Thursday, 28 May 2009

Love By Numbers Illustration.

Just a quick blog to include some more illustration work completed in my first year at University.

We had a quick editorial brief that set out the task of illustrating a problem page in the guardian by Luisa Dillner.
Check out her weekly article on the guardian website in the life and style section here.
The specific problem in our brief was about heartache of separation.
I've included the original ink drawing, the final piece once added a bit of colour and texture with Photoshop and how the image looked with the text.

Friday, 22 May 2009

My owl and pussycat illustrations

Originally I started this blog with the intention to have half review and half my own work, hoping that by posting up my own illustrations I would be motivated to start drawing some more.
So to tip the balance here is a selection of illustrations taken from my owl and pussycat project.
I just used pen and a photocopier to put together a very much d.i.y zine without text or obvious linear narrative, I wanted it to be a vague story of a love chase between the cat and owl and for most of the emphasis to be on the over stylised aesthetics of the whole ‘book’.

3 East London shows.

My first year is over and my final days of student halls are as terrifying and desolate as the post apocalyptic state of the world In the 2007 Will Smith movie; I Am Legend.
Remember when the lead character Robert Neville played by Will mooches about. Hunting the barren and devoid of any life land for food and is so desperate for company he emulates human interaction with shop mannequins?
And by night when the vampire-esque mutated survivors of the epidemic emerge from their daytime hiding places and roam the land howling and destroying what is left of life, he locks himself away in his bathroom clutching a gun and listening to the chilling screams of untold horror from outside?
Yep. Not too far from the truth at all.
Without the daily lectures and classes to attend and the non refundable tenancy running on for another month, the surviving students of university halls have become fairly nocturnal and the campus has become deceivingly quiet in the daytime.
As the sun sets all hell breaks loose as loud bass, screaming, cheering and general insipid party noises last well into the night.
As much as I enjoy this mind numbingly bore of an existence, I do at times feel my mind crying out for more stimulation during the daylight hours.
If it hadn’t been for my discovery of some months ago, my cravings for visual stimulation would definitely still be unanswered.
Hookedblog set up in 2005 promotes all art affiliated with the street art scene, mostly highlighting exhibitions happening around the London town, it’s one of my favourite websites and always helps out with suggested activities for those pesky stagnant moments in life.
I already knew I wanted to take a trip back to Stelladore to pay a visit for the eagerly anticipated solo show from I-lib ‘As Teardrops Fall’.

But I discovered on the blog that only a few streets down in Shoreditch was an exhibition at the Pure Evil gallery; MyMo- Junkyard.
So I began my gallery crawl here.
I confess my knowledge on this artist is little, a quick sweep of Google didn’t prove helpful either but I know Mymo is female and the name stands for my monsters; check out her lively website here.
I really did enjoy the show, colourful, playful and imaginative uses of a wide range of media.
One tiny criticism? The flyer I had picked up promised drawings, paintings and lots of junk.
I felt like this was only half heartedly delivered, as you can see from my photographs, at times the exhibition was even on the minimalistic side of things.
Pure Evil gallery isn’t huge so it wasn’t like there was a question of having too much space.
It just struck me as a bit ironic as I saw more examples of junkyard outside the gallery rather than within it, especially in the run down location of Shoreditch.
Maybe it was a question of health and safety but I would have loved it if the show transformed the room into a literal dump, it would have been a nice change from the usual clean and sterile interior of galleries.
That's obviously a small complaint and aside from that, i want to re emphasise my love for this show and i would definitely recommend my London friends to pay it a visit. It runs until the 21st of June.

Second stop was the I-Lib- As Teardrops Fall show at Stelladore.
I thought the exhibition was beautiful.
I-Lib (stands for I lurk in bushes) uses fine pens to create dainty, whimsical, forlorn and Victorian looking characters.
Imagine a gothic version of wind in the willows perhaps?
I will definitely keep an eye out for this up and coming artist.
The exhibition finishes on this Saturday.
My third and final stop was at one of my favourite gallery spaces in London, StolenSpace in Bricklane.
Currently Californian artist Jeff Soto is exhibiting here with his show; The Inland Empire.
Twenty new wood paintings based upon the region Soto is based in. His home is in Riverside which is situated just east of Los Angeles is being hit by the current economy crisis hard, with the employment rate as low as 12%.
Although global issues are common in Jeff soto’s work, the sombre subject of his work never seems obvious as his paintings are so colourful and are often filled with rainbows, flowers and wings.
Clearly inspired by popular culture such as science fiction and graffiti, his work is beautifully abstract and at times eerie and surreal.
If you pop along to his show (runs till the 7th June) don’t miss the huge piece on the wall in the Old Truman Brewery just metres away from the gallery, apparently there are more street paintings around London so I’m going to keep my peepers open!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Kid Acne- First London solo show @ Stelladore.

