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What’s Happening in my Studio

Old photos can be a great source of inspiration and material for artists and creators, particularly in the realm of art ephemera. Art ephemera refers to objects or materials that are meant to be transitory or temporary, such as tickets, posters, or flyers.
One way that old photos can be used in art ephemera is through collage. Collage involves combining different materials and images to create a new, unified piece of art. Old photos can be cut up and combined with other materials, such as text or found objects, to create a unique collage that evokes a particular time period or theme.
Old photos can also be used as the basis for prints or posters. Artists can take an old photo and reproduce it in a larger size, adding their own artistic touches or embellishments to create a new and unique piece of art. The resulting print or poster can then be used as a form of art ephemera, such as a promotional poster for an event or exhibition.
In addition, old photos can inspire artists to create new works of art that are based on historical or personal narratives. For example, an artist might come across an old family photo and use it as the basis for a painting or sculpture that explores the themes and emotions associated with their family history.
Overall, old photos can be a rich source of inspiration and material for artists working in the realm of art ephemera. By incorporating old photos into their work, artists can create pieces that evoke the past and engage with historical and personal narratives in new and unique ways.

I have always been drawn to old photos, newspapers and found objects. Looking back over my art practice I have a large collection of ephemera. However until recently these remnants have been stored away. It was on Instagram that I discovered the work of Jack Ravi who works with old photos and papers creating original artworks. I took one of his classes and found it opened a new direction and connection with my own enquiry. It is early days on my journey but these are some of my art works.

It’s the beginning of the year and time to start a new enquiry. About 6 years ago I went to an exhibition in Reading Jail as it had recently closed. This was where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for Indecency and sentenced to 2 years hard labour. While inturned he wrote a long love letter called De Profundus to his boyfriend Lord Alfred Douglas, known by his nickname of Bosie. The poem was a way of rationalising his love and suffering, ‘Where there is suffering there is holy ground.’ In jail Wild was always referred to as prisoner 4099.

The experience of seeing his cell was haunting for me. This prison in later years housed hunger strikers from Northern Ireland

However, what really struck me were the Victorian photos of prisoners taken as a record when they were first admitted. They were photographed in their own clothes and all struck the same position of displaying their hands in front of them. There were young and old, male and female. Why were the hands placed in this unnatural pose?

The photographs were taken for two reasons: the identification of the criminal classes and to support theories about criminal physiology.

Most of the photographs show prisoners with their hands on their laps. This is because of theories about the shape of the skull and hands of criminals. These pictures fed into the cod psychology of the day. Theories of anthropological criminology: the idea that a person is born criminal and that such tendencies can be identified by physical indicators, was fuelled by analysis of criminal mugshots by Alphonse Bertillon and Hans Gross.

These images are printed onto silk
These are pen and ink drawings. Will continue to explore this enquiry

We spend a lot of our lives in bed, and it is here your dreams and fears are played out. The bed is usually your first major buy when you grow up and leave home. Its here you return to each night to renew for the next day.

Our ancestors believed sleep was akin to death with the devil waiting to pounce. Superstitious rituals were carried out, including wolves’ teeth worn around the neck or an iron dagger hung over a baby’s’ cot to prevent the babe being turned into a demon’s baby. 

I have started this series of Bed Fellows and it has fired my imagination. I have looked at how other artists in the past have represented the bed:
Manet -Olympia, 
Vincent van Gogh – The Bed
Rauschenberg -Bed
Rembrandt – The French Bed
Tracy Emin – My Bed
One of my favourites is the The Cholmondeley Ladies by an unknown Artist.

I just made an iMovie video called Elizabethans.

I have put all my Elizabethan Characters together. Why am I so attracted to this period? I think it is the theatricality and the magnificent apparel. Originally I started drawing with inks and bleach and adding gold. I then experimented drawing onto porcelain using oxides and under-glazes. They were then put in the kiln and had a high porcelain firing.

This is when the magic happened for me. The unpredictable fusing of the glazes gave some amazing results as well as rubbish. This excites me and I have continued to use this method. I make my own porcelain tiles and paint the simple images onto them. When I open the kiln it is always with fingers crossed.

So I put my Elizabethans together with music for a Galliard dance to make my short video. I love the miniature work of Nicholas Hilliard, “Selfies” of their time.