Sunday, 28 April 2019

Voyaging Out



I suppose it is about time I came clean and announced that my book about women artists will finally be out at the beginning of September; it has taken up an awful lot of valuable art-working time but I hope people will think it has been worth it, I certainly learned a lot from doing it and met lots of very lovely helpful people, and saw lots of amazing artworks by women that I would have never seen otherwise. Alexandra Harris has kindly given me a cheering endorsement - it was reading her book The Romantic Moderns that made me think of writing mine so there is a lovely circularity in it, and relief that she has really captured the spirit of what I was trying to do:

It's a wonderfully rich panorama of creative lives, written with conviction and integrity; and cumulatively powerful in questioning the terms of our appreciation. the sheer number and range of artists included here is thrilling: every chapter introduced me to new figures and re-awoke me to old admirations. Trant valuably turns our attention beyond the galleries to think about design, teaching, friendship and collaboration. By turns elegiac and celebratory, her book is truthful, practical, open-minded, and points us in new directions.


Tate Britain has just turned its modern galleries over to a hang of all women artists from their permanent collection, but only from 1960 onwards, leading on from my period 1910-60, but still its a start... and so many of the women in my book had concerns and interests outside gallery-land.



I am just off to Taunton to speak on a panel discussing the artist Doris Hatt at The Museum of Somerset - thursday 2nd May 7.30- 9pm - 

" Discover what it was like for a female artist studying and practising in the early 20th century. Join Carolyn Trant author of the forthcoming Thames and Hudson publication Voyaging Out; Women Artists in Britain from the suffragettes to the Sixties and exhibition co-curators Dr Stephen Lisney and Dr Denys Wilcox."
book online or ring 01823 255 088

And talking about websites, I have just been introduced to a lovely website documenting everything you might like to know about Schubert's song cycle Die Winterreise - with lots of visuals. I am delighted to have had my Artists Book of 2007 included in the art section among other very interesting contemporary images. 


https://diewinterreise.net




Saturday, 16 March 2019

Cartoneras for BABE Bristol

I first saw cartoneras at an evening event at the British Library focussing on South America and loved them immediately - the ones we were shown were made by a re-cycling co-operative in Mexico, an anthology of poems and short written pieces bound roughly in cardboard with individual hand-painted covers. Originally cartoneras - or chapbooks - were made in S America as a protest against the 'selective editorial market during a period of economic hardship', photocopied or non-professionally printed; traditionally not-for-profit, shared among like-minded people outside mainstream bookshops, originally challenging the status quo but inevitably now becoming more aesthetic and less challenging. Those made in Mexico by people on the streets used street people to collect old cardboard who depended on such paid tasks for survival.
This information comes from an essay by Lucia Rosa about Dulcineia in the one I bought ; I have written and paraphrased very quickly and doubtless rather inaccurately but I hope it gives a quick idea.
In a period of extreme chaos here in GB I felt moved to do some very quick spontaneous work referring extreme events, focusing on women, accelerated climate change, political chaos and inequality and the contrast between countryside, towns and the metropolis - and felt, how better than to use old woodcuts of mine printed onto current newspapers to make palimpsests, working spontaneously and freely , abandoning aesthetic considerations where possible and just seeing what happened - an extension of my 'tarot' cards project on a slightly larger scale ( see two posts back...), involving re-cycling of both images and newsprint, and cardboard I collected outside shops on re-cycling day.
Below is some work in progress and my first mock-up book and wet prints ( hence funny angles of the photos trying to avoid shine)....

Similar to the ‘tarot’ cards, the underlying printed matter and images are sometimes clearly visible and sometimes almost completely obscured, with many stages in-between; but even when unreadable IT IS STILL THERE: a time capsule of our times.

Some unexpected and unintended juxtapositions arise. Each book is of course completely unique and the stories you read into them are your own.