Hah, now I'm getting to grips with creating blogs there will be no stopping me waxing lyrical at every opportunity about every show I've stumbled across and fallen in love with.
I first stumbled across Kid acne's artwork in Sheffield visiting a friend, she showed me a locally run magazine called NOW THEN and i was immediately taken by his graffiti based illustrations heavily stylised with cute girls and animal characters.
A T-shirt, a website peek and a few other magazine cut outs later and I'm an avid fan and was delighted to learn about his first London solo show Smoke and Mirrors at Gallery Stelladore in Old street.
It was an impressive exhibition with huge figures, screen prints, printed fabrics and even used pizza boxes being used as canvases.
I was so glad i had a chance to attend and I'm keeping my eyes peeled for his most recent zine that was launched parallel to this show and keeping my fingers crossed i might even be able to spot a bit of original street art somewhere around London!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Brighton Open Houses.

It’s that time of year again in Brighton!
The stripy deckchairs are unfolded, to only immediately fold back again on the victim, creating wooden prisons. (Usually incarcerating the hapless pensioner)
The beach and the Laines are swarming with a mixture of tourists and locals and obscene amounts of pasty skin is revealed.
And you have to become even more vigilant against menacing characters, the seagulls become even more formidable than the usual thugs polluting the Brighton streets (Yes, we are talking about West Street) by nose diving at any poor unsuspecting soul with ice-cream or chips in their procession.
I don’t know about you, but I treat winter as a chance to hibernate, rather than facing the forces of nature and the upsetting notion that my fringe will make me look like the shorter rounder brother of the stunt double for David Bowie in Labyrinth rather than Betty Page.
I choose to stay low, stay warm and live in a state of laziness and lethargy, eating my weight in chocolate and hummus, although I would be lying if I pretend I don’t do this on a daily basis.
So it’s always a shock to me to emerge from my winter slumber (about 678 stones heavier but at least my fringe isn’t being decimated by the wind-hah) to a hive of Brightonian activity!

It’s the Brighton Fringe (the irony!) Festival!
Created in 1967, Brighton festival is an annual event that platforms a wide spectrum of events. You can expect to find countless art exhibitions, plays, stand up comedians, concerts, dances and much much more.
Now I’m going to be honest, I’ve been a bit of a heathen in the past years of The fringe, I can’t blame it upon anyone else, I’ve been constantly supplied with endless information of events going on but I’ve hardly ever attended anything that’s been affiliated with the festival, it's a possibility that ive been overwhelmed by the amount of choice but that hasn't stopped me from feeling guilty of my lack of interest and participation.

This year has been different! It might have something to do with my migration to London back in late 2008; I’ve started an illustration degree at Westminster University.
Now that my trips to back home are at times sporadic depending on time and finances, I’m starting to regain my appreciation on how fun and cultural Brighton is and reflect upon how I was taking it for granted, I now plan my time very carefully and try and fit in as many exhibitions I can fit in.

I started my new resolution by picking up a brochure for Artists Open Houses. Beginning in May this event spans for about four weekends over the width of East Sussex, all houses are completely free and the artwork exhibiting includes all kinds of media ranging from print, illustration, paint, textiles, sculpture, jewellery, furniture, ceramics etc.
I actually couldn’t conceive of a better way to squander a sunny Brighton weekend after visiting a few houses last Sunday with my mum.
Not only do you manage to avoid the over crowded, stressful and hot streets of the central, it’s a great way to explore some of the quite beautiful residential areas you may not have visited before whilst simultaneously viewing a huge range of eclectic and diverse local artists.

