Rain, Plastic Spiders and the End of the World

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October. The bike and I take shelter under the awning of the Summerhouse cafe in the park to wait out the heavy downpour. I order coffee and join the other stranded folk watching the water bounce off the picnic tables and slide down the sides of a plastic ice-cream the size of a child. It seems to have been raining for weeks.

I think about a film I saw recently – Blade Runner 2049. It presents a terrifying dystopia in which organic life has been all but extinguished, and everything is commodified. I wonder for a moment how prescient sci-fi writers like Philip K. Dick were, and what’s going to happen to us when the ice caps melt. Shouldn’t we be taking to the streets to protest against fossil fuels or something?

A collie dog shivers at the feet of an old man in a cap. We sip our coffee synchronously,  the man and I. Snatches of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition strain through speakers that are screwed to a post next to a CCTV eye. One of the cardboard skeletons strung along the front of the awning has its arm hooked up in green cotton wool that is sprinkled with plastic spiders. You find it festooned copiously all over the shops at this time of year, a prelude to the tinsel.

I crumple up my cardboard coffee cup and deposit it in the bin. The rain hasn’t lessened a bit; it is falling sheets of pins dissolving on impact with the tarmac. The old man and I exchange a glance.

    It’s in for the day, he says. No point in waiting. 

He pulls up the collar of his jacket, gives the peak of his cap a small tug downwards and steps out, the dog a shadow at his heels.

 

 

 

 

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The Mark of Medusa

Week Two of the Children’s Illustration and Writing course at Llanover Hall, produced some varied and interesting interpretations of Medusa, including one rock star version! After listening to the story, the seven children (aged between 6 and 11), got to work with pens and pencils to produce these wonderful works.

I asked them to think about writing their own version of the tale, perhaps from the perspective of Medusa, or imagining a different outcome. One little girl imagined that Medusa fell in love with a statue – one of the ill-fated heroes she had turned to stone. The three witches with their one detachable eye was also a source of fascination.

 

This week, we tried some mono printing. Here is one plate and the resulting print, equally beautiful. It depicts Perseus’ mother, sad because her son has gone away and she has to marry the evil king, with Medusa creeping up behind her.

 

Some more mono prints of Medusa, and Perseus’ shield that saves him from being turned to stone:

We also talked about the story of Theseus and the Minotaur and other Greek myths. One boy wrote his story combining elements of the two tales, and Flo did a monoprint of the cyclops.

New Creative Course for Children

22814176_2138041869756309_782321284008138379_nFor this five week course, we are sharing stories, poems and art from ancient cultures around the world. This week, we looked at Māori culture and the story of Maui the demi-god who pulls up Te Ika a Maui (known today as the North Island of New Zealand), with his magic fishing hook. The slashes and cuts made by his brothers fighting over the land were said to have created the many mountains and valleys of the North Island today.

After listening to the story and looking at some images of Maori sculpture and art (rich in symbolic pattterns), the children drew some pictures in their books and wrote down some ideas for their own stories, such as imagining what else may have been hooked on the magic fishing hook, and how Maui felt when his brothers refused to take him fishing.

After the break, the children chose one of their drawings to develop into a print. We used styrofoam to etch into, ran the ink over it and printed it – one to take home, and one for their books. They then worked on their own stories. There was no pressure to read them out, but the children enjoyed sharing their ideas and knowledge about myths in general. Most didn’t know much about Maori culture, but lots about the Greek myths, which we agreed to investigate next week. One boy decided to write part two of his story when he got home.

 

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