All site blogs

Matt Roberts Salon Art Prize 2012

September 26, 2012 by Deborah Hall   Comments (0)

I have just found out that my work has been selected for the Matt Roberts Salon Art Prize 2012, very exciting news!  I'm not sure which print has been chosen but it will be one of 3 spider photo-etchings I sent in, I'll find out more next week.

Studioless and hungry. Will ‘art’ for money…

September 17, 2012 by Charlie Snow - AA2A Graduate Link 2013   Comments (0)

 Studioless and hungry. Will ‘art’ for money…


Graduation came and reality hit with a bump.  After the loss of my beautiful university studio, the temptation to white wall my bedroom and sniff some turps  for my studio fix grows every day. 

Not having a space to draw and think and sleep (ssh) and grow is a right royal pain.  It’s harder to generate ideas in a shared flat, where the thought processes are drowned out by Green Day and the fire alarm bleeping in the distance.  Although myself and my collaborative partner did manage to put together an application for lots of free money.  The rejection letter came through the door today… I will start a collection.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.  Although I am still darning my socks and balancing 3 jobs with council tax, I had the (rather simple) epiphany of “Things only happen if you make them!” So, a year from now, I will have been/going to Iceland for a month residency, and I will have a studio and a two-page artist CV!

So a message to newly appointed AA2A residents; Congratulations, and LOVE YOUR STUDIO. It brings light and joy and hope. (Even if it just seems like a white wall or two and some mouldy coffee cups). And LOVE TO BLOG! Its nice to vent and muster, knowing you can recall it a year after and muse on your ponderings…


I’m Charlie by the way… AA2A Student rep of the year 2012 and general loiterer.

AA2A: applications open for 2012/13!

August 14, 2012 by Georgia Rodger   Comments (0)

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Hi AA2A artists and fans,

Please can you help us spread the word about AA2A, whether you've been on the scheme and would recommend it to others or if you might apply yourself:

We now have application deadlines for all our 33 AA2A host institutions. To get all the information in one page go to our web advert

Map and list of our 33 schemes   Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook

The AA2A project offers artists & designer makers the opportunity to undertake a period of research or realise a project using art college facilities eg. workshops, IT facilities, lending library, & lecture programme.  AA2A schemes aim to benefit students and Colleges through their interaction with practising artists.


Access is free, for at least 100 hours, between Oct 2012 and April 2013 and a materials/travel grant of £220 is usually available.
Closing dates for applications vary but all are in September 2012.
Applicants must have at least one years professional practice and should be able to work with minimal technical support.
Artists on AA2A schemes run from 2009 to 2010 or before can now reapply. 
To see current AA2A artists' work go to http://aa2a.biz or read previous artists' stories here.
AA2A particularly welcomes applications from applicants with disabilities, from culturally diverse backgrounds and non-graduates.


If you'd like to join the mailing list email georgia@aa2a.biz




AA2A Exhibition University of Derby

June 25, 2012 by Valerie Dalling   Comments (0)

Are you in the area tomorrow (Tuesday 26th June) 5.30pm? If so why not come along to the opening of our exhibition at Markeaton Street (ground floor), we would love to meet you, talk about our work and the AA2A programme. Hope to see you there.  

AA2A Upcoming Show

June 23, 2012 by Bethan Hamilton   Comments (0)

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I thought this may be of interest to anyone who has been following my progress online. Over at MMU, myself and the other AA2A's are working towards our end of residency group exhibition at the university this September/October. Each of us were required to submit a proposal/statement outlining our thoughts and ideas for the upcoming show..

Bethan Hamilton

An exploration of the obese female body with a focus on mass, weight and disproportionate form through mark making. My project has been focused on the creation of artificial forms with indeterminate sex, species or context through collage, drawing & printmaking. 

I have selected an image and have sought to visualize this 2D image as a tangible 3D form through a series of individual frames within a 360° rotation. I am looking to exhibit a series of A2 etchings mounted directly onto a wall and placed side by side horizontally.


The exhibition...

June 13, 2012 by Valerie Dalling   Comments (0)

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The prints are at the picture framers and my artist's statement is written. We meet at Uni on Friday to begin hanging work for our exhibition. Very excited, nervous as well, but that's just me!

Once I know the exact time and date of our preview I can let you know, and if you are in the area do pop in and say hello.

Anyway here is a precis for you of the final chapter in this first series...


Six individual weather-beaten statues of the same female are situated within the rose gardens at Hopton Hall in Derbyshire. There is no specific history behind them but to me they symbolise the changes my friend Tracy's body has gone through, as a result of six sessions of chemotherapy.

The text I have chosen to use is a poem written by her as she was undergoing her treatment. 



Evaluation time!

June 6, 2012 by Georgia Rodger   Comments (0)

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Hi AA2A artists,

2011-12 Artists - you should have received emails from us about the 'AA2A Artists Evaluation' Please could you contact us if you have not received this: georgia@aa2a.biz

We've had a good response so far, so to all those artists who've completed it; thankyou very much! We really appreciate your feedback about the scheme and your experience, it genuinely makes a difference to how we run the scheme in future.  If you have yet to complete your evaluation please can you do so as soon as possible.

