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Manchester School of Art Degree Show 2017 Part 1

June 19, 2017

Welcome to this years review of the Manchester School of Art Degree Show. If you want to ‘make it’ too, then it’s on from the 10th – 21st of June, so you’ve just got time to pop along and see the latest crop of Manchester creatives before their work goes down to London for the next exhibition at New Designers in Islington.

I had about two hours to scoot around the principal areas I wanted to view… Textiles, 3D and Illustration. If you want to know more about any pupil’s work, contact details etc you can check that out here under the course heading that they are on. I’ve taken a few images of each collection that has caught my eye, apologies to those people I’ve not included and I hope I’ve placed the correct names with the right designers work, there are so many it does get a little confusing !

Some strong Girl Power photography from Rachael Kurs (above) and these bright cushions by Olivia Easton are a great way to get us started, they made me think of Hockney for some reason.

Some beautiful moody work from Laura Hampson. Raindrops, watercolours and old Flake adverts (let’s see who gets that reference!!)

These ladies made by Bukky Jesusanmi really made me smile. Beryl Cook has indeed come to life lol

Looking deeper into Freja Burgess’s work, you start to see her cutlery jumping out at you.

One of the show highlights for me, were these fabrics by Ffion Lewis. Ffion says that her work is inspired by her home, North Wales. ” Every mark, brushstroke and colour choice, within my work is drawn from the landscape. The way that the rocks lie on each other, the ripples of sea water as it steadily comes into land. This is where I find my Inspiration.”

There’s a lovely flow / movement in her textiles and I also like the brightly dashed sewn lines with it’s charging and changing sense of direction.

Colourful folk, in and out of the exhibition.

Some Victorian inspired botanical-florals by Lucy Burgess, with a great eye for detail and the natural world.

Great to see the inspirational paper drawings that Molly Torkington based her fabrics on, alongside the final cloth pieces. It could have been interesting to see how she may have taken her ideas into full repeats.

Jessica Cutler has a wonderful eye when it comes to putting colours together in her weaves. They felt a little sixties inspired and had a warm sense of calm to them.

Celina Szczebra showed us a thing or two about her personal take on body architecture. The photographs compliment the work perfectly.

Bright, confident, urban street bags and designs from Emily Tejera. Memories for me of 80’s magazines The Face and I.D. jumped out when I saw these. Punchy, vibrant and local with it’s ‘0161’ telephone area code for Manchester.

As a contrast, some cool, refined and detailed delicates from Imogen Wilkinson.

A little more exotic flavours from Dominika Moskals prints and embroideries. Blending cultural elements to create mysterious textural curiosities with detailed, layered complexity.

Part 2, will be appearing next monday after the work has been taken down. Don’t forget it’s on until Wednesday and do let me know your thoughts on the postings. Feeling inspired ?

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Clare Youngs Designer / Maker

June 12, 2017

Clare is a designer/maker working with paper and fabric. She trained as a graphic designer and has worked in the industry, mainly in packaging design but has a life long interest in everything handmade and since childhood has enjoyed making beautiful handcrafted objects. I came across her beautifully fresh work and it made me smile.

Clare says: “When I can, I enjoy escaping to my studio to work on one off pieces. I have collected ephemera since I was a child and utilize vintage labels and paper in my pieces. When working with fabric I like to recycle and love to give a new lease of life to something old.”

Whether she is printing, cutting and folding paper, sewing or embroidering, she takes inspiration from all aspects of handicraft techniques, traditional and contemporary. Her desire to create has never been stronger than now.

She says “I love the whole process, the excitement of a new project, the thoughts and ideas that start as notes and sketches and the satisfaction of seeing my ideas develop into a finished piece. I think everyone can be creative and through my work and ideas I hope I can encourage more and more to get making and release the artist within!”

I love their spark, colour and sense of movement.

I think these would make great greeting cards, gift wrap, ceramics and repeat patterns for textiles, what do you think readers ?

Four years ago she turned to craft full time and has never looked back. It has been an incredibly busy time and she has just completed her 9th craft book. In-between writing she runs workshops and recently relocated from London to Broadstairs so has had the challenge of renovating her new home on the beautiful Kent coast.

You can see more of Clare’s work here. Pop over a treat yourself to a book today. Hopefully this is an inspiring start to your week !

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Bob Dawe Red Barn Pottery Mid 60’s ceramics

June 5, 2017

I was recently looking around my studio-space thinking how some of the artifacts that surround me have come to be there. One such item is a small pot by ceramist Bob Dawe.

From my school days, I used to visit the Bluecoat Display Centre in the heart of Liverpool. I must have stumbled across the place when I was still in school but just old enough to travel to Liverpool on my own.

