Final Major Project #2

Last month, I shared some work which formed the beginning of my Final Major Project at university. I had such a lovely response from that post and I think it's about time a did a little update. As well as the fact that I love sharing my work on my blog, it'll be so nice for me to be able to look back and see how things have improved over time. My project has come such a long way since the original post and it's kind of scary/exciting to think that in just a few weeks time I'll be putting up my exhibition, and soon after that it will be open for the public to view.

While my FMP subject is still 'Experimental Typography', I have now become much more focused within this subject. Textiles has begun to play a major role and I can't wait to share that part of my project once it becomes more developed and final. For now though I thought I'd share some images from various things that I have done within my work since my last post.

Above is an image which I created within the time constraints of one day while I was on holiday in Devon. I decided to make use of the seaside environment and went on the hunt for naturally formed letters on rocks and pebbles. It was surprising how easy it was to find letterforms once I'd started looking! I've always loved beach combing so it was a really fun little thing to break up my main project.

This next image is another 'mini-project' which I based around phrases and idioms. I wanted to illustrate the saying 'humble pie' in a literal way using typography and this is what I came up with. It was a nice, easy, quick image to make and was great fun - plus I got to eat the apple pie afterwards.

I was so overwhelmed and happy with the positive response I received from my first FMP post and so I hope these updates are something you enjoy seeing. I can't wait to share more of my work soon as my Final Major Project comes into it's final stages and ultimately post photographs of my complete exhibition in June!

Cornelia Parker Artist Lecture @ The Whitworth

For the next three years, sculptor and installation artist Cornelia Parker will be an Honorary Professor within the University of Manchester. To mark this occasion, she spoke, amongst other things, about her acclaimed exhibition at the Whitworth, forthcoming projects and how she collaborates with scientists, engineers, pyrotechnicians and others to make art. I was lucky enough to attend this lecture on Thursday 23rd April within the surroundings of the newly refurbished Whitworth gallery. 

As many of you may already know, The Whitworth Gallery reopened in February after a £15million redevelopment, launching with ten new exhibitions including a major solo show by Cornelia Parker. I visited about a week after the gallery's high profile relaunch and it was soon obvious to me why this exhibiton has received such high praise from across the art world. The show combines career-defining works such as 'Cold Dark Matter (An Exploded View)' and 'The Distance (A Kiss With String Attached)' along with new works including 'War Room', a vast and immersive installation made from punched out paper negatives taken from the Richmond poppy factory, which is unique to the Whitworth. 

The critically exclaimed exhibition is both impressive and thought provoking and so I was incredibly excited to hear Cornelia herself talk about the show from her own perspective. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. Often we think of artists as these highly strung, inaccessible folk who almost seem to speak a different language to the rest of us. But Cornelia was a joy to listen to, incredibly intelligent but also humorous in her manner. At times she had the audience in fits of laughter as she spoke of how she inadvertently blew up an (empty) pram which was needed by it's owners as they were expecting twins any day, and other times she held all eyes as she explained her compelling work marking the 100 year anniversary of World War One. By the way, the owners of said pram were at the gallery opening in February to see if they could spot the misplaced item from 1991 in the midst of 'Cold Dark Matter'! 

Subtitling the lecture 'Truth to Materials', Parker amazed us time and time again with her quests to get her hands on materials that most of us will never even touch in our lifetime, from sawn off shotguns and bullets to snake venom and cocaine. But there was a strong sense that she is far from content with simple police confiscated weapons and a jar of poison. Cornelia wants to take this even further, confessing that she is still working on getting NASA to help her out! 

I'm finding it difficult to condense all of Parker's wonderful anecdotes and explanations that she shared into just one blog post, and in honesty I could never retell them in a way that does her any justice. I will however say that for the next three years, The University of Manchester will be lucky to call Cornelia Parker one of their Honorary Professors, her exhibition and her talent is truly world class.  

Cornelia Parker's exhibition runs until 31st May 2015 @ The Whitworth Art Gallery

The Sisterhood Tag

Yesterday I was tagged by the very talented Tash of This & That to do the 'Sisterhood Of The World Tag'. Having never done a blogging tag before I'm pretty excited to share my answers to her questions and pass along the sisterhood tag! Hopefully it'll be a great chance to tell you all a little bit more about myself too. Enjoy!

