Pie Factory Studios exhibition

A busy autumn period for me culminated in a group exhibition at the Pie Factory, Margate. Though a mere pop-downstairs from the studio, I had managed to volunteer myself to curate the exhibition—I had never done this before.

It is an interesting space, consisting of four unique, joined rooms, each with its own distinct personality. Some walls are flat, painted white, others have original tiling from when the building was a pie factory, while another is raw, crumbling brickwork.

I had no real idea how many or what kind of works would be arranged on those walls until the first morning of the hang. Everything from table mats and posters, to large paintings, to illuminated glass sculpture, had to be arranged into the four rooms with some logical, flow.

I expected some battling with artists, fighting with hanging systems, and a great deal of changing things around until they came together in a form that felt right. In a great part due to the lovely artists involved, It was a far less stressful experience that I expected.

The unique arrangement of rooms at the Pie Factory are a bonus in arranging and grouping the widely contrasting works into some logical order. I thought maybe to theme each space, but that proved impossible due to the diversity of the works. But each room had a distinct feel, and none of the works felt crowded or out of place. Guests appeared to enjoy their visits, and the artists seemed happy with my curation. Phew!

Hindsight brings some reconsideration of some of the hanging decisions, but so minor I doubt anyone would notice. It will be interesting if I am able to do this again next year. The experience gave me a fresh respect for curators, and I want to do more.

Artists who took part:

Neil Dixon, Jenny Duff, Don Eachells, David Mulett, Francesca Souza, Sweet Potato & Friends, Graham Ward, Helen Whitehead, Claire Youngs.

Comforting diversions

It’s a busy Autumn. November sees a group exhibition of The Pie Factory Artists, late October is The Pie Factory Margate open studios (in a few days), and we’ve recently ended the SGFA’s annual open exhibition DRAW18 in London. Other work is also heating up.

Aimless creative play is vital, particularly when most of my time, creatively or otherwise, is spent in long-session, detailed and intensive focused work. With a couple of large, detailed, intensive artworks completed, I thought it time to play a little: ease the pressure, enjoy the process for no other reason than the hell of it.

Drawing for the sake of it is freeing, yet difficult to justify in a buy world that demands every waking moment is functional and earning. More affirming activities take a back seat too often: it’s a daily battle for me.

A few fun images was the result of hours of “just doing it” (and a few pieces of paper in the recycling bin). I think I need to actively schedule some of this time into my week. It was fun.

Another one done

Another solo exhibition is done, works are either off to new homes or once again wrapped in storage. Its a strange feeling.

If you have ever put together a solo event, you’ll have some idea of how much effort is involved in making it happen. Most artists will appreciate how much we put into what sometimes appears to be just a matter of sticking a bunch of works up on a wall. It is deceptively straightforward.

This year’s show at Ramsgate’s York Street Gallery was well received, and, thankfully, some sales. I am already thinking about something special for next year.

The current post-exhibition breathing space offers low-pressure creative time. In place of planned, structured, deadline work, the studio schedule consists of random experiments and playtime with different and new materials. There’s usually so little time for such no-pressure playtime.

Pastels anonymised

I de-labeled all my soft pastels.

Pastels are glorious: intense colour held together with a minimum of binder. Their purity is their super-power but also their flaw.

The re-organised pastel box – for now…

Quality soft pastels are expensive, and I find myself overly preoccupied by which brand I’m currently scraping across the paper. Brief thoughts wondering how much that sky just cost, clutter thinking and interrupt focus.

Yesterday I did two things: reorganised my studio pastel storage (a regular task, particularly when there are a few new arrivals); tore off all the labels.

Of course it’s not hard to distinguish the make of a pastel once in your fingers. Size, shape, feel, colour intensity all point to its origins. But no labels mean the primary consideration is colour – exactly how it should be.