I was told about this show by an artist called aka lady muck whos work I have talked about before on previous blogs but basically she makes awesome art from recycled London newspapers in paper mache moulds!
My Ceramics was pretty suiting for this exhibition being that I had been making baby dolls and limbs for some years. I wanted to make something new for this show and had been working on a plaster mould to cast in clay so this was the perfect opportunity.
I contacted Zara Fox a doll artist who makes incredible dolls and puppets, I’ve know Zara for a while now and always loved her contributions to many UK festivals and her creepy but beautiful creations she has spent many loving hours creating.
Zara had teamed up with an amazing 3D artist called Dagmer Bennett aka Dagger Bliss who sculpture work is outstanding. One of my favourite of her works is her portrait of Adam Pearson –
Adam Pearson Portrait
A heroic bust of Adam Pearson with kind permission from himself. An inspirational man, who is fighting for equality for people with a visible facial difference. He works with Changing Faces Charity and Genetic Disorders UK.
I was excited for the exhibition and more excited to see all the other artists who were involved too and what work they were going to be exhibiting.
I had a few trial and errors on my clay masks I was making and the glaze just wasn’t coming out how I wanted it. I had the idea to ask my girlfriend at the time (Sian Smith aka Wonnish) who was a mosaic and transfer artist if she wanted to collaborate with me. We decided to go with the theme of anti-war and all the innocent children who die because of war.
So Sian gathered many ceramic transfers from Carrie Reichardt who she had been working along side. Carrie has a multitude of transfers which could fill a small library!
Here’s how our work turned out –
It was a really awesome show and loads of talented artists involved. There is another show coming up for Feb 2017 which I’m aiming to be a part of if I can create something new in time, so watch this space.
For the last 2 years I have been lucky enough to witness the Lewes bonfire night. It really is amazing and the most impressive bonfire event I have ever seen, which to be honest I have only ever seen fairly lowsey fire work shows in local fields and parks growing up so it aint hard to beat BUT besides that this is a wicked night in Lewes and not to be missed!
For a start I met Gandalf……….
A bit of history
‘Whatever else may happen at the annual Lewes bonfire festivities, one annual tradition that doesn’t change is the carrying of flaming crosses through the streets, in memory of 17 Sussex people burnt at the stake in the town between 1555 and 1557. This was during the reign of Queen Mary (often called Bloody Mary), who sought to overturn the Church of England, set up by her father, Henry VIII. She was more Spanish than English and had been brought up in a strict Catholic fashion by her mother Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife. On becoming queen in 1553, she was determined to re-establish Catholicism throughout the country. Any Protestant who explicitly defied her, stuck to the old English prayer book, refused to go to Mass, and was too open or vocal in their defiance, she had arrested, tried for heresy and if found guilty, sentenced to death by burning at the stake. ’
‘The Lewes Bonfire Night is the biggest celebrated Fifth November Event in the world, and is held in the usually peaceful county town of Lewes (pronounced “lu-is or loo-is”), East Sussex, every year on 5th November, and the carnival or festival is known as either the Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations, Lewes Bonfire Night or just simply the Fifth.
It is the biggest and the only proper bonfire night celebration left of its kind in the Uk.’
‘Enthusiasm for the ‘Fifth’ was rekindled during the 1820’s and from that time the local press has reported the annual celebrations. These reports graphically describe very lively, if not riotous, proceedings with a large bonfire being built in the High Street between the White Hart and County Hall (now the Law Courts) attended by large crowds. Fireballs and squibs were thrown and an increasing number of blazing tar barrels being dragged through the streets. The magistrates, supported by local people sworn in as special constables, attempted to curtail the more unruly elements and in 1847, following an attack on a local magistrate the previous year, London police were drafted into Lewes in an attempt to suppress the bonfire boys’ activities.
Such was the support for the celebrations in the town that this attempt failed, but the bonfire boys were compelled to hold their celebrations in Wallands Park, away from the High Street, until 1850. In that year the reintroduction of the Catholic hierarchy into Britain led the town authorities to permit the celebrations to return to the High Street. However this return to the streets of Lewes was marked by a significant change in the celebration’s character and heralded the formation of the Cliffe Bonfire Society. Recognising that riotous proceedings would no longer be tolerated the bonfire boys formed themselves into Bonfire Societies and set about organising military style torchlight processions efficiently marshalled by members resplendent in various titles including Commander-in-Chief, Staff Officer and Inspector General.’
As you can see from the photos, people go absolutely mad for this one night of the year and its such a great atmosphere, I have only witnessed the last couple of years but I have been told by locals it has really calmed down a lot with the health and safety standards coming in, it used to be rife with bangers in the streets and fires getting out of hand!
The amount of effort that goes into making these effigies is unbelievable and so impressive. The societies are working all year round to put on this show and you can see that by the detail that goes into them all!!
I have over the last 5 years been venturing to and fourth to this area of London to participate in this way of making art and feeling part of something alot bigger than myself, something with meaning and making a difference. Over this time I have been inspired to make art with people through workshops and within the community.
There has always been an awesome project which has needed volunteers to get involved with.
I was fortunate to contribute to some of the creating and touring about of this amazing art car made to raise awareness of political prisoner Kenny Zulu Whitmore. I went to Standon Calling Festival and Shambala Festival last year where we made people aware of the kickstarter campaign created by ‘Wonnish‘ which was to help fund and fuel the completion of this awesome art car. We gave out flyers and much needed information about Zulu.
Carrie Reichardt’s connection to Black Panthers goes a way back. More than fifteen years ago she started writing to people on death rows and political prisoners and many of her correspondences turned into some long-lasting friendships. In her work, she does homage to her friends, commemorating their existence or bringing attention to their mistreatment as a result of their political beliefs. Zulu Shade Never Fades, a tag line for the Liberation Taxi, is her way of telling the world how unjust and cruel the justice system can be. Kenny ‘Zulu’ Whitmore is cruelly punished for the crime he was innocent of, in the process of prejudiced investigation and prosecutorial misconduct, as his lawyers report. Whitmore is charged with murder in 1973, and sentenced to lifetime imprisonment which turned out to be a lifetime in a closed cell because of his membership in the former Black Panther Party.’
Artist ‘Wonnish ‘ member of The Treatment Rooms Collective lead the project at Standon Calling Festival 2015. There was a wooden building built which was going to be The School of Revolution. Here would be a serious of political art workshops giving knowledge to those who wished to seek it about dead revolutionaries and previous revolutions. The mosaic Zulu Vodoo car was also parked up and was very popular for photos and a point of conversation.
Some photos from the mosaic workshops where tomb stones were decorated and placed over in the church yard area of the festival.
Artist ‘Weardoe‘ was in charge of organising graffiti artist to decorate the church yard area of the festival, which ended up looking dope!!
The car toured Shambala and also Boomtown as well as Glatonbury and many other locations including exhibitions and events.
The team all worked incredibly hard to deliver this project and cause and they continue to do so!
Albert Woodfox member of the Angola 3 and Black Panther Party was released this year 2016 in February which was celebrated hugely by many activist working to raise awareness of this injustice served.
“The one thing that used to anger and frustrate me in prison was that I felt I had no voice. So I’m dedicating the rest of my life to being a voice for those still in the hell of solitary confinement – I feel such a great responsibility for them.”
He stays in touch with Kenny “Zulu” Whitmore, who was recently returned to a dormitory block in Angola having spent more than 30 years in solitary. Woodfox also spends a lot of time on the outside with Robert King, another member of the Angola Three, who was freed in 2001. – Taken from article from the guardian, see link below:
The Skatehouse was in need of a bit of a revamp!! We wanted to throw an event to celebrate the most recent part of the park which now made the skatepark complete!
With the handy work of a small team of volunteers – Jordi, Jay, James and Albert and a few other parents here and there chipped in to! The new wooded ramp area was looking pretty dope!! The Skatehouse had found itself some flow after 3 years of building and all the park is connected.
James Whitehorn used his graphic design skills to get us hooked up with a new look, we think our new logo is spot on and shows quite clearly what were about (skateboarding in the house).
It was time to hold an event to celebrate. Thanks to Lewes Town Council for giving us some funding a skate jam was organised with lots of prizes and giveaways for the skateboarding competitions. We had an array of judges from The Level skate shop, Live and Breath skateboarding and our own in house skatehouse judges too.
I held a mosaic skatebaord workshop outside with friends Sian ‘Wonnish’ and Phili ‘Weardo’.
Weardo was spray painting a mural on our double doors and boy was we in for a treat with what she done!!
All in all it was a pretty special day with a good turn out and a good vibe!!
Our next event will sadly be our last on the Phoenix Estate this July 23rd. I’ll be posting more about our ‘save the skatehouse’ campaign and our developments on moving on but we are hopeful for the future and to be able to continue to keep serving the wheeled sports community.
Well this is a bit off topic of my usually arty blogs and posts on here but I wanted to put something together to show off how awesome I think mine and my sisters relationship is.
Me and my blood sister were adopted to different families but in the same city of Southampton, we saw each other a handful of times growing up but sort of lost contact until she decided to call me up on her 18th birthday asking if I wanted to go to her party, she is a year older than me so I was 17 at the time.
I went to her party and we have been in contact ever since for various reasons but mainly because were both actually quite similar and enjoy ADVENTURES!!! We know how to party together but we also know how to be sensible together and have wholesome times, were all right me and my sis and I’m so lucky she is in my life.
