Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Home Project - Memory is My Homeland

Last spring I finalised a title for the body of work, which I had been alternately thinking of as "The Home Project" and "Stories of Home". I finally settled on "Memory is My Homeland", a phrase which I extrapolated from a quote by artist Anselm Kiefer. The beginnings of this work can be seen in previous blog posts here and here. The third small piece in this series is based on the view from my window, from the first time I moved from the family home - I lived here for one month, and almost would not even include it in thinking of my various homes, but for the number of stories that I associate with this one month. I think this work gives an indication of some of these stories!

Dunn Ave, oilstick & graphite on wood, 25.4 cm x 25.4 cm, 2019


In July I did a sketch for a larger work related to the house that I grew up in. I would describe it as being about "growing up, leaving home, and trees & flowers". Kingswood, in the east end of Toronto.


I finished the large painting before the end of 2019, but that will provide a blog post on its own. I used the image from the corner of this painting (a memory of my Communion Day, though for the painting I removed the veil) to feature in some prints.



I previously blogged about going to the Trinity Arts Workshop to learn about carborundum (which can be found here) and it was after printing out the carborundum prints that I decided I wanted to include some linework in the final print. I returned to the TAW to etch a corresponding copper plate and was shown how off-setting a print from the carborundum would facilitate a perfect correspondence. I had never encountered this process before, so it was like magic!


While I was resident at Signal Arts Centre at the end of last year, I did a few more test prints of the carborundum plate. I still have access to a small press and plan to finish the copperplate in drypoint before combining the plates for a final print edition.


I used the Communion image again for a monoprint, but unfortunately I think I applied too much pressure when running through the press, and the ink stuck to and ripped the paper. This is the actual plate before I put it through the press.


Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Handbag book gift

I have made a number of "handbag books" by cutting the leather from my Mum's old handbags, which I received after she died a few years ago. I decided I would make a sketchbook for my child as a xmas present from one of MY old handbags. I chose a black vinyl handbag because of it's size (for a decent sketchbook) and because I thought it would look cool! I also thought it would be great to have a working pocket on the front cover, and there was a zipped pocket on the bag.

Of course once the bag was decided upon, the paper had to be prepared. This simply involves taking measurements and using a metal ruler to tear the paper to size for a deckled effect. Full details on the Japanese stab binding technique can be found here; this is the binding technique I planned to use for this bag. I blogged about the turquoise handbag books that I made from one of my Mum's handbags in 2018 and that can be found here.


Once I had all the paper prepared, including endpapers, I put everything together as a package and marked where the binding holes would be. The holes were made with a drill press - much easier than an awl!


Since my endpapers were yellow, I used yellow cotten embroidery thread for binding.


In order that the pocket was neat on the inside and did not cause any damage to the sketchbook paper or endpapers, I affixed some paper to the inside covers (and weighted down) prior to preparing the final package for binding.


Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Signal studio - wind down

My residency at the Signal Arts Centre studio came to an end recently -- don't know if it would have been possible to keep up such a supremely productive pace! I previously blogged about this year's residency here and here. I also had a residency last year, which I blogged about here, here, and here. I am booked in for next Oct, Nov, and Dec too!

In my last few weeks I had borrowed a press and printed up all the lino blocks I had cut. This is a test print, showing also the "window" I made from a heavy cardboard in order that the paper would be lifted off the press base. I adjusted the press roller for the depth of the lino blocks, but the cardboard had the effect of raising the press base such that printing a relief block was not awkward.


I printed all the lino blocks for my intended bound portfolio of prints, "A Short Walk To Fort Carré"


In those last few weeks I also completed a number of blank sketch/notebooks using my modified version of medieval tacket binding. I have blogged about how to do this type of binding here and here.


I also prepared nine pocket size blank sketch/notebooks to include in Signal's annual xmas craft fair. The photo below shows them before using the Japanese stab binding technique. Three have leather covers, three have vinyl covers, and three have acrylic sponge covers. Earlier in the residency I had also made a number of "handbag" books using this binding technique. Several years ago I blogged full instructions to make this type of book, which can be found here.


