The 'Creative in Residence Talk.'

Following on from my last post I think I said I might tell you what I said, so here goes......warts an' all!

I think we could do with a pic to help you on the journey :) This is part of the latest edition of four books.image_32.jpg

I'm based in south Shropshire and usually work as an illustrator and map maker. I studied painting at Farnham in Surrey and continued to paint until I had my children and wanted smaller projects I could finish, which led me on to illustration and the map making side of it, but at the same time I have been exploring some ideas through linocutting.

In the last couple of years I've become really interested in the medium of 'book arts' a relatively new medium and one which ticks a lot of boxes for me - it enables me to use my illustration/ map making, printmaking and put them together to make a fine art 'object'.I've come to it via a couple of routes at the same time...I was making 'tunnel' cards for people and realised this was something I really enjoyed but wanted to push it further.
At the same time the idea of making small 3D objects came about - I make 3D 'nets' of objects big and small such as Barnodos boxes, greenhouses and shepherd's huts.- I want to make an object that tells a story ( you can just see the book idea happening!)
I like the idea of choosing something and annotating it with thoughts,clues,suggestions, like laying a trail of breadcrumbs through the forest, or a detective plot.
I hope that people are fascinated by the 'miniature world' of my work but then realise that each piece is like a detective story or narrative, and its up to them to look for the clues and piece it all together. There are hints and tips to get you on the right track..

Although I'm very happy working in pen and ink or lino,I have found the idea of making an actual 'thing' very appealing and when I discovered carousel books I realised this was exactly what I was looking for...

They present a way of involving the viewer/reader, (because you have to either pick up the object or walk around it) and leaving clues so they have to work out what the story is. Unlike a 2D picture the actual turning and looking means that a time element is involved, and there are opportunities for visual surprises, I'm planning to push this further with paper engineering but I still want to main focus to be on the drawing itself. Using a book form means I can 'pace ' the message, building rythym or surprises. I can use different the mediums such as font, paper, binding, cover materials, colour, etc incorporated in the book to re-inforce a message or contradict it.
Returning to the detective story I can even lay 'red herrings.'

I wanted to do the residency to allow me to use the presses, both for books and printmaking at the college to enable me to make a series of artists books.
I wanted to take control of the whole process, to print my own work from start to finish.
I have been reading lots of books, in the fantastic library at College Rd, and feel like a door has been opened for me into the world of book art.

My initial idea of printing the entire book has given way to just using printmaking within it and I realised that I could work with the illustration second years who have been, and still are, doing a module on book arts so I have taken advantage of this by working in the illustration department and actually doing a workshop on carousel books for them so hopefully Its been a mutually beneficial arrangement!

So, as a theme I started with 'the Enchanted Forest'!
I chose the sory of Hansel and Grethel for various reasons, a major one was that this is the book I remember my father reading to me as a child. He too was very excited by the idea of fairy tales and that seems to have engrained itself in me.
The story has all the elements that I was looking for - most importantly a well known plot so I don't have to waste time telling the actual story, I can just put in the bits I want to concentrate on. As fairy tales were always an oral tradition, it was understood that they would change in the telling so I have taken advantage of this to feel at liberty to change the plot.

It has a forest, this is most important as I love woods and trees and the idea that everyone has this imaginary 'forest ' in their minds where all the scary, worrying things lurk. I like the idea of having a witch to represent the scary worrying elements, and equally a home that is both a sanctuary but also where the wicked stepmother lives.
I've got some pictures to show you of how the first edition of books has come together, I am working on the next at the moment. I also have some pictures of the shepherd's hut in 'net ' form and assembled. Its Hansel's father's shepherd's hut, used by a woodcutter instead of a shepherd here, as many were.

I have included pictures of my sketchbooks, to show how I put my ideas together, I'm trying to keep the writing legible and the shopping lists and reminders, somewhere else!
I'm also hoping to make a model of the college, in the style of the greenhouse etc and am making a request for students to give me a line that they'd like to include.
So after I've finished here I hope to take advantage of the fact that unlike pictures, it is easy to send your books to exhibitions all around the world, and I'm going to pursue that.
I'm also due to make a map of Clun. I'm still trying to decide whether to buy a press, just hoping one serendipitously finds its way to me!