The Bluecoat Centre and gallery shop, has and always will be for me, a timeless, tucked away gem, some small oasis in the hustle and bustle of a busy Liverpool city centre. It must have been back in the early eighties, when I was taking my Art and Ceramics A levels, that I had saved up about £15 and bought myself this beautiful vase from the display shop.

I must admit that it felt quite grown up to buy a piece of another artist’s work at the age of 17 and I’m guessing that I must have been attracted to it’s simple form and the 1960’s style of the sun stamp, which adorned one side of the vase. Thinking back, I think those early visits to the Bluecoat must have helped define my love of craft and designer objects and the appreciation I have for individual hand-made ceramics today. Here’s my vase.

Bob Dawe and Howard Evans ran the Red Barn Pottery in Great Wratting, Suffolk, UK, from 1965 to 1968. From there he moved to Sudbury in Suffolk to work on his own.

He specialized in using a rolling technique to create cylinder pots. Decoration was usually incised lines and impressed marks. The way these pots are constructed is very important, such slab pottery is amongst the earliest that man ever made. The technique used predates the wheel and along with simple techniques like pinching and coil making, date as the first pots of civilization.

On 20th century forum, I discovered someone asking Bob why he had made his work in the way that he did. He replied … ” Hello. This is Bob Dawe replying to your interesting question about our style of pottery in the 60’s. It was probably because several of us went to Goldsmiths College, where building pottery was far more of an interest to us than throwing. Secondly, under the influence of two splendid tutors: David Garbett and Gordon Baldwin. There was a very strong emphasis on textual decoration that related to the pot and enhanced its form. We enjoyed hand-building because it was a much more direct way of using clay than throwing, where you have a “machine” ie the wheel between you and the clay. ”

It was great to discover a little more about my early ceramic purchase and see more of Bob’s work from the same period.  I’ve discovered that some of the larger, square ceramics are possibly made by Howard Evans, Bob’s working partner at the studio at the time. I thought I would leave them in to show the range of work coming out of the studio too.

There’s almost something plant-like in some of his forms.

I discovered that I had also kept a 1970’s book on pottery that I’d found really useful when I first started taking ceramics at school. It covered the basics so well and featured such topics as slab pots and surface decoration. It could almost have been written by Bob himself lol

 

What a delight to see more of Bob’s work. I really enjoy it’s simplicity and almost tribal /rustic /rune-like, freshly unearthed appearance. So much so that I had a look online today and decided to purchase a second and third piece of Bob’s work. They should sit nicely with the first, only purchased some 35 years apart ! : )

What sits around you at home/ perhaps in your studio space, that has some personal or sentimental meaning ?

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Lucienne Day and Barbara Brown at Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery.

May 29, 2017

If you fancy a taste of some wonderful textiles, then head over to Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery. On show is a small exhibition on the beautiful work of Lucienne Day, until 16th July and a larger selection, from Manchester born designer, Barbara Brown, showing until December this year.

Someone has been very busy scattering seeds and planting at the back of the Gallery as the gardens are looking wonderful just now. The array of plant life, shapes and types, work really well in their new setting.

How amazing they looked in the sunshine today, this one below looking like a floral firework caught in freeze-frame!

Born in 1932, Barbara Brown left Manchester in the mid 1930’s with her brother and sister, to live in a care home in Kent, before being evacuated to Dorset during WW2. She studied at Canterbury College of Art and then from 1953-56 at the RCA under the guidance of Humphrey Spender.

At her degree show Barbara’s work was talent spotted by Tom Worthington, the artistic director or Heal’s Fabrics (a leading British textile firm), resulting in her first commercially printed fabric ‘Sweet Corn’ in 1958 (below top left) and subsequently designed for them for the next two decades. Like Lucienne Day, she was working for Heal’s ‘without contract on an exclusive basis’.

Her ‘Complex’  pattern (below top right) won the CoID Award in 1968,

and ‘Spiral’ and ‘Automation’, two printed furnishing fabrics for Heal’s (below), won two CoID awards in 1970.

Throughout the 20th century, considerable energy had been directed toward the possible artistic conflict of industrial production and individual, hand-made objects. Here the artist considers the issue visually, creating an aesthetic statement inspired by a gear unit, a common symbol of the industrial revolution. The fabric was hand-printed using individual screens for each of the colours needed to complete the design.

Barbara also acted as a consultant for other companies in Europe and USA, and in 1964, she created ‘Focus’, a pattern for a range of ceramic tableware designed by David Queensberry and made by W R Midwinter Ltd.

