slip sliding away

 

as summer slides away and culminates in my artist in residency exhibition  – it opens on the 15t hSeptember… it’s going to now take me teeny bit it longer to put together the finishing touches… as at the start of the week I managed to slip slide away and do a cartwheel down a flight of stairs.  No mean feat when you are 39 and three quarters (sic – for the sake of the new reader I decided a while back to stop aging before I got to 40 – very sensible advice in my opinion feel free to magpie).  No broken bones fortunately just bruised and battered… I feel extremely lucky….I think the crystals I bought in Totnes over the summer must be doing their thing.  Did you know crystals, according to my 10 year old, keep you self-centred???  Hmmm…he’s possibly right!buddha crstals

Fortunately, until said fall from grace, I had been very busy getting things finished for final assembly of my work at the theatre next week so my enforced hiatus shouldn’t be too much of a setback…. so I will pop pills like there’s no tomorrow for a couple of days and then get back on track…time and tide and all that jazz…and pull everything together at the weekend.

It was quite tricky deciding which route to go for the final installation.  As you might imagine the theatre has provided me with a plethora of stimuli……. I spent most of August sorting out what to do and what to use, what to take forward and what to shelve. The end result is my take on a celebration of ‘Festival 18’.  My main aim was tell a story through my art work and reflect the theatre, its’ environment and its’ people now – as well as acknowledging its’ wealth of history.  You can let me know if I’ve succeeded!!!  It’s quite tricky working to produce something that lives up to other people’s expectations but I am hoping my artistic response will please….however, as an artist, it really is about putting yourself out there and I find that its best to just do what you love so whatever the feedback, I have had a blast, enjoyed the creative process, the meeting people, the close experience of theatre, the looking beyond and the digging deep – I feel satisfied with the outcome and am excited to see my pieces in situ.  They will be there until mid October.

CFT_TheMeeting_Portrait.jpgOver the summer I did another morning stitching at the theatre and went to see ‘The Meeting’ by Charlotte Jones -met her briefly at the directors talk for the play where audience members were encouraged to take part in my ‘Everyone is an Artist’ project. There will be piece to celebrate the outcome of this in the exhibition…I hope you managed a label…if not you could add to it when it is at the theatre from the 15th September.

‘The Meeting’ raised several issues……the role of pacifism when the nation is at war, outsider influence and how people cope with and react to disability.  A play about language, silence and outsiders coming into the circle – I found it compelling, moving and thought provoking. I did a bit of stitching during the performance and through the interval to feel fully involved (!).  The chairs from the production really spoke to me and I loved the way they were used in the play….and I am really lucky in being able to borrow them for a bit and use them in an art installation near you from the 15th September.  It was tricky to decide what to do with them and how much to add and how much to leave them alone to tell their own story.

The idea of the protagonist, an army deserter, coming in to disrupt the circle was the crux of the play, and he was welcomed in to the inner circle. I saw similarities in my coming into the theatre as an outsider, although, I hasten to add, I am not an army deserter nor have I  been disruptive in quite the same way (but ( definately feel accepted by the circle.)   However I do hope that I make people look at things from a different angle as that is what I see is my job as an artist!

There were going to be screen prints too but I had a bit of a mishap with the screens…..the less said about that the better…moving swiftly on….they (the chairs) relate nicely to the wall pieces which I have stitched and printed using material printed with leaves collected from Oakland’s Park where the theatre stands, imagery drawn from the 2018 brochure and materials given to me by the lovely ladies in the wardrobe department.

Wall  pieces were taken to the framers last Friday and will be on display (and on sale – ever hopeful!) at the theatre next week.  Life atthe moment  seems to be treating me torahter a lot of incidents at the mo and my  trip to the framers was an interesting foray in itself… what started out as an excellent concise meeting of minds turned into a two hour ordeal when my 10 year old managed to lock my car keys in the car!!! Don’t ask!!! Ah the joys of multi-tasking… thanks go to the mad Canadian who came to my rescue!!!! However every cloud -which is totally my motto in life – if we hadn’t been stranded I wouldn’t have wandered in the studio of the very talented artist Nicola Hancock who also develops and manages the Chichester Art Trail.  I really got a lot from my unintentional visit and it wasn’t just the tea, shelter and my 10 year old occupied terrorizing her lovely dog!  I felt inspired looking at Nicola’s eclectic mix of work. It really was beautiful, interesting and drew me in.  Can’t wait to get my pictures back…and get on with making more diverse work myself.

In between times or should I say liminal places(?)

Rewind to July and, stop press….all work for the theatre was put on hold when the Embroiderers’ Guild invited me to stitch a medal and a heart for their celebration ‘100 hearts war stories’

They will go on display at the 2018 knitting & stitching shows and the NEC in 2019.   Research for the project involved me finding out lots of new facts about my maternal grandfather who incidentally inspired one of my very first large textile works… ‘my past in the present’. George Patrick Martin served in the army for the duration of WW1, fought at the Somme and Passchendaele and hence was an old contemptible

My research resulted in the production of a medal in memory of him and a heart in memory of his sweetheart, my future Grandma Abigail – whom I never met as she died before I was born.  He was 19 when he signed up to go to France.  Hard to contemplate what he must have endured and what all those young men and women must have gone through.  Although it is important to celebrate and commemorate it is also really important to acknowledge the futileness and awful devastation of war.  I think it will be a thought provoking exhibition and am proud to be a small part of it.

