Moonriver

Test panel for Moonriver mural Helen Thomas July 2019

I’m creating a mural as part of Wakefield Council’s Creative Commissions programme responding to Luke Jerram’s wonderful Museum of the Moon which will be exhibited in Wakefield Market Hall at the end of August.

‘Moonriver’ is composed of words relating to themes of the moon and space.
People across the Wakefield district (and beyond) are invited to submit short pieces or excepts of their own writing to be included in the artwork. Submissions to date include musings, memories, lists, excerpts from poems etc. you can submit from just a word or two up to a maximum of 25 words.
You can read more and submit your text via this form

Workshop Saturday 11th May

On Saturday 11th May I’m running a drawing and mark making workshop in Wakefield.
Tickets for the afternoon workshop have sold out but there are a few places available on the 9.30 – 12 noon workshop.
Further details and tickets are available here

Seeking the finished unfinished

My painting practice is currently focussed on plants in interstitial spaces.
Due to the nature and locations of these opportunist plants, I often return to a site where I’ve made notes or sketched and find that the plant has been cut or poisoned.
I’ve been considering how to respond to this in my paintings. ‘Groundsel, March’ presented one option through it’s ‘finished unfinished’ qualities.

I’d hoped to finish Carter Street Dandelion in one en plein air session (see Carter Street Dandelion, Work in progress, 21st April. However there were some areas that really needed work (and I think there still are).
It’s an interesting challenge to find the balancing point between the intentional and accidental; between the painting’s flat, work in progress and being overworked.

Plant to Page – drawing & mark making workshops

Join me on Saturday 11th May for a 2.5 hour drawing an mark making workshop.

I’ll be bringing a sense of the garden into the studio and up to eye level with a collection of plant forms to inform and inspire.

We’ll explore line, texture and tone using a range of dry and wet media including pencils, ink and gouache on paper. And we’ll try some improvised drawing tools to challenge and refresh our mark making. The focus is on the process and experience of seeing through drawing, rather than creating a finished artwork.

Details and booking for the morning workshop here or the afternoon workshop here. Update: the afternoon workshop is now fully booked.


#OntoTheStreets – Mappa Music

I’m currently working on a project that celebrates the music of my home town.

Mappa Music is a big, hand drawn, alternative map of Wakefield, where all the street names are replaced to celebrate bands & musicians, past and present, from the Wakefield District.
#MappaMusic is part of the Long Division #OntoTheStreets commission programme. The map will be exhibited during the festival starting on 29th May.

People are invited to suggest who they’d like to see on the map via this form.
All the names on the map will be drawn from the list of suggestions. It’ll be an interesting challenge seeing how many names I can fit on the map – to date there have been almost 200 responses.

Working out some of the logistics for Mappa Music

Horbury Herbarium

Redbox Gallery is a decommissioned K6 telephone box that has been renovated by Horbury Civic Society. Redbox Gallery hosts a programme of contemporary art exhibitions curated by Graham Roberts.


In February 2019 I was commissioned to create a piece for Redbox Gallery. I joined Horbury Walkers on one of their walks from The Cluntergate Centre, making notes of path side plants that we saw on our walk. I later returned to make sketches of the plants that I used as starting points for an installation of drawings in the windows of Redbox Gallery.

The drawings can be viewed from the pavement, the installation is illuminated in the evenings. Exhibition continues to 22nd May


Inside outside

I’m interested in the adaptable and tenacious plants that are often overlooked & unwanted. I’m currently reading Weeds, How Vagabond Plants Gatecrashed Civilisation and Changed the Way We Think About Nature  by Richard Mabey. On the walk to the studio I made this kerbside sketch of Groundsel.

I’m thinking about how my on site / en plain air drawing and painting relates to the work done in the studio.

I’ve recently acquired some old fence planks and made first sketchy marks to explore working on different planes.

Scale and proportion

This afternoon I was meant to be working on some small paintings.
I realised that my thoughts were toying with something on quite a different scale. Sometimes you’ve just got to make a physical start on something even if you’re not sure how to do it or how it’ll turn out.

Kerbsides

Fascinated by the micro habitat that has formed over this iron drain cover.
Lots going on here that I want to explore.
Contrasts:
fragile organic plant forms /  heavy geometric metal grate
wildness / domestication
opportunist / planned

Several patches of weeds that I’ve been sketching have been cleared. I’m also aware that I could be asked to move on. My sketching and painting habits might have to adapt, mimic the weeds’ rapid development in order for some to take hold and grow.