Today I went to St. Saviours’ Hall on the Barbican for an exhibition by Ancient Scent, a group of artists who take residencies in different places. Their project Ancient Scent: Ireland was a residency “inspired by the spirit of Ithell Colquhoun’s own journey to Ireland, recorded in her psychogeographical memoir”. During this project, Ancient Scent spent a week in Ascendancy House in Ballycumber, and visiting sites such as Durrow Abbey, Clonmacnoise, and Leap Castle. The work in the exhibition was made after their return in April 2017, and created during group art workshops.
The artistic styles and the mediums which Ancient Scent use are really diverse, from photography, to pottery and ceramics, all the way to creating an imaginary cult. The individual artists within the collective inspire each other’s work, so the exhibition isn’t just a lot of different objects on the same theme, but feels more like a full fusion of all of the artists’ skills and ideas. Walking around and looking at the pieces was like wandering through a folktale, serene and magical at times then creepy and menacing at others. I’ve never been to an exhibition quite like this before, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of Ancient Scent’s work.
On Sunday 10th December I had a table at Give Up Your Day Job, which is a D.I.Y. art fair “and punk rock flea market kinda thing” held at The Junction, Plymouth. This event is really focused on Plymouth’s indie and punk makers, with stalls selling t-shirts, zines, embroidered items, ceramics, cards, prints, and lots more.
I like this event a lot, the diy giveupcommunity seems really close and friendly and there was a great atmosphere all day. Dan of Il Pleut Screenprinting and South Coast Rats, who was one of the organisers of the event, came over and gave me a copy of this zine, full of photography and collage, which made me feel very welcome. There was even a stall selling fresh homemade vegan cakes and snacks where my brother got a chocolate brownie which he says was really good.
I was offered the opportunity to exchange art with my table neighbour Jasmin Griffiths which I was pleased about as her embroidered t-shirts are really cool. I like her sweet but sour minimalistic designs.
My neighbour on my other side was Paige Nicholas, an illustrator who draws punk inspired portraits, and I got a copy of her zine.
Rachel Hall is a Bristol based illustrator who makes prints based on lyrics, space and science fiction. I thought her postcards based on Star Wars and The X-Files were adorable and quirky.
My dad was helping me out on my stall, but I only live around the corner from The Junction so the rest of my family also came down for a visit. My mum bought herself a book from Blind Spot Distro, who specialise in vintage sci-fi and fantasy, which she was quite pleased about.
I took my badge maker with me so visitors could create their own badges, here are the ones I managed to get photos of. The top left one is one of mine.
This was my second time at Give Up Your Day Job, but my first as a table holder. I came earlier this year and met Max from Shake Bristol and Lize Meddings from The Sad Ghost Club, so I felt proud to be able to take part myself this time. It is a really chilled out event, small in size, big in heart and full of independent and alternative local makers. Watch their Instagram for details of the next one!
On the 7th December I had my own table at the Tiny Mart Xmas Fair, where local maker-sellers gathered to offer their zines, comics, art prints, and more. The event was organised by the Plymouth Drink and Draw team. Drink and Draw is a social drawing event which happens monthly on the first Thursday of every month in Boston Tea Party, Plymouth. This is the second Tiny Mart event they have organised this year, I went to the first in May as a visitor and was really excited to be able to take part in this one as a table holder myself.
There were lots of awesome illustrators there who I admire, including Alice Kensington, LJ Durose, Cath Garvey, Adam Endacott, and the 2 Plums collective. Check them out (the links are to their Instagram accounts). I wasn’t able to buy much this time as my funds were short and I was busy at my own table, but I did manage to get the newest zine from Alice Kensington, Casting Call. I really wanted to offer swaps at the other tables but was too shy, I really need to work on that next time! If you see me around and want to swap anything, please ask me because I’m really up for exchanges with other artists!
Make sure to take a look at the #tinymart and #drinkdrawplymouth tags to get a sense of what Tiny Mart is all about, hopefully there will be another one soon, and if you like to draw and illustrate then I really recommend coming along to Drink and Draw, it is a lot of fun and a really friendly environment.
