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Birger Kaipiainen Finland’s Prince of Ceramics

August 15, 2022

Birger Kaipiainen (1915-1988) was one of Finland’s best-known ceramic artists.

After graduating from the Central School of Arts and Crafts he was offered a position at the art department of Arabia where he worked over fifty years, alongside Rut Bryk (more here).

The talented artist was referred to as the “king of decorators” and the “prince of ceramics”.

He received international fame at the Milano triennial in 1960 and Montreal Expo 67, where he won the Grand Prix.

For the triennial, he had designed a series of birds made of ceramic beads. Montreal’s massive relief Orvokkimeri (Sea of Violets) was nine meters wide and almost five meters high, and depicted swans on a sea of violets, (see below).

The artist also worked for Rörstrand in Sweden from 1954 to 1958.

In 1957 Birger Kaipiainen created the wallpapers Kiurujen yö and Ken Kiuruista Kaunein for Pihlgren & Ritola.

I see similarities here to some ceramic ideas by Tibor Reich.

Fishinkblog 9884 Tibor Reich 4

Perhaps one saw the others’ work and was subconsciously inspired ? Who knows.

Arabia’s tableware classic Paratiisi (paradise) was designed twelve years later. The series’ second quality ware was adorned by the verdant pattern Apila (cloverleaf) in the seventies.

Kaipiainen was granted the honorary title of Professor in 1977 and state pension four years later. Nevertheless, he continued working on new ideas at Arabia’s factory until passing away in 1988.

If you wish to purchase some beautiful products for your home created by Birger himself and redesigned by his family then please visit Kuovi.

David Stone Martin Illustrating the 1950’s

July 11, 2022

Hi Everyone, I hope this finds you well and that you are enjoying a little of these lovely summery rays. I have a small sale on my stories over on Instagram so please head over and have a look here @fishinkblog Also I will be taking a short break from the blog of a couple of weeks off to concentrate on my artwork and have some time to read and enjoy the summer. If you are planning some time away, have a lovely break too.

David Stone Martin was born June 13, 1913, in Chicago and attended evening classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

It’s been said that he was greatly influenced by the line art of Ben Shahn. During World War II, David was an art director for the United States Office of War Information and produced a series of posters for them like these below.

By 1950, he was already well known for his record covers and had produced more than 100 for Mercury, Asch, Disc and Dial record albums. Many assignments came from his longtime friend, record producer Norman Granz.

Such a simplistic yet stylish feel to these, no wonder his work was in demand.

For various companies, David eventually created illustrations more than 400 record covers !

Many of these were simply line art combined with a single colour. His favorite tool was a crowquill pen which enabled him to do delicate line work. David said “Searching out a line is like bending wire… volume, modeling, shape and motion can all be said in line and wash…”

CBS-TV art director William Golden gave him many print ad assignments during the 1950s, and he soon expanded into illustration for Seventeen, The Saturday Evening Post and other slick magazines of the 1950s and 1960s.

His studio was located in Roosevelt, New Jersey, near his home there.

He is represented in the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution.

David was the husband of muralist Thelma Martin, who painted the post office mural for the facility in Sweetwater, Tennessee. He also created a few book and front covers for the likes of Time magazine.

He was the father of graphic artist Stefan Martin (born 1936) and painter Tony Martin.

He died March 1, 1992, in New London, Connecticut, where he had lived in his old age.

Thank you to Wikipedia and Leif Peng over at Today’s Inspiration for the info and initial introduction.

More of David’s record sleeves can be found at Birka Jazz Archive.

Althea McNish Textile Design from Trinidad

July 4, 2022

Althea McNish, was raised in Port of Spain and went to Bishop Anstey High School. She reported in an interview, “I started painting and drawing very young.”

Her parents were very supportive, and she joined the Trinidad Art Society at an early age and soon found an equally supportive group of artists, including Carlisle Chang, Geoffrey and Boscoe Holder and MP Alladin, among others. Sybil Atteck was her mentor, who would pick her up and take her to painting sessions. She was participating in an Art Society exhibition by 16.

Indeed, it was through that exhibition that she got her first job, as a cartographer and entomological illustrator for a government office, after she left school. Even at a young age, she was asked by the local priest to teach art to students at the Boissiere Village school.

