Looking For a Sign? The Building

This post is all about thanking two amazing people- my grandma and granddad! I honestly couldn’t have done it without them. They came up from Lancashire to the lakes just to help me install. We really had a brilliant day and although we faced some challenges, got a few funny looks and at times my granddad wasn’t too sure what on earth we were doing with these strange signposts, it really was great! The paint had only just dried I was cutting it so fine, and installing on the busiest weekend of the summer, (August Bank Holiday) we definitely set ourselves a challenge. We did have to change location slightly for softer ground and there was a lot of discussion on the positioning of the posts, mostly me changing my mind- I’m sorry! But grandma and granddad were so patient with me- thank you. I’m still in awe of both your fencing skills. Look at that power in Granddads swing!

Thank you again, it meant everything to me that you were there to help.

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Looking For a Sign? The Planning

As soon as the The Great British Caravan series was complete, it was time to get ready for the next big thing! And the next big thing was something really exciting. I wrote back in August, that I was going to be part of C-Art; Cumbria’s largest visual arts event. The catalogue had been printed and my Installation titled ‘Looking for a Sign?’ was to be featured as an Extraordinary Place on the Ullswater Shores. I was so incredibly excited about this, I received permission from the owners of the campsite, (they own a small part of the lake shore), that I could go ahead and install, and on my morning walks I slowly began to imagine it forming. I began thinking about what I wanted my installation to say. From the title, you can probably guess that this work was to follow on from the contemporary sculpture I’d made for Greystoke Church. I wanted this work to be a reflection of the time I’d spent at Ullswater and the questions I was asking myself at that time. I’d envisioned three signposts to feature in the installation. The two I’d already made, ‘At a Crossroads in Life’, ‘A Place in Time’ and a third sculpture yet to be made. I wanted this last sculpture to use the lake to reflect upon the last five summers I’ve lived at Ullswater and speak about my future moving on. I’d had the image of another sign I’d seen in Australia in mind. Pointing two ways, the sign stretches itself out between two long distances. It was that sign I wanted to replicate, yet using dates rather than places again. <2012-2016>. In some ways the dates may be recognised resembling a gravestone scripture however it doesn’t mark a sad occasion just points towards the past, (2012 marking the summer I came to Ullswater), but also towards the future, what the rest of 2016 and onward will bring…

The Mountain Arts Festival

It’s nice to work at a place so heavy involved in contemporary art, on my dinner last week I was able to take a look at this insightful exhibition; Mountain Arts. I wasn’t expecting too much, as with such a distinct theme, my mind raced to the usual culprit; the landscape drawing; something I’ve come to expect here in the Lake District. Again and again though I’m being proven wrong. Like me, many artist’s in this area are overcoming the desire to paint a representational image of our neighbouring landscape.

The artist which stole the show for me was most definitely Brian Thompson. His beautifully crafted sculptures, captured the beauty of our enormous mountain ranges. He challenged me to consider portraying the landscape in a more unusual way. Sculpting and model making came rushing back to me, encouraging me to get making again. The titles of Brian Thompson’s work really spoke to me too. He described a journey in his titles, his large central piece titled: To Easedale Tarn by Emma’s Dell. In describing a personal detail of the journey we relate to the voyage of his mountain climb. We reflect back on our own mountain adventures. The other artist’s I’ve included in the photographs are Lucy Devenish and Hamish Fulton. Devenish uses a favourite tool of mine; a map. Again focusing on a journey, a place in time. Lucy depicts a personal place. St Non’s Bay. Hamish’s work follows his own journey through Walk texts on Wood. Depicting a mountain range in text and objects.

After seeing the exhibition I want to show my journeys, be it in sculpture or in a map based drawing. We’ll see.

Installing My Piece

I’m extremely proud to say that the piece is up! It’s currently in place at Greystoke Church, Penrith, Cumbria. I’m so happy that I’ve been able to hold an exhibition in the very church my great grandparents were married in. It feels very monumental. It’s the first piece I’ve made in the UK since graduation and it’s of great family value to me. It reflects my current life situation, explores place and time and picks up on those memorable moments in life, the repetition of those events and our incessant need to secure ourselves in an area- our corner of the world.

