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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.

Fishink Ceramic sale this weekend

May 21, 2022

Hi everyone This weekend I am hosting my latest Ceramic Sale online and also with @gnccfonline #gnccf . It started this morning on my Instagram stories at @ fishinkblog or and is on until Sunday at 5pm. There will be many new pieces like this Three White Birds design featured here, all hand made and designed by myself. Please help spread the word by liking this, telling your friends and sharing the info, soooo very much appreciated and I look forward to seeing you all soon. Do pop over now and have a browse.

Willi K Baum

May 16, 2022

Hello everyone, just a quick reminder that my online Fair starts this weekend, featuring a whole range of new ideas and hand made ceramics. It will be live on the website from 8am on the 21st May and will be open all weekend on there and also on my Instagram page For an opportunity to buy work before the general public, anybody who signs up to the mailing list via the website, will get an exclusive invite to the Preview evening on Friday 20 May 2022 from 6pm.

The GNCCF champions and promotes high quality, cutting edge contemporary craft and promotes designer makers, giving them a prestigious and high-profile platform to sell their work to a discerning audience. Designer-makers, from across the country and beyond, are invited to apply to showcase their work including ceramics, jewellery, glass, interior and fashion textiles, wood, silver and furniture. The fairs are over-subscribed and an independent panel of craft industry experts select the makers to ensure a high standard and variety of work – more than 50% of applications are unsuccessful.

Looking forward to seeing you over the weekend, please put a reminder in your diary and help spread the word to your friends and family who also appreciate exclusive craft. It would mean so much if you dropped by.

All the very best, Craig (@fishinkblog)

For further information on GNCCFonline, visit:-
Facebook : Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
Instagram @great_northern_events
Twitter @GNCCF

Ok now onto today’s fab creative. I came across the fabulous work of Mid Century Artist Willi K. Baum but could find very little written about him, apart from this self-penned C.V. If he is with us still, I believe he should be turning 90 this year. Happily Remembered Mr Baum !! In his own words…

Adventures with pen and brush and camera, and traveling the world, would describe my life.

Born in Switzerland, my school years in Dresden, surviving the city’s destruction in WW2, I was fortunate to spend a 4‑year apprenticeship in Graphics in Switzerland after the war. At age 20, I won the national competition for the design of a poster for the Swiss National Philatelic Exhibition, also chosen among the best Swiss posters of 1951. It is now in the MOMA collection of N.Y.

After 4 years, adventure called, so I accepted a job as Art Director at South African Advertising in Cape Town.

My earnings there allowed me to discover S.Africa and eventually roam East Africa on a motor scooter, with a stint at East African Advertising in Nairobi. On safari with my Lambretta. I developed my love of wild life photography. Life was as interesting as the magic images on the stamps of my boyhood collection. Many exciting adventures alone in the bush living in a pup tent, got me as close as possible to amazingly tolerant wildlife.

Before returning to Europe, I earned my seaman‘s papers on a Panamanian tramp steamer in the Indian Ocean.

1956. Back in Europe and in need of income, I joined Unilever as Art Director in Hamburg and London.

1958. Left for the U.S., touring the country in a used Ford. Ended up in Denver, finding plenty of work in design free-lancing, and most rewardingly designing and illustrating national ads for “Martin- Denver” Space program.

After a short-lived marriage, took off for a 10-month trip to Japan, S.E. Asia and from there, overland to Europe, recording with sketchbook and camera.

1961. Return to U.S., freelancing for advertising in San Francisco. Discover kayaking on the beautiful bay. In 1962 start many fruitful VW trips to Mexico, drawing and water-coloring.

A long sojourn in San Miguel Allende offered a chance to study mural fresco painting, and a chance at learning horse jumping.

When the savings ran out, I returned to S.F. and on to N.Y.C. where good freelance work was to be found. From there a passage on a large ore-tanker to Rotterdam, drawing and painting on board.

1964. Again in S.F., design and illustration shifting to illustrating for the emerging creative national schoolbook market, launched by the most prominent publishers.

1969. Move my studio from Pier 39 to a house in Mill Valley. Work lead to illustrating children’s books and eventually writing around a dozen of my own picture books mostly for European publishers. Many story ideas originated on travels. Observing dance drama in Bali lead to a visual translation in the form of a large portfolio of 32 hand printed and hand colored linoleum cuts, the “Bali Ramayana”, still looking for a book publisher for the collection.

Having my own letterpress, allowed for an output of private linoleum cuts over the years. A home dark room allowed for printing my own b/w travel photos.

A very creative relationship with a book publisher in S.F. allowed for steady work in book dust-jacket design which allowed for continued travel, now with my shutter-bug wife Kimiko, who shares my love for Africa and it’s wild animals. The backyard of our home in Mill Valley is a favorite hangout for the local wild life. Willi Baum

What a great designer and an impressive range of artistic skills.

Walking in Wales

May 9, 2022

It was a wonderful weather day yesterday, so to make the most of it we drove about an hours journey into Llangollen, Wales. We had heard of the the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal World Heritage Site and were keen to have a walk around the area.

In the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, north Wales was at the centre of a tourism boom in Britain. A growing middle-class made money in the industrial cities but also wanted to escape them and find peaceful, unspoiled countryside.

The canal was built as an industrial development, but it quickly became known as a pleasant route to walk, with views of the Dee valley. The two aqueducts and tunnels drew admiration from visitors. Many commented on how well the structures fitted into the natural surroundings, while at the same time praising the engineering feats.

Artist Anthony Lysycia created some of the sculpture at the site using bricks and tools used in the building and maintenance of the Bridge.

At the visitor car park entrance to the Trevor Basin is a sculpture (above) showing a narrowboat propeller. It represents setting off on a journey from Trevor. There are six sculptures by Anthony Lysycia around the aqueduct, commissioned in 2003 as the bid for World Heritage Status was beginning to be considered.

The canal brought water borne transport from the English lowlands into the rugged terrain of the Welsh uplands, using innovative techniques to cross two major river valleys and the ridge between them. It was built between 1795 and 1808 by two outstanding figures in the development of civil engineering: Thomas Telford and William Jessop. Through their dynamic relationship the canal became a testing ground for new ideas that were carried forward into subsequent engineering practice internationally. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2009.

For more than 500,000 visitors a year, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a source of awe. It is the highest canal aqueduct in the world. With an open railing on one side, so crossing is not for the faint hearted lol

The Vale of Llangollen is considered an especially beautiful area to visit. The landscape is a mixture of lush, green lowlands and high yet accessible mountains. There are some stunning walkways through both forests and higher plains.

These impressive Limestone hills jut out at irregular angles, adding to the whole drama of the area.

During the British Iron Age, around 600BCE, a large hillfort was built on the summit of what was to become Dinas Brân by a Celtic tribe named the Ordovices. You can just see the remains of Castell Dinas Brânin in the photo below. Dinas Brân has been variously translated as the “crow’s fortress” or “fortress of Brân”, with Brân as the name of an individual or of a nearby stream.

For a welcome stop for good food and beverage, I could readily recommend the Sun Trevor Pub, with great views of the Welsh countryside whilst you eat and sup !

Seven hours later, with sore knees and feet from the walking (and that’s just the dog) we headed home, alongside the canal to finish up back where we had started our day.

So lucky to be able to do this walk today. I’ve a feeling we will be returning again soon.