Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Brighton Fringe festival Show at Castor and Pollux

Not so much a blog post as a blog plug.
Castor and Pollux begins its season of art exhibitions this Friday with a private view. (6- 9pm)

First this year is a print retrospective with Artizan Editions accompanied by beautiful glass from New York glass blower, Michael Anchin.
We have a show, or two, every month from now until Christmas, so check out our website or watch this space for further information.

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Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Through the Keyhole - Fiona Denning

We're starting a mini series of looking into the homes and studios of artists and makers. This will mainly be a visual feast - the pictures tell the story. Our first episode looks at the beautiful, contemporary home of artist Fiona Denning who is exhibiting at the art fair in September. Fiona paints mysterious landscapes from her home / studio on the Ashdown Forest.

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Poster Design for BAF08

Following on from the previous years posters - designed by Sarah Young - which established a friendly, accessible and distinctive look for the Brighton Art Fair, we have a sneek peak at this years new design for the Brighton Art Fair.
The idea is that the character 'Madame L'art' returns delighted from buying lots of Art at BAF by a different form of transport - Running, Vespa, Boat, Carousel and this year by submarine (of course). I'm not totally sure that everyone understands exactly what's happening in the image but our posters are getting rather collectable and are now seen in the most unexpected of places - from council offices to peoples houses.

Do let me know what you think....

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Monday, 28 April 2008

Stencils Icons and Spraypaint Workshops at INK'd

It's festival time in Brighton next month and we'll be visiting some of the (literally) hundreds visual art and craft exhibitions taking place over the next month. If anyone has any favourites do email me and we'll try and put them up.

INK'd Gallery in Brighton are running some one day courses with different artists over 3 weekends in May

Saturday 10th May - Stencil Cut - led by Dan Johnson (t(error)ist)

The artist known as t[error]ist will lead a journey of stencilling as an art form. He’ll teach how to safely wield a scalpel, how to strengthen with bridges, how to get the most of participant's own images and how to use paint, nozzles and spray paint.

Saturday 17th May - The Art of the Icon - Pinky

From Mickey Mouse to Murakami, today’s icons and characters are everywhere from street art, mobile phones to websites, computer games, comic books, corporate identity, band logos, T shirts and fine art. Pinky will help participants create their very own icon. Why do symbols work? how to create the right look? – using a number of techniques including, stencils, coloured paper and good old trusty drawing.

Saturday May 24th - Spraypaint Technique - REQ1

""great graf daddy"" REQ1 is reinventing his own take on graffiti art. He will go through the absolute basics including clutch control, fades, line boxes and circles.

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Sunday, 27 April 2008

Maxine Sutton - Inspired by the Geffrye Museum

Textile Artist Maxine Sutton was awarded a Reflect Forward Award last year - the scheme promotes the use of museums as a resource for contemporary craft makers to produce new work and develop their practice. In October 2007 Maxine began research at the Geffrye Museum, (London's Museum of Domestic Interiors).

"I was given access to a fascinating archive of homemade embroidered objects, domestic manuals and ‘how to’ books, and these together with the room sets and main displays has proved a huge inspiration."

Maxine has an exhibition of her work at Craft Central (33-35 St Johns Square, London) from the 7th-31st May. Maxine Sutton will give an Artist's talk on Wednesday 14 May, 6pm start (booking required). There are also a few tickets for the Private View - contact Maxine Sutton if you would like one.

This initial work comprises a series of paper collages, stitched wall pieces and 3D objects which combine; a kind of narrative, suggested by patterns, crockery, chairs and everyday objects, with crinoline ladies, birds, flowers and subverted sugary imagery from embroidery transfers of the 1920’s – 1960’s.

Her beautiful contemporary embroidered pieces offer a fascinating study on domestic rituals,
narratives and home-crafts from the past; - Tea drinking, victorian patchwork and embroidered objects, home manuals and how to’ books, doilies, dainties, whimsies and fancy work; the Geffrye Museum archives provided plenty of starting points for this contemporary collection.

The everyday domesticity of the past is brought into new light with her surreal and irreverent look back at generations past and their homemaking activities.
She's used a 1930’s inspired colour palette with new combinations of appliqué, hand and machine embroidery and screen printing to give a fresh twist on traditional techniques.

Free admission
Open to the public
7–31 May 2008
Wednesday–Saturday, 12–6pm
or by appointment outside these hours

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Thursday, 24 April 2008


We love cake! We love making cakes, we love licking the bowl, we love the smell oozing from the oven and most of all we love eating cake. So imagine the ripples of excitement when Brighton based cake company treacle&co confirmed they would provide cakes for both private views for the Art Fair AND MADE08!

September is a long time away but treacleandco have a stand at the Brighton and Hove indoor/outdoor farmers market which takes place on the first Sunday of each month at Ralli Hall next to Hove Station.

