I’ve had a course in mind for a couple of years now that I’ve called ‘Thrift and Alchemy.’ I’ve committed myself to running it next year at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Spring School in February, so of course it had to move from being a nifty title to a living thing. I’ve wanted to work with a larger variety of mixed media for a long time; I know the reason I’ve been putting it off is because it’s actually difficult to integrate all those interesting bits of stuff you stockpile, and keep identity and a good sense of design in your work. In short, I don’t just want to do assemblages of materials and objects, although I have found that is certainly the way to start, and then become more rigorous.
There will be a sort of recycling exhibition running at the time of the Spring School , I’ll have to check out the exact title, so the workshop will tie in nicely with that. I use ‘thrift’ as a definition in a fairly well behaved way; ie except for glue, threads and some support materials everything is recycled, found, or I’ve had it for a very long time and I’m now pleased I didn’t throw it away. I may add some embroidered slips which will use non recycled fabric. ‘Alchemy’ I have used in a looser way; I won’t be making gold or silver from base materials, but I hope there may be something interesting and even beautiful emerging from a mix of saved and, what’s the new term, ‘up-cycled’ materials. No pressure then.
I am researching artists who work in this way. Michael Brennand-Wood is a favourite of mine already, and I have a list of others to check out too.
I’ll add posts as I move along through the work. Once you start this sort of thing, of course you are never free. Everything in your rubbish, on the pavement, in skips and falling off trees is examined carefully in case it can have a new life and be just that amazing thing to inspire or turn a piece of work into something special and mysterious.
I started an exploring my materials session by painting and printing a few things. I love the cds but feel they need to be altered in some way, rather than just printed and plonked on; but this is what we learn from such activites.
A print, a map, some pieces of porcelain, a work in progress. I have decided to work on a 30cm x 30cm format, to both move the pieces on and try as many materials as possible. [Not the long thin one above though, he’s on his own.] This is the first piece in a series which I have decided I will call ‘White Noise.’
I delved through some bags we were about to take to the dump and removed all these pices of old ceramics, mostly mine, made over the years. I intend to smash them up, and experiment with adding the pieces to textile work. There’s an old tin too, which I’ll have to go at with some tin snips. It’s very 1960s.