She is a just graduated food technologist (well clever) and has been my healthy mentor and inspired me to get fit and active and stay fit and active as well as how to eat better, although I still have days where I eat whole bags of cookies and entire tubs of icecream but there not as often (and I don’t tell her as much). She got me out to Vietnam in 2015 which is the furthest I have ever travelled before and totally out of my comfort zone and into a new culture, she makes me feel strong.
I love her.
This is just a few snaps of many memories shared and some of the photos I’ll probably get told off for using 😉
I don’t know what our next adventure is but I know she will be in my life till end of days.
Starfish is another youth service on the pheonix estate that provided space where young people can go and play music, form bands and use rehearsal and recording rooms as well as have the opportunity to perform live around many different venues and events in east sussex.
They hold an annual youth music festival each year in the paddock green in Lewes. It an amazing day with great local talent, art workshops and lots of yummy food stalls. We look forward to another amazing day this year!!
We took a skate ramp to do some basic beginner skateboarding teaching and some of the regular skatehouse skaterts could bust some tricks and show off a little. There were some stickers given out as prizes to best tricks.
I held a clay key ring making workshop which was very popular like the year before, everyone loves clay!!
I managed to pick up this little test kiln from a school in Hove as they were trying to get rid of it thanks to Samira from Zu Studios which is the artist studio/events space warehouse next to The Skatehouse on the Phoenix Estate. I got this kiln in the summer of 2014 but it needed some work and electrical testing before it was safe to use within my studio based at the top of an indoor skatepark. Health and safety was crucial to be followed as sadly there had been a fire in one of the warehouses on the Pheonix Estate ‘The Phoenix Theatre‘ where the building went up in flames leading to the inhabitants loosing their entire lifes work! So you can understand there can be absolutely no fire hazards!
So now my kiln is electrically sound I can test it out! I have not used a kiln with heat cones before so I am learning something new, I have only ever used electric programme kilns which are a bit more straight forward as you just programme the setting and heat you want and leave them on and it does it all for you, like below:
So now I have researched and learnt how to use the kiln with heat cones and regular checking through the bung/peep hole to see when the cones have bent down. I am ready for first firing in new kiln, yaaaaay.
I had for some time been developing my slip cast mould I had made from a large sized hand sculpted baby head.
Step by step process:
Make a plinth and a wooden core with wire to serve as your infrastructure for your sculpture and to attach and mould the clay to.
Ok so maybe its not a step by step photo process as I wasn’t that great at taking photos of my work back then which was like 3-4 years ago.
So now I have my sculpted piece ready to take a plaster mould from.
Mix up your plaster and get throwing at your sculpture, yes literally slap it on.
Tidy around the edges to reveal the beer can barrier as your going to need to be able to pull those out when the plaster is set. Leave your mould to set which I left it over night as I struggle with patients so I would have been there picking at it if I had been waiting for it to dry.
So now I have a mould which has been successful, this means I can begin taking clay impressions from the mould which is different to the slip casting I have usually been doing, but as you can guess I like learning new things.
Roll out a layer of clay and push into the moulds, join the mould together and allow to dry within the mould till slightly hardened and ready to take out the mould easily.
Tidy up the edges…………..
So sadly this head did not survive the kiln as I made it too thick, it wasn’t dried out enough and I didn’t put holes in the clay. This was all learning curbs for me as I was trying out something totally new and I have since developed the process resulting in successful kiln firings with no explosions! These previous attempts were not fired in my kiln I now own as my kiln is to small to do a full head so instead I have been firing just the front mould of the face to create a mask.
I got some clay masks made up and they were the very first things to go in my very own kiln, I carved in to them a bit to make them custom for tuttii as she wants to put them up in her hair salon caravan. We decided she would have them after the first firing without a glaze just raw clay so she can paint them and decorate them in her own unique way being that she is also an artist who enjoys a bit of paint!
The masks are put in the kiln ready for their 24 hour journey of heating up and cooling down.
Masks are made and ready to drop to Deptford. I catch up with tuuttii and finally get myself a fresh new hair cut! Cycle is complete.
So now things really take an upgrade on the clay masks! I dabble with some metallic glazes.
An old mate from uni days in Portsmouth and super talented tattoo artist Ronnie Cyndi had some how synchronised with me and we both contacted each other and wanted some work from each other, so we done some trades.
I started off getting some script on my arm from a red hot chili pepper lyric ‘can’t stop the spirits when they need you, this life is more than just a read through’ as these lyrics stuck with me from teen years, so we traded up a slip cast sculpture I had just updated by displaying it in a beautiful cage, I also threw in a ceramic pipe for good measure as the sculpture was a bit delayed.
