Printmaking workshop at Camberwell College

Earlier this year I visited an exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery on the Abstract Expressionist Helen Frankenthaler’s woodcut works called ‘Radical Beauty’.

Details from Madame Butterfly

Frankenthaler’s Japanese woodcut prints were delightful to view up close; and to discover that many of the prints were made using 30-100 colours, some taking months or years to complete!

Alongside the exhibition, Dulwich Picture Gallery teamed up with Camberwell College of Arts to deliver a printmaking workshop inspired by the work of Frankenthaler. I signed up!

Camberwell College of Arts has an excellent fine art printmaking facility which includes lithography, etching and screen printing along with a number of Victorian printing presses.

After initial introductions we were split into smaller groups and shown the ropes by some of the current MA Printmaking students. They were amazing! Full of enthusiasm and offered help and support throughout the day.

Creating monoprints using the aluminium plate

We experimented with mono printing using a plywood board and an aluminium plate. The metal plate was more sensitive than the wood and when printed, more subtle details appeared. We also experimented with blind embossing and ghost prints and used various materials and mark-making implements.

Below are some examples of my experimental prints…

Experimental mono prints using wood
Experimental mono prints using aluminium

The workshop was a lot of fun and I will definitely be looking to take the ideas further in my practice.

Leigh Art Trail – finally!

The Leigh Art Trail has been a long time coming, or so it felt. Originally due to be held in May 2020 it was yet another event in an endless list that was postponed due to the pandemic.

I had begun preparing for the Trail, along with the other artists in SEVEN, back in September 2019. We were excited to be exhibiting at a new venue – The Refill Room, which is the first zero-waste shop in Leigh-on-sea. In response to the values of the shop we chose the theme of ‘Reclamation’. Our starting point was to find old, unloved second-hand books that we could turn into altered books.

SEVEN’s venue number

Crewel embroidery

The book I chose was on crewel embroidery. The pages in the book were a mix of photos, text and embroidery stitch diagrams, which gave me plenty of material to work with. The idea of an altered book is that you can respond to the content already there (if you want to) or cover it up (if you don’t) and remove any surplus pages – the choice is yours. In my book I seemed to find a heading on each page that I wanted to respond to, and tried to work with the imagery already on the pages. Plus as the subject was embroidery, so I decided to stitch directly into the pages.

Close up detail of stitching
Working on my sketchbook in the garden

Fast forward to September 2021

The event date suddenly arrived! Having waited so long for it, it seemed to come around in a flash!

SEVEN’s venue number

The event ran over two weeks and three weekends, instead of the usual one week; we were in a different month; and in a new venue, so all in all the September Trail felt a bit odd.

We usually stay in the venue for the duration of the Trail, but two weeks felt a bit too long to do this (plus life got in the way), so we only spent the weekends at the venue. While the number of visitors seemed to be less than usual (perhaps some were still unsure about going out, plus there were so many other events on in September), the visitors we did have were very engaged in our work and an absolute joy to chat with!

The Refill Room – view from outside
LAT sketchbook – crewel embroidery

In addition to our sketchbooks, this year we also decided to create a window display of ‘flags’. The shop already had a branch hanging in the window and we were kindly allowed to use this. We decided to hang a lightweight material that was sustainable; allowed the light to come through; and also revealed the image on the back of the fabric, so it could be seen from both inside and outside the shop. We chose a bamboo fabric, scanned a page from our books, and had the image digitally printed by Textile Town.

Bamboo fabric flags, digitally printed

We’re now starting to plan ideas for LAT 2022, which will be the 25th anniversary of the Art Trail. Bring it on!

The Water Replies – Estuary Festival 2021

Back in March 2020 I signed up to ‘The Water Replies’ journal project, led by Metal Southend and Cement Fields, as part of the second Estuary Festival. The festival takes place along 107 miles of the South Essex and Kent coastline with artists, events and workshops responding to contemporary issues surrounding the estuary.

The project began just before the pandemic hit and the UK was put into lockdown. During lockdown, when everyone was confined to their homes, we were allowed to go outside once a day for solitary exercise. For me this meant a long walk along the seafront. I’m so thankfully to have the estuary and beach a few minutes walk away from my home.