We began our slow meander around Seven Dials with the open house of Ben Allen.
I LOVE Ben Allen. I will more than likely have a penchant for any contemporary artist with an enthusiasm for colour, typography, slick graphics and imaginative use of collage with comic book, pop art and street art references.
Allen encompasses all the above into his artwork seemingly effortlessly, I’ve bumped into his artwork before at the last Brighton Art Fair and the not so long ago solo show Life, Death and Other Colours at INK_D.
Ben Allen

Ben Allen
So it wasn’t too surprising that I wanted to start at his open house and I wasn’t too disappointed, situated at Montpelier Crescent, his house was huge and not only was it fun to strut through the house imagining you are an incredibly affluent brightonian aristocrat (puerile but impossible to resist), it was also great for the amount of different artists it housed.
Ben Allen
My second favourite artist to feature within this open house was an artist I wasn’t familiar with; Marina Rivans, working exclusively in collage, her work was reminiscent of Victorian collage with reappearing themes of romance, sci-fi and nature.
Her work is joyfully ornate and intricate and I enjoyed her exploration into 3D, with her Joseph Cornell-esque boxes making her collages spring to life with the added depth to the layers in her work.

Marina Rivans
I was surprised and pleased to see some of the work by Pam Glew too; I was fortunate enough to be taught very briefly at my previous college by Pam and had tried to visit her solo show in London in Old Street at gallery Stelladore but was unsuccessful due to university commitments.
Her work is instantly recognizable, drawing inspiration from film noir and horror films creating atmospheric pieces that are simultaneously sensual and eerie.
Pam Glew

Ben Allen's garden

Other artists to definitely check out that were particular favourites of mine included;
Amy Douglas, Heike Roesel and Jane Sampson.
If the artwork alone isn’t enough to tempt you out and about on the Open House trail then the gorgeous gardens, cream teas and choice of home made cakes surely has to be an unavoidable incentive.
Exhausted by the at least 15 minutes of trekking around definitely warranted the first break of the day in the garden of Ben Allen, my mum and I celebrated our successful discovery and exploration of our first open house with tea and chocolate cake.

Next stop was number 2 Clifton Hill, still in the Seven Dials trail.

2 Clifton Hill

This house had a lot more arts and crafts to offer, I loved these carefully crafted quirky little figures that greeted me in the foyer.
Created by Judy Dwyer, her little hand stitched people and dogs were so cute and wonderfully intricate.

Judy Dwyer

I also liked this unique Paper cutouts by Sylvie Howitt, I’ve noticed there’s been a welcome comeback in the illustration scene with this traditional paper art, but this is the first time I’ve seen the artist explore in media and I loved these dainty symmetrical designs cut out of maps and manuscripts.

Sylvie Howitt

The last house took us onto the Hove Trail.

I had been looking forward to visiting the Rock n Roll Boudoir and I wasn't disappointed.
More of a flat than the other more grandeur houses we had seen, what this location lacked in space made up with in hospitality and a collection of some very gorgeous pop art and burlesque inspired prints!
I managed to even strike up a conversation with the graphic artist/illustrator Kitty Finegan.
Her Prints are bold and striking utilizing Illustrator to create sexy digital pin ups.
Kitty embodies everything she has a passion for neatly into her work, 1950’s fashion, hair, and colour schemes, I think Brighton is the perfect home for this wonderful vintage manifestation!
(And on a geek note- she is very lovely to chat to too!)
Co-founder of an online gallery that not only showcases her own artwork but other artists, such as the previously mentioned Ben Allen and Simon Dixon.

Kitty Finegan

Dixon’s artwork was another highlight of the Rock n Roll Boudoir, I Particularly enjoyed his Portraits. (Although I am starting to question if my obsession with the perfectly constructed fringe is healthy! It appears to be a reoccurring theme in my interests).

Simon Dixon

Now this is a very rushed review of the Open Houses available to visit in Brighton, with the options of many trails and ultimately hundreds of different houses, I think everyone’s experience will be very different.

Find yourself a brochure or visit the website See if you can find any of your favourite local artists or just go out with an open mind and hopefully you will be inspired and excited as I was with all the creativity hiding behind all those (open!) doors.
And if all else fails you can always turn your weekend into a cake and tea trail, critiquing the interiors of the houses rather than some of the art on display, lets be honest that’s a very seductive part of being a participant in this whole experience.
Or the whole day may descend into what my mum and I liked to call Brighton Cat Trail, where we could see how many people’s cats we could pet in one day.
Oh dear, we are heathens after all!