Art, reviews and thoughts from a young artist in Plymouth, UK.

Posts tagged ‘Flameworks’

Plymouth Art Weekender Day 3

The 25th of September was Day 3 of the Plymouth Art Weekender.  Here are links to my earlier posts about the event: Day 1 and Day 2 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

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My little sister on the merry-go-round at Union Street Party 2016

Day 3 was a Sunday so we relaxed in the morning then headed to the Union Street Party, where last year I took part in my first public participation art project “Painter Pitcher” (organised by Amy Whittingham), with my brother and my dad.  That was a lot of fun and I was looking forward to seeing what was happening at the party this year.  The flyer for the Weekender said there would be a print workshop from Double Elephant and I really wanted to give that a try as I have seen their workshop leaflets at PCA in the past and they look really interesting.

We arrived as a band was setting up on the main stage and a woman from the We Are Plymouth booth asked if we wanted to take part in their photo project to celebrate Plymouth’s people and communities.  Me and my brother were given a small whiteboard to write “We are Plymouth” on (I added a doodle of my own!) and a badge each to wear for our photo.  Unfortunately we didn’t take a photo of our own because we thought they would be posted online but their Instagram account is empty!

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Instructions and ticket for Marcella Finazzi’s installation at Sloggett and Son, and my We Are Plymouth badge

We carried on walking around and had fun messing about on a bouncy castle and a rodeo bull.  Next to the bouncy castle were two men playing music with a guitar and drums and they were encouraging members of the public to join in. We watched a woman singing an Elvis song and a few young boys taking turns on the mic and drums, and there was a really great atmosphere around this part of the Party.  Right next door was Sloggett and Son, a shop that sells vintage furniture and they were hosting an installation of instant photos and sound recordings called “What we talk about when we talk about love” by Marcella Finazzi.  We got into line to participate and Marcella gave us a ticket and instructions on what to do.  We wrote about what love means to us on slips of paper and she took our photo for her album.  Being around all the vintage furniture while listening to to the conversations through the headphones made me feel like I was inside someone’s house and part of their family.  When we left we were given another slip of paper each with a ‘love thought’ printed on it.   Mine read “You look good today” and my brother’s read “I believe in you”.

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Instant photo of my family by Marcella Finazzi

We heard music and saw people dancing and went to watch for a few minutes then went into the Camper Obscura.  This is a camper van that has been converted into a Camera Obscura that you can sit inside!  We all went in and the man running the van closed the door to shut out the light.  We sat opposite each other on benches and he gave us a big whiteboard to hold flat on our laps.  He opened a hole in the roof with mirrors inside and the reflections of outside the van came in and were shown on the whiteboard.  We had to raise and lower it to get the picture in focus.  I loved this, it was a great experiment and I want to build my own camera obscura at home to better understand how they work.  After we came out the man took a polaroid of us to put on the door alongside pictures of all the other people who had visited that day.  I have my own Instant 1000 Polaroid Land Camera which I used last year for my Max Caulfield cosplay, I don’t know if it works but I am going to save up and get some film (there is a shop on the Barbican called So Perfect Images that sells it) to try out because I really like the way they work and the photos they make, and I’ve been really inspired by the different artists using instant film throughout the Weekender.

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Polaroid in development of my family by the man with the Camper Obscura

 

We looked up and down Union Street again and ate some delicious apples which we hand-turned into long spirals with a little machine, but we couldn’t find the Double Elephant workshop.  We were a little disappointed about that but otherwise we did have a really good time at this years Union Street Party, and I really liked all the different ways there were to get involved in the artworks happening there, however it was time to move on to our next destination.

We drove over to Devonport Guildhall for the Chrysalis exhibition of work by the artists from Flameworks.  All of the artists are making different things, from illustrations to metalwork and jewellery.  One of my favourite displays was “Teapotty” by Peter Heywood which was a selection of teapots made from different materials, including tea leaves, cubes of beech wood, lead, cocktail sticks, and chocolate.  The teapot made of cubes of wood made me think of 3D pixel art brought to life and there was something quite humorous about the collection.  I also liked “Resurrection” by Ati Charlesworth, a mixed media drawing of an old tree trunk with fresh branches and leaves growing from it.  The trunk was drawn with ink dots but Ati used watercolour and gold paint on the leaves and the new wood to bring it to life.  Another drawing I liked was “Shadow of a Previous Life” by Louise Rabey.  This was quite a sad picture based on a memory Louise had of a beloved pet who passed away when she was young.  There were lots more pieces of art on display here, my brother and sister’s favourite was “Salix II” by Piers Edsall which is a big steel musical sculpture with rods that the two of them made a lot of noise with!

Before we left the Guildhall we went downstairs to the cafe and I had a piece of treacle tart that had a layer of jam in it, and looked around Lynsey Johnstone’s exhibition “Floral Abundance”.  Lynsey works with acrylic paints, metallic paints, and glitter to make vibrant and colourful paintings which are full of life.