1. What made you first start blogging?
While I loved reading many great blogs, I had always wished that there were more art and design blogs about for people like me - so I started one!

2. Who are your top 3 bloggers?
I'm loving so many amazing blogs at the moment so it's really hard to choose just three but I'll narrow it down to: A Little OpulentSweet Electric and Autumn Leaves.

3. What is your favourite genre of blogging? Lifestyle? Fashion? Design etc?
It's a tough call between art/design blogs and lifestyle blogs. Perhaps because of the popularity of fashion and beauty blogs, really great design blogs are often harder to come by, so when I find one that I love I get such a buzz! Plus art and design is my passion so it's great to connect with other likeminded people. Having said all of that though, you just can't beat curling up in bed and reading a lovely lifestyle blog.

4. Where do you get your blogging inspiration?
All over the place! I'm very fortunate that because I go to art school, I get to be around creative people pretty much 24/7. Because of this I've usually got bags of inspiration surrounding me and I'm constantly noting down ideas for my blog.

5. What is your dream job?
I am currently doing an art foundation and come September I will be studying Graphic Design at degree level. My absolute dream would be to work as a graphic designer but also be able to showcase my work as art in it's own right. Designers like Stefan Sagmeister are a huge inspiration to me because of their ability to blend these two things, becoming a sort of graphic design-fine art hybrid. I'd also like to own my own business some day.

6. If you were on death row, what would be your last chosen meal?
I'm a lover of Italian food so I'd have to start off with a giant cheesy garlic pizza bread. For main I would have my all time favourite dish - spaghetti carbonara, and to finish it all off I'd have slice of chocolate fudge cake. To drink I'd order lots of champagne and cocktails - might as well go out in style!

7. What's your favourite thing to watch on Netflix?
I cancelled my Netflix subscription about six months ago *cries* but when I did have it, I was an Orange Is The New Black addict. I'm so gutted I'll be missing out on season 3 this summer!

8. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only listen to one album for the rest of your time there what album would it be?
This is an easy one! It would have to be The Stone Roses by... The Stone Roses. It's my favourite album of all time and there isn't a single bad song on it. Plus, I can just see myself sunning myself on a desert island listening to 'She Bangs The Drums'.

9. What do you think is the most important thing to do after you hit publish?
Pat yourself on the back and tell the world how great your post is!

10. What resources make your blogging life easier?
My top three blogging resources are definitely my Macbook, my DSLR (a Nikon D3000) and Photoshop Creative Cloud. Those are the things that I use to create every post on my blog without fail. Aside from these I also love the app Any.DO which is a really useful way of organising my tasks for the week and prioritising.

Ok, those are my answers to Tash of This & That's questions, time to pass the Sisterhood Of The World tag along!

I tag Bethan Likes and OhHay!. My questions to you guys are:

1. If somebody was new in your town/city, what is the one place you would recommend they visit?
2. What is once piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
3. If you could be better at one skill, what would it be?
4. Who do you admire most in the world?
5. If money were no object and there was nothing holding you back, what would be the first thing you'd do tomorrow?
6. Burgers or pizza?
7. What is you favourite part of creating a new blog post (e.g. taking the photographs, writing the content etc.)?
8. Describe your blog in three words.
9. What are you grateful for?
10. What is your ultimate blogging goal?

Enjoy girls!

5 Tips For Visually Interesting Sketchbooks

What is it about sketchbooks that make them so intriguing to touch and feel? Is it the fact that they're the most raw insight into a persons creative process? It's no secret that I take great pride in my sketchbooks. Throughout my foundation course it's the thing that I have really consistently enjoyed creating and I actively look forward to updating mine on a daily basis. While a sketchbook is the least judgmental and most forgiving of any artwork, for some it can almost feel too free, and blank pages can be very intimidating! Recently I have shared some snapshots into my own sketchbooks (here and here if you're interested) and today I want to share some ideas and suggestions on how you could go about making your own sketchbook more visually intriguing.  

1. Keep Everything 
For me, displaying bits and pieces from my creative process is a big part of creating an interesting sketchbook. It can be hard to remember to do this to begin with but soon enough it'll become second nature. Everything from paper offcuts to material samples and receipts, anything that tells the story of your working process will make a great addition to a page. Your sketchbook will soon become something of a record of how your work was created which can be so fun to look back on.

2. Methods Of Attachment 
Something that I have found to be useful when I feel like a page is looking a bit dull is using a variety of methods for attaching page elements. For example, if you have a photograph, you might just glue it down with a regular glue stick, or you could use a ripped bit of making tape, a staple, a safety pin, sticky tape around the edge, use string, split pins etc etc. It's surprising how effective this can be at changing the whole look and feel of a page.

3. Variety Is Key
If you want to keep your sketchbook visually interesting throughout for either yourself or the viewer, having a variety of page styles is a great way to achieve this. One page might be full of drawing while the next is a written brainstorm, and the next might be photographs of your process or a mixture of techniques. Try to switch it up every now and again if you tend to stick to one style.

4. Bulk
"Bulk? What the heck is bulk?" I hear you ask. Well my friends, 'bulk' is what me and all of my friends at art school strive for in our sketchbooks. Have you ever seen a sketchbook that is so full to the brim that it will barely close? Yep - that's what we're all after! There's something so beautiful about a book that's so teeming with life, ideas and creativity. Of course, that's not to say that this suits everybody's style and taste, but for me, there's no greater feeling than literally seeing my sketchbook grow in size.

5. Learn To Let Go
This is probably the most important tip that I can give. Your sketchbook is yours and yours only. Ultimately you get to choose what goes in, how you want to work and who gets to see it. Learning to let go and be free with your creative self it vital. Don't hold back - your sketchbook is somewhere you should be able to make a mistake and not lose sleep over it! Don't get caught up with making everything look perfect, just let yourself create without worry and everything else will follow suit.

While these are just some of the things I do when making my own books, the best thing about a sketchbook is that it is completely personal to the creator. You may decide that non of these tips apply to your taste (although I would recommend considering #5!). The most important thing is to express yourself freely - there really are no rules!
What are some of the things you like to do when creating your sketchbooks? I'd love to know about your process! 

My Failed Attempt At Seeing Antony Gormley's 'Another Place'

At the mouth of the Mersey estuary, just North of Liverpool, 100 cast-iron figures of Antony Gormley stand staring out to the horizon. Gormley's sculptural piece 'Another Place' spreads out along three kilometres of Crosby Beach, stretching up to one kilometre out to sea. As time has passed, nature has taken over and the men have become at one with the sea and their environment, weathered by time, engrossed with moss, algae and rust, making them ever more poignant in their location. 
It is supposed to be an incredible spectacle and there are some truly stunning photographs of these figures dotted around the internet. Unfortunately however, my own will not be adding to these! At the weekend I decided it was about time I travelled the hour that I takes down the motorway from my house to see the sculptures. It’d been on my to-do list for a while and since we have been getting such lovely sunny days recently I thought there was no time like the present…cue unpredictable British weather! Judging by all of the reduced speed limits and warning signs along the M62, I knew we were in for a windy day, what I couldn't have anticipated was the gale force winds we were met with upon arrival at Crosby Coastal Park. My car door flung open almost dragging me with it, and an unknown receipt was swept away. Regardless, I decided I hadn't come all this way not to even catch a glimpse of the statues, so me, my dog Tara and slightly unimpressed boyfriend set off down the path.
It may seem like I am overreacting but the sand was hitting our faces like bullets, I could barely see a thing through the dust! I've never known wind like it in my life and looking back we were slightly crazy to even consider going onto the beach. Eventually we reached the very first statue, and as we did, the rain started. I just about managed to grab a few shots (with my eyes 90% shut!) before it was too wet to have my camera out. I was determined not to have a wasted journey so we battled to the next statue and snapped a quick picture with my boyfriends phone. Tara usually adores the beach which is why we took her along, however by this point she was shaking and crying and the sand was getting into her eyes too much, so we decided we had to call it a day and head back to the car. Disheveled and cold, we ended up in the nearest McDonalds before heading back to Manchester!

