Edward Teasdale

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I’m very excited this week to show work and thoughts from UK furniture designer and maker Edward Teasdale.

Edward Teasdale appeared on the UK Crafts scene in the 1980’s. He worked as a furniture designer in industry, a maker and later a teacher, before once again establishing his own workshop in the Lake District, from which he now works, creating pieces for exhibit in selected galleries and for individual clients and collectors.

Elemental and enigmatic, with the intense energy of a rising wave, something alive hums from the pieces below.

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“Like every other maker my choices of material and process are not arbitrary but conditional on careful thought and experience, subject to practical and value judgements. So too with stylistic preferences where my personal aesthetic is probably more immediately connected to local conditions and a long term bond with the natural landscape, particularly the history and characteristics of the Lakes area of Cumbria. Here, the objects of my surroundings; mountains, moors, estuaries and lakes have a pervading and affecting elemental presence, particularly when experienced in what some call inclement weather. Everywhere in the landscape there are indicators of life; in natural light, wind, water and woodlands, in the mellowing influence of time and weather, in the simple disciplined human interventions to contain and control and in the value in striking a balance between the natural and man-made.”

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“Salvaged painted wood is a waste product of urban renewal and unlike the natural unfinished wood varies a great deal in visual character. Collecting and responding to this material is a new situation every time and involves a more conscious image building process, making each coloured piece of furniture more unexpected and unrepeatable.”

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From the beginning, Edward made “small consciously modest crafted objects comprising a basic utility and somewhat rough hewn appearance”, using found woods.

“I was determined to adopt a light touch approach in terms of production (small, basic, ethical) and make modest things that communicated my thoughts, values and visual ideas, but were also very practical.”

His relationship with wood began much earlier than this, he remembers:

“I loved climbing into trees when I was young and with school friends built shelters every summer out of natural materials in the woods around my home in the Lake District.

“I progressed from whittling bows, arrows and fishing rods (out of Hazel and Yew) to making sledges, bogies and rafts out of reclaimed materials using my fathers hand tools.

“Without noticing I must have developed a real interest in wood, as well as some skills in designing and making things. Now I appreciate that it’s the cleanness, and the visual and tactile warmth of wood, coupled with its versatility as a practical and aesthetic medium that appeals to me.

“I love the smell of wood, its density, its bulk, its texture, and the variety of types and surfaces available. I do however like to think of it, and work it, as a non-precious material.”

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“In construction terms my objects have the same economy as country fences, gates and stiles (not self consciously detailed or elaborated in design or craft terms). I use locally available found materials; especially those that already have worn and naturally aged surfaces. I stick to basic furniture requirements (storage box, seating bench, table surface)”

“I have tried to break with certain practices in my field choosing not to use exotic, plundered and endangered woods and not to use complex high consumption production processes. The finishes created do not aim for the perfectly controlled appearance of machined materials and production but retain much of the rawness and weathering of the reclaimed material used.”

“It is the quality of what I can achieve rather than the quality of what I use that matters most to me.”

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“Interacting with the physical world has always been central to my life. The natural landscape and built environment inspire me equally but consideration of such things as Art, Sculpture, Architecture and Environmentalism have all played their part in forming my work.

One of my original motivations was to capture something of the qualities of traditional rural buildings that (very naturally) meet essential needs through building by hand with local materials.

The character of my work is now well established, new ideas are inspired by the materials I find or client needs and from sketches and scaled drawings I make the work entirely myself in a small garden workshop.”

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All finished pieces are marked (usually centrally on the underside of the bottom) with a 2 digit date stamp e.g. 93 and a separate stamp in the form of a leaf. Most pieces are in private homes and collections in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand but examples are also in the possession of the British Council, Arts Council of Great Britain, Usher Gallery Lincoln, UK.

You can read more about Edward on his site here.

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Emily Sutton

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This week, I thought I’d share some of the great work created at the hand of illustrator and maker Emily Sutton.

Emily’s printed work incorporates lino cut and screen printing to create memorable images using a bold, “then and now” type of colouring, filled with incredible detail and a lively imagination.