I will have tables at two events next week in Plymouth so come along and say hello, check out my zines and other cool stuff and see what other unique items are on sale from lots of local artists and illustrators! Both events are free entry and there will be lots of awesome things to look at and people to talk to, more details below:
Today my plan was to visit as many of the Plymouth Art Weekender events as possible before the festival ended. I wanted to make sure I took part in some of the different art workshops around Plymouth, so finding venues with workshops happening was my highest priority, and I had two boxes left of zines to take with me. I sat down with my family and we made a plan together.
Our first stop was Ocean Studios. I dropped off some YEA ’17 zines in the cafe area and had a look at the portrait exhibition U + ME = US by Jojo on the way to the Made In Plymouth Maker’s Table, where we created papier-mache people for a family sculpture. I haven’t worked with paper-mache much before, and though gluing layers and layers of paper over each other was messy and fiddly, I had a really good time. While I was there, lots of families and young children came and had a go at making the sculptures, and the atmosphere was friendly and active, but also relaxed. We left our paper people with there to be arranged later into the bigger sculpture.
I wanted to see Laura Edmunds’ drawing and sound exhibition A Soft Introduction upstairs, so I left the workshop early to check it out. I spoke to Laura and learned that the sounds had been recorded on very sensitive microphones placed around her body while she drew and painted her pieces. There was a circle of speakers and I stood in the centre to listen, the sounds were soothing and mysterious, and reminded me of the sea. On display were around 69 of Laura’s drawings, and she described drawing them as almost like making musical notation. I thought they looked like a visual representation of her subconscious train of thoughts, and the overall feeling was serene.
I made my way back downstairs to join Sue Lewry’s monoprinting workshop. I was given a small rectangular plate which I inked with a roller, then I arranged pieces of textured wallpaper, cardboard and other materials on top of it, and each piece I inked with a different colour. I placed it carefully for registration with a piece of paper on top then it was put through a rolling printing press. This workshop was more quick paced than the earlier one as lots of people were around the table using the inks and press, but it was still a lot of fun. I like monoprinting and would like to try incorporating it into my illustration work in the future.
I headed off from Ocean to my next destination which was to Plymouth School of Creative Arts (PSCA). I delivered the last box of YEA ’17 zines here, and went up the stairs to visit the exhibitions. First I looked at Three In One, an exhibition by Janet Sainsbury, Andy Coldrey, and Charlie O’Sullivan. Their art worked well together, and I liked Charlie’s sculpture of paper houses and paintings made on a long scroll of old book pages.
We then headed up to Janine Rook’s inkblot painting workshop. Janine was one of my art tutors during my first Saturday Arts Club at Plymouth College of Art, so it was good to see her again and tell her about my new college course. This workshop was also popular with families, and there was a big display of inkblot paintings from lots of children that had taken part as well as more paintings on all the flat surfaces around. I used pipettes to carefully place a small number of coloured ink drops on my paper and then folded it down the middle to create patterns. I learned that inkblot painting is called klecksography and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere with even the smallest children very quietly concentrating on their pieces.
On the same floor as the inkblots was one of the highlights of the day, Funny Blind Date, an exhibition of collages sent to Plymouth from around the world that has been collected together by Object Recordings. Everything in the collection is an analogue collage, meaning it was put together physically using magazines, posters etc, and scissors and glue, rather than being produced digitally. There was work from eleven different artists and I was surprised how each one had a very different style and mood to their work. Some of the pieces were very humourous or witty, and others were more serious or political. I have never been to an exhibition of collages before and Funny Blind Date was inspirational, showing me that collage can be just as visually interesting and meaningful as drawing and painting.
I had to move on but I paid a quick visit to the Union Street Party just around the corner. It was smaller than previous years and the road hadn’t been closed off, but even the rain hadn’t stopped people gathering to play drums and dance. I was disappointed that I didn’t find any participatory art projects here this year as in previous years I have really enjoyed that element of the Party, but it was good to see that even in the rain Plymothians can have a good time!
I also stopped to have a look at Bouys and Girls by Mary Trapp in PSCA’s playground. This installation features wire and foam sculptures of children wearing lifejackets, suspended over water alongside orange buoys. It made me think of public information films, on first look the figures look like they are having fun, jumping or dancing, but as I spent more time looking at them they looked more like they were struggling against currents or trying to escape. I thought it was a really interesting piece of art and I would like to see where Mary takes it next, as she suggested that she would change the arrangement when she moves it to new locations.
