Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Plaster squares

Colour samples

Combination colour plaster tests

Combination colour plaster tests

Combination colour plaster tests

Combination colour plaster tests

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Putting batons onto the back of works

I am developing work for my forthcoming exhibition at Motherwell Concert Hall, and am testing different options for hanging the work. The work has to be attached to wires which hang vertically in front of the wall. I am informed that the fasteners on the wires can be screwed into the back of the work, and so am planning on using wooden batons on the back of the work for the screw to go into.

I have tried a number of methods of putting batons on the work:

- making a sheet of plaster and once dry, glue the wooden batons to the back

- making a sheet of plaster and once dry, glue the wooden batons to the back, then pour plaster around the wooden batons so as to hide them when viewed from the side

- making a sheet of plaster and while still wet, place the batons on the plaster. Once dry, fill the gap around the edge of the batons

- making a sheet of plaster and while still wet, place the batons on the plaster and then pour plaster in the gap around the edge of the batons

- making a sheet of plaster and while still wet, place another piece of cardboard on top of the plaster in order to create a flat surface

Monday, 29 July 2013

Making Explorations at South Block - Meg Held workshop - block printing

Making Explorations is a new project, set up to encourage cross-cultural craft technique and research. The  first exhibition and workshop series focuses on skills from across the Commonwealth, utilised by Glasgow-based makers.

The exhibition is at South Block, and a number of free workshops are running this weekend to coincide with the Merchant City Festival. 

I took part in the Block Printing workshop with Meg Held.

Meg uses the traditional practice of block printing to design and create vibrant hand printed, ethically considered fabrics.The blocks are made from reclaimed wood found both rurally and in the city.The surfaces of some blocks are hand carved and some are left solid creating a variety of textures and marks when printed. The fabrics produced are used to update existing pieces of furniture creating sustainable and unique pieces of design which offer a hand crafted alternative to products found on the high street.

I thoroughly enjoyed using block printing to create bright, lively and unique designs, which, after sample printing on paper, I printed onto a canvas tote bag.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Studio experiments

Manchester International Festival

At the weekend I travelled to Manchester to visit the Manchester International Festival (MIF) and catch up with my good friends, artist Liz West and artist, curator and tutor, Mark Devereux (I will be blogging about their interesting work later on so keep a look out!)                                                                                                           

Our first stop was Piccadilly Place (, a number of vacant multi functional spaces in the heart of the city centre. Mark explained that the office blocks had been built a number of years ago, but the large ground floor spaces have never been permanently filled due to the premium rental costs and so rather than leave the spaces empty, artists can hire them out for free. This seems a mutually beneficial scheme. Liz has booked one of the spaces for a show in September. While we were there one of the other spaces was being used as a gallery by artist Richard Shields.

Unlike Glasgow International festival of Visual Art which, as it's name suggests, concentrates on visual art, Manchester International Festival encompasses music, theatre, performance, visual art and more.

As we sat in Albert Square, the festival hub, live musicians provided cheerful rhythms. Local producers were offering high quality street food and stripy coloured deck chairs added to the summery vibe, enhanced by the glorious sunshine.

There was a cosmopolitan and continental feel to the city as we walked past graffitti artists working on walls, beautiful florists and unique cafes with outdoor tables and chairs.

After being shown a couple of Manchester's best art suppliers, (including the range of spray paints that Liz has currently been using in her work)

we headed to the Chinese Arts Centre ( where there is an exhibition by Jennifer Yang called First Step.

 I then headed to Mayfield depot, the disused railway station built more than a century ago. The expansive space was an idea setting for Martin Spangberg's "Epic", abstract artowkr in which nine dancers moved around an informal platform in weird and wonderful ways, reacting to each other, music being played and interacted with numerous objects surrounding them, all creating a vibrant and engaging landscape.

This dancer was pouring fluid onto glass sheets which reminded me of the breezeblock sized works I had made with coloured plaster at the Market Gallery.

The final artwork of the day was Tino Sehgal's "This variation", and what an artwork it was to end the day! 

As on the MIF website (,

  "This radical and immersive work plunges visitors into a pulsating sensory landscape, by turns enigmatic and recognisable. Taking advantage of the visitor’s own dilating pupils, This Variation constantly shifts perception, processing and transforming before eye and ear. "

Entering the pitch black room was rather daunting as I had no idea of the other people in the room or what was going to happen. Performers were constantly circulating the space, singing and making music of some kind. Gradually over the course of about 30 minutes, my eyes adapted, and by the end I was able to see the silouette of other people around me. It was a breathtaking experience.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Sources of inspiration while in Manchester

Do It 2013 at Manchester Art Gallery

The strong smell pervading the whole of the gallery came from the gallery staff who were carrying out Rirkrit Tiravanija's instructions to make Thai curry paste.

Not quite sure whether or not the visitor could help with the chopping of the onion or grating of the ginger, and not being able to enjoy the curry paste produced in the gallery, I felt like I was only getting half an experience, and given the simplistic nature of the recipe, felt that reading the instructions alone would have done the job. Then again, it did smell good!

Another instruction, to create a grid on the floor (squares could be of any size) and place one red object in each of the squares., lost its impact due to the size of the grid. Rather than the whole room being gridded and filled with red objects, the artwork was confined to one corner of the large room.

Whereas these instructions had been performed by the gallery staff, some of the artworks such as Yoko Ono's uninspired wishing tree required audience participation. Similarly, another artwork instructed the viewer to take one of the shoe boxes from the pile in the gallery, fill it with objects of significance and then return to the gallery, placing it back on the pile. Unfortunately, as with the majority of other artworks that encouraged viewer participation, the outcome resembled nothing more than a pile of rubbish; graffitied boxes filled with a few exhibition leaflets, tissues and sweet wrappers.

I found the half-hearted attempts to follow the instructions an unnecessary and frustrating part of the exhibition and would rather have imagined the outcome having seen the written instructions.