Inspired by folk art of all kinds, Emily is also influenced by 20th century illustrators such as Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, and the American lithographed children’s books of a similar era.

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Emily uses her illustrative eye in 3D form too, incorporating her love for pattern and detail into these quirky and unusual wooden objects, inspired in part by the weird and the wonderful found in museums and antique shops.

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How about a shoal of fish?

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And how about these fabric birds? I love how she has managed to apply an illustrative effect here, giving some wonderful detail.

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Emily is currently working on illustrations for her own children’s book as well as producing work for various exhibitions- see the “Shows etc” link on her site for details.

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Sandra Crisp

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 Sandra Crisp was born in Cheshire, UK and studied at Chester College of Art.  She earned a BA (Hons) Graphic Design from Leeds Polytechnic graduating in 1989 and received her MA Fine art printmaking from Wimbledon School of Art in 1993.  She has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, and taught printmaking and digital media in various London colleges.

Through Sandra’s work, you are taken on an almost breathtaking ride of memory, information, design, print and line, captured in fantastic layered detail. Exciting, fresh and invigorating, with a beguiling dark edge..

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Cloudseeders (The Bigger Picture) 2007, etching and chine colle, 56 cm x 72 cm

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In Sandra’s words..

 “The printmaking techniques I use include photo etching, chine colle (collage) and aquatint with some hard ground drawing in some of the prints. In order to make a photo etching, the artwork has to be transferred onto clear film or acetate (images on paper can also be made transparent using ordinary vegetable oil)  I use a photocopier to do this and increase the darkness of the copies so that the dark areas will block out the light effectively, ready for when the image is later transferred to etching plate using light sensitive emulsion and an ultra violet (UV) exposure unit or light box. The artwork is designed using collage techniques and drawing (using just a mouse) within graphics software before transferring the images to zinc plate.

By making the black and mid-tones of an image darker with the copier a lot of the detail is intentionally lost thus creating a version of the image that automatically appears aged or archival. This is further developed by fairly random biting techniques such as open biting when the plate is left in the acid to bite textures into the image. Also, I think the process of etching is very seductive and a bit retro-looking as it is historically a pretty old technique dating back several centuries. There is something very human about the way this technique can record traces or decisions made over time, permanently etched into the surface of the metal plate. My intention for the Cloudseeder and Zipper series being that the prints appear to be eroded found fragments or historic records, but really the imagery is entirely contemporary in terms of subject matter; connecting it to the ‘here and now’

It is really not my idea to create a sense of nostalgia in terms of yearning for the past in the prints, I am far too fascinated by the present tense for that. But the image of the crowd moving around in Xerocodes (‘Xero’ refers to ‘Xerox’ in terms of the photocopy process described above) has a slightly nostalgic feel, like an old movie. I chose to use it because it sets up an odd narrative: Where are the people going/have just arrived from, and why?

I always have quite specific reasons for selecting images, I hope to raise a questioning within this but don’t expect the viewer to decipher all my clues in order to understand the image! For example, a ‘Cloudseeder’ is a futuristic prototype from a BBC TV documentary Five Ways to Save the World’ . The film examines engineering design prototypes designed to deal with climate change, such as Cloudseeders; ocean-going craft spraying fine water particles into the atmosphere –  creating artificial clouds to protect the Earth from the fierce heat of the Sun’s rays.  Recycled and redrawn visuals from the film have resurfaced repeatedly across several series of work including a large format digital print entitled 5Ways to Save…,  and Diagram of an Artificial Tree 2009-11. Also previous etching series Cloudseeder and Zipper Series 2006. Most of the other imagery is based upon an article about a zip factory in China…

The multi-plate prints in the Cloudseeder and Zipper series are loosely based on the look of a newspaper page, or webpage where different images or text appear close to one another, lined up in sequences to give the look of an organic page layout- but they do not really make any sense, like disjointed stories, columns and paragraphs  broken away.”

