Poetry and Art

For writers and artists it's always exciting to see your work in print, so I was extremely flattered to be asked to provide two cover images for new publications by New Walk Editions. The two poetry pamphlets, by Polly Atkin and Alan Jenkins, are the latest in a series, published bi-annually by New Walk.

I met Polly soon after moving to Cumbria and her poems are in turn beautiful, moving and visceral in their depiction of the natural world, sense of place and the experience of living with an invisible disability (EDS). "With Invisible Rain" also takes inspiration from the diaries of Dorothy Wordsworth, a close neighbour who did a bit of writing, in Townend, Grasmere (because obviously Polly is, like all poets, possessed of magical time travelling powers and regularly calls by Dove Cottage for the occasional chat about poetry).  

I haven't met Alan Jenkins but he is the deputy editor of the Times Literary Supplement which is a pretty big deal.

Both pamphlets are available from New Walk, Polly and selected wonderful bookshops ( Sam Read Grasmere

January 2018 - Winter Dreaming
 Mood board with Makelight #YearofColour palette.

Mood board with Makelight #YearofColour palette.

January of the "New Year" is heading fast towards February and I thought it was high time I updated this News section, since I don't seem to have written anything since last summer. This isn't strictly true as I've been updating my Wordpress blog and there has actually been plenty of "News" to report.

Last year was probably the best year ever for Witchmountain; thanks to the beautiful galleries and shops who took my work and also in great part to Cumbria Printmakers group who have given me not only opportunities to exhibit but also new friendships and the all important sense of starting to "belong" in Cumbria. Thanks also to everyone who bought from this website in its first year or subscribed to my newsletter, you are all now entered in a monthly prize draw as a reward for being fabulous.

This year has started slowly, taking the time to evaluate and make plans using the "Dream, Plan, Do" planner from the Design Trust (lots of plans in just one sentence!). One of the important lessons I keep trying to learn is that as a self employed, creative person, these "quiet" reflective times, far from being wasted days, are vital for coming up with new goals, researching and testing ideas. So, as well as reading by the stove, baking batches of polar bears and sour dough bread, I'm constantly thinking about ways to make my work even better and more desirable (not only to my customers but to me). Time to dream is a luxury but an important one to indulge in once in a while.

 Gingerbread bears ...they didn't make it back from the walk up to Alcock Tarn.

Gingerbread bears ...they didn't make it back from the walk up to Alcock Tarn.

I have decided not to attend BCTF this year, working instead towards more direct to the public art fairs and gallery exhibitions such as Art in the Pen, and hopefully Printfest ... I await the selection process with baited breath. I've also entered the #LibertyOpenCall competition (along with about 5,000 others!) on Instagram because you never know what might happen and I've decided to aim high! One of the images I entered features a fantastic colour palette made by a new FREE Instagram tool created by Makelight which has extracted the most used colours from my posts in 2017 and is endlessly fun to play with. Wonderfully clever Emily and Stef Quinton, thank you so much.

I've been  trying to use Pinterest more, without losing years of my life to visual overload,  as it is supposedly one of the best ways to attract more visitors, and ultimately customers, to a website. What do you think? Have you ever bought anything you've seen on Pinterest? If you use it please do have a look at my boards and let me know what you liked. 

Now it is time to do some "Doing" and put plans into action. Thanks for reading this and visiting Witchmountain - at least you didn't need an ice axe and crampons. Don't forget you can read more of my ramblings on my Wordpress blog and watch this space for exhibition dates, new stockists and other illustrated news! x

 imagining my lamp in the wild for #libertyopencall 

imagining my lamp in the wild for #libertyopencall 

  

Art in the Pen
 A corner of my pen. 

A corner of my pen. 

This time last week I was just getting home after a pub supper and a glorious evening swim in the river to celebrate returning from a sucessful weekend in Thirsk at Art in the Pen.

I'd never done big art fair before, BCTF doesn't count because it's a trade fair so you don't have to worry about how much stock you're going to take or whether your card machine will work ( it didn't, the wifi wasn't strong enough so my iZettle machine has still only been tested by charging Rupert for his tea). Arriving after a ridiculous journey, that took 2 hours longer than it should have done because I tried to be clever and got lost instead, I stumbled out of the car and surveyed the unpromising venue - a recently hosed down cattle market with matching perfume. It took about 3 hours to set up my pen, with lots of help from Rupert (turns out my little arms were too short to reach around the display boards I'd made to attach the cable ties!) but by the time I left the whole place had been transformed - over 100 artists and makers who not only make beautiful things but manage all the set design, logistics, PR., accounting and self motivation that are part of the job. I had a great weekend; sold enough work to justify my existence this month and met a lot of inspiring people, old and very dear friends, artists I aspire to buy from one day and random coincidental connections . 

 Lamps, mugs and small framed work.

Lamps, mugs and small framed work.

If you missed the Thirsk edition you can catch me at the even bigger Skipton event on the weekend of August 12th. I'm really looking forward to it as it's so nice to actually meet buyers and talk about one's work to interested people- although I have no idea how visitors can decide what to buy; there was so much on offer and all of it created by passionate people with a story to tell. Packing up on the last day I was struck by the enormous effort everyone puts in to these events and I hoped that it had been worth it for all the artists involved - to buy even a small piece direct from a maker is so important, the buyer gets something to treasure and often hears the personal story behind the work or inside information about the technique, while the artist gets the all important boost to confidence and finances. ( For more about this subject have a look at the Just a Card Campaign).  

See you in Skipton for more magic and alchemy in the pens when the artists take over and transform the cattle mart :)    x

Just a Card Blog Button HTML
Just a Card Button
Cumbria Printmakers Cross the Border
 Artists book by Tracey Metcalfe.

