Wayzgoose 2011

Following last years successful christmas fair at Jubilee Studios, Wayzgoose 2010, we are now preparing for Wayzgoose 2011. All our studios will be open to the public alongside a selection of some of the best artists and makers on the Isle of Wight displaying their work throughout the jewellery and general workshop. Look out for updates on our dedicated facebook page.

I will be presenting a selection of recent work alongside a special sale of work made over the last couple of years - be sure to come early to snap up a bargain as I'm having a good clear out to make room for forthcoming projects! If you want a sneak preview be sure to keep an eye on this blog and you can see my studio work in progress on my dedicated Studio Photoblog.





This week I have been working with pupils from Greenmount Primary School on the Isle of Wight creating a new installation in response to Katayoun Dowlatshahi's exhibition 'Orbit'. The show explores the history of the Isle of Wight's involvement in the UK's space programme in the 1950's and 60's as a rocket development and testing site.

'Vincent' is a satellite invented and created by 30 6 year old pupils and will be orbiting Quay Arts Learning Curve Gallery surrounded by a galaxy of hand made woven stars till the 7th January.

Picture gallery here: Satellite Vincent


It's a fine line....Studio Quay

This autumn students from a variety of the Islands High Schools have been coming to weekly Thursday afternoon sessions at Quay Arts, lead by the different members of our Education Team the series of workshops has been exploring drawing practice in all it's diversity. Last week I lead the session exploring a more three dimensional approach - using a thread, string or twig as a line ready for manipulation and composition. Next week we take the line off the paper to make 3D drawings in space.


Work in Progress - artists, education and participation

Today I am on my way to present recent work at the engage International Conference at Turner Contemporary, Margate. Alongside my Quay Arts Education team colleague Chris Jenkins we will be presenting our work over the last year with pupils from the Island's two short stay schools and the processes involved leading up to exhibitions in Quay Art's Learning Curve Gallery.


Fly Agaric ( Amanita muscaria)

Great show of Fly Agarics in Parkhurst today - late in the season I think but no frosts yet so the fungi keeps coming. At least 20 plus Agarics in one patch amongst the Birch trees.


Magpie Fungus (Coprinus picaceus)

A couple of shots of an unusual fungus I spotted while waiting at the bus stop last night on the Isle of Wight. Apparently it is quite uncommon - frequenting Beech forests - however in this case it looks like it has been imported with wood chip mulch onto a roadside flower bed.

These pics were taken in the dark with only street lights for illumination - not perfect though the camera has done quite a good job considering! Handheld at 1/15th second, f1.4, 1600 ASA.


Primrose Hill Artist's Disguised Halloween Procession

The event on Sunday was a great success with no rain and not too chilly - I was running around chasing folks and making as much noise as I could with my collection of sheep, goat and cow bells - so I kept nice and hot inside my cone shaped costume. I made him - (still without a name - any ideas?) - last year while I was Artist in Residence with the Sainsbury Centre and this is only the second time he has been out to perform. It always fascinates me how the costumes take on their own character and I seem to have little to do with how they behave! There were some amazing costumes in the procession and we provided quite a spectacle parading through London's streets on the way to Primrose Hill. Full gallery here.


Photos from Salt Basketry Fair....

I'm just beginning to sort and edit the pictures from my recent visit to the excellent basketry fair in Salt, Cataluña, Spain - here are just a couple of shots to give you a little flavour, many more to come....


2 ply or not 2 ply............

Today as guest of the Isle of Wight Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild I gave a talk about my work  and influences followed by a workshop exploring the techniques and creative possibilities of making hand made string.

Working with Bulrush Schoenoplectus, Soft Rush Juncus effusus, Yellow Flag Iris pseudacorus, Iris siberica and Day Lily Hemerocallis we made a variety of 2 and 3 ply strings in S and Z configurations using both the straightforward 'hand over hand' technique as well as the slightly more challenging hand rolling or 'palm binding' technique that I favour for speedy cordage production.

