Monday, 9 June 2014

Royal Shakespeare Company & Who Wears the Trousers?

Earlier this year I was contacted by Lisa Meyer from Capsule after she was invited to curate an exhibition for the Royal Shakespeare Company inspired by the Swan Theatre production of The Roaring Girl. The central character from The Roaring Girl is the notorious thief Moll Cutpurse who dresses in men's clothing. Lisa wanted to work with Girls Who Draw on an interative family friendly exhibition which explored cross dressing in theatre. Her idea for the exhibition was a series of wooden blocks with life size characters on each side. The blocks would each be divided into three moveable sections so they could be turned and the characters mixed up like a three dimensional exquisite corpse. Luckily designing and making the blocks was not my job, I just had to create a set of three characters, find seven other illustrators to draw characters and organise getting all the artwork from them. Not only did we each have to produce full colour artwork but we also had to provide black and white line art for activity sheets. It was definitely a challenge but a really interesting project and a great opportunity to work with some regular Girls Who Draw contributors as well as new ones.

Much of my illustrative work is inspired by folk art and craft from around the world so I wanted my characters to reflect this. But many traditional costumes follow the norm of skirts or dresses for women and trousers for men. The main exception to this seems to be India where, in many regions trousers are part of traditional dress for both men and women. These styles have remained popular and also influenced contemporary Indian clothing so that they do not appear unusual or novel even here in the UK.

My female characters are inspired by Odissi and Bharatanatyam dancers with their ornate jewellery, head dresses and trousers with pleats which open and close during dances. By contrast my male character is inspired by Kathak dancers and in particular the simpler Mughal style of costume.


All twenty four finished characters were printed onto self adhesive vinyl and installed on eight wooden blocks along with mirrored vinyl so one side of each block is reflective. The wooden blocks were the work Joseph Welden who always seems to be able to make even the most challenging ideas a reality. Just as required he made the blocks in sections so they can be turned and also put things inside so the make a noise when moved.  

The characters can still be seen and heard in the Who Wears the Trousers? exhibition at the Royal Shakespeare Company until August 31st 2014.

Who Wears the Trousers? 
Ferguson Room
Swan Theatre
Stratford upon Avon

Monday, 19 May 2014

Anti Copying in Design

I am now a member of ACID - Anti Copying in Design. ACID was created to uphold the value of original design and over the last two decades it has become a powerful campaigning voice within the design community. ACID is committed to raising awareness and a greater understanding of intellectual property. It's main priorities are prevention and deterrence against intellectual property infringement. As well as working hard to minimise IP infringement ACID offers a range of practical ways to help members like myself protect their designs. Through ACID I now have access to legal and IP advice from specialist Legal Affiliates. More information about ACID and membership can be found on it's website

Folk Art Forest at Prema Gallery

The new bird and flower designs I screen printed in March were for a small exhibition of my work at Prema Gallery in the Cotswolds. I enjoy working three dimensionally with paper and card so displaying my framed screen prints in large cabinets was the perfect opportunity to create a colourful installation. I managed to fill the cabinets with birds and flowers and even got to reuse some of the 3d Folk Trees I made for Unit Twelve Gallery last year. 

Prema is a lovely family friendly arts centre in an idyllic location not far from Stroud in Gloucestershire. They often have exhibitions by different illustrators and also have an amazing cafe with unbelievably good cakes so I was in heaven and can't wait to go back for another visit.

Bird Tree cards

My Bird Tree design is a couple of years old now but initially I wasn't happy with it and had to redraw some parts. I've screen printed the design a few times since then and recently decided to reprint it in three different colourways using metallic inks on recycled brown kraft card. It feels like I've spent most of 2014 reprinting cards but it's quite nice to finally have all my Folk Tree designs in stock. Other cards I've updated include these Folk Tree & Bird designs which also make use of my favorite metallic inks on ivory coloured recycled card.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Spring has Sprung!

Hurray, spring is here at last and to celebrate warmer weather and longer daylight hours I have been screen-printing a new flower design. It's a fairly simple design so I can use it either individually or as a repeat pattern and produce a variety of products. The colours aren't quite right yet but can easily be changed. These flowers are printed on 300gsm eco natural recycled card which is great for both 2d and 3d work. They will be part of an installation and I have also printed a new bird design to go with them. I managed to fill the print rack with a whole flock of birds so have a lot of sticking, cutting and folding to do.

New! New Baby Cards

I am celebrating some new arrivals, Cute As A Button new baby cards! My favorite stockist, Here and Now in Falmouth, asked me for new baby cards quite a while ago but I couldn't find the time to do them until now. It's been a long wait so I am really happy to have finally finished and screen-printed this design. I like the idea of having different colours to choose from, so as well as the traditional pink and blue options I also printed the design in gender neutral green.

Bulgarian Boy and Girl

Last year I started work on a series of screen prints inspired by traditional Bulgarian dolls and costumes. I was very lucky that my Bulgarian friend bought me back some lovely wooden dolls from her summer holiday in Bulgaria. It was great to be able to see them in real life rather than just searching the internet for images. These two designs are based on the dolls and were intended to be part of the Masquerade exhibition last Autumn. Unfortunately I couldn't get them finished in time so I was really happy when the RBSA Gallery craft shop approached me about including my Polish and Bulgarian inspired screen prints in their Melting Pot exhibition. It was exactly the motivation I needed to get new cards and prints finished and ready for the first exhibition of 2014.