Last Sunday I went to Ocean Studios for the Illuminate 2017 festival. Local artist Rosie Drake-Knight of Native Makers led a workshop on making a reflective heat transfer vinyl t-shirt and I was able to have a go.
First I had to sketch out a design. I chose the Junkrat symbol from Overwatch which is one of my favourite games.
Next I copied my sketch on to the back (the matt side) of a reflective vinyl sheet, with the design reversed.
I cut out the individual pieces and arranged them on the t-shirt shiny side up.
Rosie worked the heat press for safety reasons. She had to hold it down for a short time. The heat press has a heated plate on the bottom and the top, so it is like being sandwiched between two irons. Apparently you can use a dry iron instead to do this at home.
The last stage was to peel the shiny plastic off the top of the design. Underneath was the reflective design permanently sealed to the t-shirt fabric.
Here I am wearing my new t-shirt! I have hand painted and stencilled t-shirts before and this seemed to take less time and was a much easier process (as long as you’re only using one colour and the design is simple, like this one). Here is how the reflective vinyl looks using flash photography:
I am going to research using an iron to do heat transfer vinyl to see if I can make more things at home. The heat press was actually borrowed from my college so I am also going to see if I can access it or maybe one of my tutors would let us use it one day.
I had a look around some more of the work on display for Illuminate 2017 at Royal William Yard. It was really impressive, there were light shows and huge animations projected on the buildings.
There was a DJ playing music to match the beats of the show on the walls. It was a freezing cold late November evening but the atmosphere was upbeat and exciting.
Inside Ocean Studios was this Ray Of Light installation by Paige Alexander. This was my favourite piece on display and it is made from ultraviolet string that glows different colours under ultraviolet light.
Illuminate is an annual event to commemorate the sailing of the Mayflower nearly 400 years ago. There will be lots of other events happening in Plymouth over the next few years linking up to the Mayflower celebrations and I’ll try and visit as many as I can.
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’s G 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!
Here are my previous posts about PAW 2017:
On the 30th April I visited the final part of the four Home Grown exhibitions held at Ocean Studios which was called Here And Now. The artists who took part in this exhibition are graduates from Plymouth University and hold studio residencies in Ocean Studios.
I really like the ink splatters in this piece by Kieran Walsh, they help make the piece seem alive. I think we could all see different things in this painting, as the shapes of the objects are ambiguous. I see a jug, coffee stains, a toy train track.. Because I might be the only person to see exactly these objects the piece seems really personal and as if it is telling me a secret.
This is a page from an unfinished children’s book that Fi Smart has been working on. The way the dog’s silhouette passes over the drawing of a house works really well and makes the page seem three-dimensional.
These are some of the pieces of art Fi has made for a children’s book. Fi’s paper dogs look delicate compared to her illustrations on slabs of cooked clay. I recognised some of the places on the clay because they are inspired by locations around Royal William Yard.
This charcoal drawing by Kieran Walsh is huge. In some places it has been shaded and drawn carefully but in others the lines are jagged and free. The drawing looks misty and has a mysterious feel to it.
This is a close up of Joe Allen’s painting Baby where the artist has applied paint thickly without mixing it, giving the painting a cool marbled and 3D effect.
This is the full version of Joe Allen’s painting. I could make out different objects and living beings as I studied this painting, it looks like a familiar family setting. There is something messy and chaotic I like about the painting because it makes it very real and relatable (I have a toddler sister at home!)
I really love this piece by Fi Smart. The huge fracture down the middle makes the clay illustration feel aged and broken but the vines “growing” through it are filling the gaps and binding it back together. I noticed that in several of Fi’s pieces parts of the artwork (like the vines and the paper dogs) seem to be escaping or outside of the boundaries of her background illustrations and I might try to experiment with this myself.
This glazed clay bowl by Paige Barnard reminded me of sweet sauce running over a cake. It looks like a puddle of rain or glossy icing or the top of a jellyfish.
I like the colours and shapes that Paige Barnard used for her Momento set. The pastel blues and greens felt friendly, and the splatters and uneven glazes feel alive. On the bottom right is a tall and thin vase that looks as if parts had been poked, pushed, or squeezed. The pieces feel playful.
Carly Seller’s work during her residency at Ocean Studies has led her to “an investigation of circular forms”. Her pieces on display include photographs, still images from an unfinished film, and drawings. These Ensos drawings are interesting because they are circles of so many different sizes and patterns and no two are exactly the same.
