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29 July 2010

The SAW Open Studio Catalogues are here!

Behold, the beautiful cover to the Open Studios Event catalogue! Available in all good libraries, information centres, art galleries and more...

Exciting stuff! I picked up the SAW catalogue today at the Auction House and have preceded in highlighting all the places I'd like to go visit this year. From an 'emerging' artist point of view this year is particularly exciting as it is the first year I have taken part in art weeks and also because I recognise and/or know a lot of the artists in it too. Both of which make it a lot more relevant for me and so I'll be looking to visit and talk to as many of you involved as possible. On the other hand if you're not an artist and you're someone that enjoys to look around the venues and talk to artists it would be great to hear your experiences as well.

Here's to what looks like what will be a diverse, interesting and incredibly busy two weeks!

26 July 2010


Yesterday evening I went to the Brewhouse, where (unfortunately I had missed the Westival) I saw the video of the 'Way of the goat' in the gallery. Being a capricious Capricorn myself I liked the idea of people trying to mimic the climbing methods and habits of goats in this piece and think it would have been a good opportunity to have seen the workshop they did for this earlier this month. However seeing the video was still fun and left me thinking that it would be interesting to see some of the 'goat impersonations' of the people in the video (set in Devon and Snowdonia) in a different context of the urban environment as apposed to the goats natural one.
Needless to say this film really got my goat (in a good way) and is worth a look if you get a chance to see it at the Brewhouse until August 7th.

17 July 2010

Popping in the pop up shop!

It definitely has to be said that artists are amongst the most enterprising and innovative people in society (in my opinion at least). However, I think you'd agree that at the very least artists attempt to find new and inventive ways to make that extra bit of money to help fund their work or future exhibitions/events. Often these enterprises are creative and can take the form of selling cards, prints or auctioning off smaller pieces of work (usually not a 6 by 8ft cow!) that are more affordable for the general public. So everyone is a winner, you and I can take home a piece of the artists work at a reasonable price and the artist makes a small profit whilst knowing that their postcard, magnet or key chain is also promoting their work at the same time.
I sometimes feel slightly adverse to this sort of consumerism and think that sometimes, of course it can be a little bit tacky and kitsch. Although, if it all goes towards a greater good of supporting a particular artist or group then I don't see that as anything but sincere. So, I was really delighted to support two artists from my peer group at College, Martin Joiner and Felix Stochaj with their 'Pop up' shop of hand printed and designed t-shirts and bags. Felix Stochaj has taken the 'Stub Footed Pigeon' brand from previous art fund raising events and DJ sets at the Perfect Fifth in Taunton and embellished it onto bags and shirts and fellow artist, Martin Joiner has designed some new images for shirts as well (see image below). Keep your eyes peeled for them at Alma Street in Taunton this weekend or out and about the town with their trolley of wares. An inspiring idea and testament that artists really are enterprising (as if you needed convincing!). Good stuff!
Close up of the hand printed shirts by Martin Joiner and Felix Stochaj for sale in their 'Pop up shop'
Martin Joiner displaying his wares

Check out the 'Pop up' Shop at Alma Street, Taunton 11.00-4.00 this weekend and buy lovely bags like this one!

16 July 2010

It's good to be back!

Greetings from the not so messy, white spirit, bleach, oil paint and gin soaked desk of my home away from home at the Parsley residence in Taunton. Where have I been for the last week you may ask? I have had the pleasure of residing at Somerset College where myself and two artists; Brain Gibson and Paul Hurley are 'in residence' for the next few weeks. More specifically, the residency is a month long project under the 'Context' project which has been set up, created and managed by Emily Bull (currently studying a MA in Arts Business Management at Dartington). Context is a series of projects that aim to provide opportunities for artists, communities and professionals to engage and develop in the visual arts in Somerset. There has already been a series of short films by Somerset based artists projected in rural communities in Somerset and a evening for debate on the discussion of Art in the South West.

So, I leaped at the chance to go back to my old University College and make a mess all over again, see some old faces (and some even older faces!) and hopefully learn and have more adventures along the way. I'm working alongside two other artists, Paul Hurley and Brian Gibson (please see links to their work below) which is a welcome and exciting prospect after working alone for a lot of my work this last year! We are writing a separate blog to which I've added a link on the side if you would like to follow our progress and because I just can't seem to get enough of blogs at the moment!

