Friday, 28 September 2012

Creative Twinning - Part 1 - what it's all about

A while ago I blogged about an opportunity that I found out about during my Mentoring Programme, its called Creative Twinning, and I'm thrilled to have been invited to be part of it. I wanted to blog about my experiences of collaboration with other creatives to spread the word about the benefits of collaborating and to encourage other creatives to get on the band wagon and do the same!

So I thought I'd give you a bit of an introduction of what Creative Twinning is:

Creative Twinning is a unique partnership of Nottingham based designers, Debbie Bryan, JC Middlebrook and Hannah Lobley. It cultivates international cultural exchanges between designers from Nottingham and its twinned cities around the globe. The project began in Karlsruhe Germany during May 2011; as the three Nottingham based designers decided to put the Nottingham and Karlsruhe’s ‘Cultural Agreement’ (signed October 2009) to the test by showcasing their sustainable art work at Eunique; the leading international trade fair for Applied Arts and Design in continental Europe.

After this first stage of Creative Twinning, with funding help from Future Factory at Nottingham Trent University, three Karlsruhe designers were invited to visit Nottingham in October 2011 for series of creative events and to showcase their work at the Lace Market Gallery. They were accompanied by a representative from the City Council of Karlsruhe, a member of the Culture Office - Department of International Relations who had met the Nottingham designers at Eunique in May.

In response to these successful events, the Nottingham trio have embarked on more International exchange projects; this year returning to Eunique in partnership with Design Factory and showcasing with another six designers from the East Midlands. Jayne Childs of JC Middlebrook is currently working with Karlsruhe designer Brigitte Adolph on Nottingham lace inspired silver jewellery which has been exhibited both in Germany and UK. Their silver cuff collaborative piece made by Brigitte Adolph from Jayne’s lace design has recently won FIRST PRIZE in German 'Schmuck' (Jewellery) magazine.

Building on the Creative Twinning event in 2011, this year three new designers from Karlsruhe along with a group of East Midlands based designers will be exhibiting in our Creative Twinning showcase at the Nottingham Contemporary on 26th October 2012. Plans to exhibit at Eunique 2013 are underway as we aim to take even more designers to Karlsruhe on the Creative Twinning adventure.

So as you can see, it's all happening here at Creatuve Twinning, and I'm just over the moon to be involved.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A surprisingly good trip to Wirksworth Art Festival

A couple of weeks ago, on second weekend in September it was Wirskworth Festival. Now, I'd heard on the grapevine it was good event to go to so on saturday afternoon we poddled off to go and see what it was like, and my goodness, had we underestimated how good it would be! The whole of the village is taken over by the Arts for the weekend, people open up their houses for artists to display their work in (which my husband thought was great as he also got to nosey into an array of gorgeous homes), shop windows are full of arts and crafts, installations etc, there was live music in the streets, book sales, antique and bric-a-brac, and there was LOADS to see! I don't even think a blog post can do the place justice but I'll give it a try!

Art Displays in the street

Display of gorgeous prints in an old railway cabin

There was literally all kinds of media to see, from textiles, collage, painting, print, pencil drawings, ceramics, but one of my favourite displays was that of  Duncan Thurlby, who creates wonderfully characterful metal scupltures, as seen above. There were dogs, fish, gorillas to name but a few and set in the most stunning surroundings, the gardens of Babington House, where live music was playing and people were chilling out with ice-creams and admiring the sights and sounds on offer.

Whilst wandering the back streets and alleys, looking for the next location to admire, there were also window displays in the most unexpected places. Below is the ceramic work and gorgoues sketchbooks of Charlotte Dredge, who is a member of Design Factory, we found this little treasure trove of goodness on display in the Vets window.
Work by Charlotte Dredge
Then there was the stunning swan textile piece which was made up of textile labels, in The Book Shop window. This was made by Derbsyhire-based textile artist Joy Pitts.

