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30 July 2011

The Somerset Art Weeks catalogues have landed!

Here they are! Sixty-eight pages, one hundred and eight venues and featuring the work of over four hundred artists all contained neatly in this years new SAW catalogue.
As well as finding all the info you need in the guide you can also check out all the details about this years art weeks and look at individual venues locations, artists and opening times online:

Where you can either locate art week venues by location; plan your route or search by art form

Or, if you're like me and prefer the paper copy that you can take with you in the car then you can pick up your Guide from libraries and arts venues across the county or order your free copy from the SAW

I love it! What is it?

Sometimes I think a blog should be observational, a bit like a sketch book of images that records places you've been, things you've seen and stuff that inspires you. On that note: I don't know exactly what this is/was (I'm guessing it was a lamp post) but I really think it looks cool. Every time I arrive off the train at Bristol Temple Meads I see this thing across the road all on its own and completely out of place. One day I just had to take photos of its flaky, crumbling painted surface and note the colours and forms/shapes you see in the photos below. In the same way that peeling paint on old wooden doors, torn posters, graffiti and other similar looking surfaces have great appeal artists and some people alike this lamp post, whatever it is, aesthetically appeals to me.
(above) Brilliantly out of place, the 'interesting' lamp post outside Bristol Temple Meads
(below) Close up of the surface, which reminds me of something almost Aztec in its shapes/lines.

Well, its that simple really. This blog wasn't always going to be reviews and details of exhibitions and events. Like art itself, if sometimes the only thing I can do is draw your attention into looking at something slightly differently or with 'new eyes' then that's not a bad thing. Look out for this next time you might happen to pass the train station at Bristol.

25 July 2011

Jamaica Street Artists Open Studios 2011!

(above) Helen Williams' owl creations

Yesterday marked my second visit to JSA (Jamaica Street Artists) Open Studios event. Amazed that already a whole year has passed since my first visit! Last time was brilliant and quite honestly so was this time with some new artists as well as some new work from the familiar ones. There were a couple film makers and animators there this year (well, if they were there the year before..I might have missed them...sorry) and the usual mix of graphic artists, illustrators, painters, textile art, mixed media, collage, printmaking and more. Although listing it that way doesn't really do it justice, because there's a really diverse range of painting styles, from hyper-realistic/photographic paintings from the likes of Karin Krommes and Philip Munoz to the more abstract work of Elaine Jones. Anyway, what I really enjoy about visiting these studios and meeting some of the artists who work there is how each space has its own individuality, so as well as seeing the work you see the kind of context its made in. It is a bit like going into someones house, where the character of their environment is reflected in the work they produce. For example, Graeme Mortimer Evelyn's studio is taken up with lots of books and a big wooden work bench that he uses for chiseling his wooden semi-abstract pieces. Whilst down the corridor, Mr Mead (as he likes to be known) has one of the few studio spaces with no windows, which actually really suits his work (see image below) which is dark and if I was making work on a similar theme I'd probably want a space that reflected that. In nearly all the spaces there's interesting stuff on the walls as well as (importantly!) the work itself.

Whilst I find London art galleries inspiring in an academic and 'thinking', conceptual way, I think for being inspired (in what I would call the truest sense of the word) in a motivational and 'cor! I want to try that!' kind-of way then what is happening on my doorstep, by the likes of Jamaica Street artists, recent graduate shows etc. is much more valuable and gives me confidence as an artist than any shows I've probably EVER seen in London. From open studio visits like this one, you tend to take away ideas, colours, textures, materials and stuff that you think you'd like to use in your own work. For example, I was thinking I'd like to start using wood stain to paint with and try some things with, not because I saw anyone doing that at Jamaica Street but because you get that creative, sort-of bubbling in a place where lots of artists are working and it genuinely is inspiring. No frills, no art jargon, there's something very honest and celebratory in the fact that the studios present themselves as what they are. They seem to say, 'Hi, yes I am an artist. This is my studio and this is where I make art.' That's not to say there isn't any mystery or that there isn't a great deal of research and knowledge that is both informing and can be read into the work, but all I'm saying is it is very refreshing to just meet artists that are both contemporary and enjoy doing what they do. As the fantastic quote at the beginning of the JSA catalogue reads, "Its astonishing the great Professor of art has written: 'There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists." Nice one!

