Sunday, 28 February 2010

Wall of death at SECC Glasgow

It is two weeks since I saw this show - please have a look at the blog now updated for 14th February if you want to know more.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Application application

Diana Hand

Detail from screen print December 2009

Yesterday I sent off catalogue entry for the British Craft Trade Fair, held in April. This is a big decision, because choosing an image now commits me to working within a certain framework. I chose an image from work done about two months ago. I like this work, it can be interpreted in different ways. It should also be fairly straightforward to build on the simple shapes and textures.

Screenprint on paper for FVOS

I now have to start putting my main energy into preparing for this show. This includes making some samples and planning for the presentation. I am experimenting with the photostencil system which is not set up and ready to go in the workshop! Tomorrow I will do some test strips.

I am also committing myself to the Forth Valley Open Studios event, which is to take place in mid June this year for the first time.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Snow stops play

No possibility of going anywhere today after great amount of snow overnight. So I am working at home on the laptop making decisions about which image to use for the British Craft Trade Fair catalogue.
The show is from 11th to 13th April in Harrogate, but final date for catalogue entry is tomorrow. I was planning to drive to workshop today to take more photos, but no chance in this weather.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Places and spaces

I went to Edinburgh today, as usual I felt so relieved to be in the print workshop, where everyone is focussed and intent on what they are doing, and we are all on the "same page". It is quite difficult to keep that focus up in the usual day to day situations. It is easy to be pulled off course or distracted, it is easy to get exhausted.

I also enjoy glancing at the beautiful shops, and the treat of going into Pret A Manger for a miso soup and baguette.

king on the litho stone today, I realised how important the brain-sweating processes of recent weeks have been. Looking at the dimensions of Tschumi's thinking (as interpreted by me!) I can move between space, event, movement, and add on place and sensation as well. This is a kind of vocabulary which helps me translate my preoccupations, passions and particular experiences. I am thinking of a trip I made to Berlin 4 years ago in early March 2006.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Ellie Collins, painter

When I was in
North Lincolnshire at the Ropewalk Gallery this week, I saw an exhibition of paintings by Ellie Collins. These paintings absolutely glowed with a sense of real enjoyment and feeling, to which these photos do not do justice. Each painting magically depicts the sensations and preoccupations of Jason, an autistic boy, over a period of 45 minutes.

The most wonderful thing was the way Ellie related to Jason and how she has privileged and clarified his experience of the world and done it with humour and understanding. I also enjoyed the way she is not afraid to paint feelings and sensations, and particularly that she was addressing the experience of an autistic person. Ellie is the Education Officer for the Ropewalk. Ellie's blog for this exhibition is at

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Building a light box for photostencils

I want to make a light box for my workshop so that I can make photostencils. This means that I can print drawings and finer detail than is possible when using brushes and other media on fabric. I might find it useful for paper printing as well.

I am going to use an old Ikea wooden storage chest. I will use 275W photolight bulbs bought from Jessops online. The printmaking workshop have kindly given me the contact for the photoemulsion. I may need to build the wooden chest up a bit higher so that the lights spread out evenly. I have had a heavy sheet of glass cut to size and bought the lamp fittings to hold the bulbs.

The exposure time required is going to be hard to work out. I anticipate finger-freezing and frustrating experiments in a chilly workshop!

Tschumi and deconstruction

One big plus of a day away on the train is relaxed time to read. I had with me a book on structuralism and post-structuralism by Madan Sarup. I read chapters about Lacan and Derrida, and did so with real interest and increased understanding.

The project I am working on in the Tschumi project has made me look again at these ideas. His work at Parc de la Villette can be described as a deconstruction of a particular architectural vocabulary, namely constructivism, as mentioned earlier. He had already challenged traditional architecture by introducing methods from other media such as film and theatre in the Manhattan Transcripts, and therefore incorporating an active element into architectural design.

His architecture became a fluid "text" equally interpretable by designer and viewer. This is different
from the traditional notion of a finished "work". Kiaer, the artist mentioned previously in this blog, is also creating art as an incomplete "text".

Emporium exhibition at Barton on Humber

Diana Hand, "Emporium" Wall hangings - Dye on wool

This week I went to visit a gallery in Barton-on-Humber. This is a very old town (pre-Domesday Book), on the south bank of the river Humber. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was an important manufacturing centre of traditional industries. These included boat building, cycle manufacture, engineering, chemicals and malting. (

The ropemaking industry that supplied ropes for the merchant and naval shipping for 200 years, including WW2, closed in 1990s, and all that now remains is the long, long shed where they used to process the
hemp and manila to make all kinds of rope. This brick building is now the splendid Ropewalk contemporary art complex ( They are showing some of my textile pieces in the shop/gallery (see above).

When I made these pieces I was thinking of the past and its traces in the present. "Emporion" is the Greek for "traveller". The Emporium in Ancient Rome was the landing place and market for merchandise transported up the river Tiber from Ostia, the main port for Rome. The area gradually became part of a system of quays and warehouses extending for a kilometre along the river. Now only fragments and traces remain. I did not know about the maritime history of Barton, but it is also a place that has seen great changes and shifts in its relationship with the river Humber and the port of Kingston-upon-Hull.

It is now a quiet town, its medieval streets deserted during the mid-week afternoon I was there. On the return journey to Scotland I stopped at York for an hour and the contrast was so marked. York, also a medieval city, but with a completely different history and situation, is larger and now very prosperous. The streets are lined with boutiques and gourmet restaurants, and the Minster towers over all.