Her father was working in London and brought her there to further her studies in November 1950. McNish had a scholarship to study architecture, but decided this was not for her, and her focus changed. She started at the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts, then went to the Central School of Arts and Crafts, and finally did a postgraduate course at the Royal College of Art, where she focused on textiles, graduating in 1957.

Her work in the final student show led to her meeting with Arthur-Stewart Liberty. He brought her to the famous store the day after she graduated and had the heads of departments meet with her. Liberty bought almost her entire collection of work at the time, and this meeting would start her career as a freelance textile designer.

She was featured in Time Present, an exhibition of the latest designs, at Hamptons of Kensington only a year after graduating.

She would later produce key designs for many other great textile companies in London, producing both for fashion and furnishings. She was commissioned by Zika Ascher, where her fabric was used in dresses by Christian Dior.

In 1959, McNish’s design for Hull Traders would also become her most famous fabric, Golden Harvest, based on a trip to wheat fields in Essex that reminded her of walking through cane fields at home in Trinidad. It became a bestseller for Hull Traders for well over a decade, until the company closed in the late 1970s.

By 1960, Design magazine noted she had also designed book jackets, murals, panels and wallpaper. She designed murals for the British luxury ocean liner the SS Oriana, and later for Nordic Express cruise lines.

When the Port of Spain General Hospital was modernised in 1960, she designed murals for it. In 1966, for the Ideal Home show in London, she created a “Bachelor Girls” room and was featured on BBC television talking about it. The William Morris Gallery exhibition has created an updated equivalent.

McNish had her first solo art show in London in late 1958 and was part of a landmark exhibition, Paintings by Trinidad and Tobago Artists, in 1961 at the Commonwealth Institute. Her textile designs were featured in magazines like Vogue, which has just published a piece on the new show. In 1963, the Cotton Board gave her a scholarship to study in France.

Design magazine in 1968 ran a special issue on design for export that noted McNish “regularly visits Italy, Switzerland, France and Scandinavia and is regularly visited every year in her London studio by buyers from overseas manufacturers.”

She loved skiing, and was able to combine that interest as well. But a distinct part of her appeal was colour and floral patterns: as she said, “Everything I did, I saw through a tropical eye.”

Throughout her career, McNish was also noted for her focus on technical aspects of textile and print design. When a new polyester fabric, Terylene, was developed, she was commissioned in 1964 to work with the manufacturers for designs for it.

Over the years, her work was featured in many exhibitions, even one in the waiting halls of the House of Commons, and discussed in several academic books. She taught design in colleges in the UK, gave lecture tours in the US and was featured in the recent documentary film, Whoever Heard of a Black Artist? Britain’s Hidden Art History.

McNish was active in London’s Caribbean community. She was one of the judges for the beauty queen contest at the 1962 Claudia Jones Carnival and was later involved with the Notting Hill Carnival as a judge. She was also an active participant in the Caribbean Arts Movement led by John La Rose, appearing in three exhibitions and a symposium of visual artists, and in 1973 designed the set and appeared on an episode on artists for the BBC TV series Full House as part of this work.

She returned regularly to Trinidad and had a love for Carnival. She was given a special three-month “return home” scholarship in the summer of 1962, when she had a large show of her work at the Government Training College and taught courses.

In 1976 she received the Chaconia Gold medal. The University of Trinidad and Tobago awarded her an honorary doctorate of fine arts in 2006.

In 2016 McNish and her husband John Weiss came to Trinidad and gave a presentation at the UTT Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design on her work. They also participated at the bicentennial celebration of the Merikin community of South Trinidad, of which McNish’s family was a part.

When she met co-curator of this exhibit Rose Sinclair in 2017, McNish told her, “I opened the doors for others to follow.

The ‘Colour is Mine‘ exhibition opened on April 2 at the William Morris Gallery in London and will run until September 11 2022. The exhibition features hundreds of items, including dozens of her classic textile designs, as well as paintings, photos, magazine illustrations, murals and more. Many items from her personal archives are on public display for the first time.

The exhibition is sponsored by Liberty Fabrics, which has recently made 41 of her classic fabric designs available for sale, and they are glorious in their joyful celebration of McNish’s use of flowers and nature.