For seventeen years Barbara worked solely for Heals and was regarded as their ‘golden girl’. Avoiding all sense of prettiness, her designs moved from abstract plant forms and geometric shapes to brutalist machine-age patterns. Some were restricted to black and white and others were printed in three to seven different colour-ways. Here’s some of Barbara’s striking, large scale designs.

Barbara’s career epitomised many of the difficulties of a female artist in the mid 20th century. Wishing to be a sculptor, she was pushed by her tutors towards a career in textile design. The results are some of the most powerful and usual patterns produced at this time.

Update…

Barbara Brown is now a paper and book artist. Her pieces are often collaborations with poets: for her, there is a certain alchemy that occurs when three dimensional imagery is combined with text. Barbara has been an artist member of WSG Gallery in Michigan since 2004 and curates Beyond Words: A Celebration of Book Arts each year.

 

 

 

 

So to the second of today’s textile artists Lucienne Day.

Lucienne Day (1917-2010) was the foremost British textile designer of the immediate post-war period. Her work repeatedly drew on the inspiration of flowers, foliage and other plant forms, but she radically reworked the traditional repertoire of the pattern designer, by bringing to it her knowledge of modern abstract art. Day’s textiles speak the visual language of Kandinsky, Joan Miro and Paul Klee combined with a wonderful sense of colour, the designer’s fashion awareness and a quirky sense of humour.

For Lucienne, gardening was a lifelong passion. She was a knowledgeable plantswoman who, at her London home, was largely confined to pot gardening. However in 1964, she finally go some real soil to work with when she and her husband Robin, the furniture designer, leased a cottage in West Sussex as a weekend bolt hole.

‘Calyx’ (below) is Lucienne Day’s most famous pattern from 1951. It was originally designed to hang in the Homes and Garden pavillion at the Festival of Britain. Although Heal’s were initially sceptical about the likely commercial success of the design, it sold in large quantities over many years and was widely emulated by other designers in both the UK and abroad. Highly original and startlingly modern, it proved the springboard for Lucienne’s career as a textile designer. Part of it’s success was the implied message of regrowth and optimism for a nation only just recovering from war.

Lucienne’s daughter Paula Day says ” I think (Calyx represents) the moment at which my mother found the courage to embrace her power as a creative artist. The pattern springs up, carefully contrived to work well in repeat yet apparently utterly spontaneous. ‘Calyx’ is at once dynamic and balanced, muscular and delicate, disciplined and free. I’ve come to see that as the signature of the best of my mother’s designs.

Some more of Lucienne’s designs, not all featured in this exhibition.

The Whitworth began to collect textiles designed by Lucienne Day around 1960, largely gifted by the manufacturers she worked with. The gallery was also the recipient of many textiles from the designer herself, after organising the first retrospective exhibition of her work in 1993. This show is part of the nationwide Lucienne Day centenary celebrations coordinated by the Robin and Lucienne Day foundation. More news here.

Thank you again to the Whitworth for some of the information for this post and for continuing to host such inspirational exhibitions.

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Aliki Children’s Book Illustrator

May 22, 2017

Aliki Brandenberg is now 87. She has well over 60 books to her name and illustrates in a number of different styles. I love her fun simple lines and her textural work most of all. Aliki says “I write fiction out of a need to express myself. I write nonfiction—out of curiosity and fascination. And I draw in order to breathe.”

Born in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, Aliki’s parents, were originally from Greece, and they taught her to speak Greek as a first language. She started to draw at an early age, and her parents enrolled her in art classes.

After graduating from the Philadelphia Museum School of Art in 1951, she worked briefly at the J. C. Penney Company in New York, in their display department. She then moved back to Philadelphia and worked as a freelance artist, creating art for advertising and display purposes. She also taught classes in art, worked as a muralist, and started a greeting card company.

In 1956 Aliki decided to explore her Greek heritage, as well as many other parts of Europe. During her travels she met Franz Brandenberg, whom she married the following year. After moving to Franz’s native Switzerland, she wrote her first book The Story of William Tell, about the legendary Swiss archer. The book, published in 1960, was well received. Aliki and her husband moved to New York, where she began in earnest her long career as an illustrator and author of books for children.

She has written and illustrated many books and she has also illustrated books for other authors, including her husband Franz Brandenberg. Her career as an author and illustrator led her to explore many subjects of historic and scientific interest. Her nonfiction books, either written by herself or by others, touch upon matters as varied as dinosaurs, mammoths, book manufacturing, Shakespeare, evolution, and growing up. Aliki’s fictional works explore such themes as family and friendship. Aliki’s Greek heritage is also a recurring theme in her works, both fiction and nonfiction.

I have two of her books which display both of her styles that really appeal to me. The first is called ‘The Listening Walk’.

