Walker Interview and Midway Process

I've been interviewed by Ryan G. Nelson for the Walker Art Center Design blog, here. The structure and tone set by Ryan made for something I was very happy to do. It's not so common to have such detailing and empathy in the questions asked, which helped me greatly to synthesise the working thinking as a whole and realise that the portfolio site needs a serious edit and overhaul. A lump of work I now need to leave behind.

These studies, ongoing; post-Hand Werk manipulations. A second edition will come in the next couple of months, this time distributed to order. News to come; thankyou if you have enquired). Looking at marriages between found (preserved) and made. There is some background thought on taxonomy, in mind since a trip last year to the adjoining Pitt Rivers Museum and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. We spoke to both curators, who made clear the contradictory systems of each collection, cheek-to-cheek.

Any system of classification or any hierarchy may be unhelpful to express in writing, directly.

Paul Elliman consistently (as in, every read is a scalesfallingfromtheeyes incident) finds a way to use writing as something like a score. So his articles in any context always feel like artworks. This is Batia Suter's Parallel Encyclopedia (2007), by Roma Publications. He says, in accompaniment, "I pass. like night, from land to land; I have strange power of speech".

My challenge often is to shed a pictorial, illustrative attitude when grouping objects. But the housing of found and made, clean and soiled within a box or dish is certainly shaking my drawing, in the set terms of representation and compatible forms within one rectangle.

Gelb (see interview), still in development, has been affected. As has an image to be finished this week for Landfill Editions, based on the V&A's Gilbert Collection of snuff boxes, bonbonièrres, toilet services and drinking vessels. Will post on this next week.

Also cutting plates to ink and print on the relief press for the all-too-imminent Open House Dulwich Festival event, starting next weekend. Will welcome some on-the-press decision making using this and other intercompatible plates, for some small editioned prints.


Something and Nothing Book

Concluding the busy month away from school with this unfinished business. Know I'm going to need to step back from it, in order to continue to work through a very nice chair commission using Harry Nilsson's The Point and a contribution to Landfill Edition's Risographed publication for Pick Me Up at Somerset House.

So this is a way of logging something in order to keep it needing to be made in the near future. It was started as a quasi-workshop for Kids.Modern but quickly proved to be needing some more time and care. A bit dubious about posting it, particularly because the line quality is so first-stage but wanted to air it. It's a Something and Nothing Book.

The idea was to make a two-colour Risographed activity/colouring book for children. The first consideration was the things I've done spontaneously with Molly, Sadie and Syd the last 10 or so years. A tendency has been to start a drawing as a prompt to get them drawing. They all do so really well anyway. What is apparent, is that colouring-in books' drawings are so poor and nowhere near the exploratory, explanatory and visionary level of drawings the three of them author. So, I make incomplete, quarter-drawings that they complete– always sublimating anything I could imagine they would do.

I think all children love to make their mark on a book, whether it's asked for or not. I did. So the premise here is to make a half-book. It can work as a narrative but begs completion, needs intervention. So the compositions need a porous quality. Also the paper stock needs to have a key, a grain that welcomes drawing in that kind of sugar-papery way.

It's also addressed in the first person, so the book is speaking to you, asking you to answer. In terms of language, it has become something of a realisation that I need to achieve some imbalance and discord in the imaging. A little escape from too much Modernism. Very interested in the way Sadie for example has been determinedly drawing 'Manga Eyes' and wanted to deliver something in here that ticks that box for her (see top image). These three are the users first and foremost and I will post as they test later on.

Wanted too, to concentrate on a kinetic across the pages whilst maintaining the kind of fragmentation that allows breaks in pictorial space and logic-lacking perspective.

So these pages are some way off but they give a sense of the limited palette (two- or three-colours?), text-image relationships and interplay with the object-page.

It will end somehow like this, a page within a page. Some precedents and cues for this thinking below. Starting with each of the three's drawings.

This is one by Syd, who is six years old. He draws a great deal, very naturally. He is something of a force of nature, with inclination to explain with cross-sections and panoramic views. He is also anatomically quite unnerving! This is Fart Club, a set he did a few weeks ago. I love its totally unfettered view of that which fascinates, let's be honest, us all.

Sadie, aged nine, writes and draws to create worlds. This is not her greatest– she uses colour quite a bit– but it is typical of sheets and sheets of characters she develops for 'Pipi World', a super-developed subscription-only phenomenon which needs its own blog to fully explain. Note the recurrent eyes here.

Molly draws a little less now. She is 11 years old. Comes into her own with observation. This startling, somewhat harrowing portrait is me! Each of their habit and attitude to drawing feeds in to this project. What strikes me most is their capacity to accept and read clashing stylistic modes within the same image. And also makes me aware of how close I could come to (and need to escape from) making imagery using modular pattern that pleases parents' taste. It's not enough and a dead end. I want to acknowledge the fragmentary, patchy nature of our bookshelves and stacked up soft toys' eyes, coming from a nosebleed-inducing breadth of styles.