Artists book by Tracey Metcalfe.

Wednesday evening saw a number of intrepid printmakers braving the heat wave (and aged vehicles in my case) to travel east to Barnard Castle, in neighbouring County Durham, where our group "Cumbria Printmakers" have set up temporary home at The Witham. Members of the group had set up the show in sweltering heat the day before and we had the easy job of standing around admiring everyone's hard work in the beautiful gallery space.

The show includes a wide variety of different print techniques from etching and lino print to experimental cyanotypes, gel plate printing (such as Tracey Metcalfe's handmade book above) and digital work. I have four pieces in the exhibition, all cyanotype monoprints with hand embroidered details.

 My work including a panel of "method" notes

My work including a panel of "method" notes

Cumbria Printmakers is  "...a Social Enterprise working to champion printmaking through exhibitions, events and outreach activities. The group aims to support artists, promote printmaking and collaborate with our partners and the local community to develop courses and workshops which make printmaking accessible for everyone." As well as showing our work (and hoping to sell one or two) each exhibitor was asked to provide written information, examples of tools and materials and images of work in progress. These are fascinating and highly informative documents, worthy of an exhibition in their own right and I loved talking to other artists about their processes; discovering the differences, similarities and unusual problem solving techniques used by them. During the exhibition and continuing throughout the following months, members of the group are running various print workshops at the venue which you can find out more about here. The Witham is a wonderful venue, worth the journey just for the coffee and cakes in the beautiful cafe and it looks as though they host a fantastic variety of events, including music, theatre and educational talks; the staff and volunteers were lovely and friendly too so I thought I would quickly share this link about one of them who lost everything in a fire recently.

So now I am back in the west, the heat wave is over but the printmaking continues as I prepare for Art in the Pen next month. Visit The Witham if you can, it really is worth it. x

 Preview evening 

Preview evening 

A Blue Bookshop Window
Bluets window Grasmere

I was honoured and excited last week to have been invited by Sam Read Booksellers in Grasmere to collaborate on a last minute window display promoting Maggie Nelson's "Bluets" published by Jonathan Cape. I made quick cyanotype prints on Arches paper including quotes from the book, layered transparencies, a bit of blue stitching and doodles and gave them to Will and his partner (poet Polly Atkin) to use as they wished. The potential deign problems were  the limited display space and the importance, in such a small independent shop, of not obscuring all the other wonderful books on offer. I think they did a great job and although it would be nice to win the Gin being offered by the publishers, I already feel as though I've won by having my work displayed in my all time favourite bookshop; as well as being lucky enough to help out behind the till occasionally (oh and meeting #WordsworthCat and eating some rather delicious blueberry muffins Will had made).

Sam Read is a tiny, eclectic, wonderful little shop, owned by Elaine Nelson ( no relation to Maggie) and is very dangerous for people like me with limited pocket money- especially as next door Elaine's daughter runs Lucia's which sells the best coffee and ginger crunch ever. I'm really grateful to Elaine for trusting me to help out in the bookshop and to Will for suggesting me (even though we had only really met when I was handing over my bank card over or on Twitter, where we all know there are some very odd people). It's not always been easy moving to a new area and they have definitely made me feel a lot better about it.  

Now, I just need to sell a few more cards because I can see some books in that window that are on my reading list... 

 

Sam Read's Window Grasmere
Sketchbook
Succulent Shelf

Sometimes I need a break from the endless blue of Cyanotype, magical though it is. Today I've been enjoying an exercise in drawing; after a period of creative block when all I really want to do is plant things and tend the garden. I filled a page with doodles of succulents in various imaginary containers and then played with composition in Photoshop, building my own pretend indoor garden. Perhaps the drawings will become cards or prints but for now they are just for fun and quite different to what I usually do.   

Sketchbook page
KIm Tillyer
17 Reasons

It was such a pleasure to meet Lydia, Linnhe and Alexis from 17 Reasons at British Trade Craft Fair, they always seem to be having so much fun. The lovely little gift shop in Moffat has been open for 3 years now and has a growing reputation for well sourced, handmade and designer gifts for all occasions.

I'm overjoyed that 17 Reasons now have a small selection of my lamps and candle lanterns for sale and I'm hoping they sell fast so I have an excuse to head north to re-stock and explore bit of Scotland! They posted this photo on Facebook with an insert picture of me in the corner ( which makes me want to burst out singing .... "thats me in the the spotlight, losing my religion"). 

 

Lamps at 17 Reasons
StockistsKIm Tillyer
BCTF Harrogate
Witchmountain at BCTF2017

I had a wonderful time in Harrogate this year, the weather was glorious and it was lovely to meet lots of the artists and makers I'd been chatting with in the virtual world. At times the show felt quiet and a lot of exhibitors said the same... the uncertain political and economic climate perhaps? Never the less I added several new gallery stockists to my list and it's going to be a busy summer!  

Thank you to everyone who visited the stand- old friends, new friends and new stockists who will be added to website soon. I'm really looking forward to getting down to work.

Also a big thank you to my daughter Sara who makes it all so much more fun. 

 Cyanotype lamps

Cyanotype lamps

  

Etsy Competition

 

I've entered a competition on Etsy to win some money to invest in Witchmountain. Voting is only open until April 6th so I've left it a bit late but I'd love it and be eternally grateful if you would consider voting of me so that I might be able to develop some really lovely new work with the best materials and equipment possible.

Thank you x http://wshe.es/lDLXNdf7

 Etsy Competition #DifferenceMakesUs

Etsy Competition #DifferenceMakesUs