This morning I approved the proofs from the printers and I’ll be awaiting the box/boxes of books arriving at my door ahead of our launch at 12.00 on 17th March in Falinge Park (cafe), Rochdale.
Once I’d finished that process I worked on a second version which will be available to download. That version uses a special font and a coloured background to make it easier for those with dyslexia to read. The cover for this version is shown below – it will be made available online after the launch event.
At the launch the writers who have contributed to the book will read some of their work, there will be a chance to chat and meet members of the group and pack up a copy of the book. There will, of course, be light refreshments.
If you haven’t received an invitation but would like to attend please let me know and we’ll be happy to accommodate you.
Over the last few days I’ve been compiling and editing the submissions from my Climate Worx project for a soft back book. The book features 10 writers, from the newly formed Falinge Park Writing Group, who took part in the “Climate Worx” project following the exhibition, in Rochdale, of Luke Jerram’s “Gaia” installation.
Today I’ve enjoyed creating the cover design using one of my own photos of the installation and working with a limited colour palette.
The title of the book is “ONE WORLD: ONE CHANCE” and includes writing from 10 writers and will be launched on 17th March, at Falinge Park.
The last of six workshops for the Climate Worx project I been running since November is taking place tomorrow morning from 10:00am to noon. This is the last chance to be involved in writing for the project but there will be plenty of opportunity to see the work produced after the launch of our collected writing in March.
A total of 15 people have taken part in the creative writing sessions that were inspired by the Gaia Installation, in Rochdale in November and December, and thinking about our environment and climate. The project, with Falinge Park Writing Group, was funded by the Rochdale Borough Creative Network and hosted by the Vintage Worx Community Development Trust in Falinge Park.
Lots of new writing has been created and I am currently compiling it into a book which will be a lasting legacy for the project. There will be a wide range of styles of writing in the book including poetry, short stories and non-fiction. All participants in the workshops are able to have at least one piece included in the publication which we expect to launch on 17th March (an auspicious date for a book edited by someone with my background).
I was very pleased to be approached, in December, by Touchstones, Rochdale’s Art Gallery and Museum, asking if I’d agree to be a featured artist in the Gallery shop. After a successful Christmas Market I took a portfolio of images along and agreed the range that would be on sale, and the pricing.
As of today, 13th January, some my work is for sale in the gallery shop for the first time. The Touchstones gallery and museum is well worth a visit and is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 10.00am to 5.00pm and on Sundays from 10.00am to 4.00pm and admission of free of change.
There are handmade linocut prints in two sizes, greeting cards, photographic prints, Rochdale postcards and copies of my poetry book, Thinking TooMuch.
Over the next few weeks I will be adding some recently completed greeting card designs and a number of giclee prints.
Over the next few days I’ll be adding more items including handmade prints, photographic prints and postcards.
Folksy is the online shopping home of British Craft where you can find thousands of pieces created by artists, designers and makers working in studios and at kitchen tables across the UK.
So if you’re looking for that perfect original gift or you want to shop small, shop independent and give handmade, we suggest sitting down with a cuppa and having a look through the amazing creations on Folksy – all made by clever hands crafting away across the British Isles.
Folksy has original art and prints for your wall, hand-knitted scarves and gloves to keep you snug, beautiful designer jewellery, studio pottery and handmade ceramics for your table and your shelves, as well as hand-printed cushions, crochet blankets and original textiles and decor for your home and so much more. What will you discover on Folksy today?
And of course, from today, Folksy has original works from OnePoetsVision too.
This evening Rochdale was damp, varying between drizzle and rain, and it was anything but warm.
The crowds however were out in force for the opening of the Gaia Installation and the switching on of the Christmas lights. We were entertained by street theatre with some very impressive drummers and circus skills.
The highlights included an aerial show by an artist suspended from a balloon floating over Riverside and a couple of spectacular peacock puppets.
The lights were lit, the crowds cheered and applauded and the Gaia exhibit spun slowly as hundreds of people looked on and took their photos and selfies of themselves and their children holding up Planet Earth.
The entertainment reached its conclusion and the coffee shops did a roaring trade as people headed home or to the shops. Once again Rochdale had done itself proud.
Today I delivered the first workshop of the Climate Worx project. With a total of six workshop sessions we will look at writing about the climate, climate change, our environment and the world we live in. We’ll draw on our reactions to the Gaia installation opening this Saturday, 20th November, at Number One Riverside in Rochdale and we’ll share our ideas, tips, techniques and stories.
Todays workshop was hosted by Eileen Earnshaw and Falinge Writers, the new group that itself launched just a week ago, with the meeting room provided by Vintage Worx. The Falinge Writers group will meet weekly on Thursday mornings from 10.00 to 12.00. Next week Eileen will deliver her workshop looking at prose poetry.
The group really has got off to a flying start with new faces and some familiar ones and the atmosphere and creativity has been great. The quality and variety of writing is always inspiring and it seems that if you put a dozen people in a room you’ll get at least a baker’s dozen of ideas and approaches. In several examples of writing today, whilst writing about climate change, a theme of cooperation shone through, and that is perhaps the most important value for any group of creatives, whether in writing, art, music or other genres.
The next workshop in the Climate Worx project will take place at Number One Riverside on 2nd December from 10.00 to 12.00 so that we can explore our reactions to seeing the massive impression of our planet close up. Anyone who would like to be part of the group and this project but who can’t make it on the day can message me and I’ll share the notes and prompts for the session which you can use for your own visit.
The end point of the project, but of course not the ideas, writing, discussion and sharing, will be the launch of our pamphlet scheduled for 17th March (St. Patrick’s Day) 2022. We’ll make sure everyone has submission guidelines for the pamphlet and all members of the group will receive free copies.
This afternoon I’ve been making some prints ready for the first ever Touchstones Christmas Market.
This is an artists and makers market so you’ll have a chance to browse and buy goods from local creators who will be happy to tell you about their work
The market will feature arts, crafts and handmade goods just in time for those last Christmas gifts and cards. The market will take place on Saturday 11th and Sunday 11th December and will be open from 10:00am to 4:00pm on both days.
I’ll be bringing a range of greeting cards, hand-pulled prints, photography and books.
I’m sure there will be a great range of products from local creators and it promises be a great event.
Like most people I had been aware of Vincent van Gogh from secondary school onwards. Only after a visit to the National Gallery in London did I come to appreciate his art. On that day in a room full of stunning paintings by Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas and Manet there was one painting that, for me, stole the show. That painting was on of Van Gogh’s series of paintings of sunflowers. I’d seen them in books and projected on screens and they hadn’t really impacted me. But on that day in 2003 this painting glowed almost as if it had been backlit, and I stood and looked closely at it before sitting on the bench to soak it in for a while. From that day I understood why Don MacLean had sung about Vincent and I wanted to know more.
Over the next couple of years I was fortunate to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, twice, where I learned a great deal more about the man, his art, his writing and of course his mental health. If he were a musician or a sportsman then you’d call me a fan. With that in mind when we saw the event in Media City advertised we were really keen to go along.
Salford is the latest of 75 cities world-wide to show this Van Gogh Alive multisensory experience that includes projected pictures, quotes and information and lots of moving images and video, all supported by a soundtrack of classical music.
With such a track record we hoped to be impressed. Before entering the main multimedia, exhibit there is a chance to see, and have a photo taken, in a replica of the Bedroom at Arles, made famous by his series of three paintings, where Van Gogh stayed 14 months, including two months when Paul Gaugin stayed and worked alongside him.
Stepping into the large exhibition space the first impression is of being surrounded by the colour palette and brush strokes of Vincent Van Gogh. Seeing the works magnified on the large screens gives a strong feel for his bold brushwork and revolutionary use of colour.
The experience charts his career as a painter which lasted just 9 years until his tragic death, aged 37 in 1890 at Auvers-Sur-Oise. Van Gogh was incredibly prolific, producing over 900 paintings, as well as almost 1300 drawings and sketches on paper. The experience showed a wide range of his work from the very famous self-portraits, his Japanese inspired works, and his works from Belgium, The Netherlands and France.
With projections on the multiple screens, and even on the floor, often simultaneously showing different images, videos and quotations at the same time it pays to move around to view the experience from different positions. A very clever touch is the projection of paintings with some elements animated, e.g. crows flying over the cornfields or petals falling from the blossoming almond tree. A smaller room is filled with artificial sunflowers and with mirrors all around, including the ceiling, creating a powerful impression of being surrounded by the flowers that Van Gogh famously painted.
When leaving the exhibit visitors are invited to have a go at drawing versions Starry Night (in 5 minutes) and Bedroom in Arles (in ten minutes) guided by video demonstrations. Standing drawing in front of lots of people isn’t for everyone but I had one of my favourite fountain pens with me so joined in, drawing so fast is a challenge but it was also fun and there was
Whether you have little or a lot of knowledge of the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh, perhaps one of the most influential modern artists, this experience is at once informative, entertaining, educational and powerfully moving.
Looking at art is good for the human spirit and as Vincent himself wrote “I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
This weekend my review of a special event by Touchstones Rochdale, hosted at Faling Park High school, appeared in the Rochdale Observer. You can read the slightly longer version of the review here:
Touchstones, Rochdale has been hosting the wonderful “Vanity of small differences” exhibition of tapestries by Grayson Perry.
A virtual audience with Grayson Perry, hosted at Falinge Park High School gave local people an opportunity to listen to the artist a virtual audience was held at Falinge Park High School hosted by students Isra and Aliah who introduced the artist with great confidence.
During the periods of Covid-19 lockdown, Perry, winner of the 2003 Turner prize for his exquisite ceramics, has become well know to television viewers through his Art Club Series. His 2012 Channel 4 television series, “All in the best possible taste with Grayson Perry”, was an examination of taste and class around the country and The Vanity of small differences is a set of six very large tapestries developed from that.
Grayson Perry, on a large screen courtesy of modern technology, spoke about how this series of artworks about class and taste came about. In the 19th century art was largely the preserve of gentleman painters and very much an upper-middle class intellectual pursuit and Perry has spent his career trying to correct that and democratise art; “In art everybody’s opinion is valid”. Influences for the work come from The Rakes Progress by Hogarth and lots of references to Renaissance religious paintings.
Having heard the stories behind each of the tapestries, and how the images were developed through sketches, collage and final designs in Photoshop before the physical tapestries were machine woven by a specialist company in Flanders, audience members asked questions:
Does art still have the power to change the way people think?“Yes, especially TV and things with really big audiences, less so for ceramics and tapestries. I set out to make art because I liked making it, I never set out to make art to influence people”.
How does he feel about the exclusion of arts from the school curriculum? “It is a tragedy; the arts help you to live a good life”. As chancellor of the University of the Arts this is really important to him.
Would it be worth living in a world or society without art? “The short answer is No!”. The longer answer spoke of the primal importance of art, how that even in the most primitive societies people were allowed to spend valuable time making art; that’s a measure of its importance. Art is all about telling our stories and that is essential.
How can we get more young people interested in art? “By having some empathy for the audience, including young people, but certainly not by dumbing it down to the point where people get bored”.
His final comment on art; “You don’t have to like it all”.
Grayson Perry had certainly displayed an empathy of this remote Rochdale audience and we left filled with inspiration and enthusiasm, and if we pass that on to others then the event was a great success.