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Cloudseeders (5 Ways to Save the World) 2007, etching and chine colle, 28 cm x 28 cm

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Xerocodes iiv, 2001, 56 cm x 76 cm

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 “Today, information continually bombards us – we spend a lot of time in an ‘information cloud’ via the Internet, smart phones, social networking, blogs etc. Everything is digital and fast, demanding equal attention but most of the time all we can really do is scan all this detail briefly and hope that nothing important gets missed: So much information scrolling by, but which to choose?

“I find, collect, redraw and archive visuals from different sources such as the Internet and scanned media cuttings then recycle and combine these with my own materials such as photos and drawings. Visuals elements from both sources are layered together often over long periods of time. This contemplative process intends to slow down the rapid stream of information – to discover what is meaningful; I sift, collate and edit until new connections between different materials emerge. Visuals are captured from the information deluge ‘out there’ which are then processed subjectively through my own thought process, transforming them into something new.  I suppose I am questioning in what ways we are unavoidably affected by this sea of information and how such complexity may be represented or processed in order to create something meaningful or even personal from all this….”

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Soft Terrain3

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“The digital piece ‘ SoftTerrain3’ continues the digital work started around 2001; this became a natural progression as I was already processing a lot of my printmaking visuals through digital techniques; I now found that I could concentrate purely on the digital work to develop my ideas in entirely new directions. Soft Terrain 3 is created using many layers which were recombined repeatedly until I arrived at the look I wanted. It is a very large image file: 110 cm x 100 cm at 300 dpi resolution so a lot of embedded detail only really appears when the piece finally emerges from the large format printer (This detail is not really visible on a webpage unfortunately). The density and saturation of complex detail contained within the image is also determined by this huge file size. The idea being to create a subtle sense of visual overload using many layers which appear to be in a constant state of flux; a map that is constantly transforming over time.”

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Diagram of an Artifical Tree 2009-2011

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Slowboat with Lines

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Cutout Map

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“pile-up, thumbnail images & map fragments

(thinking about) cascading / compression of information, transient

one reading rapidly obscured by the next…

disrupted

becoming like noise, but urban visuals still there (just)”

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There is a wealth of further work and ideas, including Sandra’s recent project which creates a 3d map elevation of the city of London, set to an audio track – for this and more visit her website and blog here.
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Fabulous Folk from The Contemporary Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey

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I only had a few hours last Saturday to visit the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey, but what a fantastic few hours it was. The work and people that I met there exceeded my expectations; there was such originality, commitment and true skill on every corner.

Visiting last weekend really confirmed to me my love for work made by hand, and the magic invisibly imbued into something that has taken time and physical effort to create. A spoon that has taken five or more hours to carve from a single piece of wood, a pot formed from clay collected on the hillsides, caressed and moved into achingly beautiful shapes, a lampshade decorated with wrap after wrap of a single piece of thread, tucked so gently into the other side. These skills and actions have value and meaning and feeling, and they must be maintained and supported. This is so important.

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JULIA JOWETT

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Julia was one of the first people that I met on Saturday, in the “one year on” tent, showcasing artists and craftspeople who were one year into their new businesses.

Julia works dense hand embroidery into metal gauzes and figuratively manipulated wire lines, before combining them with drawing and screen printing onto fabric and paper. This combination of sculpture and drawn elements, sometimes also incorporating words and phrases, made for a really engaging series of work that I was really drawn into. Each one feels a little like a keepsake box, a collection of memories or stories.

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You can make contact with Julia on her blog, here.

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ADAM BUICK

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 I felt an instant connection to Adam’s work, as I wandered into his small space in the corner of the tent. Something wonderfully quiet, natural and peaceful sang out into the surrounding crowds.

Looking on his work, I felt a strong sense of the sea and the landscape, something very close to nature. I later learned that Adam lives and works by the coast in West Wales.

Once home, I was fascinated to read more about his work, and took a look at his website and blog. I spent a good while reading there, and found him to be not only an intriguing artist but also an engaging writer and thinker.

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Adam has been recently involved in a self directed project entitled “Earth to Earth” . He placed an unfired clay jar onto a coastal hill at Carn Treliwyd, Pembrokeshire, Wales, and recorded its gradual weathering away to the environment as a series of photographs, one taken every 33 seconds. On his blog he makes comparisons to his process of firing in the studio, to the effects of the weather on his work. As he says “I am still committing the jar to the elements, air and water instead of fire and there is still a transformation.”