Althea McNish was an activist – but in her own shy way. When asked the key to her success in an interview, she laughed and said it was her charm. Indeed, she is widely remembered for calmly always moving forward and not being concerned that she was doing something new.

Now this expansive new exhibition finally does justice to her long career and helps celebrate an amazing Trinidadian artist and designer, whom Architectural Digest declared one of “Five Female Designers Who Changed History.”

Thanks to the William Morris Gallery for the information used in this post and to Nicola Tree for her fab photos of the exhibition.

Catching up with the Manchester Open, MMU Special Collections

June 27, 2022

Where does the time go ? I finally got around to downloading all the photos from my phone onto my mac to not only free up some space in my phone’s gallery but also to see all the images I have taken on there since 2019 and subsequently forgotten about.. all 5400 of them Eek !!

Needless to say I had an ‘interesting’ few hours plucking out the images to dispose of, those I wanted to keep and those I wanted to share with you. I have photos from a couple of events that I have seen fairly recently that I can now share, these include a trip to the Manchester Open, a few images from Manchester Art Gallery and also a selection from the Special Collections Library at MMU. I apologise in advance for the lack of information regarding artists names etc but I gathered their art initially for myself, not intending to document it here online. I then decided to share the work with you as much of it made me smile, so why wouldn’t I wish to share that : )

Let’s start off at Manchester Art Gallery.

Then onto the Manchester Open exhibition 2022.

Finally some beautiful mid century delights at the MMU Special Collections Library.

I hope you enjoyed my three different exhibition trip here. Which is your fav ?

The Sun

June 23, 2022

I thought it might be appropriate to reshow this post, alongside the summer solstice and also learn a few facts about the Sun. For instance, did you know…

The Sun accounts for 99.86% of the mass in the solar system.

It has a mass of around 330,000 times that of Earth. It is three quarters hydrogen and most of its remaining mass is helium.

One day the Sun will consume the Earth.

The Sun will continue to burn for about 130 million years after it burns through all of its hydrogen, instead burning helium. During this time it will expand to such a size that it will engulf Mercury, Venus, and Earth. When it reaches this point, it will have become a red giant star.

The Sun is almost a perfect sphere.

Considering the sheer size of the Sun, there is only a 10 km difference in its polar and equatorial diameters – this makes it the closest thing to a perfect sphere observed in nature.

The Sun is travelling at 220 km per second.

It is around 24,000-26,000 light-years from the galactic centre and it takes the Sun approximately 225-250 million years to complete one orbit of the centre of the Milky Way.

The Sun will eventually be about the size of Earth.

Once the Sun has completed its red giant phase, it will collapse. It’s huge mass will be retained, but it will have a volume similar to that of Earth. When that happens, it will be known as a white dwarf.

It takes eight minutes for light reach Earth from the Sun.

The average distance from the Sun to the Earth is about 150 million km. Light travels at 300,000 km per second so dividing one by the other gives you 500 seconds – eight minutes and twenty seconds. This energy can reach Earth in mere minutes, but it takes millions of years to travel from the Sun’s core to its surface.

The Sun is halfway through its life.

At 4.5 billion years old, the Sun has burned off around half of its hydrogen stores and has enough left to continue burning hydrogen for another 5 billion years. Currently the Sun is a yellow dwarf star.

The distance between Earth and Sun changes.

This is because the Earth travels on a elliptical orbit path around the Sun. The distance between the two ranges from 147 to 152 million km. This distance between them is one Astronomical Unit (AU). Deep in the sun’s core, nuclear fusion converts hydrogen to helium, which generates energy. Particles of light called photons carry this energy through a spherical shell called the radiative zone to the top layer of the solar interior, the convection zone. There, hot plasmas rise and fall like the ooze in a lava lamp, which transfers energy to the sun’s surface, called the photosphere.

It can take 170,000 years for a photon to complete its journey out of the sun, but once it exits, it zips through space at more than 186,000 miles a second. Solar photons reach Earth about eight minutes after they’re freed from the sun’s interior, crossing an average of 93 million miles to get here.

The Sun rotates in the opposite direction to Earth

with the Sun rotating from west to east instead of east to west like Earth.

