Monday, 15 April 2013

Well, they say it's better to be busy than bored...

but I'm not sure I'm convinced about that!!

I can honestly say that I have spent the last few weeks running around like a headless chicken...I just seem to have lots going on at the moment!!

"So what the hell have you been doing?" I hear you ask. Well, let me tell you...

I've now finished my latest commission piece. Couldn't show it to you till it had been given to the recipient but it was received last week and I've been told that it was a HUGE hit (Phew!). It is another example of the 'Tree of Life' pictures that I offer and every single thing contained in it relates to Gail and her life...even down to the morse code on one of the branches :-)

I have completed the first illustration for the Sci-Fi book of short stories that I am working on. I can't show you that but I can show you a doodle that I did based on one of my ideas for it (The finished piece looks very different).

I have been approached about producing three images for a Thai charity. They will be printed on T-shirts and sold to raise funds for a children's education project. Yup, you guessed it...I've agreed to do it (for free) because, you know, I don't have anything else going on at the moment!! They want something based around a commission piece I did. They like the hands and the Buddha so I will be playing about with these ideas. (This is the commission piece which prompted them to contact me)

What else? Oh yes, ages ago I said that I wanted to do a 'Four seasons' painting based on my silver leaf the time I was approached by a buyer who said that they would be interested in purchasing them if I went ahead. I got conformation last week that they do indeed want to go now I have to pull my finger out and actually paint them!! This is the pic that sparked it all off!

On Thursday I went to London to attend the book launch of my lovely friend Caroline Smailes. Her latest novel 'The Drowning of Arthur Braxton' has just been released and I am absolutely loving it!! (She has blogged about it here). She writes beautifully and I think that this is perhaps her best book to date...but don't take my word for it...go get yourself a copy! You can buy it here

Then on Saturday I travelled from London to Portsmouth where I was speaking about collaboration at the lovely Denyse King's 'What's your story?' book launch. She has been Portsmouth's writer in residence for the last year and has been running workshops all over the city the results of which have been complied and formed into a book. During that time (she is one hell of a busy lady!) she has also written a number of her own books including a children's book called 'Realand' which is the first in her Portal Series. (You can buy all her books here). She sent chapter 1 to a poet, an illustrator (me) and a photographer and asked us to produce something based on her writing. It was an honour to take part..not so much to do the speaking in front of loads of people cause I hate that...but I was honoured to have the opportunity to produce something inspired by her words.

I'm now off to Amsterdam to spend the week drawing and painting so I shall leave you with the image that I created for DJ's Realand.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Story Box Update

I am back! My commission piece is finished and the client is really pleased with it (YAY!!). I thought, before I start work on my next project, I would pop back here and give you an update on how the Story Box project went.

It was absolutely fascinating! There were 9 of us...some were writers, others were theatre directors and some of us, like me, were visual artists. We started off by looking at writing materials and methods and got to examine parchment and medieval documents that has been re-used to cover court books. One of them was just amazing...multi layered...writing over writing over writing over red illustrations that could only just be seen! It was utterly beautiful! Then we looked at a map of Stockton which had been drawn onto the skin of a sheep (lasts longer than paper!)...when it was spread out you could actually make out the shape of the animal! Incredible! We then had the opportunity of learning about the history of wax seals...some were HUGE and really ornate with family crests etc but my favourites were the ones of the 'commoners' which featured things like scissors (for the sheep shearer) and a knife (for the local butcher). The larger ones hung from the documents but the smaller were actually stitched in!

We then looked at how the archives reveal, in amazing detail, how our ancestors lived and the customs and practices they took for granted...which, I have to say, where rather alien to my modern eyes. We saw a map that depicted which parishes were responsible for which parts of a local road. It was drawn up so each parish knew who was responsible for repairs to the road and that was dependent on who owned the looked extremely complicated and apparently caused a lot of consternation as you had one long stretch belonging to one with a wee square right in the middle of it which belonged to another!

We read an extract from a will which really fascinated me....basically the woman had three sons...she left everything to the third son who was told to give each of the other two a weekly allowance. She referred to her two other sons as useless layabouts who would just squander their inheritance and who couldn't be trusted. Wonder what they did! Must have been bad for her to actually put that in writing!

We got to flip through a 'letter book' which was from 1704 and contained draft letters from Edmund Estcourt of Burton Hill, Malmesbury. There were all sorts in there...letters asking for money, letters about life to his sister, letters placing an order at the butchers...fascinating! We also read a number of 'Pauper' letters which were mostly written phonetically asking various local parishes for woman had been left with five children to feed after her husband had vanished and she was writing to the Parish where she was born (not the one she lived in...that wasn't how it worked) asking for them to send money...she wrote that it would be cheaper for them to just send her money rather than have her move back to the Parish. The amount of information was just mind blowing and we only touched on a fragment of it!

The afternoon was spent browsing and I did a few drawings which I plan to play about with! I got kind of fascinated by the crinkles made by the folding of the maps...the number of hands the maps must have passed through over the years...the folds looked like a map of their own and I spent a very happy afternoon doodling.

I also met some fabulous people! Two that I particularly connected is a lecturer at Swindon art college and the other was actually one of her students. I will definitely be seeing them again :-)

Anyway, here are some pics that I took on the day

The Road Map (am going to do some painting based on this)

This is the map drawn on the back of the sheep. 
Can't really see the sheep in the pic :-( but the map itself is still beautiful!


Signatures from the 1600's