Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Featured in University of Northampton Prospectus 2016

Having left college in the late-80s and gone straight into a four year job as a technical illustrator for a Japanese company, followed by another four years working as a magazine illustrator, I didn't end up going to university until I was a mature student (well, technically mature). And I'm thankful that I did take that time out before re-entering education, because I'm pretty sure that if I had of gone straight from college to university, instead of being the working hard and playing hard twenty seven year old that In was, I fear that I'd just have been the party-hard nineteen year old, and totally wasted my time at uni.


I got a lot out of my time studying at University of Northampton, so when I was asked if I would like to be featured in their 2016 prospectus I was more than happy to say yes. One of the bonuses of saying yes was that the university sent the very talented photographer, Paul Michael Hughes, round to my studio to set up a shoot, and Paul very generously said that I could use the photos for my own art publicity purposes; a prime example of which is those used in this recent article on me and my studio for Artfinder - Work It! A look inside our artists' studios....

Monday, 2 May 2016

Friday Night at The Museum

I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone that I spoke to on Friday evening, and for their compliments about the work that I was exhibiting at the Victoria and Albert Museum's latest monthly Friday Late view.


For this Friday Late, Baroque to the Future, I had five of my sculptures on display in the V&A's Sculpture Gallery, at the foot of the National Art Library staircase. They ranged in size from my Orifice Tower sculpture, which stands at two metres tall, right down to my Spider Box piece at around twenty five centimetres tall. It seemed a fitting venue in which display these works as the vast majority of the materials from which the sculptures are constructed, originally came from old frames, backboards, and sections of antique packing crates, that the V&A had thrown out.


This last photo was taken my one of my V&A colleagues, Peter Kelleher, who was documenting the evening's proceedings.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Baroque To The Future ( V&A Friday Late)

It's been seventeen years since I first moved to London in 1999; the same year that the Victoria and Albert Museum started its Friday Late views, on the last Friday of every month – a series of ever-changing, curated programmes of live performances, cutting-edge fashion, film, installations, debates, special guests and DJs, with bars, food, and late-night exhibition openings.


So it seems quite apt that my last London exhibition before I leave the Capital next month (and re-locate my practice to a much larger studio space up in Shropshire) should be at this month's Friday Late, Baroque to the Future - the theme being Europe, Baroque and the Future. Not that this will be my last London exhibition; just the last one before I move studio.


Taking place this Friday, Baroque to the Future will be on from 6:30-10:00pm, and my sculptures will be installed at the bottom of the National Art Library staircase, inside the museum's Sculpture Gallery. Orifice Tower and Sleeping Beauty Box will be among some of the pieces that I will be showing, as well as salvaged sections (now in a temporary display structure) from my cabinet of curiosities sculpture, The City, which was unfortunately destroyed back in 2011, when it was lent to a Trove exhibition in Birmingham. But once I relocate to the new studio I am finally going to have the time to work on a new, and hopefully bigger, version.


Baroque to the Future

The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London SW7 2RL

Friday 29 April

18.30 – 22.00

April's Friday Late invites Amy Grimehouse with Late Night Library Club to explore the Europe 1600-1815 Galleries, and celebrate the influence of European culture as the possibility of Brexit looms.

Listen in on courtly gossip, participate in Versailles dance-offs, and marvel in encyclopaedic knowledge of power and revolution in Europe.

Drop by and singalong to Napoleonic pop songs and enter the V&A's very own Eurovision song contest. Nil point?

Monday, 11 April 2016

RCA Secret 2016 Reveal

The Royal College of Art has gone for a slightly different format this year with regards to its annual RCA Secret postcard exhibition. Instead of the usual one day sale, it's now decided to stretch it over a few days. The Dubai version of the exhibition took place last month (16-19 March 2016) during Art Dubai, at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, but the London one, at the college's Gulbenkian Galleries in Kensington Gore, is still on (ending 15th April - collection day 16th April).


Although the exhibition doesn't end for a few days yet I think that it's probably okay if I now reveal which pieces were mine – partly because I've already been contacted by the three art collectors (two from London, and one from Dubai) who each bought one of my 'postcards', and because when the show does finally end, I'll be sunning myself on an island in the Maldives, so won't want to be messing about with social media and updating blog posts etc (selfish, I know).

