Thursday, March 31, 2011


I adore collage and a little while ago I ventured to deepest West Cork for West Cork Arts 'Cutters' exhibition.  This was an international touring exhibition featuring collage artists from all over the world.  There were some absolutely brilliant collages and here are some images:-



Ruben B

David Plunkett

David Plunkett

David Plunkett

Kerstin Stephan

Kerstin Stephan

Kerstin Stephan

Kerstin Stephan

Leif Low-Beer

Paul Burgess

Valerie Roybal

Valerie Roybal

Valero Doval

Valero Doval

The collages below are by Baby Smith and are my favourites:-

I love the unpredicability of collage and hope that these will give me some inspiration for the print ranking!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ceramics elective

I loved the ceramics elective.  We started with a black and white image of a flower, leaf or seed head and had to develop our finished ceramic piece from that, using mark-making and modelling of clay maquettes.  It was amazing to see how different each finished piece looked to the original image yet was still visually connected to it. 

We bisque fired the pieces then glazed them with resist and sacrifical glaze for naked raku

The black areas have been left unglazed, leading to smoke penetration which colours the clay.  The white/mottled glaze flakes off to leave a matt-white crackled surface

The pieces were fired in an updraught rocket kiln, which is very quick, taking about an hour.  The pieces are then put into a dustbin filled with sawdust which provides the smokey reduction atmosphere to turn the unglazed surfaces black

These are the finished pieces

The thin flakes of sacrificial glaze are wonderful in their own right and I glued some together to make some tiny and very delicate collages

We also got the chance to throw a pot and do some traditional raku

All in all it was a brilliant two weeks, gave me plenty to think about and was a great way to end 6 weeks of electives.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Art > Sculptures > Modern (1900 - 1979)

Sumstuffrus is one of my favourite sellers on Ebay.  This is one of his listings under the above heading.  There's a lot to read but it's worth it.  Maybe there is no difference between genius and lunacy.


