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.
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.
The Workshops for the evening were: Letter writing to Kenny Zulu Whitmore who is currently in solitary confinement –
Michelle Rutherford, Whitmore’s attorney in his federal suit, said in a prepared response, “Warden Cain’s statement confirms the allegations Mr. Whitmore makes in his civil rights suit: he has been held in a 9 by 6 foot cell for over 35 years because of his political beliefs, not because of any demonstrated violent or disruptive behavior.”
‘Solitary Confinement is torture. There is no-one else besides Albert Woodfox held in solitary confinement in Louisiana longer than Kenny Zulu Whitmore. The background for being kept on solitary confinement for so long is due to his political beliefs and his friendship with the “Angola 3,” being a member of the Angola Chapter of the Black Panther Party.’
So so mental that this still is happening right now. I wrote to Zulu a couple of times and plan to write again soon maybe after this blog actually….. the guys a genius and a revolutionary who should be a free man not cooped up in some cell till he dies.
Bringing it up to date a bit as this was an event last year, The Treatment Rooms Collective are now launching another mosaic car well actually its and old skool London taxi! to raise more awareness of this horrible injustice.
Other workshops on The Friday Late included Lady Muck of The Treatment Rooms who done a recycled workshop making framed quotes.
Political poster making:
On the same floor as us was the Reel News – Reel News is an activist video collective, set up to publicise and share information on inspirational campaigns and struggles – not just in this country, but across the world. We are doing this through producing a bi-monthly newsreel, made up of a number of videos short enough to use in union and campaign meetings. – See more at: http://reelnews.co.uk/about/#sthash.e00qTmES.dpuf
The whole evening was just something else and the exhibition was just mind blowing. Entering the V + A to a sounds system and people raving is something I wont be forgetting for a while. I didn’t manage to get any footage of it but it was pretty epic seeing a load of punks and ravers busting it out in the entrance.
The Disobedient Object show has been on tour and is set to be showing at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum October 30 2015 through February 14, 2016.
‘The intervention on the steps and façade of the Museum was made in response to the exhibition Disobedient Objects. It reflects the idea of a people’s history of art and design from below, and it invites us to consider activist social movements as a significant part of our culture.’
Go see the steps for yourselves over at The Victoria + Albert Museum!!!
I was so stoked to be applying for a shop window display at Boomtown fair! The year before I had been fly pitching ceramics round the campsites and this year I was a legitimate part of the decor crew.
It was by chance one of the shop window displays themes was to be shrunken heads the story has it that the pirates had set sail and caught a tropical illness which turned them into babies. I worked with Vito (Window Art Curator) to create an interesting design for the window.
My window was the old infirmary shop which meant I had some investigating to do into these era of time.
I wanted to explore the anatomy of my sculptures as they look a lot like Siamese twins. I done some research in to old scientific illustrations to get some inspiration.
I was keen to expand on my mosaic making and wanted to create a prop for the shop window using ceramic transfers. I experimented with some DIY ceramics transfer paper which made the process much cheaper and faster.
Some other props came up last minute such as glass jars which I could use for potions and put ceramic limbs in to them to give that old style doctor surgery feel.
I decided to go up early to help with the Old Town set build and décor as I had not had experience in this before I thought it would be a good opportunity to get stuck in.
After lugging a huge suitcase, rucksack and portfolio filled with ceramics and mosaics I finally arrived in Winchester where I was greeted by Dan Borg (Creative Design Manager). The Old Town set was well on the way and I got to work the next morning.
I enjoyed being part of the process and seeing the set flourish to completion. I especially enjoyed challenging myself and picking up old skills I thought were lost. I made last minute signs and props to bring my window up to standard.
After some long days of grafting the Old Town set and my window display was ready to go LIVE.
I even managed to do a bit of fly pitching around the festival again which meant I could get a bit of cash and some good trading when all my booze supply ran out!
All round was a great experience and I would be keen to do some more window art at Boomtown Festival again.. I met some wicked people and was very inspired by the determination and creativity of a team of mainly volunteers!
The Skatehouse was approached to be involved in a local festival last July 2014 called ‘Starfish’ it was organised by the local youth group called ‘starfish’ which engages young people in making music and supplying sound and recording studios on the Phoenix Estate which is neighboring to us. See http://www.starfishlewes.co.uk/ for more info on what they are about.
We were advised to apply for a pot of funding from a local funder called ‘Chalk Cliff’, see – http://chalkclifftrust.org/. We were able to obtain £5000 to provide a portable mini ramp for the starfish festival as well as merchandise and promotional materials. Although the original plan for a mini ramp to be taken did not happen the the skatehouse team were able to take some smaller ramps to teach. A larger size mini ramp was built and taken to Boomtown Fair 2014 so the money ‘Chalk Cliff’ funding money ended up being well spent. I wanted to do a clay workshop at starfish festival so I decided to do a clay starfish making session keeping in theme.