And... lest we forget
War memorial at Kingston-upon-Hull

Monday, 15 February 2010

Elaine Brechin - paper maker and artist

I saw this this work by Elaine Brechin by chance while I was in Glasgow last week. She has used paper, collage and ink drawing to make these pieces (each about 1000 x 30 mm). I very much like the Chinese influence and the free way in which she has worked.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A History of the World in 100 Objects

This is a super series (podcast icon above). Neil McGregor takes you right back in history and tells how each object was made, what its purpose was (whether practical or social), and what the meaning is for contemporary society.

In particular he addresses perennial issues of power and climate change.

Wall of Death - a way of life

Stephen Skyrnka "Stagger in wonder as the Red Shoes dance for you eternally"

There were many dimensions to this complex show at the SECC, Glasgow. Ostensibly, it was a celebration of the Ken Fox Troupe,, who are almost unique in their motor bike show. This act demands immense courage and balance as well as mechanical skill.

Ken Fox travel all over Europe as well as appearing on TV and in other venues, such as this National Theatre of Scotland production with Stephen Skrynka. Skyrnka is a Glasgow performance artist with an interest in over-looked skills. He worked as a taxi driver in Glasgow, accepting performances from passengers in lieu of payment, and he drove a hearse equipped with tanning bed (inside a coffin) from Glasgow to Paris, exchanging a free tan top-up in exchange for views on the afterlife. In "Wall of Death" he is attempting to become a competent biker for the show.

We as audience moved from one completely black area to another, each vivdly lit by a fairground display and then the gate to the Wall itself, where a barker introduced the Fox family and their story. From there it was a short climb up the steps to the drum and the reeking smell of the bikes revving up - and then the fleeting but brilliantly skilled display itself.

There is so much to say about this evening and I cannot do it justice. I experienced the evening as a preview of mortality and a comment on the fragility of life, perhaps understandably in view of Srkynka's past form. Fairgrounds are ephemeral and escapist. An act such as Wall of Death
has a more primitive appeal as well, an intense closeness to risk that satisfies primitive instincts.

RIP Alexander McQueen

What a shock to lose this wonderful couturier. His clothes were real art works. He has been an inspiration to all of us who love exciting exquisite clothes, beautifully made. I am so sorry for his family and everyone who knew him. And for the loss to the world fashion industry.

A model wears a McQueen dress in Paris 2009

Out to lunch -

This week I had the rare pleasure of visiting a top class restaurant - The Kitchin in Edinburgh.

The food and service was exquisite.

Here is the pudding - a fabulous rhubarb crumble. Fortunately I happened to have my camera with me!

Bernard Tschumi "La Case Vide"

Bernard Tschumi, La Case Vide "the fragments of the cube relocate to form a combinatory matrix of folies"
(1985) (click on image for better view)

with effort to understand ideas of Bernard Tschumi, I have looked back at the work done for my written Masters degree in 2003. After 7 years I find I now have a deeper understanding of my interests, particularly in so-called Deconstructivist Architecture, and in how space shapes our experiences (and we shape it?).

I can now read my written work with a critical interest not available to me at that pressurised time in my life. I hope I can build on this work, both in writing and in artwork. For me the two processes inform each other. It is very exciting to revisit my writing and to have a medium, such as lithography or drawing, in which to explore the ideas further.

The illustration above shows how Tschumi took separate elements, many of them derived from his drawings for Manhattan Transcripts, and reassembled them in different combinations to create the ambiguous red "folies" which punctuate the Parc de la Villette.

Many commentators say that, far from being radically new and examples of the radical philosophy of deconstructivism, these folies look similar to the drawings and ideas of Constructivism, the post revolutionary Russian movement. This may be so, but it is a circuitous route as there is a direct connection with the elements from Manhattan Transcripts.

I have booked an overnight trip to Paris in early March, courtesy the very low cost airline, Ryanair, so that I can see this Parc again. I do not like Ryanair, nor do I wish to increase my carbon footprint more than necessary, but this time am making an exceptiion lol.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Tschumi again

Bernard Tschumi Drawing from Manhattan Transcripts

Bernard Tschumi believed, when he wrote Manhattan Transcripts in the 1980s, that architecture should acknowledge that it is as much about events and movement, as it is about space. This drawing shows three dimensions of architecture. This series of drawings was shown in an art context in New York before Tschumi was practising as an architect.

In his first built project, Parc de la Villette in Paris (1983), he had the opportunity to try his approach. He designed the Parc by superimposing three layers, a grid representing static space, a ground plan representing different activities, and curvilinear shapes representing movement.

Bernard Tschumi Concept for Parc de la Villette, Paris

Plan of built Parc de la Villette

Folie in Parc de la Villette

His drawings for both MT and the Parc are atttractive, and his writings very interesting. I wanted to take these and translate them into media such as print on paper and fabric. But I now realise that this is very difficult. Tschumi has radical ideas about architecture, and his drawings are complex conceptual explorations of his theory. It is meaningless to use the "style" without proper understanding or purpose.

I like Tschumi's three dimensional approach of the plan, the event and the movement. However, I am finding it a challenge to translate it into my way of thinking and working. I wonder also if his schema is relevant to me at all and whether I am in fact more interested in the subjective experience of space and buildings.

Diana Hand

Drawing charcoal and other media

This approach, however, says something rather different about architecture. It is a romantic comment on "the secret life of buildings" and the fragments of memory they contain.
But, to be continued, it is also about how we experience space and buildings - of all kinds.