Putting the piece up felt really special, I want to say a huge thank you to Christine Hurford, both for asking me to get involved in the exhibition and for all her help installing. Seeing the piece in the space, the idea coming alive so to speak, it became really real. It was no longer just an idea in my head, something I wasn’t sure I could make- but a real piece in an exhibition. And it looks good, professional yet artistic.

It also feels important that I’ve managed to break through an unwritten rule of the Lake District- the desire to paint the beautiful landscape. It’s so beautiful here it’s hard not to. However I knew I needed to break through that barrier to pursue my practice the way I’ve been doing. This piece explores the area without having to paint a replica of its surroundings.

Making Begins

I’ve had fun over the last few days starting to make the piece! I’ve been foraging for wood on the camp site’s scrap yard, roping in help from Park Foot’s lovely customers- who have fantastic garden sheds by the way. Basically just trying to get the ideas  from out of my head and make them into the real deal. It started off a bit hopeless, but with a bit of help and patience I’m finally getting somewhere. Originally I found a square fencing post but I couldn’t rest till I found circular one so had another forage today- with success. I picked up some supplies from Penrith’s answer to Wilkos- The Yorkshire Trading Company and started painting- now just the slow process of waiting for gloss paint to dry!

A Happy Coincidence

As well as that exciting news from Rheged I also had a rather exciting meeting with a lady called Christine Hurford that opened up yet another opportunity for me. Whilst volunteering with Jo at C-Art, I was told there was an exhibition on downstairs in the Old Fire Station. (The office space for Eden Arts is located in the Old Fire Station- Penrith.) I went along and was really surprised to find the exhibition displayed eerie photographs of a previous obsession of mine- abandoned buildings. I began talking to one of the Artists- Christine about how she gets into these buildings- from previous experience I know the difficulties you can be faced with. It’s well worth it though. The photographs were fantastic- cleverly mounted onto fencing well recognised as a symbol to keep out. The images Christine Hurford and Jane Peet exhibited in ‘Dereliction’ complimented one another’s investigation into the unknown brilliantly.

As the conversation went on, Christine became interested in my own art practice and later revealed she’s soon to have another exhibition at Greystoke Church- which she wondered if I’d be interested in showing some work. I was, of course, honoured to be asked- having something to work for gives any artist the drive to start making again. So as I set off up the stairs with a spring in my step, I became even more excited when I then remembered something that’s been playing on my mind for a while now. A family member of mine had posted something on Instagram about my Great-grandparents (her grandparents.) It was a newspaper clipping commemorating their 50th Wedding anniversary- and what church where they married in? – None other than Greystoke Church, Penrith. What are the chances? I’m not from Cumbria; I move here for work each summer and it’s only recently that I’ve found out that my ancestors lived here in this area. I’ve been considering making some art about this happy coincidence- and well now I have no excuse.

Big Decisions

Now for some really big decisions! I feel like I’ve been going round in circles with it all day! There is A LOT going on with the plinths, I admit that, but I’m struggling to decide whether I like it with more or less going on. The original plan was to paint, then wallpaper all 3 plinths, then subtlety rip a small amount of paper off each plinth. However as I gradually decorated each one I began to like the contrast of the bare magnolia plinth against the flush wallpaper and the ripped wallpaper plinth.  It was difficult to decide which complimented the ornament best, and it became upsettingly apparent that it seemed the ornaments weren’t so much needed any more; the 3 plinths work as a piece all by themselves. Having a wallpaper malfunction on the smallest plinth; meant I had to take the paper off prior to drying, this however left a rather nice imprint of the paste on the plinth- again something else to consider. With the 3 plinths all at different stages like this I really do think they work well together as a piece in their own right; however it’s still very important to me to use the ornaments at this moment in time. So for now I need to make a decision on how the plinths should look in order to compliment them. I think the right decision here is to continue with the subtle rip plan I originally began with- this way they will get the full attention they deserve yet the rips in the wallpaper will emphasise that the plinths are also crucial to the work.

Decision Making

Next was the decision on how much wallpaper I wanted to take off- Too much? Too little? As much as I like the complete rip effect I think subtlety might be more appropriate in this case. The more ripping there is, the more the eye is taken away from the figure.