Above - Soft rush 2 ply string before trimming and below a 3 ply under construction.

Alongside my workshops I enjoy sharing a display of baskets from my collection - artifacts combining diverse functions, materials, techniques and cultural origins jostle for attention.

Above: a Maori Flax skirt and Spanish Esparto Grass donkey head alongside baskets from Norway, Madeira, Africa, Sarawak and a Hopi Yucca leaf sifting tray.

Above : Baskets from Tanzania, Finland, Orissa in East India, Lesotho, Norway and behind Australian twined Pandanus baskets.

Above: Woven shoes from Denmark, India and China, Rice steaming baskets from Bhutan, a Polish frame basket and lined up at the back a French Perigord Basket, Mediterranean Arundo and Vine basket, and a classic English white willow picker.


Procession preparations....

This week I'm finalising my costume for next Sundays 'Disguised Procession Down Primrose Hill' setting out from Cecil Sharpe House at 4pm and leading back towards the 'Halloween Music Fair' 2-11pm. Come join us and be-mask yourself to get lost in the crowd.....

I took part in the event in 2009 wearing my Brahan Man costume and had a great time -  see the 2009 procession here.


shifting lightscapes....

Taking inspiration from Katayoun Dowlatshah's excellent newly opened exhibition 'Orbit' at Quay Arts, today I worked with a group of adults exploring the creative possibilities of off-camera optics - taking the glass out of the lens and playing with it's almost magical ability to create images on translucent surfaces. Tissue paper, perspex and acetate can all be used to view the constantly changing play of light transmitted - shifts in focus, tilt and luminescence can all be manipulated with a delicate slight of hand creating ephemeral moving cloudscapes with the illusion of three- dimensionality.

Alongside the off camera work we also looked at two of my larger cameras - a 1950's Graflex Speed Graphic press camera and an early precursor of todays familiar SLR cameras a Soho Reflex from the 1920-30's. Both offered the possibility of photographing 'through the viewfinder', more commonly known as 'TTV', thus capturing the ground glass textures and special light qualities associated with larger format cameras.

Following on from this workshop I will shortly be working with a local primary school creating an exhibition in response to Katayoun's work - more information here.


TV Heads

Monday this week saw me visiting a local school to follow up the pupils visit with me to Quay Arts to see the fascinating exhibition Telenesia by Julian Conczak exploring the world of data glitching, crashes, scratches and obsolescence.

We created an array of miniature televisions, explored the history of television design since the 1930's and created our own TV wall with the pupils own heads being news readers and presenters - it's often the workshops that present new challenges that make me think outside the box.......


more pizza, a shingle shack and a garland....

Following the excellent workshop weekend at St.Saviours in the West Wight building an outdoor bread oven with home grown willow and locally gathered clay, this week we followed up with another cooking session for pupils, parents and teachers to try it's delicious baked produce.

Alongside the cooking we gave the oven a second coat of thick clay slip to fill in the natural cracks in the clay as the oven dries out, we also built the essential shingled shelter to protect it from rain and snow this winter. More pictures updated in the project gallery here.

Thankyou to Tom and Cathy for all your hard work and all those who came and ate the pizza after all the hard work was done!

Thankyou also to West Wight Landscape Partnerships for making it all possible.

 If your wondering what those crazy looking hand painted tiles on the oven shelter are - they are recycled plywood shingles from one of my previous installation 'garland' exhibited in several galleries in Ireland and Scotland in 1997. Great to put them to good use!


Baskets in print...

Nice to see this month's edition of the Crafts Council's Crafts magazine has one of my baskets featured advertising the Baskets exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre, the show carries on till the till the 6th Nov.



Bread Oven for St.Saviour's.....

