Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Day The Dunnock Died

Little soul in a grey chest
You died in my hand
Once you sang for spring
And flew on those dun wings under the sun

Today you trembled at the roadside
And lay your last heartbeat in my palm
Your graphite claws clasped in prayer as you left.
Here is my pencil prayer to you.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Mad Hatter Clock and some spring fairs

GREETINGS from amid the paintbrushes! I grow industiouser and industriouser this month, with many lovely commissions to complete and work to prepare for exhibitions hither and thither. There doesn't seem to be quite enough time to get it all done, but deadlines always add the extra nudge of fear necessary for this particular last minute artist to complete her work on time.
There's something about April it seems which makes us get out our dusting cloths and our mouldering motivations and fling all that thought it could still crouch by the winter fire out onto the sunny doorstep and into spring busyness.

March madness and the whiff of Wonderland about has meant that many Alice-themed things have been going on of late. I am delighted to announce that I will be contributing this just-completed Mad Hatter Clock to an Alice In Wonderland exhibition beginning on April the 18th at the wonder-ful Imagine Gallery in Suffolk where I exhibited work last year. My clock will be in excellent company indeed, as it is to be sharing wall space with my friend the immensely talented artist/paper automata maker Lindsey Carr, and the writer/illustrator extraordinaire Jackie Morris who also happens to own one of my early Once Upon O'Clocks. There will be ceramics, masks, paintings, photography, Arthur Rackham and Mabel Lucie Attwell prints and goodness-know-what-else. But I am most excited of all that John Foley the gallery owner has managed to procure for our delight the actual original seven-years-in-the-making Alice In Wonderland painting by Bulgarian illustrator Iassen Ghiuselev, whose book I wrote about some time ago. I can't wait to peer at the brush strokes and marvel up close at his Bruegel/Escher-like gouache-on-wood Wonderland.

~ ~ ~

Anyway, here for those of you who can't make it to Suffolk, is The Mad Hatter Clock. He peers with more than a hint of lunacy into his cup of tea. And in the tea his own gravestone-toothed grin is reflected back at him past the ticking hands of a backwards-clock. And all around, against a checkerboard background wind words from the tale:

"If you knew Time as well as I do", said the Hatter,
"you wouldn't talk about wasting
it. It's him."

The Number 13, an escapee from the clock face perhaps, sits in place of the usual 10/6 hat price.
This is larger than my clocks usually are, though not as large as last year's. I don't know what the wood is, it was kindly sent to me in the post by my friend Sarah.
Hollowing out the backs of these clocks has become a blister-inducing job and a half, and takes even longer when the clock spindle is shorter (as is the case with reverse movements). And so I was very pleased with these drill attachments (picture below, top right), a birthday gift from my brother. Forstner bits they're called, they drill flat bottomed holes and make my clockmaking life much easier!
Here below are some snippets from the clockmaking and painting progress, do click to enlarge:

Wonderland lends itself to oddness in perspective I think, and I enjoyed playing with strange proportions, diminishing words and slightly untrue checks to add to the sense of nuttiness.

And here it is finished, on a sunny afternoon bench, ticking away the hours:

(do click to enlarge)

You may notice the first instance of a second hand in one of my Once Upon O'Clocks, which I like very much.. it is nice to see it moving anticlockwise around the Hatter's cuppa.

Here are a few more close-ups of the distressed paint surface ...

(do click to enlarge)

And a mad green stare...

As well as exhibitions, with spring come fairs.. May fairs and Wood fairs. Over there on the right (up a bit... yes, there) ---> I have pinned a few fliers for the Things My Work Will Be At over the next month or two, so do come along if you are in the areas.

And so I return to the painting table, where numerous pieces of primed hardboard, hand milled watercolour paper and wood await me... Time is Ticking! But which way?