So this is just a small glimpse into the Arts Festival at Wirksworth. It was a lovely day out, I just wish I had worn better shoes (flip flops and steep hills are not good together!) and had given myself more time to explore and take it all in!! It was a fab day out and one I'll definitely be applying to next year!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Kate Marsden

Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now
I studied fashion and textiles at Lincoln College of Art & Design in the mid 1990s, then followed my now husband to London and ended up working for a law firm! I'm still there 14 years later, but I realised a few years ago that I needed an outlet for my creativity. I kickstarted this with a short course at Chelsea College of Art, and I've now taken a number of short courses there in textiles, painting and ceramics.
My real passion is surface pattern design, but I also like to knit and recently took up crochet. I use my paintings and sketches to create pattern designs and translate these into designs for ceramics, cross stitch and all sorts of different things. I've recently opened a shop on Folksy.

How long have you been using sketchbooks?
I produced a huge number of sketchbooks at college, and loved making them, but fell out of the habit after I left. I've started using them again recently following a painting course I attended a couple of years ago.

How often do you sketch?
I sketch whenever I feel the need to get an idea out on my head and onto paper! I can go for quite some time without touching my books and just taking photographs and playing with materials to see what happens, but I always go back to sketching in the end.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?
Excited! I love having a brand new book to get started on. I prefer books with small pages for collecting things/creating mini mood boards, and larger books for drawing and making notes (so I'll have one of each on the go at any one time).

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
From everything and anything. I'm constantly inspired by things I see around me. I particularly like the styles of the 1950s in fashion, textile and print design as well as architecture. Sometimes I'll spot something on the street, or it'll be an exhibition or something in a magazine that gets me started on something new.

How would you describe your creative process?
Chaotic! I used to get very frustrated at college when I had to follow a set process so I rebelled as soon as I had the opportunity! I do generally start with my photographs and make sketches based on them before creating paintings (usually acrylics, occasionally watercolour). I will then turn my painting into a repeat pattern on the computer. My 50s City design was just drawn, photocopied and pieced together (although I still worked from my earlier paintings initially). For other products I tend to just transfer my sketches directly to them.

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
Only in that I no longer have to follow a set brief when I create them - I can do whatever I want to. As a result I tend to enjoy working on them more, but they don't necessarily flow as well when you flick through them.

What is your favourite medium to work with?
I like to draw using black pilot pens or pencil. I prefer to paint in acrylics as I like the depth of colour they produce.

Do you have a favourite sketchbook?
I had two, both of which I made at college. The first was a general textile inspiration book - I loved pretty much every page and it was my favourite size (A6) - by the time I finished it, it had to lay open on the table as it was so full! The second book was for my final collection. Both books were submitted for an exhibition at the end of my final year but were lost when they were returned to me. Nowadays, I photograph everything I'm happy with, just in case!

If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?
My favourite pages change all of the time, but at the moment I think I like the sketches and photographs of Sheffield. The left page shows the very start of the design process for my Park Hill design and the windows on the right form part of my 50s City pattern.

Many thanks to Kate for taking part in my sketchbook peeks series! It's been fascinating taking a peek into her lovely pages! If you want to find out more about Kate and her work you can check out her blog here and you can check out her Folksy shop here

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Nottingham Loves Words

Up close and personal with my Nottingham Loves Words poster I made live at the launch Event for Nottinghams Festival of Words. This was a reponse to the events of the evening, a stupendous summary of which you can read here, written by the lovely Creative Nottingham blogger @johnwithbeard, who I got to meet on the night! It really was an amazing evening, and a complete first for me, sketching in front of about 100-150 people, getting to meet some lovely contacts and feel part of the Festival. During the main weekend of the Festival in February 2013 I will be the artist in residence at the Newton Building at NTU, so in the meantime I'm hoping to visit a lot of the Lace:Here:Now events across the region for some inspiration for a new body of lace-inspired work.

To be honest, it seems like a lifetime ago I was getting my drawing board and pens together and heading down to Antenna, where the event took place. It's been a very busy fortnight since then, what with Melbourne, my non-trip to London, painting my tree for the Notingham Show and spending time on my mentoring with Debbie Bryan. I'm getting ready for a few days off to rest and relax, re-energise and come back feeling renewed and enthused for more good stuff. This year so far has been so far beyond my expectations that I feel I want to keep the momentum, continue to challenge myself and get involved in lots more projects and collaborations....

