Monday, 28 July 2014

I want to be Skip Shuckmann! featured artist #1

image from here

In a recent tweet I linked to an article starting with a quotation by Jeanette Winterson:

“Art can make a difference because it pulls people up short. It says, don’t accept things for their face value; you don’t have to go along with any of this; you can think for yourself.”

And it's a great quotation to introduce my latest find; artist, Skip Schuckmann.

There is not much at all about him on the internet. The information I did find was in this book: Making Contemporary Art: How Today's Artists Think and Work.

It's a book I've had a while but isn't it strange how you suddenly notice things one day that you didn't notice before?

Skip is stated as being a 'one on one' artist, moving away from the "bombast and theatrics" of much contemporary art. Trained in technical biological education, forestry service and wildlife management, which would see most people work for government, corporations, or universities to render their knowledge/ services, however Skip Schuckmann decided to become an artist. By doing this he is able to share his knowledge of land and creativity with his 'client's' as his calls them, whilst they are together on a client's land.

"My teaching technique is not institutional, but one-on-one tutoring. I am working for them by guiding them toward an understanding of their immediate surrounds and helping them to articulate their desires. In the process we create form."

This notion ties in exactly with one of the reasons I chose to take my teaching qualification to 'teach' art outside of art institutions - I wanted to share my knowledge on my own terms and in ways I had noticed people might respond to it differently.

He goes on to say:

"We are operating in a dream made manifest by television and money, engineering and computers. We have had enough rapture for a while. What we need now is plainness. We need to start responding to the world without emotional attachments and simplistic enchantments and the belief that buying things is the only way to get satisfaction." And as a result he suggests we "Move a rock. Sit awhile." 

His is a promotion of the plain and ordinary, although I would add, the embracing of the miraculousness of what is already around us, which is often ignored by a mindset that sees the world through industrialised gimmicks. I love the idea of re-embracing the enchantment of magical (natural) worlds that already exists.

Lately I've been thinking about a need to reconnect to nature (isn't it ironic I find this artist?) - a feeling I get intermittently due to living in a busy city no doubt, and thus I'm totally smitten with the idea of 'micro-climate sculpting' a term coined by Skip Shuckmann for his artistic processes.

It also taps in to another interest I have which is that art is not just an 'end product' but is many things including: a process, an enquiry, an investigation, an event or happening, a way of life even. Those who've done my experimental art e-course will know this about me well.

The idea of a studio being anywhere, being transient and any place where enquiry, investigation and an exploration of passions can take place is quite thrilling. Even more poignant in an era where there is so much at stake environmentally thus taking an interest and an understanding of our natural environment by spending quiet reflective and 'still' time within it becomes even more valuable. Nature has plenty to share with us if we take the time to 'listen' and observe I'm sure.

It's for all the above reasons and more that I believe art is so valuable. It's a way of finding a re-enchantment with the world by directly engaging with it. So much traditional education is about learning 'the answers' using our heads only, and I often wonder how children maintain their awe, wonder and excitement if eduction/school is reduced to so much learning by rote? If it's all already been discovered by someone else before us, can you imagine how unexciting that is for the average child (or person even!). Ways that encourage re-discovery, new explorations and personal unveilings can re-invigorate a sense of excitement in the world around us. And that's one of the reasons I want to be Skip Schuckmann.

The whole thing about being an artist and 'getting in to the right' gallery or trying to have one's work 'selected' for a competition can be demoralising for some. That's why I'm an advocate of finding something we are interested in and passionate about and if it's useful or functional and valuable in anyway, that's even better. Plus, there are many ways of sharing our excitements's and discoveries (art) - not just through traditional art institutions - which is why, in the Experimental Art Academy, I will also be including non-traditional places (and the how's and wherefores') of showing one's 'art' may take place.

Shuckmann is a good example of a different way of being an artist and 'showing' work. His relationship with 'client's' involves no contract and the end of each day sees a discussion about whether he comes back or not, and his working relationship can span years. Things that were seen as rubbish or waste are transformed and if working over long periods of time things that are created can fall prey to the effects of seasonal weather changes and are often then given another (and new) lease of life in a different form. Things are encouraged to unfold as they will, with no prescriptive end result in mind, how liberating is this?!