EG stuff in the bag I schlepped around galleries in London including the Saatchi…lovely….and Frida Kahlo at V and A.   Amazing. However I didn’t really like looking at all her personal stuff… it felt wrong, a bit voyeuristic to be looking at all her private things.  I loved her paintings and her wardrobe …inspiring. Perhaps it would have been different if I’d seen them at the Blue House – because I really enjoyed snooping around Agatha Christie’s summer abode, Greenaway, in the summer. May be it is all about place?  Or maybe I just fancy a trip to Mexico next?

I also managed to squeeze in an exhibition an Ox Market Gallery in August with my fellow MA students. Great experience with some great feedback.  Thank you to everyone who supported us….

ox market
blurry picture of some of the exhibition

So……..you’re not supposed to start a sentence with ‘so’ you know ‘cos it’s not grammatically correct. Did you know that? When you know, you realize how much it is done…or maybe its just me? Something to think about….anyway… there will be three parts to my final exhibition…did I tell you I do like working in threes…? Yes indeed – like a triptych, with a difference. A screen, some chairs and a series of framed wall hung works…… installed in the Foyer of the Festival Theatre from the 15th September….just in case I haven’t said that enough!

And so dear reader my time at the theatre is nearly over…I really am lost for words – which is why I am an artist and let my work do the talking for me.  The immersive experience has been inspiring and interesting for my artistic development and has taken me down a different path… on this occasion responding to the cft environment and its people and interpreting this institution at a particular moment in time.  A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me in my time there, especially Jess and Richard and Charlotte, I will quite miss being there….I will however definitely be visiting the theatre more often in future!!!  I really want to see Copenhagen and Flowers for Mrs Harris.

Ever onwards….my next exhibition will be at the Otter Gallery in October and once the Chichester Festival Theatre work is hung I will be concentrating on that.  This will sadly be the last exhibition at the Otter Gallery as it will close its doors and metamorphosise into  a computer suite…ahh the onward march of technology….marvelous…. we artists need to keep on fighting to get art out there and claim spaces.

Next I’m off on a research trip to India to explore the textiles of Gujarat…. I’ve managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the Tahj Mahal on the way home too……well when in Rome….or should I say Agra….

Signing off

PS Sarah – Hope Edinburgh exhibiton goes well..the pics look fab!! wish i could have come with!

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trees in the AiR (Artist in Residence)

 

See the source image
Tania Kovats        Tree

Well how about this for an opener….its pretty inspirational…the first permanent art exhibit at the Natural History Museum. The backstory is fab. Kovats was inspired by Darwin’s drawing to explain his theory of evolution, and it seems that as well as the theatre featuring large in my life at the moment, so are TREES (Did I mention I’ve just taken on an allotment? We’re going for an orchard – evidently you need 5 trees minimum. Take a look at this link later)

GRAYSON
sketch book  – my tree connections

It’s just over a month since I’ve been doing my bit as Artist in Residence at Chichester Festival Theatre and I wanted to share some of my thoughts so far, as well as the imagery I have been collecting to reflect my time here.

The deadline is approaching to producing a plan of work for my exhibition at the theatre in the autumn. I have started to pull things together and make decisions on what to take forward, and what to leave behind in the file marked ‘pieces of work that were never realised!'(YES, that’s quite a big file if you’re an artist!….but the research and the drawings are great to do!)

I can’t get away from the trees surrounding the theatre and the impact that the theatre has on its’ environment. I have been reading about the tree of life, the tree of the world – Yggdrasil – in Norse mythology (thank you Gary Goodman) – and an amazing article about trees and their connection to each other (thank you Him in doors). I really want the book Are Trees Sentient by Peter Wohlleben now!

See the source image
Yggdrasil

So I am taking a LEAP (sorry Richard!) and going with TREES as a place to start to depict the theatre. Apart from the environmental situation of the theatre, right on the edge of Oaklands Park, and the fact that the building looks like a big concrete tree (it does trust me), I see the theatre and it’s community as a tree.

theatre = tree
yggdrasil
See the source image
Can I talk to the trees?

Also I can’t help being influenced by my work with school children for ‘Thread Bearing Witness’ and ‘Finding a voice through ‘The Tree of Life” by G Hughes. Looking back, trees have been used on stage at Chichester rather a lot… trees it seems are everywhere. I even went to see a dress rehearsal of The Chalk Garden – and yes you guessed it… trees are there too……by the way don’t go down the rabbit hole there’s a lot of stuff about all of this  on the internet!!  I’ve been there and managed to pull myself out..it wasn’t easy.  You have been warned!!!

PAST PRODUCTIONS

Rather than explain in words here are some drawings from my sketch book which will hopefully help explain my thought processes…..

