new work – new website – new events

This last year has been a good time to reflect, review and produce new work.  I have been getting to know lots of new birds since I moved to York.  Easy access to the North York Moors and the coast has inspired imagery of Avocets, Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Oystercatchers.  I have also enjoyed watching Stonechats and Redstarts on the Moors.   Closer to home Long Tailed Tits have given a great deal of amusement as they pass through the garden on their feeding sorties.  All these recent stencil prints can be seen here on my new website.  You can now search by bird, so if you have a favourite bird just go to the relevant category and enjoy!

 

As the country slowly opens up it’s a great time to get out and about safely.   Here are a few events to pique your interest. 

IMPRINTS Exhibition with York Printmakers

Why not take a walk on the Moors followed by a picnic and some artwork at the North York Moors Centre at Danby.  You can get a cup of tea and enjoy the work of a diverse range of printmaking at the Inspired By…Gallery.  The venue is fully Covid compliant so you can enjoy some wonderful printmaking from York Printmakers without worry.  I’m exhibiting 5 new prints inspired by moorland and coastal birds in the exhibition.  It’s such a joy to finally get this event underway.

 

YORK OPEN STUDIOS celebrates its 20th anniversary this year

The annual event was severely curtailed last year so we are going all out this year to make a great comeback. The event has moved from April to July.

I’ve invested in a large gazebo so that I can have both an outdoor and indoor gallery this year. There are even more artists taking part so there will be lots to see. You can start to explore what’s on offer over the two weekends by taking a look at the website. I’ll send out more details nearer the time.

 

For those of you who come to Bird Fairevery year you will probably know that the organisers have decided to cancel the event this year. I hope we will all be able to meet up in better circumstances in 2022.

 

New ‘kids’ on the block – The Groves Heritage Trail – York

You may have noticed some new personalities around The Groves area of York.  They have been peeping out from circular ‘windows’ along some of the streets.

An Ox, a Magpie, a Reindeer and a Peregrine.

I was commissioned by York Council to create 4 wildlife images for The Groves as the starting point for a community Heritage Trail leading around this vibrant corner of York.

This is a wonderful city with a rich heritage and welcoming communities. As you wander around the city you can find historical markers celebrating local people, events and landmarks. Being a city wildlife artist I’ve always had one eye on the natural world and one on the works of art that spring up all around our cities.

There used to be 3 pubs within this small area of York – The Ox, The Magpie and The Reindeer.

Pubs, along with schools and shops are often at the heart of a community and better still, these 3 pubs were named after some very characterful animals and birds.  What better place for me to start my creations?

The images I have created are my interpretation of the animals who gave their names to your community pubs. Sadly these pubs are no longer with us, but I’m sure there are plenty of people around the area who have memories of times spent in those 3 establishments.

I hope the characters the residents see peeping out at them will be a reminder and a celebration of those places at the heart of their community.  It is hoped that these images will encourage residents to share memories of life in The Groves.

But why the Peregrine?

Peregrines are amazing birds, agile in flight despite a 1m wingspan. In wild spaces they roost and nest on rocky cliff sides, swooping at great speed from their vantage point as they chase their prey. Until fairly recently Peregrines have been endangered species.  As a wildlife artist I love to champion endangered species and to help people to appreciate the beauty of the natural world around us, even in the middle of our cities.  Here in York we are privileged to have Peregrines flying above our city. In recent years their numbers have improved and they have been seen in several city centres enjoying the ‘cliff faces’ of tall buildings.  Feral pigeons are a favourite meal for a Peregrine – another reason for choosing to move to a city centre!

The York birds have been seen commuting between the city centre and the open spaces to the north – their north/south flight path taking them directly over The Groves. How wonderful for the residents to have these magnificent birds up in the skies above their homes.

Recycle, repurpose, reuse

Recycle, repurpose, reuse – the joy of making in a pandemic.