Tara having a 'closer look' at one of the statues!
While I am disappointed that I didn't get to see more of the statues, I can't help but think that my experience is an important and necessary part of the artwork. Gormley wanted to harnesses the ebb and flow of the tide and in turn, explore man's relationship with nature. Each persons experience with the statues will be different, and therefore everybody who visits will see a different piece of art. In the words of Gormley himself, “each person is making it again". From clear sunny days, to glorious sunsets, to snow, to busy summer bank holidays, to the peak of the tide where the statues closest to the shore are up to their necks in water. My experience was perhaps unique. I was able to look out and see nothing but the eerie figures themselves, staring out alone with a sense of serenity and thoughtfulness. Battling the elements in their full force, the figures remained as we, the only people mad enough to be there, left the beach.

Antony Gormley's 'Another Place' is a permanent fixture @ Crosby Beach, Merseyside

Exhibition Visit: Casa Tomada by Rafael Gómezbarros At The Lowry

It feels like a very long time since I last posted about an exhibition visit, which is odd because I seem to have been going to loads of galleries recently as I am working on my Final Major Project at university. On Tuesday I visited this very interesting (and somewhat creepy) installation at The Lowry gallery in Salford Quays and thought I'd do a quick write up. 

The piece is by Columbian artist Rafael Gomezbarros, and consists of 1000 handcrafted ants, made from fibreglass casts of two human skulls along with twigs and rags, which scramble around the walls and ceiling of The Lowry’s long gallery space. In the installation, Gomezbarros explores issues experienced by undocumented immigrants and migrant workers, often displaced by war and unrest in their native countries and left feeling invisible and ignored by society. The unclean and grotesque visual appearance of the ants seeks to echo how migrants are often seen by wider society as unsightly vermin. Along with this however, the installation also celebrates the hardworking and productive nature of ants and in turn the positive contribution that migrants and immigrants make to society. 

Alongside the artwork itself, there were photographs displayed of Casa Tomada when it has been installed on the exterior of major public buildings across the world. The piece is often placed at points of departure and arrival that are historically significant for travellers and migrants and if you look into the history of the Manchester Ship Canal which The Lowry overlooks, it's easy to see why Salford is the perfect place to display this work due to it's diverse cultural history.

The Lowry isn't a gallery I tend to visit often however I'm very glad I gave this exhibition a look. Part artwork, part political statement, I found the piece extremely powerful and of course, visually incredible. 

Casa Tomada is running until Sunday 26th April @ The Lowry in Salford Quays 

The Seaside Is Good For My Soul

For the past few days I have been spending some time away from Manchester and city life in south Devon, somewhere I have been visiting for my whole life. Unfortunately I have this nasty habit in life where I will just work, work, work and completely burn myself out to the point where I have to stop entirely and do nothing for a while. On Monday I reached that point. I was just so stressed out and overwhelmed with everything despite the fact that I'm supposed to be on a three week break from uni for Easter. I basically decided that enough was enough and it was about time I stopped, even for just a couple of days, and visited the seaside.

There really is nowhere in the world that I feel happier than by the sea, I'm a proper 'water baby' I suppose. There's just something about fresh sea air, sand between my toes and the few degrees temperature increase that Devon always seems to have on rainy Manchester that clears my head and puts everything into perspective. Everything is done just that bit slower in Devon and so it's the perfect place for me to recharge my batteries. Being on the hilly south coast also meant that I had very little, if any, mobile signal for my whole trip. This only allowed me to have short stints on social media this week if a small pub happened to have wifi. I didn't even take my DSLR with me so all the photos on this post are taken from my Instagram feed. Removing yourself from the online world, having something of a 'digital detox', and realising that it's not all going to disappear if you switch off for a few days is defiantly important once in a while.

Often I really have to force myself to take these breaks because I worry about all of the work that's not getting done while I'm away. Honestly, in the end it's a much better use of my time because now I'm back I'm feeling refreshed and ready to get things done in a productive way. When I'm stressed it can take me a whole day to complete something that will now only take me an hour or two. Another bonus of visiting the seaside is that the change of scenery has got my creative juices flowing again and I now have a tonne of new inspiration and ideas! So even if you can't completely remove yourself for a few days like I was lucky enough to be able to, maybe just put aside a day where you go somewhere completely new and unknown. Just being in a new surrounding can do wonders for your creativity as well as your wellbeing.

What do you do to recharge your batteries when you've completely burnt yourself out? Or how do you organise your working time so that you avoid that happening in the first place? I'd love to hear your methods because I could defiantly do with a few tips myself!