Come the revolution

UPDATE: SOLD.

Many years ago, having first been introduced to several artists who had their own studio, I realised that they are a special breed of person.

Most artist studios are not particularly luxurious. They are often in old warehouses or old buildings that have been repurposed on a shoestring budget, which helps keep rents down. This means that most artists find ways of maintaining their environment as best they can; leaky ceilings are patched with bubble wrap, gaps and draughts are stopped up with whatever they have lying around.

Years later, with my own art practice, I have learned the ways of adapting and making do within a budget. I have a nice studio that I have to travel to get to, and a place where I live in order to do the day job.

This means that my home has a small studio crammed into a corner of the bedroom, because I couldn’t work and not work.

I have a studio I can live in – just about – and a rented flat I can make art in – just about.

With the arrival of the coronavirus, I see a future where everyone has to adapt their living environment to be a live-work space. Often while sharing with other people who also work.

I believe that the things I have learned to do to enable an art practice at home will become the reality for many people in future.

Renting or housing

How can I find a flat that will have enough bedrooms and enough working space. Can I fit a studio in the corner of a bedroom? or can I turn the kitchen from living space to working space and back again? And what effect will this have on the rest of my household?

Furniture

What furniture will I need to enable a live-work space? Does what I need even exist?

Even IKEA doesn’t always have ready-made options. I’ve spent plenty of time sawing and connecting different bits of IKEA “solutions” to make storage or studio space that I need.

Broadband

Where am I spending most of my time?, how much bandwidth do I need for video chat? How can I have it wherever I end up going?

I’ve given up on broadband at home. It’s usually crap (unless you pay a lot), it breaks constantly and you can’t rely on engineers to turn up when they say they will (I’m looking at you, Talktalk) and with multiple studio spaces, an office, a commute and an unknown future around all of these, where do you need it to be?

I’ve finally gone with unlimited data on a cellphone. This means I can tether wherever I am in my space or in the country. I’m housebound for now, but who knows where I’ll end up having to be or if wifi will even be a thing?

From the ashes

It’s clear that the future is uncertain but definitely different to what I’ve known up until now. Once coronavirus is gone there will something else, or the threat of something else and the world will have to adapt to a new reality, with different versions of “daily life”.

I truly believe that from under the rubble and out of the ashes, those who have already adapted their lives to their own way of living will be the ones who cope first, and best with the changes to come.

Come the revolution, a drawing

This drawing is about everything I’ve written above. It’s about sharing a space but being apart; finding room to do what you want to do and planning your environment to enable that. It’s also about different types of needs and how they are fulfilled alone and together in mutual support. It’s also about chickens, of course.

Enamel pins – Tortoise

I’m very excited to have one of my characters translated into another enamel pin, which is now available on etsy.

This character is called “Señor Tortuga” and appears with moderate frequency in my Instagram cartoon doodles.

Here are some process pics.

If you want to grab one of these, or any of my other work, just head to Etsy.

Enamel pins – Chicken

As an experiment, I recently turned one of my cartoon characters into a physical badge or pin. This was new for me, as most of my work stays resolutely 2D, with the exception of that series of eggshells back in 2014. So I guess it’s only appropriate that the character I chose to transmogrify was a chicken.

I’ve been drawing chicken characters for a while. They first showed up in a series of single panels cartoons which I was doing to entertain myself on Instagram

Which incidentally was where I first discovered Made by Cooper. (website here).

I took one of my digital drawings with a bit more detail and submitted it to Cooper to be made into a pin.

I think they did a really nice job with the artwork, but it makes me realise how much cleaner my line work has to be if I want to make more enamel badges in future.

Although it took a very long time to receive – compared to my 2017 amazon level expectations.. I think you’ll agree the final results are pretty darned spectacular.

I’ve also been very excited, since putting them on to Etsy, to discover a fan base for all things chicken in lovely Mexico. It was definitely a surprise to wake up to a load of orders in Mexico City!

I’ve had great fund packing them up and thinking of presentation concepts such as these little hand drawn cards.

Linocut – “Kintsukuroi”

H Locke_ Kintsukuroi

I’ve been a bit obsessed of late with the concept of Kintsugi – the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with gold – also know as Kintsukuroi. The underlying idea – that an object is more beautiful for having been broken.

Cue an opportunity to get the gold leaf out again and practice my l33t gilding skills, when an exhibition opportunity arose at the Mill E17, to be part of the printmaking exhibition Ink, Press, Go.

For this piece, I took the concept of Kintsukuroi into the (always challenging) world of linocut.

I make no secret of the fact that linocut really stretches my skills and my patience. I like the control of pen and ink. I know what is going to happen and I have complete control. Whereas with linocut or lino printing, I have no idea if the thing is going to work until I take it out of the press and peel back the paper from the plate.

It’s probably good for me, and good for my practice, to relinquish control from time to time. But I still find it stressful, especially with a deadline looming.

So, back to Kintsukuroi.

For this piece, I drew and cut a lino plate of a generic vase, which in itself was neither particularly hard, or particularly interesting.. excluding my various attempts to get it to print evenly.

And then I kind of freaked out my lovely instagram followers by doing this..

I admit, I freaked myself out a little too.

Next, I attempted to glue it back together with gold leaf. This is where I learned the importance of LETTING THE INK DRY FIRST.

Yeah, that didn’t work. It’s meant to be a fine straight line. As you can see, the gold stuck all over the place including off the print. Fail. Well, this is how we learn.

So, back we go and fortunately I’d made a few attempts at the linocut print, so I could tear even more of them apart! This time, waiting until everything was dry…

Bit more careful with the glue this time..

And of course I remembered to wear gloves to avoid tarnishing the gold with my human hand oils 😉

And there you have it.

Kintsukuroi – edition of one.

Linocut print and 23ct gold leaf.

Exhibition details here.

Mixed media – “Room For Growth”

About the exhibition

In 2016 I was invited to be part of an exhibition called Palimpsest, held in The Old Chocolate Factory in Bad Oeyenhausen, Germany.

The exhibition was curated and organised by Katja Rosenberg and Artcatcher with the aim of raising money to support multilingual guided tour for citizens with a migration background.

The theme “Palimpsest” means from old, make new. It also has the practical meaning associated with old drawing and writing materials, where ink etc was scraped from velum to allow it to be re-used.

“In the context of our town and current world, we mean the process of redefining the purpose of a  place in an ever changing world with its changing challenges and opportunities – the essence of the place stays visible, but its thinking has to change with the times.” (Katja Rosenberg, 2016)

As the exhibition was held in a building destined for regeneration by a local architecture firm, this was particularly salient.

All works entered were the same dimensions (30x120cm portrait), and installed hanging from the interior ceiling of the building, allowing visitors to walk between the works. In addition events and dance performances were held around the work during the exhibition.

About the work

“Room for growth”   Ink on rice paper.

Artists statement:

“We construct a building with one original purpose in mind. A generation invests in the maintenance of the building until it falls into disuse, or evolves its usage and meaning for the next generation.

In this work, we see a building which has multiple simultaneous uses, with inhabitants finding many ways to benefit from the structure. This building is a hive of activity – representing the ever-changing ecology of a building as well as the dual influence of both man and nature.

The artwork is constructed of layers of rice paper and maps of the Bad Oeyenhausen area containing the old Schokoladenfabrik building, which are visible beneath.”

About the process

For this piece I was inspired by the format (120cm portrait), the location and the concept of Palimpsest – which aligned with my ongoing interest in architecture and the relationship between people and the buildings they inhabit, particularly when those uses and facades change and grow together.

With the requirement for a long work, I wanted to work with a continuous sheet of paper of an appropriate size. I also wanted to include a map of the local area in which the exhibition and the tours would be held.

Therefore I combined a long sheet of rice paper with maps of Bad Oeyenhausen to allow both to be shown without impacting on the surface work itself.

It was also particularly relevant as I had recently been exploring cartography as art and drawing, as part of my studio work.

First, I had to test my hypothesis that by drawing on rice paper, enough of the map would be visible beneath

 

 

 

I created some practice drawings using Derwent Grafik pens as an initial experiment.

It actually created a nice balance with the relative opacity of the paper, so that there was an impression of the map behind, without obscuring or over-complicating the illustration on top.

When working with the rice paper, I soon realised two things.

  1. You cannot use pencil. Or at least, you cannot erase pencil, as it destroys the paper. Therefore you need to draw in ink first time, and you have to get it right.
  2. The ink bleeds massively into the paper, especially if your drawing uses slow and methodical marks, rather than broad light gestures. So whereas on standard drawing paper I might use Derwent Grafik pens to provide a little more movement and fluidity (because my lines are slow and methodical and can look a little rigid), when working with rice paper I needed to use drawing pens with more control.

 

Note: for more info on these differences between drawing pens, check out my very very long materials review on the Jacksons Art Supplies blog

Here you can see how I experimented with different pen sizes for different features in the architecture, working out which nib size of which drawing pen brand I would need to replicate the effect I’d expect on standard drawing paper.

In the end I settled on a combination of Unipin and Sakura Micron Pigment markers of various sizes, and used this as a constant guide as I developed the final work.

In order to work at this size, and fully understand the dimensions with which I was working, I pinned the full length map to a roll of fabriano drawing paper and taped it to my studio wall.

And because, as previously established, I only had one shot to draw this directly in ink, I basically had to pre-draw the framework on an identically sized piece of paper and copy across.

Here’s the final work.

  

 

Exhibition: Misbehaviour, Redruth & Mile End

 

 

misbehaviour_redruth

I’m in a new international exhibition in Redruth, Cornwall.

“Misbehaviour” (curated by Art Catcher and the ever amazing Katja Rosenberg) opens at CMR Gallery Redruth on 8th October until 29th October and includes artists from the UK and beyond. The full catalogue is available as PDF download here.

My piece for the exhibition is entitled “Scrumping” and is about the fine Devon & Cornwall tradition of.. ahem.. nicking apples from other peoples’ orchards. (NB. Not recommended. Very naughty).

Ink on paper, hand-gilded with 23ct gold leaf.

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Last night Misbehaviour came to London. The exhibition I was in at the end of last year has relocated to the Art Pavillion in Mile End and opened with the private view last night.

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The show, curated by Katja Rosenberg of Art Catcher will also include a series of workshops and events between now and 22nd Feb. Details on the website.

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Here are some photos from a very busy private view…

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there it is…

 

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And there are a load more photos being uploaded onto the event’s Facebook page.