I decided after seeing some more of ronnie aka whirl wind ronnie tattoo art on other people in particular her portrait pieces it got me hungry for more of her work, she is amazing at portrait tattoos and she really enjoys doing them so I wanted to have something done by her which she enjoyed to do on me. I put some thought in to it and the only person I could really think I would want tattoo’d on me who has actually made a difference in my life from a young age is bob marley, I would listen to his cassettes as a teenager out and about on my cassette walkman and his music would heal me. So thats who its got to be and I contact her right away, Ronni is keen to do the tattoo and I tell her about these new masks im making and would she want to trade again, shes well up for it, happy days!
I was inspired by this eminem tattoo ronnie done one a friend and singer song writer sinade galvin aka rumour talks
Masks are crafted and drying out ready for kiln
So so chuffed with my bob tattoo and my fav lyric from redemption songs ’emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds’
My ceramic metallic masks are fresh out the kiln and attached to this beautiful framed mirror I found.
This has been a long blog, but it has been a gradual process of development and learning over the last few years and I continue to thrive to learn new ways of making my ceramics and evolving my work.
Next place you will see my masks at the upcoming show in Deptford Birds Nest ‘A doll a day’ all female artist exhibition showing puppetry and dolls in a way you have not seen before. Watch this space……………
Since I moved to Lewes in late 2013 and became involved with the indoor skatepark community skatepark project The Skatehouse I have seen a girls skate scene evolve and had the pleasure of watching female graff artist Weardoe use The Skatehouse as a platform to paint and progress. Local female Artist Rose aka R.A.W has also been able to use the walls to expand her sketch book drawings to large scale pieces. This blog is a celebration of female participation in skateboarding and graffiti as well as my own personal journey within it.
I have been able to pick up a skateboard again after 10 years thanks to our awesome skatecoach Jordi aka jordieodie and Jay aka chief master advisor who both spent time and arm aches helping me learn to be confident on a skateboard again, it took weeks to be able to drop in from the ramps and use the bowl!! I have sworn to myself I will never to stop skateboarding again, to re-learn to be fearless is such a challenge, skateboarding is so much more than a sport its physically and mentally engaging, you have to trust your body and be confident your going to land okay, its somewhere between science and self belief.
I have also been able to experiment with spray painting which has been so much fun thanks to my good friend phil aka Weardo who has inspired and encouraged me to be creative using spray paint! Phili done a graffiti workshop within the viewing at room at skatehouse where she engaged the skaters to create the space using spray paint, acrylics and marker pens, it looks fantastic and really brings the room to life and in return giving the skaters a sense of ownership by creating it.
Female skateboarding is on the rise and it is welcomed and treated as equal within The Skatehouse. The girl skate night aka skate like a girl has been running since 2014 as a group of women who wanted a space to themselves to be confident in their skateboarding away from the crowds. Over time younger girls have been picking up skateboarding as the sport has been expanding nationally and become popular with all ages and genders so we now have a variety of ages of girls using the girl skate night which runs at The Skatehouse on the first Monday of every month 6.30-9.30pm.
Young skateboarder and volunteer Arwyn has started from scratch within The Skatehouse and is now totally an ambassador for girls!!
The Skatehouse sponsors two girl skateboarders Arwyn age 12 and Ruby age 6 who are both outstanding skateboarders who really push themselves to the limits in learning new tricks! They inspire many other girls to get on a skateboard and show that girls can skate just as well as boys.
The Skatehouse is so diverse and such a friendly and nurturing atmosphere which really separates it from a public skatepark and it is so awesome to see so many girls skating as when I was young there were few and far between and no local indoor skateparks. I hope this is something which keeps growing and young people and not so young people have places like The Skatehouse to go and learn, socialise and be creative!!
A close friend and artist Jo Tidey told me about this show coming up for Anti-Slavery week. I still had mosaics around the theme of the sex trade and human trafficking which I was eager to exhibit and continue to raise awareness for, I applied and heard a reply pretty instantly from artist Chris Simpson. They were keen to have me be a part of the show which made me happy as it has been a while since I was involved in the campaign of anti-trafficking.
I asked my old colleague Jess Gelear from The Medaille Trust if she would like to attend the opening night with me, like old times when we used to do a lot of fundraisers and awareness campaigns together.
I was asked if I would do a radio interview around my mosaic pieces, I was happy to be asked and felt it would be a honour to talk about such sensitive issues in Anti-Slavery week you can listen here:
Scroll down to find the correct show, you will see my mosaic piece.
‘The Tower Gallery based at the Memorial Community Church on the Barking Road is hosting an art exhibition called Breaking the Chains. Looking at the issues of human trafficking and modern slavery, NuSound Radio 92FM went down to the opening night.’
The show was successful and I was so happy to be able to be a part of the movement to end slavery again as it is an issue I hold close to my heart after my years of working as a support worker in a safe house with vulnerable women and children, you can see a blog I have written in the past about my work for The Medaille Trust in the archive on this sites homepage.