I've looked a lot too, at Beni Montresor and this, I Saw a Ship A-Sailing (1967). Amazing lack of black and virtually fluo underprinting. Such conviction in the draughtsmanship. Never skimping on the will to make a lion very lionish. And the chalky, impish protagonists.

Generally, with regard to depiction, I have wanted for some time to apply the composition-determining atmosphere of information images, or those where something is worked out or explained. In a very basic way this is what I did as a 7, 8, 9, 10 year-old. Can see Syd doing it too. This fine example is by E.C. Large, from the beautifully designed Hyphen book by Stuart Bailey. The drawing is 'from his Presidential Address to the British Mycological Society'. What I'm getting at is the free use of pictorial convention (spatial, cross-sectioned, vignetted, ideographic, illusionistic) within the rectangle and how somehow this makes sense; perhaps an equivalent of modes of explanation within the same conversation where something is trying to be understood.

Finally this, Enid Blyton's Hurrah for Mary Mouse, illustrated by the excellently named Olive E. Openshaw. Archetypally sadistic and simmeringly racist. Beyond that, if you can, the characterisation is acutely creepy. Note the Mother Mouse's hands holding the framed punishment picture of the cat. Note too here a fine example of the kind of on-the-book drawing that has inspired this project to date. I hope to post more on this in the not-to-distant-future and particularly to show some corrective to the limited, too mechanical line quality of these roughs.


Tyrella Chair, Lines and Squares Chair

This, the Tyrella Chair, was completed a while ago. The original drawing was made in response to Tyrella beach in County Down, Northern Ireland; a really special place for us; particularly for Sally going back to childhood. We're exhibiting sample pieces such as this at Sunday's Kids.Modern.

Sally has been going hard at producing at designing and making a set of lovely new knitted animals, cushions and bags; I'm photographing them tomorrow for upload to her blog ahead of Sunday. So, this chair's fragmentary elements are cooked out of the quite particular and diverse form, both natural and interrupt-ary artificial, around the territory.

When the sun comes out, it's the best kept secret in Northern Europe.

Last time there I read Solaris by Stanislaw Lem; the wormcasts and tidal flats gave face to the surface and described phenomena of the planet-organism.

Back there this Summer.

Also working on the Lines and Squares Chair. Sally chose the text, from A.A. Milne's classic When We Were Very Young (1924). It's one of (our boy) Syd's favourites. So first was to escape the beautiful E.H. Shepard imagery and to engage the words. There is a residual awareness of the recent typeface work but I wanted to play and distort more, directly (and sometimes obviously, clumsily) letting the words do what they say they are doing.

This is the chair, sprung, webbed and upholstered to the stage ready for covering by Sally.

And her start on the stitch. I may need to draw more directly onto the fabric. At the moment it is stitched through a paper print of the artwork but this way it can be tricky to judge the line; in this case the radiuses and tensions are important, so we are mulling over our options for the most successful translation.


You Have Been Made And Done

Very happy to have Made and Done some Type for David John and the fantastic, white-space-infused You Have Been Here Sometime.


Take Stock Post

Preparing chairs and a bookwork for Kids.Modern this Sunday. Will post on that in due course but actually turning a lot over internally, post-Hand Werk. Visual, formal data settles into categories and somehow it will feed near-future work. Thinking quite a bit about patination and artificial, chemical-institutional colour subjected to the elements. This was taken last year, of one of a community of semi-troglodyte hand-buildings out of a low cliff face in Aglou, Morocco.

This, in Walworth. A part I think of the maligned Aylesbury Estate which is due to be demolished. It's the subject of a major oral history project out of LCC.

Carol Bove's
A Setting For A. Pomodoro (2005)(via Hotel). Distribution of ingredient in space. Ingredient language.

The pop-up Okido shop in Brixton Village Market, a short term but very wonderful creative burst, colonised here by Chie Miyazaki and Soju Tanaka, two of our soon-to-graduate, super talented people.

Hélio Oiticica's B08 Glass Bólide 02 (1963-64) via Tate. This series, referred to by the late Oiticia as 'structures for inspection', intended to be handled. Can't be handled now.

Doorway as taken in Mirleft, Morocco.

A chairwork-to-be. This, with more exposed frame and greater functional aspect to the fabric, upholstered pad elements. A child's chair for reading.

As seen in Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood's exhibition of children's chairs, via V&A. "A folding seat cut and mounted within the table". Venesta Plywood Company, Latvian, c. 1939.

Sol Le Witt's Serial Project No. 1. (ABCD) (1966) (via). His method, his edit.

A Japanese diary with day-page accommodation for time to wake, time to sleep (I guess), temperature, words, picture.

Again, Hélio Oiticica's B22 Glass Bólide 10 Homage to Malevich Gemini 1 Homenagem a Malevich Gemini 1 (1965), via Tate.

And B09 Box Bólide 07 (1964).

Finally one pattern, one palette scuppering the other. Skewed harmony.

U-Bahn seat ends a fits and bursts post.