Art Is Community : Community Is Art

A creative collaboration

The last couple of weekends have been hectic, and good fun. As well as celebrating the third anniversary of the free art project, I’ve been helping to celebrate the launch of some excellent new music, produced by some good friends in the band ELTEL.

I first became aware of their album launch way back in the Autumn of 2018, when the band kindly approached me and asked if I’d make some art for the front and back cover of the album. I had previously sent one of the band members a card which I’d adapted to reflect the ELTEL black and white striped style, and we further adapted that design for the front cover.

While preparing to make the art, I spent time reading through lyrics, and listening to a couple of early track recordings. There are a few food references in the words, so for the back cover, I designed the piece on the right, titled ‘The Last Thing On The Table’. These two 12″ square canvases were handed over to the band in November 2018 and I’ve been sworn to secrecy about their existence, until now.

There were three album launch events over the past two weekends, and I made it to two of them, at The Lamb in Surbiton, and at The Brook in Wallington. As well as getting to hear all the new music live, I also saw a piece of my art blown up onto a 6 foot square banner. On both nights, I was also given the unexpected and unscripted pleasure of introducing the band and the excellent Dirty Carols who accompanied them.

The gig at The Brook was really special, a sold out intimate venue, packed with great music and lovely people. I felt really privileged to see my work on show, and to be able to introduce excellent musicians to an excellent audience. We gathered together for a photo afterwards, and the bands put their producer Andy Brook, and me, front and centre. What a lovely thing to do. Thank you for including me, and thanks also, for trusting me, what a powerful thing to do.

The new album contains ten wonderfully crafted, quirky, beautiful tunes. You can download and listen to it here. It’s excellent.

Art is community : Community is art <3

The Free Art Project : 3rd Anniversary

Be curious. Start something. Keep going.

The We Are All Artists free art project began on April 8th 2016, which by my reckoning, makes it three years old. I’d no idea what I was letting myself in for when I started, and I certainly didn’t look this far ahead when thinking about the possibilities.

Since the project started I’ve made and hidden art to reflect the weather, the local river, the community, seasonal events and more. Sometimes I make art to remember people no longer with us, sometimes the art has a musical theme, and sometimes I really struggle for inspiration – but I keep going.

The free art project has enabled me to run several community art workshops, and a pop up exhibition, bringing art to a wider audience. Art classes have developed, opportunities to live paint have revealed themselves. I’ve become a member of our local artists open studios, shown my work locally, and in Germany and France, and as my practice has developed, people have supported me by investing in my work.

Who knew that making and hiding art for others to find could be such a joyful pursuit, and lead to so many other interesting things?

Occasionally I play with an artistic theme called Passing Strangers – faces in profile intended to represent the briefest of relationships…we saw each other, if only for a moment. In a way – the free art project is a bit like that for me, as I’ve been introduced to many people through the art I hide. Sometimes I get caught hiding it, sometimes people drop me a kind note after they’ve found it. Sometimes I get a friendly wave from someone in town whose path has crossed with mine, as a finder, or someone who plays the game and has yet to find a piece.

This week’s free art drop is titled ‘Passing Strangers : Third Anniversary’. Each one of the three faces in profile represents a year of the project. As this is an anniversary piece, it is larger than usual. The canvas measures 30cm x 80cm, so hiding it may prove a little tricky…but I’ll find somewhere to stash it. Happy hunting and thanks for all your support and encouragement over the past three years.

Identity

An exercise in patience

I recently joined a Facebook artist’s group for people with an interest in stencil cutting and spray painting. I’ve been cutting for a while now, making pretty simple designs, sometimes adding more complexity through developing multi layered stencils, and on the whole, keeping it simple.

Being in this new group is proving to be a really useful experience for me. I’m seeing people working at varying levels of expertise, folk are really generous with their knowledge, sharing tips and ideas, and encouragement too.

One of the reasons this group came into existence, is to invite people to make single layer stencils for a forthcoming exhibition. I’ve been wanting to take part, watching and waiting. Earlier this week, I decided to stop wanting, and start making. I drew a design, and began to cut. Several patient hours later, I have my stencil.

Identity : An exercise in patience

In case you are interested, I thought I’d share some work in progress photos with you, including one where I almost ended up with a beehive hairdo design!

Joining this group has encouraged me to up my game : Ask questions, try something new, be patient, keep going. I am particularly grateful to Korp and WinnieMMay for kicking this project off, and to everyone who is providing encouragement.

Next steps are to think about the spray. What kind of surface will I put the design on to? Will I design a background? More to follow…