My local art shop, The Art Side, opened a competition last month to find the new design for their shopping tote bags. After finding out all of the details I needed and what my limitations were, I drew some sketches for different ideas, mostly based around art supplies and local landmarks. From those sketches I chose to do a selection of artists materials because (a) their previous bag (by Diana Mazuru Hooper) was illustrated with a picture of Plymouth’s beloved turtle Snorkel so I didn’t want to do a lesser local-based idea and (b) because I’m always looking for accessories that are decorated with illustrations based on illustration as a topic.
Because I wanted to do illustration as the theme, I thought it would be great to use a hand-drawn rather than clean digital style. I drew lots (and I mean lots) of different individual materials, from spray cans and markers to sharpeners, erasers, paints and glue. Then I scanned and cleaned up my images a little, keeping the sketchy style. I played with my images and came up with different compositions, sketching thumbnails as I went along to find balance and a good assortment of items.
Finally I found an arrangement I was happy with, and I entered it into the competition. I waited for the results with excitement and nerves and guess what? I WON! (Slight spoiler in the title there..)
My prize, as well as being the designer of the shop’s new bags and getting to see my work being carried around by people (and I will definitely get one for myself!) was a Daler-Rowney Screenprinting kit. I have tried screenprinting before at a short Saturday Art & Design Club workshop and have wanted the chance to try it properly by myself for a while, and now I can play with my kit at home and learn more about the process.
I have also been wanting to get some of my designs screenprinted for a while but haven’t had the money to do it, so now I can practice and make test versions at home which will help me to make better decisions about whether to get any designs printed professionally. I have tried lino printing on bags before but the results didn’t last well through washing, unfortunately. Now I just need a couple of days in a row free to play with my new kit..
There are lots of small metal creatures in birdcages hanging from a fabric forest.
Most of the creatures are asleep but some are awake and waiting to be talked to.
Every creature has unique features, some have beaks, some have antlers, others have big cat ears or spiky ears.
There is a comfy sofa and some books so you can sit and read aloud to the creatures to make them happy. Sometimes, the creatures will sing..
This exhibition was adorable but also sad because of the context. It has been created and curated by a small group of young people who are in foster care, working with curators and artists from Effervescent. The exhibition is intended to make us think about issues around foster caring and how children in foster care are maybe seen by other people and by themselves. It will probably give you a lump in your throat and it is one of the most moving exhibitions I have visited.
The singing happens once an hour, around the beginning of the hour. Get there a bit earlier than that to look around in quiet and read the exhibition materials. Sit on the sofa and read a book aloud to yourself and the creatures (I recommend The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy which I discovered there). Most importantly, wait to hear the creatures sing!
The exhibition will be on until the 25th November. I will be going back again and taking friends with me because I think this is an exhibition a lot of them will enjoy and it is a really thought-provoking and sweet experience.
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!
This year was my first year taking part in the Plymouth Art Weekender with my own art project. I worked with other young artists from YEA Plymouth to put together a zine, YEA ’17, full of our art and interviews. I was the project manager and zine editor and we have been working on the project for the last couple of months. We applied for funding from Vital Sparks and Horizon and we were able to create 200 copies of our zine, including handmade badges, to give out for free for PAW17. We numbered all the copies because they are limited edition and exclusive to the festival. We delivered small handmade boxes full of YEA ’17 zines to some of the Plymouth Art Weekender venues this morning, including Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth College of Art, and Plymouth College of Art Pre-Degree Centre (my own college).
Our group was also offered the opportunity to have a table event in the Plymouth Athenaeum. So today we made up our table, then we spent the day giving away copies of YEA ’17! We also sold solo zines (including my Gurt Noodle #0) and YEA Plymouth badges to raise money for future projects and materials. We put a section of our Zine Library out on display for the public to have a look through and brought a typewriter and zinemaking equipment for people to play with.
This was the first time we had ever had our own table at an event/fair, and even though there weren’t many of us to share the load we still had an amazing time. It gave me an idea of what manning a stall is like, which I really needed since I have my very own stall at this October’s DevCon! We had to sit and wait for visitors, and when they came we had to talk about our group and our project. We met some interesting people and they had a lot of questions for us, especially about how YEA Plymouth began. I was also interviewed by Eleanor (Ellie) Burfitt for her film about the Weekender.
The Penryn Handling Collection is a “collection of objects made by artists, using traditional and modern craft skills in untraditional ways”, and was developed as part of the Penryn Arts Festival (2017). Visitors were allowed to touch, play, read and talk about the objects on the table. Some of the most interesting pieces on display were a giant blue plywood hand by the Juneau Project and a travel wallet by David Shrigley.
The book-making workshop was organised and led by Muster Press. A few YEA Plymouth members (including myself) took part in this. Our theme was ‘trees and growth’, and we created stamps of trees. We made the stamps by carving stamp foam with scissors, pens and scalpels. We then stamped our creations into books in arrangements, to seem as if we were “growing” a forest.
It was refreshing to try work on objects normally seen in backgrounds, as I struggle with drawing backgrounds and need practice. We sat round the table and formed a production line, which was fun to work together with other people I had never met before, and the books we created are really beautiful. We weren’t able to bring the books home as they needed some finishing but the guys at Muster Press are going to send them to us later and I will post pictures then.
Flikkin is a ‘Flicking Counters’ game, and the first to three goals wins. Lots of people (even complete strangers) played together and bonded over it. Some interesting facts about Flikkin are:
There are only six boards in the world (so far) and the creator Holly Knowles brought three along today.
As well as being the creator of Flikkin, Holly is also the current world champion!
My dad, brother, and little sister loved it!
Jenson (my brother and another YEA Plymouth member) demonstrated how to use one of our typewriters to lots of people. Younger children were really fascinated by it but lots of people had a go. One of the people there put together all the words and phrases that different people had written into a minizine of found text.
YEA Plymouth members also helped visitors to create their very own minizines, and we added photocopies of them to our Zine Library. We have eight new minizines from this event.
It was a long day but a really good experience being part of the Weekender as an artist and as an organiser. I got to participate in a workshop and meet a lot of people. We sold a good number of Gurt Noodle and Sweet Tooth zines and our badges and I feel that the event was successful!
Find out more about the Plymouth Art Weekender here.
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.