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In the Laboratory of Art

February 27, 2015 by Ian Kirkpatrick   Comments (0)

A few weeks ago I discovered that York College had an amazing – and unexpected – piece of equipment: a machine that lets you create your own bespoke ‘blister packs’.  Using heat and a vacuum pump, it essentially allows you to create a plastic mould around the shape of any small object.  While this is likely a very boring piece of machinery by most peoples’ standards, for me – with my art inspired by packaging design – it opens up lots of interesting opportunities for my practice.

I spent a few hours experimenting with the vacuum former yesterday, testing its limits and seeing just how big of an object I can seal into a ‘blister pack’.  Unfortunately it’s quite a small machine – not really of industrial scale – so I can’t be quite as ambitious as I would have liked with it.  Nevertheless it’s a real privilege to have access to a specialist machine like this at all: a reminder again just how valuable the AA2A program is.

Below are links to a couple of images of my experiments.  They aren’t much to look at: just some simple bowls and mugs I “blister packed”.  But they are quite exciting for me, as it’s been the first time I’ve been able to experiment for some time.  Over the last couple of years my practice has become a bit more refined & as a result I’ve approached projects using the same familiar set of techniques and skills.  But for this new project – in conjunction with York Art Gallery – I’m creating something quite different from anything I’ve ever done before.  As mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to be learning how to create ceramics – then figuring out how to merge them with cardboard.  Part of this ‘merging’ process will involve the vacuum-former, I expect (i.e. to package ceramics within cardboard) – while others parts will require me to design cardboard shapes to fit over ceramics, and vice versa.  It’s all quite new, and still a bit vague in my mind– but I suppose that’s the nature of art.  The goal is to innovate, and challenge yourself.  And – (hopefully) -  have a bit of fun along the way…

Image 1

Image 2

Perspectives: Art, Liver Diseases & Me project now completed

February 27, 2015 by Landon Peck   Comments (0)

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I'll Take The Blue Pill

I'll Take The Blue Pill
2015
Bone China, 12x12x40cm

My piece for the The Abbvie run project is now complete and will tour europe with 30 other works that will show at various conferences and exhibitions organised by the pharmeceuticals company. The project was set up to raise awareness of the personal and social impact of Hepatitis C.

I’ll Take The Blue Pill is a parody on the ‘alternate reality’ mythos that is appropriated by the Wachowski siblings in their epic sci-fi films, the Matrix trilogy. In the moment of the films’ primary catalysis Neo is offered two choices: a blue pill which will keep him ignorant and content within his present ‘existence’; or a red pill which will awaken him to the reality of mankind’s machine-controlled dystopia. Over the weeks of the project I had the privilege of having Max share many of the significant moments of his journey with me. Standing out from his experience was the vivid recollection of the shattering effect that his diagnosis would have on his ‘reality’ and the courageous struggle of dealing with that truth as he ebbed between denial and acceptance.

The object takes its form in a white bone china capsule that is in the process of degradation. With its organic parts burnt away, its fractured bone carcass is all that remains of its previous self. It stands upright on one end; a totem to our past wishes, dreams and desires, but also as a beacon of hope, courage, faith and forgiveness.

For the rest of my time on the AA2A residency at the University of Hertfordshire I will continue to develope new ideas and projects.

Max (left) and me      

What They Did Next - David Armes

February 26, 2015 by Tina Dempsey   Comments (0)

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So how are our AA2A artists getting on in the print studio at UCLan? Well there's a lot of activity and exploration as they develop techniques and ideas.

David Armes has been busy since joining the scheme and I asked him what he has been focusing on;

After spending Autumn 2014 sorting out the letterpress area at UCLAN and learning how to use the Stephenson Blake proofing press, I've spent the first few weeks of 2015 working on some large scale poster work. I have been experimenting with creating pattern and larger floods of colour to create backdrops for text. One of these is a commission for the American band Enablers for their upcoming European tour. I have also just started to print from found objects and ephemera in the studio, making them type-high so they can be inked by the press. I'm exciting to continue expanding these into a new series of prints.

As well as his own work David generously agreed to run a workshop demonstration for UCLan students on how to use the Letterpress, seperate blog to follow. Check out image album 'AA2A What They Did Next' for images of David's work.

What They Did Next - Jamie Barnes

February 26, 2015 by Tina Dempsey   Comments (0)

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So how are our AA2A artists getting on in the print studio at UCLan? Well there's a lot of activity and exploration as they develop techniques and ideas.