For those of you who don't know about the RCA Secret, it is a show of around 2000 original postcard-sized artworks by 'internationally acclaimed artists, designers, cultural icons, alumni, and up-and-coming graduates', exhibited between two venues – the Upper Gulbenkian Gallery, Royal College of Art, Kensington, London and 500EAD in Dubai, with all the proceeds going to the RCA Fund, providing scholarships and bursaries for students. And the secret part of it, I hear you ask? Well, each postcard is exhibited anonymously, with the creator only being revealed once the card has been bought by its collector.


Every year the college throws a thank you party for the contributing artists. This year's was on Friday, just gone, and all I'll say is that their generosity with the refreshments meant that, for me, the following day was pretty much a write off. In this photo, taken by one Mister Adam Stone (now the proud owner of one more of my RCA Secret postcards), shows me looking at one of the two pieces that are still on show at the London leg of the RCA Secret. The show allows for sculptural postcard entries, although I may have taken it a bit far this year, as the piece had to be laid on its back, so that it didn't stick up in front of the row of cards above it.

You can't see from the photos, but each of the pieces that I made for this year's shows has a mirror inside the top box section, viewable through the carved orifice section at the front of the box. So when you look inside, you see an eye staring back at you - but not always the eye that you might be expecting!

RCA Secret 2016
Royal College of Art, Kensington
Kensington Gore
London SW7 2EU

Exhibition
8–15 April, 11am – 6pm

Late opening
13 and 15 April, until 8pm

Sale
10 April, 8am – 6pm
11–15 April, 11am – 6pm

COLLECTION DAY 16 April, 9am – 5pm
Free admission

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Artfinder Studio Video Interview

Being a visual language, I normally find that it's best to let art speak for itself. So when Artfinder asked me if I'd like to be their guinea pig, and be the first artist to take part in their new series of informal, videoed, artists' studio interviews, I was a bit wary - but then thought, 'ah, what the hell!'



Like many people, I tend to cringe whenever I see or hear a recording of my self, so when I first watched the video it was through the gaps between the fingers of both of my hands, which were firmly grasping my face. Apart from a few exceptions, most artists are visually articulate but not always verbally – unfortunately, I now realise that I'm clearly not one of those exceptions. I would like to blame it on the fact that the piece had to be edited down to just three minutes – but no, it's just me not being able to think faster than my mouth.


Incidentally, the opening still shot of me was taken by the talented photographer, Paul Michael Hughes, for a feature about yours truely, that will be appearing the new University of Northampton prospectus - which comes out 6th April.

Unseen at The Festival of the Unseen

Unfortunately, because of an unexpected (as they're rarely planned) trip to Accident and Emergency on the day that I was supposed to drop off my artwork to the Hundred Years Gallery, I was unable to actually take part in DARK: Festival of The Unseen, which opened on Thursday in Shoreditch/Hoxton (just north of Hoxton Train Station and the Geffrye Museum). But I did manage to make it to the opening night and catch-up with a great bunch of friends and fellow artists.

So, maybe by not exhibiting in the show, the absence of my work is in keeping with the unseen element of the exhibition. See... it all makes sense now.


The show runs till this Sunday, with art, live music, poetry readings, and performances – so do pop along if you're looking for something fun and engaging to do this Easter Bank Holiday.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

DARK: Festival of the Unseen (Thurs Opening 7:30-10:00PM)

Okay, this is a bit of a rushed blog post on my part, as I've only just found that I'm now actually free, after all, to take part in DARK: Festival of The Unseen which opens tonight at the Hundred Years Gallery in Shoreditch/Hoxton (just north of Hoxton Train Station and the Geffrye Museum). This group art exhibition opens at 7:30pm tomorrow night (Thursday 24th March), and I've not even managed to deliver my entry, 'Jarred', to the gallery yet. I'm hoping to get it there and have it hung by 6:30pm – so no rush or anything!


So please excuse my laziness but here's all the exhibition info that you'll need - painstakingly lifted direct from the gallery's own website:


DARK: Festival of the Unseen - Return of the DRON is the third exhibition organised by Jill Rock in collaboration with Hundred Years Gallery.

Following the success of previous exhibitions, DrONUltImARAtio 2012 and WHITEOUT 2014, DARK is an exhibition featuring the work of 20 artists, and a programme of improvised music, performance and poetry over the Easter Weekend March 25th to 28th. The title is there to be interpreted individually by participants and visitors alike. The fascination in this exhibition is that diversity is at its core, embracing fears and joys, dark and light the symmetries and asymmetries of life. Central to the show is the Dron, an icosidodecahedron, mirrored internally with unaccountable acoustics which becomes Plato’s Cave, an ergasterion for improvised music and poetry. The exhibition of visual work runs alongside the programme of live events .

