Archives for category: Art

Hello! It has been a very long time since my last post – I have been busy writing essays towards the completion on my MA. (Not an experience I wish to repeat!) But i am happy to report I am now finished, and back in the creative world! πŸ™‚

This weekend it was the Hayes Carnival in Hillingdon, and I ran an art workshop for young children and their families.

The theme of this years carnival was ‘Stardust’ and the carnival also wanted to convey the topical message of sustainability.

Using bottle tops and other used and discarded plastic items from local businesses, I invited the participants to ‘make their mark on the Earth’ by using the pieces to create a world globe. The bright and colourful globe looked healthy from a distance, but on closer inspection highlighted the litter strewn environment in which we live.

It’s never quite the plan, or even anticipated at the start of a project but there always seems to be quite a large element of repetition in my work. Having spent the past days and weeks continuously cutting out leaves for my ‘Sustainabilitree’ i think my right hand has now moudled itself to the shape of my scissors. Knowing that i would need in excess of 8000 leaves for the tree, i was adamant that i wanted to cut them by hand. This was largely because i wanted each leaf to be unique. I was aiming for the Sustainabilitree to be as realistic as possible to fit in with the fact that it would biodegrade back to nature in the same cycle that a real tree would. I also had worked out in advance that i would be able to cut out 5 leaves at a time using scissors. In reality, this didn’t prove very easy so, i literally cut each leaf out one at at time…

So here are all the components…

The Trunk – the plastic objects visible through the bark demonstrate the items that bioplastics can now be used to replace. (Photo taken on possibly the only day of summer this year 😦 )

The Branches:

And the Leaves:

,

The photograph below shows the brown biodegradable sheet i have been working with to make the bark of my biodegradable tree for Stanelco PLC.

Thermo-forming sections of this brown sheet over the clay mould (shown above) transfers the texture imprinted on the mould to the biodegradable plastic sheet. I made the mould by using the clay to adopt the texture of a real tree bark. Once i have formed enough sections of bark i will melt all the small sections of together and will eventually have what will be the trunk of the tree.

As well as the bark texture the trunk will take on the shape of familiar plastic shapes in certain parts of the trunk as seen in the photographs below.

After cutting all the bark sections out i saved all the left over bits to use to make the branches – REUSING πŸ™‚

To follow, the branch making…

After receiving 48 000 visitors at various locations across Manchester, Bog Standard Gallery is now at it’s first London exhibition

Apthorp Gallery

Barnet Open

Thursday 8th May 2008Sunday 15th June 2008 12.00PM- 4.00PM

artsdepot’s answer to the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.

This annual event, now in its fourth year, will offer an opportunity for talented visual artists to exhibit their work. Ranging from ceramics to photography, installation art to oil painting, The Barnet Open will showcase a broad range of styles and mediums in a contemporary gallery setting. The exhibition is the product of an open submissions process with local residents, artists and community groups having the opportunity to put their work forward for selection. The result will no doubt be a vibrant group show by compelling artists.

My work for Stanelco is well underway now πŸ™‚

After spending quite a bit of time getting to know the material and it’s capabilities i am now working towards three very different installations.

Getting to this point was quite difficult because the material is usually fed through industrial machinery, popping out several hundred pieces of the same product all with a purpose or function. But how could this be used to make art?? (And can ‘art’ and ‘function’ be used in the same sentence??)

What i wanted to know was what the capabilities of the material were if i had a big lump of it sitting in front me me in my studio with an array of tools! Well, I am stronger than i look but this stuff is tough! So for this reason i went down the route of trying to design something big made out of lots of smaller components. I spent time thinking about the material being made from a natural renewable source, and the way it biodegrades right back to nature. I liked the idea of showing this full cycle in my work, as well as demonstrating the biodegradable potential of the material, yet at the same time showing that despite all this that it is completely functional and wouldn’t biodegrade if you didn’t want it to!

Meanwhile, since i started this work i have had a huge bag of biodegradable pellets taking up space at my Mum’s house and she keeps asking me why it’s still there and why it’s not biodegraded out of her way yet!

I don’t want to say too much now about what i am making until i have got a little further with it but soon i will upload photographs of my progress.

Trash Luxe is a collection of work by young designers who specialise in finding beauty in humble materials or salvaging otherwise unwanted goods, which they use to create dynamic, luxurious pieces.

This exhibition was extremely interesting not only in terms of the work itself, but the way in which it was chosen to be exhibited and especially the choice of venue.

Held at Liberty’s among their existing range of luxury items, this gave the work a real sense of luxury too. This was interesting because if the range had of been shown in a second hand shop i would have seen it in a completely different light. With environmentally friendly products often costing more to produce there is definitely a place for them in the luxury market as well as the extremely contrasting more hippie world!

As well as the choice of location for the exhibition what also fascinated me was the reaction of people about recycling and recycled products and i think this is something i would like to analyse further.

After spending a year painting my caravan and it’s contents yellow, i have a very exciting new commission!