Go seek them out - you won't be disappointed!

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Monday, 21 April 2008

MAKER OF THE WEEK - Carys Davies

Carys Davies - 079 3376 1645 -

I make bowls, vases and beakers, thrown on the wheel in porcelain. They are smooth and white inside, but organic on the outside – rough with volcanic glazes, and sometimes sitting on flotsam as though washed up on the tide. I like very simple shapes, but ones that show the marks of their making – so oval from lifting them while wet, or curved in from the heat of the firing.

Recently I have started to re-fire pieces together: they look like cargoes of pots found at the bottom of the sea, worked on by sea and sand until they have become something half-organic, half-made.

Money spent on coffee is never wasted.
I know it's a vice but hey, you can't give up everything. My particular favourite for everyday is Lavazza Red label. I often think private views would do better to have wonderful coffee and chocolate rather than alcohol (or maybe as well as... )

What place in the world has inspired you
I love water: the sea, the beach, rivers. I recently noticed that all but one picture in my flat includes the sea or a lake (the other's an aquatint of a fish). I particularly love beaches with rockpools – especially as the tide comes in and the whole landscape changes.

Manorbier beach especially inspired me, with its green and red rocks and fantastic flotsam. The ebb and flow, the rhythms and repetitions, and the way the essential landscape remains throughout, I find strangely like life, and strangely comforting.

Being on the beach is about touch, smell and sound too: and I like my bowls to be picked up, and to make that scraping noise like walking on the beach. I haven't managed to reproduce the smell yet, though.

I was brought up in Wales, by the sea, and when I'm online I like to sneak a look through webcams
Snowdon − and see what the weather's like. It's really great when it snows.

What was the last art/craft/design thing you purchased? and what one product/item do you really covet? (and why?)
I've been on an economy drive recently, but managed to get a fantastic mask from my friend Claire Palfreyman through swapping some of my work for hers.

I really want a mask with gold antlers –I'm on the waiting list – I've always loved stories about Herne the Hunter leading the Wild Hunt, where the wildness of nature somehow spills over into our civilised world for a night or two.

I went to the Collect Craft fair at the V&A in 2007 and fell in love with the 'forever rings' of Bettina Dittlmann and Michael Jenk. They looked rough, but the second you put them on they just felt wonderful, as though made for your own particular hand, and with a fantastic solidity and weight. I can still remember the feeling... and one day I will have one (or even two..) It made me realise how powerful good jewelery is – I felt I could conquer the world while I was wearing it (I so shouldhave bought it...)

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
I was an engineer first. I loved the idea of design, of making things that really worked, that were surprising and ground breaking, and that were serious. And I suppose art wasn’t considered to be anything like that at my school, then.

Later I worked on designing organisations – designing conceptual structures, although very concretely grounded in how people feel at work, and about work. But this was in the new, virtual working world of conference calls and on-line communities, and I started to really miss ‘stuff’: real places, real people, fresh air.

So I decided to do what I do on 4th Feb 2004, in a basement office of a computer company on the SouthBank. I left my job and went back to college to study Ceramics.

Surprising hobby?
I love working in the countryside, conserving it through coppicing, hedgelaying, dry-stone walling, or stone-pitching (making stone paths). Winter working, with the sun slanting through the woods, the kettle on the fire, and a nice sharp axe in your hand, is just fantastic.

Unfortunately it means that when people show me their holiday photos - especially if they are walkers – I tend to think (if not say) - “Ooh, you shouldn't be walking there, look at that terrible path erosion, you should be mending that path not walking on it”. Which doesn't go down very well.

I also like the down-to-earth attitude people who work like this have. The sculptor Andy Goldsworthy has made it into the official dry-stone walling handbook but you would think he was a stone-waller, not a sculptor. Which is probably a compliment!

Do you think art and craft has any real importance?
Although I had really interesting jobs in engineering and in business, I definitely missed something: that’s what made me change. So it has a real importance to me.

And going to see art wasn’t what I wanted; it was to be making things – objects – that reminded me I was a “feeling” person – feeling emotion, feeling with my fingers, being able to engage with something – an object, as well as an idea – outside myself in the real world. And through those objects, connecting with other people too.

So, speaking very pragmatically, I think there is something in art and craft that we need in our lives, at a fundamental level. But I've always been a bit put off by 'high culture' – by the imposing doors of the museum or the 'white cube'. So although we need art and craft, I'm not sure we need the art and craft 'establishments', as they are today.

Can anything be ‘art’?
What I choose to think of as art says more about me than about 'art', I think. The definition of 'art' is a cultural construct, depending on the needs of people, their communities and their rulers (“We need to show those Commies that freedom is what they need – find me some Pollocks to take on tour”). It's very interesting, but not absolute; and you have to be very aware of what people are using the idea of 'art' (or 'craft') for.