The residency is taking place from the 12th July til the impending Friday 13th August when we hope to exhibit or show some of the work we've produced in that time. It aims to be a 'public' affair so we encourage anyone who wants to get involved in working with us on this project to please contact us (more info to follow on the context blog soon).

Myself, I'm looking at a certain favourite subject matter of mine, tools, once again! So I'm looking for anyone with unusual tools or things specific to their particular trade to use as a source for creating images from. How specific objects hold significance or history in them from the person who works with them is what I'm interested in. Anyway, its already been a week and I think I've done a successful job at making a mess on the floor and walls of the Fine Art studio thus far. Its definitely quite a challenge to focus oneself for a month to produce something after having no structure for the best part of a year. Being back in my old college also raises my own sense of expectations and perhaps doubts with me having to re-question critically my practice and think am I supposed to have developed a maturity towards my practice in the time since I left?! Ha ha! We'll have to wait and see.

Visit: for more information about Somerset College Art courses...

Still from a previous performance by Performance Artist Paul Hurley

My 'residential' studio space at the end of week one!

Work by Brian Gibson

15 July 2010

Bath Place Arts Festival 2010

Last Thursday those of you who attended Bath Place Arts Festival may have remembered being harassed by me as I doubled up on roles of spectator and promoter handing out fliers and drinking wine simultaneously. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to promote our, then, upcoming show at the Auction House to an audience that was made up of people interested in the arts and I was not disappointed! The weather was sunny which along with the promise of new and contemporary art had led to a really good turn-out down this unique and shopping street in Taunton's town centre.
It was very rewarding to see the enthusiasm and teamwork that all the shops adopted in making this event something unique and different in Taunton. Whilst there are three art galleries in Bath place (Ginger Fig, Crescent Galleries and Makers) it was great to have clothes shops, cafes, Brendon books, Jane Armour Trading and Krackers participate as well to create lots of different venues to view work in. Talking to the shop owners and artists also made this evening very lively and interesting. Highlights for me would be Rebecca Birtwhistle's architectural, Gothic pen and mixed media paintings and Helen Kinghts cardboard and mixed media pieces also in Brendon Books. I was also particularly excited to see some prints by Jeremy Speck in the window of Krackers where I thought the bold style of Speck's prints was placed very well in a comic book shop window, contextually I liked how they worked together. Similarly after being taught by Chris Howe and Tim Martin, I was genuinely excited to see their paintings at the festival as well.
What perhaps made the festival particularly strong was the diversity of work on offer from print making, painting and stone carving there was quite a good mixture of styles. It is very reassuring and hopeful to see events like this happening on my doorstep and I would have thought it must be a positive thing for the town as a whole from a business and a cultural point of view. I know me and my friend, Lucy Beer certainly had a really good time and would like to thank and support events like this one to continue to thrive. I look forward to next year!

11 July 2010

More from the Auction House 'Emergence' exhibition

Paintings by Alison Page

A few more images to give you an idea of the variety of work on offer at the show. The private view was yesterday (Saturday 10th) and the show is now open everyday except Sundays 10.00-4.30pm. Please check it out.

“It was a huge help to be able to discuss with the artists themselves the motivation, influences and the techniques that led them to undertake their respective have that insight made interpretation of what we were seeing easier........the overall quality of what we saw was very high indeed.” -Mayor of Taunton Jefferson Horsley

Scarlet Von Teazel's shoes
Natalie Parsley's painting

Installation by Lucy Lean

Sculpture by Mike West and painting by Mark Nesbit

Auction House Exhibition!

What a week! So, from last Sunday up until Friday I have been helping to hang a show at the Auction House on Canal Street in Taunton. As I mentioned in a previous post the exhibition features 17 artists from the 'emerging art group' SEAN (one of whom is me, hence my involvement) and has over 105 pieces of work that have been painstakingly hung over the last week. There really is so much to talk about during this week with the hanging and opening of the show but I'd like to give a mention to Bath Place Arts Festival which opened on Thursday (stay tuned for a future post on this event) as well.

Andrea Rowbotham's paintings

Liz Fathers's installation

Paintings from Elizabeth Earley

The 'flags of hope' donated from North Devon arts week used to make the Auction House 'stand out'
The tower of cows that we all painted to vacate into the parking lot outside the auction house. Irony intended as it used to be the cattle market.

