Posts in Events
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