Next in our artist update is Jamie Barnes, I asked him to explain his reasons firstly for joining the scheme and how his experiences are shaping his artistic practise and here's his response;

I went into the placement with excitement and with my eyes wide open, and I still feel that excitement 5 months in.

Having worked part time as an artist-printmaker over the last 6 years I was ready for a new challenge, to learn new skills and expand my contacts out of my home county of Cumbria. AA2A has certainly done that, and much much more.

Before taking up the AA2A placement my practice had centred around the Trace Monotype technique, and I felt had become stuck in a rut. Working with Tracy in the intaglio department has allowed room to experiment with new techniques and revisit techniques I had learnt in the past but exercise a fresh approach. After several weeks of experimentation and trial and error with Carborundum, Collagraph and Drypoint, I have settled back in to Aquatint Etching. This was the first technique I learnt back in 2008 at University of Cumbria's Printmaking department, but using the unsafe Nitric Acid and Roisin chemicals. Tracy has taught me the safer etching technique using Copper Sulphate solution. She has now taken me through every stage of the process and has given me all the knowledge I need to go back to my studio and do it for myself.

I have also learnt to fall back on my facility with drawing, and not try and move away from it and become more painterly.

My subject matter has also become more contemporary, less commercial and I have moved closer conceptually to where I want to be.

My AA2A placement has made me into a more confident artist, allowed me to trust my own judgement more - away from concerns of 'the market', allowed me to interact and be influenced by a wider circle of people out of the bubble of my semi-rural home area, and has expanded my passion for printmaking even more.
As experiences go I think you'll agree that the scheme is ticking every box and more besides for Jamie!
Check out images of Jamie's explorations in my image album 'AA2A What They Did Next'

What They Did Next - Bonnie Craig

February 26, 2015 by Tina Dempsey   Comments (0)

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So how are our AA2A artists getting on in the print studio at UCLan? Well there's a lot of activity and exploration as they develop techniques and ideas.

First an update on the lovely Bonnie Craig, I asked her firstly what personal projects she's been working on and her experience of the AA2A scheme so far, here's what she had to say;

For my first AA2A project I filled a wall in a corridor that leads to UCLan’s print studios with a screenprinted installation. This was a great opportunity to create a site-specific work that involved taking details from the architectural detail in the corridor and reworking it into a large, screenprinted piece. My work is usually based on patterns, which is an approach I followed for this piece, but creating patterns from the exposed pipework of the ceiling was a new challenge, as I normally work with simpler, geometric shapes. 
I’m now concentrating on a series of sets of screenprints created from a collection of simple shapes that can be put together in different combinations and colour ways. These allow me to work with colour, shape and composition in a methodical way, which I hope will help me to learn more about the balance of order and disorder in pattern, as well as challenging some of my own assumptions about the use of colour. 
The AA2A placement is a brilliant opportunity to work alongside students, other artists and university staff, as well as being able to access UCLan’s print studio and library. It’s providing a great transition from my MA to the ‘real world’ and it’s a pleasure to be a part of the university’s print department, which is a very supportive and sociable environment. Meeting the other AA2A artists has been really valuable, and I’m looking forward to our group exhibition later in the year.
Check out my image album 'AA2A What They Did Next' for some stunning images of the artists latest prints!

Pic of the Week: Jamie Barnes, UCLan (plus 'Tip of the Week' and other news)

February 26, 2015 by Georgia Rodger   Comments (0)

Pic of the Week: UCLan's AA2A artist, Jamie Barnes' 'Advance Guard', hand-coloured trace monotype print

You can see more of Jamie's work at http://aa2a.biz/pg/profile/jamie14

Tip of the Week from AA2A artists to students (as featured in our self-employment talks): 'Join as many professional networks as you can, and make the most of everything they offer.' AA2A artist, Derby Uni, (2013-14).

Other news:  AA2A artists should have recieved the latest artists newsletter from us earlier this week.  If you didn't, please get in touch as we may need to check your email address. Also we want your flyers/posters/etc! If you have any exhibitions please tell us so we can add it to our press file.  You can add it to the exhibitions listings on Dotbiz and email us any flyers/promotion.  There might be some extra promotion we can do for you too...

