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.
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.
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.
Artists from the second year of the Hot Bed Press course The Complete Printmaker are having a joint show, Artists' Proof, at The Gallery at Bank Quay House in Warrington, with other printmakers from The Regional Print Centre (Wrexham). Look, look, my print's on the flyer!
As it says, the opening night is Thursday 3rd April, 6-8pm - everyone welcome.
A recycling plant in Salford went up in smoke this week - lots and lots and lots of smoke. Hot Bed Press was rather too close, meaning nightmare traffic and - when the wind was in just the wrong direction - a distinctly kippered atmosphere. I'm sure I heard someone today say that the fire might have to be 'managed' for weeks, but at least it's better than it was - and Manchester looks softer through smoke.
I went on playing with colour regardless.
We are just about finished - a week of initial checks of various sorts, trying to ensure that things run smoothly further in; a week of massed sorting, involving a cast of thousands (well, hundreds (oh alright, but many)); finally a week of boxing up, packing out, sealing (even without allowing for all that parcel tape that gets tied up round itself in sticky, sweary tangles, Cathy and I got through so many rolls of the stuff!), addressing, lugging to the post office, weighing, more than one sharp intake of breath at accumulated costs, and finally - finally - for us at least the job is done. I confess to being appallingly weary right now, and left to myself I think I just might stay in bed tomorrow morning, but alas the tiler is due. Oh well, it'll wear off and the tiles will look great.
Next up will be the Under the Bed Sale at Hot Bed Press (scuze the poor photo - too big to scan),
where we twenty-twentyers will each receive our box of prints. In spite of adding the final print (everyone gets one of their own in the set) to the 50 Hot Bed Press boxes, I was unbelievably virtuous and didn't rifle through them to see who will get what. Of course, it helped that I did that job with Jacqui, but I like to think that I would have been equally good all on my own. Surely.
Hot Bed Press run the Under the Bed sale every year - the premise is that we the printers can offload all sorts of works of art. The ones that were nearly there but maybe we felt just missed the mark in some small way; the ones that have been hanging around for so many years now that we quite fancy seeing the back of them however good they might be; the ones that are excess to requirement or that we lost interest in or that we just would like to contribute out of the goodness of our hearts. Some of the money made goes to the artists and some to Hot Bed Press towards equipment, supplies - every little helps on both sides of the deal, and on top of that the buyer gets to take home beautiful images, to keep or to give. Come along and find some bargains, see the studio, talk to the printmakers. It's always fun.
Well, it's begun. All the preparatory checks have been done since the 1st November deadline, and today we started on the main action - filling boxes. One day down, who knows how many more to go... and then it'll be time for the careful and time-consuming packing up of boxes into boxes, wrapping, labelling, queuing to post them, waiting for confirmation that they've arrived und so weiter. Meanwhile Andy came out of the office looking quite cross-eyed after yet another day of scanning scanning scanning. But on the plus side, we get to see hundreds of gorgeous prints - pretty damn good crop, this year.
I mentioned, not so very long ago, that HBP was taking part in the Manchester Weekender - so today two pairs of valiant souls, Claire and Rob, and Andy and Sam, are in charge of two Radical Print wandering workshops, wending their wobbly, windswept way(s?) along the Oxford Road corridor, either twittertyping or letterpressing for passers-by, and handing out ('here are some we made earlier') posters, flyers and leaflets with a more (or less) radical message.
I rather enjoyed producing stuff for it - nothing took too long and, because it was by far the quickest way to produce slightly 'arty' copies in reasonably large numbers, all were reproduced on the workshop risograph.
This is another poster for this year's Manchester Artists' Book Fair - well, actually it'll be the catalogue cover, but I think it works nicely as a poster. We distribute letterpressed bookmarks as flyers locally - set and mostly printed by Elizabeth Willow (letterpress artist, book artist, performance artist, probably everything-else artist too - she never seems to stop doing, yet still manages to look cool, calm and competent) - so the middle of the poster is a copy of this year's bookmark and the outside is a fabric pattern as printed (in burgundy) by our local risograph and eco-friendly printers marc.
Anyway, so I spent a good section of yesterday tramping round sections of Manchester leaving a trail of bookmarks wherever I thought they would be well received - hence the sore feet (better now, thanks for asking). Plenty more to go, though. They're often printed on discarded screenprints, resulting in a random range of designs - there have been a couple (or so) each year that I have failed to part with; the collection is coming along quite well.
And I managed to include a couple of exhibitions en route. First was MMU Special Collection's The Language of Process: how new materials and technologies are changing product design ( Monday 23rd September - Friday 20th December; just ask on the ground floor of the library and they'll direct you). I had bookmarks in mind, but (not surprisingly, on a saturday) the people I wanted weren't there to talk to. The exhibition was there, however, so I had a good browse. I thought it would be good - when I put it on the book fair site, I thought I should look up the named designers at least, and liked what I found - and it is good. At first I wasn't quite sure just how good - the first few pieces are fine enough but not overly exciting - but then I reached the lit up section. Remember, I don't approach this as a designer or even an artist - what I want is the 'ooo' factor, and for me the area with lights was where I first felt it. I think my favourite piece of the show has to be the analog digital clock by Maarten Baas. It looks just like a digital clock at first, but you don't have to watch for long before realising that something isn't... quite... right. There are odd shadows. Time changes surprisingly slowly. What it turns out be instead is a film, 12 hours long, showing someone physically changing the time in front of your eyes by painting over and wiping off windows. You can see them, moving about! Isn't that great? With the added little twist that back in the days of analogue only, 12 hours straight off just couldn't have been filmed. Fantastic. I also thought My new flame by Moritz Waldmeyer for Ingo Maurer was rather brilliant - tall, slender, circuit board candles with digital flames at the top, but such wonderfully convincing flames. I didn't blow at them, inspite of the urge, because I didn't want the disappointment of them not bending as I blew (and besides, what if they had done? What if I 'blew' one out? What then??). There was, in fact, a shedload of excellent work there, and I'm not going to go through the lot because I think people should visit - so just a few more mentions. The ripple tank table (Daniel O'Riordan) is a very understated but lovely item, a table with ripples on the surface - and you don't have to feed any fish. I loved the idea of the chairfix by Ben Wilson - a simple design, made democratic by all being made from one sheet of many-ply wood, then made original again by the designs printed on it. And Etive (Drummond Masterton) was a small metal cup (non-functional, as they described it) containing the topography of part of Glen Etive. Most of the work, if not all of it, has computer design at the very heart of it - that is, after all, much of the point of the exhibition.
Later in the afternoon I made it to the John Rylands. I had remembered that the Polari exhibition, organised by Jez Dolan and Joseph Richardson was on - Jez is a member of Hot Bed Press, so we were able to see some of the work being created. I didn't want to miss the show, but it turns out that it's on till February, which is good because it was reasonably scattered and I'm sure I only found some of it on this visit. I had forgotten, however, that the Boccaccio exhibition was showing too. Lots of old, old books with dense type or script and with illuminated letters, plus a couple of cabinets full of artists' books made especially for the exhibition. But I was really by now on the bookmark trail, so again a return visit is in order, and I have until December. Though I must not wait that long! I already have two exhibitions I'd like to see next week before they disappear. It's too easy to think 'I still have time' until I don't.
I was going to talk about the Manchester Contemporary (already a week gone) as well, but maybe later.
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.