The Sun rotates more quickly at its equator

than it does close to its poles. This is known as differential rotation.

The Sun has a powerful magnetic field.

When magnetic energy is released by the Sun during magnetic storms, solar flares occur which we see on Earth as sunspots. Sunspots are dark areas on the Sun’s surface caused by magnetic variations. The reason they appear dark is due to their temperature being much lower than surrounding areas.

Temperatures inside the Sun can reach 15 million degrees Celsius.

Energy is generated through nuclear fusion in the Sun’s core – this is when hydrogen converts to helium – and because objects generally expand, the Sun would explode like an enormous bomb if it wasn’t for it’s tremendous gravitational pull.

The Sun generates solar winds.

These are ejections of plasma (extremely hot charged particles) that originate in the layer of the Sun know as the corona and they can travel through the solar system at up to 450 km per second. In addition to light, the sun radiates heat and a steady stream of charged particles known as the solar wind. The wind blows about 280 miles (450 kilometers) a second throughout the solar system, extending the sun’s magnetic field out more than 10 billion miles. Every so often, a patch of particles will burst from the sun in a solar flare, which can disrupt satellite communications and knock out power on Earth.

The atmosphere of the Sun is composed of three layers:

the photosphere, the chromosphere, and the corona.

The Sun is classified as a yellow dwarf star.

It is a main sequence star with surface temperatures between 5,000 and 5,700 degrees celsius (9,000 and 10,300 degrees fahrenheit).  The label “yellow” is misleading, though, since our sun burns a bright white. On Earth, the sun can take on warmer hues, especially at sunrise or sunset, because our planet’s atmosphere scatters blue and green light the most.

Here’s a few I made earlier.

And one more retro sun to keep this little chap warm. The Sun… we simply wouldn’t be here without it !

Many thanks to the many illustrative contributors today and the fabulous sun facts from The and National

Did you learn anything here today that surprised you ?

MMU Degree Show 2022

June 18, 2022

It has been a few years (for obvious reasons) since I’ve been to a local degree show. So I made the effort to go and see the Manchester School of Art Degree show which is on until the 22nd June 2022.

I was thinking as I walked around the show how difficult it must have been in trying to organise yourself and work during all that has been going on in the last three years. I see it as a testament to the students pure determination, that they created the work and pulled a show off at this time. One of my favourite places to start at is always the Textiles in Practise area.

Nasaybah Arshad has formed some wonderful repeat patterns and tessellations on ceramic tiles and using laser cutting techniques with wood. Great nature paintings and serene studies from Bethan Faulks.

Jessica Wise says ‘My practice throughout my final year of university has focused on blending the worlds of fine art and textiles and showing the connection we, as artists, have to our work. Inspired by traditional artists and painters, I use introspective thinking to create artwork that has a voice of its own and which mirrors a person or story with meaning. ‘ I thought her repeat patterns and colourisations worked very harmoniously.

Finally in this area, Bette Pryor-Hadley and Rebecca Bullas both created some beautiful woven fabrics. Rebecca’s weaves echo the feel and nature of her watercolours very well.

Moving into Product Design and Craft, a couple of people’s work spoke to me. This wire horse by Millicent Patten, expressive marks concerning the landscape from Fergus Byron and nature and surrealism combined from sculptor Anab Mohamed.

Being very truthful, I can’t say that I really understand the concepts behind the creation of these spaces below, (nor did I grasp the names of the students that created the art works either, sorry !) but I feel that Tracey Emin somehow got there first with her ‘My Bed’ exhibit back in ’98 ?

Some fabulous paintings from 22 year old Fine Artist Rachel Clancy. Her work is described where “She creates illusionary surfaces of two dimensional imagery that are compromised by trickery in the glazes of transparent oil paint that infer depth and luminosity. Her exhibition series explore sleight of hand, and play with lighting to emphasise details within the compositions. I thought her paintings showed real undertsanding of her media and a sense of patience and observation that was refreshing to see.

Her depiction of light and sheen on these fabrics was also quite beautiful.

Finally I saved my favourite area for last, Illustration with Animation. Two students work really caught my eye this year. Firstly Georgina Reynolds who has a freshness to her illustrations with a hint of optimism which makes them a pleasure to look at.

