Thursday 24 October 2013

The Sea Inside

Philip Hoare in the my work last year.
With apologies.
Philip Hoare's "The Sea Inside" was published this Summer.  As he's from Southampton...  and the book is about the sea and Southampton...  and Southampton is all about the sea...  and illustrators are all about the sea...  a project came about, involving the school of art at Southampton.

(Last year, when I hadn't met him, I included him in the "writers" section of my "People Of Southampton" piece.  It's not a great likeness.  I gave him the tail of the whale, for his celebrated book "Leviathan - or The Whale")

The exhibition came together in time for the start of the new student year, but it began in March or April.  It was a bit hush-hush at first, because the book wasn't out yet.  We had excerpts to work from...  I'll give you the description from the exhibition:

The Suburban Sea is a collaborative art project between three organisations:  Red Hot Press, Southampton's Open Access Print Workshop; Southampton Solent University's Unsinkable Press and Students at Norges Kreative Fagskole in Oslo, Norway.

Taking inspiration from the opening chapter of The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare, artists from each organisation were asked to respond on a single sheet of Somerset Paper.  This was then passed on to the next organisation and given to an artist or student to work on again - this time responding to both the initial extracts of the book and the work that was now on the paper.  After the second artist had worked on the paper it was passed on again.

It proved to be an interesting and, at times, challenging project asking artists to work blind, to challenge their existing practice and to explore new mediums of working.

We hope that you like the results.

My "first layer" of a collaborative piece.

"Working blind" really is a strange challenge - leaving space for the next artist, who might respond differently, and hoping that they wouldn't obscure what I'd done.  Working on top of someone else's layer was even harder.

I picked the excerpt that described swimming in Southampton Water (he does it every day), and fleshed it out with vignettes of life on the waves:
"The water is so clear it scares me.  Fish jump up as though they'd dropped out of the clouds.  Everything is rising to the surface, summoned by the light, slowed to the sea's heartbeat.  The water brims like an overrun bath.  I push out through the stillness of the standing tide, my hands creating the only ripples."

The piece on the wall with another layer on top.

Only at the exhibition / start-of-term celebration did I get to see what happened.  Some of the pieces (including two more that I worked on) had three or four layers.  My first had only one layer on top, which I'm pretty sure is Jonny Hannah's work.

Experimental illustration from Southampton School Of Art & Design!

A few of the collaborations in the exhibition.

Look at Philip Hoare's blog - Leviathan Or The Whale.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Southampton Planning

Here's an artefact from the background work for my degree show, back in May of last year.  I was researching critical appraisal of the city's architecture, particularly addressing modernism.  Owen Hatherley's "The New Ruins Of Great Britain" was a big influence on the content of the project.  Another was Jones The Planner's two blog posts about Southampton - "Southampton Dreams" (July 2011) and "Oi Southampton Masterplanners!" (April 2012).

Mainly for my own reference and development of ideas, I drew the second of the two, copying the photos and writing snippets of the text.  It takes in the legacy of historical styles, the effects of the twentieth century, recent attempts at regeneration and the city council's master plan.

My drawing / Jones The Planner's blog post.

The blog is still turning out long and rewarding pieces, about Exeter, Bristol, London...  and Stockholm and Copenhagen!

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Southampton's Arts Paper

Issue 5 of SOAP
The latest issue of SO.A.P. has been distributed, featuring updates about lots of projects and groups in the area.  It's a free paper that comes out a few times a year.  There are updates on

and plenty more - all behind Johnny Toaster's great cover images of Southampton.

The centre-spread poster this time is a display of my drawings from Copenhagen, with some flouncy text that I wrote about sketching on holiday.

Centre spread by me!

Here is SO.A.P. on Facebook.  Go out and pick up a copy!

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Sketches from Stockholm

Following my post of drawings from Copenhagen, here are a few from the couple of days that I spent in Stockholm before getting the train to Denmark.

Sergels Torg office blocks

First, the domino-row of office blocks between Sergelgatan and Sveavägen, seen from the window of  Coppola Caffé, on Sergels Torg.  We spent a lot of time there, making the most of the free refills, which seem to be fairly standard in Copenhagen and Stockholm.  The café is in on of the big shopping centres overlooking Sergels Torg, which a big junction and plaza, and one of the hubs of the city.  There is street entertainment and stalls, surrounded by modern blocks and grand department stores.

Karlaplan is a round park at the head of a smart boulevard, with a fountain at the centre.  It was quietly busy on a Sunday morning.  Here is the view, in slices, from the pinnacles of buildings above the ring of trees to the benches around the water.

The boats around Skeppsholmen

There's a completely different impression of the city from the waterfront - and there's a lot of waterfront, as Stockholm spreads over a number of islands.  We crossed the bridge to Skeppsholmen and walked right around, looking at the boats in their berths and watching ferries zip back and forth, interspersed with a few Baltic cruise ships.

Coppola Caffé

Finally some café sketches.  I enjoyed sitting still at the centre of a busy city - but with more time in Stockholm I could have kept myself very busy.