On Friday I went to the Opening event for the Plymouth University Illustration Years One and Two Show at Victuals Cafe at Royal William Yard. The artworks are printed onto long strips of paper hung from the ceiling in double-sided rows so you can walk up and down between them like alleyways of artwork. I met several of the illustrators whose work is on display and saw a lot of different styles of work.
Isabelle Hobbs is a second year student and she says she usually works on till rolls to make long streams of art. She told me she focuses on drawing women and their faces, hair and outfits and said “subconsciously I think I draw myself a lot”. She said that for her “doodling is a natural process, like breathing”. I like how in some areas Isabelle puts in lots of detail but in other areas her drawing is really simple.
Jennie Scampton‘s piece was for a project on narrative sequence and is the first comic she has made. She said “I love anything to do with legends, myths and history” and so she chose to draw her comic about the Egyptian Gods onto a real papyrus scroll and within the shape of a sarcophagus. Jennie’s comic is really cleverly done and the story is very funny.
Seren Pascoe-Davies’ said she did her colourful piece Psychotropics on the theme of Visions. She drew the line art on A3 paper then added colour using a tablet and Photoshop. I like the colours she has chosen which work really well together and her curly line work. The piece feels very dreamlike.
Iona Desouza told me that she is interested in rural traditions and “things being lost”. I like how this illustration is quite busy with layers of pencil drawn objects on top of each other.
Keir Nicholson‘s comic focuses on a character called Steve the Robot. Keir described how in his comic Steve goes to work on a normal day but that “his day takes a turn for the worst” and that the story “is about how terrorism can strike at any time”. I like the limited colour palette Keir has chosen to use and his cute character.
Sophie Mahadevan has two pieces on display. She described the process of making this print to me, and it is a complicated process involving etching on to a copper plate then dipping the plate into acid multiple times to create layers of depth and make the print look three-dimensional. She said she had never tried this before and she really enjoyed how the first year of her course was very experimental. I think the tones of blue used in this make the piece seem melancholy.
Chloe Drage‘s piece on display is very peaceful and she told me that her goal was to “use nature to tackle depression”. She usually works in pencil and said “I don’t usually work digitally, so I stepped out of my comfort zone” when working on this piece. This was my favourite piece in the exhibition and I think this piece would be great concept art for the opening of a video game. It is calm but mysterious, I wonder if she is a tiny girl on normal sized lily pads or a normal sized girl in a world of giants.
This exhibition is on until the 22nd of May and anyone interested in illustration or what young artists are making in Plymouth should try to go along and see it themselves. I want to thank all of the artists above for speaking to me about their work. Thank you also to John Kilburn and Ashley Potter who spoke to me about the exhibition and are Plymouth University BA Hons Illustration tutors.
Some of the other pieces I enjoyed at the exhibition are pictured below but unfortunately I didn’t get to meet these artists. I would be happy to add credit for the art and a link to all of the artists in my photographs below, just contact me and I will edit my post 😀
Edited to add: The illustrations below are by Plymouth University students Daniele Caruso, Elise Arden-Trew, Sophie Evans, and Millicent Venton.
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.
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).
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!
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the last part of Saturday I went to Ocean Studios at Royal William Yard. We started upstairs at Emerge which is “a communal workspace for artists and creative businesses.” I looked at Esin Forster’s ocean inspired clay pieces and paintings, and I really liked her character design and marker work. I looked through one of her sketchbooks and found comic style drawings of adventurous characters and they were full of energy. I met Gabriella Van Der Stelt who was working on vivid and warm feeling acrylic paintings of fruit in bowls and buildings. Gabriella was very friendly and I looked her up online afterwards, she also does manga and videogame influenced painting and drawing. I really liked the open space of Emerge studios and can imagine how peaceful it must be to have an area like that to work in.
We went into Lisa Stokes‘ studio and talked to her daughter. Lisa paints large oil paintings which are dark and ominous. Along the corridor, Mary Hick does linocut printing of animals and insects. Her work is intricate and she patiently carves out every blade of grass and hair. Sarah Smalldon (instagram)and Shayne House share a studio where she works on her illustration work and he works on his photography. Sarah showed us her brightly coloured and cheery pictures of houses and buildings, and her hand-decorated plates and furniture. She primes the surface and then draws on them with Uni Posca pens. I am going to try this on some of my own things and for cosplay. Shayne has been working with pin prick photography and talked us through the process. He takes photos and vintage postcards and pricks them with an awl to highlight certain parts, then places the photo on a lightbox and photographs them again. He said he has been inspired by Amy Friend. Pin prick photography gives a really beautiful effect and I recommend you visit his site and see his work, you can also read the backs of the vintage postcards he has collected to work on. I also met Stella in their studio who is a young artist with similar tastes to me, and who I would like to meet again and maybe collaborate with.
There are so many other artists at Ocean Studios and many of them were happy to talk to us. Matt Tomas works on contemporary sculpture, mixing concrete and glass. He showed us the moulds he uses to create glass spikes. Rachel Darbourne makes jewellery from colourful plastic sheets, similar to that used in plastic bags. She folds and bends lots of tiny pieces to make shapes that look like carnations or coral, or Chinese dragon costumes. She also makes art from dismantling teddy bears! Teresa Pemberton is a mixed media artist whose work is inspired by Devon and Cornwall. We looked at her canvases which included oil paints, wire, bits of metal and other found objects. We didn’t meet her unfortunately but the two ladies in her studio were very welcoming, and her artwork has a sense of being welcoming and natural.
The last studio on the top floor we went to belonged to Martyn Cross. Martyn works with unusual materials in experimental ways, and he has ironed plastic bags and shaped them into the shape of a hat and a shoe. He collects old knitting patterns, cuts parts of them away and rearranges them to create strange images. I really liked his simple character drawings that were framed at the side of the studio. Downstairs Annette Daly and Melanie Cassidy share a glasswork studio where they make jewellery and decorations. We quickly looked into a couple of other studios and glimpsed some acrylic paintings we liked by Mike Hanny, but the Studios were closing and so it was time to leave. Looking online afterwards I found out that the paintings I liked are part of a series called ‘The Architects Glittering Plan’, and involve lots of patterned coloured ‘worms’ on a black background. I would love a poster of one of these on my wall.
I added some character art to the Sketchathon piece at Ocean Studios during Plymouth Art Weekender (Oct 2016). I reported every day of the Weekender on my blog and visited as many of the exhibitions and Open Days as possible. My blogposts were promoted by PlymouthCAN and several of the artists who participated in the art festival.
Outside me and my brother took part in a ‘sketch-a-thon’ and spoke to Nikki Taylor about her wire mesh sculptures. Nikki uses sketches, photos and exact measurements to create life-size sculptures of human bodies in motion. There was so much more I didn’t have time to see in the few hours I was there, as Ocean Studios is filled with all sorts of artists and craftspeople. The Royal William Yard is a very peaceful place to be and I’d like to spend more time there.
In my next post I will write about the Union Street Party, the exhibitions at Devonport Guildhall, and the fine art exhibition also at Royal William Yard.
This afternoon I went urban sketching in the Royal William Yard. I used my Sakura Koi watercolour set and Mangaka fineliners. This is my first attempt at sketching a boat, the tide was out when I started and in by the time I finished:
This is a sketch of Drake’s Island from Devil’s Point:
It was sunny but I had to paint quickly because it was cold and windy and the light was starting to fade on the island as I painted it.
It was our first meeting as an group and there were only a few of us but we are meeting again in October.