Exhibition – Unconcious Landscapes

This week I visited Hauser & Wirth in Bruton to see an exhibition of female artists, with works shown from the private collection of Ursula Hauser.  She has collected these over the past thirty years and they range from artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Maria Lassnig, Meret Oppenheim and Roni Horn.   The exhibition celebrates female artists, often overlooked in contemporary art in the past.  For a detailed review of the exhibition, Rachel Campbell‑Johnston has written a great review in The Times.

I was so excited to see Meret Oppenheim’s work in the flesh.  These gloves are wonderful, and a prime example of her surrealist art.  The painting was a surprise as I had always associated her with 3D and sculptural pieces,

From paintings to sculptures, the works create different moods and reactions.  There was a lot of work by Louise Bourgeois, and I am not personally a fan of the spiders due to my own arachnophobia, but I suppose a visceral reaction is a key element to the pieces.  She also made these long legs below which I loved, they conjured up ideas of giants, myths and fairy tales.

A lot of the work was very textural, and these pieces by Sheila Hicks we’re probably my favourite in the exhibition.  The textures and colours are beautiful:

The other element at Hauser & Wirth which is wonderful to see is the garden, designed by Piet Oudolf, with the serpentine pavilion by Radic as a permanent installation.  I had not seen the gardens before at this time of year, and they were in full bloom.  The planting is in drifts of tall perennials which float in the wind, very worth visiting.

In the Roth Bar & Grill, (a welcome part of the site, delicious food…), they have the original design of the garden.  It is interesting to see the initial sketch to the final result.

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So for anyone in that part of the world, it is definitely worth a visit.  The exhibition runs until September the 8th.

MODERN BOTANICAL DIY PRINTS

EASY DIY BOTANICAL PRINTS WITH A TWIST

This is a simple way to create your own botanical prints with a contemporary twist.  This weekend I picked up two very nice simple black chunky frames on offer for 2 for £10 at Homebase, with mounts inside already cut to fit A4 prints.  I then made the prints myself at home, using downloaded botanical and paper images, normal photocopier paper and a printer.  I have seen examples like this on sale for a lot of money in smart home decor shops, galleries and on Etsy, but you can make them yourself which is far more satisfying and far cheaper.

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HOW TO MAKE THEM:

Start off by finding large sized botanical prints on-line.  There are lots of places to find them for free:  The Graphics Fairy and Botanicus are great paces to browse, especially the latter for thousands of botanical themes.  Download the picture you want to use, in Botanicus it comes as a large pdf of a botanical collection of the book’s plates, whereas at The Graphics Fairy is it just one image as a pdf or jpeg.  You do not need to print them out, but the below are examples of ones to look for, they need strong colours and lines to show up in the finished piece.

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Enclosed here is a ready to print dictionary piece of paper, (but you could use old sheet music cut to A4 size, or other old text paper you may have available).  Print this out in colour onto a piece of A4 paper, and make it fit the whole page as much as possible on your printer by using the ‘scale to fit’ option..

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When it is dry, reload this printed paper into the printer, and then print out the botanical flower of your choice straight onto it.  You may need 2-3 runs to get your grade right for your own tastes, (and not to do it upside down which I am guilty of a lot!). You can tweak your grade in your photo browser directly if it is a jpeg, or if it is a pdf you will need to convert it to a large sized jpeg first.

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Then frame up your print, and hey presto… done in a jiffy….

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Have a go, it is really not that hard to do and the possibilities are endless for printing images.  Just make sure they are dense in colour and line.  You can even do a 3rd print run with text on to personalise it for someone.

Dream Living Room Plans

I have been looking at a fabulous website called Arhaus who are based in the USA, and am seriously wishing they would open a shop in the UK, (hint, hint….).  Their collections are really beautiful, very classic, and I would snap up a lot of their items, especially the furniture, in a flash to use in interiors.

I have based the room around artwork by Fin DAC, who produces huge scale street mural artwork around the globe.  I love this image, and used it as the inspiration for the room.  It would look amazing as a huge piece on one wall, and he sells via online galleries so I am after one now… although I may have to save up a bit….

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Having recently completed a grey, black and orange dining room, I am still slightly obsessed with these colours and was immediately drawn to the sofa and daybed in the Clancy range, they are both traditional with the buttoning but have lovely sleek modern lines as well.  Plus, (and this is key for me), I really hate plumping up base cushions of sofas, so this is a dream design for me!

