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Victoria Baths Glass Exhibition

September 15, 2014

Glass event Victoria Baths

On saturday I popped along to this glass exhibition at Victoria Baths in Manchester and on arrival, I was greeted by a choir singing in one of the pool rooms, it was quite a stirring sound experience. The pool has temporarily had a stage built into it for the version of Romeo and Juliet which is performing there until October 4th. What a great setting for such a play.

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Around the edge of the pool some of the changing rooms had been taken over as exhibition spaces to allow the glass artists to showcase their work.

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I was fascinated by the work of Annette Sharkey who uses real fish and encapsulates them into her glass sculptures. I’m not sure just how happy I’d be having this wee chap watching me around the home. Annette’s got the perfect surname for her style of work don’t you think ! lol

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One glass artist from the Pennines Jane O Neill, makes more humorous sculptures depicting the long thin houses of Hebden Bridge and the Yorkshire contribution to the Tour De France from earlier this year.

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One ex Biochemist and Primary School Teacher who’s now a glass artist, was Chrissie Smith. I thought she captured the colours and feel of birds very well in these hangings.

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Lyndsay Atkinson also manages to balance her love of glass and nature with being a Physiotherapist. I guess when she’s not manipulating glass she’s busy being ‘hands on’ with her patients. In both professions I would guess that she has great control in her work.

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Sea-struck Nicola Thompson takes most of her glass inspiration from the the waves and surf. Some beautiful frothy, foamy, pieces can also be seen on her website.

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Finally the wonderful work of Jane Littlefield with some of her cyclists and (a few frames higher) swimmers which fit perfectly within the victorian swimming pool setting. Jane was busy keeping the children occupied making some glass mosaic coasters. She takes on commissions for private homes, churches and schools. Drop her a line here if you’re interested. She also helped me make my stained glass piece from last year.

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Arley Hall and new Fishink Collages

September 12, 2014

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We took a day off this week, whilst the sun was shinning and headed over to Arley Hall and Gardens in Cheshire. There’s a little more about it’s history here and here. It’s a pretty big estate, with plenty of space to wander around without bumping into people all the time.

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Some very pretty architecture, the cottages look like a film set for Larkrise to Candleford lol

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With a good book and cup of tea in hand this was my view of the world for an hour.

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Always keeping one eye on this character, who was busy watching out for anything that scampered or hopped ! Yes you Boo !! All in all a great escape for everyone involved.

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When we got back, I completed framing some new pieces to drop off at Wall Of Art, who exhibit and sell my work in Manchester’s Craft and Design Centre.

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Always good to get some new work in progress. Do drop in and see what’s exhibiting, there is always a great range of work on show.

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These mini frames are something I’m newly introducing too. All comments most welcome. More original artwork on sale on my website here.

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Vintage Book Covers

September 10, 2014


It seems that you can never have too much of my Vintage Book Cover posts, people appear to really like them, which is great to hear. So let’s start off with a little midweek sunshine.

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There’s some lovely movement, symbols and shapes in these.

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A taste of nature.

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A taste of food.

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Something for the little people.

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Transportation and travel.

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Birds everywhere.

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And finally for today some beautiful illustrations by Polish artist Věra Faltová from way back in 1964.

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Please don’t forget to leave some comments and thoughts on your favourites. Happy Wednesday everyone. Many more superb polish covers over at SNDK, be sure to check them out too.

Adam Kilian Scenery Designer, Graphic Artist, Illustrator

September 8, 2014

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photo: Edward Hartwig / Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

Born in 1926 in Lviv, Ukraine. Adam worked with puppets and prints, one field inspiring work for the other. He studied architecture at the College of Arts and Crafts in Nottingham, U.K. Then returned to Poland and from 1948 to 1951 was the managing director and stage designer of the Niebieskie Migdały (Idle Dreams Theatre), a puppet troupe his mother, Janina Kilian-Stanisławska, had founded in 1944 in Samarkand. 

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Some enchanting shapes and friendly characters here.

