It’s that time if year again. Personally I get excited when I see this open call. New Mills opens up as gallery for two weeks in September culminating in the Big Weekend and Lantern parade. I encourage you to submit your proposal here. The organisers are passionate about the festival, working hard to curate a festival that gets bigger and bigger each year. That’s partly why I keep going back, I’ve also made some friends and lots of happy memories.
I was recently at a family do, chatting with one of my cousins who was interested in my work and studio. I wanted to share photographs of my studio, which I shamefully didn’t have. I had plenty of my work though. Also it’s been 3 years since I last allowed you into my studio at Two Queens in Leicesters Cultural quarter. The space has changed a lot since that original post. My work has grown, changing in medium and scale over that time. I still have a few old model hiding under the cardboard which I have collected, whilst the space is in a constant state of change as I move from one work to another.
“Get a sneak peek behind the scenes at Two Queens, whether you are interested in hiring a studio space or just want to see what our resident artists have been making recently, this is your chance to do it! ”
It would be awesome to see you on the day 23rd April
Whilst in London today, after I had an appointment I had time to kill before getting my train back home. I was in the Liverpool Street/Moorgate Station side of the capital when I came across a small shop Tusch & Egon that was selling a range of vinyl pieces. I was looking for American flags for my next models I’m going to be making. Instead I came across the largest Native American figure I have seen, with the name of the Sioux leader Chief Red Cloud. I don’t know if it was pure ignorance or that I wasn’t going deep enough with the current work. Are these figures of a more innocent time based on those of famous Native Americans? It’s a scary thought to think that children are/have played with then unaware of the added history loaded into these toys that are the predetermined enemy of the Westerner.
I had a chat with the shop-keeper who was kind enough to let me take some photo’s to share with you.
She liked my current work and was even familiar with other pieces that have also used these plastic figures. I learned there’s a new design of the figure that has seen the change to the bow and the removal of the gun to be replaced with a shield. It was a real surprise to see these figures and discover another layer to the figures which are loaded with more history than I thought. The scale of the figures did remind me of the full scale ones made by Yoram Wolberger and video piece I saw during my initial research stage of the work which brought both cowboy and Native American to an equal level, that of plastic as it was melted, a process that was manipulated by the artist.
This really is a rich subject that just keeps on giving.
I should have done the earlier this week or later last year. However there’s no time like the present to reflect on the last year of my practice which has changed over the course of the last 12 months. At the start of the year I wanted to have even more shows than 2014. That didn’t happen as my life changed, having to work full-time I haven’t been able to produce as much work as before. This isn’t a negative as I have seen this as a chance to focus longer on a piece of work.
I’ve produced a number of quick and slow pieces. This worked well for me. Building on older pieces experimenting with light before turning to having fun with Paul Thomas Anderson’s work which took most of the summer months to produce. I have been able to produce longer videos – Iron Horse of the Studio and my current work in progress that is my attempt at rewriting the Western genre, a comment also on history and American politics, an outsider looking in on the genre. It’s still very much in development and I am wearing to get animating later this month. Only a few more animation and lighting tests before I begin. Its finding its on feet and taking on a life of its own.
Future ideas are still locked away, waiting to be unleashed, some I feel will take longer. I need to return to past pieces to see how I can build on them. My work on one level film-fan art which I have to accept, on another you can see more potential and lots of fun. In terms of shows I have found a new balance of making work one year to be exhibited the following. Allowing me to focus more on the concept for longer to produce stronger work.
I wish you all a happy New year and all the best for the coming months. To my fellow bloggers, keep up the great work I have seen some amazing work, some great film reviews which have inspired me to write stronger pieces. Giving me the inspiration to produce and maintain a stronger body of blog posts.
Merry Christmas to all my followers on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. I hope you’re all having a special time today with loved ones, getting merry on too much drink and filling up on tonnes of food. All the best for next year.
If you would ever like to make a simple Buffalo, follow these simple steps. You will need, balls of string, classic clothes pegs, cork bottle stoppers. Fur in two tones of brown (dark and light). Scissors to cut both the fur and the string, skewers, a hand-saw and PVA glue.
- Find a classic round chunky clothes peg and a cork bottle-stop. Saw the beyond the ball end leaving about 1omm minimum.
- Find a ball of string (you may need a big ball depending on how many you want to make. Tie the bottle stopper, to the flat end, making use of the clip to hold the piece tight.
