Tuesday, September 29, 2009

DAQ challenge: Altered Mermaid


digital collage 12ins x 12ins

This morning brought with it a most delightful surprise as I logged on to discover that following a comment left on his blog: Saint Verde Digest, Neville Trickett had linked to mine in his most recent post. If you don't already know Neville (he's been in my sidebar for some time now) do pop over to his place and take a wander through his archives of glorious visual delight and excellent good taste. He's as crucial to my morning wake-up as a good cup of coffee with a splash of gingerbread syrup.

Over at Digital Art Quirks, Donna has been shaking things up a bit and she has lassoed some of us (we are an unruly lot) into a Creative Team. My exact contribution is yet to be worked-out but there are some new challenges to be enjoyed and this latest image was in response to two: Altered Mermaid and Altered Surreal. In my usual way, I began with the first challenge subject and after taking a long time to think about it, wandered off into my own little world, by which time, the challenge had changed but what I was doing fitted it anyway. Thus "altered" has amounted to flooding a sitting room and inviting a rather grand 18th century lady to have a cup of tea.
The lady was painted by John Astley (1724-1787) who, on a sea voyage between Dublin and England, married a wealthy widow, Lady Dukinheld-Daniell, and gave up painting.

Whilst on the subject of water, the other day, I found a box of beautifully-wrecked lantern slides and am now wondering what to do with them. Here's a scan of one of them, probably the most damaged, but I love all those blotches and streaks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Clumber Street Shrine: almost there!

first and third panels

digital scrapbook layouts (each panel 7ins x 11ins)

The first panel in the triptych has been the most difficult to get right. This is probably because of the ambiguity I'm trying to achieve, suggested to me by the original condition of the photograph that I have used, which invests the souvenir of a happy occasion with a sense of anger and destruction. The photograph was purchased in Nottingham, over twenty years ago, along with the second, clearly featuring the same woman, a few years later. The young man may have been her brother but I have chosen to identify him as her intended or new husband. Had this precious family photograph been defaced by a small child, too young to know better, or were the marks and holes made by an angry child...or an angry adult? The look of defiance on the woman's face, in the second photograph, together with my estimation of the time frame during which it was taken, led me to a story of loss connected to the First World War but perhaps there is more to this story than first meets the eye: what exactly happened to the handsome but rather weak-looking young man? Was he mourned as a hero or did he desert his family, his name only to be found, a few years later, entered alongside that of another lady, in the marriage register of a church in some distant city or town?
Next week, when I've finished reworking the middle panel, I'll post all three images together, side by side. Then I'd love to hear your interpretations of the story.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Clumber Street Shrine: more work in progress


digital image 7 ins x 11 ins

view larger image here


digital image 7 ins x 11 ins

view larger image here

This is where I'm up to with the triptych that I'm working on. It is proving to be a most interesting challenge. Working on three images that will be viewed together to tell a story throws up many questions. For instance: how does the story travel across the three images? Is it linear or does it ricochet forward and backwards? What, if any, devices and/or motifs give the three a unity? Do they actually need a unity? Does each image present the story from the same vantage point, in the same scale or do I want to pull in and out of each image as a film maker might?
The scissors were far too small in the first version of the central panel. Wonderful serendipity has led me to find a pair of Victorian lace maker's scissors: perfect for this story, set in Nottingham and using lace as a story-telling device. The lace scissors are much finer and sharper than the ones in the above version of the central panel and this will refine their symbolism.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Prayer For Our Tribe

A Prayer For Our Tribe

mixed media artwork

Four phials sealed with beeswax, topped with glass and pebbles

A coil of brown paper on which is written my Mitochondrial DNA sequence.
Four letters that unite and divide us.
A map of each of my mother's mother's, back to the first Eve.

Hawthorne briars: around one of which is coiled a piece of magnetic tape on which is recorded Music by Monteverdi and J.S. Bach. The other secures a fragment of text from inside a Tibetan Prayer Wheel.
We are creatures of spirit and love.

Pieces of rock from the hill behind my house (earth); pieces of coal (fire); water from the tap in my kitchen, and air.
The elements in which we all live and battle against.

A pinch of salt; dried Rosemary leaves (for remembrance) from my garden, a rusty screw
We are creatures of cultivation, invention and creation.

We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded by a sleep. (William Shakespeare)

A little Dream Catcher made from pieces of jewelry that I have owned since I was 15 and some that were my grand mother's. An Indian bracelet with little bells; semi-precious stones, Amber from Lithuania; Garnet from India, shells, crystals, wooden beads, metal leaves and heart; a shard of glass made in the old lighthouse-factory, that was across the road from the house I grew up in; a button from a dress that was my mother's or grandmother's; copper wire.

Now it hangs in LaWendula's studio.

All that we have touched, holds our spirit.
When we create things for each other, we pass our spirit on.

One Tribe, One Heart

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Work in progress: Clumber Street Shrine


centre panel: work in progress

click here for larger image

I'm finding that regarding what I'm doing as placing objects in boxes, rather than laying them on a page, to be incredibly creatively liberating. The image posted here doesn't specifically imply the interior of a box, it's just a state of mind. This might echo back to the twenty-odd years that I spent working as a Theatrical Designer, making 1:25 scale set models.