And Chloe Watts who blew me away with the amount of strong and fabulously illustrated work she had. The fact that she already has a very well constructed website of all her achievements to date speaks volumes.

Well done Chloe, I love your strong style and the way you considered so many different topics and aspects of life in today’s society. You get my top student award for your stunning work : )

Thank you to everyone who has their work featured here today and I wish you all well going forward with your careers. The degree show is on until wednesday this week.

Dorothy Clough An English Ceramist in Sweden

June 14, 2022

Dorothy Clough (1930-) is one of the well-known representatives of the illustrious Swedish ceramic design of the 20th century. She was one of the leading designers for the Upsala-Ekeby and Gefle factories in the 1950s and 1960s. Growing up in the United Kingdom, she received her education at Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland between 1948-53.

With the help of a travel scholarship, she moved to Sweden in 1954, receiving an internship at the Gefle Porcelain Factory in the central Sweden city of Upsala. Dorothy was hired as a designer at the factory Upsala – Ekeby the following year and stayed on until 1957.

After leaving her role at the factory, Dorothy continued her work as a freelance ceramic artist and designer for the Gefle factory and the Upsala-Ekeby factory. She worked on ranges like this ‘Around The World’ set and created work that portrayed life in different countries like Africa, Mexico and Norway.

Dorothy is best known for her playful sculptural figurines, particularly her depictions of animal and female figures. She worked on sculptures for The Flintstones and the infamously popular Pippi Longstocking.

Her body of work includes some 50 different figurines, as well as decorated tableware, and hand-made reliefs and wall tiles.

I love this fab plaque of two fishermen hard at work hauling in their catch.

The work that Dorothy completed in Sweden was signed “DC,” “Dorothy Clough,” or simply “CLOUGH.” She also designed some great Cats !

If you have any more info on this fab designer, do let me know. Which piece is your favourite ?

Fumiya Watanabe Wood Sculpting Dreams

June 6, 2022

Fumiya Watanabe is a Japanese young creator who has been honed in traditional woodcarving. I feel that his calm sculptures are almost beautifully dreamlike in their style and presentation. Hence me wanting to share them with you.

He presently lives in Gifu prefecture and was born in Machida, Tokyo in 1985.
In 2003 he entered the Kyoto Traditional Crafts College, working in the wood carving department and studied Buddhist altar sculpture in Kyoto. After graduating, Fumiya became a disciple of Mr. Ryutsuki Iguchi, a traditional craftsman of Inami sculpture, in Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture, and studied sculpture. He is now independent and active as a sculptor.

Through the magic of google translate, I got in touch with Fumiya to ask some questions, I’m so pleased that he was happy to take part in today’s post.

Who / What inspires you?

Nature, family and people. Take a walk in the garden, go out with your wife, and look at the people in the park. Pet dogs and cats too. I also like zoos.

Where do your sculptural ideas originate?

The idea of ​​the subject comes from what I feel in my daily life. Coexistence of the everyday, life, seasons, nature and people. Ideas come from such things. Regarding the sculpture itself, I think it is more important how to make it than what to make. The shape of the sculpture is important. Light and shadow. Texture. Emotions are transmitted from there.

I love these angelic leaf people.

Do you draw your ideas first, or do you dive into a piece of wood with your ideas in mind?

I draw a picture like a scribble in a sketchbook. From among them, select and carve what can be engraved.

I love the idea of ​​people sitting on animals, where did it start?

Thank you. I don’t remember when, but I have a habit of making myself smaller and imagining being in different places. Sitting on tree branches, ride on leaves, and confront insects. I think that such play came out naturally. Also, the animals on board express my feelings. It feels like it’s floating when it’s a fish.

Do you know the work of artist Michael Sowa ?, I feel a connection to your work.

I knew of it, but I hadn’t seen it properly. I think his work has an association with words that I can’t express.

How do you feel your work may develop in the next few years?

I would like to make a bigger pieces, and I think it would be fun if I could have a solo exhibition in various countries. What you make is shaped like what you feel in your daily life, so I think it will change depending on your age and where you live. But I don’t think it will change much.

Is there a possibility that you will sell your work online someday for those of us who cannot go to Japan?