It was a successful day for both The Skatehouse and my clay workshop! This was my first workshop in Lewes and I enjoyed to feel part of the local community.
I managed to make a bit of cash to pay for the cost of the kiln and pay my friend who helped out for the day. Sadly I lost my notebook which had the names, emails and phone numbers of all the kids and parents which participated in the workshop so it was impossible to contact anyone when their clay creations were ready to collect!! The workshop was cheap enough so I can only hope everyone felt like the experience on the whole was worth the £1.50 fee. My plan is to make a mosaic out of the leftover pieces and donate it to ‘Starfish’ so they can display it at their premises. We would love to be involved again this year creatively and physically with the skate ramps. Watch this space…..
After leaving my home town of Southampton in January I thought a blog was due to describe the new life I have entered in Lewes SKATE HOUSE. I was aware of a free workshop space coming up in the SKATE HOUSE and after spending some time with friends around Phoenix place and sleeping on the floor of a van and in a caravan for a bit I saw how much potential there was to working here and being part of the community which exists already.
Friends and artists of URBAN SHAMAN TRIBE Tarren and Becky were drawn to the place after visiting Lewes on bonfire night, this is a nation wide famous event in Lewes the local go ALL out!…. The workshop space available was a corner of a room already inhibited by Tarren and Becky. They are festival installation artists and general hippy folk travelling the lands and hitting up most of the UK festivals and some European festivals too.
Zu studios attracts many artistic types and houses an array of talented and magical beings with skills in alchemy see Mark Gouldings Mandala Art on HEALING MAGIC, gold leafing see Rachael Linton at SOUND VISION STUDIO, poetry, sculpture by Helen Hockney, and a clown collective called the AUTONYMOUS CIRCUS COLLECTIVE. This is situated nest door to The SKATEHOUSE which is a nice opportunity for me to wonder inside and see what’s new or if there are any lectures, workshops or activities which interest me. I took an exciting adventure to the booth museum withHELEN HOCKINwho makes amazing doll mix media sculptures using wax.
This project, to build an indoor concrete skatepark for skateboarders, came to life when the Don (Ricardo Atxukarro) identified a national competition with the chance to win a pot of funding. He told local skateboarder Ollie Swayne about the opportunity, who then wrote in and pitched his idea for an indoor skatepark in Lewes. One month and 930 votes later Ollie was announced the grand winner of £20,000 in competition funding. Since that point SKATEHOUSE has had many volunteers come in and help build the place this is a community interest company ran entirely by volunteers. With the do it your self nature it makes it totally unique and a really special place to work in.
I shifted my ceramic studio from Southampton ARCHES STUDIOS in to SKATEHOUSE excited about what the future holds. After un packing and making myself at home in my new workshop I have been getting to know the area and taking in all the views and architecture of Lewes. Situated in East Sussex and surrounded by hills and old castle walls this was a big change to Southampton and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Although Southampton is picking up in the Art scene with the XWWX boys art shop and the HAHA gallery opening up!
I have discovered that Lewes has an appreciation for art and artist and are very open and welcoming to try out new things. After some strolling around Lewes keeping an eye open for anywhere I would think may be interested in my ceramics I stumbled across a pottery café called LAPORTES. Laportes was an old pottery studio which was renowned for selling clay, making pottery and resident potters. This was later taken over by a mother and daughter and is now a café which still holds its roots of selling handmade wares and ceramics. They now have some of my work on sale there and have done for the past two month.
I even managed to find a place that would take my ceramic baby head pipes. I was a little unsure any where would give them a go but one sold within the first week of it being there. TIZZ’S is the only shop in Lewes with a head shop attached selling smoking paraphernalia so this was clearly going to be the place to take them if any.
I have helped SKATEHOUSE with its recent Skatejam where I held a clay tile workshop. Now I am awaiting to put these in the kiln and make a mosaic for reception. Myself and volunteers have been salvaging tiles from tops tiles bin across the river and using them to make recycled mosaic to decorate reception with.
We currently have a screen printing workshop, Graphics Designers, 3D Model Maker, Carpentry, BMX and Motercross racers, Skateboarders, Skate coaches Ceramicist and Mosaic Artist. With an array of talent, artist and hard workers on board the project I think its going to be a fun and productive summer!
Back in late October I was contacted by Lucy Sparrow aka sew your soul she is a felt artist who makes beautiful felt creations replicating day to day items such as a can of beans to more controversial war grenades and weapons of mass destruction hanging from a large periodic table. You can see her current show in Camden, London, Camden High street 159 along with street artists DRB and ATM who were also in the ‘Riot here, Riot now’ group exhibition. Check out Test Space Collective to find out more about Lucy Sparrow, DRB, ATM and other current art in Camden town.