Once I had all the lino prints done, I wanted to make use of the press during the last couple of days of my residency. I had some oils and one of the carborundum plates I had created during a printmaking workshop I attended in September. I blogged about that workshop here.


As I was cleaning up and clearing out the studio, one of the final "clean" things I wanted to do was cut and create the covers for the series of lino prints I now realised I would not bind until the new year, but I at least wanted to get them made. I always get nervous about measuring and cutting (it's so final!) so I took it pretty slow.


The covers are made of a heavy duty, 100% acid-free blotting paper, and will fold around the print series, bound together using the simple Japanese stab binding technique. The portfolio of prints will be in an edition of three.


On my second last day of the studio, I decided to create a monoprint. Using undiluted alkyd paints on a square acetate plate, I painted the familiar figure. Unfortunately I did not blot my paper dry enough, and it ripped in the press. Rather than daunt me, it just made me realise a few things for next time, as I want to work more with that image.


This is the studio shortly before I moved out: almost everything off the walls, and a lot of work brought home already. On the table near the window, prints are being weighed down to flatten. After a final tidy, I said goodbye to an inspiring workspace and returned the key.


Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Chrismas Craft Fair

The annual Christmas Craft Fair at Signal Arts Centre opened on Mon Dec 10 and will be open 10-5 daily (including Sundays) until xmas eve. The first thing one can't help but notice on entering the gallery is the beautiful aroma of handmade soaps and potpourri.


The galley has been transformed into a lovely craft shop and one is enticed to browse.


There is a great mix of handcrafts - ceramics, cushions, handmade notebooks, xmas decorations, tea cosies, hand decorated t-shirts, felted scarves, stuffed toys, handmade cards - the list goes on!


I contributed a number of things: handmade pocket note/sketchbooks (left), hand-painted tiles (left) and some handbuilt pottery (to the right can be seen two of my shamrock bowls), Also featured on the display steps are my husband's beaten copper tea-light holders (left) and a number of his versatile ceramic teabag/cooking utensil/key holders (centre to lower right).


Here is another view of the display steps.


There are a few more pieces of mine not on the step display - another shamrock bowl (shamrock in flower was embedded to print into the clay before bisquing) and one of my tile paintings.


As well as the terracotta blue-glazed draped vessels (which I don't have a picture of in this blog!) I made a few festive draped-slab serving dishes from grey buff and white clay.


This is a view down the hallway. The display steps are on the first white-clothed table.


This is a view of the corner of the main gallery space. Gorgeous felted scarves are on that clothes rack in the corner and copper jewellery in the centre. Best wishes to all who contributed their work to the fair. There are some real bargins here and the craft work is such a high quality too.


Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Signal studio - full swing!

Well I'm in my last week of the residency here at Signal Arts Centre, and it has been very productive! The time has gone by very quickly, but a ten week residency provides a perfect limitation - definite time to work on a few specific projects but the limitation does not allow for dawdling. My schedule was a basic 10-5 workday from Monday to Wednesday. Thursdays were a shortened day (including a shortened lunch), and Fridays were always a half day for me. When I first moved in to the studio at the end of September, I did a post that gave an indication of how I was going to work, setting up "stations" for my specific activities. During the residency I planned to concentrate on bookbinding and printmaking, with a daily self-portrait warm-up. For the month of October I added to this as I took part in Inktober, which I blogged about here.

This is the door to the studio, and each morning, after hanging my coat up on a nail, I made my way


to the self-portrait station. The full-length mirror was in the studio when I got there and was handier than the mini-mirror I had brought with me. I had a chair that faced the mirror and would choose what media I would use any day. The moveable computer table was also handy for access and to spread materials out on.