Sol's Pointer were saved
HERE IT IS AFTER 46 Years o' Storin & Restoration
Owt above £99 and its yourn to keep for ever.  Of courst you cant buy such serious stuff.  Not even...  Well you ave to be thinkin of serious Shekels to aquire such a Bramah Dyno Rod.
Leo  Solomon  it wer taught us all right at beginin   colours right way up an everythin   and it wer Sol wat sculpted Mr Lowry for Christmas 1965 and Mr Lowry he only went an  sculpted Sol. 
Umm. might be our Sol's portrait pointer is an LS Lowry pointer sculpture.
Mr Lowry  well   He could do it wi paint   lovely at paintin   painting landscapes an folk that is   and boats an buildings  but when it came to sculptin folk  mmm  well  lets just say it  softly to be ont kind side  all Mr Lowrys sculpted figures ended up all lookin like a lavvy brush handle. 
Mr Lowry brought em in t' Art School to show em off regular  an he'd tell us all about em. Mr Lowry  he liked his sculpture. Courst wi said nothing. We didn't dare say anything.  We just bit our lips, tried not to wet em and endeavoured to nod t' situation on into t' next item.  Some hero would then ave to go an ask Mr Lowry about rent collectin. That would always do it.  After a bit  Leo would start to squirm and fidget and would break into one or two of his throat clearing arh uhmm, arha uhmm's  then he would get to work at wat Sol did best an he'd bring Mr Lowry round and down nicely off rent collectin and onto doin another of his postcard paintings pictures for us to keep.  Afterwards Sol would have Mr Lowry sign a few of his blank rent books   and one of his pocket sculptures.
Well  we were all a bit puzzled about them   Signed wooden smoothed off splinters.  Leo thought they were marvellous.  Mr Ian  would point out their saliant points and describe in detail the particular carving technique.  Mr Keith would tell us all about the type of wood   and how it wer grown in a special way on a Northern slope,  Best for floatin and pokin in water and such it seems.
Well  Leo kept one o these treasures as his personal painting pointer after Mr Ian had pointed out exactly to Sol how such a staff wer carved.
Sol was good at finding good Art staff.
Often at  show times  or at the regular  crits  where everyone displayed their work  and the fruits of their private labours would endure the scrutiny of the whole Art School.  Leading the band in this spectacle would be Sol and his pointer. It was not always a pretty sight to see grown men cry when some unforseen quality in their masterpiece was recognised and revealed. Oh  and  Tears of joy a'well. 
Best of it wer when the likes of Stanley Pelter  fresh up from t' Royal College  would have interestingly different views on things and he would be quite unafraid to speak his mind. Sol was of the old School but he loved the new but in his position he had also to be diplomatic.  Mind you when one of Mr Pelter's pictures was banned from the Annual College Art Show at the Rochdale Art Gallery in 1964, the mind wasn't the part in the picture that was of the greatest concern to Mr Solomon. We didn't mind any of it. The storm about the picture was majorly entertaining. That frisson of vicarious excitment as the news of the risky contents of Stanley's picture went round the town. It wer quite rude on reflection, but most importantly it wer very funny.    
Mr Lowry would speak his mind. Often just a look would do the trick.      
Courst by then Mr Lowry wer as big as Elvis. Bathin in success wi his pictures. London folk wer buyin em unseen  that kind of thing. Couldn't paint enough of em he said - so t' rent wer goin up.
Swept along wi t' news of all Mr Lowry's fame  one local Headmistress  having decided it wer for t' best  and not to be left out  made a fuss and raised a sum of monies   went to see Mr Lowry to ask him to paint her a picture   a commission.
The picture was to be presented to her local School in Salford. Money wer paid  and in good time the painting  of a single figure  wer done dry wrapped nicely an  handed over.
Never having actually seen one of Mr Lowry's famous pictures afore the unwrapping  it came as a total surprise  not to say shock. The stick man portrait wasn't exactly what she had in mind. Something deemed more suitable was eventually bought for t' School. The picture forgotten,
Most of the embarrassment and all of the £30 picture was hidden away in a cupboard for 40 years. As the embarrassment gently faded the forgotten picture surged in value.
The pictures now gently tucked away with 350 more he made in a nice new shiny public  specially built to keep it in Museum in Salford England. Good eh.
In Salford they do do things different.
Lowry Centre  at Salford Quays is an original awell - in stainless steel & glass  and its bigger than five of them  football pitches - most of Mr Lowry's paintings and sculptures and pointers  hang about in there now. 
Wonder what L S would think of all the fuss.  Eh.
Mr Lowry might be a tad bit surprised.  Not that he d change a button.  
It wer always a surprise when you met Mr Lowry.
We wer all just  kind of a bit in awe   shock and awe really   when you met Mr Lowry for a first time   cos he didn't exactly give it the full Elvis in the wardrobe department. Rochdale 60's shabby chic before it wer in full bloomin in Londinium like.
