Wednesday, 19 July 2017

New Residency in Sheffield City Centre!

This project is very different to anything I've done before and so is rather exciting. It is a completely new residency idea for Sheffield: four very different kinds of artist (including me!) have been chosen to take turns to work in a studio space bang in the middle of town, for a month at a time. My month is going to be September, so it's very soon.

What makes this a bit unusual is that, instead of us paying for the studio space, we are being paid to work in it. Good eh? We will also be given £500 each towards the materials we use during the month.

What makes it unusual for me is that, apart from this being the very first time I have ever worked in a studio space which is not at home, it is the very first time I have been paid to do my new textile work. The idea I pitched was to do urban sketching in the shopping area around the studio, then create interesting textile pieces based on the drawings - all very new and experimental.

I've not blogged any of my stitch work lately. I have been working with maps and this is an example of a recent piece, based on a walk through Lathkill Dale in Derbyshire:

What makes this studio project unusual for you folks out there, is that we will be working in a space which is open to anyone who wants to come and see what we are doing. The studio is in Orchard Square, tucked upstairs, next door to Waterstones. So you can come and have a chat about my work, or even buy some. All four artist will be running workshops too, but I'll tell you more about mine nearer my time, when I've worked out specifically what I'll be doing and when. 

The first artist, Zoyander Street, will be in the space throughout August. He is creating virtual pets which you can engage with in the studio. Apparently these pets will evolve, growing more and more like the people who visit. Sounds fascinating. I'm definitely going to visit him when I get back from Chicago.

You can follow the project or catch up at any time, using the hashtag #artistupstairs. I'll post more when it's my turn to be in the studio, of course.

Right, got to go - I am in the middle of packing for Chicago, for the Urban Sketchers Symposium. I fly in the morning - wish me luck!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Prints for Sale to Save Our Trees!

Remember me saying that Sheffield Trees Action Group are selling prints of 2 of my paintings, done during recent protests against the felling of our 100 year-old trees in Nether Edge, to raise funds for the fight to save them? Well here are prices, should you be interested.

You can buy them in 2 sizes: A4 or A3, and either as straight prints or window-mounted (NB: not framed). Both are Fine Art, Giclee prints on 300gsm watercolour paper.

Montgomery Limes

We are giving initial print-run numbers to the printer next Wednesday, 19th July, so you need to get your orders in before then please. At the moment, this is only open to people in the UK, to keep things simple. If you are in Sheffield, you can pick up your prints from Ora Gallery on Sharrow Vale Rd (S11 8ZE), to avoid the p&p (thanks Marika).  

Price options are:

Montgomery Lime trees
A4 print only - £15 (plus £1.50 p&p = £16.50)
A4 mounted - £19 (plus £1.50 p&p = £20.50)
A3 print only - £25 (plus £7 p&p = £32)
A3 mounted - £32 (plus £7 p&p = £39)

Chipper on Kenwood Park Rd
A4 print only - £14 (plus £1.50 p&p = £15.50)
A4 mounted - £18 (plus £1.50 p&p = £19.50)
A3 print only - £24 (plus £7 p&p = £31)
A3 mounted - £31.50 (plus £7 p&p = £38.50)

The pair
A4 print only - £28 (plus £1.50 p&p = £29.50)
A4 mounted - £36 (plus £1.50 p&p = £37.50)
A3 print only - £48 (plus £7 p&p = £55)
A3 mounted - £62.50 (plus £7 p&p = £69.50)

Unmounted sizes are:
A4 – 297 x 210mm; A3 – 420 x 297mm

Mounted sizes are:
A4 – 400 x 300mm; A3 - 500 x 400mm

Kenwood Park Road Chipper

We need payment with the order, via Paypal. Just click this link.
NB: Just at the end of the PayPal paying process, there is a checkbox you can untick, which will save STAG paying Paypal fees (see image below).

All proceeds go towards the fundraiser for legal costs. We have brave protesters in court on Monday, so we are likely to need all the help we can get.

For those people who can't understand why all this crazy stuff is taking place here on the streets of Sheffield, here is more background about why all this is happening.

There are also more products you can buy, to help raise funds and show support here.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sketching Musicians from Texas

I haven't shown you any sketches of musicians for quite a while, have I? Well, I thought I'd put that right, by sharing you some of the sketches I did the other weekend.

We had a very musical few days. It started on the Thursday evening: a band called Wild Bill and the Lost Knobs was visiting my little part of Sheffield, all the way from Austin, Texas. The bass player's brother, Ash Gray, lives round the corner to us and often plays at Café#9. So, of course, they did a joint gig at the café. Wild Bill was a pretty colourful character and great for sketching. I tackled him in my Inktense pencils on a tinted Strathmore sketchbooks, with a little white conte for highlights.

On the following Saturday afternoon, a friend of ours had arranged a musical party in his back garden.

Various musicians from the café played, while the rest of us all sat on the grass in the sunshine. Lovely. While they were here, Wild Bill and the Lost Knobs did a performance, as did Ash. I did my best to capture the flavour of the occasion.

At the end of the afternoon, everyone thanked our host and went home, but only for about an hour... At 7pm there was another music party, at another person's house. Remember a while back, I painted at a similar gig in the Secret House? Yep - same place.

I didn't sketch this time: I needed my hand to hold a series of rather gorgeous gin and tonics. What was slightly surreal was that Wild Bill and the Lost Knobs were playing again, so we got to listen to them 3 times in 3 days! It didn't matter - they were great. As was one of our favourite bands who were there, the totally fabulous Goat Ropers Rodeo Band. The paintings above and below are of them, sketched on a couple of previous occasions.

