Chatsworth House

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Elisabeth Frink

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Elisabeth Frink

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I recently visited Chatsworth House in Bakewell for the first time after having wanted to go for years. It was such a lovely day out and filled with surprises right from the start. Lambs were the greeting as they ran all over the lanes leading to the house, meaning it was a pretty slow drive! It was raining when we got there so we went into the house first and then went round the gardens afterwards when it was luckily glorious sunshine. We were lucky enough to hear one of the staff playing the Steinway piano in the drawing room which really made the house feel alive and almost transported us back in time!

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Digital portrait of Lady Burlington. Michael Craig-Martin.

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Anya Gallacio, Untitled (modelled on a durian fruit)

I was really surprised at how much contemporary art was on display in the house, including this beautiful installation by Edmund de Waal which was actually pretty inspirational for my recent work in ceramics. Additionally there were loads of photographs on display, including a large display of Cecil Beaton’s work which is exhibiting until 3 January 2017. One final pleasant surprise was the amount of Lucian Freud paintings the family own!

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Edmund De Waal. A Sounding Line

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Tim Harrisson Across the Edge

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It’s pretty pricey to get in, but it is definitely worth it as there is so much to see – make sure to leave plenty of time to go round the grounds, they are filled with sculptures and interesting landscaping.

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Lucian Freud

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Head of a Woman (Lady Anne Tree) Lucian Freud 1950.

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Francis Bacon photorgaphed by Jorge Lewinsky 1970

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Elizabeth Von Hofmannsthal photographed by Cecil Beaton 1930s.

Gladstone Pottery Museum & Emma Bridgewater

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A couple of weeks ago I had a totally pottery-filled day out with my friends – we visited Gladstone Pottery museum, Emma Bridgewater, and even had lunch in a bottle kiln at the Glost house, all in Stoke-on-Trent, which for those of you who don’t know was, and partly still is, the heart of the British pottery industry. I hadn’t been to Gladstone since I was about 6 so it was such a reminiscent experience going back and finding things unchanged and seeing things I had forgotten about.

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The whole museum is really interesting and filled with unusual objects and we even all got to throw a pot!

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After a delicious lunch of Stokie oatcakes at The Glost house we went over to the Emma Bridgewater factory where we met some adorable apple yard crested ducklings and painted plates!

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Slip Casting

As promised, here is a tutorial on slip casting which is the method I used to make porcelain bottles.

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Step one: Making a mould. You need to make a mould to cast into so take an existing item (in this case a bottle) and build up around it with clay until it is covered halfway up. If there are indentations in the side they need to be blocked out with clay or the item will be stuck in the mould. You also need to create a spare so that you have a space to pour slip into when your moulds are finished (in this case, i put clay into the neck of the bottles which created a spare in the plaster.

Step two: Making a wall. This can be done with clay (as below) or with plastic (as above) and it needs to create a tight wall around the whole thing which won’t let plaster leak out. The wall needs to be at least twice the height of the clay you built up in step one.

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Step three: Mix up casting plaster and pour it into this mould, filling it up. This then needs to set and you can peel away the clay and lift the plaster out. The item you are casting needs to stay in the mould for now. Use a penny or something similar to dig some small indentations into the plaster mould which will act as lining up points when you put both halves together.

Step four: Making the other half of the mould. Take the half you just made (with the item still in it) make sure any indentations on the side are blocked in again and keep the clay that provides the spare in there. Build up some clay or plastic walls again and same as before, pour plaster into the walls and wait for it to set. Once it is set, you can take all the clay away, remove the object and you have two halves of a mould.

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Step Five: Casting! I used porcelain slip but any kind of slip will work fine. Connect the two halves of your mould and hold them together with elastic bands. Wedge the mould upright – i used sticks! Then pour in the slip and leave it until there is a slight skin at the top.

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Step 6:Then you need to wedge the mould upside down over a bowl so that the extra slip pours out and can then be re-used. Leave it to set for a while and then carefully pull the two halves of the mould apart and you should have a slip cast version of whatever object you were using.

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Twilight

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I’ve been meaning to post this work for a while but somehow never got round to  it. The title Twilight refers to being in the twilight years of life and the embroidered images show members of my family based on old photographs I inherited from my grandmother. All of the images show elderly people except for the middle section which shows my grandmother as a young girl then an adult and then a young girl again as a representation of the regression to a child-like state with illnesses such as alzheimer’s and dementia. The middle oval is also embroidered with names in a similar way to that in which photographs are labelled as an aid to memory.

