Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Studio school happiness - A cross pollination

It was like taking  a  d e e p   b r e a t h   and here we go.

October and November have turned out to be the fullest months of this year, full and
blossoming with studio creativity.

We really didn't know how our workshops would pan out this year to be honest but we thought lets give it a go and see what happens. We questioned whether people would travel this far to experience our unique way of life and our studio school. We questioned what time of year would be best, what  courses would we run.

 Living in the country one has to be very diverse particularly as an artist to produce enough income to make it viable, rather than delusional. It helps if you have the ability to be able to change direction, a risk taker, be flexible and adapt very quickly or it helps enormously if you have a leaning to jump off from one direction and go the other way to give other options a go.

Which I'd rather do than be stuck and procrastinating.

 The way it usual works between us is that one of us pushes the other gently into going forward, it's usual a balance of who's energy levels are highest at that point in time and who has the idea.

Sometimes we are both stubborn or determined to see it from one point of view ( artists tend to do this a lot) but somehow we arrive at the station to board the same train or one of us drags the other onto the train and sells a convincing pitch on the journey.

Because we are out here, isolated to some extent, working together 24/7, we work hard to come to the same equation even if it takes some extra chalk and a few hiccups.

Always chanting in my anxious mind
artist Martin Creeds slogan
E v e r y t h i n g   i s   g o i n g   t o   b e   a l r i g h t .

So far The Studio School is building up to be an ongoing venture that we are both happy to keep pursuing. It brings along with it new friendships with us and between the students, stops us from going stark mad being in our own little creative part of the woods and the passing on of antiquarian processes that our students always find to be a full satisfaction and inspiration.

It's a winner one might say.

So October began with  award winning artist Australian  
J O A N N A  L O G U E  from King Street Gallery . Joanna is a dream to work with, she has this calm confidence that just flows over you and has an extensive exhibition background and her work is held in many public and private collections. Her evocative landscape paintings are inspired by her home at Oberon.

 Joanna and her partner Martin came over to Hill End for our Tin type workshop - wet plate collodian and we had a very productive 2 days together using the vintage 8 x 10 camera.  So creative were the two days that Joanna came back to work with Bill in collaboration for the Natura Morta exhibition which we are all in at the Orange Regional Gallery on till 11th Janurary 2015. For a peek go to the online catalogue that Bill and I designed of all the artists in the exhibition.

Together they created two exceptional works on a grid system where the image was divided up and printed part by part on black aluminium prepared plates to form an overall image. One image
 Y o r k e s   d r e a m was made up of jugs and teacups looking beyond into Joanna's garden at Oberon, the other was a  m o r t e  kookaburra on a window sill in the little glasshouse.

32 plates later the effort was very much worth it. Bill and Joanna worked together very well with both being inspired by each others determination to get an excellent result and that they did. Boy oh boy it's one part science one part art and one part patience.

Time was the essence, I think it was about 5 weeks away from the opening and they had only just really started developing the plates. In this time they had to be made, assessed, positioned, remade and tweaked, sprayed and framed.

They were finished with spraying a robust two pack clear lacquer rather than the old way of lavender oil and gum sandarac that we usually do, which can be too soft for handling in a gallery situation. Which meant that Bill had to master almost a crash course on spraying like you would spray a new car.

The spraying had to work as there was no time left for a turnaround and all the plates are a unique state, one offs in other words, no going back this was it.

The scary daunting thing for me was that this had to be done in the studio, it was the only clean free zone but I was like fuck what about all the presses, stationery and our artwork, I had visions of a whole studio wrapped in misted two pack art installation. I found this very stressful.

Bill dampened down the studio floors with a mop and closed off all the doors and windows, wore spray painters overalls and a mask, having dust form on these plates as one is coating them is a tricky business. Even worrying about the dust coming off ones clothes is a problem.

But as usual when Bill puts his mind to something his off and very focused and in the zone of what is needed.

Just don't interrupt him, it will put him off and divert his confidence. Hence why we have an amazing garden, that's where I flee to on occasions like this.

Each night Bill would do a few plates in our studio, he had this exhaust system on a turntable that sucked all the excess varnishs away out the window it was something he bought on Ebay but it worked very well and then he would let them dry overnight. The night went on with us both working on the online catalogue for the exhibition and then back into it the next day. Whilst I waited patiently through the day in the wings to get on our Gordon Plate press to fill all the Christmas orders.

But you know what, Bill did it and very successfully, no residue anywhere, always our equation is me anxiously worrying and wanting to take them to the nearest panel beater and Bill amazing me with another skill his focused in on as he always believes in learning the skill himself even if it takes a bit more time.

The line up for the Natura Morta exhibition curated by Gavin Wilson was very successful, all the artists have very distinct individual styles and they all tied together to create a very strong exhibition.

 You can read more about the Natura Morta exhibition and artists work with curator writer Gavin Wilsons essay on the Orange Regional Gallery website.
Then in between all of this we were designing and making samples for our new letterpress stationery inspired by our wild garden. My safety net. After 6 months hard slog with everything else going on we developed a new range of letterpress stationery where I have drawn the designs, no, never ever any clip art is to be found in our studio it's got to come from the heart and creative mind. We're pretty tickled with the result and the garden to celebrate was just incredible this year, it's like it knew this stationery event was coming and showed off with no looking back. All can be seen

We also created the new online shop ikLe gift vouchers which stocks terrific Christmas gift ideas.

A little part of our garden goes out to the world again.

Open Studio Day came upon us on the October Long weekend where all the Hill End artists open up their studio doors, all can be seen on

Next we had the vivacious J U L I E  F O X A L L  in the studio for a letterpress photopolymer workshop, she had this incredible enthusiasm for letterpress and it was a such fun working with her. Julie reacted like a kid in a toy shop and was very familiar with letterpress in the states and Canada as she had lived there for 8 years but hadn't investigated working with photopolymer plates and so over two days she confidently and industriously created a suite of  her own 3 unique designs using the Gordon Platen press and die cutting them with a happy gingerly touch.

The lovely thing here is that we taught her and she taught us, that's the magic that comes out of our Studio School. Everyone gets a terrific result.

h a p p y cross pollination.

Coming on board next were 3 more inspiring artists coming for our two day course Learn to Letterpress workshop.

S AN D R A  W I N K W O R T H , N O E L   M C K E N N A  and   P A T RI C I A  P H I L I P  A D A M S.

Sandra just before coming to Hill End had an exhibition at Art est in Leichhardt which she was awarded for from a prize that she won with her entry in the Greenway project. In her exhibition she painted in water colour hundreds of items in her home, the imagination, effort and thoughtfulness were something to behold, it was joyful and also mindful of what surplus we create in our environment. You can see more of her work on her blogspot

Patricia is an artist and a Conjoint Senior Lecturer at the School of Creative Arts at the Newcastle University and has an ongoing love of letterpress. Patricia with her talent revels in all forms of printmaking and has experienced extensive residency programs around the world.

Noel McKenna, artist with the Darren Knight Gallery in Sydney  with his artwork having been described as "the noble poetry of the everyday". His last exhibition was humorously titled The psychiatrist's Dog.

 One thing we know is that Noel  l o v e s Gill sans font and we had a case full.

As you can see the three of them were to be inspired by literature and they worked to produce their paragraphs or ditties in very creative ways using wooden and metal type.They learnt how to hand set the type, transfer it into the press and mixing colours. With this they made editions of their designs to share or to use in future artworks.
                           Patricia Wilson Adams                                                                            Noel McKenna

Mixing it all up and pushing the boundaries emotionally and physically I entered the prestigious Portia Geach Painting Prize for women artists this year for the first time and to my surprise I got in, placed on the walls of the S.H.Erwin at Observatory Hill in Sydney with my self portrait. Exhibition finishes December 12th 2014.

Hill End Primary School have set up this educational brilliant idea by the schools headmaster for an art scholarship which includes 10 surrounding schools to have two students selected and  invited to be creative at Hill End for two days. Its a grass roots endeavour and what better location than Hill End with it's historic history of artists.

We were invited to do a pinhole photography workshop teaching 30 students and Parris my daughter helped assist,  a very simple way and cheap way to make photographs that was achievable for them at home.

We set up our portable darkroom, a hydroponic tent that  shifty eyes were upon us when we bought it. Bill fixed it with sink and photography baths and there we created with the students 8 0  p i n h o l e  
p h o t o g r a p h s using small tin cans from the $2.00 shop. It was a winner with the students and inspired visiting teachers to create the same setup at their own schools. Students photographed the landscape and then 3 to 4 students at a time would go into the tent and develop their photographs, pure magic.

In between all of the above we had the artist/photographer N I C O L E  W E L C H join us for a quickie Tin type wet collodian workshop, we managed to schedule her in between acts. A very talented photographer Nicole  investigates the landscape using projections upon the natural environment with historical reference and with this she creates stirring evocative atmospheres in her photography. 

Over two days Nicole under the guidance of Bill created 3 tintypes shown below for the Christmas exhibition at in Sydney where she is exhibits.

Her image bottom right Titled: 'Apparition #6,  
2014 - P r o j e c t i o n s 'l e  k a n g a r o o  m e   c h a r g e' 1869, pigment ink, face mounted 80 x 80cm edition of 6 available. You can see more of Nicole and her photographs at the Brenda May Gallery, Sydney.

F i n a l l y,  

we have both cross pollinated enormously these last two months in more ways than one, it's been humorous, fun, exhausting, fruitful, fretful but overall very rewarding to meet such inspiring people, we packed in a lot and we'll be lining up to do it again next year.

One last  b r e a t h,  our letterpress Christmas stationery is ready! All printed on linen 390gsm board and they come with a kraft envelope, a pretty sticker for sealing and cellophane bag so they arrive happy and sparky to you.

I  t h i n k   w e 'l l   h a v e   a  l i e   d o w n   n o w  i n  o u r  w i l d   g a r d e n.


G E N E V I E V E  &  B I L L