Monthly Archives: August 2012

You’ve been framed

New work just framed

So far so good. Framed, sitting flat for safety.

Now all I’ve got to do is measure them, label them, D-ring and string them – and, hardest of all – price them. This I really hate. They are labour-intensive and time-consuming. But I want people to enjoy them and not see them as a commodity, to be able to afford to buy one even if they’re not wealthy. And even if I could and did give them away it would instantly reduce their ‘value’!

It’s lovely when someone comes back and asks for another piece – although I wish I knew where all my work was. Germany, Tasmania, France, US I know – but there must be hundreds of my pieces throughout the UK, in private and even a few public collections. It would be so interesting to have a map!

I’ve left my feet in the snapshot to give scale but it’s a bit misleading as the picture is foreshortened; the pieces are quite large.

The underside of the iceberg

The ‘tip’ is the pictures/pieces themselves. Apart from all the planning and thinking and experimenting and then ctually making the piece, there’s the question of how to present it.

I used to do quite a few pieces without frames, irregular shapes which I generally mounted on MDF to display them. I still do a few like that; I recently made (and sold) a piece called ‘My Kimono’ which was – no surprise – kimono-shaped. Tim very skilfully and obligingly cut the backing. (To my frustration, I have no picture of this in its final form. Fool! It came and went so quickly).

But mostly the great British Public like their work framed. I’ve experimented with all sorts: glazed and unglazed, ready-made, bespoke…. This can quickly get expensive – my work is in all shapes and sizes.

I’ve settled for our own style of white frame which can be used in two different ways, to create a deep but narrow frame, or a shallower but wider one. I get the wood specially cut and routed out, then the sainted and by now practised Tim turns it into simple but strong and (I hope) elegant frames.

Oddly, this works out more expensive than many ‘bought’ frames but it suits my pieces and allows the texture of the paper or cloth to show without distraction. Of course the frames need painting (and sanding and repainting) – that’s the bugbear. So it’s great when there’s a fine not-windy day at the right time.

The cat sat on the picture

I finished this piece yesterday. (Well, I look at it and see bits I should perhaps tinker with but experience says NO). I was quite brave with it and I like the way the colours have worked out.

I put it last night on the kitchen table, sitting loosely in its frame. And guess what?

The cat spent the night on it. If you look closely at this snapshot, taken in the garden this morning on the ‘fig’ table (see yesterday’s pics) you will see some stray cat hairs on it. Worse has been known: muddy footprints; even (when the paper is still damp) deep claw imprints. I have been known to tear my hair.

Yesterday I mentioned some of these hazards on my Facebook artist page:

But I didn’t actually think the cat would find that particular spot at all tempting! Such is life.

Figs on garden table

Brand new piece, just finished, done very quickly for once although the base paper has been hanging round for a few months till I had the courage to address the piece and work out how to do it. I was so afraid it would turn out naff!

Actually I’m really pleased with it and decided to snap it (though it’s only sitting loosely in its frame) on the original garden table where the figs sat. I was so thrilled with these picture I had to post them straight away!

The saucer with green triangles came from a cup-and-saucer set (cup broken long ago) which my mum gave my dad. Lots of associations.

Another update: work in progress

This is all part of the drive to show what goes into the making of my pieces. The end product, if it works out ok, always looks as if it had just come out all of a piece in one sitting. Whereas in fact there’s a huge difference in the time pieces take. Some emerge quite quickly and seamlessly, while others skulk there waiting to take a definitive form. Some remain years in the planning/possible stage.

But they all take a fair bit of time – the materials and methods I use are pretty time-consuming. Mostly I make the paper first. Even if I don’t, as with the half-finished kiwi piece, the support is prepared first (marouflaged board) and I just can’t discipline myself out of using all sorts of materials.

You can imagine what my studio looks like: paper, boards, paints (lots of), inks, dyes, pigments, tools, brushes – all strewn everywhere in the heat of the moment. And what the punter sees: a tidy, finished piece!

Update no.3: Respected Sir

Testimonial to my great-great-grandfather-in-law

Respected Sir

Early this year we moved some tin trunks containing family archives from Oxford to Brighton. One contained a testimonial dedicated to Tim’s great-great-grandfather on his retirement from the South Indian Railways in 1880.

This was an eloquent tribute in which his co-workers (and no doubt subordinates) express their respect and describe how they have ‘grown grey’ in his service. I was touched by this piece of family history and the heartfelt wordiness of the document. Hence the piece, which uses some of the text, plus inks, dyes and earth pigments from India brought back for me by my late and dear friend Jessica. The hand-made paper was formed over old fax rolls (oh the tricks of the trade…).

We later found a portrait of the old geezer himself, who has the most magnificent whiskers. This piece is going on display at the open exhibition at the Cork St Gallery in Mayfair, August 23-31. Do come!

Update no.2: Artists’ Open House 2012. The Wolf at the Door.

Just a few images from Artists’ Open House (during the month of May). Quite a challenge for us as we had moved house only a few months previously.

We had between 2500 and 3000 visitors over the four weekends (including a Bank Holiday) so it has all become a bit of a blur. We were shortlisted by public vote for Best Open House, which we were of course pleased about, but at times the press of visitors made it hard for anyone to see the art on show.

Now we’re trying to catch up with ourselves. A series of updates will follow.