hawwa | 18:42 | | | 1 Comment so far

The event was situated in Stockport, within an old factory and up many crooked stairs into large open rooms with creaking floorboards and a musty smell that followed you around everywhere you went; that of paint and charcoal and wet brushes: the scent of an artist’s sanctuary.
As I walked into the first display room I saw, to my surprise, very few people. A middle-aged woman sat on a chair (the artist), two other people who had obviously come to peruse the paintings and talk to the artists available, and my art teacher who had come with me. That was all. The rooms hummed with silence, broken only by the occasional crackle of paper and footsteps passing through rooms – it was the perfect place to observe artists at work and take a look at their creations.
My first stop was the large hall that fed off into studios inhabited by sinks, canvases and the artists in various stages of progress with their current projects. Lining the walls were canvases, sketches and paintings of all shapes and sizes, created using all mediums and portraying a wide variation of subjects; as I passed I saw acrylic paintings of apples, figure sketches, a block-style painting of a stop-sign, a small watercolour seascape and a mix-media cityscape. And that was only from standing in one spot. Everywhere I looked there was something different, something unique, something colourful or monotone or drawn only in pencil. 
Each studio was completely different, not only in size but in what was displayed and who it was owned by: old ladies, young women, middle-aged men, a husband and wife. The studio I enjoyed looking inside the most, and my favourite artist by far, was Joan Bradley, who worked with my favourite mediums and subjects: acrylic and watercolour depicting cityscapes, landscapes and occasionally seascapes. Her friendly demeanour automatically put me at ease where before I had been a little like a mouse tiptoeing around a cat’s house: she swept aside her open paints, deposited a collection of her finished sketchbooks on a table in front of me and encouraged me to take a look; talking all the while as she drew continuous lines covering her canvas, working from a blurry photo of a dancer mid-swing.
After spending almost half an hour looking through her sketchbooks and inwardly writing lists of how to improve my own based on hers, I finally dragged myself away and ventured into the farthest part of the display: a small and very dark back room lit only by a single lamp and a few candles. Inside, an enthusiastic artist obligingly explained his breath-taking creations of the Milky Way, each almost a whole wall wide and a good many feet high. Covered with what he told me was over thirty layers of paint of a special type (shiny and daintily dusted with glittery particles) his paintings were awe-inspiring and very intimidating – selling for ridiculous sums of money; of which I had no doubt of – his work was incredible. Finally, after a good couple of hours, I left, very sadly, for I had hardly even touched upon the great expanse of art available to see. The factory from the outside did not seem special, it did not stand out except as a result of its size: inside and out you could see signs of the building’s age seeping through the cracks in the walls: but what it held was a wealth of jewels. It was an Aladdin’s cave of art and I made the resolution there and then, staring up to the top of the building and into the sky; that I would go back one day and continue to find the art just waiting to be discovered.


hawwa | 18:42 | | | 5 Comments so far
31 International artists share and display their meticulously worked on pieces in large rooms within the Manchester Art Gallery. Hundreds of people visit on consecutive days: cameras snapping, eyes widening, minds filling with awe and inspiration. I go on one of the last days of the exhibition, invited by one of the artists whose work is displayed there: Nicola Daley. Her art uses maps and book pages to create feathers, and leaves of trees. It may look simple compared to all the rest of the creations displayed, but the ideas behind her work are deep and complex. My camera dies five minutes of arriving [after taking only the two photos pictured] so I only have my eyes to see and my memory to store the images surrounding me. However, this gives me more chance to grasp the meaning behind each art piece; whereas if I had had my camera, I would have looked, taken a photo, and walked on. There is an extremely wide range of things to see at the exhibition – but what astounds me is that they are all the same technique: paper cutting in books: magazines, leaves, maps, large sheets of paper, and money. There is a motorbike made entirely out of paper and an amazingly detailed construction made of hundreds and hundreds of sheets of white, blank paper.

I honestly couldn't dislike anything I saw because each piece was so varied that there was something for everyone’s tastes – and I personally could appreciate it all because having tried paper cutting before, I knew how difficult a technique it was to master. One of my favourite creations however was a large sheet of black paper cut into, to make small squares depicting different scenes of people’s everyday activities in a city. I thought it was very cleverly portrayed and the detail within it was breathtaking. During my visit I also saw a short video of some of the artists working on the pieces that were now being displayed in the exhibition halls, and talking about the concept behind them which I found fascinating. One of the art pieces I had seen had had to be cut up to be able to even fit into the gallery, and had then been carefully and painstakingly stuck back together once inside. Leaving the exhibition later on, I realized how much drive viewing all this work had given me to try my own – and a few weeks later, I had bought my first ever paper cutting knife.



hawwa | 20:04 | 7 Comments so far
Part of one of my challenges for the Silver Arts Award I am working towards is to create a piece of art, document it, review it, and receive feedback from other people on it. Therefore, above is an image of a cityscape I created using mix media, acrylic paints and ink of a self-photographed part of town near me. What I would like is if you could comment below with your feedback, criticism, likes  and dislikes for this piece of art I made. [Please be honest!]
1. What do you like about this painting?
2. What do you dislike?
3. What do you think could be improved?
+ any other thoughts/opinions.
Thank you.
the book pile