7 December 2009

Inspired by students

I am continally inspired by the creativity of my students!
Previously, by the creative output in my Modern Foreign Languages lessons - creative writing, storytelling, drama productions.....
At present, I am amazed by the wonderful Artists' Books which my students make!  With specialist design and book-binding input from me and free reign to create their own book forms using this knowledge, the variety of structures is awe inspiring. My students range from 6 years to 66 years and all are wildly creative within the safe and encouraging sessions.
Here are a few Artist's books by my school students:

by year 8 pupil
by year 13 A2 Visual Arts student
by year 13 A2 Graphics student
by a year 9 pupil

I am planning my next bookbinding course for adults as I write...

19 November 2009

Look what i found...

I have recently seriously edited my art archive and look what i found....

These are two watercolour paintings from way back in the 1980s!

The portrait is of my sister who was a patient and willing model for me during our teenage years. This captures her warm smile and glasses long since gone.

The landscape was painted on site during a class which i went to with my Dad. I think this is in
Dedham, Essex and possibly the building is the Mill....

The paper copies have now gone and these images have become
part of my electronic archive - much easier to store and access.

I am really comforted by the
images and reminded of my long term love of the visual arts. These painting have inspired me to add watercolour paints back into my art media - and to have a go at taking more time out to create my own work.

13 November 2009

Seeking inspiration...

Cover image from Double Game by Sophie Calle

veral years ago, a tatty library copy of a book with a bizarre cover, tied with a claret ribbon, introduced me to the ideas of the French visual artist Sophie Calle. As a Book Artist I was drawn by the variety of papers used in the book and by the combination of beautiful photography, handwriting and printed typography.
Closer inspection of the book revealed a woman shadowing strangers; commissioning others to dictate her behaviour; photographically documenting hotel rooms when guests were absent; and inviting a number of birthday guests equal to the number of her age to combat fear of being forgotten in life.
Trawling the internet revealed several second hand copies of Double Game for sale for very large sums. Searches in London book stores revealed nothing. However, my patience was rewarded in 2007 with the reprint of the book. I headed to the Photographer’s Gallery to collect my copy and was amused and surprised to be handed a volume half the size of the original edition.
Controversial and stepping close to and often over boundaries of accepted interaction with others, Sophie Calle’s work can be viewed as invasive, self indulgent and exploitative. The ‘voyeur’ in the viewer, however, joins Calle in this journey into the lives of others and her ideas represented through images and text lead us on a journey of discovery of the lives of strangers, ourselves and indeed of Calle herself.
Sophie Calle’s ideas and projects are now widely known to new generations following her most recent work Take Care of Yourself originally exhibited at the Vienna Biennale in 2007. This body of work and other projects by Calle combine in Talking to Strangers, currently exhibiting at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. I thoroughly recommend a visit to the exhibition, and if this is not possible then do take a look at Calle’s work in publications such as Double Game.

14 October 2009

Guardian Big Draw

Dice, 2009

La Poste, 2009

I was really pleased to be a guest illustrator at the Guardian Big Draw event in London on the 10th October.
A great day to inspire children and adults alike!

12 August 2009

Sharing gems

I'd like to thank Iona from Mallorca for allowing me to photograph and share these textile gems on my blog....Thanks, Iona!

These are miniature embroidery pieces which Iona uses to embellish cotton covers for her homemade jam produce. I was really inspired by the range and detail in the work - but more than this, by the fact that Iona is happy to share such labour intensive art work for free, in these days of worry about protecting our intellectual property and gaining financially for artwork. 

28 July 2009

Family History in Artist's Books

Inspired by my family history, I am seeking to make art work linked to the lives of my ancestors and family.

Strike (2008)

Strike (2008) by Mary Pullen
My unique artist's book Strike is currently being exhibited in the Mile End Ancestors exhibition, organised and curated by English Heritage.
I created the hand made wooden match seller's box and contents in response to tales of my paternal great grandmother's experience of working in the Bryant and May match factory, Bow in the late 19th century. My research took me back to the Mile End area where she and her mother had lived.
I became struck by the link between the socio-economic conditions for women in the same area in 1888 relative to those of 2008. Strike aims to comment on these observations.
A Tribute to the Waller Siblings (2007)

A Tribute to the Waller Siblings by Mary Pullen
Hand dyed paper and printing in album structure.

