It’s All Over

After three weeks at the Oxmarket Gallery in Chichester, the time came last Sunday to take down our work.  I thoroughly enjoyed the run, meeting lots of new people, chatting to other artists, and of course handing over five pieces of my work to their new homes.  Nicola Hancock did a great job of curating the exhibition, displaying her own work along with four other artists who each came from different walks of life, offering up different methodologies and outcomes, but whose work all reflected on how creativity offered release to those suffering mental anguish in some form – here the title “Creative Redemption.”  Several visitors told me how good it was to see some contemporary work displayed in this gallery in a new and exciting way.

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I sold two collages and three pieces of sculpture …

… and, just as importantly, received lots of positive feedback and encouragement from visitors.  Several said that they were off to the beach to see what they could find and I would love to hear from them – as long as they took a bag to pick up the rubbish at the same time, that is all fine with me!  Others related to the theme of the exhibition and chatted about the restorative power of stitch or other forms of creativity.

So, I am now thinking about my next project.  I will certainly exhibit at this venue again and am thinking in terms of combining my found objects with recycled everyday items to create a new body of work.

Thank you to the Oxmarket Gallery, Nicola Hancock, Terry Hancock at ReFrame, and to my husband for helping me along the way.  Until next time ….

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Finding Inspiration …

Most days I walk along the beach – I call it “Beachcombing” but it is just noticing what is around me and picking up any items that “speak” to me (as well as litter and marine debris).  I don’t necessarily know how I will use the pieces that I collect but there will be something about the colour, shape and most often, texture, that draws my attention.  The object might be metal, wood, plastic, cloth, rubber or any manner of material but there is usually a common thread.  This is that the item will have started out as useful – mass produced, neat and tidy.  By the time I find out, when the sea has done it’s work, the once pristine, utilitarian thing has become a unique piece – worn and tattered and no longer of any use to anyone – except me and others who appreciate this kind of thing.  Here are some items from this morning’s walk from Climping to Littlehampton.

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Back home, my finds are all “filed” according to material but only after I have photographed them and added them to the appropriate folder on the computer.  Thus I have two ways of looking for items that I think will work together although I am pretty good at remembering what I have.

Knots

One of the most common finds while I walk along local beaches is rope and twine.  Often this is knotted and in varying degrees of perfection – I have a whole bag of them now.

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I decided to start experimenting using knots with some of my found pieces.  I had the idea of using found times which had holes in them and knotting through or around the holes.  I knew that this would be a laborious, repetitive business but was interested to see how this slow repetition would affect my thoughts as I worked.  I had read that undertakings boring tasks allowed the mind to wander and become more creative:  Read more about this here – Harvard Business Review – two studies found a strong link between boredom and creativity. In short, people who were subjected to monotonous, repetitive, or otherwise uninspiring tasks then asked to think creatively or brainstorm ideas far outperformed those who were not subjected to the drudgery.

When our minds are bored, they seek inspiration. The studies’ authors “suggest that boredom boosts creativity because of how people prefer to alleviate it. Boredom, they suggest, motivates people to approach new and rewarding activities. In other words, an idle mind will seek a toy.”

And so, I started my first project without any end goal, just to see what would happen.  I worked with a rectangle of found metal, calico and found twine from the beach.

Next, I decided to try bristles from a found brush in combination with a piece of found metal mesh.  The mesh was delicate and, by the end, had started to break up.  Like the first task, this took me several days.  I am still working on how to present it.

The next project is a little bit “out there”!  I recently found a tea strainer and decided to see what developed if I started to knot through the mesh of this.  It is very hard work and I am having to use a magnifying lamp to see the holes.

This one may not be a keeper – we will have to see.

What has been interesting, thought, is to see how my mind wandered during the long hours of knotting.  I started to think about the people in times gone by who spent their days making fishing nets.  This seemed to strike a chord and link back to the beach where I had found my objects – a research project beckons ….

Little Beauties

Earlier this year, my husband and I had a wonderful two weeks in beautiful Northumbria. It was our first visit and won’t be our last.  Three things summed it up for us – glorious unspoilt beaches, warm and friendly people, and excellent well priced food!  What more could you want?  The weather was fantastic and, apart from the day that Storm Ali came and blew my husband’s prescription glasses into the North Sea, but that’s another story!

Due to the kindness of a couple of folk on my favourite Facebook Page – “Beachcombing, British Coastline), I found my way to a great spot near Seahouses and also to Seaham in County Durham.  Here I found not the plentiful sea glass, pottery or limpets in plentiful supply elsewhere, but my sort of found objects:

When I got home, I had a lovely time putting together mini assemblages from these and other bits and pieces

What to do with what I’ve found

We recently had a long holiday in wonderful Northumbria.  Such a beautiful County – the least populated in England – we met many friendly locals and were blown away (almost literally in a gale that took my husband’s prescription specs into the North Sea!) by the stunning beaches … and by the almost total lack of tourist litter on them.  One day we came across a party of schoolchildren who regularly beachcomb for rubbish – a marvellous initiative.

I did go to two locations (given to me by friends on a Beachcombing Facebook page) where I found some of my sort of treasure.  One of these was Seaham in County Durham – a shrine to sea glass collections from all over the world.  Glass is not “my thing” however – my tastes are altogether less pretty ….

Having now washed and catalogued my finds, the more difficult task is to decide what happens to them next.  As you will see above, one item suggested a face straight away but, as I do not usually work in a representational way, I shall have to see what else comes to mind!