Still  all them postcards Mr Lowry sent us wi lavvy brush folk on em.  Worth a fortune now of course.  Who could have known that back then.  We all just thought it wer special havin Mr Lowry kindly give us one of his curious visits  and his insights into the technicals o rent collectin.
Well anyroadup it wer a welcome break from all that crackin levigating o limestone blocks for Ian Purdy.  and alt slabbin of clay  wot Elizabeth Rayton and George Stevenson seemed to need  for us to make somethin important that wouldn't explode  like maybe an earthenware bakin pot.
Treats really to contrast wi impossible homeworks. Victor Neeps missions to be mixin metameric pairs wi  special secret paint formulae.
Jack Crabtree's winter briefs  unexplained  missions mysterious  to us grasshoppers  us   sent out into  frosty Rochdale wi pencil an pad to discover somethin more than visually interestin  about  wot shopkeepers had wrote in white on windows about their super prices. a particularly hard one for one  this cos us  saturday job wer cleanin shop windows    and washin alt white stuff off  wasn't best part of that procedure.  an there's nowt excitin about white stuff on windows in winter when yer washing windows in t' snow  just so you can go the 30 miles 3 hr bus return to Art School wi funds on monday.  No. Jack  No.  Course Jack's serious Modern Art Histericals wi slide tests an dates half remembered of stuff you wouldn't dare take home  they wer alus dramatic an alus showed us something else different. 
Mary Crabtree's pen umberical's   shadin an stuff t' render nicely.
David Eyre's slidin tricks an tests an rememberin o'dates an fancy names. 
Keith Chadwick's filin and liftin sculptin an sweepin bronze and plasterin castin up three floors.
Harry Booth's proper printed fabric city ground floor.    
Annie Booth full on embroidery thread shed nest proper.
Ian Hansons top floor 3D tricks wi special clay modellin plaster raspin an constructin wi weldin an modelin wi metal an gas an stuff. 
More rememberin photos of old pictures painted o'folk wi funny names and funnier hats wi George Williams and Jack Cawthorn.  not to mention interesting demonstrations of more metameric pairs an perspective and vanishing an measurin points an anatomical points.  an more drawin natural big lasses and lads needin lectric fires.  wi all an various including Robin Forrester. Peter Brannan. Walter Kershaw.
Interest in anatomy and drawing did enjoy quite an unprecedented surge in popularity for most ot lads however when hugely talented Judith Bussy decided  to try her hand and the rest of her at Life modellin as a part time paid student volunteer model. Blimey. Quite revived Sol's interest in life drawing that did.
Well we did get to get on wi makin loads o stuff and painting most ot time.  In between touching all these traditional tortures 
We all thought Sol wer special.  He made us all feel that what we wer doin wer special. Mind you most ot lads an lasses wer blumin marvellous at something Arty even if they didn't quite know what it was they had in em. Some seemed to have it all together even before they went to Art School. Some were multi talented and had to seriously work to decide which way to go. Brent Lord was stuffed with abilities  and he had an amazin constitution. Blimey at school he'd come second behind Ken Taylor in the cross country every year  without doin any training. Brent went on to Music College after a year at Art School. Course in the running department nobody beat Ken Taylor  he went on to win such impossibles as the Tasmanian Three Peaks. Blimey. Don't think Sol or Mr Lowry did much running. Sol did do a reverse Brent really  he started in music and went into Art.   What a mixture.
As Art School ringmaster Sol held it all on course every year for 23 years from July 1953. With 9 full-time Art students in 1953 to 190 Full-time Art students by 1965. Now to them wot knows summat about it - thats serious to amazin - bums on seat School of Art motorin to amazin. How did that happen?  Well. Rochdale councillors Charlie Crowder and Cyril Smith and Rochdale Education department's Henry Robinson were seriously up for it. Then Sol, he wer very picky about the student talents he admitted.  If you failed his Ishihara colour test you wer gone. Sol wer very picky about his staff. Yes, they had to be proven talented Artists right enough, but to make the Art School work and grow he was able to find Artist folk who also had the ability to care and be seriously interested in the developing the talents of others.       
Well Sol did paint and sculpt heroes and he wer t' first hero himself to step forward and giv Cathy Netherwood a job  courst it wer after she got a Queens Award for Industry  but still gi'us a job is gi'us a job no less.  Still he wer a proper old School Art School boss of bosses and we all thought he wer overdue a proper knighthood  not just one from Rus.
Having a daytime Leo Solomon Gallery at the College is a gong of sorts.
Anyway up   go on.  A quid and a photo o t' pointer  its yourn to keep.
Yes.  a Buy It Now does save one all the trauma and uncertainty o biddin
 Kindness that wer Sol 