6 July 2010

Is there any such thing as a 'part-time' artist?

When asked the question, ‘what do you do for a living?’ I usually reply with a split answer because I’m a part-time bookseller and a part-time artist. That is the reality of the situation; however in financial terms I would not exactly say either (or even the two combined) was much of a ‘living’ but that’s not really why I chose to have this double life. There are benefits and cons to both situations. However after spending every hour of my spare time this week on art projects it begs the question, is there really any such thing as a part-time artist?

It often feels like I am really just a bookseller and lead an ‘alternative’ and almost at times secretive undercover life of being an artist, like really it is just a hobby on the side of what I do in the daytime. Of course I don’t treat it that way and have found it at times a difficult and at times a educational experience to sustain the two and have them both taken seriously. I am not alone in this aspect and can think of many artists who, like me work part-time, in teaching for example as well as continuing their artistic career in their spare time. Do part-time artists gain or loose out when it comes to opportunities and promoting their work?

In deciding to attempt this lifestyle for a year I wanted to develop my understanding and experience of the art networks available in Somerset. Things like finding out who and what exactly were out there in the seemingly big and mysterious unknown art world. I wanted to build my professional portfolio in different art practices. For example, my first experience was a commission for a mural at a local school which was one of my first ‘big’ solo undertakings since graduating. I then had experience on a public art project for Taunton Deane which really helped my understanding of the context of art in Somerset. Currently I am writing on this internship with SAW gaining another perspective into a more public and marketing side to the arts. Whilst all of these were ’part-time’ undertakings they have also felt at times like full time commitments which is why I question if an artist can every really be part-time. Not that I am complaining, mind, because I enjoy and deliberately throw as much time as possible at my art because I enjoy it. I am sure none of you reading this would probably need convincing that the benefits of making and working in the arts brings a sense of satisfaction and value sometimes that money cannot buy.

I personally do not feel as though I have missed out on art experiences due to juggling between two jobs when in fact one has often enhanced the other. Working in the bookshop for example has given me time for reflection and inspired me through the books I’ve discovered and people I have worked with. I was at first surprised to discover how creative people outside the bubble of my art education are and then humbled by their support and responses to my own art endeavours. I have been very fortunate and think if I had to pick some bad points to working part-time it would be that I couldn’t throw myself as much and as ambitiously as I would have wanted to in some projects and some commissions and residencies are only interested in artists who can make a full-time commitment. Surely the main thing is that whether you are full-time or part-time, half-time or all the time as long as you’re still going that’s the main thing. After all,
It’s not exactly a living, but it’s a life!
Please let me know any thoughts or experiences you have on the subject.

1 July 2010

We are emerging!

The above is an invite to you to come support and look at the first exhibition from the Somerset Emerging Artists Network (and if that's too much of a mouthful call us SEAN) at the Auction House, Canal Road in my very own home town of Taunton! I am personally very excited about this one as I am involved in this group which first formed many moons ago through a meeting held at the SAW Hub back in....I think October/November last year. Since then we have grown in numbers and in our tenacity to really make a good network for new artists and graduates like myself to have a start point in which to 'emerge' from.

I'm not particularly a fan of the term 'emerging artist' it brings up images in my head of crawling and struggling out of some dark unpleasant place in order to progress, as it were, into the light and goodness of becoming a fully fledged artist. This isn't really the case, in fact, some of the greatest artists in the history of art could be said to have never emerged until their deaths (think Van Gogh). So don't let the emerging title fool you and expect the un-expected!

Things are just about underway nearly ready for hanging this exhibition next week of which I'll be helping. The venue of the Auction House (located on the old Farmer's market site) is really appropriate a venue for representing local artists and, if I may be personal once again, is a poignant site for me to relate to in my own practice as I have made prints of tools from my grandfather's farm who used to take his cattle to market there every Saturday up until it closed for the last sixty years. Similarly another artist, Lucy Pearn has prints of scenes of pheasant plucking on her farm. However, there are also innovative and fun sculptures from Mike West, abstract paintings of landscapes from Andrea Rowbotham, textile based Fine Art work from Lucy Lean and many, many more! There are well over 12 artists involved all of whom live locally and feature a variety of talents from printmaking, film, photography, textiles, painting and sculpture. I'm sure it will be a very interesting and contemporary show that is also an important development for Taunton in what we hope will help to encourage more artists to emerge in dis-used buildings throughout the county.

