Friday, 31 July 2015

Using stencils with prints

After producing a full printed sheet using the jelly, I experimented with leaving some of the page blank by placing pieces of cut paper over the paper onto which I was printing on. I then printed the blocks of jelly in the same regular pattern, but when I removed the stencils, a white section was left.

The above print was more complicated as I needed to be careful when getting the different stencils lined up and ensuring that I was printing the right areas in the correct sequence without printing onto an area that had already been printed. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Reduce, reduce, reduce

In preparation for my crit, I began editing in my studio, reducing the amount in the space, and beginning to turn it from a studio and into more of a gallery space. I need to remember not to cram the studio, and to give each work enough space to breathe. I also need to vary the scale of the work so everything isn't on the same level.

With this in mind, I introduced a large piece of fabric, and hung it from one of the pipes going round the space. This size of fabric has a presence, and contrasts with the smaller collages.

Now I am deciding what to do with the fabric, and whether to print directly onto it, or to put the seaweed prints onto the fabric. I would like to try both options, but don't want my space to be dominated by similar prints. 

I also need to consider the type of design / pattern on the seaweed. I want for them to make a whole composition rather than have a self contained image on each separate sheet of seaweed.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Newcastle University MFA Summer Exhibition 2015

Newcastle University MFA Summer Exhibition 2015

Preview: Friday 21 August, 6-9pm

Open daily, 22 August - 5 September, 10am - 5pm (closed Sundays)

You are invited to the preview of Newcastle University’s MFA Summer Exhibition 2015.
The exhibition is the interim show for the 1st year MFAs and the culminating show for the 2nd year MFAs. The MFA Summer Exhibition presents a wide range of media, exemplifying the diversity within the practice of fine art.
Included are works by 1st years, Mirela Bistran, Helen Shaddock, Yein Son and Liying Zhao.
2nd years: Alex Charrington, Sarah Dunn, Paul Martin Hughes, Soonwon Hwang, Ute Kirkwood, Nigel Morgan and Sofija R. L. Sutton.
The MFA at Newcastle University is a two-year studio-based programme in Fine Art that promotes critically engaged artistic practice. The programme is designed to advocate interdisciplinary experimentation that deepens independent practice-led research. The exhibition showcases the talents of the postgraduate students at Newcastle University.

Monday, 27 July 2015

27 words related to my practice

Rather than writing an artist statement as such, I have created a word search containing 27 words that are relevant to my practice. 

Given that I have not specified the words to be found within the word search, it is important to look at the work in order develop an understanding of what words are relevant to my practice, and therefore what words may be included in the word search.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Relief prints on rice paper

My latest material discovery is rice paper. I have never seen rice paper like this before. It has an incredible pattern. Simply rolling ink onto the surface reveals the pattern in more detail.

When printing with other materials such as the sponges and jelly, the pattern of the rice paper overrides the pattern of the stamp. Therefore, I feel that the more subtler qualities of these stapes are lost on the rice paper, and so a different surface should be used for these types of print.

Changing state

As I enjoy watching my seeds grow into little plants, and watching the peppers turn from green to yellow, I am conscious of the other materials in my studio that are changing state.

The banana leaf that originally was a fresh green, and fitted well into the corner of the room, has shrunk, is curling up, and is turning brown.          


What began as a repetitive surface of multiple undulating screen printed strips of paper of equal height and width has become a less predictable pattern as some of the pieces of paper have become detached from the sheet of paper that they were attached to. This makes for a less controlled and more experimental surface.

I experimented with a new recipe for the jelly, this time using powder and food colouring. I will make another batch using jelly cubes, and monitor how this reacts to being out of the fridge.

After one day out of the fridge, the jelly has retained much of its shape, but a small puddle of blue water has emerged. I am intrigued by the pace at which it melts, and thought that it would turn to liquid quicker than it has.

The spaghetti sticks that I inserted into the jelly have come out.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Sometimes size does matter

Today I have been working on my largest screen to date. I usually print without using the arm on the printing press as I prefer to feel the squeegee directly, but due to the size of this screen, using the arm was a must.

Even with the arm, printing on this scale is a challenge due to my size. Because I cannot reach over the screen, it is not possible for me to apply a strong and even force over the entire screen, and so the areas closer to where I am positioned are printed more clearly than the areas further away.

The image is a repetitive tally chart pattern intended to be printed repeatedly over a large surface to suggest a the duration over which it was made. I am slightly concerned that it may be regarded as a product of boredom, and be associated with prisoners counting the days they have been in prison, but want for it to be suggestive of the labour intensive activity that forms the image, and indicate an element of obsessiveness with mark making. 

I began printing with black ink in order to get a good idea of how the print will turn out and detect any problem areas. 

I then worked my way through different colours, hoping to achieve a gradual shift from one colour to the next.

Monday, 20 July 2015

A tropical hideout

I found another new material the other day; banana leaf!

I have fond memories of making dens and hideouts in my childhood, and when I recently saw the shiny emergency blanket in my studio, I was reminded of how I used to hang sheets over the washing line and create my own version of a tent. Sometimes my friends and I would move the furniture in the living room, erect the clothes horse, gather cardboard boxes and create dens.

I made my own version of a hideout in the studio.

Observing the creative process

As artists like PJ Harvey, Mike Figgis and FKA Twigs allow members of the public to observe their creative process, the Front Row episode on Friday 17th July examined what both artist and fan get out of the experience. Instances such as being witness to a musician recording an album, or a visual artist installing an exhibition, allow the public to see 'behind the scenes', hear the discussions that happen between the artist (in the broadest sense of the word) and the team working with them.

The creative process is demystified, and the audience gets an incite into an relatively private space. 
Participation in process is not a new concept, but the current generation are very open to process. The programme was keen to point out that although the younger generation are raised with Facebook and social media being normal, hence the sharing of information with a wide audience is common practice, those from older generations are also joining in with such practice.

But what is it like for the viewer and the artist engaging in this experience? Does the situation seem staged? The viewer an outsider looking at something happen, or a participant involved in something? How is the experience improved for the audience? Michael Morris from ArtAngel explained that in a recent project of this kind, they tried to heighten the experience of the viewer by setting the situation in a kind of vitrine, like a sculpture in itself, with a lot for the viewers to take in. 

"There are generations of people who do not want to be passive spectators, they want to be engaged participants, they want to know more, they want to not just consume the final product, but somehow have an experience of the process".

As for the artists, lots of artists want to be left alone when they are working. Some would find it difficult to get things done because they would be regularly distracted or interrupted by people asking questions.

I have been thinking about the writing of this blog, which is, in effect, the kind of sharing of information to a wide public via the internet, that the programme mentioned. I find keeping the blog it useful, and regard it as an online sketchbook, and a record of the progression of a work or exhibition. It is also very rewarding when someone gets in contact with comments about my work and suggestions of things that may interest me. So, please do continue to do that! My blog provides a chronological record of my ideas, and it is interesting to review how the work comes into being.

I hope that you enjoy viewing my blog, and am always open to feedback and comments, so please do get in touch with your thoughts.

send me an email: helen.shaddock(at)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Thinking about scale and size

I am conscious that at the moment quite a lot of the things in my space are of a similar scale. I need to introduce both larger and smaller work in order to add more variety also to vary the intensity of the work, having some dense areas and others that are sparse.

One of my options for large scale work is to print onto fabric. A simple repeated mark could be used, and I'm thinking of the colours being very subtle, perhaps a white print onto a creamy material.

I also want to try printing a repetitive pattern of marks onto wallpaper. The image above is a preliminary example of the type of marks for the wallpaper.

I am considering linking the wall, floor and ceiling by forming a band or bands of colour that wrap around the space in a loop/s. If I create bands going in different directions, they will cross each other. The point at which both bands cross could be a different colour to the bands, and could be a focal point.