But on the other hand, I went to the Peter Doig exhibition at Tate Britain recently.

It was really fantastic: his pictures are not like anything I’ve seen before, but seemed to me as accomplished and wonderful as any famous artist’s. While being modern, they also seemed to me to be ‘classics’: pictures you could imagine people looking at in 100 or 500 years’ time.

So I think although maybe anything can be ‘art’, some of it just won’t be remembered for very long, unlike Doig.

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Anita Klein Studio Sale

We had a wonderful trip up to London to visit Anita Klein's studio sale in Lewisham. We arrived spot on midday to be welcomed into Anita's beautiful home / studio with fresh coffee and the lure of an abundance of beautiful work for sale. Having a large family myself I love the domestic nature of Anita's work - the majority of which I really relate to - they being everyday normal occurances in our busy household. The images are light and humorous and inevitably make you smile. We left less well off but with a distinct spring in our step!

Anita Klein and Nigel Swift are running a week long residential painting and drawing course in Italy from 11 - 18 October, 2008. Places are limited but for more details e-mail

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Monday, 14 April 2008

Zaha Hadid in Innsbruck

Just returned from our annual trip to the Mother Land
and took the opportunity on the only rainy day we had to visit Zaha Hadid's older and newer designs in Innsbruck. We started with the refurbishment of the ski jump on Bergisel in 2001 with it's wonderful restaurant set 40 metres over the peak atop the ski jump.

The ski jump is very dramatic and how anyone launches themselves down this sheer drop is a mystery. All of those who sniggered at Eddie the Eagle should think again. To make matters worse the view directly down from the top of the jump is of a grave yard. Rumour has it that the Austrians did this on purpose to unsettle opposition jumping teams!

The restaurant itself is beautifully designed with amazing views over Innsbruck and the mountains all around. Decor is very simple with stylish stools, chairs and tables and the odd splash of lime green - which works surprisingly well.

Last year Zaha Hadid designed four stations along the funicular railway leading up to the Hungerberg (Nordkette) - the highest station being at 863 metres high. Each station is differently designed but all are made from beautifully tactile and smooth green glass pieced liked large tiles into organic forms.

The station at the top is the most spectacular - here it is in the mist looking pretty atmospheric.

It was wonderful to see such original and inspired work amongst the traditional beauty of Austrian buildings. They work very well. I hope that they survive as well as they deserve to - some of the glass is already colouring and the black 'grout' is peeling!

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Sunday, 13 April 2008

Maker of the week - ABIGAIL BROWN


Describe your work? - My work uses new and reused fabrics to create predominantly decorative pieces which exist in both 2D and 3D form. This method of working has evolved from a childhood amidst loose threads and scraps of fabric, watching my Grandmother at work. It's a purely natural process for me, there's a lot of comfort in getting lost in the piles of fabric I hoard at home, selecting pieces to work with for their colour or pattern.

My work centres on animals perhaps because of the sheer joy I get from observing them, I love that I can create little worlds in which they might exist, humanising them, giving them names, deciding what little items of clothing they might like to wear or what personality traits they might have.
Currently my work takes the theme of birds perhaps because not only do I think them one of the most beautiful of creatures, so precious, so fragile and yet so animated and so positively bursting with life, but also because they are the most accessible to me. Merrily they chirp in the dawn, delighting me with their happy little tunes. They are simply so enchanting to watch as they hop, skip, swoop and dance their way through the day, twisting and turning with such quizzical looks.

The work is childlike, naive, it's quite soft and gentle and it doesn't force any opinions or views on the observer. Sometimes there are personal feelings going on and in the case of the wall art there is often something of a narrative at work which isn't always happy! But as a whole the work is just simply a way for me to give life to the little creatures that form in my mind...and to set them free, hopefully creating smiles wherever they might land.

Last best read? - I am a big Murakami fan, love getting lost in the bizarre worlds he creates for his characters, but the book I just finished was ' The book of lost things' and I absolutely loved it!!! I couldn't put it down and was so sad when I came to it's end. I love fairytale and this story weaved so many of the stories I loved as a child into this incredible book about loss and courage and love and the transition from child into adult. It got me all excited to reread all those books and rediscover the worlds I loved so much being so little.

Who would you say buys your work? - I think 99% of the time it's women, if not women then men who are buying it for women! It's nature is somewhat childlike and naive and so it obviously appeals to softer natured people! It sells to people decorating their children's nurseries or people who like to surround themselves with little visual delights. It's sweet when people buy for friends but then let me know they couldn't part with what they bought so they kept it for themselves! That is always such a nice thing to hear.

How do you set about starting a new project? - I'm always collecting ideas, references, when I plan to start something I've usually had it in mind for a while. I'll start sketching out things and trying to visualise how it will work, but really what transpires is far from what my intentions were! Funny, sometimes thats frustrating!

