Monday, 1 July 2019

plastic design

My mother's training in graphics and packaging meant that items of design would appear in our home from time to time. This plastic lampshade arrived with us in the 1970s - flat packed and in bits. It was trickier to construct than any Ikea equivalent.  We were encouraged to help out in its manufacture, seeing it as a game. Consequently I never really registered this item as a valid design object until recently.

On a visit to the Nordic Craft and Design exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery I spotted our lampshade on show.
It's immensely pleasing to know that this old plastic object is a piece of late 1960s Danish design by Lars Schiøler 

Lars Schiøler - Butterfly light 1968

The Butterfly pendant is hanging in my office studio. Pride of place.

Does anyone have any design information on this other shade?

Monday, 10 June 2019

found drawing: jet trail

One fine evening.....a jet trail directly overhead, illuminated pink by the sinking sun. It was remarkable to see this pink line dominating the sky centre stage, and to see it float diagonally rightward, and in a short time, fade to blue and bluer...then nothing. 

More found drawings at drawdrawdraw on Pinterest

photos: Helen Birch

Friday, 7 June 2019

a North Devon visit

Researching and writing my newest botanial drawing, painting and illustration book has meant a new interest in garden and wild plants.
various language versions
UK/US English version should be out January 2020*

The focus of a recent north Devon holiday meant visits to gardens and artists' studios + lots of photo opportunities. 

Edited list and pics:

Hartland Abbey
Tapeley Park

photos: Helen Birch


The delightful Ann and Bill Jarvis at Clovelly Silk.
My own surface pattern deign beginnings meant it was a treat to chat to Ann about her years as head of studio at Liberty London, and to Bill about devoré print techniques...and all manner of non-related things. 


...and more print talk with Lydia Jane Duncan at Candyland Studios just down the hill in Clovelly where her studio shop is located in a beautiful fisherman's cottage.

photos from Candyland Studio's Instagram

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

drawn cd covers (ongoing)

holiday art - unknown artist

Three original ink / watercolour drawings situated on the wall of our holiday villa in Lanzarote. So delighted to see them there.

1976 on one of them, and an indecipherable signature on all of them.

Familiar to anyone? I'd like to find out more about the artist.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Leo's volcano drawing

The red and black colours of Lanzarote's volcanic landscape were a recent treat.

Leo - aged 5 wasn't on the trip but pretty much captured it...though I didn't climb any peaks brandishing a sword!

Thursday, 18 April 2019

places that have never existed

Steve Oliver's exhibition 'Best Muscle' - currently showing at HOME Fri 29 Mar 2019 – Sun 26 May 2019 piqued my interest recently.

I've long been fascinated by ordinary places -  the unnoticed, the banal, the forgotten - and most usually spaces devoid of human presence.

This work added a new twist: these are images of places that have never existed.

"Steve’s photographic works form the major part of his practice. They are made exclusively in-computer (no cameras) with material sourced from Internet searches. This process unfolds over many months, as the elements are searched out and piloted alongside each other in the emergent compositions." source

we'll all be laughing....
3 hours of gentle night
The good archer
The ecstasy of candy
Tiny hands

"In contrast to the implied three-dimensionality of the photographic image, these works give only a collection of surfaces that do not neatly allow the illusion to take; though they also demand that one is prepared to look carefully."

"This is why they must be encountered in the flesh, and lose something vital to their reading when seen through a screen."

Steve was born in Manchester, England in 1981. He received his MA in Fine Art from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2015. He teaches in the School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford, and works out of Rogue Artist Studios CIC.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

drawing to sound workshop

I've run drawing to sound workshops before. You can find a sample of one of the prepared soundscape collages here: 

The previous soundscape was tweaked for this particular session. 
Some of the more alarming, shocking, surprising or less harmonious sound samples were removed.

This session was delivered for HerArt which was set up to provide arts and crafts activities, workshops and courses in the Greater Manchester community. 

'The impact of all of the creative ideas, play and possibilities generated through HerArt helps reduce isolation, increase skills and improve wellbeing.'

The session was divided in to sections:

1. an introduction to mark making possibilities with the drawing kit to hand - mostly pencil, coloured crayon, pastels, felt tip pens ie dry media. 

Lots of play, experimentation and possibilities...nothing pictoral. 
Whether you think you can draw or not - all can participate in this session.

2. The sound collage was played.

Selection of colour, materials, shapes, rhythms, mark making, use of paper space etc was dependent only on participants' sense of what they could hear - how they felt the sounds might look when interpreted visually.

These are some of the results....

3. Everyone displayed their mark making. Lots of discussion ensued:

Positives - how fast the time liberating the exercise playfulness was relaxing, that anyone could join in

Negatives - how others might judge these experiments...
"What are these supposed to be?" etc

4. Participants chose ways to remedy the problem of what these mark making sheets were 'meant to be' by making them in to 
design sheets...

experimental collages...


or reconfigured images...