Best wishes,

The AA2A Team (Wendy, Georgia & Jo)

Casting the watering-can head- Technicalities of casting in resin

February 25, 2015 by Kirsty E Smith   Comments (0)

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Images for this blog post can be found here. http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/24614/resin-casting-rose-wateringcan-head

Having spent some time thinking about a form for a sculpture which would incorporate a clear cast of the rose watering-can head I decided that it was time to get casting so it was another trip to  www.mouldcraft.co.uk in Sheffield to buy some resin. Andy at MouldCraft seemed pleased to see me; he supplies mostly by mail orders so he doesn’t often get to see his customers face to face. I think next time I visit I will take in my casts and moulds to show him.

I prepared the two part mould by wrapping it securely in duct tape and then mixed the resin and catalyst ready for the first pour. This cast had to be pored in two stages as I wanted to embed a ‘stalk’ of copper pipe within it. Before preparing the mould I measured the capacity of half of the mould. I did this by putting the mould on my digital scales and then filling it with water and seeing what it weighed then. However I think a more accurate way would have been to have measured it by volume. 

Measuring the capacity of the mould is important as this is how you know how much resin to mix up. But with such small quantities it can be quite a challenge. Andy at Mouldcraft had given me a small syringe to measure my catalyst. The ratio is 100 parts resin to 2 parts catalyst. I was measuring the resin by putting my plastic mixing beaker on the scales adding 100g of resin and then adding 2ml of catalyst. Obviously this depends on the resin and catalyst having the same weight per ML . All I am saying is that it is fairly crucial to get the correct amount of catalyst and also to ensure that it is mixed very thoroughly. Too little catalyst and your cast will never properly cure and will have a sticky finish. Too much and I think you are more likely to get stress fractures and it might affect the shrinkage too. I’m not completely sure about that but I have been reading how to cast in resin forums quite a bit recently!

I used a piece of reclaimed copper pipe that I discovered in the attic of my new house. This little fact seems to add to the story of this sculpture. It will be my first www.frillipmoolog.co.uk 'being' since relocating to Sheffield in Oct 2014.

After cleaning the layers of paint off the pipe I made three equally spaced holes and screwed in small copper screws. These are a belt and braces way of ensuring that when the pipe is set within the resin that it will definitely not pull out or be at all loose. 

After 24 hours of curing it was time to position the pipe within the mould and pour in a second batch of resin. 

To ensure the pipe was perfectly vertical and stayed in place while the resin was curing I used a test tube stand from Sheffield College science department. It was perfect for the job!

After curing I opened the mould and was able to see my completed clear resin cast. 

Again the finish wasn’t perfect; the surface was a bit sticky, there was a very small amount of leakage along the seam of the mould (which I was able to remove with a scalpel) and also a small air bubble at the base of the copper ‘stalk’. But it is definitely an improvement on my previous cast of small copper elbow joint (see previous image album).

Another thing that I learnt after reading more resin casting forums online is that you should always work in a room which is room temperature. I am definitely learning!

Learning from mistakes- it's all part of the learning process

February 24, 2015 by Kirsty E Smith   Comments (0)

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Images for this blog post are here http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/24603/mould-and-casting-pipe-joint

While I was mulling over ideas of sculptural forms for my rose head casting I decided to get on and make another silicone mould. Well I always say, “I if you learn by your mistakes  then I’m a genius” What I mean is that during this process I did seem to make quite a few mistakes. but really mistakes are a very important part of the learning process.

First I rushed when I set up wooden shutters with just blobs of clay to support the walls while the first half of the mould was poured. As you can see from the image in the linked photo album a certain amount of the silicone mixture did leak out before it fully cured. But luckily the mould was fine; it was a bit thin in one area but intact with no holes so all quite useable.

Before pouring the second half Joe, the technician, pointed out that I would need to add a stem of clay to ensure that I had a pour hole for pouring in the resin when I got to that stage. 

For the second stage I put quite a bit more effort and attention to detail into the supporting of the walls with wet clay and also running a small bead of clay around the edge of the. But it was so annoying when I later realised that I had completely forgotten to spray the mould and copper pipe with release spray before pouring in my second batch of silicone. AArg I was annoyed with myself

But when I came to open it up after leaving it for 24 hours to cure I was very lucky and I did manage to get the two halves to separate successfully.

Next I used a scalpel to cut the pour hole so that it was a circle rather than just a semi circle.

Joe suggested taping the two halves together with duct tape before filling the mould with clear resin but no matter how tightly I taped the halves together I could still see a small gap opening in one of the edges inside the mould. So I decided to (gently, but firmly) grip the prepared mould in a vice and leave it there while the clear resin cured.