Two days ago, I began working on a new piece, but, as often happens, something caught my eye and set me off on a completely different trail. The image above is work in progress and will be the central panel of a triptych developed from two photographs purchased twenty five years ago in Nottingham. The postcard is from my last French Trip stash and was purchased in a village flea market.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Mother's Eyes


click here for larger version
"I never thought I'd ever marry or have so many lovely children. Your Auntie Eileen was the pretty one."

My mother has always loved children and as a young girl, dreamed of being a childrens' nanny. Her Social Workers dissuaded her, saying that because of her poor eyesight, she would not be able to cope with the task of sewing that would doubtless accompany that calling. My mom went on to raise five children of which I was the first born. Despite her poor sight, she made wonderful clothes for our dolls and lovingly patched our teddies with dyed scraps of fabric from her Confirmation dress. Mom has Retinitus Pigmentosa, Macular Degeneration and, until two recent operations, she also has Cataracts. She instilled in me, her great love of the beauty that is found in Nature and the Visual Arts and she possesses the gift of Spiritual Vision.
Over the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about fading memory and fading sight; dull, smudged light; imperfect, scratched lenses; sunlight and rainbows.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Work in progress: The Cabbage Field

THE CABBAGE FIELD: IDEAS BOX/SHRINEapprox 11.5ins x 7.5 ins
click here for larger image
Following my most recent posting, I received so many wonderful messages of encouragement that I've been reflecting on how I use my blog. Until now, I've regarded it as a place to post completed digital art works and scrap pages. Thus, my work rate determines how often I post. If I create something in response to an online challenge, then there is a deadline to meet, but my more personal projects often evolve over several weeks, if not months of research and experimentation: a process I rarely share in any detail. From now on, I intend to post a little more frequently, sharing work in progress and some of my experiments with techniques: in the form of digital creative journal pages or "Ideas Boxes".

There is one piece that has been particularly taxing my brain since returning from France, presenting me with technical challenges that I have not yet been able to resolve. My Resistance phase often leads to the complete reworking of an idea but in this particular instance, I'm certain that my initial impulses were the right ones and I don't want to resort to an easier option. Yesterday, it occurred to me that if I temporarily removed the objects from the context in which I'd set them, I might, eventually, be able to return to the initial problem with a new perspective, and so, I placed them inside a little digital box. This was an interesting experiment. At first, the box and its contents resembled exhibits in a museum or cabinet of curiosities: I knew that was the wrong place for this story but made a mental note to explore those ideas at a later date, with another set of objects. The temptation was to keep adding what I call "anecdotal" elements to the collection: things that look attractive, but don't actually resound in any meaningful way or move the story on. Then I remembered something that helped me to focus once more on the emotional resonances I was seeking to convey. Somewhere along the roadside between Gloucester and Ross on Wye, set into the ground and hidden by tall grass and weeds, there is a little glass-topped box shrine, commemorating a young Traveller lad who died in a road accident near that spot. Inside, there is a photograph, plastic flowers and messages on metal and paper: weathered by time, atmospheric conditions and the tiny creatures who have taken up residence in this little casket of sadness. Focusing on these things, I worked on my box, which I now regarded as a shrine. My offerings don't look as if they have been encased for very long but this is just a step along my journey and I'll work more on breaking the objects down when I'm setting them in their final resting place.

This new process has left me ready to return to the original artwork and challenges that I'd set myself, with a deeper physical and emotional understanding of the objects with which I'd chosen to tell the story. However, It has also sparked- off lots of other ideas that I want to explore a little further, and so, if your curiosity has been aroused, I'm afraid that you will have to wait even longer to see where everything is heading!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009



12 ins x 12 ins digital collage

There was not a single post from me during August and so a few of you may have imagined that I'd disappeared into the greenhouse and somehow got lost forever amongst the cucumber and tomato plants. The truth is that despite returning from France feeling rested and refreshed and with a stash of wonderful photographs and ephemera (see my other blog) I found it very difficult to complete anything and over the last couple of weeks, felt a desperate need for a creative re-boot. The remarkable Anahata Katkin has written the most inspirational essay about the creative process, one that I return to whenever I am feeling "stuck". In A Grain Of Sand she writes about the five stages of any creative process. Anahata believes that a stage she has named Resistance occurs naturally in the first third of EVERY project and that artists should embrace it as an essential element of the creative process. Her advice is is move even more quickly at this stage but to change something: for instance, perspective, technique or materials, therefore tricking your brain into a new place. Anahata suggests doing this on the piece you're working on but in this instance, I began to totally new image and just enjoyed making marks and blending colours.
To make this collage I have blended and mashed together a couple of photographs, a few textures, lots of digital scrapbook papers and elements and a scanned page from the 1902 edition of Larousse's Nouveau Dictinaire Illustre, which I purchased at Le Mans market for a Euro. It has to be said that the photographs are almost completely unrecognisable but I often use a photograph as the bottom later of a collage to get away from the blank page and inform the composition. The one that I used in this instance is by GEORGE BROWN, a lovely man whose soul shines through his beautiful photography. Do go and take a look at his Flickr gallery, it's my current favourite and I guarantee that you will be inspired. Whilst on the subject of Flickr, I'd also like to acknowledge the generosity of those who regularly post and share their beautiful textures, such as Ninian, JoesSisah and SkeletalMess who are among my favourites.
Now, I must make a cup of tea and take time to visit all of you and catch up on comments. I'll try not to stay away so long next time.