Not content with a restful weekend following my busy and inspiring week in Salt, Cataluña, I've been working with a great group of parents and children creating an outdoor bread oven for a school in the West Wight over the weekend.  Great fun squelching clay with our feet and mixing pizza dough with our hands. Here is a couple of shots with more over on my gallery page here: St.Saviour's Bread Oven





Castaño, Esparto and a fresh start.....

Today new beginnings as I moved into my new space at Jubilee Studios, the workshop wing of the Isle of Wight's Quay Arts, I'll be using this as my main working space aswell as offering a selection of workshops and photographic services for artists and makers.

With my newly acquired collection of materials gathered last week in Cataluña, Spain, I spent the day getting used to my new clean space with white walls and a pine floor. Nothing like an empty space to inspire makings and seeing natural materials for what they are. Esparto (a tough grass from southern Spain), split Castaño (Sweet Chestnut wood) and Palma leaves are lined up ready for experimentation over the coming weeks. Once the dust settles I hope to post a few blog entries about my exciting and inspiring travels this summer to Norway, Poland and Spain, such inspiring times meeting wonderful makers, learning new techniques and gaining a tiny glimpse into our diverse European traditions.


Autumn Lady's-Tresses

Early yesterday morning I was taken by suprise by a fine display of the orchid Autumn Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes spiralis) growing from a shortly mown lawn in Wootton on the Isle of Wight. While not rare it's not something I've seen very often and certainly not on a domestic lawn. Reading up in The Isle of Wight Flora by Colin Pope, Lorna Snow and David Allen, it's nice to know of a little un-natural history:

"It occurs on many of our downs though often in small quantity. It can be abundant in umimproved neutral meadows both on clay and greensand soils, and on older garden lawns which have been left unmown in late summer. Some of these lawns are known to have been derived of turfs cut from downland, with Arreton Down in particular being a prolific source in the first half of the twentieth century"

Nice to think of this little orchid having survived removal from downland sometime after the war and still thriving - away from the sheep and rabbits on a lawn near the sea!



Baskets Exhibition, Ruthin Craft Centre 16th Sept - 6th Nov 2011

Hi folks it's been a busy summer for me travelling, making and teaching in some amazing places and I have a selection of blog stories heading this way - however today I'm happy to tell of the forthcoming curated Basketry exhibition that I am delighted to have been invited to take part in at the Ruthin Craft Centre in Wales. The opening invites arrived this week and you can see a detail of one of my costumes on the cover.

Without giving too much away in advance of the opening one of my larger costume pieces will be on show alongside baskets based on my researches into the Isle of Wight basketry tradition. The show includes the work of Dail Behennah, Mary Butcher, Lee Dalby, Lizzie Farey, John Galloway, Joe Hogan, Anne Harrington-Rees, Caroline Sharp and myself. Unfortunately I'll not be able to make the opening but I'll try and make it up to the study day on the 5th November, see you there!






Love Quay.....

I've just finished this large willow bordered pinboard - a contribution towards Quay Arts campaign LOVE QUAY just kicking off over the coming weeks in the wake of losing their Arts Council core funding. The pinboard will form part of a wall display in the Quay's excellent cafe encouraging the public to pin up what they love about the Quay. It should be installed over the next couple of weeks so pop in and pin up your thoughts for all to see!


Scran Bag, Nammet Bag or Frail .......

Call it what you will last weeks 4 day workshop at Jubilee Stores on the Isle of Wight went very well with all six participants going away with very usable and attractive baskets plaited and stitched with Bulrush. With documented history back to the 12th century something about the Scran Bag's design must be doing something right - be it it's strong and handy design, anti-theft and wasp 'proof' lid or relative simplicity of manufacture.

On the Isle of Wight these farmers lunch baskets were traditionally made from Soft Rush and Iris leaves and perhaps anything else suitable that happened to grow on the farmer's land. It's great to see some back in action and being used once more as hard working everyday attractive baskets - thankyou everyone who took part and had the courage to plait 14 metres of five strand braid!

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