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In 1951 the institution was renamed the Teatr Lalka (Puppet Theatre), and Kilian has been associated with this Warsaw stage for over half a century. He continued to design scenery there and became the theatre’s visual director in 1951. Since 1988 he has been a visual consultant. In addition, Kilian has worked with numerous other puppet and dramatic theatres, as well as opera houses. He also illustrated for numerous books including ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ in 1962. Great scratchy marks here.

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Since the 1990s Adam Kilian has focused on designing scenery for productions directed by his son Jarosław. Kilian has also produced scenery for television shows, as well as poster and postcard designs. He devised the visual concepts of a number of drawn- and puppet-animated films.

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I love the expression in his characters.

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A beautifully illustrated book about bears in autumn.

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A few of his puppets.

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This mustacheoed figure looks right out of one of Oliver Sachs animations like Noggin the Nog or Ivor The Engine !

There’s a great post with more info about the life of Adam Kilian over at Culture Pl.

Makiko Hastings Beautiful Ceramics

September 5, 2014

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For some time now I’ve been looking at (and lusting after) the work of Makiko Hastings. I first came across her ceramics at the YSP Shop.  She makes a whole host of different ranges and styles. Firstly there is a range that is pierced so that once it has been baked and glazed it allows the light to show through.

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More decorative work (based on the idea of lily pads) using decorative and delicate floral transfers.

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Makiko explained a little to me about her other styles of work.

“Below is the Mazekoze range. The word means ‘mixing up’ in Japanese and this collection is more focused on the form.  The bowls are all hand thrown then altered into flower shape. To highlight the shape, I only use one colour of glaze. The plates are actually hand built then I add a surface pattern.  I mix the glaze by a traditional method without using a ready made colorant.  I tested and experimented for quite a long time in order to get what I wanted. I know I can buy any colours from the supplier today, but I still believe my own philosophy of handmade – i.e. in doing it yourself !  I wanted nice colour combinations of two colours, but not like green and brown which is too traditional. So when yellow ochre and grey came out successfully… I was really chuffed. I am planning to add purple and olive in the future. “

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Makiko first makes the bowls to the exact size she wants, she keeps a guide to tell her how deep and how far across each size of bowl should be. Then she forms the wet bowl into the shape she desires, and continues to do this for every larger size of bowl so that, when they’re fired and dry and shrink, they all do so at the same rate and therefore the bowls will sit beautifully within one another with equal space around them. It’s a real skill to be able to do this consistently.

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Makiko likes the idea of people mixing up her range with shapes and colours.

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My personal favourite range is her Rakugaki ware (this means ‘doodling’ in Japanese). Makiko takes up the story…”When I first started this range, I wanted to express something unplanned, spontaneous like the doodling you do on a piece of paper whilst you are on the phone etc. I wanted to make something casual and fun. I used line drawling like you do with a pen rather than painting with brush. So I chose a ceramic crayon to draw on bisque ware.  I suppose it can be screen transferred or something if you wanted a clear and precise line drawing like a normal pen can do, but to me that was too sharp and too modern. I wanted it to be more random and imperfect, so the rough line from the ceramic crayon was just perfect. I used to draw items such as chairs and lamp, houses, clouds, ladders and spiders. The range was successful and sold well. You can see in the photos below, my rakugaki ware displayed within the stand at my college show. The crayon was black so when I glazed with white, the line became blue. Hence the blue and white range came to life. “

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” Later on I started to find that crayon drawing was limited and when I wanted a bold blue somewhere in the drawing I had to fill the whole space with crayon.  So I’ve changed the application and now use slip (coloured liquid clay) instead. Slip is applied on the unfired surface, then I scratch over the area to make a negative white over blue, or visa versa.  I used a brush to apply the slip at first, but I didn’t like that the fact that edge can be blurry and not sharp enough.  So I used newspaper and cut out shapes prior to applying the slip. Sort of like stencilling. Now I am very pleased with the result, as my blue and white doodling has much more crisp edges but still has the sense of fun. I rarely use sketchbooks. In particular for rakugaki, I don’t plan so much, I just start cutting out newspaper and make design up as I go. But I tend to ‘draw’ what I like, such as birds, nature, kitchen items etc.”

I think this range has reached a wonderful final stage where each cup, bowl etc is unique and with it’s simplistic colouring, you can easily mix and match any designs. Beautiful work Makiko.

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You can see some of the process work here.

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I must track down Makiko’s work somewhere nearby and grab myself one of these lovely mugs.

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Makiko has her first solo exhibition on at the Ropewalk Gallery in North Lincolnshire from October 4th to November 2nd, featuring a collection of her ‘mazekoze’ work.  If you’re in the area do drop by and buy something. Failing that here’s a list of other stockists  and do keep an eye on her blog for more images and information.  Thanks to Makiko for answering questions about her work and sending such great images to illustrate this post.

If you enjoyed this post you may also like the work of RAMP Ceramics and Katrin Moye, I’ve featured previously.

Jonny Hannah Merrell Publishers Illustrated Greetings From Darktown

September 3, 2014

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A huge vote of thanks to those fab people over at Merrell for sending me a copy of their latest book, on artist Jonny Hannah. He works with Heart Agency and also St Judes to illustrate his wonderfully eerie worlds of mayhem and mischief. The book is a real treat for lovers of typography, colour and nostalgic nods to a bygone and often rather downtrodden era. It’s lavishly produced and with over 170 pages, it reveals the many sides of the man behind the work and is a wonderful collection and exploration of the artist’s work to date.

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Jonny loves to drift into a bizarre and sometimes darkened world inside his imagination. From there he creates illustrations based on the sea, bowler-hatted skeletons, sea monsters, tattooed sailors, sailing vessels etc. Darktown is his imaginary collection of run down establishments inhabited by Jazz Artistes, the Action Hero Rocket Man, shady characters and people you probably wouldn’t want to bump into at two in the morning in a remote seaside resort in wintertime. Thoughts of a Morrissey song pops into my head as I peruse the book, with lines like,

…Everyday is like Sunday
Everyday is silent and grey

Hide on the promenade
Etch a postcard :
“How I Dearly Wish I Was Not Here”
In the seaside town
That they forgot to bomb
Come, come, come – nuclear bomb…

Also Rickie Lee Jones’s song ‘We Belong together ‘

But a sailor just takes a broad down to the dark end of the fair
To turn her into a tattoo
That will whisper
Into the back of Johnny’s black hair
And now Johnny the King walks these streets without her in the rain
Lookin’ for a leather jacket
And a girl who wrote her name forever…

However Jonny Hannah’s work is anything but silent and grey, it’s vibrant, lively and full of pattern, surface texture and ornate typography.

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Born in Dumfermline, Jonny studied illustration at the Cowdenbeath College of Knowledge, Liverpool Art School & then the Royal College of Art.

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For the last twelve years he has been a freelance illustrator. His many clients include The Sunday Telegraph, The New York Times & The St. Kilda Courier.

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Any spare minute is spent working on news projects for his own Cakes & Ale Press, busily creating books, posters, prints & occasionally t-shirts.

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These 3-d sculpture paintings are great fun. Like some kind of modern folk art, this stunning book on Jonny’s work is due to be released early september so order your copy from Merrell Publishers today.

Benji Davies arrival from On Sudden Hill !

September 1, 2014

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Very excitedly I received this huge parcel saturday morning containing my ‘fresh-off-the-press’ copy of ‘ On Sudden Hill ‘ which I mentioned here by the very talented Benji Davies and Linda Sarah. Apart from the lovely dedication, Benji had very kindly donated a paperback copy of this beautiful book which I shall be putting into a competition on my blog soon, so keep an eye out for that !

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The hardback is truly a beautiful book and for a short period if you buy it through Benji’s site, you get a limited edition artists print too !

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Love the illustrations and feel of this story…. get your copy here today.

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With all this patchy, sometimes, drizzly weather at the moment, what could be better than to curl up with a good book : )

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