Many thanks



Final statement about the project

June 5, 2012 by Tozzy Bridger   Comments (0)

Tozzy Bridger AA2A placement at Solent University

Tozzy Bridger has been working at Solent University on an AA2A placement from February – June 2012.  Artists Access 2 Art collages is a national scheme placing working artists into art collages to work alongside students on their own projects.

Tozzy’s project has looked at oak trees, in particular the history and cultural references as well as the natural history aspect.  Tozzy has also used the time to expand her practise into the use of digital printmaking. Using the University’s large format printer Tozzy has experimented with combining digital print over laid with traditional methods such as drypoints, lino cuts and screenprints as well as using simple collage and emboss techniques.

Tozzy is showing three prints made during her time representing different aspects of the oak tree.  “Quercus robur” introduces the oak using layers of imagery from vintage natural history books, in particular Sylvia Brittanica by J. G. Strutt.   Some of the text layers are actual pages collaged onto the print rewarding the attentive viewer.  The print is finished with beautiful Jay’s feathers, a bird known for it’s connection with oak trees, responsible for burying acorns and seeding new trees.

“Oak Butterflies” looks at the different species of butterfly that live and lay their eggs on oak trees, the new leaves providing food for caterpillars.  The imagery used to make the butterflies, however, refers to the oak’s place in our culture for instance it’s popularity in pub names, The Royal Oak being the third most common pub name in England.  The print also brings in imagery from signage in the New Forest.

The final print “History Oak” brings in memorable historical facts that link the tree to English history and folklore.  The print shows Tozzy working in collaboration with the group of special needs adults she teaches for the community arts group Sculpt-it (www.sculptit.co.uk) as some of the leaves used are drawings made by the group.  The linocut has a stylised feel of the 1930’s generation of English artists who returned to the English landscape and motifs such as oaks to make their contemporary artworks.

The work overall is a celebration of the oak tree and it’s enduring place in English culture.  The imagery works on the ideas of layers, layers of information and history as well as actual layers as the print methods are combined.  The prints are presented as if archive documents, to visually collate the culture of the oak tree.

The project was funded by The Arts Council.

Time to reflect

June 1, 2012 by Ruth Lee   Comments (0)

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I am spending the bank holiday sifting through and reviewing the many prints and design ideas I have made during my time at Uclan and somewhat belatedly beginning the process of uploading images onto the website.  Images posted thus far were made early on when I was getting to grips with unfamiliar printing processes and media.

More images will be posted over the coming days showing further devlopments.  Our AA2A exhibition at Uclan is during September which gives me the summer to resolve and construct finished pieces, to be photographed after the show.

My intention had been to focus on screen printing until I discovered it was possble to laser etch wood and rubber printing blocks.  I was initally drawn to this process because of the wonderfully tactile nature of the blocks themselves and the way in which varyings degrees of hardness in the wood etch down to  different levels revealing the grain line in the blocks themselves and in the print process.

Hand printing the blocks with oil based colours mixed from first priciples (dry pigments, copper plate oil and much elbow grease) let me take control over the relationship between colours and their varying degress of transparency/opacity.  I think it was at this late point I felt I was starting to take ownership of the processes and techniques and was beginning to immerse myself in making work which had a purpose in life....more about ideas and creative image making.  And discovering a natural link between digital and first hand making.

To reintroduce a greater degree of surafce texture using stitch and construction techniques into print is my next challenge although I have been having issues about how to do this without it being simply stitch for stitched sake.

And as an guilty aside the knowledge that I havent really found a way of  integrating  work made on my digital sewing machine without the results looking industrial and contrived.  Thanks to our always resourceful and ever helpful senior technician (Katherine Owen) who has an amazing knowledge of  all things related to digital textile and much more I have been encouraged to try a variety of ways of working into the prints which will forge a meaningful relationship between the flat printed image and areas of stitch.  Watch this space for further developments.



Digitally handmade: hand made digitally

May 31, 2012 by Ruth Lee   Comments (0)


Hand made digitally: digitally hand made
by Ruth Lee

Images still to be uploaded.


Moving on from the large scale digitally-printed textiles this new body of work sets out to explore further whether the concept of digitally handmade is a contradiction in terms or simply the best of all worlds.

Combining the digital and the handmade is an exciting prospect.  Learning how to use image-making software has allowed me to take advantage of the powerful technologies available to the contemporary artist/designer, while retaining and adding to my signature style.  At the same time I am intrigued by finding ways of subverting the, sometimes, slick and impersonal image making of the digital world by making evident the maker’s hand in the creative process.

Currently based in printmaking at The University of Central Lancashire with courtesy of the aa2a scheme  this welcome opportunity has enabled me to clarify my future direction, bringing together seemingly disparate yet related elements of past and current work.

For this project I set out to create a body of experimental visual studies through hands-on printmaking; the main focus being an open-ended investigation as to just what is possible in terms of cross referencing traditional printmaking methods with digital technologies, and also how visual information is processed using certain tools, machinery and technology.  

