Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Southampton Songbook

Music Services at Southampton City Council have further confirmed their excellence by producing a book of songs, all written by locals in response to an open call, timed to celebrate fifty years of city status.  It has been distributed to libraries and schools, along with a CD of recordings.

The contents of Southampton's songbook.
I was approached to provide some illustrations, with my 2012 circular pieces as a touchstone.  I started by isolating sections from that, but made a few new images too.

The bottom-right one is a journey down the Itchen and Southampton Water from rowing at Riverside Park to container ships in the deep channel.

Four pages of images for Southampton songs.
The statues, if you are wondering, include John Le Fleming (looking down from the old town wall), Palmerston, Andrews and Watts (in the parks), King George III and Queen Anne (on and in the Bargate), "Adam and Eve" (in Cossack Green), the quarterjacks (on Holyrood Church), the Anthony Gormley diver (in the art gallery), Danny Lane's silhouette sculpture (outside BBC South) and the red lion (on the front of the Red Lion on the High Street).

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

I'm On A Teapot

I feel a bit like Eric Ravillious - my artwork has been put on crockery!

The design that I made for Southampton Solent University a couple of years ago was always intended for plates.  This year the project was pushed through at last and, beyond my expectations, expanded so dramatically as to include a mug and a teapot.

Prototype printings, on crockery!

As for the design:  the borders (there are two, for the outer rim and for the bit that dips down) show a lot of tall or long things in Southampton.  The centre is split into several sections representing Southampton's history and symbols, the university's history, the art school, the maritime academy at Warsash and the figures that the university's main buildings are named after.  Here goes:

Buildings at East Park Terrace

  • Sir Christopher Cockerell, who invented the hovercraft at Thorneycroft in Southampton
  • Lord Mountbatten, Baron Romsey and celebrated elsewhere in Southampton
  • John Everett Millais, pre-Raphaelite painter, born in Southampton
  • R J Mitchell, who designed the Spitfire at Southampton's Supermarine Aviation Works
  • Michael Andrews, mayor of Southampton, who sadly died in a seaplane accident in 1998
  • Herbert Collins, suburban and garden city architect, prolific around Southampton
Buildings off the campus and student halls
  • Sir James Matthews, educationalist, councillor, and post-war town planner in Southampton
  • Lucia Foster Welch, Southampton's first female mayor
  • Emily Davies, women's activist from Southampton

It is very satisfying to see the artwork printed out and to see that it printed well.

Thursday, 31 July 2014


A maritime, shipping and cargo themed RSVP pattern.  Count the ways I say it.

... please do!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Reinstatement and Reissue

Cowering unloved behind a red curtain for the last 20 years because it went ‘out of fashion’, the mural has been quietly waiting to be brought back into school life.
There you have two familiar stories:  the neglect of decorative art in public buildings and the eventual exoneration of mid-century themes and styles.  [And there you have a fine dissertation title.]

Something sharp behind the arras:
Gordon Cullen's Greenside Mural.
This Saturday, 10th May, at at Greenside Primary School, London, Gordon Cullen's restored 1952 mural for the school will be celebrated.  The attendant festivities include a film about the mural; maypole dancing; the 20th Century Graphic Art Fair; vintage this-and-that and a new old Eric Ravilious print.  The quote above comes from the press release.  All Things Considered (St. Jude's) has a good write-up.

I didn't know about this story until recently.  The Greenside Mural Facebook page documents the gradual fundraising and restoration over the past few years.  Other murals, like Edward Bawden's at Morley College, were lost to unkind decades before the artists' reappraisal came around.  Ravilious has been gathering adoring book-buyers in the new millennium.

Nairn's London.
The other overdue celebration this weekend is that of the topographical writer Ian Nairn at the Festival Of Ideas in Bristol.  On Sunday, at The Watershed, a few of his TV films will be shown, with discussion between Owen Hatherley (of A Guide To The New Ruins Of Great Britain), John Grindrod (of Concretopia) and others.