 


Friday, 22 February 2019

Long Man of Wilmington and BABE Artists Book Fair at the Arnolfini Bristol

A good friend introduced me to Nathan James's site:
this week and I was immediately taken back to my Rituals and Relics days of the late 1980's, and even saw the name of my old archaeologist friend Martin Brown mentioned. Nathan is a composer and he is writing a piece about our local Wilmington Giant. He says his aims are, among others, to inspire creative and artistic interpretation of an archaeological phenomenon, evoke relationships with him through examining its place in our social history, and contribute to the genre of contemporary classical music promoting strong themes of time and place. He also thinks he might be a she and has been examining the evidence.
His site also has a sample of his music and you can hear a short radio program made about him recently - have a look and listen - he has written some interesting stuff too....

He was also asking for images of the Long Man for his project and so I dug out some old and rather wobbly slides which I have had digitised recently dating from 1989-90 - with also an very early one dating back to 1969 when I started coming down to Sussex very regularly and getting intoxicated by the green of the downs and the cow parsley in the spring...



This side-wise glance at the chalk figure gives equal attention to the old flint workings around the site and emphasises the chalk  in the foreground from which he is cut - and has of course to be regularly scoured to keep him visible. I think this picture was bought by East Sussex County Council who helped sponsor the Rituals and Relics project together with S E Arts so it must be on an office wall somewhere....
I was also interested in looking at him from the top down, first as a very large charcoal drawing and then as a lithograph with ambivalent textures that almost suggest sky where the sky would normally be expected in the picture but is now upside down.



The next two watercolours again show sidewise views - in the second he is barely distinguishable but you can recognise the chalk paths around him and large fossil sea urchin sits in the foreground ( I think it has all got a bit squashed in digital transit). In the first one a flint I found which looked like a hawk is a levitating presence. I used to walk a lot on the downs  on moonlit nights.




Meanwhile now, I am working for BABE     Artists Book Fair  at the Arnolfini,  Bristol - 30th and 31st March  - always a really enjoyable fair with book artists from far and wide and spread over several rooms with a program of talks and events.

I am turning some of my tarot cards into small decorated packs, see posts below , and also using similar techniques making cheap books to emulate street art ‘cartonera’s from Mexico which I saw recently at an evening event at the British Library - I feel I need to work fast and less preciously as well as record a little of our turbulent times... more printing over old newspapers and recycling old images in new ways....
watch this space 
or better still come to Bristol and see....






Thursday, 31 January 2019

Update to The Antidote at St Anne's Gallery

See post below for the dates of the exhibition - opens tomorrow evening for 3 weekends


- new thoughts for The Antidote included a large new Punch and Judy woodcut (definitely domestic violence here) - and I got quite obsessed with Virtus Combusta when I saw it at the wonderful Mantegna Bellini at the NG exhibition before Christmas – Mantegna of course one of the first painter/printmakers so I have played with that in drypoint and monoprint and woodcut; it seems so much an image for our times….. the original is somewhat misogynistic – I have made the figures even more androgynous…

Humanity stumbles towards an abyss guided by Lust, Folly and Deceit; Ignorance watches from a throne on a globe beside burning laurels, served by Fate and Avarice. Hermes appears to try to intervene….

The exhibition also seemed a good point to get down to designing some playing cards – it will still be a partial set and in no way conventional but I can return to it at times of stress... I have always wanted to design cards – the shape and size is so appealing, nice and small to chip away at in comparison with my large woodcuts...

Cards have always been used in a variety of ways, gaming, patience, fortune telling and tarot cards, leading to a range of expressions and metaphors - playing your cards right etc
I like the idea of an ever-changing deck of images that can be endlessly rearranged, sparking off new ideas and narratives… I have been printing my woodcuts on old newspapers from the last month as I feel it answers the need for a patina of age, history and complexity which all the best old cards have - part of their magic for tarot reading; it can also can include topicality and satirical comment if you can decipher what is beneath my printing... and even if you can’t it is still there; and ambiguity mirrors the process of a ‘reading’ – why did I choose that image to print on? (apart from its colour) - read my thoughts and add your own….


Work in Progress!




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....