On my arrival I was lucky enough to catch a talk by curator Andy Friend of the 'Ravilious and Co' exhibition at the Towner Art Gallery . The accompanying book is lovely with prints on high quality paper and an interesting, lively read. The exhibition by Becky Beasley based on one of Ravilous's interiors included some large painted vintage fabrics!
It's a huge exhibition and I only had time to skim the surface, I was particularly struck by how Ravilious captured sound in ' Cross Channel Shelling'
Our first day in the studio we constructed some simple folded 8 page pamphlets of thick cartridge paper then headed to the beach , spending an hour ( which went very quickly ) making drawings and beachcombing
Rusty bits of metal were a particular focus ,immovable larger pieces on the breakwaters used for making rubbings . For collecting we hit the jackpot under the pier where there was some old scaffolding parts , Alice had already been out foraging for nails at a place further along the beach where they burn pallets.
In the afternoon we were setting up rust prints on paper and fabric using tea ( a process I'd already done with Alice a few years ago at CQ winter school ) . I loved the results on paper, some interesting ones on fabric too but I still have mixed feelings on it as is difficult to stitch.
5 of us staying in accommodation met up for dinner at 'Harry Ramsdens' . I think I'm done for fish and chips for the year now! Afterwards I spent a while walking along the front to the sounds of the 'Jersey Boys' playing at the bandstand to a packed enthusiastic crowd.
The second day we headed off at 9.30 ( already very hot) to Cuckmere Haven - definitely a candidate for my list of favourite places. I didn't get very far along the path when seeking out shade I came across this windblown hawthorn with a secret path underneath. I took rubbings and attempted to capture the negative spaces between the branches
The views of the river were spectacular too, little changed since Ravilious painted it.
'quaking grass' and remembering sketching on Box Hill, drew the shadows cast on the paper
I never did make it to the beach and the view of 'Seven Sisters'.
I lost track of time and was late back to the car so hadn't collected much in the way of plant material for ecoprinting which was the focus of the afternoon . I have mixed feelings about picking plants, even though I took only what I knew to be very common or weeds.
For ecoprinting, rather than using mordants, we were wrapping fabrics with rusty bits of metal. Mine weren't very successful but it worked better on paper where we inserted flat bit of metal along with the leaves into our books and these were clamped with rusty bull dog clips!
Our tables and boards were beginning to look very interesting and varied now!
Birling Gap. Besides drawing on pamphlets , taking rubbings etc , our focus was collecting flat objects for monoprinting (eg feathers, bits of rope)
Most of the time I was just as happy with inking up a manky bit of rope and using a roller. Rather than doing one drawing over a whole opened up pamphlet, at Birling I'd drawn on it folded and consequently had a wider range of marks and layers (above) . The printing made an interesting addition to my drawings of grass shadows (on which I'd also carried out some rust printing ( below)
I missed the morning session of the 4th day as I was unwell ( reminder to wash hand thoroughly after handling beach finds!) so only had time for a quick catch-up on waxing papers with soy wax and different book construction methods before we packed up.
The 'Australian reverse piano hinge' was a revelation - no stitching or glueing involved and once back at the hotel (I was staying another night) I put together 2 books which I'm very pleased with
The structures are quite springy so I made some retaining bands of leftover strips of paper (below)
I'll definitely be continuing with the idea of taking out pamphlets out with me when I go sketching and exploring more ways of building up layers of marks. Also writing more ( one of the outcomes too from sketchbook course at City Lit). With repeat course of ecoprinting with Brunhilde coming up at FoQ I'm starting to think about collecting and pressing plants and using papers as well as fabrics .
Having said that, a lot of the marks reminded me of breakwaters and along with some fabrics from previous rust dyeing session maybe a piece will come out of it.