The end result is a moving and dreamlike time lapse film, showing not only the gradual disintegration of the jar, but the changing wild landscape, sea, movement of animals, and the sky and stars. It spoke to me of many things, of resilience, of fragility, and the power of the natural world.

The film was shown at an outdoor event in the centre of Buenos Aires on the 17th of May. You can watch a small portion of the film here.

I really encourage you to read more about this project, it is so fascinating and uplifting, and to look more closely at Adam’s beautiful work on his site.

It made complete sense as to why his work has such a quality, why it holds something of that passionate connection to nature, even in that crowded, noisy space.

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JANE BLEASE

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A warm and Autumnal hued space welcomed me in to Jane’s beautifully arranged collection of handmade lampshades, framed pictures, bookmarks and jewellery.

I was really taken by the absolute precision and care it must take to wrap each single piece of thread round and through the wood burned holes that decorate each handcrafted piece that she works on. The shades give a beautifully warm light, and are totally unique.

Jane is based in her studio/shop at The Manchester Craft and Design Centre. You can also see more and buy her work from her website here.

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CLAIRE ARMITAGE

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Claire’s fantastic energy buzzed all about her space as I stepped in to admire her collection of handmade silk scarves. She was dressed beautifully in her own handmade dress from her own line. Once I looked more closely at the designs on each scarf, I was struck by their intricacy and individuality. Each piece of work is finished with delicately layered edgings and hand-embroidered details, and each one seems to tell some story, of the sea, the landscape and environment. They are truly original and stunningly beautiful – you really have to see them in real life to truly appreciate them.

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Claire designs and hand prints her scarves and dresses, plus undertakes work as a costume designer and illustrator from her birthplace in Cornwall. You can visit her site here.

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NIC WEBB

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Nic was the last person that I met as I made my way out from the crowds. His calm manner and friendliness drew me in to his space, filled with carefully arranged displays of hand carved, traditionally made spoons, ladles and bowls. I really enjoyed the feeling of slow moving time and focus that seemed to fall from the displays and his way of working, there was a quiet honour to each piece of work.

I love that each spoon, each bowl that he creates is slightly different, and is worked with the wood not against it, enhancing each grain and knot and forming it into something original and full of spirit and life.

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You can visit Nic’s site here.

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I hope that I have shared with you a little of the warmth and originality that I found at Bovey Tracey. If you are near at the next event I really encourage you to visit. You can read more about the festival at their website here.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to let me into their space and take photographs.

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Joseph Cornell

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Assemblage boxes by American artist, collagist, and filmmaker Joseph Cornell.

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Tilly Losch
c. 1935

 Construction, 10 x 9 1/4 x 2 1/8 in; Collection Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Bergman, Chicago

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Object (Roses des Vents)
1942-53

 Construction, 2 5/8 x 21 1/4 x 10 3/8 in; The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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Untitled (The Hotel Eden)
c. 1945

 Construction, 15 1/8 x 15 3/4 x 4 3/4 in; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

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Untitled (Medici Prince)
c. 1952

Construction, 15 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 5 in; Collection Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Shapiro, Oak Park, IL

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Toward the Blue Peninsula
1951-52

Construction, 10 5/8 x 14 15/16 x 3 15/16 in; Collection Daniel Varenne, Geneva

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I find Joseph Cornell such an intriguing character.  Self taught, he was one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage. I am in love with his sense of symmetry, both in design and colour. There is something very calming about the exactness of these boxes. Everything just fits, it works. Each square is where it is born to be, each shape leads you to the next, creating a great journey for the eye to dream upon. There are stories and surprises in every box, offering small places of contemplation and inspiration that celebrate the unique in the commonplace.

I have always been fascinated by miniature worlds, looking into something and finding a million other little scenes and universes. These give me that feeling, like gazing into a deep rockpool and imagining yourself grown tiny and swimming inside. You cannot help but try to formulate connections between the objects here, to uncover meaning and create stories.