Participating artists: Anna Burel, Nicky Scott Francis, Jaime Valtierra, Curtis Radclyffe, Joanne Roberts, Martin Lau, Mary Lemley, Jason Gibilaro, Noel Macken, M. Profil, Peter Woodcock, Max Reeves, Helen Elwes, Jolanta Jagiello, Mervyn Diese, Rita Says, Phil Baird, Gudrun Sigridur Harraldsdottir, Elizabet Chojak-Mysko, Li Williams, James White, Maria Lusitano, Neville Sattentau, Jill Rock.

Sound piece by Montse Gallego


OPENING – Thursday March 24th 7:30 - 10:00pm

BLAKE NIGHT – Friday 7 – 9.30pm -an evening of poetry inspired by William Blake by The Blake Congregation, solo flute by Nicky Heinen, celtic harp & songs by Sheila Moylan.

PERFORMANCE – Saturday 7-10:30pm : The Re-Awakening Of James Joyce’s Night-time novel, The Wake, The Sandman Returns to Meet where Term’s Begin, a collaboration between poet and performer Grassy Noel, artist, performer and musician Giles Leaman, improvising ensemble  KMAT, dancer Sofia Figueiredo, and film-maker Mervyn Diese. Piano recital by Gabriel Keen.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON – 4- 6.30pm, RabelaisDADA with Robert Robertson, electronic music by Cos Chapman with dancer Svenja Buhl, open conversation amongst the participants and visitors chaired by Jill Rock, and a closing performance by Mervyn Diese.

Hundred Years Gallery
13 Pearson St.
London E2 8JD 

+44 (0)20 3602 7973


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Creative Debuts – Showcase XIII



A few weekends ago, at an artists seminar held in the basement of the Hilton hotel in Piccadilly, London, I met some interesting chaps who had set up a platform called Creative Debuts. Not only is Creative Debuts an online gallery, set up to debut emerging artists and designers, but it also has a physical space, The Black and White Building, in the heart of Shoreditch (probably the hippest spot on the planet right now). This gallery is Creative Debuts' vehicle for showcasing artists through month-long exhibitions – all of which open on the first Thursday of every month as part of Whitechapel Gallery's First Thursdays.


After joining Creative Debuts, and uploading some images of my work onto my own Creative Debuts page I was pleased to be invited to be part of the next exhibition, Showcase XIII, which opens Thursday 3rd March (7-10:30 PM).


Five of my pieces were selected for the show – one of my oldest sculptures, Baby Kit (from the late 90s), and four recent paintings from my Taster Menu series; a series which was originally created for a four day pop-up event at the A Plus A Gallery, during the opening week of last year's Venice Biennale. Even though these two groups of works were created decades apart, they are rather neatly tied together by the fact that they all feature doll parts.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Happy Valentine's Day Folks

To all you lovers and lovelorn alike, I wish you a very happy Valentine's Day.


To commemorate this over-commercialised day here are three of my small heart-shaped sculptures, Nail Heart, Mutant Nail heart, and Nail-less Heart – all carved from wood and, in the cases of the first two, pierced with rusty nails, screws, and other metal implements.


They are from a small series of artworks which are sort of a spin-off from my Nail Box sculpture, which is itself inspired by, and indebted to, the Minkisi totems of the Congo and surrounding regions.


Nail Heart, photographed by photographer, Rosie Mayell.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Vamalgam 7

For this year's Victoria and Albert Museum (where I work part-time) staff art show, 'Vamalgam 7', I am exhibiting my painting, ' Tentacle Touch Teddy'.


For a while now I've been tinkering with the idea of doing some 2D and 3D cross-over pieces. One line of enquiry that I'm eager to pursue is a series of painted tower and box sculptures; either brightly painted in single colours, with possible tonal variations, or with intricate designs, like my recent 'Tattooed Tumour Box' sculpture. However, with 'Tentacle Touch Teddy', I made a start on a slightly different cross over process by depicting an image of one of my wheeled, orifice boxes on the surface of the very material that I normally use to construct the sculptures themselves - in this case, a piece of antique plywood packing crate, sourced from the Victorian and Albert Museum itself. There's also something very satisfying about painting on a rough, and untreated mid-tone surface (and working with its existing idiosyncrasies), as opposed to a pristine white one.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Hugly Crew

At the end of last year I posted about a crowd funding campaign for a project that I am working on with two friends, Sam and Ian, which aims to encourage children to engage more in outdoor activities. The initial stage of the project is to produce a children's storybook that also doubles up as a cookbook, whilst providing seeds and instructions for growing one of the ingredients that forms an integral part of the story. I'm happy to say that we met our £8000 target (largely down to the hard work put in by Sam and Ian, whose commitment and infectious enthusiasm for the project pulled in backers from all walks of life) which will enable us to complete this first stage of the project. 