The Home Grown month of exhibitions was really interesting and introduced me to art forms that I hadn’t really seen or thought about before. I have been inspired especially by Fi Smart’s work as an illustrator (and I got to meet and talk to her at this event) and I am going to try making my own illustrations that move outside of the page or frame, and also I want to try making my own storyboxes (she has some on display in the Ocean Studios Gallery shop and I wrote about them here). I also found Alan Qualtrough’s letterpress prints really striking and inspiring and would like to try that form of art myself too.
The current exhibition at Ocean Studios is BAFA17 which is a display of work by second year Fine Art Students at Plymouth University, on until the 15th of May.
Last week I went to the third Home Grown exhibition at Ocean Studios, called Radius: 50mi featuring “contemporary jewellery and small scale metal artefacts”. Multiple artists contributed to the exhibition.
Jodie Hansen’s inspiration comes from nature and local scenery. Her jewellery has a fragile, unique, and slightly eerie quality that is beguiling.
Tracey Falvey’s inspiration is “drawn from sculptural and architectural structures” and she uses recycled silver. I really liked the contrast between the dark or silver outside and the bright colours painted on the inside.
Maria Whetman’s jewellery uses clusters of hand-made jewels and shards of silver. Her work seems dark and opulent.
Rachel Darbourne “lovingly murders” cuddly toys and makes jewellery from the pieces. Her work is grisly, playful, and highly peculiar. I was lucky enough to meet Rachel at the Ocean Studios Open Day during last year’s Weekender.
Noah Taylor has a love of “things”. He deconstructs objects made from brass, bronze, and copper, then puts them back together to create new artefacts. The finished products have an abundance of life and character, and remind me of the creatures in the film Return to Oz.
Stacey West’s award winning jewellery is inspired by found treasures and “the raw organic Cornwall coastline and rugged landscape”. Her collection “Interlocking Strata” is tactile and interactive and encourages the wearer to play with their jewellery.
Katy Luxton is inspired by “mathematical models, geometric shapes, and the interwoven curves, circles and figures produced by a spirograph”. She incorporates 3D printing and hand-dyeing to make colourful and exciting jewellery.
Chloe O’Brien is inspired by discarded postcards “capturing this gentleness of the past to reflect and honor the beauty of these traditional forms of language, communication and handwriting”. She cuts and reforms vintage postcards and postage stamps to look like precious stones.
Peter Reeves is inspired by organic textures including tree bark and beehives. I really liked his beehive ring which has a pattern of interlocking hexagons with a tiny silver bee crawling over.
Victoria Sewart’s inspirations for her work on display are “the aesthetics of form, structure and material composition” and the collection “investigates the properties of stainless steel mesh”. Her jewellery looks like gold and silver ribbons trapped in time and movement.
Nicola Hurst’s inspiration comes from “architecture, simple shapes and everyday living”. Her work uses intersecting shapes and I think they resemble ancient symbols.
Sam Photic is inspired by “the isolated Devonshire landscape and the continued encroachment of society upon it”. His pieces of abstract work on display are metal squares and circles bolted together with strips of colour. I think the central piece in my photo could make a striking album cover.
Leigh Mason “references form, scale, texture and colour”. and her work has been featured in Vogue magazine. I liked her unusual square-shaped rings with oversized pastel coloured gems.
Ana Simoes is inspired by “the richness of Ana’s home country’s history, landscape and architecture, particularly by its connection to the sea and the unknown”. Some of the work she had displayed looked like tiny planets and moons.
I really enjoyed this exhibition which was filled with so many different types of jewellery from local artists. I am currently working on making jewellery with found seaglass and recycled silver with my National Saturday Art and Design Club at PCA led by my tutor Kate Marshall and this exhibition has given me lots of inspiration.
Today I went to the Ocean Studios gallery to see the exhibition Emerging Natural Beauty which is part of the Home Grown series of pop up exhibitions by local artists.
Alice and Bethany Antliff are sisters who are studying 3D Design Craft, specialising in ceramics and glass, at Plymouth College of Art. Both artists’ work takes inspiration from nature. From a distance Bethany’s piece Symbiotic Beauty looked like real twigs covered in blossoms and moss, but up close I could see her detailed work with porcelain and glazes wrapped around wire. It is pretty and fragile and stepping back again I thought that each branch looked like a dancing figure.