Cornell was a passionate collector – books, prints, postcards, and printed and three-dimensional ephemera all found their way into his life and work. He was also continually keeping notes and diaries, exploring ideas and carrying out “explorations” where he would conduct research, collect material and compile extensive files on individuals or topics of interest to him. These became thought of as artworks in themselves.

There is a fascinating collection of his papers, correspondance and diaries, along with a biography, at the Archives of American Art website here. See some more of his works here.

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Illustrated Life

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For something a bit different this week, I thought I would share with you some fascinating illustrations that I came across a few weeks ago.

I found “The Complete Encyclopedia of Illustration” by J.G. Heck, in a local cafe – they have a whole wall of books to dive into there and this one caught my eye.

First published in 1851, as “The Iconographic Encyclopedia of Science, Literature and Art”, the work was based on one of the finest encyclopedias of its day, the “Bilderatlas” by Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus. It contains over 12,000 black and white engravings, illustrating just about everything a Victorian reader could have possibly imagined. It is separated into ten major sections – Mathematics and Astronomy, Natural Sciences, Geography and Planography, History and Ethnology, Military and Naval Sciences, Naval Sciences, Architecture, Mythology and Religious Rites, Fine Arts, and Technology.

Each single item is painstakingly captured – some fall into dreamlike representations of clouds, birds, and creatures, some show the fascinations and inventions of scientific fervour, and the quest for discovery. As well as finding each illustration totally fascinating, I love the language used to describe each one – the beautiful Latin names that roll off your tongue, and the intriguing descriptions which transport you back to a time of mysterious, yet to be discovered worlds.

As well as providing me with a great moment of tea and inspiration, this book has reminded me to always keep looking and noticing – in times where we feel that all is discovered, it is warming and uplifting to be reminded of the curious beauties, oddities and fascinations in the world, and the depth of human endeavour it has taken, and still takes, to discover and record them.

I hope you enjoy my selections! Click the images to see larger representations.

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Plate 26: Phenomena of clouds and light.

1-9. Phenomena in clouds

10-12. Rainbows

13. Aurora borealis

14. Midnight sun in the polar regions

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Plate 16: Theories of force and gravity; demonstrations of these and other physical laws

Including:

4. Parallelopipedon (yep) of forces

14. Illustrating Varignon’s funicular machine

17, 18. Atwood’s machine for demonstrating the freely falling of bodies

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Plate 92: Members of the orders Anseriformes, Pelecaniformes, Charadiiformes, and Sphenisciformes

Including:

1. Carbo cormoranus, cormorant

7. Anser segetum, bean goose

10. Merges cucullatus, hooded merganser

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Plate 228: Gymnasium and acrobatics

Upper division

1-12. The German gymnasium

Lower division

1-8. Acrobatic feats

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Maps of the Human Heart

I was led to these illustrations when I was reading Donna Seger’s wonderful blog Streets of Salem. I think they’re fascinating.

Supposedly created by “A Lady”, and published in 1830 by the Kellogg Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut, they are beautifully drawn, and very much reflect the times in terms of the social perceptions of men and women.

Apparently, the idealised view of “True Womanhood” was very much promoted to middle-class women at the time. Historian Barbara Welter wrote, “The attributes of True Womanhood, by which a woman judged herself and was judged by her husband, her neighbors, and her society, could be divided into four cardinal virtues—piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. … Without them … all was ashes. With them she was promised happiness and power.” 1

I’m intrigued by the outer edges – the “Country of Eligibleness”, and opposite, “The Land of Oblivion”…! (Click to enlarge)

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The man’s heart here seems mainly dominated by money, power and “The Dread of Matrimony”

You can see these, and other wonderful lithographs, at the online gallery of the Connecticut Historical Society and Museum.

Footnotes

1. Welter, Barbara. “The Cult of True Womanhood.” American Quarterly 18:2, Part I (Summer 1966), pp. 151-174.

Andrew Bird and Stephen B. Macinnis

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This week, two artists from two different countries share their work and thoughts – Andrew Bird from Derbyshire in the UK, and Stephen B. Macinnis, from Charlottetown, Canada.