Sadly no, I’m not thinking about selling online right now. The appearance of the sculpture is different from what you actually see in the photograph. I want people who buy it to actually see it. But my way of thinking may change.

Please tell us a little more about what sculpture and your work mean to you?

I think the work is like a piece of my heart. It reminds me of daily records and feelings at that time.

Did your parents always support you in your work?

Yes my parents support me in what I do. They helped me to go to school and to become a disciple. Now that I can live on my own, I wish I could return something to them.

Do you sculpt all day or do another job to survive?

I work half time on my own work and the rest with other work. It’s all about finding that balance.

It looks like Fumiya has had a couple of exhibitions already, what a beautiful gallery.

Thank you Fumiya for your time in answering my questions. I look forward to following your sculptural journey and seeing what wonders appear next.

What do these sculptures say to you ?

Susan Day Ceramics climbing walls

May 31, 2022

I recently came across the amazing work of Ceramist Susan Day. She received her early art education at BealArt in London, Ontario, later the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax, Nova Scotia as well as a residency at the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta. Susan is a visual artist whose work is predominately constructed of ceramic.  She has an extensive exhibition history and her work has successfully straddled the worlds of contemporary craft and fine art. She is not one to be easily daunted by working on a large scale project, or a large surface for that matter.

Her work originates from personal drawings and ideas and then she uses numerous hand-made stamps to create many variations which accumulate in large numbers, ready to adorn the next walled commission. I love the scratchy delicate honesty in her work.

Fab to see these studio insights on her instagram feed of work in progress.

She has accepted huge scale comissions like the one at the London Clay Art Centre (LCAC) in London, Ontario, Canada. The building now sports one of Susan’s exquisite, large-scale mosaic created to celebrate the country’s 150th birthday in 2017.

A total of 650 individuals from 25 distinct groups participated in workshops related to the mosaic project throughout the spring and summer of 2017. In addition, 80 member-artists of The London Potters Guild (LPG), the charitable organization that owns and operates LCAC, volunteered 880 hours working alongside community members, teaching and encouraging them to tell their stories by building, carving, stamping, and painting images on the clay. Around the area of the Old East Village, Susan has taken on a number of other large scale projects such as the Wayfinding Mosaics..

and the Gateway Mosaics.

The image above is the floor of an elevator in the new London, Ontario Children’s Museum and the beautiful shop front below which is again part of the Old East Village.

Various clay versions of artefacts Susan remembers seeing around her home which her mother used for her health.

Here is a collection of some of her smaller work.

Various interior and exterior projects.

This amazing work is a residential collaboration with Skinner Architects, London, Ontario.

Needless to say that Susan has undertaken so many large scale building projects, that she now owns her own Cherry Picker !! Wonderfully inspirational artwork Susan, I am looking forward to seeing what will come next !

You can learn more about Susan and her working methods via this half hour video.

José Bort Gutiérrez Midcentury Record Covers

May 23, 2022

José Bort Gutiérrez, was born in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain in 1912.

Poster designer, book illustrator, record cover designer, etc. He completed his first studies at the School of Applied Arts and Artistic Crafts in his hometown, moving to Madrid at a very young age.

He worked for the Azor and Stentor agencies in Madrid, and Publía, in Barcelona. He held the position of Head of Studio at the San Sebastian company, Industria Gráfica Valverde.

He was the creator, together with his daughter, Ana Bort Rueda, of the television characters Los Lunnis.

He won several prizes as a poster designer and from his hand La Familia Telerín (1964) was born, as a result of a contest organized by TVE, for which the brothers Santiago and José Luis Moro created the well-known short film “Vamos a la cama”, a song with the that all the children went to sleep.

His activity as a designer of covers takes place between 1960 and 1964, the golden age of Spanish graphic design applied to the microgroove record, which was born in 1954 and disappeared in 1968.

He worked for the companies Mercury, Philips and, above all, Fontana. He is one of the few illustrators, along with Cañizares (Fontana), Sagalés and Val (Belter), Manzano (Zafiro), Ponce de León (RCA), León (Hispavox)… who accredit his work.

What a wonderful style in his work. Thanks to two sites for making this post possible. Images used mostly from here and translated text from here.