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Close up on “Summertime Magic” by Lynsey Johnstone

Our next stop was Devonport Live at 56 George Street but unfortunately it was closed, so we carried on to the Royal William Yard and the “Being Human” exhibition.  As soon as we entered we saw the “Participate” installation by Alain Pezard.  This was a collection of porcelain figurines which were quite unsettling, and some of them had been broken and stuck back together in creepy ways.  This has given me some ideas for things I would like to (un)make and it reminded me of Sid’s experiments from Toy Story!  I wish we had known about this piece beforehand because Alain had invited members of the public to bring in their own figurine and I would have liked to do that.

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“Participate” by Alain Pezard

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Creepy figurine holding her own head in Alain Pezard’s “Participate”

I found a lot of this exhibition quite alien to me because I haven’t experienced much fine art before.  Every piece of artwork was different to the other works on display, and there was photography, video, installations, collections, oil paintings, even performance works. I enjoyed another of Alain Pezard’s installations called “Water of the World”, which is a range of bottles of water collected and sent to him over 32 years by participants from all over the world.

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“Water of the World” by Alain Pezard

Another one of my favourites was “Devon Words” by Caitlin Hennessy.  Caitlin is interested in old words that are disappearing from our language as it evolves.  Caitlin talked to us about her research and the meanings of the words she had chosen were sometimes quite funny but sometimes there wasn’t a better word for what was being described, for example we found out that a ‘griggle’ is a small apple left on it’s tree!  I liked this piece so much I bought a small book of words hand-printed (and signed for me!) by Caitlin.

 

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“Devon Words” collected by Caitlin Hennessy

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A page from one of Caitlin Hennessy’s printed books of old words

Before we left RWY we popped into Martin Bush’s gallery of oil paintings.  Martin creates huge bright and warmly coloured abstract art inspired by jazz music and landscapes, and influenced by Matisse and Jackson Pollock.  Martin’s paintings are really beautiful and full of energy and we all really enjoyed our visit to his gallery.

And that was the end of my Art Weekender! I got to see such a wide variety of art but there were still exhibitions I couldn’t fit in, in particular I was sad that I didn’t make it to the Plymouth Arts Centre or the Karst Gallery.  I’m really looking forward to seeing more exhibitions by local artists at the next Plymouth Art Weekender in 2017 and especially finding out what opportunities there are for members of the public and young artists like me to experience being part of the creation of different artworks for the festival.

Flameworks Open Days

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Blacksmithing with Piers Edsall at Flameworks

This Summer I went to two Open Days at the Flameworks Creative Arts Facility (Twitter) in Plymouth.  My student ambassador from Saturday Arts Club at PCA, Luke Axworthy, is a metalsmith who does work there and I hoped I might see him at work but unfortunately he wasn’t there on the days I visited, although I did get to see his very neat work space!

On the first day, I had a quick look around the building.  There were artists working on jewellery, ceramics, metal and painting. We spoke to Louise Rabey (Etsy) who was working on a watercolour illustration of ‘two Nidorans nuzzling in the sun‘ (click to view that on her Instagram page).  She showed us her portfolio and we realised that J had bought one of her pictures at the last DevCon.  Her artwork is brightly coloured but softly drawn and cute and she draws animals and fan art of things like Pokemon, Disney characters and Undertale.  She had a friend with her who was really nice and talked to us about doing professional cosplay as Daryl from The Walking Dead.  Louise shares a studio space with Luke, Lorna Davey (another brilliant artist who I met at the PCA Graduate Show) and another artist who I unfortunately didn’t meet.

Downstairs, I watched Piers Edsall (Twitter) helping a young girl with blacksmithing and she looked like she was having a lot of fun so I asked if I could try too.  I went in with my brother J and Piers gave us gloves, aprons and goggles to wear.  He explained how we would be working with very hot equipment – so hot that if we touched it our fingers would fall off before we had a chance to feel it!  He showed us the tools and anvil that we would be using then gave us both a hammer each and metal rods.

Piers put the metal rods in the forge and heated them until they were red-hot.  Then he explained how to hammer the rods around the tip of the anvil to make them curved.  It was satisfying to hit the metal into shape but it was also very noisy!  We also had to bend the rods to make a wavy shape.  Piers was really friendly and we saw one of his kraken creations which J loved because he’s really into monsters.  Piers is going to be building a huge sculpture soon and I hope we get to see it.  He also talked to my brother about a ‘Little Smiths’ course that they hope to run at Flameworks which sounds really interesting.

On our second visit we took my friend along and she got to have a go at the blacksmithing too, while I watched from behind a safety screen.  Afterwards all three of us got to do some pottery making at a pottery wheel with Christina Peters.  It was really fun but tougher than I expected because you have to put a lot of weight onto the clay.  The pictures above show mine and J’s pots ready for firing.  Christina talked us through the whole process while she created a sample pot. She was really good at explaining about the different types of clay and how to work the wheel.  She’s extremely enthusiastic and I could tell she loves her work.  She also talked to me about how she was making mugs for the cafe Rumpuscosy next door to the Radiant Gallery.

We also met Jill Coughman who was gathering ideas for a new piece.  Her studio is bursting with paintings including a huge artwork of mermaids.  Downstairs I watched Lesley Peate polishing some tiny pieces of copper jewellery.  There was so much to see and I enjoyed walking around a lot and I recommend that anyone interested should visit on their next open day. 🙂

 

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