Detail from A Tribute to the Waller Siblings
Collograph print using stitch 

My maternal grandmother and her siblings are the subject of my unique artist's book A Tribute to the Waller Siblings (2007), focusing in particular on a visual record of the life of these ten children linked to the Greenwich Peninsular in the early 20th century. Passing the North Greenwich area as a child, seated in the back seat of the car, emerging from the Blackwall Tunnel, I observed my 'Grandma's school' and have long been inspired by the latticed design of the early gasworks' cylinder. Following the study of my Mum's 1950s London A to Z, I set off on a field trip for research to the area and discovered street names intact, the school still standing and a row of period cottages next to the Pilot Inn.
I am pondering visual ideas relating to other aspects of family history......

16 July 2009

Storytelling and Memory

I am fascinated by folktales from around the world. These tales seem to have many fine threads which link us as a global community and enrich the soul on reading or hearing. The fine line drawn with many folk tales between fantastic events and grotesque horror draws the curiosity of mind. The imagination is fed by the fantastic events and magic conjured in the lines of each story.

Intrigued by the idea that as adults we have a tendency to think that we have minds full of well recollected childhood tales, I decided to set about on a visual, text and sound investigation of Memory and Storytelling. This project resulted in a limited edition of hand bound artist books with hand set letterpress type; graphic design wall mounted grids of analysis; studio portraits; and a sound recording of a storytelling event.

The contributors were very generous in spirit and with Fairy Tales, and the resulting body of work is a fascinating insight into the theme of Memory and Storytelling.

28 June 2009

Book Arts is the World of Wonder between two Leaves

'Book Arts is the World of Wonder between two Leaves' (quoting myself) and has gripped me with a passion since I first discovered this 'World' just four years ago.

Opening the pages of a favourite childhood book, feeling the texture of the fragile leaves, smooth and rough in turn, I am drawn in to the fine detail of the worlds of wonder, far distant and remote, yet inextricably linked to our own. With each turn of the page, windows are flung wide in my mind, revealing snowscapes of delicate calm, cityscapes of chaos, seascapes of raging torment and landscapes of hidden undergrowth.

Llyn Padarn, Snowdonia 2008
North Seascape 2008
Snowfall in Holland 2008
Cityscape, London 2009

When asked to choose one book of inspiration, I consider carefully and make the almost impossible choice of 'Fairy Tales from Many Lands' illustrated by Arthur Rackham. My memory of this book, long untouched on my shelf, is of the smooth colour plates, interspersed among the rough to the touch pages of text. A treat as I progressed through each tale, these illustrations drew me in to imaginary lands of deep colour, fine line and exquisitely fragile and grotesque characters.

My study of Print history has revealed that the historical rarity of colour images in childhood story books was due to the lack of capability of mass printing methods and binding techniques. Unable to print colour ink onto cheaper paper, publishing companies kept colour plates, printed on luxuriously smooth paper, to a minimum. The illustrated plates were tipped in as single sheets or bound around the sewn sections of text. These were pages to cherish and adore.

As a Book Artist I get to take ownership of choosing my materials, creating the book form, binding my books and devising and making all content. Book Arts gives me the opportunity to indulge my multiple loves of bookbinding, printmaking, illustration, photography and creative writing.
Next entry......an Artist's Book by Mary C P

22 June 2009

Finding my voice

My hands are hovering over the keyboard in eager anticipation of the words to flow from the tapping of the keys.
Poetry or prose? Fact or fiction? These are the questions.

Maybe i should backtrack a little, into the past of my mind and my reality. I invite you to join me on a journey beyond a fork in the road, along a new path lined with rich pickings and fruitful meaning.

Seeking my true passion I venture forward with increasing courage, drawing inspiration from every moment and taking time to smell the flora and fauna along the way.
I do not know what I am looking for - but i have rejected that which i do not want.
Chances are taken and risks abound, and with increased risk i take more chances.
Within the square mile and hidden in dusty tomes, i find fascination in the secrets of the City's past.
Evenings sacrificed to the study of art, I begin to look inwards and out with new eyes.
I delight in new ideas and the freedom of following my dreams into the unclear distance.
One year passes and my mind's will shows itself to be beyond retaining fine, accurate details of historical past - but passionate to soak up the visual language of the world around.
One decade split in two and five years on I am become book artist, illustrator and enthusiastic educator - and I meet you in the here and now.

16 June 2009

A tentative beginning....

My world has long been one full of wonderful words in various languages and more recently full of imaginative images in varied forms and armed with these I am now ready to enter the land of blogging with my String of Words and Pictures.

Musings on the visual world, images from my portfolio and creative writing are to follow.
My range of interests is almost unending and my attention span is somewhat short - and to create a happy medium I propose to post more content, less often, rather than less content, more often!

I am still seeking my 'blogging voice' so please bear with me.....