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Welcome to the 31 Art blog


Each week one of our artists will post a blog

By justanact51, May 15 2015 05:38PM

Andy Johnson, one Sunday evening, got off the number 12 bus in Kemp Town, Brighton, and left a folder of his lovely artwork on the bus! He was rather distracted at the time, and that made him absent minded. He was coming to see me, but also was delivering his work to be part of the Artist Open Houses in Brighton for a deadline of the following Saturday.

A kind passenger on that same bus, David Dalziel, discovered the art, and started a search to find its owner. He tried to trace the artist on Facebook. Posting a picture of a painting of Newhaven from the Downs. The Facebook page was shared nearly 4,000 times as people across Sussex tried to track down this mystery artist!

Unfortunately Andy was not on Facebook, but luckily David also contacted the bus lost property office, the police, and was also interviewed by the Argus newspaper who ran the story trying to find this mystery artist. There was a happy ending, as a week later Andy got reunited with his art, and met David (because we had contacted the bus company and the police) Unfortunately this was after the deadline for the Artist Open House he planned to exhibit in, and they had already hung up their paintings.

Now 31Art has come to his rescue! In the last two weeks of Artists Open Houses (16th - 17th May and 23rd -24th May) Andy is going to exhibit his beautiful paintings with us. What a story!

We can’t thank David Dalziel, the art work saviour enough, not forgetting the bus lost property office, the Argus, and the Police.

Come and see Andy’s lovely paintings at 31Art!

Here is the first Argus article and the second Argus article.

By justanact51, May 8 2015 05:57PM

With the landslide victory to the Conservative party today it looks like this country is in for another 5 years of rhetoric about the privatisation of the NHS, and restructuring of the benefit system. A few weeks ago I took part in a free portrait photography workshop organised by IdeasTap. In case you've never heard of them IdeasTap is a charity focused on helping young people (ie those under 30 years old) in the creative industries. I'm no spring chicken, but its doors are also open to older creative types depending on the form of the project. The tragic news, which I cant help but feel is a reflection of the narrow minded times we are going through, is that IdeasTap it is due to close down in June. This is a crying shame as it's a great resource for photographers, illustrators, actors, writers, and journalists.

The portrait workshop I attended was lead by Owen Harvey a photographer who has not long graduated from university. Owen's interest is in sub cultures, specifically in the club scene for skins, mods and 90's Brit-pop types. This can involve him spending all night in a club, capturing couples dancing in the heat of the moment. He does not like to hide in the shadows, but make a statement with his bulky camera and flash gun. In these clubs he is the unofficial resident photographer for the night, the partying crowd cannot help but be aware of him. For his personal work he uses film, working 'old school', avoiding anything automatic. This approach pays dividends feeding into his commercial work for companies like Fred Perry and Sony Music, which he shoots on digital.

There were 11 of us on the course a mixture of graphic designers, actors, scientists, film makers, curators and - oh yes - the odd photographer. The day was divided into three main sessions - a general discussion in the morning about portrait photography, a practical session where a group of us were sent out into the streets of Bermondsey to photograph strangers, and a studio session where we got to grips with the use of flash, focal length, lights and the light meter.

I was truly out of my comfort zone venturing into the real world to stop people in their tracks and ask if I can take their portrait. The work I am showing in our Open House show is cool and abstract, human beings are not really the focus of attention. In those photographs you are only aware of a foot or leg or a figure in the distance.

So there I was, being asked to confront perfect strangers and ask them if I can take their photograph. A whole range of scenarios passed through my mind; being completely ignored, being accused of stalking, being flatly told no. I simply expected people to be very suspicious. To my surprise most people were OK about it. Some people were actually quite pleased to be asked. I did find it nerve racking. My usual sensibilities for framing the shot at times got lost due to my anxiety; usually when I just wanted to get it over with. What worked best for me was to be spontaneous, not thinking too much about specific people, but asking permission in a random, relaxed way.

In the afternoon studio workshop I was much more at ease. The parameters were set. I knew where we were going with this; it was all about the science of light. I enjoyed being the centre of attention when it was my turn to stand in front of the camera. So a practical session. One that got me thinking about buying a light meter, upgrading my software, investing in some studio lights and flash.

At the end of the workshop we looked over everyones work - it was an impressive crop - really inventive. The best photography came from those who really took risks. I think we all stepped out of our comfort zone that day, but some people took it a step further than most. Gathering the staff in the local pie and eel shop together for a group shot, or carefully composing a portrait within the city landscape. A great day. Now I think it's time to invest in some lights, get a light meter and get started on some studio portraits.

By justanact51, Apr 28 2015 02:12PM

I first got interested in creating art as an adult after a visit to Dame Barbara Hepworth’s studio workshop in St Ives. If you’ve never been, it is a wonderful mix of the house where she lived, the studio where she worked and the garden with some superb examples of her sculptures. It also has a little shed with a day bed in it where she would go for a nap. Those of you who know me well know that I like nothing better than a 20 minute nap in the afternoon. It is like pushing the reset button on my mood. Anyway, I think that was when I decided I would like to create art. “Wouldn’t it be lovely,” I mused, “to spend all day in this fantastic setting, creating sculpture, stopping only for a nap and perhaps a cream tea. Then living in St Ives with the light and the food, popping up to London occasionally to visit an exhibition of your work or collect a damehood”. Ah, the naivety of a novice. The reality tends to be somewhat different.

I recalled this idyllic view with my head stuck under the sink, elbow deep in water trying to fix a dripping washing machine hose in advance of the Open House. Yes it may all look almost professional as you walk in, but whatever you do don’t open the door to the bedroom or look in any cupboards. The last weekend we had before we opened was spent pruning trees in the garden, fixing leaks, power washing the decking and trying to find places for the masses of stuff that we seem to have acquired since last we did the open house which was only in 2012.

Apart from the practicalities of the venue, I’ve been getting my poems printed, making the pendants to fix them on, and selecting and trimming the prints to go with them, as well as ensuring I have all my fixings (have you tried getting hold of 60 bulldog clips?) and some prints wrapped for the browser. Oh, and I can’t quite resist getting another linocut and hopefully etching done before we open. Alongside the physical integration of the work there is also an emotional integration – seeing a set of disparate works come together to be something that says more than any piece individually.

This last minute creativity is of course a double edged sword. I have exhibited with the four other artists at the other four open houses we did but there are always… tensions.

As I try to attach a replacement hose to finally stop the leak, Aref calls out to me urgently. “Mike, Mike”

What is it Aref?

You haven’t got a plastic bag for the recycling bin.

I take a deep breath and in a superhuman effort remain calm. I bet Babs never got this from Henry Moore.

By justanact51, Apr 24 2015 07:36PM

Just over a week to go and have six paintings that are asking to be worked on further but aren't all telling me what they need. I stare at them relentlessly but no information is forthcoming. I tell them I haven't got time for this game but they are indifferent. It's hard to block out the other noises, noises in my head mostly. Distractions. Patience...be still...be quiet...and wait...

By justanact51, Apr 19 2015 06:26PM

It has been sunny in Brighton so, it has been great to see people out and about exposing their limbs in T-shirts and shorts and summery frocks. Relieved no doubt, not to be wearing their winter clothes. But we have also had some dramatic sea mists recently on the seafront. One afternoon, the pier looked like it was something out of the Arabian Nights, magically floating in the air emerging out of a cloud.

Some kids are funny. They see me sitting on my stool painting and they sprint past me apologising ‘Sorry for getting in the way of your picture!’ As they seem to think that what I am doing is like taking a photograph, how sweet :-)

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