There are plenty of artists here. I'd really recommend paying a visit here, well you'll have to wait a year, but it'd definitely be worth it. See you next year!

Alternatively, you could look at the pictures below and if you're really keen have a look on the JSA website (link at the bottom of this post).

(above) Karin Krommes Outside Jamaica Street Studios

(above) 'Voxman' on the door of Mr Mead's studio space

(above) Dan Parry-Jones

(above) Detail of one of Rose Sanderson's mixed media pieces

(above) Some more reasons why visiting Jamaica Street/Stokes Croft, Bristol is always exciting.

(above) You may have seen it many times before, but this is still a fine example of why Bristol is one of the best cities for graffiti art.
For more info on Jamaica Street artists please click below:

24 July 2011

Guess where I've been....

On Thursday this week I finally got round to visiting MERL a.k.a The Museum of English Rural Life in Reading. Glorious! So, just for your enjoyment here are a couple of snaps just to give you an idea of what it was like and prove that I was there.
For those of you that may have no idea why you're looking at a bunch of tools, firstly you shouldn't be too surprised, as after all you are on a blog titled SAW but for quite different reasons if you are reading this blog for the first time then, yes, you are in the right place for arty happenings, exhibition viewings, general art banter and whatnots it just so happens that right now you're reading a post about my own personal research interest, which is also, rather conveniently, tools.
So, thanks to SAW I am using my 'Professional development bursary' to go visit places like this and take lots of photos/sketches and feast my eyes on all the tools that I can use as a source for creating work.

(above) Come in, come in! Here we are at the museum entrance! Well, you obviously can't see me here because I'm the one taking the photo, but you get the idea...
(above) Shears! But note the way they are displayed, hrrmm...interesting

(above) Crafts of all kinds. Behold some basket making tools, and again I think what appeals to me the most is the 'collection' and the way they're displayed. I love the way all the different shapes are arranged. Brilliant stuff!

Well, thank you for taking a moment to read into some of the research I've been doing. More to follow soon as I plan to make a long over due trip to Pitt Rivers in Oxford.

I'll tell you even more about what I've been doing with all of this as well very soon or please click on the link to my project below:

When Homecoming finally came!

Hello! Apologies, it has been a while. However, the good news is that there's lots to write about because so much has happened! Whilst all the schools and colleges have wrapped up for the summer holidays it is just about hitting my really busy couple of months where I am making frames and organising things in the run up to art weeks. That and a looming essay due in August for my Masters, plus the usual whole bunch of living to do in between makes for a pretty busy time.

One of the first exciting art events I recently went to being: 'Homecoming' held for one night only at The Regal Theatre in Minehead, a couple of Wednesdays ago. The 13th of July to be precise!

This event was planned, organised, curated by the mastermind that is Hannah Bishop and featured local talents from painting, sculpture, graphic design, photography, live performances, musicians, dance and more. I wasn't really sure what to expect, I'd never been to The Regal before and I was looking forward to being able to explore it and discover art on the walls and backstage. It certainly lived up to that expectation, and I was reminded of a similar experience I'd had some months before at The Brewhouse for their visual arts event called 'Innaspace' in which you also went around with a map backstage and around the theatre discovering art along the way.

Although, personally, I wasn't keen on some of the 'less is more' kind of music that went on this evening, both myself and my friend did have a good time and like I said I really enjoyed the diversity of talent on offer and exploring the theatre. The organising, which included a really quirky and cool programme, blog and brilliant poster and if you like 'marketing' of the event were really excellent in building up an awareness and hype surrounding this show which meant for a busy and lively showing with a large audience of people. If I had been a performer/artist involved in this show I would have been very proud to put it on my CV.

Lets hope we have more multi-disciplinary events like this in other 'creepy', unusual locations and I look forward to seeing what Homecoming will feature when Hannah, re-opens it with some of the work for art weeks this September.