Friday, 21 September 2012

EMERGE exhibition at SOCK Loughborough

So here are a few snaps from the opening of the Design Factory EMERGE exhibition at SOCK in Loughborough. I was lucky enough to be accepted to be part of the exhibition which is showcasing some of the best up and coming talent in the East Midlands, and I consider myself honoured to be part of such a diverse and talented group. The pictures above show work by good friend and mosaic artist, Julie Vernon, and also the beautiful and delicate wire work and mixed media scupltures of Anna Krystyna Casey, who I got to meet on the opening night. It's a central location in Loughborough in the town hall and the space is full of natural light with high ceilings and a real spacious atmosphere. I wished I could have stayed at the Preview longer to get to meet some of the other exhibitors but I had to dash off to a meal with my work gals!

If you are in the area and fancy going along you can see our work on display until 21st October 2012.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Anna Wright

Woo Hoo, Sketchbook Peeks is back after a hectic few weeks, where I haven't even had the time to plan or schedule any blog posts!! I'm slowly catching up on blogs/emails/sleep after a really exciting September. I have loads to tell you, but I'll break it down over the next couple of weeks, so I don't bore you to death with what I've been up to!! (but I can't wait to let you know, very exciting stuff in the pipeline!!)

Whilst researching the trade fairs I would like to visit, with a view to applying to them next year, I came across Top Drawer in London and decided to take a closer look. I researched which artists/designers I wanted to visit while I was there and I found a few whose work I loved, so I thought I'd make contact and then go and say hi on the day. Unfortunately when I arrived at the train station to go and visit Top Drawer on Monday morning I discovered I had done a really blonde thing and booked my ticket for Friday and not Monday, so I'd totally miss the show!! I was really disappointed, but needless to say, one of the contacts I did make prior to messing up my booking was Anna Wright, illustrator extraordinaire and very talened lady. I asked if she would like to be featured on the blog, and very kindly she agreed, at what must be a very busy time for her. SO this is what she had to say...

'I have always been interested in fabrics, wallpaper, feathers, flowers (the list goes on..!) and anything involving craft. Having initially having ideas of going in to performance costume, textiles or jewellery I was encouraged into illustration.

I had to work out a way to transform all the things I loved into a 2D format, which is how I started to use fabric, feathers and trimmings with my drawing.

After graduating (from Edinburgh College of Art) I went down to London, but found it too expensive to survive, so I got a job with a bespoke jacket designer. However after a year or so I felt the need to give my work another go, so headed home to South West Scotland, and began with commissions and exhibitions.

Everything has unfolded from there and now I sell prints, cards, bags and books etc.

Sketchbooks are always encouraged in education, so I would say I have been using them since I was about 10. However as I have developed I would say my ╩╗sketchbook╩╝ use has become more unconventional.

As I love the tactile nature of things, collage, bits and pieces, not just drawing. My sketchbooks are often stitched together, with bits of fabric, ribbon and anything beautiful I clap my hands on.

My favourite way to sketch is on a huge roll of old wallpaper. I love the freedom of it and the way the drawings are unveiled in one long roll. I also love the fact it is a beautiful object in itself, with the painted pattern of wallpaper on the outside and drawings rolled up inside.

I am obviously a fan of pen and ink, for me it adds character that alot of other tools cannot. I also quite like using sticks with ink to create a bolder more looser line. This combined with colourful textiles gets me VERY excited.