The forgotten 1966 hit "Nairn's London" is to be reissued, following another slow-growing campaign of small voices in the wilderness.

I will be at the art fair with some of my own work (I'm still putting a bundle together), hoping to get the commemorative letterpress poster and maybe copy of Gordon Cullen's Townscape.  Here is a good guide to buying mid-century prints at Mid Century Magazine.  My partner Adam will be at the Nairn event, having campaigned for that reissue - but we'll each wish we could be at the other one too.

Finally, the winning entries for this year's Serco Prize For Illustration show a love of old transport posters and architectural guides - particularly the pieces by Eliza Southwood and Gill Bradley.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

St George's Cakes

"The cakes of England" are many and varied.  The named ones are not quite so evenly distributed.

I left out lots of savoury things (Dorset Knob, Bedfordshire Clanger) and sweets (Pontefract Cakes and Kendal Mint Cake.  Saint George (credit to Uccello's Saint George And The Dragon) is interested only in sweet cakes, buns and biscuits.

If there's one thing that makes me get a piece of work done it's St George's Day.  Last year's is here.  I made plans and demonstrations for this one some weeks ago, and wanted to get it all printed this week.  Yesterday morning I found that the date had crept up on me.  Over breakfast time, and feverishly, I cut most of the cake shapes.  Over lunchtime (the lunch break from jury service) I inked them up and got some prints.  The text came together in time for supper.

As I write this, I've just been asked if I know any St George's Day songs - specifically ones that are suitable to teach to a class of six-year-olds.  Do you know any?

More importantly, have you ever seen a Kentish huffkin?

Happy Saint George's Day!

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Treasures Of Jordan

My sister is flying to Jordan right now, to visit a friend in the capital, Amman, and see the many historical sites.  I knew nothing about Jordan, so I'm looking forward to hearing about it.  In preparation, here is the sum of what I've looked up this morning, based on my sister's plans and other itineraries that are available - ancient sites on the Kings' Highway; crusader castles; snorkling...

The start of a learning journey about Jordan.

A search throws up some great mosaics in Madaba, and the fact that King Abdullah had a small part in Star Trek Voyager.  My apologies to the Jordanian interior and for any names that are wrong.  Oh, and once again I've skirted with potential offence by trying to draw Arabic text.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Fruits Of The Press

My badge.
Two weeks in a room full of presses had to result in a few things to show, printing from lino, card and silkscreen.

As I have a supervisory rĂ´le, I needed a badge to adorn my apron, to accustom the student body to my capacity and to show that I mean business.

Rebecca said that, upside-down, it looked like a toothy grin.

Painted pebbles.

The shelves and sills of my family home used to be dotted with painted pebbles.  My mother had picked out nice round ones and painted detailed butterflies.  Now they are outside the back door, in a little bed of varnished stones, and butterflies have given way to flowers.

That became a little lino print for Mothering Sunday.  It was quick and sinuous and simple.

Vegetables and fruit.

Now that Adam and I have an allotment, I expect its produce to creep into my work.  By the end of the year I will be drawing only squashes and peapods.

Working with card on card (for super-embossment), on the etching press (which required some tinkering with the Big Spanner), this piece is a quick celebration of our new endeavour:

broccoli, tomatoes, courgette (or marrow, depending on depth perception), onions, pumpkin, carrot, runner beans, chillies and rhubarb (or chard, depending on preference).

Silchester walk in detail.

The three-colour screenprint of a walk near Silchester fits into this post, although I wrote about it last week.  Here is a crop.

If you like a neat rural jumble, or the silent brashness of a farm field, look at the work of Carol Lander and Carry Akroyd.

As for screenprinting, the lesson to learn is to think about registering the layers.  To think about it early and to keep thinking about it at every stage.

Three little cakes.

Finally some card-cut cakes, which are a test piece for something to come.

Any other projects are under my hat for now.