What could you micro climate-sculpt?
Where could you spend time observing and exploring to discover a relationship with your materials and consider what could potentially be material to use? The very air of the day? The light of the sun? Shadows? The detritus of life? (I love recycling!) Don't throw it away - find a way to give it a new lease of life - to marry it with nature. Not everything has been discovered. Watch things change over time. Build up slowly and maybe dismantle too.

- Does your art need an audience within a gallery setting?
- Or could you begin to formulate your own type of audience?
- Could you offer work - which directs art and a relationship with it - one person at a time?
- Is what you do already art but you haven't named it as such?

Schuckmann states he dispensed with conforming to regimented procedures, pre-determined hypotheses, standardized preconceptions and the sanitized environments of laboratories (galleries?) so he could form a direct relationship with the land in a more "thought fully' and conscious way. Thus his work allows "contemplations [that] cultivate an interplay between the plants, trees, land contours, shadow patterns, rock formations and all the other other parts of the environment that are visible as well as those that are hidden under the earth".

I feel excited. There are many places we could consider a 'studio' (nature being one of them) which are available to us to play in. We can create, carve and contemplate within the world. Being present in the moment and and an already existing environment allows an artist freedom to make or display art outside of galleries or museums.

I would like to run a series of featured artists, pondering over different ways one can 'be an artist' in the world, in the run up to the start of the next e-course (date tbc) and the beginning of the experimental art academy (date also to tbc).



PS. thank you for all the comments and emails re. my last post. Watch this space :)

Friday, 25 July 2014

blogging, ideas, and income?

an image I took on a recent photowalk (more about this another time....)

Recently I read a post discussing the role of bloggers who earn money and what people's thoughts were on this.

I found it intriguing as someone who started a blog and launched an e-course from the back of that blog. Someone who tried out having individual businesses on my side bar as advertisers and then for a short, brief moment, tried out google ads (argh!). These have all gone.

I started a blog with fresh content, a change of life in the air, and a tonne to share + a determination to give up work that stifled and slowly killed my soul. And I achieved this. However, over the time of this blog, I've struggled to find content to share at times (and still worry I repeat myself). I got concerned about selling out. And became discontent with how much time I spent online, whilst at other times I struggled (and still do) with the requirements on my time to even do anything - I watched this video today nodding my head. I thought for a moment I was going to give up writing blog posts and close the whole thing down, then had quite a quick turn around in thought. It's been a slow burn and build, and I like to think there is something here worth keeping.

I got concerned too about keeping up with what I started, how I could deliver and address my own needs and interests and those of people who may read my blog. I did my art MA and thought I should be a 'professional artist' and not share intimate thoughts and opinions and simply streamline my blog to my art journey. But now I'm going through a phase of thinking, if I try to be like everyone else I will lose myself, and become another similar voice lost in a crowd, and  therefore, I've got to do it my way as that's the only way that feels authentic and worthwhile and thoughts and ideas about life, art and other things always seem to bubble on up and through.

I've re-discovered a love of this. I realise too that working for myself and following dreams is still the way to go. I am glad to say that I have achieved so much by setting out on this journey and genuinely ticking off some of my key dreams/goals. But shall I tell you something strange? I have rarely reached a place where I feel I've completed most of what I set out to do (dream-wise), but that's kind of what I feel is happening right now. I'm thinking carefully about what to call in next. Oh yes, I could tell you things like I want to go holiday in the Bahamas, but I know myself well enough now and I would get bored after a while and I find the sun too hot and I think I prefer working to relaxing (at least for a certain amount of time). Also, the BIG KEY THING that I've come across recently is: IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT ME!

The holiday in the Bahamas would be great, but like most things in life it is made better by the people you get to SHARE IT WITH (why am I shouting in caps?! I don't know. Maybe I'm confirming my realisations to myself!!)

I know so much of life is about GIVING. Is this where true meaning and fulfilment comes? Does constantly fulfilling oneself ever really feels enough? Each time we reach a goal, or get to a place we wanted to get to, does anyone else feel like it's not quite what they expected, or that it's not as fulfilling as they thought, or that desire forms itself into another object/thing/feeling we would like? An expansion of the never ending search for 'having it all' or 'having it perfect' but do we ever get there

Oh to be in the moment, to realise it is an ebb with a flow and that both are required. And that minds and things change.

To cut a long story shorter, I wish to re-visit some original ideas: to develop a school or community where we can come together and I get to share all I've learnt so far, and all I know about art-related things and creative living. Tried and tested. It doesn't do as much keeping it to myself.

And so the blog post about sales and selling and what people think, comes at a timely time as I think about how I'm truly going to embark upon the (interesting and challenging?) journey of developing the EXPERIMENTAL ART ACADEMY.

I've had a few people ask about the next experimental art e-course and I do intend to run it again soon, and on top of that I really do have so many ideas that I want to share for the experimental art academy. A membership site, that offers simple prompts, plus in depth art techniques, how to write your CV, how to write proposals to galleries, how to find the time, energy and inspiration to even just sit and start making + much more. Strength and inspiration comes in community, but yes, it will involve the exchange of money. And then there are those discussions about how much we charge which says so much about how much we value ourselves and our skills. Oh my - it can be tricky.

At this time it is definitely my intention to do it. But I know that life can throw new things in to the mix and I will have to see what happens on this front. Some of you who read regularly will know what I'm referring to ;) I'm busy scribing content at the moment and I've even developed a specific mailing list so that it will be delivered primarily (and maybe only) to those on that list. So if you are interested in hearing more about art workshops, e-courses and the experimental art academy please subscribe here

And then I'd love to hear from you. What do you think about bloggers earning money and maybe more importantly, how they do it? What do you think about a membership site for the experimental art academy? And if you do have any preliminary thoughts about what you'd really like to do, or have shared in that site, what that might be? As although I have ideas you may have things I've not even thought about! Feel free to email or comment here and hopefully I can run some taster things......

As you can probably sense, I'm bursting a little. Writing here in the burning heat of the UK weather (not used to it being so hot), finding it easier to concentrate being out of the house and down by the River of London.

I intend to be back here again soon with more...

Monday, 14 July 2014

the curious art of hanging (art)

A recent fascination with the way one can hang or instal art - whether it be at home or in a gallery type situ has ensued.

I've even created a pinterest board dedicated to ideas and curation.

This interest may well have been sparked by my recent spate of home decorating which I could no longer avoid (repairs, repairs) making me think how art/home are often an extension of one and the other. And partly because everything at home got jumbled up, moved around and I had to re-think everything!

How might we marry the two, interior style - which is a reflection of ourselves and our lives - with art-hanging - moving outside the usual framed image or canvas hung flat on a wall at eye height?

Art, for me, ultimately holds the greatest power in asking questions of the viewer, or evoking re-consideration of a topic, and pointing to new (without being didactic) possible answers or thought/s. How can this be reflected in the hanging or installation of said art-work in that case?

I've long been intrigued by where art can meet 'life' and alternative ways and places to show art other than galleries.

Alternative ideas for art installation at home:

:: How can we project images (walls) or showreel images on monitors/screens? It doesn't just have to be TV that plays moving image at home! Possibilities: nestled amongst shelves, on walls, high up, floor or ceiling based, housed within another object.....

:: How could sculptures be interwoven with our furniture arrangement? hanging; floor-based; projecting from the wall?

:: A series of photographs or prints hung in wooden-clamp clothes hangers - what other similar household objects could hold prints on a wall? - clipping works to wire hangers? bulldog clips on nails? clipboards?

:: I'm currently developing a wall of paper based works hung with chrome magnets at home (loving magnet expert) allowing for easy rotation/change of works when required. The photo above is of a piece by my daughters friend. There are craft magnets blu-taced to my wall behind, just in case you're wondering. An alternative would be to paint a wall with magnetic paint

:: A series of small shelves with front facing displays with books, magazines, canvases, framed pieces, prints, photos etc. I've made shelves before with bits of wood from the local DIY shop, then painted white and attached to a wall

:: A stack of posters, images, prints in a room. I like the idea someone can take one each time they visit

:: A single protruding shelf for small 3D sculptures with nothing else on there, or small blocks of wood as plinths for small prints, photos, other - which could be arranged on multiple surfaces at home

:: Another simple idea is leaning framed prints or canvases up against the floor, on tables or on shelves, rather than hanging straight on wall

:: The temporary nature of taping to the wall seasonal collections, or small works in progress would be good for this - especially now that washi tape seems so popular (you can get it in black too!)

:: If feeling brave there is always the option of art done directly on to walls - a sense of permanency rather than temporal

And I leave you with the thought that you could make your very own installation art piece - a personal oasis? - at home ;)

I'm sure there are many more ideas. If you have any, do leave in comments below, and if I come up with them, I may add here......

Oh, and thought I'd share my latest discovery; artist/illustrator massimo nota - yum!


Sunday, 13 July 2014

re-writing the stories of our lives

This week there have been reminders of staying strong in the face of adversity.

Remembering I have to create not react. That KINDNESS is better than confrontation.

And avoiding falling in to habitual patterns of thinking that are painful.

I am grappling with a changing role that involves my parents as they grow older, the holiday return of an adult daughter from Uni, and the transition of my youngest from primary to secondary school. Each on their own are fairly full on and momentous, but when they come all together and still my own home needs holding together, finances earnt, and the garden & other domestics managed, whilst attempting to find peace and recuperation, something has to give.

I am re-remembering the art of SURRENDER, WISDOM and TRUST, and the ongoing process of how to relate to others so that the best outcome is attained for all. It if far from easy. And I often feel "no-one ever taught me how to do this".

And suddenly I feel an urge to run to my blog, to write it all out. To ask if I'm the only one? (although I know I am not).

I search for others who might provide a guide and glimpse into this unknown territory - the next phase and path through my life.

And I wish to start carving a new existence and making a plan. I love making a plan. A way to regain a sense of control when things feel out of control? To start giving meaning and purpose to what I do and to give back in some way.

Maybe the stormy times have given birth to a renewed sense of creativity and that can only be a good thing.

My house has turned upside down, life feels topsy turvy and so, a revisit to the place that precipitated a new journey back in 2009 - the blog - is required.

It's all about sharing the journey isn't it? And we all need a place we can run to.

And so I'm sitting in the light of the Southbank lounge in London (image at top is one of my views out the window), knowing that one of the (many) things I need to do is to create a new 'atmosphere' to work in, to write in, to starting planning a better pathway in so that home isn't a box I feel trapped in.

And to read Susannah Conway's newsletter (a timely arrival in my inbox), reminds me that when things happen, how we react is a perception and 'story' we scribe in our minds. She writes:
If this happens to you, too, I find writing it out is SO helpful. Take a page in your journal and write down exactly what's triggering you. It could be a paragraph or a few bullet points, but just get the essence of the situation out into words. Then write down how it's making you feel. What's the story you're weaving in your head? Scribble it out. Be honest. Then read back what you've written, take a deep breath, and write out what it is you want. What is it you're wishing for more or, or less of, in your life? 
I'm grateful to others who remind me of a different way to approach the toughness that life inevitably brings. And so I am off to re-write it as I wish it, to plan it out, to re-scribe the stories in my mind. Thanks ladies who share.

Oh, and maybe it's time to get this book:

Tomorrow I will be back with a post on how to hang art (home or otherwise) that is different to the norm - I like unusual ways, and unusual things - there's always a different way ;)

I have some other stories (and things) I wish to share. Coming up....


Saturday, 21 June 2014

art | design | living

maybe this should say 'my latest findS'

It's been a while again and even though it's heading toward mid-summer, I am snowed under (okay, in a good way for once!) re-styling my house and channelling my creativity in to my home as a large art project.

I like MAKING! and this in part, is reason why my online presence has diminished; too much time on the computer does my head in and takes me away from making - which ultimately is my passion. I like getting my hands busy and dirty and at the same time, planning, plotting, scheming and visualising. I even have a project or two up on ebay if you want to have a look)

Does anyone else like lying there in bed on a night dreaming of their next piece, place, furniture, decoration, art project, curation of all the above?

Sometimes I feel I think about it so much that that's my way of 'bringing it forth' (and yes, I'm finding it amazing what is turning up). Solo mamma-hood means that I have to be majorly thrifty (+ I like to be as environmentally friendly as much as possible too), but that's all part of the thrill. What can I make/do/create/upcycle on a budget, using my own hands and:

- wood
- dye
- paint
- fabric
- screws
- glue
- paper?

Collecting some more inspiring books from the library, I've been regularly thumbing my way through:

Casual Living

Fleamarket Chic: The Thrifty Way to Create a Stylish Home

Handmade Home

Modern Rustic

(there are more books, but next time maybe)

So I've continued searching for exactly what I'd like to fill my home with - every visit to my local carboot, I'm finding exactly what it is I've been dreaming of (how strange is this?!) I like vintage crates at the moment and have just added castors to one and stuck the above letterpress letters to the side (RECYCLE) to make an extended recycling cart (my recycling bin always gets way too full before collection day). Even the rubbish can be stylishly collected me-thinks. It's possible to pick up cheaper crates on ebay and at carboots than the link I've added (although I love them on there!)

I found another crate to double up as a side table with phone & plant near door, & housing shoes inside (it's turned on it's side - should I include pics do you think?)

I invested in a proper sander and delightfully upcycled this chest of drawers:

And for those who saw my tweet and thanks to Bethe who answered, I discovered Chloe Alberry in Portobello for the gorgeous porcelain handles (I could not find tiny handles online - or anywhere for that matter - until then).

So thanks to (retro) Ikea, Farrow & Ball (Railings 31), Chloe Alberry - and Bethe - I now have some desktop drawers I'm in love with again. I also upcycled a vintage box up which I bought for about 50p years ago in a carboot in the same style.

The letterpress letters (which are actually magnets) in image above are from Wild & Wolf.

I'd like to fill my home with not just things I make & do, but items made by other artisans. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Kate Scott ceramic bowl from the Pullens Yard open studios recently.

Let's make the world we want to live in!

Next up I'm planning how to curate some lovely art on paper I've either collected or made. I will endeavour to post images soon. I'm thinking chrome magnets to hold them up and will have to figure a way to do this.......

Back out in to the snow for now, but I will return again soon (at least that's my intention!)


PS. Am also totally inspired by London Grrl's instagram shots - a lovely online and offline friend :)

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Is your home-style an extension of your art-style?

in my room: boxes from childhood & carboot sales, tins from reclamation yard in Devon, coke bottle is artwork by Chris Cawkwell, enamel cup as plant holder from, how to make a happening CD (from Allan Kaprow's works), postcard from V&A quilt show 2010, jewellery made by my sis & from notonthehighstreet, paper house, artwork by me!

So as my home continues its de-cluttering, and I've had a chance to breathe within my space I can see room for new ideas, things, projects, pieces.....

Over the winter period when the roof leaked and damaged interior rooms too, I could no longer ignore the work that needed doing.

I've lived here for 10 years and often longed to do something about the interior but frequently not been in a position for many reasons.

Now I'm going for it. And discovering extensions of my interests within art, within my home.

I wanted to share with you all they juicy findings inspiring me right now.

I ventured into purchasing some interior mags and discovered photographer Paul Massey. In particular his primrose hill flat which is delicious & I've been dreaming of home styled like this ever since!

I'm always drawn to interiors with a hand-made, upcycled, reclaimed and thrifty style pieces with a history to each and revealing the personality of the owner. There is something about individuality and uniqueness whilst being environmentally friendly too that I'm always inspired by.

It turns out you can even rent out Paul Massey's pad if you are thinking of visiting london, check out the images and flat here, and also some more pics here.