Seeing as i usually ‘live’ my projects this could mean quite a lifestyle change for me as it involves going green and working with a material that is not harmful to the environment!

Stanelco is a company that produce bioplastics which i will be using to create my next installation.

Bioplastics can replace oil-based plastics and because they are derived from corn and potato starches, as well as being used for life-long plastic products they can biodegrade right back to nature. As it is a very new material it is extremely exciting as it’s capabilities are not entirely known so will involve a lot of experimenting and fun!

Taking on this work has increased my awareness of lots of environmental issues, particularly focusing my attention on all the wasted plastics we come across daily – so much so that i have a new found feeling of guilt when i put plastic in the bin these days!

There are lots of artists that explore environmental issues and this will be something interesting to look at as i get a feel for this new project.

18 months after i first started painting things yellow for ‘When Painting Goes Too Far’ i am still discovering bits of yellow paint on various possessions of mine, my family and friends, and places i have been!

Some friends of mine have recently moved into a new flat and i was quite amused to see specks of yellow paint on their TV – this was because i was using that TV in my flat at the time of my yellow painting spree. I used to leave things to dry on the top of the TV but the number 1 button on the remote has yellow on it as i usually took a break from the painting and watched Neighbours on BBC 1!

I still own socks will yellow on the soles from where i accidentally stood on something i had painted and left to dry, and until just recently when i got a new phone, my phone was also quite yellow.

There are also some yellow specks on the steering-wheel of my mums car from when i had a paint emergency and had to go to B & Q after running out of paint! My dad also claims there is paint on the backseat of his car too from when he was transporting some of the items to my exhibition when they were not fully dry!

With all of this in mind i was quite interested when i came across artist Taz Lovejoy who is working on a project called ‘The Blue Blob’.

The project requires people to sculpt and photograph a small piece of blue plastercine and send it to her – increasing the awareness of the lack of blue in our natural world.

I just thought this was quite interesting because for every intentional blue blob she creates i have probably canceled it out with my accidental yellow blob!

Having never been to a Graduation Ceremony before i had very little idea as to what i could expect from my own, let alone how it works when you have divorced parents, an absolutely huge family and 2 tickets!

On the day it all worked out just fine and i dressed up in the funny costume, shook hands with someone important, went out for a lovely lunch and then came home.

Shortly after arriving back home i wondered if after 4 years of studying whether i actually was meant to receive anything to prove that this actually happened? Or maybe because i left the university owing such huge library fines i wouldn’t get a certificate?

Luckily this arrived in the post this week so i no longer need to worry:

After having spent 10 days at my degree show talking about my work, i think it has really got my mind very focused to notice absolutely anything that is remotely toilet related or spotted. Probably more so than when i was actually creating the pieces, because during that time i was thinking specifically about the tasks i was doing, rather than about the work as a whole. During the show, i have had chance to think about my work in a wider context, and i have been thinking about what will happen next – not only for these 2 pieces themselves, but for their development and some entirely new work.

Once i had taken the show down i went to London for a couple of days, and i realised when i got back, that most of the things i had taken photographs of were toilet related or spotty! I just hope i wont notice something similar next time i open my wardrobe!

I noticed this lorry after stepping out of the tube station when i first arrived. I think it must actually be a really hi-tech portable toilet, and was very excited indeed! It made me wonder about giving Bog Standard Gallery some wheels and attaching is to the back of the caravan!…

I was even more excited to spot this portable toilet (it even seems to be the same model and as mine!) from the top of the London Eye!! (It’s just under the second train carriage from the left)…

And to see this spotty building was just the icing on the cake! πŸ™‚

Now that i am back from London i will be working full time for the Manchester International Festival. Having been doing a few hours a week there in the past couple of months, i think the work will begin to become quite exciting now that the festival has actually begun.

This evening i went down to the BBC studios on Oxford Road to do an interview about what i am doing now that i have my first, woo!

The most exciting part of the trip there was either using a yellow microphone or getting photographs of the toilet signs! Actually the novelty of getting the photographs wore off quite quickly as they were extremely boring signs so i think the yellow microphone is the winner!

I think had i been in the building any longer, i would have replaced the toilet signs and put dots on the microphone… πŸ˜›

Something else that interested me today was this article about the portable toilets at Glastonbury…

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6236306.stm

I do symathise with these people, as i know exactly what it’s like to have to do that to one toilet in the comfort of an art studio, and it’s not pretty!

I don’t know if portable toilets are topical at the moment, especially with Bansky’s latest installation, or whether i just can’t help but notice them now.

I got far too excited when i saw this in Hampstead Heath a couple of weeks ago (look at the number plate!)…

My younger brother Jonathan is always involved in my work – whether he offers advice, gives his opinions or just helps to create a mess!

I have to say i think he was the best dressed visitor to my exhibition…

I started my day by walking out of my driveway only to get run over by a 7 year old girl on a bike!…At worst she was in trouble from her parents for not looking where she was going, and my feet were a little sore, although i was more gutted that the sequins got torn of my flip-flops!

