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May 2024

May contained more Art Fair admin and applications for other print fairs, but more excitingly it meant getting back in the studio and creating some new work! I had a piece to create for ‘Watersheds’ Exhibition, being held at the Storey gallery, artist were invited to create work based upon or inspired by the poetry of Tom Bowker – the exhibition being ran by his daughter Julie Evans. Happily for me he worked at the Williamsons site for a period and some of the poems related to his time there. I wanted to create an atmospheric monotype featuring great piles of coal as described in the poem ‘Our tip’. It was my first venture using metallic inks and is one of the bigger pieces I have attempted, pretty pleased with the end result! And it was lots of fun to create.

I also did some at home etching on aluminium for the first time ever! My confidence is really increasing with getting out there and trying things on my own, it went relatively smoothly… quite a fast etch but thankfully by now I knew what I was looking at and what to do about it! Progress, hurrah! This is another piece for the upcoming Williamsons Power Station exhibition, starting to get all the artworks together now. You will have to wait to see until next month what it prints like as I haven’t gotten on with it yet.

A whole two workshops this month thought, Woodcutting and Copper etching. I loved woodcutting, I just love those high contrast black and white images relief printing produces, again you will have to wait for photographic evidence of this one as we needed to saw the edges off the piece and I carved a bit more and I still need a final print. Copper etching was very interesting, I was amazed at the difference between the linework that you are able to achieve as opposed to aluminium etching! No aquatint so we couldn’t etch tone so I had to go all out on the line work on this one, reminded me a lot of fineliner drawing.

So excited about this exhibition now, titled ‘A recent history of Williamsons Power Station and showing at The Dukes, please come and visit if you are the the area!

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April 2024

April has been a very paperwork heavy month! I didn’t even get into Ironpress once, with half term at the start of the month and Lancaster Art Fair admin at the end.

I did get to Port Talbot to take pictures of the soon to be closed steelworks. I wanted to get a sense of what it was like to live so close and how big of an area the place encapsulated. Took some lovely photos that will become artworks in due course! I also got back up to the North East and got some more up to date pictures of Seaham and Blast Beach, went searching for sea glass and ended up with a little haul of glass, sea coal and bright orange rocks and pebbles coloured from the years of industry.

So that was half term over with and back to the routine. Got some work done on promo materials for Lancaster Art Fair 2024, released the open call for artists which received a healthy response. Then I spent some time applying to other art fairs and print competitions, really trying to be proactive and get my work out there for people to see. I spent more time revising my artists bio for the millionth time, every time I put one out it seems out of date so quickly! Anyway, there are lots of potential things on the horizon, I wonder which ones will come to fruition!

One of the applications that went out this month was to Lancaster BID to ask for funding towards the fair, they very generously offered to fund some workshops which is fantastic as we can make sure there are more opportunities available for our artists. Coming up to a busy period soon as my dukes exhibition is quickly approaching in early July so I have two big tasks on my hands, which is great because I love to be busy haha!

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March 2024

March has been another busy month, had my two day one-to-one workshop with Jenny Gunning which was an absolute highlight! I’d been having such issues with photoetching and solar plates that I had felt like giving up on them….only thing was I did have a set of amazing photos that I was dying to make…

Jenny was amazing and I managed to make a huge 9 plates while there, I’m not going to put them all up here as I’m keeping some to release down the line. She gave me some great advice on how to move forwards as an artist and I have been sending out some of these prints into the world applying for different events so wish me luck!

I have also been progressing with Consett Steelworks this month and made an etching of one of my favourite views, the challenge has been inking it in the way my mam had described the light from her childhood! Very happy with the results and this one is a lot of fun to play with!

Again, these ideas set others off in motion and in April half term I’m off to Port Talbot the see the steelworks there before they close. Also back off to the north east to take another look at some of those amazing beaches still marked by the industry that used to thrive there! Exciting times!

I’m also grinding into gear to get started on this years Lancaster Art Fair 2024, funding applications and in and the open call is soon to be announced!

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February 2024

Feb has been a super productive month! I’ve been etching some more and doing some more monotype work – which is a lot of fun! I was especially happy as I took a trip to Nottingham to Ratcliffe Power Station (Which is the last active coal powered power station in the country now) to get some more photos to work from. I got some lovely shots including some with big piles of coal that I was very excited about – I am going to be doing some work along this theme for Watersheds Exhibition which will be running this summer at the Storey. So that was great – I made my largest etching to date and 3 a3 mono’s from the photos:

I also followed from last months Blast Beach theme and did a monotype inspired by that alongside a couple of others – i’ve drawn from the last monotype workshop I took and have been experimenting drawing on my prints with charcoal and graphite – very much liking the effect and think its a fantastic idea!