My next stop was to the Park Bench Reader by Bram Thomas Arnold, who was going to read from Jurassic Park, but unfortunately my family made a mistake and went to the wrong location so I missed this event. I was disappointed as it sounded like a fun piece but I am going to look out for Bram’s future projects. I then went to the Athenaeum to take part in a zine workshop from Make Stuff/Drink Stuff, but unfortunately that had been cancelled! I think I need to pay more attention to messages on social media next year so I can keep up with the changes that can happen in a big event like the Art Weekender. Fortunately there were other things to do at the venue so I watched some of Rhys Morgan’s video and sound collage Platform, revisited the Handling Collection, and listened for a while to some poetry on stage (about pants!) for Tears In Rain. There was a real variety in the building!
I was feeling quite tired by now but I really wanted to see some more of the things on my list. I headed for Studio 102 which had a really interesting sounding exhibition in the PAW programme, I Don’t Believe Birmingham Exists by Adrian Bishop. I am really glad that I decided to keep going because as soon as I entered I felt energised by Adrian’s paintings. This is a collection of absurd beliefs illustrated in ink, and the paintings are colourful and energetic and got us all talking and really actively engaged by the work. Adrian’s exhibition is on until the 8th of October and I would recommend everyone interested in illustration or political and satirical artwork visits the gallery to experience it. (I only just realised I have seen work by Adrian at Studio 102 before and wrote about it here)
Our last stop was Plymouth Arts Centre as it was just around the corner and I wanted to have a better look at the Dwell installation upstairs. There was a peaceful tented area with cushions and books by Niamh Lily Wimperis, and a quiet and contemplative arrangement of a dresser with items on top where everything was painted white, by Megan Kathryn Heywood. I have a copy of their zine (also called Dwell) which I plan to read later.
I had another look around PAC which has been repainted for Ciara Phillips’ work which is ongoing and will be added to over the course of the exhibition. I plan to visit regularly to check on it and see how it grows as she works with local groups of people.
That is the end of my Weekender posts this year! I didn’t manage to get to all the things I wanted to, but some exhibitions are still available to visit so I will try to get to them. I wish the Weekender was on for longer, some of the things I missed but really wished I’d had a chance to get to were Rosie King’sG O N E (preserve us) and the Flameworks Open Day. I also missed Sketch 2017 at PCA but luckily that is on until 6th October so I will make sure I go before then.
I hope everyone else had as good a Weekender as me and I hope to get even more involved in PAW 2018!
Last year I documented what I saw of the Plymouth Art Weekender, an annual city-wide art event where different galleries and venues open up to the public with temporary art installations made by artists based in Plymouth and abroad. It takes place over three days, and there are lots of exhibitions and events to enjoy. This year, as an official blogger for PAW, I will try to cover as many of this year’s art installations as I can!
Today, I was part of an art tour surrounding We The People Are The Work, a project that “will explore ideas of power, protest and the public” and involves exhibitions by five sets of international artists in five different venues. Each project involves working with the public in some way.
We did our tour in a slightly different order, but still began in Plymouth University’s Peninsula Arts (PenArts) gallery, with a video installation by artists Antonio Vega Macotela and Eduardo Thomas called Advice From a Caterpillar. The artists are from Mexico City and when they were approached to create a piece for WTPATW they researched Plymouth and decided to do a piece collaborating with extras who had been in the Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland. The piece features locations which appeared in the movie or that the actors wanted to talk about.
Peninsula Arts also has the first of two big black walls called We The People Are The Words which the public are encouraged to write words or doodle on using the provided chalk.
We moved on to the second part of our tour, an exhibition in Plymouth Arts Centre (PAC) by Ciara Phillips. The space has been transformed with new colours, shapes and patterns on the walls and large prints everywhere.
Parts of the gallery have been turned into workspaces with a darkroom, screen printing area, and a relaxing space for reading. Every week new work will be created here by different groups of people working with Ciara, and that work will be added to the display changing the space over time, until the show ends in November.
