletcher Moss Gardens are just beyond the Parsonage, I went for a short wander and found a gorgeous avenue of poplars. I'm not a great fan of poplars - to me they always look awkward and ungainly in the landscape, unnatural. Well nothing could be less natural than this avenue of poplars and its fanned barcode of shadows, and it was fantastic. Fletcher Moss Gardens definitely need more exploration.
Above, the immediate view from the front door.
I went along to an exhibition at the Parsonage last November. It bemused me rather, in that the show was curated in such a way as to suggest that the exhibits hadn't been hung or displayed yet. Neither was I quite sure where I could and couldn't go within the building and (pathetic, I know) I didn't quite like to ask any passing stranger. Some lovely work, though, including pieces by Gemma Lacey and Jeni Nuttall.
I went back a few days later and viewed the Parsonage grounds (which also had exhibits). I'm looking forward to a return trip.
Here's Jen's 'Think ink' poster - I intended to put it up with a bunch of others I showed way back when, but somehow made a hash of it when I tried to copy it to my datastick then. After which ... nothing. It sort of fell off the to-do list till now.
Jen has a show coming up next weekend, at the Parsonage, Didsbury - go see all her lovely work on show.
Print for good is an initiative run by The Lab, producing quality printed items for sale with profits going to chosen causes. One of its current chosen causes is Hot Bed Press, and the image above is a screenprint by Sean Rorke under the Print for Good banner, available either through their website or at Hot Bed Press.
As for my own prints, it turns out that I've sold the other unframed 'Chalk and Memory' through the Bath open. Which is a surprise, because I definitely only saw one dot under the framed one on the wall when I went to pick it up from Bath at the weekend. A nice surprise, though. So now there's only the framed print left - it really was a very small edition.
While I was there on saturday, I met Amanda Ralfe. I had popped in to have a last look, mostly at her paintings - but they were in the process of coming down, a scant half hour before the end of the exhibition, so that she and her husband could move them on to the next exhibition. I introduced myself (mostly so she didn't think I was some mad woman, stretching my neck round corners trying to look at her work while she tried to walk off with it) and we discovered we'd both grown up locally in Bradford-on-Avon, back when it had a thriving Avon rubber factory at the heart of it. She reminded me of the factory siren - I had completely forgotten about it till then, and it was so evocative of childhood. Far more so than, say, remembering shops that were there then - the dairy, the Co-op near Christchurch. I do remember them, but looking back from now. The siren though, that transported me straight back to then. For a while I used to wonder if it had some tenuous connection with air raid sirens - both my parents grew up in south coast towns with a large military presence so I used to hear plenty of wartime stories. Now the factory siren is further back in my life than the air raid sirens were then for my parents. Getting older, eh - doesn't it just happen to you.
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.