So remember 12th July - 6th August 10.00-4.30pm Auction House, Canal Street, Taunton

It would be great to see you there and hear your views please check it out! Or if you are planning something similar let me know?

Art book of the month: June

Maybe its because I work in a bookshop, maybe its because I love books, but whatever my motives I could not resist the thought of having a book of the month spot on the blog. I think I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't use this opportunity to talk about a book or two. Naturally, I will keep the theme on art books of any nature; so poetry, textiles, fashion, graphics, illustration, photography, art theory and architecture are all included as possibilities to name a few.
So the book of the month for June is: The case for working with your hands by Matthew Crawford
This is an excellent read for anyone who feels disenchanted with the hum drum of office work and wants to reconnect with the pure satisfaction of working with ones hands. Crawford looks into the economic struggle of contemporary society in which more and more of us find ourselves forced into management and office based jobs. By describing his own experiences as a philosophy graduate and motorcycle mechanic Crawford argues that graduates are coming out with degrees in 'thinking' and with lots of knowledge leaving society with a lack of people with practically minded skills. The analogy of 'we only notice what a washing machine 'is' when it is broken' is used, for example, to describe how we take for granted the function of things with little idea of what they actually are until they cease to work. The bigger picture of all this being that practically minded workers, creative minded people are increasingly important in society, especially if not more so now in times of austerity.

'The great promise of the creative era is that, for the first time in our history, the further development of our economic competitiveness hinges on the further development of human creative capabilities. In other words, our economic success increasingly turns on harnessing the creative talents of each and every human being.'

This book proposes some interesting points of view and as a graduate myself I find at times it was quite difficult to hear quite a negative view of the degree system however it also made a lot of positive comments on the arts and creativity in particular so I feel like maybe there was a middle ground where a degree in the creative arts perhaps met the best of both worlds in practicality and in thinking?

Overall this book really appealed to my thirst for knowledge in this particular area, as my own practice deals with the subject of work and tools. It is also a great read for anyone who has ever read 'The Craftsman' by Richard Sennett as it follows a similar line of thought. I genuinely felt quite passionate and inspired to 'go and make something' after reading this book and would strongly recommend to anyone who feels the same desire to make for the sake of making.

If you have any thoughts on this or any future suggestions or reviews for future book of the month items then please let me know!

Hold the press!

I am keen to use this blog as a way of informing members and none members of events that are happening in the arts in and around Somerset. Any information of what activities you are planning during the Open Studios event or any projects you're involved in are more than welcome and I'll try and fit as many as I can on the blog. Obviously SAW will still be posting news and all new events on the main website as normal but I hope that in posting some events here we can maybe start a dialogue. For example this is news of one particular venue at Lopen Farm in the forthcoming open studios event.

Below is a press release sent to me outlining more details:

SOMERSET ART WEEKS 2010 Open Studios Event

Printmakers, photographers, illustrated books – a huge variety of visual treats will be on show in Lopen, near South Petherton, during Somerset Arts Weeks.
Visit seven artists in two studios in charming Church Street for a complete Arts Week experience, refreshments will be available and parking is easy.
An exhibition by three talented and highly experienced photographers, Pauline Rook, Mike Mammatt and Jerry Mitchell will demonstrate their passion for photography. Whilst they employ contemporary techniques their photographs are unmanipulated and of the highest quality.

Watch the magic of the print making process slightly further up the lane in the natural courtyard setting of Angela Naunton Davies’s studio. See the traditional and experimental ways by which inks can be transferred onto paper from copper, linocuts and wood engraving by the mighty forces of the etching press by Angela, Jackie Cundall and Louise Henry.

The beautifully illustrated local books of James Crowden, including the highly acclaimed ‘Literary Somerset’ will be available signed and at special prices. He will be talking about his work on the 25/26th weekend.

‘Excellent Artwork, excellent tour and wonderful people’ Arts Week visitor 08

For further information please contact either:

Pauline Rook
Lopen Farmhouse, Church St, Lopen, South Petherton, TA13 5JX
01460 240644

Angela Naunton Davies. Denman Cottage, Church St, Lopen
01460 240921