It’s all about the sounds we hear when going for a walk if you listen closely.

I love the simple use of two colours (sometimes overlapping to create a fall on third colour) with black line and textural elements. These cars below are wonderful, you can just feel the speed !

Lovely detail and observations.

The second is called ‘My Five Senses’ and was part of the classic ‘Let’s read and find out Science book’ series.

Lots of textural rubbings, pattern and variation in line thicknesses and scale.

You can read more about her here.

She has been living and working in England since 1977, Aliki continues to produce new titles. “I’m one of those lucky people who love what they do,” she once commented. “I also love my garden, music, theatre, museums, and traveling. But I’m happiest when I’m in my studio on the top floor of our tall house in London, alone with the book I’m working on, and Mozart.”

If you like Aliki’s work, you may also like the work of Helen Borten and Abner Graboff, you can see many posts about these artists, by writing their names into the search function on my blog. Happy viewing.

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Ivan Chermayeff Collages, Models and Logos

May 15, 2017

If you’ve ever watched Showtime or NBC, visited the Museum of Modern Art or the Smithsonian, read National Geographic or a Harper Collins book, or shopped at Barneys or Armani Exchange, you’ve seen the graphic design of Ivan Chermayeff and his firm. Since starting Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv (then just Chermayeff & Geismar) in 1956, he’s created countless logos that are, to this day, ingrained in western visual culture.

The red ‘O’ in the famous Mobil logo was designed to pop out at you when you are traveling fast down a motorway and make you realise that you need to stop for a fuel top up.

Ivan says ” We started our firm in ‘56. That’s quite a few years ago, and I’d been working away for some years as a student before that, and as a little boy before that. It all adds up to a hell of a long time. It means I’ve done a lot of work because I really like work a lot. When Tom [Geismar] and I started, there was no such expression as ‘graphic design.’ When a cab driver asked what you did, if you said graphic design, you’d have to explain it for an hour. Instead, we’d just say ‘I’m a commercial artist.”

Below (in order) are the St Louis Children’s Zoo drinking fountain, Lisbon Aquarium, Tennessee Aquarium and Osaka Aquarium.

Chermayeff’s love of using found objects began when he was at school, intimidated by the skills of his fellow students. “They could all draw and paint a lot better than I could,” he says, ” I was always putzing around with garbage at home, but whatever I made, my father would say it was great. He really encouraged me.”

Now in his eighties, he is still working and shows no sign of slowing down. “And there’s still a lot of trash to get through.”

When talking about his collages he says “It’s important not to think too hard, most of these collages appeared in about 15 seconds – but I might have some of these scraps lying about for years before they find their right home.”

” I do have a small fear of drawing, and an even bigger fear of painting. That’s why I use scissors, and I have lots: short ones, long ones, heavy ones, so I can cut heavy things. Cutting and tearing has a sort of excitement about it. If you tear things, they have a look of being torn, in contrast to a line which has little emotion. ”

” I can’t sit still no matter where I am. Even if I’m lying on the beach in Cape Cod, I’m arranging pebbles in the sand. It’s always play. Play is a very good word for my attitude, even towards making a symbol that has to stand for a company–arriving at that symbol is still a form of play. ”

Ivan has also produced books, his work makes me think of Paul Rand, Matisse and Kurt Schwitters.

You can discover more about Ivan here and here .

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Gaynor Chapman Mid century Artist

May 9, 2017

There are so many fantastic artists from the 1950’s and 60’s who have very little presence online. I feel this is a great shame and that their work should be seen and appreciated by new admirers, it’s always an aim of mine to help promote and reveal these illustrators who’s work I discover and admire. One of those is Gaynor Chapman. She was born in 1935, she attended the Epsom School of Art and was one of the ‘bright young things’ at the RCA in the early 1950’s, where she studied illustration and graphics.

The combination of these two disciplines is very evident in her work, which has a deliberate, compartmentalised graphic structure, emphasised by the use of a visible, irregular black outline. Alongside posters, she also created many book covers and illustrations for other people’s stories.

Some of her most stunning pieces were commissioned by London Transport for its poster series.

She also produced projects for BP, COI, Shell, ICI and Air France, and she created a large mural for the ship SS Dover.

Photo thanks to Airnostalgie

Most of her work appeared in the 1960s/1970s, when she taught graphics at the Brighton College of Art and continued to paint.

She died in 2000, aged 65.

If anyone knows anymore information about Gaynor Chapman or has images you would like to share, please get in touch and I would be glad to do just that. Thank you. Thanks to Mike Dempsey and his wonderful ‘Graphic Journey blog’ for the information used in this post.

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