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Creating a Gallery Wall

Once Upon a time…

I used to help out at an Art Gallery where the positioning and hanging of the art was as important as the pictures themselves.  I think that apart from basic hanging ‘rules’ about eye levels not being too high, hanging pictures is a very personal thing.  However some people get very nervous about putting up art, so here is hopefully a helping hand…

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Here is my latest area where I am going to create a gallery wall, a finishing-off part of a dining room makeover.  You can read about the main bulk of work doing the room here.  After finishing the room I was left with a really large wall which has a mirror and two very large formal prints on it placed very formally.  I do like them, but wanted to create more interest and jazz it up a bit.  In fact, I noticed that when I was trying to find photos of that wall, I had hardly any as it was never that inspiring, so that is a bit telling!

I want to create a gallery wall that is much more contemporary, and uses a variety of artwork and interesting pieces.  I find I always lean towards hanging art very symmetrically and I suppose that is my comfort zone, but this time I am intentionally going to offset the pieces and push the boundaries for myself.

Can I apologise in advance for glare on the photos, the wall faces a large french window and the reflections were murder in my pictures!

So you can sort of see the wall in the back of the pictures, and it is definitely time to make it more interesting.  It is nearly 4 metres wide and has 1.7 metres clear vertically in the dado to picture rail space  There is a radiator below the dado rail bang in the middle, and I might have get a cover made for it as it does stick our like a sore thumb, but that can be a later project.  I know some people paint their radiators in the same colour and paint as the wall behind, so that could be an option…

STEP ONE

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How to make your own Street Art

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ROLL OVER BANKSY… AND APOLOGIES TO DAVE…

I have been preparing for a gallery wall, and wanted to make some of my own artwork for it as well as using existing pieces.

I had started to hunt around for original prints, and found some images I really liked, but the artists’ works are REALLY expensive, and then they would need framing and so on.  So I thought I would pay homage instead and get creative for next to nothing.

I found this very cheeky artwork by Dave Buonaguidi.  He has worked in advertising for over 30 years, founding St. Luke’s, the world’s first Co-operative ad agency and most recently Karmarama in 2000. In 2003 he created the iconic MAKE TEA NOT WAR poster for the anti-war march. It now is part of the collection at the V&A and hangs in the Trento museum of modern art. He loves to make work that creates a reaction.  And this one really is a bit full on, but I like the text over a map.

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Obviously I needed to tone down the wording on my homage to this, I can just imagine the looks of horror from people visiting with kids if I copied the above verbatim!  So this is how I made my own version by changing the working to ‘I bloody love this place’, far less brutal text than the original but still a bit cheeky and a bit ‘English’.  I also have older teenage daughters who would not be offended than younger ones would be, so I think I can get away with it…. maybe… just!?

HOW TO MAKE YOUR STREET ART

I had a vintage framed map of Milan lying around in storage.  It has fond memories for me as I lived there for a few months many years ago, and had a blast whilst there.  So I thought it was a personal piece that I could adapt.  This was going to be the base of the artwork.  I carefully opened it up, and cleaned up the glass on both sides. I measured how much space I had free on the part of the print which would be visible when re-framed.

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Download the free font ‘Marigold’ from fontspace.com, and then you can make any text you want and it is a lovely curly handwritten font.  If you don’t want the bother of making your own document I enclose a pdf you can use but it does have my wording on it, be warned!

I then printed out my wording, in my case on A3 paper as my print is quite big.  Print with black ink.

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Hatfield House – the best ceilings in the world ever…

This week I was near London with the eldest child whilst she was performing as part of the Hatfield Chamber Music Festival.  We had an hour free afterwards, and although this was not much time at all, it seemed madness not to go into the house and have a peep.

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Hatfield House is the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family. The Estate has been in the Cecil family for 400 years. Superb examples of Jacobean craftsmanship can be seen throughout the House. I got very over-excited looking at the wonderful portraits, all of my history lessons at school, (and I was a bit obsessed with the Tudors), came to life again as names and faces appeared.