For them that's ignorant of the fact.
Leopold Solomon was Principal of the Rochdale College of Art from 1953-76. The College building in Fleece Street wer tragically crisped 6 March 1969. Sol presided over the rebuilding of the magnificent new Rochdale College of Art and took it gloriously into the new era.
One huge factor providing the Political possibles for all this creative arty climate making in Rochdale during this famous era was Cyril Smith.
Cyril Smith was a Rochdale Councillor from 1950 became mayor in 1966 when he also became Cyril Smith MBE. In 1988 he became Sir Cyril Smith MBE.  Rochdale folk elected Big Cyril five times to be their Member of Parliment and he famously served as Rochdale's MP from 1972 until 1992.  

Leo's Pointer.
The Principal Conductor at both the Rochdale and the Liverpool Philharmonic have an instrument called a baton.  They dont actually strike anyone with it but it helps them to make a point about the odd misplaced crotchet or filled up pause or interrupted silence.
Similarly just as a maths teacher might have a board duster or slipper to hold and control sum attention, then your Art School Principal would have, not a Mahl Stick or a VBig pencil as is often rumoured to be the case but a Pointer.  This is  The Pointer - Leo's - Sol's Pointer.

This superb example is the full 13incher and weighs almost 50 grams, and is remarkably well preserved considering its stormy past.  It bears the Art School stamp and several scorched sweat marks, which betray its glorious past. 
Here are:-
Leo's His pointer School of Art
Sol demonstrates the correct pointer position grip.
Bruce Nuttall and Brent Lord demonstrate the proper full on pointer position to Cathy Netherwood. John Ridgeway Mainwearing. Josephine Riley. Vincent Bottomley. Ann Marjorie Baldwin. Ian Bamford. Judith Bussy. Peter Brannan. Robin Chadwick. Michael Cross. Malcolm Whitehead. Beverley Fowles. John Hawkwood. Belinda Bagot. Charlie Holt. Tim Wood. Gordon Cane. Francis Waite. Ian Heywood. Dorothy Cavanagh. David Jackson. James Nolan. Caroline Butterworth. Eileen McGladdery. James Soulby. Keith Sutcliffe. who all eagerly take notes.        
Aye a Rus tears pot all thats left of one wot did explode in kiln in 1964.
Break times we'd away across to the Drake Street UCP for a brew (picture)
Ian Hanson's sculpture department tools and equipment.
An Bob wer there in sound and in spirit.
Jan's cake illustrates  Sol's now famous saying "Let them eat cake". 
Sol's famous Mr Lowery bronze portrait.
Mr Lowry's postcard.
Rochdale Town Hall 1871.
Lowry Centre Salford Quays 2005.

A Traditional Splinter of England with scorch and Brand Motto to go
You are bidding or not on a mini print to keep of Sols Pointer

... Away Knave Now What Look'st at?.
 ...Tis but a tad o Rus's hoard o fabulous treasure - now get on wi it or buzz off. 


"What is art?  Just self-indulgence.  You give way to it.  It's a vice.  Prison is too good for artists - they ought to be rolled down Primrose Hill in a barrel full of broken bottles once a week and twice on public holidays, to teach them where they get off"
Joyce Cary, The Horse's Mouth, 1944

"Whether a urinal signed R. Mutt (1917) or an objet trouve, any object can be elevated to the status of art.  The artist defines the object in such a way that it's future can only lie in a museum.  Since Duchamp the artist is author of a definition.  Two facts will be brought in focus here: that in the beginning Duchamp's iniative was aimed at destabilizing the power of juries and schools and that today - having become a mere shadow of itself - it dominates an entire area of contemporary art, supported by collectors and dealers"
Marcel Broodthaers, Signature and Style, Flash Art, Jan/Feb, 2011

These photographs really don't do justice to the originals. 
The originals were generally terrible - especially the one made from milk cartons and insulating tape.  
That one was really awful. 
I had great fun making all of them.

"Guston remembers a weekend at this time when he and Tomlin visited Pollock in Springs while Lee was away.  It was a good weekend.  Jackson's mood was gentle, even on the second night when Guston and Tomlin did most of the talking.  However, at some point in the course of their discussion of Renaissance art, Jackson picked up a very large nail and drove it into the living room floor,  saying, 'Damn it, that's art."
B. H. Friedman, Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible, 1973