All the stories in this and future stages of the project will be based around a group of cartoon characters, Hugly and Friends, that Sam and I developed from my initial sketches. And what we're now really excited about is welcoming on board the newest member of our team, the talented writer, Gemma Appleton, who will help us bring Hugly and his friends truly to life.

We are proud, at this very early stage, to already have support for the project from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage - but the children's storybook/cookbook is just the start, and we have plans to develop Hugly’s world in more detail, offering exciting grow kits, outdoor games and interactive apps that use real outdoor experiences, and much, much more.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

RCA Secret 2016 - London and Dubai

Every year the deadline for submitting my invited entries into the RCA Secret seems to sneak up on me; but not so this year – at least that was the plan.


I've exhibited in every one of the Royal College of Art's secret postcard exhibitions for the past twelve years (is that correct? – if not, I'm sure that at least one the dedicated RCA Secret collectors can put me right on that score), and over the years my submissions have tended to become somewhat more elaborate and three dimensional. Without giving anything away (as it's a secret), I'll just say that my three entries for this year are no exception, and are, in fact, more sculptural than in previous years (a few examples of which you see here) – which is why I'm only just gonna be able to finish them in time for this Monday's submission deadline.


For those of you who don't know about the RCA Secret, it is a show of around 2000 original postcard-sized artworks by 'internationally acclaimed artists, designers, cultural icons, alumni, and up-and-coming graduates', exhibited between two venues – the Upper Gulbenkian Gallery, Royal College of Art, Kensington, London (7-15 April 2016), and Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai (16-19 March 2016).


All of the cards go on sale for £55 each in London, and 500EAD in Dubai - with all the proceeds going to the RCA Fund, providing scholarships and bursaries for students. And the secret part of it, I hear you ask? Well, each postcard is exhibited anonymously, with the creator only being revealed once the card has been bought by its collector.


If you would like to buy any of the postcards from the shows (especially the London one) them I suggest arriving very early on the day of the sale as the queues can be very long. Previous years have seen the hardcore few camping out the night (and in some cases, days) before the show opens; which, I'm guessing, is why the RCA has decided to stagger this year's sale over six days – releasing new cards throughout the sale period. And if you do decide to go along, I advise that you make a long list of your favourite pieces, as it's quite likely that your first choices will be gone before you get to the payment desk. But, saying that, in previous years, some cards by really big names in the art world have been known to still be available late in the day.


Royal College of Art, Kensington
Kensington Gore
London SW7 2EU

Exhibition
8–15 April, 11am – 6pm
Late opening
13 & 15 April, until 8pm

Sale
10 April, 8am – 6pm
11–15 April, 11am – 6pm

COLLECTION DAY 16 April, 9am – 5pm

Free admission

Art Dubai
RCA Secret Dubai, takes place at Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, 16 to 19 March 2016. Please note that the official Art Dubai Opening is 16 March. For more information, see Art Dubai Visitor Information.

Exhibition
16–19 March

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Ping Pong Light Box

A little over two years ago I was commissioned to work on designs for the new Ping Pong restaurant, next to Wembley Stadium, North London. For anyone that doesn't know much about Ping Pong, they're an international restaurant chain that specialise in Dim sum. For this project I worked in conjunction with Andy Martin Architects


Part of the brief involved me creating a 1930's Shanghai influenced mural for one of the internal walls, and hand painted wall panels for the ladies and gents toilets (that's English for Restrooms). 


However, the piece that I most enjoyed working on during the project was a massive, 20 metre-long light box designed to hang from the ceiling, in the centre of the restaurant. For this I came up with a predominantly aquatic themed design, incorporating drawings of jellyfish, octopuses, fish, seaweed, and weird forms, morphing together. 

 
Unfortunately, as is often the way with these sort of things, the final dimensions of the light box ended up being very different from the ones that I was originally given to work from. As a result, the flow of the eventual design on the light box ended up being a bit of a compromise – cobbling together smaller elements of my proposed design. Because of the tight build schedule on site, and delays with materials from the building suppliers, I didn't get to actually see the light box being installed, or even its eventual colour scheme. In fact, it's only because I recently came across this photo of it online, that I actually got to see it at all.

To give a rough idea of what I was thinking, when I was first handed the brief, I've included three of my early working drawings for some of the panels that make up the light box.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Artist's Finds #2 (Thames Embryo Leaping)

Returning to my obsession with found materials, this is my second post on what I'll probably end up calling Minimal Intervention Pieces - found objects that I don't feel that I have manipulated enough to actually claim them as my own artworks, but which I feel have artistic merit in their own right. Maybe I shouldn't be so concerned with what is or isn't art; after all, the act of selecting and isolating an object from it's original environment for the purpose of presenting it as something of value is surely enough to repurpose it as art. Or maybe I'm wrong. Regardless, here is the second piece in my collection of interesting finds.


I've called it Thames Embryo Leaping; partly because I found it whilst mudlarking along the South Bank of the River Thames, here in London, and partly because it reminds me of an embryonic (or partially formed) animal, leaping. As I'd stated in my first Artist's Finds post, I find some of these found objects to be perfect as they are, so there is little need to alter them in any way. The only alteration that I did to this piece was to dry it out, wax it, drill a hole in the bottom and mount it on a black metal display stand.


Because I was so fascinated with this bit flotsam, I found myself sketching it over and over. Here you can see a painterly sketch that I made of it (along with a piece of bone that I also found whilst out mudlarking), painted over one of my Spidey Pods screen prints. There's no specific reason that I chose to paint an image of Thames Embryo Leaping over Spidey Pods (I wasn't deliberately trying to draw any correlation between the two) other than the fact that there was a slight defect in this particular Spidey Pods print, and I was curious to find out what it was like to paint and draw over the top of it.

I do have a love of drawing and painting over existing things – especially old books. There's something very engaging about working on a surface that already has a history. Also, when a surface has a mid-tone or tonal colour shifts, you have something that you can play with. You can go lighter and darker from the off, something that you can't do straight away from a blank white page.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Merry Christmas

I know that to our American, European, and world wide cousins, Christmas might not be such a big deal, but to us Brits it's massive. It's all about overindulgence – eating and drinking far too much, doing shameful things at the work's Christmas party (that would probably get you fired any other time of the year), and spending so much money on mostly unwanted gifts, for our loved and not so loved ones, that we can't afford to pay the rent for the next two months... there was also something about some chap being born in a shed but that was ages ago so I'm a bit fuzzy on those details.


So, if you're a Brit, or not, I'd like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Here's to world peace in 2016. After all, how hard can it be? If everyone of us tries really, really hard not to kill anyone else – problem solved!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Arty Christmas Gift Ideas

Okay, I admit it – I'm taking advantage here of the materialistic side of the festive season and your amazing taste in art. If you haven't already blown your Christmas prezzie budget on shop-bought items how about something special, for that special art-lover in your life (best spoken in a sleazy, radio DJ voice) from my affordable art range?


All of the pieces in this series range from £70-£200 pounds. Many of the works have already sold but there are still plenty left. However, if there's one that you particularly like, and it's no-longer available, please feel free to get in touch (at waynechisnall@yahoo.co.uk) and I can recreate it for you, or come up with something similar.


I developed the range by going through my last twenty years worth of sketchbooks, selecting various images, then reproducing them as drawings or paintings on hand-made plywood wall plaques. Here are three of the works but click here to check out more from the series, which I have called my Taster Menu. Because I'm selling them at a fraction of the cost of my larger work (of which, gallery prices range from £1,000-£20,000) they offer an affordable introduction level for new collectors.


Taster Menu was originally created for a four day pop-up event at the A plus A Gallery during the opening week of this year's Venice Biennale but because it's been very popular with fan's of my work (thank you very much by the way) I've decided to continue the range, and will be adding more to it in the coming year.

A Cringeworthy Christmas Story


This is a reposting of an article that I wrote three years ago, and pertains to an embarrassingly awkward situation that I got myself into one Christmas. It's also about one of those regrettable memories that I just can't shake, so I thought it best to open old wounds, and share it with you one more time. Enjoy... 
 
A few hears ago when I was working for a well known London gallery, a colleague asked me if I knew of anyone that would be interested in earning a bit of extra cash over the festive season doing caricatures at a Christmas party in The City (London) for some big corporation. The job was very well paid, involved a couple of hours of work drawing caricatures of the company's employees - and more free food and drink than any poor starving artist could wish for.
Well... what could I say but 'look no further - here's your man!'
I got the job and being overly confident in the fact that I'd always been pretty good at caricatures at school (they'd got me in and out of trouble with both pupils and teachers alike on more than one occasion) I did no more preparation than buying myself a new set of Tomboy brush pens and turning up at the venue.


At first, everything seemed to be going well. I was introduced to a hip-looking young man and woman who handed me my wages for the night (good start). They both looked super stylish. She had a cool bob (similar to Uma Thurman's in Pulp Fiction) and he was slightly camp and incredibly well turned out. So when they asked to be the first couple to be drawn I had no problems. I quickly rendered them in a minimal, sharp cartoon style that suited their look and everyone was happy.
Then everything seemed to go down hill from that point onwards. Unfortunately the next subject wasn't so aesthetically well rounded and feeling that their true essence wouldn't be captured using the previous style, I changed tack. Instead of creating a fun stylised cartoon version of my new subject I honed in on, and exaggerated, my hapless victim worst features. It wasn't an intentional act of malice. I had merely focused on the most prominent features and run with them – not thinking how the eventual image may turn out. Needless to say, it didn't turn out well – at least not for the subject. They weren't too pleased. I'd even go as far as saying that they may have been a little upset.



I quickly realised my mistake. I had failed to fix on one style, practice it beforehand and stick with it regardless.
By this point I was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable – which didn't help when it came to the next subject. Desperate to salvage the situation I tried yet another style but the only problem with this was that unless I stuck with my tried and tested methods there was the chance that the drawing would pay little resemblance to the person in front of me so I soon reverted back to knocking out grotesque renderings from the now large line of people forming next to me.
It was a very strange experience. I seemed to be upsetting an ever-growing number of people yet more of them were queuing up to be humiliated. And the more I tried to alter my style of drawing the worse these sketched monsters turned out (this may have been something to do with the vast number of drinks people were plying me with – which I was eager to consume in an attempt to dull the anxiety).
Not only was there a long queue of people waiting to be sketched but a large group had formed of slightly drunk folks who were obviously enjoying their fellow employees' visual assassinations (at this point I honestly no longer felt in control of what my hands were producing) - so much so that splinter groups were now breaking off from the main mob in search of juicier victims. A couple of them dragged over a lady who must have been the fattest person in the whole company. I think that the alarm in my eyes must have mirrored that in hers. My mind was screaming 'please – not her!' but my fingers showed no mercy. One poor chap, after I handed him my rendition of him, simply looked at me with such devastation in his eyes and said 'I'm gonna go home now and hang myself'. I truly believe he didn't really mean it and it was just the drink talking but it obviously didn't ease my conscience.
After two of the longest hours of my life I apologised to the long line of people still waiting to be drawn (I should really have apologised to the ones I'd already sketched) and made my escape. I tell you – once outside of that building, London's air had never before smelt so fresh and the sense of relief never so palpable. I probably won't be doing that again - probably!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Help Fund Hugly & Friends

I've been working on a project with two friends, Sam Frith and Ian Hamilton, aiming to encourage children to engage in more outdoor activities. The initial stage of the project is to produce a children's storybook that also doubles up as a cookbook, whilst providing seeds and instructions for growing one of the ingredients that forms an integral part of the story. And today our crowd funding campaign, by which we aim to fund our project, went live.


Hugly Crowd Funder from SAM on Vimeo.

My part of the project, so far, has been to come up with the original sketches for the characters (some of which you can see here), and to sculpt a 3D model of the main character, Hugly. All the really hard graft has been put in by Sam and Ian – I'm just the doodler.


As is mentioned in our short video, we are looking to raise £8000 to self-publish our first Hugly and Friends interactive book. But this is just the start. We aim to exceed this target and use the excess money to help develop Hugly’s world in more detail, offering exciting grow kits, outdoor games and interactive apps that use real outdoor experiences, and much, much more.


 

So here's the bit where we ask for your money. If you like the idea of what we're trying to achieve then it's easy to donate to the project – just click on the link and follow the simple instructions. As an incentive, pledgers will receive varying rewards; ranging from a credit in the book, a copy of the book, T-shirts - right through to an invite to our launch party at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage, and for the top pledgers, the creation of a character (which will appear in a future stage of our project) based upon themselves.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Artfinder Winter Catalogue

Just a quick shout-out about the Artfinder Winter Catalogue - as I'm in it!


As the biggest market place for original art, with over 150,000 artworks available online, Artfinder has brought out it's first ever catalogue. This printed selection of the works available through Artfinder.com is a sample of the companies favourites, which makes me very pleased to have been chosen, especially since I am one of only five sculptors featured in the catalogue's pages.


However, if you check out my page on the site you'll find that Artfinder are not just selling my sculptural pieces. There is also my affordable range of mini paintings, drawings, and editioned screen prints – ideal Christmas gifts for the arty loved ones in your life ;)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Minimal Intervention Piece #1

I'm not sure that my sculptural work qualifies 100% as assemblage. It's true that most of my three dimensional pieces employ the use of found materials, but unlike traditional assemblage, where found objects are often merely stuck together (I'm in no way deriding assemblage – in fact many of my favourite sculptures are assemblages), in my work I feel the need to manipulate the materials to a certain degree, in order to make them my own. Even with my box/tower structures, I find it hard to just take existing boxes and use them as they are. I still feel the need to create them from scratch; from bits of old wood – which ironically makes it look like I've just used pre-existing boxes.

One of the problems with using found objects in artwork is that sometimes one comes across a piece of material that is just perfect as it is, and altering it in any way might even go as far as to lessen its artistic merit. And as an avid collector (read 'hoarder') of materials I often find bits of flotsam and jetsam that fit just this criteria.


Even though there is a long and respected tradition of artists exhibiting found objects exactly as they are, or with minimal intervention, and declaring them pieces art (Marcel Duchamp taking a urinal, signing it 'R.Mutt 1917', and calling it Fountain, being probably the most famous instance), I'm still not sure that I would call my found pieces art in the same way that I'd call my more laboured works art. But maybe that will change once I start showing them. In fact, I'd love to organize a show of artists' collections of objects. Although, thinking about it, I'm pretty sure that the Barbican Gallery did something similar to that last year - oh well!

For now I'll just be content calling these my Minimal Intervention Pieces. I've collected quite a few of them over the years, so I think that it's time that I finally started showing them – even if it is just on my blog for now. This first piece (I'll post more over the coming months) currently hangs above my bedroom door and is made up of two objects that were given to me by two separate friends. One half of the piece is a vintage, leather and steel, child's baseball mask, and the other is a pair of old horns – probably antelope. I'm not sure why I originally put the two items together, but to my mind, they produce something greater than the sum of their parts. And isn't that what art is about? (so maybe they are artworks after all).

Friday, 27 November 2015

Weekend Two of ICADF 2015 (Opens Tonight)

Just a quick reminder that I'm exhibiting eight of my sculptures at weekend two (opening night tonight - pop along if you're in the area) of the Islington Contemporary Art & Design Fair 2015 at the Candid Arts Galleries directly behind Angel Tube station in Islington, London.


The fair has run over two weekends, with tonight seeing the start of the second of those weekends. My work is displayed on the upper floor gallery (not far from the bar, so you won't missed them), and will be there till the fair closes on Sunday night. As you might remember from an earlier blog post (or if you made it to last Friday's/weekend's event) I was also exhibiting in the more contemporary art side of the fair last week. This weekend's part of the fair has more of fashion/textiles/jewellery/furniture/ceramics/glass design products slant but Candid have asked if they can keep my work up for this one too. Maybe my sculptures don't quite conform to the theme of this half of the fair so let's just pretend they're furniture – just don't try to sit on any of them.


I'm planning to get there shortly after 5pm (probably nearer to 6pm knowing my punctuality) so I look forward to meeting, chatting to, and sharing a drink with as many people as possible. There's no need to RSVP to this one – just turn up, and feel free to bring along friends. I hope to see you there.

Islington Contemporary Art and Design Fair

Private View: Friday 27 November (5-9pm)

Weekend Two: 28 – 29 November (11am-6pm)

Candid Arts Galleries
3 Torrens Street
Islington
London EC1V 1NQ

Free admission

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Dino Tattoo

It's not every day that I receive a message from someone saying that they think my work is so amazing that they made it a part of them, so when I do, I definitely take it as a massive compliment. A few days ago I was contacted by a chap called Xavier Parrie, saying exactly that.


At first I thought maybe Xavier had had a tattoo done of one of the drawings that I made for the 'tattooed' element of my latest sculpture, Tattooed Tumour Box (currently on show at the Islington Contemporary Art and Design Fair 2015, from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 Nov.) – an idea that I've recently been toying with myself. My father was a tattooist, and I've always fancied having tats myself but, being an artist, I'm acutely aware of visual relevance so I knew that firstly I'd have to have to come up with something that was personal to me, design it myself, and then find a tattooist that I trusted to render it exactly how I wanted. It's only now, with the collection of drawings that I made for Tattooed Tumour Box, that I feel that I finally have the imagery that I could live with on my own body. Although, to be honest, I probably won't get any tats now. I love them on other people but am no-longer as excited about getting my own – maybe I waited too long.