The large table behind the self-portrait station provided a miscellaneous work area. Visible on the foreground table in the photo below are books ready to be bound, one of my sketchbooks, and a cookie tin full of pencils, markers, charcoal, etc. There are two sinks in this studio, and when I arrived someone had placed a board over the second sink. I decided to leave the board and make use of the flat surface for finished books, which are visibly piled on top of each other.


The table in the lefthand corner of the room became a clean are for storing paper, research pictures, and drawings. Later even these things were removed so that there was a clean, flat surface to place finished prints. I taped test prints and drawings to the walls.


I borrowed a portable press from one of my nieces and gave it a clean table to itself. To the right of the picture is the working sink, and the area behind and to the left of the press table is the area where I would ink plates. Directly to the left of the press you can see the "window" I cut from heavy cardboard. The linoleum plates fit into this window, which I later affixed to the press plate, so that block printing would be smooth.


I forgot to take a picture of the other table, against the left wall and beside the clean, paper table above. This specific table was mostly clean, but the one that I worked at most constantly: transferring images to lino plates, cutting the lino, cutting leather and binding books. My final piece from the studio will be a series of linoprints, "A Short Walk to Fort Carré", bound together as a portfolio in an edition of three. I won't be binding the prints together till after I photograph them individually, but I have the portfolio covers cut and the final prints done, so I will be doing a post about them in the new year.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Peggy Guggenheim Collection - Venice


On my last gorgeous day in Venice, I visited the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. It was fantastic! It was a lovely building with intimate galleries and a terrace overlooking the Grand Canal. The collection was superb - I felt like I was taking a stroll through the history of early to mid 20th century art, as I recognised a good number of the artworks from art school textbooks.

Guggenheim was very interested in collecting Cubist and Surrealist works when she first started collecting, so there are a number of works by Picasso, Braque, Giacometti, Magritte, Duchamp, Gorki, Richier and others. Indeed, Duchamp was one of her advisors at the beginnings of her project in London. This Picasso is from 1937.


I loved seeing this scrumptious painting by Grace Hartigan, whose work I did not remember learning about in art history classes, but who was apparently just as well-known in the New York art scene of the 1940s and 1950s as all the male artists who were written about later in texts. I am certainly very aware of how female artists (scientists, thinkers, etc.) seem to have been erased from the collective memory, but are now suddenly reappearing (reclamation!) as having been there all along.



Another woman artist whose work with which I was unfamiliar, is Lynn Chadwick. This small sculpture from 1955 begs to be a large, public sculpture but I really enjoyed the lighting which created defined shadows on the wall behind it.


It was also a joy to enter a room and see Constantin Brancusi's Bird in Space in the flesh (so to speak). A staple of modern art histoy, I have seen reproductions of this work so many times in books.


I attended the Gallery School on Saturday mornings when a teenager, after receiving a scholarship from the Art Gallery of Ontario, and one of the first things the class was shown was a short film about Alexander Calder, as an introduction to modern art and methods of a modern master. So it is always a joy for me to see Calder's work. This piece is unusual from other works of his, that I have seen, in that it is two dimensional and wall-mounted, as opposed to mobile and free-floating.


There were several large Jackson Pollock paintings, which are never a surprise to see in a major collection, but always a delight.


While there was minimal and geometric work by Vladimir Malevich, an artist whose paintings I have always liked, in the same room I found myself attracted to this piece, by another woman artist of whom I had never heard. The work of Irene Rice Pereira, while being two dimensional in form, appears three dimensional through layering and reflective surfaces.


I had to do a double-take when I saw the didactic for this work as I am familiar with the writing of English playwright David Hare but have never come across his American sculptor namesake before. Once again I found myself as much enamoured by the lighting and well-defined shadows as I was by the artwork.


The large 2017 sculpture near the café by Joanna Migdal gives proof that this collection continues to grow. Peggy Guggenheim bequeathed her collection in Venice to the Guggenheim Foundation and, though it is a magnificent historic collection, it is not static.