‘The Great Train Robbers didn’t even get this long…”
In June 2012, myself and my partner Steph had been going out for a whole 12 years. We met in Cuba Cuba (an awful follow on rock club after the closing of the Mayfair) originally as part of groups and then one day it clicked and we decided to go out. There is some conjecture regarding the date. Maybe it was the intensity of the industrial metal music, the toxicity of the weapons grade drinks or we generally lost in the moment, but neither of us can remember the date. Nominally we have placed in on June Payday. Enabling us to go out for something nice to eat
We both feel lucky to have met each other. We share a lot of interests Art, Places, Sci-fi, games and music but have enough differences that both of us have shared and enriched each others lives with. We have similiar attitudes and beliefs and both have traits for caring, fairness and objectivity. We have shared new experiences, achieved personal goals and had a good laugh along the way. Most of all there is a mutual love and insanity which drives us along personally and creatively.
For the diary entry, we didn’t want to bore people with our personal lives so thought that we would show, some of this creative madness and chaos that has been achieved in the last 12 years. So a small concertina book has been made, twelve pictures on the double sided pages. On one side a Steph creation, on the other one of mine. I will go through them picture by picture and give a little insight into other collective life, and in the end will explain how the book was created.
Steph created these wonderful knitted baked goods for a couple of my birthday presents. I have been known to eat the odd doughnut and occasionally worship at the feet of battenburg cake. The battenburg is knitted in traditional pink and yellow (internet pattern) whilst the Homer like iced doughnut with pink icing and sugar like transparent beads came from S Penny’s ’20 to make Knitted Cakes’ design book. The Castle on the right is about 6 ft tall and is on our living room wall. Whilst choosing whether to paint the room turmeric yellow or burnt orange I got carried away with swatch painting and had soon painted a chinese Joy sign…. except it was wrong. So I changed it into a Castle. It was meant to be repainted over, but its now been there for at least 7 years
After visiting a Whitby Goth Festival in 2001, Steph created this striking design of Whitby Gothic Arches on a cushion for an Embroidery exhibition. The arches are in Goldwork and satin stitch and the image is made up of three sets of arches and three columns. Simply shiny and stunning. My owl card for Stephs Birthday 2004(ish) was based on a design of a bat on the excellent website of pop-up guru Robert Sabuda. Using some very basic v-folds with some back folds to make the wings stick out it had a pleasing effect. I used some very straightforward card as well which gave the card a children’s book like feel. Was meant to be first of many to join together, but only this and a weather card was made.
As a present for a leaving workmate Ben, Steph created from scratch a Trumpet in February 2010. Crocheted in gold thread, with only a scribbled 2D design to work from she made an amazing 3D version perfectly formed in fairly quick time. As you may have noticed many of my boxes are kind of freeform and evolve (also from scribbly designs) but every so often, I build something recognisable. About 2005 I put a few box elements together and built a doorway prototype quickly followed for valentines day by a blue version. This time more temple like with columns and heart imprinted doors (I will explain about these in a future blog)
As I mentioned above we are big Sci-fi fans, so there was always the chance I would get a geeky knitted item at some point. Birthday 2009 I opened a box to this surprise, a knitted Dalek. Using the pattern Extermiknit from http://www.entropy.com and using a taupe like colour, this was Stephs first attempt at knitting for a number of years. Its a loveable thing with its slightly droopy eyestalk, but it guards the study with ruthless efficiency. The blue picture is yet another one of my doodles. Using dark blue card I started doodling with a silver pen creating the familiar boxed cityscape. After initially outlining I started filling in the boxes top down but got bored and decided to give up. Leaving half the boxes blank. This makes the picture. The snippet taken shows the point when the cluttered becomes minimalist just as the sun breaks through.
In 2012 Steph created a card for her friend Marie that was simply stunning and I was so jealous I didn’t think of it. She created a sun like effect by layering a number of complimentary coloured paper circles on a dark blue card. Each circle decreased in size, and had either segments cut from its edge or shapes cut out from its body. Once layered and held in place by a single punched brad it was so effective. The painting on the right, is of the river that runs through Wilton House. I took a photograph when I first visited the Classical Firework event held there in 2001. Painted in acrylics I tried to convey my calmness and peacefulness of this area (before the Pimms debacle a few years later)
For another embroidery exhibition (2012) based on the topic ‘My Favourite Things’, Steph created six small pictures of artworks of her favourite artist Andy Goldsworthy. The one we have included is based on a Cone sculpture which can be found in Gateshead Sculpture Park only 25 minutes walk from where we live. The design is created by using Split Stitch and French Knots. The Penguin to the right was a Valentine ‘card’ in 2011. I had made a previous version for Stephs birthday of a purple penguin holding a kite supported by a wire. This smaller version was created (using the same design) in metallic blue card. This time a ‘balloon’ like origami heart was attached to the wire and for a finishing touch a small metallic heart was stuck onto the penguins chest using a rudimentary concertina card spring.
So why a book? Recently I have started collecting some bookbinding books which had some great but complex designs but I wanted to do something easier. Influenced by some stunning little books I got at the last Lime Street Open Studio, I decided to make a small book with 6 folded pages to depict the artwork on both sides held together by a cover. The process was easy, photos of work were identified and cropped appropriately. Each image is 3.86 cm square. These were put into 2 lines on Word depicting our differing work. One line was rotated until it was upside down and touching the top of the other line. The images were printed on cotton like paper, giving texture and a bit of strength. The whole rectangle was cut out as one, with the addition of a couple of tabs at either end. The rectangle was then folded down the line of the two sets of images and glued into place creating one single line of double sided images. Once dried, a concertina fold was made along each individual image. The cover are two 5cm squares of black mounting board with two slightly smaller squares of black card. The smaller squares have a single cut so that a clean pocket could be created for attaching the image concertina.
The last job was to create some images for each end cover. we decided that we would each design an initial letter for each other. To reflect our differences but also to keep a little uniformity the images were the same size but would take the form of a square and a circle. Stephs B design used adjectives that would spell of my name and this was done of a piece of paper, which has had a light brown watercolour wash and then written upon in brown fine liner. I was allowed to create the B shape in line with what I had done with the S. The circle S goes back to Stephs obsession about finding the right tattoo. The Castle mural above, had evolved from a botched attempt of me painting a Joy symbol, which Steph wanted originally. Over time the design has changed and evolved to ‘Hokusai’s great wave, with horses swimming in the sea. A helter-skelter with a penguin sliding down with an apple in one fin and a kite in the other. Oh and he is shouting weeee’. I have tried to convey this (without the weeee) on the S. Done in watercolour, I tried to capture some of the colours of the original painting against the primary colour of the slide. Black fine liner is used to pick out the images.
I did mention we were crazy… Roll on another 12 years of creative partnership