Luckily my day got much better…

After having a press photographer in the caravan, he proceeded to photograph me open the envelopes with my results…i was absolutely terrified about how my reaction might come out in the photographs, but luckily my results were what i had hoped for so all was fine!

I was ecstatic to discover i had a first – something that i never could imagine happening when i was scubbing excrement off the toilet walls! I don’t think the results have quite sunk in, and i think when they do i will be quite upset because it makes finishing my degree seem very final 😦

Yesterday i noticed there was an article about my work including a photograph on the front of the university magazine. I believe there is an article about my caravan in the South Manchester Reporter today, but i have yet to see it and tomorrow there will be a story in the Manchester Evening News…

After having spent over 1 year working on the caravan since it’s purchase a year last April, the feeling of having painted the last dot was quite sad!

After using 34 litres of yellow paint and painting 40 000 dots over the caravan, it’s contents, and pretty much most items of my clothing, along with most things in my room, other people’s clothing, my flat, my flatmate’s car, my dad’s car and my phone (just to name a few!) i feel i am having withdrawal symptoms from my daily dotting and yellowing of everything that i touch! I am such a loser that i cannot bring myself to throw away the remains of the paints i used, because i think complete closure on the project feels quite severe just now, seeing as it has been a major part of my life for so long!!

The opening of the degree show was on Friday, and was extremely exciting. During the long days that i spent painting so many things i didn’t think the day would ever come when it would finally be finished. I think the part i hated most was trying to rid my skin of the yellow colour it had become quite permanently in the last few weeks. Even today i still have the odd bit of yellow in my hair.

The exhibition continues until the 24th June and is at the All Saints Campus of Manchester Metropolitan University.

The last week or so in the caravan was in fact quite a nightmare! It was one of those occasions when you know there are just lots of little things than need finishing off, but that ends up taking so much longer than you anticipated. I was in a real panic thinking i would not get it finished in time. Especially with the turn in the weather, i wasn’t able to get the roof painted until the last second. I was also getting frustrated withΒ the inability of some people to paint round dots so sadly had to lay them off!

I am now extremely pleased to say that after using about 40 litres of yellow paint and painting about 40 000 dots on the caravan and the items in it it is pretty much complete – well i did promise that i had finally finished painting things yellow – but my flatmate walked in on me very late one night painting something new πŸ˜›

Today was another long day! Mid morning i took a short break from the caravan and went and spoke to the 2nd years about dissertations. After this i went on a bus tour of what seemed like the whole of Manchester to get some more yellow paint. Each time i go to Homebase to get some paint mixed i get told that the machine isn’t working and they are waiting for it to be repaired – this has happened every single time i have been there in the past year! It’s not like i go there too often but i can’t be that unlucky surely?? I think they just can’t be bothered to make paint up for people because even in B & Q the people that mix the paint up always seem to be in a mood over having to do it! I don’t know why because it looks like loads of fun!

So after finally getting some more paint i completed a second coat over everything i had done yesterday with the help of Leanne πŸ™‚ One of the maintenance staff at university was concerned about the amount of clothes that i seem to be ruining with yellow paint so she gave me an XXL overall so hopefully all my clothes will be quite safe from now on!

The painting session was finished of nicely with a trip to McDonalds before i went to do a couple of hours work for the Manchester International Festival.

Providing the weather is fine tomorrow, i will do coat three with another of my lovely assistants!

This morning was an early start – with 10 days until all the work for my degree show needs to be complete, there is lots to do!

On Friday my caravan arrived at university, and looked very happy in it’s new home (along with a random cat that has now decided to live under the caravan when i’m not looking). Most of the contents have been painted, i just need to finish the interior and paint the outside.

My plan for today was to complete the inside, but by midday i had decided to take advantage of the good weather and paint the outside. My progress was a lot quicker than i anticipated and even though i was stupidly using a smallish brush i managed to get a complete first coat on the caravan by 6.30.

The main problem i encountered today was that the caravan ended up covered in flies that sadly passed away by drowning in the wet paint. Hmmm, maybe for the next coat i will make a sign to warn them to keep away. Not a lot i can do to get rid of them now – i will just have to use them as markers for where i will put the dots πŸ˜›

Ok so, one quite entertaining part of my day is where i look at how many hits i have had on this Bog Blog – i am able to see what people have Googled to have found the Blog.

I am always surprised by the amount of people that Google the word ‘Poo’ in a day – i can’t believe there are people that actually do that, and it’s not just the odd one or two either!

…but this morning to see that someone searched ‘Mel is a weirdo’ (and incidentally i just discovered that if you do that my Blog is the first thing that comes up :S) …i am shocked! I am hoping that the Mel in question is not me, but if it was, grrrrr! …I will track you down!!

Bog Standard Gallery was featured on Channel M News on Tuesday the 8th May.