Bethany’s Charred Bark vases are incredibly realistic and it’s hard to believe they were created and not grown. She has created ceramic bowls using the same colours and shades that seem as if they are ancient finds.
Several of Bethany’s pieces feature mushroom shaped glass which appear to be growing out of them. I really like Bethany’s work which made me feel very calm.
Alice’s pieces are incredibly fragile and delicate. Her Daisies Daisies Daisies collection are porcelain vases, bowls, and decorative pieces which have been ‘wallpapered’ with tiny porcelain daisies. She creates the daisies from a mould made using real flowers, then hand applies them individually so the entire piece is covered in overlapping flowers.
Alice’s piece Destruction is inspired by deforestation. This piece made me feel sad and is a really effective statement about this issue.
Alice has also created delicate flower-shaped jewellery and I really liked her intricate earrings and how she has displayed them.
Renovat Moody is an African born artist also studying 3D Design Crafts, specialising in glass blowing, at PCA and is influenced by nature and their African heritage. Renovat’s The Essence of Africa vase collection have strong and bright colours and shapes and made me think of fruit and seeds.
Renovat also has some framed pieces on display, including a copper wire piece that has been twined and threaded with beads. This piece looks like a tree covered in colourful birds.
One of my favourite pieces on display was Renovat’s framed picture of the world where all the land is made of computer chips and circuitboard. The piece is put together so carefully and accurately, and even tiny islands are marked out. I could look at this and follow the coastlines for hours with my eyes and i’d love to see a bigger piece made the same way.
The three artists completely filled every corner of the exhibition space and it’s amazing to consider how much work these students have created already! On display was also projected footage Behind the Scenes of their work in progress by Emma Pontin, and a film called Ink Flows by Jake Davey, Matthew Howard, Nat Goddard, Kristin Dodge, and Terry Lee Thurlow. Their films provided a relaxing soundtrack to the whole exhibition.
Finally there were some pieces on display and up for auction to raise money for the Devon Wildlife Trust. I really liked Jane McEwen’s bowls with endearing messages stamped into them.
The new exhibition at Ocean Studios Gallery will open on Wednesday.
Today I went to see a pop-up exhibition at Ocean Studios in the Royal William Yard. The exhibition is The Art of Truth in the Digital Age and the artists are Oona Wagstaff and Alan Qualtrough. The work on display “explores the cosequences of digital communications technology on our society such as the spectacle and the changing nature of truth and reality.”
Alan leads workshops on letterpress printing and explained to us how it was done. It sounded similar to using stamps but instead using big wooden blocks with letters carved into them. I’ve seen one of the prints in the PCA Pre-degree Centre, and Alan said that he has been working with a group of students there. This installation of his letterpress prints seems like a protest against misuse of social “meedia” and lies that are spread digitally. It is a striking and colourful display and the simple slogans made me really think about the messages I see and hear every day. Interestingly, one of the most interesting prints seemed completely blank until I took a very close look, but you’ll have to visit to see it for yourself!
This print feels louder then the others because of it’s huge, blocky typeface and dark colour. I liked the way that the print isn’t completely finished in places and Alan explained that this technique is called a ‘kiss’, whereas a strong complete print is called a ‘bite’. I’ve never done any letterpress printing but seeing this exhibition and meeting Alan has gotten me really interested in trying it out for myself!
This abstract piece by Oona Wagstaff is a painting, but her paintings felt more like sculptures when I viewed them up close. She layers oil paint on board and there are sections cut out of the boards which made me want to stroke them and feel the edges.
Information Bomb is a silkscreen of a graphite drawing by Oona. It is dark and scary but still beautiful, and so are her black and white monotype prints. Both Oona and Alan will be in the gallery at different times throughout the exhibition if you want to talk to them or have any questions.
The shop at the front of the gallery has several pieces by artists from Ocean Studios including this story box by Fi Smart. Her story boxes are cute and inspiring. We have been making houses with story box rooms at my Saturday Arts Club and these have given me some ideas.
The Art of Truth in the Digital Age exhibition is part of Home Grown, a month of pop-up exhibitions at Ocean Studios by various Plymouth Artists. I hope I can go to and report on all of them!
Links for more information: