Thursday, December 23, 2010

Print, stick, write, seal; print, stick, write, seal; print, stick...

This year the little Japanese Gocco printer went to work on these single-sided greetings, printed in silver, powder blue and dark green and finished with a real Swarovski crystal on the bauble. I say 'the Gocco' got to work - the troops were in for their usual annual overtime, hunched over the printing machine and wondering about the next tea break.

The design is a simple silhouette of a little girl and her toy reindeer on wheels, reaching for the sparkly bauble hidden among the sharp nib icicles. It's evocative of a lot of the work I've done this year - silhouettes have featured heavily, with the work for the Robert Burns Museum (on the following blog) and the Harper Lee cover, to name but two, and since I'm a traditionalist who loves Christmas, it had to reflect the childlike wonder I still feel at the rustling of parcels and tree branches, and that feeling that 'something is different' on Christmas Eve.

Hand-printed on 700gsm GF Smith Colourplan, in white, with a rubber-stamped reverse, mostly stamped by Anne. John did most of the crystals, with startling accuracy.

They took hours and hours, covered all the desks, cost a lot to post, and used a silly amount of ink. But e-cards? It'll be a hot day in December before you see any of those emerging from the Mole HQ.

And with that rather rash statement, it's Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Inkymole!

Is four Christmas trees greedy?

As you might know if you read this blog fairly often, 2010 was largely dominated by the building of a new studio and gallery space at Inkymole HQ. Although still with some work to do, the new space is restful and makes practical use of what was already here, while incorporating land that hitherto lay unused.

The first show in the little gallery was Witches, a third and final showing (in October) of the project exploring the confessions of the Pendle witches. We were very taken with the trees that Tom Hare had built for this new installation of the show, using Ash to create three trees which looked for all the world as if they had thrust themselves up through the floor overnight. We liked them so much we decided to leave two of them in place for Christmas, and make them our Christmas trees.

Grandma's tree dominates the far left corner, and the usual modest-but-loyal Christmas tree will come out in a couple of days to sit out the rest of the holiday with the smaller baubles in the box (I'm a bit uncomfortable leaving it shut away in the loft...). So that's four. Too many? Never!

It's a shame it can't stay full-time, and I always get teary when it's time to un-decorate, but on the twelfth night they'll come down in readiness for the series of shows we've got planned for 2011, and be thrown joyously onto the woodburner. See? Nothing wasted.

The year in black and white.

This series of illustrations, for a 2011 calendar, was created for Atelier in the US, through Leo Burnett. They were tricky to do, since the shapes had to be very readable, and were inspired by this boot I'd drawn for Macy's earlier this year.

As is often the way with jobs that are a little punishing in both deadline and difficulty, I'm actually really pleased with the way they turned out. There's a classic drama in white-on-black, and the design leaves the illustrations a bit of breathing space. My favourite months are the July fan, the over-the-top August bottle, and the October necklace, since it hides a cheeky skull and a handful of other Hallowe'eny artefacts. I'm awaiting a few printed copies as we speak.

7 hours to London.

The snow came under an hour into our trip to London at the weekend. I've never been in a blizzard, so thank goodness we had the flask, four spare coats, a sense of humour and a healthy dose of realism.

These were some of the views from the car windows. Sparkly, eh?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Blind One.

We've got a row of 8 blinds across the back of the new studio space, which are presently white and which cover the floor-to-ceiling glass doors. These can be opened out onto the garden which, once it's recovered from the devastation of building work, will be green and handsome and, we hope, full of birds!

Right now the snow covers only the beginnings of a pond and a half-built wood store, so the blinds are closed as early as four o'clock. We came up with the idea, some time ago, of having each of our artist friends decorate a blind for us, so we'd have a ready-made installation of eight pieces of art to continually feast our eyes on after dark. Since we can only remove one blind at a time (or face being exposed to the entire street 24/7), we're doing them one by one.

The first is by Kelly Merrell. Kelly works mainly in felt pens and fine liners, and doodles rather than draws - her work has an obsessive intensity which belies the fact that she creates it in actually a rather casual, relaxed way; in front of the TV, in bed, on the sofa...but to gaze into it, you might think it's the product of hours spent in a darkened room alone with one's own thoughts and demons, no books, no phone, no daylight, no...

We gave her a brief and she produced a sketch - not Kelly's usual way of working, since her pieces are nearly always the product of a spontaneous imagination and are essentially self-perpetuating - then she got stuck in with black Poscas (in different sizes, leaving plenty of space in which the really intense parts could breathe). Result! It's possible to stare at it for hours and see things you haven't spotted before. You can also see more of Kelly's doodles on her Flickr page.

We've got the next few artists lined up, but we'll leave it till the winter's over before starting the next one. Brrrr. By then, the back wall should be built, so far fewer nosy neighbours will get a look-in... they're missing out on some great art though, poor souls.

Kelly's sketch:

Work in progress:

In situ:


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Birthday suit.

On August 30th I gathered together a nude model, two men with cameras and a tea-making heat-overseeing logistics man to create what was a spur-of-the-moment idea, triggered by a request for some voluntary art by an American client.

Sometimes, I'm amazed how far people will go to help when they're inspired by something. A large American cancer charity asked me to create an illustration for their new fund raising website, through a creative agency (a previous client), to expand on the theme of 'birthdays'. Now I've been involved in tattoos for a number of years, just lately doing a few more, and the first idea that occurred to me was 'I have to draw on a body!' Because, of course, what is cancer all about? The body, and its survival and battles when invaded by cancer.

This of course meant a photographic approach rather than one on paper. Which meant I needed a cameraman, or two. Michael at Zensplash, who takes care of all things web and screen on the Inkymole team, volunteered immediately. And then I needed a model. Up popped Danielle, who's done a bit of modeling before but is more usually found in the worlds of books, languages and hardcore academic debate. Since we decided to make a film of the work in progress too, it also needed stop-motion photographs and filming. Step forward Andy.

With the studio still at the stage of being empty with underfloor-heated concrete, the space under our big skylight was ideal for the drawing. So armed with lights, camera and some serious tea action, we began.

I drew on Danielle using a handful of surgical skin markers bought from a medical supplier, which gave exactly the right purplish hue, but would clean off with relative ease (though Danielle would be the ultimate judge of that). The theme was 'Birthdays' - based on the concept that the cancer charity allows cancer sufferers to celebrate more of them - and the particular quote I'd been asked to illustrate was its founding in 1946 and the amount of money it had raised since - lots of figures and words, but I concentrated too on what are actually the very beautiful shapes and structures of cancer cells; divorcing myself from their devastating nature, I looked closely at their form and construction, organic and creeping, and built those into the illustration.

As it turned out, the illustration took an unintended 'clothing' shape, which if I'd had more than a day I'd like to have extended further across and down the body - but I hope I'll do this again so I can try that next time. The resulting film, painstakingly edited by Michael and with a completely charming bespoke soundtrack by our friend 47trees, is destined for the website, and very large prints of the photographs shown below will go on sale to raise money for the charity. A thoroughly satisfying day with an experimental but beautiful outcome, and one which we'll remember for all sorts of reasons.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

13 Witches at 71

Saturday 6th saw the inaugural show in the Factory Road gallery - a new venture which gets its own blog from 2011!

For the last time me, Tom Hare, Ed Garland and Anthony Saint James resurrected The Witches, the body of work created originally for TBWA's Hallowe'en show in Manchester, and expanded on for its own show last October at the East Gallery, Brick Lane, London. Neither Anthony nor Ed could be present since they're in different parts of the world, but Tom came to dress the space with trees and help paint the faux-shadows behind them...of which one guest said he was 'taken apart' on noticing a crow without any obvious physical origin...

The space works exceptionally well as the gallery we intended it to be when we started planning a couple of years ago but, as with every show we've ever done, erecting it was a far more complex matter than just lining up a few framed bits and some foam-board labels. A week was spent plotting where things should sit, hang and be lit, the end result eased supernaturally into its space by Tom's trees, which appeared for all the world to emerge from the floor as if they'd forced their way through in the middle of the night. The soundtrack couldn't be live this time (we had Demdike Stare play live at the London show), but was a nonetheless murky compilation of Demdike, Boards of Canada, Marcus Fjellstrom and assorted grainy voodoo songs of bedevilment and woe.

Guests were treated to locally-brewed ale and home-made breads, made by Bob who installed himself in the kitchen for most of the evening. Danielle, who shall shortly make an appearance in another blog, worked tirelessly to keep the tea going and produced bowls of dal and piles of chappatis. There were many others involved in the smooth running of the evening, which was overall a very satisfying experience despite contrary weather and the dazzling rival charms of the many fireworks popping outside.

There's a sequence of shows planned for 2011 and beyond, so keep your eyeballs peeled for news and invites. We're excited.

The witches' poppets dangle asphyxiatedly from Tom's branches, Ed's stories and Mole's interpretations behind.

A long view of one half of the space.

This fella carved by Simon Wood greeted anyone reaching for food.

...and this is said carver, Mr Wood. Mr Wood, meet Chattox, who is made of wood.

Much discussion.

...questions were asked.

Here's a close-up of the missing crow.

And the emerging human hand branches.

Nesting, in front of work in progress.

Anthony's photographic pieces - Witches Chattox, Alice Grey, Anne Redferne, James Device.

The evil Chattox, head of the most heinous family and arch enemy of Demdike, here re-envisioned by Anthony as an inked-up self-carving young haggard.

And ponderment - the talented Mrs Tranter, who also shares a special relationship with the trees and whose work is already starting to grace our home.

Bob's Bakery.

This shawl, in constant use in winter months, was crocheted by my Mum in 1979.
Top Shop Vintage can bugger off: this is an ORIGINAL!


Related Posts with Thumbnails