- Cut lengths of skewers to a two lengths (two for the front and two for the rear legs)
- Tie these to the body of the peg, longer at the front, shorter at the back. Use a figure of eight knot to hold them in place before tying them off around the clip.
- Making sure your skeletal Buffalo stands up you can move onto the fur, cutting an inch wide strip. Before you glue it around the body of the Buffalo, do a practice wrap to ensure you know where the it will fall to get a good coverage of the body.
- Once you have decided how to wrap it around you can glue a small section (in between two legs on one side. Wrap around and cut to size, gluing it down. Check all over to ensure you glue down any patches still showing.
- Turning the head (cork bottle stopper) cut a inch wide strip of the other fur to size, ( you can use this for a few Buffalo. Cut to size a section that will cover half (top or bottom) of the head. Once you’ve decided, glue down and cut in places to wrap around to cover the flat sides.
- Nearly done now, cut a two short length (25mm or less) for the horn at the pointed end. Then work these into either side of the head.
- And there you have your first Buffalo.
2014 has been my second full year as a practising artist which has seen me being included in 10 shows, building on and beating my record for 2013. I hope to meet that if not exceed that by having more than 10 or less of equal strength.
I recently received an email that had both good and bad news regarding a submission for a show. I don’t usually share this unless it has been successful. I sadly didn’t make it into the show, instead told that a piece of mine was accomplished. That’s quite a compliment for me, usually seeing children interacting with my work as the highest compliment. However this one shows that I have taken the right path, to have an idea, to test it, and keep going until it works.
I’ve long accepted that my work is rooted in the western genre, it’s a fact of a my practice that two go hand in hand, this year exploring the river-road in Ilkeston this summer. I am in my element when I am making and sharing that process with the public, inspiring them to make and engage with art. As I learnt a few years ago that cardboard is a valid material, so is the public, not just from my work there are other artist who are having success working in this medium. A material that is easily accessible, recyclable and important to my practice as much as westerns.
I started to revisit films that I originally thought little off, this series has grown slowly over the year to change my mind and in some cases open it to the power of film. It is showing how I have matured even over a few years. My understand of the western genre is expanding, seeing it more as the “myth of conquest” a term that more sums up a century of dramatic change in America which has a hold on me. I have a few titles that I am still looking to revisit both old and more recent.
I may have more shows this year, I have produced less work, due in part to my paid employment that allows me to continue to make, all until things go in the other direction. I have nonetheless discovered again what makes my work truly my work, the main ingredients of the pieces I make by hand. I have also started to look more at the fabric of film, picking up on conventions which I feel sometimes need correcting. There’s nothing on the horizon just yet, not know where the next idea will come from.
My current work which will continue into 2015 will move back into the studio where I will get out the lights and the camera to be filmed. My models have taken on a radical change which I am hoping to adopt in the long term. A massive shift from cardboard to balsa to create more intricate pieces. With this piece still very much in the making I am already thinking of the next piece that will focus on the Iron horse of the western genre, where it will go, the form it will take I have no idea. I can’t wait to see what happens for that piece and the rest of 2015.
A happy and prosperous new year to you all!
I’m not usually one to watch things on BBC4, unless it’s a classic film. My dad told me a new series about the how the United States was won. How the Wild West was Won with Ray Mears, Mears who knows a thing or two about surviving outdoors. The first episode aired last night, which I caught up with today on iPlayer today. My expectations weren’t that high, thinking there would be more about living in the landscape.
Instead it was an informed 60 minutes, breaking up the country starting with the Mountains this week before looking at the plains and desert landscape. Focusing on the 1800’s as settlers started to move westward from Washington and the 13 colonies. I now understand why so many people in Westerns always travelled to Oregon which was a major trail to the west before going north or south. An eye-opener for someone who is usually bogged down in the films that depict that era. A welcome addition to my exploration of the Western, always wanting to find the fact in the fiction that romanticized this era which was anything but easy.
The first episode looks at the gold miners, living alongside Cherokee Native Americans, to the fateful Donner party settlers in 1834 who suffered that winter whilst moving west. It really shakes the myths that surround that era. I was reminded of a few films, most notably The Big Trees (1952) and The Big Trail (1939) to name but two. Giving us the landscapes we know and love from the big screen, I can remember a few shots taken by early photographers too. Also looking at the reliance on wood for the settlers to move and live. I look forward to the upcoming episodes.