Joseph Buckler and the band on the stage at The Regal

'I' the audience somewhere in the bar area

Stay tuned for more this art weeks where, 'Homecoming' the exhibition takes place: see venue 84 or click on the link below:

*Thank you to Hannah Bishop who gave permisssion to use her photos*

11 July 2011

Peter Blake exhibition at the Holburne Museum, Bath

Last Monday I paid a visit to the recently revamped Holburne Museum in Bath (see third photo down). However, what I was really interested on visiting was the Peter Blake exhibition, 'A museum for myself' located in a modest sized room on the top floor. I wouldn't exactly say I'm a Peter Blake fan. Out of the British Pop art scene I'd say Richard Hamilton and Patrick Caulfield and David Hockney (if you would categorise Hockney as a Pop artist?) would have been my personal favs. I only really associated Blake with the Sgt. Peppers album cover; as fantastic as it is, it didn't actually inspire me in the same way that say, Roy Lichtenstein's 'Whaam!' did with its dynamism and energy. Ok, maybe that's not exactly a fair comparison, but anyway the point I'm making is that despite the fact that I have always and continue to have a personal love for Pop art, for some reason the work of Peter Blake has always just passed me by...
That is of course, until now. As I was saying, I had remained pretty ignorant of a lot of Blake's work until visiting this exhibition which I came to find through a very small review of it in my newspaper. I read the title, 'A museum for myself' and thought how appropriate given (to those of you who don't know) that my current project is based researching the agricultural tools in storage in my local museum in Taunton. 'Maybe it was time to give Blake a go.' I said to myself, 'after all he is a Pop artist so he's bound to like the 'everyday' and the banal, perhaps almost as much as me.' Turns out that this time the optimism paid off and upon entering the exhibition I'm surrounded by what I can only describe as a feast of 'stuff' for the eyes. Four large display cabinets stuffed with the most unimaginable tat from tacky seashell trinkets, to a massive collection of elephants, puppets, signed memorabilia, artworks from other artists, postcards, tins, stuffed animals and a whole bunch more of assorted ephemera adorning the walls of the gallery space. 'Cool.' Where to begin?'

Granted, that this sort of thing in a museum as a context, isn't exactly for everyone. After all, nothing here is particularly old, has a similar kind of history/art/skill/value to it in the usual way that regular museum artifacts do. Although, that's not to say none of it isn't valuable. The whole point of Pop Art to some extent was all about questioning the 'value' of things, of everyday things and how something mass produced and of relatively no value could be placed into the context of art and be made into something popular. Which isn't necessarily to say that something popular it also makes it valuable, but to some extent in the celebrity and media dominated climate we find ourselves in, its a reasonable enough statement to make. So here I was in this eclectic exhibition of work which if it hadn't been displayed in glass cases and box frames would have probably felt a bit like being in a car boot sale. A pretty fancy car boot sale, mind. A car booty that happened to have some Kitaj, Damien Hirst and The Beatles autographs on the walls...?...What I am trying to say is that it is the museum context, the museum modes of display and presentation that made it into an interesting, 'non-car booty' exhibition. Some of the work is collage where Blake has collected different scrapes and fragments and reassembled them into a pleasing kind of tapestry, and even the collections of actual 3D objects are treated like a collage in the way that they are ordered and arranged by formal qualities like, size/shape/material etc. In the piece 'Museum of black and white 8' (above) lots of tiny objects are displayed together because of the quality they share, that makes them similar in being black and white. Its almost Surrealism, I mean, why not have a cow next to a domino and a chess piece above a cigarette lighter? I genuinely find it really interesting and really enjoyed exploring these works of which there were many variations including a piece that consisted on nothing other than a collection of screws and hooks (fantastic! -especially because that's tools in a way)

As it transpires, guess I was wrong about Blake after all. Once you get past the Beatles, there's actually a lot more going on in his collages. Still not a fan of his paintings, but then you can't win them all can you? To some degree the whole exhibition is like a collage in the way it was made of lots of collections that came together as a whole and that 'whole' is really like an exhibition of all the different interests that make up the personality that Peter Blake is. You've got the celebrity, the collections, the collages, the theatrical, the weird and the everyday. So in Peter Blake's terms I guess he can really say, this is a museum of himself.

