In the Spirit of Fluxus, Dither

Fluxus began in the 1960s with the work of a community of artists, composers, designers and poets. Their interdisciplinary experimental approaches to performance renounced traditional forms in favour of celebrating the mundane and immediate. Fluxus works are often presented as event scores. These are short instructions that can be followed and realised as performance or action.

At the beginning of 2019 newCELF released a call for works for event scores written in 2019 that followed in the Fluxus tradition. Poets, artists, composers and designers from around the world have submitted, from those who originated the tradition to those entirely new to Fluxus.

John Rea and I submitted the event score Dither, which was performed in Le Pub in Newport:

Dither

1 performer, 1 turntable, selection of easy-listening records, an audience.

  • place record on mat. Turn on and place arm at random.
  • dither for 14.33 seconds
  • audience member changes record and places arm at random.
  • repeat until all audience members have changed a record.

 

– Sarah Featherstone and John Rea, 2019

 

 

bit.ly/FLUXUS2019

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Altered Cities

On dérives around cities such as Cardiff, London and Prague, I digitally capture fleeting and ‘found’ moments and monuments, later inverting the light values to convey mysterious, phantasmagoric effects. Through my interest in alternative photographic techniques, such as cyanotype and photogram, I have also begun to experiment with altering the printed images through the use of natural dyes such as tannin and tumeric to render contemporary scenes vintage. Altering the images is a way of reclaiming urban space, creating new worlds from familiar sights. Selected images will be made into large-scale screen prints.

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Close Your Eyes and Sing

Our workshop ‘Close Your Eyes and Sing: Expressive Painting,’ for the community arts festival, Made in Roath was a great success. More than fifty abstract works of art were created by individuals using the backs of old carpet tiles, and Picasso’s advice that ‘to draw you must close your eyes and sing’.

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Our first participants were good on the eyes closed part, but struggled to think of song lyrics, and didn’t seem keen on just humming or la la-ing, despite much encouragement! We weren’t too strict about following the rules, and by Sunday most people were painting with eyes wide open, which produced slightly different, more controlled work, but overall there was no worrying about not being able to paint or draw, as everyone was willing to have a go at manipulating the paint.

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I loved how the works were all so wildly different: even though the only materials were basic poster paints in primary colours, there was a surprising range of tones and textures and some wonderful mark making and use of negative space.

Participants working on their tiles.

 

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A few people came back the next day for a second go, or to tell us how much they enjoyed it. As it was such beautiful weather, it was possible to dry the paintings in the sun so that participants were able to collect their work later in the weekend.

 

 

 

Upcoming Exhibition and Workshop

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Georgina Peach and I are running an Expressive Drawing Workshop on Sunday 22nd as part of the fabulous madeinroath festival – see here for details. Expect scrunched up paper, paint flicking, drawing with eyes closed, and other fun ways of drawing/not-drawing.

 

“Expressive, or automatic drawing was used by the Surrealists to express the subconscious using any technique that eliminates conscious control and replaces it with chance. No drawing skills required, just a chance to experiment with lines and marks to create bold and dynamic work. Drawing from instinct and feelings, rather than formal technique, without the pressure to create something recognizable can be very freeing.”

For the annual Made in Roath Open Exhibition, held this year at The Gate Arts Centre, I’II be exhibiting a triptych of small automatic paintings made spontaneously using a technique called sgraffito. Exhibition runs from 15th – 22nd October.

 

Night of the Winged Fox

Night of the Winged Fox

House of the Winged Fox

In the House of the Winged Fox

Offering to the Winged Fox I

Offering to the Winged Fox I

Winged Fox Triptych – acrylic, each 20x20cm

 

 

Seeking Transparency

For our Saturday afternoon drop-in session to experiment with cyanotype, or sun prints, participants brought along an assortment of things to try out on the photo-sensitive paper. Beads and seeds, feathers and flowers fresh from the garden were laid out and placed under the UV light bed for exposure.

Creating compositions using a variety of materials.

The most effective were often the most transparent or delicate items. Mary brought along a tracing on acetate of grasses she had made for a lino cut, and this worked beautifully, with small skeins of wool for clouds. Experimenting with double-exposure techniques added depth and interest: netting placed over the exposed grasses gave the effect of light rippling through them.

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Rosalind, who is a wonderful illustrator, began to draw her designs on tracing paper, adding photogram items such as glass beads to enhance the composition. The tracing paper also adds varying tones.

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Glass bottles from a flea market became ghostly alchemist’s wares. Sally’s double exposure using feathers and dried hydrangea flowers was also magical.

 

 

 

Children’s Printmaking Day

‘Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardour, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shames, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.’
— Aldous Huxley

We began the session drawing faces, practicing on tracing paper before transferring to the styrofoam. The children quickly got the hang of etching into it, creating wonderfully detailed characters.

 

They were excited about seeing the progression from their drawing to being able to pull multiple prints from their etchings, and were soon confident enough to go straight into etching out their ideas.

Next, the children chose a leaf from a selection collected in the park, and attempted to name the type of tree it was from. They chose from two coloured inks that I had rolled out, printing the leaves in their own designs to create a background.

Onto this background, styrofoam stamps that the children had drawn and carefully cut out were printed to create the finished pictures. Fantastic work!