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NTU Degree shows

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Bronte Benson

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This is another post I’ve been meaning to do for a while but I’ve been super busy, anyway it’s here now! Here are some highlights from the NTU degree shows which showed work across all of the creative courses from fine art to fashion and graphic design. My favourites were Josie Johnson’s maze like copper piping and Fleur Spedding’s eerie disconnected body parts.

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Josephine Johnson

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Fleur Madeleine Freya Spedding

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Amy Marie Sweeney

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Anna Jordan

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Nikkita Palmer

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Josey Mendez

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Mikey Womack

Painting with Light

This one is a super-quick tutorial which I’m sure loads of you will have already tried, but for those of you who haven’t it’s a pretty fun thing to experiment with! To ‘paint with light’, Picasso style all you need is a camera which you can adjust the shutter speed on so that you can set a really slow shutter speed, and ideally a tripod to keep the camera still.

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It’s as simple as setting the camera up and pressing the shutter and then moving lights around in front of it in whatever patterns you like. These ones were done with sparklers but it works with torches (even the torch on your phone) and coloured lights can look really cool.

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Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences at The Herbert

Those of you who follow my blog will probably already know that I have a slight obsession with Grayson Perry so I snapped up the chance to go and see a display of the six tapestries that  make up his social commentary on class structures in Britain, The Vanity of Small Differences, in Coventry yesterday. I had previously seen the fifth tapestry, The Upper Class at Bay at The Whitworth last year, but had never seen the others in the flesh before, and seeing all six together was amazing!

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The six tapestries follow the story of Tim Rakewell as he progresses through the class hierarchy to reach his eventual fame and death, and they heavily borrow from William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress which shows the life of Tom Rakewell. In fact, Perry pays homage to Hogarth by including his dog, Trump, in each tapestry. These tapestries are the result of research carried out in the three part Channel 4 programme All in the Best Possible Taste which is well worth a watch for a bit of added insight into the symbolism in the works.

The Adoration of the Cagefighters

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This first tapestry shows Tim as a baby reaching for his mother’s phone as she gets ready for a night out with her friends in their working class living room, whilst the grandmother waits to babysit. (By the way, if anyone can shed any light on what is going on with granny’s leg please please please tell me it’s driving me mad!!) Tim is seen a second time in this tapestry as he waits at the bottom of the stairs as an older child underneath a framed photo of his absent father – this can be read as pretty autobiographical, the father is even on a motorcycle which is pretty significant to Grayson Perry’s own life.

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The Agony in the Car Park

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Tim appears in this tapestry which shows Sunderland twice again – once with his step-grandfather in the allotments and again cringing as his stepfather sings at a local club. The tale of this tapestry is that Tim’s stepfather is being promoted and the couple waiting at the bottom right are the call centre manager and Mrs Thatcher who are inducting the family into the middle class.

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Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close

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This tapestry shows Tim as a university student with his middle class girlfriend after some sort of fall out with his parents. Jamie Oliver, who Grayson refers to as ‘the god of social mobility’ watches over the scene as Tim becomes more middle class and enters the world of the dinner party.

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The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal

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In this tapestry, the newspaper headlines tell of Tim’s financial success as his eco-friendly well dressed family lounge in their upper-middle class home. One of my favourite parts of this image is the self-portrait in the mirror on the wall which is references Jan Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Marriage.

The Upper Class at Bay

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This tapestry shows Tim as the owner of a stately home whilst the aristocrat who he has bought out lies tattered and attacked on the ground with the dogs of fuel bills, social change and upkeep tearing away at him.

#Lamentation

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The final tapestry shows Tim with his new girlfriend as he lies dead after a car crash and the expensive contents of the car lie strewn across the road. The off-duty nurse who holds him as he dies is wearing the same outfit as his mother was in tapestry one as Tim’s life has come full circle.

I love the narrative that flows through Grayson’s work and the hidden symbols that are present in every tapestry making them all so rich in detail. The exhibition ends this Sunday 3rd July so you haven’t got long to catch it, but I would really recommend it if you have chance. It’s also pretty fun to find Grayson’s signature in each tapestry as it is hidden in each one.