So basically CFT, I see you and your community as a tree.

The roots are the past. The trunk the strengths and things you are good at. The branches the people that are involved with the theatre. The leaves… well I’ll stop there you get the drift.

I’ve also been looking at ‘tribes’ of the theatre and how I might depict them. I’m looking at them as beetles at the moment – don’t ask – but it’s in a good way and I do tenuous links.

and from wiki….

Theatre or theater[1] is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers, typically actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience.[2] The specific place of the performance is also named by the word “theatre” as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον (théatron, “a place for viewing”), itself from θεάομαι (theáomai, “to see”, “to watch”, “to observe”)

this could also represent what goes on behind the face of the theatre..it is about so much more than the shows..

I want to try to capture the performance and storytelling part of theatre in my work. When you stop and think about it, it’s all a bit weird: sitting in auditorium, looking at people on a platform who are pretending to be other people, and trying to make you believe that they are not themselves, and that they have an important story to tell. Which (when it is good), transports you to another world and makes a personal and emotional connection to you. This, dear reader, is what I hope to weave into my artwork. There are many things to decide – the exhibition is pencilled for September!

I’ve  been experimenting with eco printing (thank you Caroline Bell!) to create backgrounds to screen print on to.  Next stop is collecting leaves from Oaklands Park and onion skins from the  kitchens here to print on some cloth which I will then stitch into….  I am also giving thought to how I can create a community tree…it’s a work in progress so watch this space….there will be some community events in July where you can have the opportunity to come along and contribute to the art work..haven’t finalised the format yet…….just playing around with ideas…..watch this space

sketch book community tree

“Everyone is an artist.”

reminds me a bit of  Allen Ruppersburg the never ending book

Ruppersberg the Never Ending Book

 

 

 

 

one in..one out

 I’ve also been continuing to wander unfettered around the theatre….so sort of observing the ‘theatre as theatre’ really….. I am so lucky to have all this access…I love being a fly on the wall…wandering is so cool..It was fascinating watching the dynamics of a ‘change over’ in shows yesterday.

The Chalk Garden leaves and the set up begins for Me and My Girl. I watched a bit of rehearsal, missed the meet and greet as I was running around Southsea visiting cathedrals and mosques for… don’t ask that’s another life and caught a bit of a Youth Theatre workshop…fabulous!

I have also been admiring the amazing costumes for The Country Wife which I hope to see next week (as well as a back stage tour for the production. Thank you Jess).  You would not believe how busy the whole place is – perhaps I should be using ants instead of beetles. I think I am going to have to use artistic license tho ‘cos the beetles are more fun to draw!

Oh and I managed to make these in the prop department ….

look as good as the real thing……but are calorie and latex free

Other news up and coming exhibition..I will be exhibiting at  the oxmarket  gallery from the 13th of August for two weeks..watch this space……..

red tree helen sill
red tree helen sill mono print

PS  FINALLY last but not least ..The University of Chichester plans to close the Otter Gallery this autumn – where I am currently undertaking my Masters Degree in Fine Art. This is Chichester’s only free public art gallery with a permanent collection. Is this the thin end of the wedge for the future of fine art in Chichester?  Current planned exhibitions by Masters Fine Art students are shelved  – so I’m a bit sad about that to say the least. More info at  https://ottergallery.wordpress.com/     

If you wish to sign a  petition that has been set up to try to stop its closure and at least look at alternative plans for a permanent  gallery space… please go to  Save the Otter Gallery petition by clicking this link

and that is about it….off to make some more scones……..

PPS I’ve just bought my ticket for Frida..at the V and A……can’t wait.    Well I can but you know what I mean!

PPPS So sad our road trip to Edinburgh is off Sarah but so pleased about your  Canada exhibition!

The need to draw

Missed my life class at Chichester last week due to Dublin and this week due to Harrogate which I’m trying to get ready for. My beautiful Bernina jammed so looks like I may have to have a plan b…or c as my plan b needs a service.

Went to life drawing in Petersfield last night it’s been a while but I got one okay one at the end that didn’t look like a mutant alien …here are the good and the bad.  See if you can guess which is which!

imageimageimageimageimageOkay I know pretty obvious. Yes they are in chronological order……would have liked another hour at least to do that last one. That could be my prep sketch only had 40 mins…lovely model….going to miss next week too as taking school children to London. Oh my! Anyway it’s helping me with my essay a bit…which is about drawing. Need to remember the name of the drawing I want to use in my essay next…ah the joys of short term memory loss!  Anyway off to update my sketch book not keeping it properly at all ……have got lots of bits of paper to stick in it and scribbled ideas.

Kim Thittichai  mentioned me on her blog..thank you Kim!  Hot-textiles.blogspot.co.uk (Does this mean I can now say I am a famous, internationally exhibiting artist?) Still waiting for Mr Cross Stitch…!)…her photos look great…pleased she took some of my work  cos I didn’t take any! Oops! Anyway sketchbook calling…..anyone know a good Bernina fixer?