Northampton High School

I've been away for the past week, working as Artist in Residence with girls aged 7 and 8 at Northampton High School in Hardingstone, Northamptonshire.  This is the third time I've been asked to work there and its always a pleasure.  This year was especially enjoyable as the project was themed around the school's beautiful wild area.  Regular readers of Tumbling Hills already know that I love working outdoors and find the natural world a constant source of inspiration and joy.

The May blossom has been particularly splendid  this spring and the school's wild area was full of green and white abundance under bright blue skies and warm sunshine when we went out there to observe and make sketches.  With many lovely trees, wild flowers and a large pond, the girls were spoilt for choice.  Back in the classroom girls made individual paper collage pieces ready to be combined into a giant collage running along the back of the stage in the assembly hall.

I'm really pleased with how the final piece came together and impressed by the intricacy and inventiveness demonstrated by the little artists. I would not have expected them to be able to concentrate for so long on the subtle variations in bark, leaf form and overall shape, and to render these so well in the medium of cut and ripped paper.  I had a great time composing the final image you can see here, although it took me a long time to get the placements just right.

These photos don't do justice to the real thing - being set back on a stage, the lighting was quite tricky.  Its hard to choose a favourite bit but I love the pond, especially as it doesn't worry about matters of scale and exists in its own reality...

Spring Has Well And Truly Sprung

Crossing over the Rochdale Canal just outside  Hebden Bridge yesterday, I saw this lovely scene of verdant tranquility. Spring is always amazing, you can never become blase about the metamorphosis from brown to green.

Woodcut Course on 22nd May 2010

I am running another woodcut printmaking course on Saturday 22nd May at my studio in Hebden Bridge.  The courses have proved very popular and participants on previous days have created some very interesting and attractive woodcut prints, as can be seen in earlier posts below and on Brooklyn Studios blog.  

The intensive one day course will run from 10 am to 4 pm and is suitable for beginners and those with experience.  The course fee is £50 for the day, including all materials.  For more information or to book a place, you should contact Angie Rogers, Brooklyn Studios, Unit 3, Hangingroyd Lane, Hebden Bridge HX7 7DD, telephone 0788 4307546 or send a message to  the (at) should be the conventional symbol but I'm hoping this post will bypass the spam robots. 

If you have never done woodcuts or indeed any other form of printmaking, don't be put off -  the process is very straightforward and easy to get to grips with, and the results can be quite magical.

Cyanotypes and the Alphabet

This Spring is turning out to be a time when I can complete some unfinished projects and reassess the direction in which my work is going.

A couple of years ago I ran a children's art project exploring aspects of the ruined site of an innovative open air school for children in a wood in Bradford.  We made beautiful blue and white cyanotype prints using the leaves and flowers growing in the woodland.  A cyanotype is a very simple kind of photogram that uses sunlight to power a chemical reaction on paper.

During the research stages of the project we kept finding small fragments of pottery - remains left from when the school burned down in the 1960s.  The most evocative items were two little adjoining pieces of a child's alphabet plate, but not the usual alphabet, this was the sign language alphabet for the deaf, so all around the edge of the plate were tiny hand signals.

I decided to teach the project children to sign the alphabet and take photographs of their hands spelling out a message, with a view to making a book.

It seemed appropriate to tint the photos blue in keeping with the cyanotypes we made and the archetypal blue and white pottery fragment. In the end however, whilst the concertina contents went on display, I didn't get a chance  to make covers and complete the book.  But now finally 'An Alphabet Across Time' is finished I'm pleased to say.  Its a unique book and I don't imagine there will ever be any other copies.