Initial experiments

    As a way into the project ,and getting used to new surroundings, I opted to continue with the theme of migrating birds, taking existing images in my digital sketchbook to through into traditional screen-printing.   Working with acrylic printing inks and the vacuum print bed was a new experience, which took some time to get used to. The challenge was to unlearn textile screen-printing working methods, which though similar, are not the same.

Initial experiments involved printing onto lightweight papers, which were strong to use yet fragile in appearance, including Tissutex paper and Gampi: the latter is a beautiful paper, which has a sheen not unlike silk.

 Further experiments with overprinting transparent colours and layering the prints began to suggest a sense of space and distance; a metaphor for migratory birds.  Colours related to Portuguese blue tiles, and images referenced the migratory journey swallows take from Africa through to northern Europe.

Combining laser cut layers with screen printing.

    A chance experiment with laser cutting to find a way of making shaped frames to house these delicate prints kick started the project into action.  A prototype for a shaped frame (which was eventually cut from clear acrylic), and based on the bird silhouettes, was cut in Gampi paper.  Overlaid on top of the screen prints, the latter added depth and a subtle texture to the work.

    Work is now ongoing to make a series of small tiles constructed from layers of prints sandwiched together with laser cut acrylic frames cut to the same designs as the Gampi prototype.

Laser Cut Wooden Printing Blocks

     Noting that it was possible to etch into wood using the laser cutter, I was curious to try the same technique as a way of producing relief-printing blocks as a side project to my stated aim of working in screen printing.  Having the chance to explore a completely new working method in relief print making was the shot in the arm this project needed.  I loved the tactile nature of the relief-printing block, the viscosity of the oil based printing inks and the way in which it is possible to build layer on layer of colour onto the printing blocks, colour which I learned to mix from first principles.  It is here that I felt the connection between the ancient with the modern in terms of printing technologies: something that greatly appealed to me.

Working with technologies spanning nearly 156 years, the laser cut wooden printing blocks have been printed onto variety of paper surfaces using a magnificent cast-iron Columbian relief printing press dated 1856.

Some of the imagery was developed from digital photographs taken of Roman tiles in Portugal.  Others, such as the birds, were hand-cut stencils which were scanned into the computer or created to give the appearance of being stitched.  For the latter I used the Bernina image-making software usually used with a digital embroidery computer.

Designed in grey scale and then converted into suitable files for the digitally-controlled laser cutter to read, the wooden blocks were laser-etched in relief onto pine and plywood.  The areas of the design that are either light or dark in tone relate to the areas which are cut away or left standing proud of the wood block.  It is the latter which are then rolled up with ink and printed.  It is or course possible to invert the light and dark tones at the design stage, making it possible to produce two printing blocks of the design in negative and positive format.

The small pine printing blocks showed the grain lines of the wood most successfully and in doing so created imagery that retained a hand drawn quality.  The larger plywood blocks (30cm by 30cm) were less successful.  Good quality ply is too hard for the laser beam to cut through to the depth needed for relief printing and cheap plywood disintegrates on the top layer after just a few prints have been made. 

Another first for me was to mix my oil-based inks from scratch.  I am very particular about colour mixing, and like to have complete control of the base colours used in the mixing process.  To do this, colour in powder form is mixed with copper plate oil and blended together on a stone slab.  A time-consuming process, but well worth the effort to produce an individual colour palette in the colours you really want. 

The oil-based printing inks were hand rolled onto the wooden printing blocks, making the new prints similar to each other but not identical. This is very apparent with prints made onto lightweight Japanese papers such as Kozo and Gampi, or long fibre abaca paper, each with their own discreet texture. Further experiments were tried on thin wood veneers and silk papers. It is in the latter that the individuality of each print is clearest, due to the uneven nature of the hand-made printing surface
The next step in the process is to introduce hand-stitching or other textile processes into the equation.  Current thinking is to substitute areas of print with digitally stitched panels. 

Digital Sketch Books

Keeping a digital sketch book alongside hands-on practice is a useful method for exploring, for example, changes of scale, adding and subtracting motifs and text, trying a variety of effects and layouts, or changing the tonal balance of any given image.

A really useful practical application for this body of work was working back and forth between digitally-created and hand-printed imagery, visualising various juxtapositions and combinations of colour derived from the colour palette designed for the large scale textile pieces. Adding or subtracting colours to my stored, custom-made, digital colour palette quickly suggested many possible variations on the original colour story.

In Conclusion

Much needed technical know-how has dominated my working practice for the last two years or more.  Ideas now seem to be flowing freely again: the hard slog to understand the potential of new technologies as simply another tool is beginning to pay dividends.

As a maker, there is no real substitute for hands-on practice and working with actual materials.  Revisiting and adding to my understanding of traditional printmaking techniques have begun to square the equation and balance the new technologies which so excite me.  Who knows what the future holds?  There is still much to explore and experiment in this regeneration of my working practice.  It can be seen as an incredibly exciting yet daunting prospect for a mature artist.

 Ruth Lee May 2012