Reclaim the River – prize

Uncategorized

2022 got off to a good start, as I won a commission in a design competition for Woolwich. I responded to a brief to make something for Myrtle Alley that explored women’s safety at night. It’s funny because I was expecting to be making something about the history of Woolwich, the old and the new, which really intrigues me. But, I was always avoiding this particular alley after dark, even if it was only 4pm, and I had never given that a second thought to that until this brief came along. Why should I have to avoid this convenient shortcut? I wondered if other women also avoided it.

At the same time Greenwich Council launched a map where women could drop a pin at areas where they felt unsafe. You can fill in the survey and make suggestions to spend money on lighting, cameras, etc … but it finally dawned on me that it wasn’t the “space” itself that was unsafe, it was the predators that might lurk in the dark corners that make it unsafe, and no amount of cameras and lighting will get at that root cause.

At the same time Greenwich Council launched a map where women could drop a pin at areas where they felt unsafe. You can fill in the survey and make suggestions to spend money on lighting, cameras, etc … but it finally dawned on me that this wasn’t addressing the root cause of the violence, and we will be still walking around scared, because there will always be some dark corners left.

My idea for “Dark Alley” just came popped straight out of my head, like all the best ideas do. I would photograph women passing by and ask them what they thought of the alley and take a photo of them. I’d been working with boxes a lot in 2021, there was Deptford X where I painted on cardboard boxes, and the commission for London Alternative Photography where I cyanotyped the inside of a Ilford paper box. This time I wanted to use the wooden crates that I would sometimes see discarded in the street, and around the market stalls.

I wanted to light up the alley, so it wasn’t so dark and scary, and so it stopped to make people think. I decided to put lights inside the photo boxes.

Of course when you make a pie-in-the-sky design like this, you never dream that you will win and end up making it ! So here I am today on the 5th day of sawing, glueing and assembling those crate ‘frames”, splinters in my fingers, solder burns from the wiring …. it was not as easy as it looks ! Let alone making transparent sunprints in January from fast street portraits.

The hardest part was that I had photographed about 12 women and had to narrow it down to only 6 for the final installation. But I will be posting each of the women a nice print. I am so pleased by my own bravery with street photography that I might continue this into a larger project – the light , the people , and the changing architecture are very special in Woolwich. I have known the place for 30yrs and when I compare my memories , with the post-pandemic town, there is a massive difference that I learn so much from, you can see how the future might go.

I am really proud that I’ve used mostly recycled materials. Including some red drapes which I made from netting from a building site. The fronds will drape down and tickle you as you go through the alley – a bit like the ghost train at the fairground. I remember feeling so scared when I was a kid on the Ghost Train, and its exactly the same feeling I get when I reach the bend of this dark alley. Fear is funny thing, you imagine the worst things that can happen, the adrenaline comes, and then when you exit the alleyway you breathe a sigh of relief. You were one of the lucky ones.

Its been great having the support of Resolve Collective and Lison, who have been working really hard getting everything ready for the opening this Saturday 12th Feb. There is another prizewinner Evie painting silhouettes onto the alley walls – so we will certainly be brightening up this neglected space that the locals call “piss alley”.

I am really grateful for this opportunity to have made something site-specific and sculptural – it certainly stretched me out of my comfort zones. I am proud of what I am creating.

On Saturday 12 Feb the organisers are leading a tour around the artworks dotted about Woolwich town centre. I will be there. There are 2 further walks on Sunday, I am not sure if I will be at those, but contact me if you are going and I will do my best.

The following Friday I am doing a photo walk around Woolwich – mainly for film shooters, but anyone is welcome, I will take you past some of the artworks then too.

Deptford X & other buses

photography

Since Lockdown work has been like buses, nothing for ages and then 3 projects at once. I always love Deptford X Festival as it interacts with my local community, but it was a lot of work this year because all work had to be outdoors. Artists had to find their own outdoor spaces, and I was walking down Deptford High Street in the pouring rain one day, and knocked on the door of a new bar (many places were still closed at this stage of lockdown). The venue (Badger Badger) were very hospitable and have allowed me to hang my work outside , and in the windows, and on the roof !

Now more than ever I see the value of physical art in a physical space like a street, and one that isn’t just a ticketed ‘art prison’.

My “Day 59” exhibition includes images from my Lockdown Diary in Cyanotype (book still in production!) and more responses to my thoughts on historic plagues. My work will come down at about 10pm on Sunday 18th July.

The opening event I held was online due to restrictions but it was quite a happening ! I gave a talk and demo but I then wanted to discuss pandemics in general , and we looked at the historic Plague Doctor. Having engaged the services of actor Ian Crosson, I was able to get a real Plague Doctor to join the Zoom and read my script that was based on my historic and scientific research.

I have my 1st in-person Cyanotype Workshop of the year planned on Friday 23rd July in Woolwich. Only £15 and a great opportunity to make some lovely blueprints in the midday sunlight. I am also planning a Process-A-Film Workshop for Fri 13 August – I am not sure if there will be interest in that but it can certainly save you a lot of money in the lab !

The other new project I am working on involves more mermaids – watch this space !

Experimentation

Uncategorized

I had the urge to look closely at light today. Photons (particles of light) are the main ingredient of photography. It is mind-boggling that the quantum particles can exist in 2 places at once. I do a lot of reading on this subject. One possible explanation is that the particle in question is existing in both the past and the future at once. The observer makes a difference to the final result.

Like a crazy scientist, I set up a double-slit experiment of my own and managed to record interference on a light-sensitive sheet of my cyanotype paper. I am not sure where this will lead, but it had to be done. An Artist looks for answers just like a scientist does.

