All in a Gardeners Year

All in a Gardeners Year … A Guide to Common Hazards… Is finished (well almost)

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I did it … All artwork was completed by the end of July and I have even printed out the first prototype proofs of the book in a mini version. It has now entered the resting, thinking phase of production (or rather the project is waiting for the next deadline). Meanwhile I have returned to Lithography and Letterpress Printing where I am still working on a gardening theme. Any results will have to await the next blog entry.

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Gardening Progress

Gardening … Work(s) in Progress … I can never call myself a gardener but I have friends who are seriously good gardeners with amazing gardens.

MellieGardenBkDrawingsWI regularly visit beautiful gardens like Powys Castle throughout the year but at home I tend to get results closer to a natural/wild effect. (A Darwinian survival of the fittest result which is entirely appropriate for his birthplace of Shrewsbury.)  I have long known that gardening is a creative activity fraught with challenges, disappointments, surprises and hazards. It is the hazards/injuries/accidents befalling a friend that recently caught my creative imagination leading to a new book on my drawing board!  I would like it to be finished by the end of next week. Realistically  that is unlikely to happen but I plan to design it around a 12 month calendar so when the book is finished it will have year round interest.

Cutting Into Books & Politics. (The pen is mightier than the sword)

A new collaborative ‘Altered Books’ project with Angela Martin is currently in the Exhibition … Revisiting the Laws of England on show at The Sidney Nolan Trust alongside paintings by the late Sidney Nolan

The core exhibition subject is … Magna Carta. Our exhibit is called …  ‘No one is above the Law’

Before making the final artwork first there was historical research leading on to a contemporary political investigation. Surprisingly on the 800th anniversary there were worrying similarities. King John managed to repeal Magna Carta and the current conservative government is hoping to get rid of the Human Rights Act. Although the characters involved and surrounding circumstances are 800 years apart much is similar … The notion that you can Get rid of ‘the law’ if you can’t get around it. We managed in our two shared law volumes to squash Kings, A Pope and a few politicians in-between the pages. We sincerely hope that the spirit of Magna Carta and the Human Rights legislation that grew from it really does remain powerful enough to crush current and future upstarts.

Magna Carta Invite (2)

The Exhibition will go on tour later this year … all details from the Sidney Nolan Trust (link above)

Lithography on stone.

Draw, reverse, draw again, process, process a bit more, ink up & finally …. take a print. Once I set eyes on the beautiful, perfectly smooth, creamy limestone and saw examples of the graphic possibilities I was hooked. I used one of my 28days drawings and replicated it in reverse while swallows flew in and out, and the geese honked noisely outside. Getting my head around the process took a bit of time but with excellent tuition from Gini Wade I produced my first prints.


The small stone on the large litho press in the grain barn at The Sidney Nolan Trust


The first prints hanging up to dry  (A very beautiful place to make prints)

Off to the (Book Arts) Fair

BABE (Bristol Book Arts Event) at the Arnolfini was held over two days last weekend … April 11th & 12th. All 3 floors of the Arnolfini gallery were full to bursting with exhibitors showing & selling the widest possible variety of artists books. My table had both original print books and digital books created from prints and drawings. It was very busy all the time and sales were rewardingly brisk which was very satisfying after so much time spent making beforehand. So much time making that this post is appearing after the event when it should have been posted beforehand.

The additional value from the Fair was the sharing and the meetings that occurred both between the participants and with the visitors. I came away inspired with new ideas, new ways of working and enthusiam.

Here is some of the new work organised into books. Overcoming Creative Block made into a set of 3 books of  “The 28 Day Drawing Challenge in 2014” and Campervan Jamboree from a set of drawings started last year and finally finished this March. The Snowdrops and Wild Sweet Pea Books are reduction lino cuts cut and printed in March/April.

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Back to the drawing board

March 21st (Spring Equinox)
Back to the drawing board …Observation, Objectivity and Discipline of Drawing for 28 days. The month of February

I have always placed importance on drawing that is objective, accurate and expressive combined with lots of practice. However I frequently don’t draw often enough to meet my own expectations so when I began the 28 day drawing challenge I wasn’t sure exactly what I would draw or even if I would be able to keep up with the challenge. I was hoping for a destination without knowing if there was one . I managed 28 drawings, and quite a few extras keeping up and drawing every day. I knew my subject matter woud be children playing and doing but it took about 10 days to know what the destination would be … A “doing” abecedary. I slipped back into my illustrative style of working from years ago and it was suddenly easy. The discipline of doing a drawing a day meant my drawing improved as I became more critical and more familiar with subject & technique.


The boundaries I set for myself acted as restrictions on my natural tendency to wander creatively off course. I restricted the time, technique, size & the all important subject matter. The results should now be in Glasgow for the exhibition opening this evening.
Will I keep it up? ….

14 HuggingWWell I have just bought myself a beautiful handmade blank journal … just for drawing.

Angels Exhibition

Still time to see the Angel Festival at St. George’s church in Clun as it is open daily until January 4th Porch AngelsW

My angels are hanging in the entrance porch and there are over 100 more angels inside created by everyone from professional artists to schoolchildren.

Christmas Angels

Christmas Angels

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Three life sized figurative prints of “angels” are now finished and on their way to Clun in South Shropshire to hang in St George’s church porch.. They are going there to celebrate the Angel Festival taking place all over Christmas beginning next Friday December 12th.
Each Angel was made from 3 floating layers partially stitched together, A background wood and mono print onto fabric, a middle layer of stitched & glued collage and a transparent top layer of painted net.

The Angel Festival was inspired by the 22 Angels carved in wood up in the roof of St Georges church. Amazingly the carvings, survived the reformation possibly because they were hidden by a false ceiling.
Some of the angels appear to have been restored, most likely when there was a major restoration of the church in 1877

clun angelinRoofWebOne of the Angels looking down. The wingspan is approx 1300mm

Remembering World War 1



Today I finished and then exhibited my altered book  about two major battles of WW1, The Marne & The Somme. I found the book which gave accounts of several historic battles in a second hand bookshop. First I took it apart, removed all but the WW1 references and then printed exploding poppies and barbed wire over all the remaining pages on both sides. I then reconstructed the book with a new cover.

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Today it went on display beneath one of the five poppy hangings I  printed with the same silk screens. The book & hangings are in the display by Marches Book Arts Group  in the beautiful church of St Michael’s in Waters Upton (North of Shrewsbury). The exhibition can be seen this weekend on Sat. 8th Nov between 12noon – 4.00 & then on Remembrance Sunday 9th Nov. between 10.15 – 12.15.

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This is the forth venue for the work since June and because of the date this time has extra special significance.

WW1 watersUpton Book PathWEBThis is part of the altered book path leading to the church door.

Ancestral Clothes Books

‘Ancestral Clothes’ books are now ready for Manchester Artists Book Fair this weekend

small ancestral clothes2WEBThe books are made from original collagraph prints cut and sewn together to make items of clothing  including hats and gloves to keep away the cold.
I keep returning to clothes (real & metaphorical) representing inheritance from the past and protection in the present. This time the scale is much smaller than before (approx. 20 x 20 cm)