Peter Blake's 'A museum of myslef' can be seen at The Holburne Museum, Bath until September 4th

2 July 2011

I love art, especially on a Wednesday between 2pm - 6pm

'I love art'. That probably goes without saying. I'm not alone in loving it either, as the 'I love art' project in association with SPAEDA aims to prove. The educational programme [created and run by Sara Dudman] takes four pupils who are in the last year of primary education and four pupils in secondary education who are either interested or enjoy creating art and possibly demonstrate skill or enthusiasm in the subject area. Featuring several different schools the groups of school children are then invited along with their teachers to take part in four hour workshops at The Brewhouse or The Castle School. These creative sessions are all about, er, art! Well art appreciation kind-of. How to read art? Make studies of work in a gallery context, become familiar with looking at work in galleries, learn how to talk about art, recognise themes/reasons why someone has created a piece of work etc. Essentially its taking a group of pupils, some who may have never been to an art gallery before and teaching them how to be an art detectives. What clues in a work of art make you arrive to certain conclusions or assumptions? And so forth. Although, of course it would never be as dry as to just analyse art work, the project is also about engaging with art and using it as a resource to inspire and fuel their own work.
At this point I should probably mention that I, by chance events, ended up helping on this project and hopefully plan on seeing it through to its conclusion in September. We've had two sessions, the first of which was at The Brewhouse looking at the 'Ad Lucem' exhibition and the second session was at The Castle School in which we 'threw' ourselves into dry point etching. So, anyway as I was saying, it isn't just about analysing work, oh no! It's also about how to make notes about art, record and document works of art you see, things like: how to keep a sketchbook. Ok, I know you know what I mean, but if you were 11 or 14 years old then this would be very inspiring. In fact even though I have kept numerous sketchbooks, I still feel like I learnt some things from having it explained again, and certainly inspired. I'm always amazed at artists that don't keep a sketchbook, they're such a useful resource to have. Apart from sketchbooks the pupils and teachers alike got to try some mono type printing with Simon from the 'Double Elephant Print workshop' where the idea was to use their studies of the work in the exhibition to create some prints. No pressure. The whole programme is about 'giving it a go' and breaking away from the angst and pressures of 'having to make good art' (whatever that is exactly?). As the adult here, I can not begin to tell you how good it feels to not worry about the end result and just play. Playing and learning to 'let go' is something I often forget or I am too uptight to do in my own practice so it was fantastic to experiment for an afternoon. Given the amount of prints produced by the children and the energy they put into the work, I can only assume that they enjoyed it too. There should be more of these kinds of things going on, I feel. As an artist I find working with the school pupils inspiring and makes me want to be more experimental in my own practice and seeing how the children react to working with artists [using Simon from the print workshop as an example here] I think they also have a positive experience learning from someone other than their teachers. There's something refreshing about a different context other than 'the classroom'.
So the whole thing is very positive and it deserves to be, with lots and lots of enthusiasm and great quality drawings whizzing about the rooms of the Brewhouse and Castle School art room who wouldn't feel inspired? The greater goal for this ambitious project is both to help year six primary school pupils with the transition into secondary school life as well as hopefully the pupils on the project sharing their experiences with their peers. That on top of the teachers (who also attend/take part) in the sessions makes for a good amount of filtration to make the whole project inspire as many people as possible to 'love art'.Well, its not really even about 'loving' art, it's about learning to engage with it better and maybe beginning to understand and answer why it is that some of us do love it.

That and sometimes its just great to draw a pair of ballet shoes!

(above) Ever since I wore a badge that bore the word 'dragon' I've always believed that badges should state the obvious.

(above and below) Some continuous line mono type prints by me done at the first 'I love art' session at The Brewhouse.
The 'I love art' project continues....

For more details on SPAEDA projects and more please go to:
And why not check out 'The Double elephant print workshop' website too: