Time for Some Reflection

The start of a new year invariably signals a time to look back and reflect on what has been before making plans for the year ahead. 2013 was a really good year for me on many levels but I ended it feeling frazzled and burnt out. Working at such an intensity is not good for the soul and it certainly wasn’t good for this blog ūüôā Three months have passed since I wrote anything here. I was swept along on a wave of printing for exhibition deadlines and orders and time to think was severely lacking. It became a standing joke that my boyfriend would text me to say goodnight just as I was about to start printing another collagraph and I now know Sailing By¬†by heart and could probably list all the places covered in the shipping forecast. Where would I be without Radio 4?!

I’ve had a great year though. I took part in 20 exhibitions and events and lost count of the workshops that I taught. I completed my second year of Joan Newall’s bookmaking course and have started my third. I also went on Alice Fox’s rusting workshop and Jane Littlefield’s stained glass workshop. I attended lots of exhibitions and previews and helped to set up a printmakers’ networking group. My prints have sold well and I’ve met some lovely people that have bought them. To my astonishment, one collagraph print proved to really strike a chord with people. I designed ‘The Way Through the Woods’ in April and it was an edition of 50. By October it had totally sold out! I would love to be able to repeat that with another print but you never know what is going to capture people’s imagination and so I’ll just continue to make things from the heart and hope that what makes me tick, will inspire other people too.

The Way Through the Woods

In the months leading up to Christmas I realised that if I want to feel happy and fulfilled in the longterm, I need to rethink how I work. It really isn’t easy to turn down opportunities when you are a full-time artist and even though I only have myself to support, the pressure is on to ensure that I make enough to cover my bills and pay my rent. I also strongly believe that you just don’t know where some of those exhibitions, events etc. might lead and, anyway, I do actually thrive on being busy but perhaps not quite as busy as last year!

2013-08-18 10.26.45(This is from Art in the Pens in Skipton, I hope to be doing it again this year and also one in Carlisle!)

So I’m starting 2014 with a different goal. I’m going to pare down my calender somewhat and give myself plenty of time and headspace for developing ideas. Without that, it is hard to make meaningful work. I’ve organised a lovely programme of workshops with ArtisOn Ltd. and will start that in mid-March and I have a few exhibitions pencilled in my diary that should punctuate the year nicely but mainly I will be working on a body of new work for my exhibition at Inspired By…Gallery in Danby. This takes place in November and continues into 2015. I was invited to show there by Sally Ann Smith of the North York Moors Park Authority and it was a lovely coincidence because I was on the verge of approaching her to apply to exhibit. I’ve asked ceramicist Charlotte Morrison to share the space and together we will be creating work inspired by the national park. We’re calling our show ‘New Ground’ and I’ll be blogging about it from now until the opening as I go out into the field and gather ideas for new work.

041(the tangled birch woods near Gormire)

I’m also returning to √Ölg√•rden in Sweden in February. That will really help get the year off to a good start. I invariably find January and February quite hard. My fellrunning prevents me getting such bad SAD symptoms nowadays but motivation can be at a low. I’m being kind to myself this year and have lined up enough workshops to pay my bills and am allowing myself the rest of the time to do whatever comes easily. I’m really enjoying doing a bit of reading and research about printmaking and I’ve had some great networking days already. In fact, I actually feel raring to go!

My next blog post will be about my trip to Cornwall next week when I will be ‘artist in residence’ at Alverton Gallery in Penzance. I’ll spend three days printing in the gallery to coincide with an exhibition of etchings by Edward Bouverie Hoyton at Penlee House and Gallery.

Telling Tails

I’ve just had a little flurry of activity with regards to exhibitions and I now have my prints on display at Feathered Friends, Cambridge Contemporary Art & Bird’s Eye View, Leeds Craft Centre and Design Gallery.

On Wednesday last week, glass artist Jane Littlefield, gallery manager, Alison Holt, and I hung the Telling Tails exhibition at Rural Arts in Thirsk. In the beginning it was quite a conundrum to work out how to display Jane’s beautiful three dimensional glass pieces and my prints together but with the use of plinths for Jane’s work, the walls for mine and the rearrangement of all the lovely ceramics, textiles and jewellery in the gallery, I think we came up with a very pleasing exhibition.

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Jane has developed a really interesting way of working with her pieces consisting of multi-layered painted glass images that create a three-dimensional collage. The glass is hand painted using traditional stained glass paints and translucent enamels that are fired in the kiln. The work refers to Jane’s experience of the Peak District in which she lives and works. 

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Both of us are inspired by nature and stories and we often depict the same birds and animals such as crows, hares and owls. I am very fortunate to live in a rural place and I see lots of wild animals and interesting birds but it is the ones that appear throughout history in poetry, folklore and myth that tend to grab my attention most and are likely to make it into my collagraph prints.

We held the preview for the exhibition on Friday night and I’m pleased to say that plenty of people came and we now have a couple red spots! ūüôā

This little roe deer collagraph was the first print of mine to sell:

Roe Deer

By coincidence, this year’s North Yorkshire Open Studios meeting (to distribute promotional materials and discuss the event) was held at Rural Arts on Friday and I have collected my brochures ready to send out to anyone that would like to visit me in my studio. I love taking part in North Yorkshire Open Studios because it is a chance to meet people that like my work and also to show how the prints are made. I will write about that in more detail nearer the time (it is over two weekends in June) but in the meantime you can visit NYOS’13 at their website and facebook page¬†and if you would like me to send you a catalogue, you can send me a message with your postal address via the contact page of my website and I will happily send one out to you.

I am now off to continue making a very detailed collagraph plate of a fox in a birch forest. It is inspired by the beautiful forests that I saw in Sweden. If it goes well, I’ll write about it soon!

March Hares and Feathered Friends

As usual, blog posts from me tend to be a bit few and far between but I can report that I’ve been steadily getting back up to speed after my slow January and I’ve delivered work for two exhibitions that have just started. Both are bird themed shows. The first is at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery¬†in Leeds and features my prints along with those of Janis Goodman, Pam Grimmond and Mike Smith. It is on until the 29th June 2013 so there is plenty of time to visit.

The second exhibition is at Cambridge Contemporary Art¬†and is a group show with prints from Janis and Pam again and also Carry Ackroyd, Jane Ormes, Simon Griffiths and Fiona Watson to name but a few. ‘Feathered Friends’ continues until 1st April 2013 but both galleries have my work permanently in the browsers for anyone that misses these shows. I’m now finishing the preparations for my exhibition ‘Telling Tails’ with glass artist Jane Littlefield at Rural Arts in Thirsk. We both share a love of the natural landscape and ¬†the stories and folklore that surround the wildlife that inhabit it.¬†Jane creates beautiful three dimensional glass pieces such as this hare:

hare

The exhibition runs until the 31st May 2013. Incidentally, if anyone would like to attend the preview it is from 7-9pm at The Old Courthouse, Rural Arts in Thirsk, RSVP by email to hannah@ruralarts.org. I will have some brand new prints on display as well as a selection of recent collagraphs.

This is my new barn owl, ‘The Silent Sentinel’:

The Silent Sentinel

The exhibitions and events that I’m doing are mounting up for 2013 and will include North Yorkshire Open Studios, group shows at The Found Gallery in Dunbar and The Blue Tree Gallery in York, Art in the Pen at Skipton, The Harrogate Art Show and The Simplicity of Colour at The Gallery in Masham. I’ll post details as each show comes up.

My workshops are now coming up thick and fast. I’ve just finished my collagraph course at Number Six in Pateley Bridge (we’re already planning more for the autumn) and have started the beginners collagraph course at ArtisOn¬†in Masham where I am also teaching ‘Printing without a Press’ next week on the 8th March and ‘Natural Forms in Linocut Printmaking’ on the 23rd March. Phew…that will do for now!

On an entirely different note, I’ve been doing some more hare watching when I’ve been out fell running. We’ve had plenty of snow and this is a lovely brown hare that I managed to find by following its footprints.

hare

The most exciting was my first ever sighting of mountain hares in their winter coats! I’ve just this weekend successfully completed the High Peak Marathon¬†with my team mates ‘The High Peak Scuttlers’ and we ran a fabulous route from Edale which traverses the Derwent watershed. I’d been told that there were mountain hares living in the area and sure enough, I got my first glimpse of them at Bleak Low on a recce run a couple weeks ago.

winter hare

Amazingly, we actually saw lots of them and on the race itself, we were crossing Bleak Low again as the sun came up and we got a fleeting glimpse of a couple. In the space of just a couple weeks the hares are beginning to lose their white coats and are looking browner.

For all those intrigued by what I get up to when not in the studio, here is a photo that my boyfriend and fellow team member at The High Peak Marathon took. It was taken just after we had safely navigated the frozen bogs in moonlight and picked up the Pennine Way to the Snake Road crossing. It was as cold as it looked but the hot tea at the checkpoint soon revived us.

I’m off to continue work on my altered book for The Library of Lost Books now. More on that another day!

Busy busy busy!!

I can’t believe that it has been a month since I wrote a new post here. My residency in Sweden seems like ages ago and I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed by the amount of workshops that I’ve been teaching and exhibitions that I’ve been preparing for but there is light at the end of the tunnel and I am keeping my fingers crossed that by the time December comes, I’ll be able to start working on the ideas that I started at √Ölg√•rden.

In the meantime, as an update, my seven week collagraph evening course at Number Six Studio in Pateley Bridge is now three weeks in. I have seven returning students who have become ‘old regulars’ and one brand new student who has not done any printmaking before but has really thrown himself into the process and not been put off by the fact that he is also the only man on the course. I’m looking forward to seeing his collagraphs develop.

I’m also four weeks in to my Introduction to Printmaking Techniques course at ArtisOn Ltd. This is on a Tuesday afternoon and so far I’ve covered monotype, making a basic relief stamp, linocut and drypoint! My ten students seem to be enjoying themselves and we will be making collagraphs this week.

Rural Arts in Thirsk has been running taster workshops and I’ve done some three hour collagraph sessions and am about to run a two-day collagraph workshop on consecutive Fridays (16th & 23rd November). I also did a monotype class for the Leven Art Society and a linocut workshop at ArtisOn. After my linocut Christmas card workshop at ArtisOn in December it quietens down a bit and I’ll have more headspace for my own work. I enjoy teaching and it really keeps me on my toes and pushes my professional practise but it also takes up a lot of time and energy so it is important that I get the balance right and give myself enough time to work on my printmaking.

Winter exhibitions include group shows at Cambridge Contemporary Art, The Waterstreet Gallery in Todmorden, The Lime Gallery in Settle, Will’s Art Warehouse in Putney and I’ll be taking part in a two week show at RHS Garden Harlow Carr from 27th November to 9th December. Phew!

I was very pleased to be one of the fourteen printmakers selected for the West Yorkshire Printmakers ‘Flourish Printmaker of the Year’ award and had two of my prints on show at the exhibition in Mirfield. Sara Clarke won the award and there were three commended artists: Moira McTague, June Russell and Dan Booth. It was good to attend the preview and ceremony and meet up with other printmakers. This is one of my selected prints which was created during my Extending Practise Award last year. Chrysalis Arts funded me to be mentored by Jane Sellars, Curator of the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate, whilst I created prints inspired by the Vale of York Viking Treasure Horde. These went on display at the Mercer Gallery alongside the treasure.

It’s always interesting to see what sells and so far I have had quite a lot of success with my most recent print ‘The Raspberry Thief’.

This was inspired by watching a whole family of blackbirds feeding in my back garden. The male and two fledglings were stealing raspberries whilst the female wrestled with a large slug!

My most recent print was created last week and is of a mountain hare. I have been asked by The Lime Gallery in Settle to make a couple new hare prints for their winter exhibition. They are such wonderful creatures and steeped in folklore and mythology. I often watch them in the fields near where I live and have taken many photos. I’ve always wanted to see a mountain hare in its winter coat but haven’t yet. Maybe one day! Instead I have made do with making a little collagraph of a snowy hare.

I’m now working on another hare print and will photograph the different stages for my next post.

I’m already planning various exhibitions for next year and have been invited to take part in a show called ‘Flight’ at the Craft Centre and Design Gallery in Leeds. It will start in March 2013 and will feature four of my prints and four each from Janis Goodman, Pam Grimmond and Mike Smith. I’m also taking part in a group exhibition called ‘Our Feathered Friends’ at Cambridge Contemporary Arts which is also in the spring.

On a final note, I’m delighted to be having an exhibition with glass artist, Jane Littlefield at Rural Arts in Thirsk. This will take place from 16th March to 31st May 2013 and we have chosen the title ‘Telling Tails’. We met last week to discuss the show and discovered that we are inspired by the same things: wildlife, the countryside and the myths and stories that are connected to both. We plan to show glass and prints featuring birds and animals with an illustrative twist. We will both be running workshops to coincide with the exhibition.

Right, I’d better get on with the paperwork I need to finish before continuing with my new hare collagraph. More on that next time.