Lucy had seen my ‘This is England’ mosaic on facebook via our mutual friend and artist Carrie Reichardt. Carrie is a mosaic, ceramic, renegade potter and political activist based in a mind blowing mosaic house in Acton, London. Carrie has been an inspiration to me for some years now and offers wisdom and support to artists and the community which is appreciated by many. To follow Carrie and her artist movements catch up on her adventures on her blog . she is currently in Chile with her apprentice and artist Sian Wonnish Smith showing Chile how British anarchist mosaic artists roll!! I was asked to participate in the show ‘Riot here, Riot now’ which was set to be a political craft group show in W3 Gallery, Acton, London. I of course said yes as this is exactly where I wanted my new mosaic to be displayed along side lots of other strong minded artists who wish to speak out about political issues through their art.
I was excited to have been contacted for my mosaic piece being it I am very new to using mosaics as a median to express. I had recently been part of a group show within my studio The Arches where we had the theme of flags to follow. I saw this as an opportunity to try out mosaics as I had always been curious and thought I could add more of a clear message in my art.
I was working as a support worker for victims of human trafficking in a charity called The Medaille Trust. I had been here for nearly two years and felt quite knowledgeable and over whelmed with the stories I had listened to and comforted victims for hours with. I wanted to be able to express these emotions I had developed over this time in a piece of art that holds a strong meaning for me and that I can put out into society to feel too. I decided to make the English flag to show how trafficked illegal immigrants come to England and what can often be in store for them on the other side. We pride ourselves as a strong and rich country and this is what other countries believe to be true also however the truth of it is very different for certain individuals who are tricked into coming to the UK for a better way of life and to earn more money. They will arrive and are instantly in debt and trapped with their traffickers they are mentally and a lot of the time physical enslaved. ‘This is England’ for those people.
I started by salvaging plates from the safe house I was working in which the women would eat from as I knew I could use those in making mosaics. I wanted to get some ceramic transfers printed of some ‘tart cards’ these are sex cards found in phone boxes. Mike Emberson head of Medaille Trust and an ambassador of anti-human trafficking had given me thousands of these phone cards so I finally realised a higher use for them. I smashed up all the plates in a material bag with a hammer and began the puzzle of laying the broken pieces into a St George English flag I had drawn out onto a piece of wood. It was a lengthy process and the uneven plates made it very tricky to get an even and tidy finish but over all I was satisfied with what I had created. I had created a piece which carried depth, political value and emotion. I could even use my ceramic baby heads in there to provoke the idea of what some of these women who are forced into prostituting themselves happens to them i.e pregnancy, abortions and rape. If you look closely you will see some love hearts these were created by some of the women in the house when I would hold clay workshops with them and take them to the local pottery shop (which you can read a published article on page 7 here). I think its amazing and inspiring that these women who have been through so much have the strength to move on and appreciate and put their trust in charities like Medaille to create and push for a better life for themselves away from harm and cruelty.
I created another mosaic to accompany the flag piece, I found a coffee table in the skip and used it as a surface for a mosaic. One of the most common ways of women being trafficked into the UK is through ‘Lover boys’. A lover boy is someone who will pretend to be their boyfriend in their home country for sometime before they move to the UK. The women fall in love with this man and the man will make a point of meeting her family and any one else who is important them. The women is encouraged to move to the UK. On arrival into the UK the women are still under the illusion that the boyfriend is in love with them even when the boyfriend tells the women that she must prostitute herself to be able to pay back the money it costs to travel to the UK. Sometimes the women will put up a fight but this doesn’t last long, they are scared into thinking if they run away then the police will put them in jail for being in the country illegally and on top of that the boyfriend (trafficker) will threaten to kill their families back home. Sometimes the ‘Lover boy’ will have numerous women in love with him in as they are brainwashed to believe he loves them and is looking after them as they have nothing or know one else in the UK. I decided this coffee table piece should be titled ‘Ill give you my heart on a plate’ hence how the women give their fragile hearts away, I think this is represented in the fragility of the ceramics and the use of plates within the piece. When women come into the care of anti-trafficking charities either pregnant or with babies born through rape they are supported in their process of recovery its is a slow recovery but with the right support they can learn to be independent again and cope with becoming a parent.
A fellow artist and sculptor from The Arches studioChris Cudlip was interested in the show I had been invited to exhibit in. He had a carved wooden badger holding a gun which happened to fit perfectly into the theme of political craft so it was good news for both us artist to make our way to London together for the show. Look into anti-culling to see what exactly is happening to badgers at the moment, its pretty horrific.
I was exhibiting along side some incredibly talented street artists, sculptors, ceramicists, felt artists, permaculture artists, mosaic artists, painters I was truly flattered and appreciative to be surrounded by such inspirational people. I am on the look out for space to be able to tour this show as I think the work in it has some incredibly important messages which all classes of society needs to see and feel. Below is some photography from the show I hope you can get an understanding of some of the messages within the art.