Last of all (Although it was actually the first thing I made this month) is this little etching of Darlington from the 1970’s – I saw a photo online and I couldn’t stop looking at it – the houses dwarfed by the cooling towers – how different it is to todays view. It opened a whole can of worms and I have been finding out more about my own family’s role in industry and my grandads job as a blast furnace man in Consett Steel Works (A place that was demolished before I was born). Finding more photos from this era has been enlightening – and now I’m planning a trip to Port Talbot to see if I can get a sense of the place and how it may have been for my family growing up in a place so dominated by one industry.

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So there you are – February in a nutshell 🙂 Also had the launch of my exhibition at The Quarterhouse which was great, pop down and take a look if you’re passing by!

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January 2024

I did a lot of planning this month, and applying for things. I also did a lot of etching, mainly two A4 pieces, one of Blast Beach in Seaham – County Durham and the other of Ellesmere Port Oil Refinery. The blast beach image came from a walk I took in the area straight after lockdown, the orange rust colour of the rocks tainted by all the previous industry that took place there is the reminder of the amount of pollution that took place here. It’s a fascinating place and I have been looking more into industrial heritage and history in Northern England – lots of material to cover with this but I’m excited to find where it will lead! Off to Nottingham next month for photos of the Uk’s last active coal power station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar as well se expect lots of chimneys to come!

I really feel I’m getting to grips with inking plates and getting the effects that are in my head out there on the paper, it’s very exciting. It took a little bit of figuring to get the rusty effect on the blast beach image and I feel like I got the end result I was after – Hooray!

In addition to these I met with someone from Lancaster Museums who helpfully responded to my inquiry about old photos of the Lune Mills / Williamsons factories. This proved very fruitful and there were some amazing images of the old Lino factories and the amount of industry we once had on Lancaster Quayside. I will be working through these images and hopefully including some in my summer exhibition at the Dukes, very exciting!

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December 2023

I spent a fair bit of December working on a print for a group exhibition now open at The Dukes (Running 10th Jan – 3rd March), I had originally intended to submit three artworks however this piece ended up taking all my time! I had been playing around with gold/silver leaf trying to give it even more of a shrine like look however in the end I felt like it made the image harder to read and detracted from it’s impact in a way, so in the end the black and white version was included. It’s an interesting and thought provoking exhibition so head over and see it if you have the time.

I had a couple of art fairs I was part of this December as well: Ironpress Affordable Print Fair and King Street Arts Christmas Fair, both being held at The Storey. I had seen King Streets fair last year and was very excited to be a part of it this year and I was grateful to be shown alongside such a selection of other amazing artists in both fairs!

So those were the big things this December, apart from that I have been closely following developments at the Williamsons site and have been developing ides for a solo exhibition at The Dukes that I now have confirmed for 9th July – 1st September 2024. Early ideas are coming together and I am hoping to plan the whole exhibition around the Williamsons Power Station and surrounding Lune Mills. I have a couple of meetings set up to find more historical information and I’m very excited to see what I find out. I have also been applying for various other opportunities and trying to organize myself for the coming year! Can’t wait to see what 2024 brings!

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November 2023

November has been a fun month! I got lots of new photographs to work from (find some in the photography section) and I think the direction I’m looking to take my work is becoming more clear to me. I am not setting out with a specific plan but it seems I’m more and more drawn to industrial areas or creepy abandoned places. I got some fantastic pictures inside the old Williamsons Power Station which as of early December has sustained a massive fire…. it’s fate remains to be seen!

I have been working on a couple of Etchings and also some more Monotype after last months successes. I think my inking is improving and I’m finding it easier to know what I need to do with a plate to achieve the result I’m looking for.

So happy with the beach effect I managed to get on the Heysham print, and the lovely green glow on the horizon…perfect!

Enough is enough, graffiti in Morecambe (Left) and Rubbish piled inside Williamsons power station (now all burned up). Can’t get enough of those neon colours…

November also contained a Collagraph workshop with the wonderful Jenny McCabe, looking at working with shaped plates. Worked on an image of Battersea Power Station and a tiny image of the inside of a plug, that was a hectic day and I feel the plate still has some room to be reworked and perhaps attempt to increase the images contrast! I find Collagraph fascinating and am in awe of some of the effects people are able to achieve using it, I intend to keep looking for images that will hopefully lend themselves well to the process and work on some more plates!

I also went on a screen printing workshop at Assemble arts which was ….. frustrating because its screen printing haha, but I’m in love with some of the prints I ended up with. This was from a photograph taken in the old Williamsons power station, we lost a fair bit of detail from the original image and the screen printed quite dark… but hey! Turn out that makes for a really dramatic piece, especially when combined with acrylic ink backgrounds 🙂

So there we have it, most of the fun things that happened in November…. the rest is just admin ha

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October 2023

October has been a busy month. Focusing on Photoetching (again!), Screen Printing, Etching and Monotype… listed in order from most frustrating to most enjoyable haha.

I’ll start with the fun stuff! Monotype and drawing workshop with Janet Bolger at Ironpress, had an amazing time and Janet was very good at teaching me and helping me to try different things. Really happy with the prints I came out with as well, a whole new way of working to explore …..