And so I've recently discovered these finds too:

Rockett St George (oh my, check out the garden hose!) (which currently has 15% off if you enter SPRING14 at checkout)


Igigi in Brighton (actually this is a re-discovery!)

Pale and Interesting - which also has a holiday cottage one can rent out (and a book, which I will come on to later)


And I do still enjoy Habitat for the occasional complimentary find along with Ikea

If you're interested in totally reclaimed, recycled peices then other places to check out:

ebay - of course! (I've been on there loads recently)

Greenwich market

Wimbledon Dog Tracks Car Boot - this is brilliant and I've some seriously good furniture finds in my home from here + vintage frames & garden pieces too

Portobello Market

Josephine Ryan - I used to work here and loved every inspiring moment of it!

Some tips:

* go to a carboot sale with a shopping list
(its amazing what you can find from you focus list!)

* look in interior design books/mags for ideas, then scour your local charity shops for those items - I just bought lots of glasses in the style I wanted + some gorgeous white plates from my local charity shop

Don't forget the books......

My latest book finds include:

- Thrifty Chic: Interior Style on a Shoestring (just bought a copy of this in another local charity shop for a bargain!)

The Natural Home

A Life Less Ordinary

Rethink: the way you live

Essence of White

Simply Scandinavian

Pale & Interesting

The Inspired Home: Nests of Creatives

I'm sure there are more, and I will share in time.

In other news, the show art ArtLacuna (Bodies That Matter 2) went well. I will share some images from that soon.....


PS. just to clarify ALL LINKS, LIKES, SUGGESTIONS on this blog are my own. I do not get paid, or do it for any other reason than I find, I like, I want to share! :)

Thursday, 8 May 2014

de-cluttering - is it good for your art?

recently I've been culling. Going through my home in spare moments and distilling things and objects.

One of my biggest hoarding issues (because I don't actually think I'm that bad), is collecting things that could potentially be used for art. It turns out I have a tonne of paper - maybe now's a good time to start using it?!

Personally, too many things make me feel burdened somehow. I like the idea of being able to pack up and run, reducing down to essentials and only having what I need.

I admit that with one going, going, nearly gone (child that is) an energy shift has naturally occurred in the form of clearing out. I've wept my way through some cupboards; like a fairy tale walk-in wardrobe to another land & in this case, a land of papers & the past! It felt timely and good to 'let go'.

I have at times fantasised about the art of making 'nothing' - objects gather dust and remain un-used (in some respects) - so how does one make art that is nothing? (Is this the world of conceptual art?)

By clearing out there is an opportunity for fresh energy to come in to one's life.

try this:

- spend just 10 minutes on one drawer or cupboard and cull: take things to the charity shop, recycle yard, give away or sell on e-bay

Spend more time if that's what you're compelled to do!

When a space opens up I find there's room for new-ness, more (in whatever form), fresh ideas and inspiration to come in.

I am still de-cluttering. And where I can't buy new anyway (because I cannot justify the expense) I will re-create.  I have new dining room chairs a la paint left over from decorating :) ahhh

I had a hot pink mirror once, now it's a stylish Annie Sloan/Farrow & Ball french grey ;)

For inspiration I have been reading this zenhabits post:

I also like the notion of a tiny home (something I've touched on previously in this blog). It thrills me to think how small a footprint I can make on this planet, rather than a large one. How I can reduce bills, space, overheads rather than reach for more, consume more and gather more. Although in this instance, I think more outdoor space would be good.....

I like these:

I think I need to buy this book next: Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter

I also recently came across this concept 'pocket neighbourhoods': - I need to read more on this, but thought I would share. (I've just found the book too.)

Returning to art, I find I'm collecting images/objects already in existence, finding ways to remove, erase, or simply re-contextualise what's already there.

It's strange, these correlations between areas of my life.

The world is full; messages abundant; advertising in over-kill, but what is it we truly wish for deep down? What is it we are trying to say by the way we live, the art we make?


PS. I'm thrilled to be having some of my art (new work), travel to this event in Greece:

If you're in Athens, do visit - and please take a pic and send to me as I won't be there!