Anyway – back to Xavier. When I opened up the attachment that he'd sent me, I saw that he'd had gone for one of my quick-fire drawings of a cartoon dinosaur. There are some wonderful colourful tats out there and loads with amazing detail and shading work but my favourites tend to be the simple line drawn ones.
 
The original dinosaur drawing is part of a large collection of quickly-executed ink drawings, all made without any forethought of what the eventual images would become. I started this series of drawings a couple of years back as kind of creative limbering up exercise, and found it to be a good way of letting go of any preciousness over my sketchbook work, as well as great way of generating new and unexpected imagery – some of which I've gone on to use in other projects. At the height of the series I set myself the challenge of having to execute a minimum of ten drawings a night, before I'd allow myself to go to sleep. Pretty soon a big pile of sketchbooks grew up next to my bed.


A lot of the drawings from my quick-fire series re-emerged as the wall plaque pieces that I made for the pop-up event at the A plus A Gallery during the opening week of this year's Venice Biennale, and Dino was one of them. Basically, I went through my last twenty years worth of sketchbooks, selected various images, then reproduced them as drawings or paintings on hand-made plywood wall plaques. The dinosaur one, that you see here, recently sold but click here to check out more from the series, which I have called my Taster Menu (because I'm selling them at a fraction of the cost of my normal work they offer an affordable introduction level for new collectors).

Friday, 20 November 2015

Check Out Candid and Crypt This Weekend

This week has been crazily busy, preparing for the Toys (Are Us) exhibition at The Crypt Gallery (last day of the show is this Saturday, 21 Nov,11am-6pm) on the Euston Road, and the Islington Contemporary Art and Design Fair 2015 at Candid Arts Galleries, behind Angel tube station – but it was all well worth the effort.


The private view for 'Toys (Are Us)' was last night, and the one for 'ICADF 2015' was tonight (Friday). At both events I managed some long over due catch-ups with fellow artists and friends, and met some very engaging new people (i.e. 'new to me' - not children. Although I did see a few children at the 'Toys (are Us)' show, especially around my toy tower sculpture, 'Magnet').

When I arrived at The Crypt Gallery opening I was pleasantly surprised to find an old friend, Yoshi Kinetorori Mamura, AKA Yoshizen, taking photos (and being photographed taking photos) of my sculpture with one of his eccentrically modified cameras. For anyone who doesn't know Yoshi, he's a strange mix of photographer, artist, inventor, Zen Buddhist, and much more. His life story would make for a bizarre and fascinating movie (I could see Wes Anderson directing) but that's a story for another time.


This photo of Yoshi's (using a fish eye lens) shows me explaining something about my sculpture to three students from the Barbican. To see some of his more experimental pinhole photos from the night check out his blog.

As well as all the great friends who managed to make it to the shows (I'll resist naming everyone as it'll just end up sounding like the world's dullest award ceremony acceptance speech – and I'd make it even worse by forgetting to mention someone) I got chatting to several artists that I'd not met before, and found out about their practices.


One artist whose work I was particularly taken with was Simon Fearnhamm and his Skelemental bronzes. Simon sculpts and casts miniature and life-size skeletons – something that would normally be enough in my book to warrant attention, only as I approached his stand, at tonight's Candid Arts opening, I immediately spotted his version of one of the Children of the Hydra's Teeth skeletons from probably my all time, favourite childhood film, Jason and the Argonauts. Not only that but I soon found out that Simon had actually worked with the god of movie animation, Ray Harryhausen on the pieces, some of which are now in the personal collection of that other movie great, Guillermo del Toro.


Another interesting artist that I met with was Italian printmaker, Sisetta Zappone, who is also exhibiting at Candid Arts this weekend. I was telling Sisetta how much I missed etching and working with printing presses – something that I've not done since my college days, just before I switched from printmaking to sculpture. Fortunately Sisetta also teaches at the Thames Barrier Print Studio (apparently the cheapest open source print studio in London), and rather generously has offered to show me round the place. So if all goes well I may soon be working on a few small series of etchings – let's hope so.


Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos whilst at the Candid Arts private view tonight so all the images (excluding the one by Yoshi) are of some of the sculptures that I currently have on show at the ICADF 2015, but taken elsewhere. I had planned to pop into the fair tomorrow (Saturday) and take photos but I now have to appear in a video that day, for a crowd funding project that myself, two friends, and the chef, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, are to be involved in – but more on that one at a later date (I'll tell you about it when you're older).

'Nail Box' photo by Rosie Mayell