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ANDREW BIRD

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I felt an instant connection to Andrew Bird’s paintings the moment that I saw them. It may be in part that I share his love for the Cornish landscape and coast, a subject often depicted in his work – but I was also instantly struck by his live sense of movement, form and colour. You can feel the breeze blowing across your face, the slide of the sea, the flash of sunlight on a coloured boat. I can feel the handmade in the gestures and strokes too, each mark has energy.

I asked him to tell me a little more about his work and practice..

“The themes in my paintings tend to come from the experience of being in a place for a period of time and the images become composites of this rather than an attempt to accurately represent a scene. I try to paint what I have seen and felt in equal measures. This could be anything from the way the light captures an object or lights up a hillside, the weather, texture on rocks, paint peeling on buildings and boats and many other things. I also try and reflect on how I experienced a place within my work.

“The process of making the work usually starts from wanting to describe a specific situation. I don’t have a rigid idea of how this will progress and let the work develop instinctively. It does, however, need to be successful in whatever the aim of the painting was at the start. I will work and re-work the whole image to achieve this. The paintings are made from many layers of paint that I build up to form textures and forms. For this I use a knife, brushes and quite often anything that comes to hand to make marks. Layers of paint are constantly scratched into to reveal underlying texture. I use recurring forms and marks within my work. These invariably represent large structures around coastal areas such as docks, harbour walls, the superstructure of ships etc. The smaller inscribed marks are usually closer detail such as steel rings on walls, groynes, buoys, windows on boats etc.

“I try to achieve a rhythm and a sense of movement throughout the composition and with the use of colour, I think that this helps to outline a sense of time rather than the image being a static snapshot.

“A large portion of my current work is based on visits to the South West of England and more specifically coastal areas of Cornwall. I find Cornwall to have a unique sense of place within the UK and find it a fascinating area to be and I hope that my work reflects this.

“Which artists do I find inspiring? I would have to include Nicolas de Staël, Patrick Heron, Scottish Colourists, Arshile Gorky, Antoni Tapies..and probably lots of others!”

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You can see more work from Andrew and make contact with him through his site, here.

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STEPHEN B. MACINNIS

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I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen’s work since the beginning of the year, when I discovered his blog, where he shares his work and documents his creative journey. Stephen is currently in the middle of a project entitled the “Long Series”, of which the works above are a part. He told me a little more about the idea:
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“I guess the best way to explain the Long Series is that I’ve always been torn between large and small work. I most often work on a smaller scale, but I enjoy working on a bigger scale too. The only problem with working large is what do I do with the work after I exhibit it? I live on an Island on the East coast of Canada and sending large work out can be expensive, and often I end up putting things in my shed, or taking them apart after they are shown.
“The Long Series became the great answer to my problem. I think of the series as one big piece with over a 1000 smaller parts. The individual paintings do stand alone, but I prefer to show them as a large installation.
There are several ways to show the work, as a large grid on a wall, as a large stack, or as selected framed paintings.
The rules I’ve set for the series are simple: 
  • The paintings are all about 12×12 inches. 
  • All done by hand. 
  • An element of chance is essential to the work.
  • No editing. If a work doesn’t seem to be successful it remains part  of the series.”

You can see Stephen’s work in context by watching the video below. I found it moving to see the work in action, a whole series of days, thoughts, moods, almost a visual diary, each one unique. The music is Stephen’s brother in law, Daniel Ledwell. You can visit Stephen’s site here.

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Smooth..soft curves to caress..

Contact Elin direct for commissions, via her site.

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RIchard is represented by by the Medici Gallery in Cork Street, London and also the McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas.

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Visit Sylphs site for more information about her work, and a list of stockists.

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I hope that you enjoyed this moment of quiet gazing!

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I Want, I Want!

The fire of aspiration, yearning, a leap of the imagination into the undiscovered and unknown. We all need these places of mystery. This well known illustration, “I want! I want”, by William Blake, is one of 18 tiny engravings, published as “For Children: The Gates of Paradise” in 1793. The book documents the course of human life. Etched in intaglio, the work is based on designs Blake drew in his notebook. I love each tiny stroke.