As contact with the outside world was reduced, I found that during my daily walks or runs along the estuary, I became more focused and mindful on what I saw and what captured my attention. The tidal times change daily. The mud flats appear and disappear. Sunlight glistens on the water. Big skies. Bold silhouettes of the pier and groynes…etc

For my journal I wanted to record my impressions of the coastline beginning at Southend Pier and travelling along the coast towards the QE2 bridge. I chose landmarks and areas of interest along the way: the pier, Gypsy bridge, incoming tide patterns, barnacles, silhouettes, sea birds, beach textures, seaweed, shells, Two Tree Island, views across to Kent, Coryton oil refinery, QE2 bridge…

This is a selection of pages from my journal:

Journal cover – The Water Replies
Silhouette of the groynes
Abstract map of the estuary
Gypsy bridge
Beach textures
Vintage postcard of Southend-on-sea

You can view a short turn-the-page video of all the journals entered into the exhibition at:

If you are in the area, find out more about the Estuary Festival, which runs from 22 May – 13 June 2021. Enjoy!

Vintage postcard embroidery workshop

Pink blossom – Jo Bund

The journey of a holiday postcard

In the pre-digital age, it was quite common to send a postcard home to friends and family, during your holiday. You’d pick out a selection of cards, write a brief message on the back and post them off. When they arrived at their destination, they would be read, put away in a drawer, and then probably forgotten about. At some point in the future, when the drawer is cleared out, the cards will either be given away or thrown in the bin.

Often, when you go to boot fairs or second hand book shops, you’ll find boxes of old photos and postcards that have been discarded.

So, what happens next?

It seems a shame to throw old postcards and photos away, as they are a piece of social history. But what can you do with them?

I’ve recently pondered this thought and came across a couple of artists who give old postcards a new lease of life by embroidering on to them:

FRANCESCA CRAMER – is an Italian textile artist and designer, based in North Wales. She describes her postcards as having “a conversation with the past, like lifting a layer of dust and letting the colour through, adding another chapter.”

Her technique varies from piece to piece where she either:

  • adds something new;
  • colours over a feature of the photograph; or
  • erases something completely.
Francesca Cramer embroidered postcard examples

HAN CAO – is a self-taught artist, living in Palm Springs. She uses embroidery to create new narratives for long-forgotten photographs and postcards found at flea markets and antique shops from around the world.

Her aim with these examples is to bring life to lost images, telling new narratives from the past through thread and colour:

Han Cao embroidered postcard examples

My workshop idea

I’d been asked to run a workshop at my local Embroiderer’s Guild and thought this would be an interesting idea to share with them. Being based in Southend-on-sea, thousands of postcards have been sent from here over the years. So I sourced some old postcards of Southend-on-sea, and the surrounding area, from the early 1900s to the 1970s.

I asked the group to choose a postcard each. The postcards themselves created an interesting discussion as the images brought back fond memories for people who had grown up in the area.

I wanted them to think about how they could change the image they had chosen and bring it to life…create their own story…

I suggested they keep their stitches simple – e.g. french knots, cross stitch, kantha stitch – for maximum effect. Stitching into card is very different to fabric – once the hole is pierced it’s permanent, and if you pierce holes too close together they can create one big hole!

TIP: I would always pierce holes in the card first before beginning to stitch and place a cork mat underneath the card for protection.

Embroiderer’s Guild workshop

The results were quite varied especially as some found the idea of stitching into an old postcard a little troubling! But everyone did have a go.

Before and After postcard by Jo Bund

Leigh Art Trail 2019

I’m currently exhibiting, with the sketchbook collective SEVEN, at the Leigh Art Trail, Leigh-on-sea. 8-15 June at Planet Leasing.

Our chosen theme…

This year we have each chosen an artist or art movement to develop our sketchbooks. Its a varied selection including Matisse, Hundertwasser, Rauschenburg, Surrealism and Oceania.

We’ve also made the decision to make our own books to work in – a challenge in itself!

We’re open all week Monday-Friday 12-5pm and Saturday 10-4pm.
Do pop by!