If I'm lucky it just works out first time, but if it's something I haven't tried before, something totally new then I might have to work through a few problems to get there.

What do you have on your pinboard? - Gosh theres all kinds of things on there, some painted eggs from Prague, some soft toys, cards and postcards, some street art I've naughtily swiped, drawings from friends...all kinds of bits!

Where and what is your studio? - I'm only beginning to work out my work situation, and so I currently work from my huge bedroom in my rented flat. It's far from ideal but it works as a space just now. I love being surrounded by all my things and as much as it can be a bad thing to work and live in that same space, it's also quite cosy and something about it almost feels like it should be that way. I like that I can crawl out of bed to my desk if an idea hits me...

but as I'm about to quit my full time job and make this work more of a larger part of my work life that whole situation will need to change, it really won't be healthy to be in there so much.

So currently I am alone working, sometimes thats nice, I can get on with things, sing at the top of my voice or dance and jump about when I'm restless and fidgetty...but I do enjoy being in company and miss having people around me to bounce ideas off...yep, that all needs to change this year.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work? - Natural
Do you think art and craft has any real importance? - Without doubt. If you are a creative person, whatever field, you are compelled to express yourself. You simply can't be without having that outlet and it's a release to so many feelings and thoughts. So to the self, yes.

To the observer, also yes. It's human contact without physical contact's reaching out and touching, creating thoughts and feelings in the person interacting with it in whichever way.
I've been lucky enough with my work to hear such beautiful things from people who see it, how much it made them smile...and happy thoughts and feelings carry huge yes! Art and Craft are hugely important.

Are their other (unusual) fields that you'd like to apply some facet of your work into? - Animation - It's not so unusual, I think the work looks like it would lend itself well to animation and this is where I would really love to try and take some point.

abigailBROWN textile artist and illustrator 07940 497488

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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Goodies at Harrogate

I made the long trek up to Harrogate on Monday where the British Craft Trade Fair was taking place.

There were about 450 exhibitors spanning the handmade end of the Craft, Gift and Accessories sector, including a big contingent from Brighton and 'alumni' from Brighton Craft Fair along with 'freshers' for Made08 - Brighton's Design and Craft Fair

In no particular order I rather liked
Becky Crow's contemporary illustrative jewellery in silver with gold and copper details - some lovely work on her website too.

Lara Aldridge's panels, and bowls in kilnformed glass and metal foils.

Helaina Sharpley's tea obsessed wirework pictures, cups, teapots and teatrays. As well as large scale architectural wire sketches of buildings.

Janie - Jane Withers' Knitted Textiles , and tea cosies

Rowena Gilbert's Ceramics

Make (Nicola Caines') blown glass.

Sarah Lindsay's handmade Acrylic Jewellery, she calls them 'dust necklaces' but they look to me like exptically coloured 'geodes' - we're very glad that Sarah will be exhibiting her original and innovative acrylic jewellery at MADE08. for the first time.

Lynn Muir's painted driftwood and recycled wooden painted figures.

Folk Fanny's large scale stitched and appliqued and embroidered pictures.

After all this I still had time for my tea at Betty's tearoom for a pot of Lapsang and a Hazelnut and meringue Engadine Torte before getting the train back to the South Coast!

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Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Thirty years of looking.....photographs by Garrick Palmer

Garrick Palmer - Prints and Photographs

I recently spent a very enjoyable day with a printmaker friend of mine, Garrick Palmer. We spent the afternoon talking about his work as a wood engraver and photographer. He is one of this country's most highly regarded wood engravers, having made stunning engravings for books such as Moby Dick for the Folio Society. Wood engraving is just a part of Garrick Palmer's life, as over recent years he has become well known for his photography. Just opened in Portsmouth is a great exhibition of his photographs of Portsmouth seafront. Garrick was born in Portsmouth in 1933 and has taken photographs of the seafront regularly over the last 30 years.

"A Walk along Portsmouth seafront" - Photographs by Garrick Palmer, 1970 -2008.

On now until June 8th 2008 at:

The Museums and Records Office
Museum Road
Portsmouth. Po1 2LJ.

T. 023 9282 7261 Admission free. Open daily 10 - 5

You can find out more about Garrick Palmer's prints and see his wood engravings and lithographs on Tel. 01323 413555

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Sunday, 6 April 2008

Etsy Site of the Week - Skinnylaminx

Skinnylaminx is the etsy shop of Cape Town based designer, illustrator and writer Heather Moore.( Skinny La Minx is the name of her siamese cat.)
She also writes an interesting blog about design and her obsessions.

Heather is selling her screenprinted tea-towels, aprons from the etsy site. These prints are based on Heather's collections of vintage mugs, spoons as well as natural themes - seedheads, birds etc.

These products are also incredibly good value, Tea-towels at $11 and the aprons at $25 plus postage from South Africa - but still incedible value for a designer handmade product!

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