Size matters

Periodically, I keep returning to a desire to work big but somehow my work ends up on small scale and I find myself wondering whether this is something I can change up and challenge myself with. Well this niggle is growing and I’m pretty sure next year will be ‘big’! There are a few things in my head that are waiting to escape the comfortable, fluffy cloud of my thoughts and wrestle me into being.

I’ve been struggling this Autumn to find time for my own work but I have been busy nonetheless, so here is a little catch up…

The Maker Project 2019 was presented at the Great Northern, Manchester and created much interest. The exhibition was one of two areas created to cause debate and discussion. The chairs were amazing – all completely different responses to the same starting point. The only ‘even better if’ was that the size of the exhibition space was limited and meant that the pieces couldn’t really breathe. Tom did a great job though and created tiny copper name plates for all our chairs in the style of the original Cox’s logo. The project is now on tour around the country for the next couple of years, and will be presented at different art venues including shows, galleries and educational establishments where I hope they are having a little dance when no one is watching.

I also had an invitation to our local art exhibition at the chapel across the road. This has such a lovely feel, and the hot beef sandwiches are legendary! I unexpectedly met some folk I hadn’t seen for years which was fun, and more stone stacks were purchased leaving me only two from the collection I did in the Spring for Heart Gallery. I’m going to borrow one back to display in January; I have a nature-inspired stand at ‘Creative Crafts’, Event City, Manchester and am also doing a ‘House on the Hill’ workshop each day at 1.00pm.

Do come along and say hello or book a workshop if you are looking to cheer up a bit of winter. I’ve just started creating a large 2d stack as display for the stand, made in much the same way as the House on the Hill with layers backed by Decovil 1. My first ‘big’ act of the year. Scaling up is quite tricky and it’s going to be a learning curve to get things right. Here’s a peep, it’s 7ft high!…

I’ve also started thinking about progressing some ideas using circles that I have played around with over the years. You may remember this! Well it’s making a reappearance in my thoughts. I’m creating small pieces that will act as precursors to some large pieces which scare me even sharing this intention on paper. However, it’s time to at least try making this happen. To that end, I took a big decision over the summer and I will be giving up a day’s work to have a studio day each week as of January. Can’t wait! I’ve been reading about the Japanese enso and whilst I want to say something a little differently that practice, it’s an interesting comparison. Here are some small scale experiments:

I’m continuing to work on my small houses for my ‘objects of attention’ and am busy hand-stitching a mixed media strip for the mussel house. I really love this process of mark-making, using encaustic medium for the houses and then swapping to hand stitch to further celebrate the shapes and marks excavated from observation. These small works will continue alongside the bigger things as they create a gentle rhythm to making and filling small pockets of time.

I also thoroughly enjoyed a weekend with Karen Stamper making a concertina sketchbook based on the York gardens with all their crumbling abbey walls. The Seawhite book feels enormous- 72 sides to fill! Believe it or not, most people had filled around 20 to 30 sides at least. I have come back with a few things to add to my mixed media toolbox. Karen was a great teacher and I’d really recommend her courses. There’s something very satisfying being able to stretch it out across many pages or fold it back up and work on just a couple.

Finally, I have now written a small book on what to do with teabag paper. I meet a lot of folk who have some stashed in their workroom cupboard but don’t know what to do with it. Well, no longer! 😀. I will have them in Manchester, but you can use the contact page if you’d like one posting out.

That only leaves me to say Happy Christmas and New Year! May you have peaceful midwinter and feel refreshed to meet the bigger and smaller things 2020 has in store for you xxx

May this be a morning of innocent beginning,

When the gift within you slips clear

Of the sticky web of the personal

With its hurt and hauntings,

And fixed fortress corners,

A morning when you become a pure vessel

For what wants to ascend from silence,

May your imagination know

The grace of perfect danger,

To reach beyond imitation,

And the wheel of repetition,

Deep into the call of all

The unfinished and unsolved

Until the veil of the unknown yields

And something original begins

To stir toward your senses

And grow stronger in your heart…

JOHN O’DONOHUE

Excerpt from the blessing, ‘For the Artist at the Start of Day’

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