When I did open the mould to inspect the cast I was a bit disappointed. The surface is quite blemished and there are a couple of air bubbles. 

Possible causes could be: 

- The resin and catalyst weren’t mixed together thoroughly enough. This can take 5 to 8 minutes to do.

-Did I spray the mould with release agent before filling with acrylic? I really can’t remember.

-Should I have rotated the mould as I poured the acrylic in. This would surely have helped to avoid the air gaps. 

It may be blemished but I do still like this strange little object and so I can see me incorporating it into a small sculpture very soon. 

Fifteen Objects

February 24, 2015 by Silvia Champion   Comments (0)

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Druring the last month I have not been in the workshop as regularly as I used to. I have been busy with another project where there where deadlines to meet and of course there was the snow which as an Austrian I shouldn't use as an excuse. 

Now I've a time line for the objects I need to make moulds of and cast in soap. I've got thirteen objects that have importance to people in their homes and two are still coming so fifteen in total and these they are:

stone, virgin Mary, wooden bowl, pestle&mortar, metal bird, tea pot, pen, glass jar, letters C&A, shoe, little Australian figure, head, small sculpture;

For the next two weeks while I'm finishing of some sound editing for my performance at the Tetley I want to focus on those before I construct three OSB board homes (have done one already) and start recording voices reading the letters about 'home' for the sound installation that will also be part of the solo exhibition. So back on track again and no fuffing about now need to move on with it!!!

Seaside Chronicles - The Tale of the Herring

February 23, 2015 by Inès Lion   Comments (0)

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Behind the window, there are some teeth attached to jaws. Dentures have replaced herrings.

How did that happen?

In the beginning, there were fishes. The sea was fertile, an endless source of nourishment.  Fishermen always came back with their hands full of these little moist and still wriggling beings. Even their dead eyes seemed to express some contentment. Those courageous enough to bathe in the icy water were struggling to progress between all these fishes. They could feel their slimy trunks hitting their legs, their arms – every bit of their bare limbs. Under the brown surface, it was swarming so much that nothing could be seen. Sometimes, a suicidal fish would make a great leap, emerge from the sea in a perfect arc and soak again into the salty water. Sometimes, some would not be as lucky and would be caught in mid-air by a greedy seagull.

At that time, those carnivores displayed a fat abdomen, stuffed with herrings. It is from there that seagulls adopted a clumsy way of walking, verging on the ridiculous. Striding along the quay, the passers-by (sailors, fishermen, fishmongers but also prostitutes, postmen, doctors) were split between a feeling of fear and a desire to laugh in front of these admittedly stiff but aggressive beasts. There were rumours that their voracious hunger was pushing them to attack humans, mistaking hats, caps and other headgear for the gleaming scales of herrings. Children weren’t aware of that and played at chasing them, imitating their limping, the mouth full of laugh. Meanwhile, their mothers were at work, most of the time scaling and gutting herrings, and skipping school was the most common activity. Everyone knew that nobody was going… What’s the point as long as there are fishes in the sea?

The teacher did not hold it against them, and made the most of his 365 days of leave to drink pints of ales at the Nelson Bar. One, two, sometimes three then four, five until ten, he always ended up by leaving the place redder than he arrived. He was then coming back home, where his old mum was waiting for him, grumbling, reproaching him « not to have done as everyone else« , « to live during the day and not during the night as all the good lads from the port« , and « well, see in the kitchen, I have left you a « smoky » with some mash« . Finally he sat in silence in the cold kitchen with its walls yellowed by the salty sea air, the cigarettes and particularly the time, the time spent looking at the pitch-dark night by the lonely, very little and well-polished window. He was chewing loudly, sniffing from the tip of his beetroot like nose. The alcohol he gulped down earlier was helping him to ignore the saltiness of the fish. He had eaten it everyday, and this since he was very little. His father was one of those « good lads from the port », who was leaving the house at midnight and coming back in the early morning, wet, freezing but apparently satisfied. He had left with pneumonia, and the teacher could only remember his rubber boots that he used to wear with a lot of pride. He had been the first one to buy them from « a gentleman american » who claimed to have discover rubber, and that « although he was soaked, his feet were always dry« .

Later, a bloke from the pub told our teacher that there was another word for rubber, « caoutchouc that is« , and that it meant « wood that cries » in Indian language. That evening, he left the Nelson Bar with not only a red face but also red eyes.