I’m working with the National Trust this autumn at Sutton House, the oldest house in Hackney, on an exciting Black History Month project celebrating the lives and legacies of nine Influential Black Londoners. The project is in two parts: the first was for me to devise a creative response to each of the historic figures, and display it as an exhibition in the different rooms of this wonderful Tudor house. I decided to create a set of commemorative stamps, complete with a rubber stamp postmark – as you can see in the picture above, I have had great fun playing post offices to test them. I spent yesterday at the house putting up an exhibition with the help of two lovely students, Daisy and Sean – as it doesn’t open until Sunday I’ll post more about it all then.
Part two of the project is to run a series of eight creative workshops with local primary schools – the first is next week. I’ll report on this as it goes along, but it’s exciting to think of the exhibition growing week by week and showing the work of hundreds of young minds.
All my life I have lived near the river Thames, and it’s a mighty body of water that I feel a very strong emotional connection to. As a child I used to love visiting the river at high tide and letting it go over the top of my wellies, and I still feel a thrill when I see the water lapping over the towpath. In the last couple of years I have taken up skiffing and punting, so I am spending more time than ever on the water, enjoying seeing the river and its wildlife up close in all seasons. I’m also very involved in one of the tributaries, the Wandle, through local environmental organisation The Wandle Trust which organises monthly river clean-ups.
I’ve now been given a wonderful opportunity to create an exhibition for The Art Cabin, and I think the Thames is going to be my subject. I’ve started a bit of drawing and collaging, observing herons, grebes, grey wagtails and my favourites, the cormorants. I’ve also been delving into one of my most treasured books, Sweet Thames Run Softly, by Robert Gibbings. (there is a marvellous British Pathe film clip of Gibbings walking by the river here). Gibbings was a writer and woodcut artist who built his own small boat on the eve of the second world war, and paddled the whole of the river, from Lechlade back to London. The book is a beautifully illustrated account of the journey. Back in May I did the same journey over four days by skiff, and have been sketching out some ideas for linocuts inspired by my own trip.
It’s very exciting to be at this stage of a project – it could go in any direction, any media and at the moment there are no constraints. I’ll post more news on the project soon.
Another one from the Compendium show.
Source: ‘The Girl’s Companion’, Blackie and Son, 1940s
Everyone at some time or another has felt a trifle discontented with their general appearance and wanted to change it.
There is no doubt that wearing a festive costume changes your whole physical appearance and personality. You do not feel yourself to be the same person, and it is so exciting to feel different.
The important thing to bear in mind is your type: before making a choice study yourself carefully in a mirror, both front and back view.
Never, never be embarrassed; because it is always a game of fun and frolic, and above all, ‘let’s pretend’.
Here’s another one of my prints from my show ‘Compendium’. This one’s a game called Bachelor’s Kitchen – instructions on how to play are shown below! I like the idea that the penguins have gone on a stag night and gone a bit silly after too many Dubonnets.
Source: ‘Three Hundred and One Things a Bright Girl Can Do’, Jean Stewart, Sampson Low, Marston & Co, 1904
The girls sit in a row, with the exception of one, who goes in succession to each girl and asks her what she will give to the bachelor’s kitchen. Each answers what she pleases, such as a rolling pin or a warming pan.
When all have replied, the questioner returns to the first girl, and puts all sorts of questions, which must be answered by the article which she before gave to the kitchen, and by no other word. For instance, she asks, “What do you wear on your head?” “Mouse trap”. The object is to make the answerer laugh, and she is asked a number of questions until she either laughs or is given up as a hard subject.
The questioner then passes to the next girl, and so on. Those who laugh must pay a forfeit.
I thought it was time I showed some of the work from my current show at The Old Sweet Shop. This print is called ‘Winking’, and the game that inspired it is from ‘Home Games and Amusements’, a Daily Express Publication from the 1930s. This is how you play:
For this game a number of chairs are placed in a circle, sufficient being provided to supply a seat each for the ladies, and one being left over, which is vacant.
The gentlemen then take up their positions, one behind each chair, including the vacant one. The game consists in this gentleman’s trying to fill his vacant chair, which he does by winking at one of the ladies. The lady thus challenged must do her best to leave her seat and fill the vacant one, while the gentleman standing behind her must do his best to prevent her by holding her down in the chair.
The best policy for the gentleman with the vacant chair is to gaze all round the circle, and then suddenly try to catch the eye of one of the ladies when her partner is not looking.
When the ladies have become tired of scurrying back and forth, it becomes the turn of the gentlemen to fill the chairs.
I would love to hear if anyone has ever tried it! Some people visiting the exhibition have.
I will post more of the games prints soon – there is a set of nine. The exhibition is on until October 31st.
Just getting the last things ready for my show, which opens tonight at The Old Sweet Shop and runs until 31st October. I have a very messy desk!
I’ve been wielding my scalpel to cut out chairs for one of the images for my exhibition at The Old Sweet Shop next month. It’s for an illustration of a game called ‘winking’ – a sort of Victorian parlour game.
I’ve been preparing the publicity materials and posters for my show in October at The Old Sweet Shop. It’s called Compendium and is about animals playing games.