I’ve always had a fascination for lovely papers. Thick brown paper around a bunch of flowers, thoughtfully chosen wrapping paper from birthday presents, food packaging from luxury goods – those lovely colours, patterns and shiny bits of gold and silver – I’m a paper magpie!

Recycle, repurpose, reuseI also find it very difficult to throw away the left over bits of sprayed paper from my stencilling process. So I have a few boxes of colourful spray-painted papers, all of which were crying out to be put to good use.

Over the past year as we have lurched from lockdown to lockdown I rummaged through the boxes and started to make paper garlands. The act of cutting, sticking, arranging and sewing was a very calming and meditative process.

Like many artists I have found the creative process both a burden and an escape during this last year. Creativity is a fickle thing, sometimes it’s fizzing around like an excited insect and other times it’s nowhere to be seen.

I found choosing papers, patterns and colours and making paper birds and other shapes filled the gap when I couldn’t print and paint. It was a mindful process and a great way to turn discarded packaging into beautiful decorations.

I’ll be showing my lockdown garlands at York Open Studios in July and at Art and York later in the year.

York Printmakers postcard challenge

When I moved to York a few years ago I was keen to get to know the creative scene.  I came across York Printmakers and went along to a meeting on a cold January evening.  The welcome was warm and I knew I had found my ‘tribe’!

The group was welcoming, supportive and keen to share ideas and opportunities.

Our monthly meetings have moved online this year and we have recently started a postcard print challenge.  Just before Christmas many of us were finding that it was difficult to find the motivation to produce prints when there was so much anxiety about the future.  Exhibitions and fairs had been cancelled and the future for the arts was looking bleak.  The incentive to produce a themed small A6 print once a month and share it at our Zoom meeting was just the nudge many of us needed to get us back into some kind of creative rhythm.

I ducked out of the first few rounds but once I got going it was amazing how uplifting it was.  There’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind!  The prints are discussed in the same way we would do at one of our meetings and it has been a great way of keeping the momentum going within the group. I have learnt quite a lot by seeing some of the creative approaches of others in the group this has spurred me on to try out ideas of my own that have been bubbling away in the background for years.  Thank goodness for sharing and collaboration – it never fails to inspire.

YP postcard challengeThe first theme I attempted was ‘borders and edges’.  I decided to explore different ways of making stencils, in particular concentrating on the quality of the edges of the stencil. To print the stencils and to retain some of the more subtle edges I had to rethink how I push the paint through the stencil. In fact I also explored a wider variety of paints and different dilutions.  These experiments led to softer, more subtle edges and I set about applying this to imagery.

YP postcard challengeThe second challenge was ‘reflections’.  I  have often shied away from tackling water birds as the portrayal of water and reflections has seemed very complex when making stencils.  This seemed like a really good reason to give it a go.  I was amazed at my first attempts and have been hooked for several weeks since.  I’m now itching to be able to get out and about to go and study some waders,water fowl and their reflections for future prints.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again some time soon and starting to plan the exhibitions we have in the pipeline for 2021.  Keep an eye on the York Printmakers website and their Facebook page for updates.

Papercutting with Two by Two Creators

Collaboration is a wonderful thing.  Sharing ideas and with other minds can make you change your perspective and see things from a different viewpoint.  It can provide support and also bring a new spark of excitement to your work.

A very dear friend has embarked on a new venture –  Two by Two Creatives. They aim to cultivate the art of making together, sharing and exchanging their skills and knowledge for creative awakening.

I am a very happy and willing guinea pig/participant and have loved taking part in many of their new online workshops.  I have been amazed at the joy of making paper flowers, hearts and birds has brought. But it’s more, so much more than that.

I’ve explored the power of words through calligraphy, the sensuality of scent through carefully chosen readings and been taken on visual journeys learning about the ideas behind images of the Snow Queen, the iconic image of the heart and the love letters of Frida Kahlo.

Two by Two are a new venture and have big plans for the future.  Residential workshops will eventually be held in northern Italy but in the meantime join in on line and find out what it’s all about.

Two by Two Creators

Upcoming workshops