The second big black wall and chalk set is at Plymouth Arts Centre, and I drew another cat.
We moved on to the Council House which is not usually open to the public because it is still a working building, but the city museum have been negotiating with the council to be able to use it while the museum is being remodelled. The piece here has been planned by artist Peter Liversidge. Peter started with doing text generating projects with different members of the public, and the pieces of text were reviewed by the council (to check for anything “problematic”) then compiled into a large book.
The gallery space is taken up with a large white stage where every day two or three sign painters will take requests from visitors, who can choose any piece of text from the book, and create big cardboard signs from them.
On the way to the next exhibition, we stopped to look at the billboards outside the Council House for the #AtlanticProject. These bring up questions about what it means to be a good neighbour.
We moved on to KARST for the next WTPATW exhibition. The artists here are a feminist collective called Claire Fontaine. As soon as the door opened we smelled burning and smoke. The first piece here is a huge arrangement of thousands of matches set in the shape of the United Kingdom. Students from Plymouth College of Art took five days to place the 58500+ matches, and they were set alight on Thursday evening. The whole place filled up with smoke and parts of the gallery have actually been burned and melted by the process, which was documented.
The second room is completely filled with red light and here there are neon signs, some of which are animated and seem to respond to each other.
On the way to the last exhibition we passed by another PAW art piece, The Truth Wall. This features political letterpress prints by Kiss & Bite Letterpress Studio.
The last stop on our tour was Plymouth College of Art (PCA). In the gallery here is a film and sound installation by Matt Stokes. This piece looks at DIY culture and how live music venues are disappearing locally. Four local independent bands are filmed playing their music live at the locations of once iconic, but now closed, music venues.
Tomorrow I will be going to The Plymouth Athenaeum to take part in PAW myself at the YEA Plymouth table. We will be giving away free copies of our collaborative zine YEA ’17 which features work by ten young artists aged 11-16. This is a Plymouth Art Weekender project and our first big project together. We will also be selling zines by YEA Plymouth members and badges to raise money for future projects together.
Last year I was a member of the National Saturday Art and Design Club at Plymouth College of Art. We got to experiment with different media and artforms throughout the year, and take trips to local exhibitions as well as two trips to London for bigger NatSatClub shows featuring our work alongside work made by other groups.
Our final trip to London was on the 17th of June. We met up really early to catch our coach just after 6am so we could get to the exhibition at Somerset House around 11am. It was really busy as hundreds of young people from NatSatClubs around the country had come to see their work on display. We were greeted and each given goody bags of art supplies, water, and snacks, and shown in to the first area where all the Masterclass work was on display. Our Masterclass was in making word drawings with Barnaby Barford.
Next we went upstairs and had a look around the different clubs’ work. Plymouth sent in a lot of our work, and the pieces that were chosen for display were our beach glass jewellery, and our glass houses which we made in a class led by our Student Ambassador Ben Lintell.
This video shows our glass houses lit from below with a torch to cast shadows on the white wall.
We were all called into a large room filled with benches for a speech by the National Saturday Club founders, Lord and Lady Sorrell. Then we were called up one by one and received our Certificates and Yearbooks.
After the ceremony some of our group went to the National Portrait Gallery, but I stayed to look around the exhibition for a while longer. There was a huge amount of different types of work on display by young people from the many clubs, including zines, puppets, film, fashion and ceramics.
At the end of the day, we met up with the rest of the group to get back to the coach. Unfortunately, the coach had overheated (it was a really hot day!) and was broken down, leaving us stranded in London! Our group leaders brought us all water to drink and we took a walk around Covent Garden watching a clown and looking in the Moomin shop. The coach was fixed in an hour or so, and we headed back on the five hour journey home.
I was sad that some of the work I was most proud of from our many projects wasn’t put on display, but I hope to be able to put photos up of those pieces here soon, and I did have a really good day. It was really amazing seeing so much work from young artists all in one place and I was really inspired by all that I saw. I would recommend joining the group to anyone aged from 14 to 16 who likes art and really wants to try different things.
Below are some photos of work from National Saturday Clubs all around the country. I have included lots here so that people who didn’t get to go on the trip can still enjoy some of the work we saw.
Here are some links to previous posts I have written about NatSatClub: