Friday, 18 January 2019

New Year and The Antidote exhibition

The Antidote

A riposte to Valentine's Day


2 - 17 February 2019

Derya Erdem  Rachel Glittenberg  Solange Leon Iriarte
Oska Lappin  Sarah Shaw  Carolyn Trant  Sophie Wake



As part of The Antidote’s exploration of love, St Anne’s Galleries
 is holding workshops with children at local schools to make 
Friendship Cards, which will be delivered to older people 
in the communityon Valentine’s Day.


We are proud to support Equal Arts, a leading creative ageing charity 
who provide creative opportunities for older people to help combat 
loneliness and improve wellbeing.


Please support them with us!


Find out how at:



THE ANTIDOTE: A RIPOSTE TO VALENTINE'S DAY
2 - 17 FEBRUARY 2019

St Anne's Galleries, 111 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1XY
Phone: +44 (0)7860 728 220
Email: michael@michaelbell.co.uk

Open Saturdays & Sundays 
10am - 5pm during exhibitions,
or by appointment at other times



The New Year carried on fairly seamlessly from the old with a few days merriment interrupting work on a series of tiny woodcuts for a set of Antidote tarot/playing cards - something I have long wanted to do - the shape and size of cards which fit in the hand is so appealing; it will still be a partial set by Feb 2nd and in no way conventional but I can return to the project at times of stress... a nice small size to chip away at in comparison with my large woodcuts.... I will add images to this post as they get finished next week - lots of cutting is done,  now the printing and colouring and time of reckoning....
Charlie had marketed her new exhibition at St Anne's as an antidote to the 'pink fluffy tide of commercialised emotion and obligatory romance that engulfs us in February...a refuge for the jaded and curious where the experience of the human heart could be explored in all its complex, ambiguous and frequently dark glory...'
who could resist..
especially with some charitable link-ups working with the lonely and dispossessed...
new thoughts for The Antidote included a large new Punch and Judy woodcut, and I got quite obsessed with Virtus Combusta when I saw it at the wonderful Mantegna Bellini exhibition at the National Gallery before Christmas, so I have made a few responses to that  engraving in various forms:
a British Library label reads...
The subject is an allegory on the hold of ignorance on humanity. At top right the fat naked woman seated on a globe representing ignorance reigns. She is served by the blindfolded figure of fate and emaciated Avarice. At left a sightless woman accompanied by a satyr symbolising Lust, and Error, a man with asses ears, stumbles towards a chasm. Below figures have fallen into the pit. One is being rescued by Hermes, the God of Knowledge, demonstrating that Humanity can be saved....
or as the NG label has it  - humanity stumbles towards an abyss guided by Lust, Folly and Deceit: ignorance watches from her throne beside burning laurels...
seemed apposite...and mildly hopeful according to the BM which is what we need...

Meanwhile this will be the year my book comes out with Thames and Hudson - Voyaging Out:British Women Artists from the Suffragettes to the Sixties; still a few months to go however but hopefully more time for artwork now.
I will be at BABE in Bristol at the Arnolfini 30-31 March - a book fair I always enjoy, and hopefully will have some more playing cards done as well as other new stuff....

James Simpson and I enjoyed the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet Awards at the British Library in December and looking at, and listening to, the different exhibits; James is now publishing poems with the Hedgehog Press, including some poems he did for parvenu press in order to give them a wider audience. We are also looking forward to working with Incline Press in the near future.
I am also still cutting new designs for paper toy theatres for the Pollocks Toy Theatre Museum project - someone told me there had been an article in the press about it but I haven't yet managed to track it down... The great excitement before Christmas was acquiring an old wooden toy theatre to play with and try out my designs on ( for sale in the street in L The Centre of the Cosmos) and also going to a performance at the Art Workers Guild by Joe Gladwyn and meeting enthusiasts who told me about the annual European festival in Kiel - preetzerpapiertheatertreffen - where an interesting variety of contemporary takes on performance take place with 21st century graphics...thank you Sarah Peasgood for all the information, it was great meeting you and I loved your Wilton Music Hall turns on paper....


Friday, 2 November 2018

Pollocks Toy Museum in Scala Street and Toy Theatres
















Peter and I were lucky enough to be invited a wonderful afternoon discussing a future project with a small group of makers and illustrators at the beautiful and atmospheric museum in Scala Street ( just off Tottenham Court Road ). Now run again by members of the original family who bought up Pollocks stock and set up the toy museum and shop across two old houses a few generations ago, it is taking exciting steps forward with the introduction of new original artwork by Jack, one of the younger generation and an ex art student, a sculptor and printmaker keen to archive and promote the core of the museum collection - the original copper plates for the Toy Theatres. An exhibition is in the air, possibly for autumn next year. Jack is suggesting some contemporary takes on the Theatre format and possibly interventions in the museum, and also taking the exhibition further afield.


I love the advent calendars and small theatres Jack has been doing for the shop – rush along and buy some!
This place, and project is very close to my heart. I have been going there for fifty years – I discovered it when a student at the Slade nearby and then working briefly in the early 70’s making lithographs with Stanley Jones at the old Curwen Studios in Midford Place round the corner and the Curwen Studio Gallery in the mews nearby; another old and dear Lewes friend was also a member of the family it turned out and I feel she has guided me back there from above. 











I have been making Carnivalesque boxes, small card hand theatres and paper Punch and Judy shows, valentine card boxes on and off for some years now – scroll back through the years of my blog for images – and this new opportunity is heaven sent at a time when I had just decided to do some more small concentrated works on paper as a short rest from huge printed books.


I have also just been forced by the flood to tidy up my house-ful of informal installations and present some images here which show I feel some connections between Jack and Eddy’s museum and my normal working environment!














Well I have been trying to impose some sort of order, which can be a boring - but now I have something specific to work for and plenty of inspiration on hand and at the museum.
I have also been reading Grimaldi's Memoirs which fortunately Peter had to hand ( what a star) and he is all fired up by the idea of printing engraved plates and me to design paper theatres.

Watch this space.

Here's one of my v old handheld theatres to save you scrolling back, in the Tom Paine Printing Shop window.....and various old pop up events














SYLVA PostScript


Wonderful events come thick and fast – the tree afternoon was a delight with two really good speakers and plans for future Tree Events; and it was lovely to find that our informal collaboration with the Lewes Tree Group survey for the text of our book was appreciated and that we were all on the same wavelength – David had a list of categories for dividing up the images of the trees in his talk – to which we had added I think - Revolutionary Trees. We in turn noted some important trees we had perhaps overlooked – so plenty of scope for further research and image making – and a future collaboration too perhaps between all of us and possibly some annual event organised by John. Many thanks to all the people who attended and helped out, it was a splendid turn-out.
It was too busy to even think of taking photos! but here are some of the individual trees laid out when they were work in progress......enlarge and enjoy if you can
book now available from
Tom Paine Printing Press, 151 High Street Lewes
Emporium Antique Centre, Cliffe High Street Lewes
or Lewes Tourist Information Centre, 187 High Street Lewes

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Towner Print and Illustration Fair



The Symposium at the House of Illustration was great - interesting questions from the floor and good discussion - a lovely day.
My next public appearance will be at the fair above - it was a great success last year and this year takes place over two days so all its joys can be appreciated more slowly and calmly; hope to see you there - it will be great fun.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

ArtWave Open Studio - further images

Last weekend is next weekend - and all is going well despite horrid weather on sunday; here are some further images of collages I finished just in time for the opening... they are on the way to becoming a pop-up book in due course.
There are some bigger collages too but they are difficult to photograph so you will have to come and see.
I also have my huge new book with poet James Simpson on display.
Sylva ( see below in previous post) is selling really well - watch this space for further deveopments of our Tree event to be held at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes afternoon of sunday October 28th - save the date; see also below the details of the talks based around Enid Marx and the exhibition at the House of Illustration in mid september......







Monday, 30 July 2018

Lewes ArtWave Open Studio and Lewes Printmakers New Book

As usual I will be opening my studio at the Con Club 139 High Street for ArtWave
(let me say here it is NOT the Conservative Club but a wacky live entertainment venue so all may darken my door) for the weekends of 18/19 and 25 - 27 ( including bank holiday monday) and 1-2 September....
there will be old work and new and work in progress - books, prints and bits and pieces including cards 





and I will also be selling our new Lewes Printmakers book, hot off the press, which this year is called SYLVA

This book is named after an important work by John Evelyn (1620 –1706) Sylva a Discourse about Forest Trees and the propagation of Timber. Evelyn lived at Southover Grange in Lewes for most of his childhood, attending a free school in Southover – the original Lewes Grammar School. A radical Lewes character, he later travelled to visit formal gardens in France and Italy instead of fighting as a Royalist in the Civil War as would have been expected for one of his class. He understood and promoted ecological principles among his contemporaries and influenced many horticulturalists and landowners from the 17th century onwards, favouring informal use of trees alongside more formal garden designs.

The Tulip Tree
The Community Orchard

The Liberty Tree
This year is also the 250th anniversary
of Tom Paine's birth




Silver Birch and Turkish Baths

These are my contributions to this year's book; I will post up some of the other images in due course. This will be our tenth publication and we will have some kind of celebratory and introductory event at the Linklater in the autumn. Like the last book - the Spaces in Between - it is in the format of a small booklet of text and a set of card images within a neat little package.


With my other hat on I will be showing a new pop-up book - or will it be a peepshow - I don't know myself yet; plus the remaining copy of the huge and serious book I made for the Oxford Fine Press Fair, and maybe some large images from it, plus remaining copies of other books and prints. See previous posts for some images from these and details of the talk I will be giving at the House of Illustration in September as part of a symposium about Enid Marx.


Also below is reference to the Towner and Design for Today Illustration show in October and I will post up more information about this in due course.