Up to the line

The final exhibition of my project #wearexperimenting is opening next Thursday from 4pm in Mackie’s corner, Sunderland. In true bohemian artist style I am still making work for it! I was still doing participation workshops for the community until mid October, but for me the important thing was to get true representation from a good cross section of the people I worked with. The more the merrier!

The last couple of weeks have been focussed on finalising the digital elements of the work. I’ll be putting art back into the Bridges shopping centre where I did two of the workshops. I want the work to be viewed and appreciated by as many people as possible, so I am wrapping a shop and a rotunda staircase in art, as well as hiring digital billboards. So exciting!

Anyone who knows me also knows that I love making things. The physical process of handling paper, chemistry, real handmade marks. This project was also about my development as an artist , so I invested some of the production budget on materials. I got XXL trays, and a naughty large roll of photographic paper. I used the darkroom tent to house the stop bath and fixer trays, and had the developer tray on a table next to the rug that I was using to set up on.

This is the first time EVER that I have had the opportunity to work at this scale. This is better than Christmas! (For me.)

I spent some time preparing digital negatives on acetate using some of my images of Sunderland structural details. I’ve always been drawn to the geometric linear designs of functional structures. Beautiful in a robust way.

The intention was to create a series of 3 or 4 large scale joiner photographs, but I have accidentally bought the wrong acetate for my laser printer. This meant that I could only make the negatives for one of the images I had prepared. Time being of the essence, I convinced Phil to help me do a print session. (He’s a really good egg!)

We took a leaf out of Graham Patteson’sbook, and had a go at some rayograms. (Don’t laugh at my little fat belly, I blame the direction of the light…)

With the paper being so expensive, I have only dared to use it after sunset. Luckily, it’s winter in the North so I can start around 5.30pm. I was donated a gigantic enlarger for my darkroom, and I had hoped to be able to create some really superb large scale prints, but I haven’t had the chance to find a good 5×7 camera. I’ve had to shelve that idea for the moment. Colossus the enlarger will be loved, just not right now.

This is my print of Penshaw Monument. I like the joiner method of enlargement because you can really mess about with the construction of the image. The strobing is created by the mismatched digital negatives overlaying each other. I like the repeated legs of the man as well. I need to get new acetate to produce more images for the series.

Not wanting to waste the prepared chemistry, (each tray takes 6 litres of solution), Phil and I decided to have some fun experiments. I grabbed a load of loo rolls and plastic for recycling just to have a go at an abstract pattern. Phil is a glass blower so I suggested that we create an image using his work.

I think a collaboration with the glass artists I know might be a nice project to do next. Rayograms of artists with glass objects they’ve made. I’ll get this project finished first though!

The size of these prints makes it a near impossible task to do alone. I needed the extra arms and strength to empty the trays for more chemistry. Needless to say, it’s a good job our studio is an industrial work space! We both got a bit drenched!

I can’t wait to get back in to do more. We’ll be heading in around 5.30pm. I’ll be using the same digital negatives but aim for a more refined image. Unfortunately, the large glass table top we saved from the skip, that I’m using to contact the digital negatives is scratched to bits, and it shows in the prints. Tonight we’ll do thinner but longer prints so I can use a better piece of glass.

If you want to see the final works, please check out http://wearexperimenting.co.uk for more information.

I’m both happy and sad that the end is in sight. The commissioners, the participants, the community groups and leaders, the assistants, the volunteers, and my Phil- I most definitely did not do this alone. I’m so proud of everything we’ve achieved so far. Here’s to ending on a high!

😍😍😍😍😍😍😍

http://JoHowellArt.com

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