52 Squared

Thought it was about time I posted about 52 Squared, a collaborative blog project I've been doing with my artist friend June Russell.  Every week since the beginning of 2010 we've been posting a square format image each on the broad theme of 'Journey'. The images are displayed side by side, mine on the left and June's on the right.  We never consult about what we are going to post, but always try to respond to the combination of images from the previous week. 
It would be possible to cheat, but what would be the point in that?

Its amazing how often we seem to be on the same wavelength, making the same visual connections.  Some weeks it really is uncanny, for example week 28 when June posted a photo of the head and arching neck of an ancient Greek? horse statue from Corfu and I posted a photo of an old curling, rusty gatepost from Calderdale.  Both images convey the idea of restrained coiled energy.

This project is so enjoyable, for the elements of surprise and synchronicity, chance and challenge, and I'm shocked to realise we are more than half way through the year now.
To view 52 Squared follow this link: http://52squared.blogspot.com  

Watershed - Inspired By Landscape

Exciting news!  I've been chosen to be the resident artist for the Watershed Landscape Project in 2011 focussing on our wonderful moors and reservoirs here in the South Pennines.

When I saw the call for proposals way back in the Spring, my heart skipped a beat, to read my dream job description, and now I can hardly believe its actually going to happen.

I can't wait to get started and today I met Char March, who'll be the resident writer during the same period.  I'm still taking it all in, but will post more when I have a bit more information. Its brilliant to have some work lined up for next year, and to know I'll be spending even more time immersed in our landscape.

Insight Exhibition at Earth Spirit in Hebden Bridge

Its the final few days of the photography exhibition where I've been showing my first proper cyanotypes and mini photographic books, alongside interesting and beautiful work by three other photographers, so if you're in the area its well worth taking a look.

The gallery upstairs at Earth Spirit is a lovely space for showing work as it's so clean and airy with lots of natural light from big windows. The exhibition has drawn many visitors and received a very positive response.

Pontefract Liquorice Festival

On Sunday I was with my friend Viv delivering a free liquorice jewellery making workshop for families at Pontefract Liquorice Festival, paid for by Wakefield Council.  It was a lovely sunny day and our marquee was positioned right on the main drag by all the action so we had 5 solid hours of intense confectionery stabbing!

A giant load of liquorice, jelly babies and midget gems in 3 Kg bags was donated by the sponsors Tangerine Confectionery, and by the end of the afternoon it was almost completely gone.  The four lovely lads above waited very patiently in a long queue before being able to make their adornments and I was really pleased they let me take their picture.  I only managed to snatch a few, we were just too busy trying to keep the edible embellishments rolling out.

We met lots of great people and a special thanks goes out to Brenda from Surrey who battled through the seething melee in her wheelchair to bring us a cup of tea each - what a star.

If you've never been to this event, it really is worth going, for the great atmosphere and the on-street entertainment provided.  This year there were some amazing sights, my favourite being a bright green strangely beautiful ostrich-like bird with an equally vibrant green rider - (actually all one talented person on stilts).

Cyanotype Photograms

The past month has been madly busy with all kinds of ups and downs and one whole week involving Cyanotype mania.

The lovely Sarah and Helen offered me an opportunity to take part in an exhibition of photographic work in their beautiful gallery space above Earth Spirit in Hebden Bridge over the arts festival period.

Stupidly, I put myself under a lot of pressure by deciding to have a go at doing cyanotype photograms from scratch, using the chemicals I bought over 2 years ago, and to work on a large scale on thick watercolour paper.  Things kept going wrong with the chemistry (I had no weighing scales), the weather became rainy and windy and some of the wild plants kind of went past their sell-by-date. I was running out of time and getting in a panic.  Luckily the weather suddenly became sunny and stable and further on-line research showed me where I'd been going wrong with too much hydrogen peroxide bleaching out my prints instead of speeding up the oxidation process.

For logistical reasons I was working at home rather than my small studio space, so making the cyanotypes also involved complete chaos and mess in my kitchen although I was very careful not to contaminate anything to do with food...

The chemical solution had to be painted on the watercolour paper with a big brush, whilst grovelling on the floor, so why did I choose to use a circular motif I wonder?  Because I love circles actually, and using a disused wire circle from a lampshade as a guide and a lovely wide hake brush, it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined it would be to get a decent shape.  The cyanotype solution dries to a wonderful pale lemony green before its exposed to UV light.

After exposure to the sun, the paper is rinsed in a water bath and gradually the Prussian Blue and white pattern is revealed in all its cyan glory.  I especially love the areas where the sun has partially exposed and you get pale blue shadowy areas.  I also tried some more abstract arrangements of the plant structures but although these show promise for future work, all the ones I did during this session went wrong, with the colour bleaching out or the paper getting torn etc.

I can't wait to get started again, having invested in some digital scales to mix up the chemistry more accurately, and having made a timed test strip to guage how long the Yorkshire sun needs to perform the alchemy!  The two images above show Horse Tail and Cow Parsley, and Foxgloves.  I hated picking the foxgloves when they look so glorious in the wild, and spread out my raids over a wide area to avoid making too much impact on any one habitat.