What a wonderfully sociable, crazily musical time!

Friday, 7 July 2017

I Sold a Painting at Auction!

Okay, I'm hoping you have visions of Sotherby's: an oak-panelled room stuffed with very rich collectors and a man with a gavel? Well, no, not quite like that. In fact, not actually like that at all. Hey ho - one day. Mine was a Facebook auction and I was raising money for the tree campaign in Sheffield.

If you don't know about it, there's is a battle going on in my home city of Sheffield, between protesters and the council. They have signed a very ill advised contract with a massive company called Amey, to maintain our streets over the next 25 years. Unfortunately for the poor residents of Sheffield, that involves cutting down thousands and thousands of our beautiful street trees, many of which are 100 years old. Why? Well, they tell us it's because the trees are causing too much damage to pavements and roads, but the damage is ridiculously small - a kerb stone nudged out as little as half an inch for instance. It's actually about MONEY. Of course. It's cheaper to chop them down than to work round them.

So, people have been fighting. Rushing out and standing under the trees when the cutting crews arrive. The trickiest bit is keeping an eye out, so someone can raise the alarm. We patrol the streets! They chop quite a few before we find out. They have taken thousands already.

Anyway, we had a small awareness-raising event recently, very close to where I live, to celebrate a glorious avenue of huge lime trees, which the Amey want to destroy. People decorated the trees, sang protest songs, baked cake - you get the idea. I decided to paint the trees, to try and capture the beauty of what we were attempting to save. I squatted on my little stool, in the road, tucked in behind a parked car and got out my watercolours.

I knew that I wanted to sell the painting in aid of the cause, so I worked on an A4 watercolour block, rather than in a sketchbook. We need money, because the council keep trying to find ways to arrest protesters, so we need to pay barristers to defend ourselves. The last batch of arrests (including 3 old ladies!) was thrown out of court, but they have a new plan and are now handing out injunctions, to stop us standing within barriers they erect around the trees. Thing is, if we don't, they just chop them down immediately!

While I was painting, lots of people came to see what I was up to. One very positive side-effect of this horrible business is that neighbours are getting to know one another. We generally have to stand under trees for anything from an hour to 3 hours before the crew finally give up, so it's very chatty. Locals bring us tea, make us toast - it would be lovely if it wasn't so serious.

When the event was done, I posted a scan of the painting onto Facebook and announced the auction, with a starting price of £40. It quickly rose to £80, then it stopped for ages, but there was another flurry the next morning. I gave  a cut-off time of midday and by then we had reached £125. Hurrah!

We are also making Fine Art Prints of the painting to sell, plus a local shop has agreed to stock them for us, free of charge, because they too think what the council and Amey are doing is awful.

I am doing prints of this painting too, which I captured of the cutting crew, while I was sitting under a tree on a previous occasion.

If you would like to buy a print to help us fight the tree-murderers, you have the option of two sizes. The prices are:
A4: £15 (plus P&P)
A3: £25 (plus P&P)
Both are Giclee prints on 300gsm watercolour paper. Please let me know ASAP, so we can pick everything up together when we go to the printers. Orders need to be in by July 17th.

If you want to give money to the fund, or want to find out more about what we will be spending the money on, here's the Crowdfunder page.

Right, better go and get some work done, because any minute the alarm could be raised and I'll be rushing from the house and running to get under a tree before the chainsaws begin. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Big News: New Residency Exploring Cystic Fibrosis

Last week, I got some great news. Do you remember me saying, ages ago, that I had a few new irons in the fire: possible residency projects which might or might not come off, depending on whether we got funding? Well, I just found out from York University that they have been successful in getting the money to go ahead with a new project we have planned to do together.

I will be working alongside a team of sociologists so, in that respect, it is similar to my recent Dementia and Synbiochem projects with researchers at the Morgan Centre in Manchester. However, this is a very different project to these, and to the longer Morgan Centre residency. The work with York University revolves around sufferers of Cystic Fybrosis.

I will learn a lot more about it I'm sure, once I get sketching, but the team's interest is in the difficulties of cross-infection between sufferers. It's not that Cystic Fybrosis itself is contagious, but those who have it are at potentially fatal risk from lung infections, which can be very easily picked up from one another, in hospital clinics, during check-ups. Clinics make great efforts to try and keep sufferers apart (waiting rooms are a big risk), which must make the condition feel even more isolating.

My part in the work will involve being a fly on the wall while researchers are talking to Cystic Fybrosis sufferers and clinicians within hospitals in 3 different cities.  The sociologists are interested in the experience of clinic visits and  people's feelings about their movement through different areas in the hospital buildings. The team will look at the 'choreography' involved in preventing people coming into contact, as well as sufferers' pathways and journeys through the different clinics. They'll be analysing discrepancies in planning, looking for possibilities for collaboration and redesign.

While I, of course, will do my best to sketch it all. My role is to help communicate patient's experiences and concerns. Not really sure how yet. There are particularly tricky issues around keeping the interviews anonymous, so none of my usual 'portraits'. I'll work it out when we get to that stage. There is always a way. I had similar constraints while working on the Dormant Things interviews in Manchester. Later in the project, my artwork will also be used to help facilitate discussions with those who make decisions about the designing of the clinics' processes and environments.

This new work won't kick in for quite a while yet, not until much later in 2018, well after I have finished the work I am doing with the Occupational Psychologists in Perth. The whole thing is a 3 year project, but I will only be involved in one small part of it. As usual though, it's going to be fascinating work and I can't wait to find out more. I'll keep you posted, of course.