Anthoypes – My Garden Darkroom

Uncategorized

Exploring the Anthotype process was one of the best things to come out of Lockdown for me. This process was ‘invented’ by John Herschel around 1841 as he was trying to pave the way for colour photography, it even pre-dates Cyanotype. Up until then the only photos were rusty-coloured black & white . Over a century later, I am branching out from my own rusty-looking black & white to try some colour! In summer, when the darkroom was closed, my little city garden became my darkroom.

Herschel used natural dyes from flowers and vegetables. I mainly used extracts from plants I had grown. Some plants work better than others, and many plants I tested do not work well at all. But its a Eureka moment when they do !

I will run a workshop on Anthotype in summer 2021. Its great to bring people closer to plants with a 100% eco process using plants and sunlight alone.

New – Online Shop!

Uncategorized

UPDATE : My online art sales are now closed as work was sold out, and galleries are re-opening. I am working towards 3 real life exhibitions. Get in touch for commissions.

With exhibitions cancelled this year, I am listing some recent works for sale online. These would make unique Christmas presents. There seems to be a move towards buying local and from small businesses, which is great to see.

I can deliver next day to SE London postcodes, and many items will fine for posting.

I am sometimes commissioned to make artwork that matches interior decor, or to a specific theme. If that is of interest, get in touch for a quote.

Summer Online

photography

I am proud to present this gallery showing some of the fabulous creations made by students at my various summer online workshops.

click to view and see credits:

My online workshops really took off this summer. Every single one sold out. I enjoyed meeting people from all over the UK and Jerusalem, America and France! Its been an isolating time and there is nothing like joining together over a creative activity.

I am teaching sessions from Beginner to Advanced levels, and some people attended several sessions and made excellent progress. The niche stuff (such as toning cyanotype) is where it gets really interesting. It was a learning curve to run entire workshops on Zoom, but I got the hang of it, my past career in TV has helped.

Lots of online workshops I’d seen were impersonal webinars, or pre-recorded videos or demos. I tried to do something different , by mailing out kits that I put together from hand-made ingredients and recycled packaging. I think it is important to make a real and interactive experience.

Sunprinting and lockdown have been great bedfellows. The sunny season is nearly over now so I just have one Cyanotype Card Making workshop remaining on Fri 6th Nov. I’m planning a special winter Photo Walk too. And the very popular 1-to-1 sessions will continue. In the meantime I have made headway with some of my own important projects : The Leaf Project and my Lockdown Cyanotypes (working titles).

Cyanotype Kimono

Uncategorized

I printed a large amount of fabric using the cyanotype technique with sweet peas (that grow wild in my London garden) and ferns. During lockdown, my collaborator Tabby G took the fabric and sewed it into this beautiful kimono.

I make lots of cyanotyped garments – its great to work in 3D opens up new dimensions of photography. I currently have 2 places left on my upcoming Zoom workshop with fabric.

Bringing it online

Uncategorized

At the beginning of lockdown (after the initial panic) I started trying to think of ways to bring my photography practice online. I tried a live “Cyanotype” (sun printing) demo on different days via Instagram Live and got quite disheartened by the quality. I ditched that and tried my first Facebook Live demo from my garden ! Quality was better and a few people tuned in, but I got some of my words muddled up and after I’d stopped recording I muttered some expletives – oops! Lesson learned – the live stream runs on for a few seconds after you hit Stop! So I deleted that video and made this edit of it for Instagram:

My online workshop is now full, but please follow this page for future workshops that you can participate in from the safety of your own home.

Online Cyanotype Workshop- Fully Booked

Uncategorized

THIS WORKSHOP IS NOW FULL

I am taking my popular cyanotype workshops online via Zoom. You will learn to make cameraless photographs “photograms” using this non-toxic process that originated in the 1800s. Join me for this fledgling session, which is essentially free, but each of the 5 (max) participants will need to purchase a specially prepared Cyanotype Kit via the link below so we are all using the same materials. The cost for the kit is a bargain at £29 inc p&p, it contains :

Kit Contains :

  • Basic A4 printing frame
  • Hand-coated A4 paper
  • Latex gloves
  • Pegs
  • Recycled black bag and packaging
  • Postage or hand delivery

You will also need
– Indoor space with good Wifi, or Data, and the Zoom.us app on your device
– Outdoor space or windowsill for exposing you prints to sunlight
– tray at least 2″ deep and A4 size, or a sink for rinsing your prints . Water.
– Washing line with pegs, or cardboard or plastic surfaces for drying prints
– a few flat plants, leaves or objects up to 6″ long

This will be a fun and relaxed workshop suitable for adults of all levels. People will be attending the event indoors and popping in and out with their prints for expose to sunshine (it will also work on a cloudy day). The workshop will run from 2-2.40pm and then we will have a break for people to do some solid printing. Part 2 of the class will resume at about 3.20pm and we will finish at 4pm approx.

There will be ample opportunity to get 1-to-1 feedback and tips due to the small class size. I will be indoors demonstrating the process and telling you about the history and science of Cyanotype.

Don’t worry if it is an overcast day – we can still get results.

If this introductory workshops goes well, I hope to follow it with more advanced sessions : coating paper, printing on fabric, using negatives, toning etc .

New Commission

Uncategorized

I’ve won a commission to produce artworks for 4 lobbies in the new Timberyard buildings on Grove street, Deptford. I am delighted to bring my local knowledge to this project – and I am involving the community in researching Deptford figures past and present.

Working for a large corporation is a world away from doing your own thing as an artist, there are lots of hurdles and demands, sometimes I feel like a very small cog in a big wheel, but I am rising to the challenge. I love the thought that new residents will walk past a slice of Deptford history when they leave the building to head off to work in the City etc.

My proposal included wood collages, paintings, photo collages and huge cyanotypes. So I have my work cut out! Here are some of my activities so far.