Thanks to Anna for taking part in my Sketchbook Peeks interview. If you want to find out more about Anna and her gorgeous work you can check out her website here

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Melbourne Arts Festival

I'm just getting ready for the off, making my way down to the centre of Melbourne for the 8th annual Arts Festival. I'm situated in the Senior Citizens Centre, venue number 22 out of an impressive 72 venues throughout the village. Outside we have coffee, the National Trust BBQ and Hotrocks Pizzas, do I shan't be going hungry!! If you're in the area come and say hi!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Nottingham Festival of Words Launch Event

Last night I was lucky enough to be involved in the first Nottingham Festival Of Words Launch Event at Antenna in Nottingham. Nottingham Festival of Words is a collaboration between Nottingham Writers’ Studio, Nottingham City Council, Writing East Midlands, and Nottingham Trent University, and will run from 9 to 24 February 2013, with its hub at the Newton Building in the city centre over the weekend of 16 and 17 February. The launch event is part of World Event Young Artists, which is bringing 1000 young artists from 100 different countries to Nottingham this September.

I had put a proposal in for the Festival of Words a few  months ago, after hearing about the event through my Design Factory Mentor, Debbie Bryan, and was over the moon to be chosen as their Artist in Residence for the main festival weekend in February 2013. When they asked me if I would like to be involved with the Launch Event I really couldn't say no. So off I went last night, feeling a little unsure, as I'd never really done anything like this before. I was going to be drawing/sketching during the course of the evening in reponse to the performances.... The final piece of work will then be placed into a silent auction which will take place over the next few months, and the proceeds will all go back into The Festival of Words.

So, there I sat, at the side of the audience, pen in hand, blank piece of paper in front of me, drawing board on my knee, and I spent the evening listening and responding to some amazing performances, details of which you can find here. It was a truly amazing experience, something I have never done before, the comfort zone was left far behind! I got to meet some lovely people, make some great contacts, and spent an evening in a city-centre creative business hub, doing what I love.... doodling!! Priceless!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Lace:Here:Now - Debbie Bryan Heritage

This is a little something special for all Notts/Midlands folks out there who read the blog. It's an exhibition of some beautiful lace drawings taking place over the weekends in September at Wollaton Hall. Debbie Bryan, of Debbie Bryan Studio and Shop, has commissioned several talented designer-makers to make a collection of lace-inspired products which can be seen during the weekends of September and also can be purchased at her delightful shop and studio in the Lace Market Nottingham.

Lace:Here:Now is a  season of events taking place throughout the city that was once at the heart of the Lace producing industry and it celebrates the heritage of Nottingham Lace and shows how inspired, fascinated and excited people still are about Nottingham Lace. For a full list of events you can click here (and you may also note that the Nottingham Festival of Words Launch event at Antenna on Weds night, Love, Lace and Revolution, is also on there, that's the one where I'll be drawing live at the event, on my Nottingham Loves Words, lace inspired piece of work....)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Busy busy busy

It's been a busy whirlwind type of weekend for me... a visit to Wirksworth Art Festival, which I'll blog about later in week, visit to Manchester Gift Show on a research recce and then into Manchester City Centre to drop some work off at the Royal Exchange Gallery and Craft Shop.... Which I might add is a gorgeous venue with a lovely selection of work... I wish I had longer to linger but I had parked on the loading bay outside and didn't wanto to risk the wrath of the traffic warden!! Never mind when I go to collect my work I'll make sure I have more time to spend enjoying the stunning location and having a gander at all the lovelies on show there.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


I've loads to do over the next few weeks so blog posts are probably going up be a bit thin on the ground or not as regular as usual!

I'm exhibiting at Melbourne Arts Festival next weekend so am producing some new work to take with me... Here's a sneaky peek

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Love, Lace and Revolution - Nottingham Festival of Words

This is a new and very exciting project I'm working on for The Nottingham Festival of Words, which launches on Wednesday 12th September at Antenna in Nottingham... You can read all about the launch event here and you can see the bit at the bottom, live poster art by Sue Bulmer.... my tummy still does a little flip every time I think about this as I've never done anything like this before.

I'm going to be making a piece of art live at the launch event in reponse to the happenings of the evening, which by all accounts sound very exciting. I came up with the idea of what I'm going to do yesterday whilst researching the event and it's going to incorporate a pre-prepared lace-inspired pattern which will act as an overlay onto a sheet of words, which will be inspired by the launch evening. I'm even considering a bit of audience participation.... watch this space for developments...

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