There were lots of things I liked about this way of working, its quick, fun, forces you to simplify the image and think of it in different parts….I always struggled not to add all the detail and this definitely helps me get past that. They’re all very bold which I like and also lend themselves to my limited colour pallet!

I had a 1 to 1 intro to Etching on Aluminium at the lovely Jenny McCabe’s , I love learning from Jenny and am very thankful to her for taking the time to show me how to etch, I chose a fairly simple image taken from my favourite building: Williamsons Power Station and we worked with a simple 3 tones, again very happy with the outcome, really suits the subject matter. I already have two more lined up that I’m keen to get started on!

Next on the to-do list (and an item that’s been on that to-do list for over a year) was to screen print some Ghostbusters Firehouse t-shirts using my drawing that got picked up by the Ghostbusters guys in 2022… off to a slightly frustrating start as the screen wasn’t printing how I would have hoped.. A good learning opportunity though as Sarah at Assembly Arts diagnosed the problem and I leaned how issues in the original artwork that are hard for us to see with the naked eye can affect the screen exposure! A quick clean up in photoshop and reprint of the acetate and we were on our way 😀 20 (nearly perfect) shirts printed later and I have the screen print bug!

Lastly I managed to get some photoetching plates to come together into a fairly successful print….still troubleshooting with various images and so the saga continues… am I learning and making progress? I’m not sure…some days it feels like not, but I’m not done trying yet so hopefully next month will bring a breakthrough! I’ve also spent a bit more time attempting the bikini atoll image (which has just got bigger and bigger…these are printed on A1) again I think some improvements have been made ….. these were done using collagraph and monotype combined …. but it still doesn’t look the way it does in my head haha so I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing with these giant prints!

Overall I think October has been a very positive month! I learned a load of new stuff and had a great time doing it! What a year this is turning out to be 😀

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September 2023

September has been filled with photoetching! It’s still ongoing to be honest as I have only managed to create two successful plates during this time….thankfully I’m in love with one of them so that helps! I think one of the main things I’m learning is that everything takes longer than you think it will..so you better get patient or go home…

Despite these frustrations I remain firmly optimistic, that a series of perfect plates are just around the corner and next month I will have a selection of new artworks 😀 I’m very determined!

So these are the solar plates that worked out, the Durham SU image took a lot of test printing and playing around before I found a way to ink it to get the atmosphere I was after. Photoetching remains ongoing with many more possibilities!

Alongside tuition from Iain at Ironpress about different inking techniques I have been experimenting and trying ideas again and again to improve upon them. I managed a more successful Bikini Atoll monoprint, however it still needs more development and I am now looking at combining collagraph to see if that achieves a better result.

Finally I went on a one day Wood Engraving workshop at Ironpress , it was a lovely day, I liked what I made and it was a good day for printing! Image taken from a photo of a pile of tyres I took hanging around my favourite industrial estate, I loved the tiny prints (only 5x5cm) and we had time to add some chine colle to great effect:

Coming up next month should be my first go at etching and also getting to grips with some screen printing. I resolve to remain patient whilst troubleshooting any issues that will certainly arise! In other news I have a few new destinations in mind for some new photography for my next round of prints – firstly Ratcliffe on Soar power station … before they demolish it like the rest of them. I used to love driving past the ‘big chimneys’ as a kid and now am suddenly desperate to include them in my artworks!!

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August 2023

So August has been all about exhibitions and getting stuck into trying to improve my inking skills! I’ve spent many a frustrated hour at Ironpress trying to learn how to create clouds and drama/atmosphere…which then kinda morphed together into mushroom clouds and visions of Bikini Atoll during those underwater nuclear tests they did there. I will share these prints with you, although I don’t really like any of them in full, just parts here and there! I do however firmly believe that the next print will be ‘the one’ and I will have cracked it!

So there you have it! It’s a learning curve! I’ve learned about things like atmospheric perspective, dabbing on, wiping off in various ways, using greyscale instead of just black, printing the mono and drypoint in two separate stages and how to translate that badly into a print haha, although seriously, I think some of the pieces are coming together…. just need a bit more time to figure out how to use the white spirit more effectively…do everything more effectively!

In other news this month was the opening of Luneside’s 40th Anniversary Exhibition, which I was very happy to be a part of, and also I was out hanging September and October’s Whaletail Exhibition. I wasn’t expecting to be exhibiting in two places in Lancaster at once but here we are 🙂 I like to be busy!

Luneside at the Storey Gallery

August had also been a very admin heavy month, getting my head properly round the DYCP grant and booking and putting things into place for the coming months, looking forwards to another wood engraving workshop at Ironpress in September. Provisionally booked up for Lancaster Art Fair 2024 as well!

I have too many ideas for work than there are hours in the day, I’m in the midst of prepping work to make a selection of photoetching plates , all very exciting and I can’t wait to see how it goes… check in and find out..