 

 

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It is an iconic building in British architectural history.  Thousands of hand thrown bricks in red clay, and a lot of glass leaded windows.  The turrets are also very similar in style to Hampton Court and the Tower of London.  It is also famed for its beautiful knot gardens and parkland:

But is THE CEILINGS which amazed me.  The most ornate plaster work, pargetting, gilding, embellishment and decoration is pretty much in every main room of the house.

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An evening event at Anthropologie

anthropologieI will be at the Anthropologie store in Bath this week on 22nd September, where there is an event showcasing Bath design businesses, ranging from food to drink to decorating to arty crafts.  There is also late night shopping, a glass of fizz, plus food and drink tasters.

I teach art and craft courses through The Workshop Cabin, and we will be highlighting what craft activities and sessions will be coming up in the autumn and spring. There are some great ideas, like workshops for Hen parties who often come to Bath, where they can make table decorations and wedding favours for the Big Day whilst sipping some Prosecco, (always a plus!).  Plus there are courses in paperwork, plaster, sculpture, photography, wood carving and more.

The Workshop Cabin is also offering new event design services for any size of gatherings; weddings, parties, special occasions, dinners and so on.

Tickets are available here which are reedemable against any store spend over £20.

 

Children’s Art Week

In-between the ongoing house renovation, I nipped up to London for a week to run an Arts Week for  the KS1 classes in a school.  The children were aged 4-7, and I had 270 of them over a week to create 3 large pieces that could be kept on permanent exhibition in the school.  This seems to have become an annual event, and although it is the most hectic and pressured timescale, I absolutely LOVE doing it.  The only downside is the amount of stooping I have to do to get down to their level, plus trying not to touch heads in case I catch nits.  So far no nits, and Pilates sorted out my aching back and knees.

Artwork 1:

This was done by 90 children in Year 2 (ages 6-7) over one and half days.  They were staggered into groups of 6 throughout their allocated times.  We took the artist Paul Klee as a starting point, and looked at his landscapes.  I love his little villages and towns.  We showed the children his work, talked about his art, and we broke down his style into a series of shapes and perspective tricks so they could get inspired to create.

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The children started by hand printing miles of coloured paper and card with patterns in acrylic paint.  These were then cut up into various sized rectangles, squares, triangles and semi circles.  A huge MDF board was primed, and a basic sky painted and sponged onto it.

The fun then began when we got the children to work out a staggered townscape.  They had to think about perspective, layering, scale and so on, and work from the back of the town forward as they created a collage of the shapes.  Finally they added embellishments with inks and created line drawings on top to enhance the details of the buildings.

Finally the piece looked like this, brilliant and colourful, the children named it ‘City of Lights’.

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Artwork 2:

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Plaster Workshops

Plaster Dipping and Plaster Sculptures

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Over the past two weekends I have been teaching some classes for The Workshop Cabin in Bath in the wonders of plaster, (cue large amounts of hand cream as it is pretty brutal on the poor mitts).  The Workshop Cabin put on really cool workshops, ranging from painting to photography to bookbinding and many more.  Definitely check out their site for inspirational activities… I have my eye on the Pyrography workshop already.

Anyhow, over two Saturdays we built, planned, mixed, dipped, wrapped, made a mess, painted and mounted various works.  The results are pretty great and I think that the participants were pleased with their results – the sculptures were especially amazing.  An added bonus was that it was just before Valentine’s day, so the plaster flowers were put to good use as gifts for some lucky recipients.

All Photos courtesy of Heidi @ The Workshop Cabin

Everyone beavering away with their plaster

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Plaster flowers drying

Happy Valentine pressies

Sculptures in progress

The final sculptures…

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Final sculptures with bronze paint effects, and some very happy punters…eat your heart out Alberto Giacometti….!

Marrakech moments…

Last night in this exotic city, and after a ride home in a Caleche it is time to share some lovely photographs of the palaces and museums that I visited today.


Starting at the Dar Si Said palace, I saw amazing painted ceilings, carved plaster and mosaic work .  This place is not for people who do not like symmetry!  The museum is in a bit of a bad way, with some floors missing tiles and crumbling.  Some western conservation would not go amiss so that preservation and conservation rather than replacement happens.
However the museum staff were lovely and let us peek at the out of bounds harem’s courtyard as a treat.  They were very proud of the museum and gave us lots of information, which my schoolgirl french just about managed to intepret.


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