Toby Jackman

Ahaha, found this here and so went looking for him here. Not at all my usual style, but awesome all the same.

Contemporary Studies Essay

This week has been a complete and utter write-off and as I result I've not achieved a whole lot except hiding under my duvet covers. But I'm up, and determined to put this week well and truly behind me. 

Our next Critical & Historical brief is a Contemporary Studies Essay with a choice of three questions. I've decided upon the third of the three:

            "What have been the connections between fine art and design? Choose one specific decade and the design / designers must relate to your own pathway area and link their work/s to relevant post-modern ideas and themes."

Exciting. I'll be looking at Jan Pienkowski's work as I've been heavily influenced by his imagery since I was first introduced to the pop-up book Haunted House, Meg and Mog, and when I first started reading: A Necklace of Raindrops, written by Joan Aiken and which Pienkowski illustrated. 

Last year I frequently looked a lot at Pienkowski's cut-out and inky illustrations for inspiration, because personally, there's only so much Rob Ryan I can take and I find Pienkowski's cut-outs much more interesting and so much more sincere than Rob Ryan's 'crowd pleasers'.

It'll be interesting to explore the concept of Pienkowski's work as fine art and where he lies as a post-modern designer.

Here are a few examples of Jan Pienkowski's work:

This looks hilarious.

Critical Studies Essay...

...Of which I'm rather proud. Even if re-reading it now feels like swimming through custard. I got 77 which is a first (whoop). I think this is the right draft, if not then it looks like I may have deleted the original. 

Catherine Harper’s enthusiastic text: ‘I Need Tracey Emin Like I Need God’ (written in 2004 and commissioned by Selvedge magazine), is undoubtedly appreciative of Emin’s work, not only, it would seem, because of Emin’s  “allusion to negotiations of the feminine in Western Culture” (Harper, 2004, pg 24) but because of her ability to present her work in such a way that it is almost indistinguishable from the style of historical and purely ‘crafty’ quilts.

Harper immediately addresses the concept of a relationship between crafting and whoring, an idea that extends throughout the essay, and leads to the consideration of the differences and similarities between Emin’s work and Feminist issues concerning women and their practice of crafting, specifically the amount of herself a woman would metaphorically pour into her quilt.

Inevitably then, the idea of story-telling and ‘keep-sakes’ is introduced, not only as a historical aspect of quilting but as part of Emin’s system of working and the way she almost documents the female issues which she highlights with her contradictions of the traditional.

While Harper writes mostly on the topic of Emin’s work: its symbolism, meaning and interpretations, it is in this text that we can see her imitating Emin; she too is investing herself in her work, in this very piece of writing, as we can eventually see in her disclosure of her family history and indeed in her declaration of love for Emin’s work. Harper emphatically advocates Emin’s work, to the extent that we too, could suggest that there may well be a link between crafting and whoring here, within Harper’s own essay.

From the very first sentence of  ‘I Need Tracey Emin Like I Need God’ (Harper, 2004) we immediately see that Dr. Catherine Harper’s writing is not in the least bit inhibited, indeed she appears to relish the opportunity to be candid: “Crafting and whoring might be more connected than we think…” (Harper, 2004, p. 22). Essentially addressing one of her main theories within her first sentence, Harper evidently intends to jolt her audience with her suggested topic of comparison, which is successful in adding intrigue to what she has to say.

Though the text is heavily opinionated and undoubtedly descriptive, it is in no way inaccessible. It’s expressive language and Harper’s consistent tone of admiration makes it a lot more digestible than an essay of a more academic nature; Harper’s personal observations of Emin’s piece ‘I do not expect’ (2002) remind us that this essay is based largely on Harper’s own reactions to Emin’s work. “The careful blanket stitching around its upper edges…” (Harper, 2004, p. 23) is a reminder that Harper has examined the textile piece and has had a visceral response, one that has struck on a personal level, enough for Harper to have-written the essay in question.

Despite Harper’s accessible style of writing, she still references the academic, prominent writer and advocate of feminist and conceptual art, Lucy Lippard, though this brief quotation referring to quilts being a “prime visual metaphor for women’s lives, women’s culture” (Lippard, L. The Artist and the Quilt, p.18 cited by Harper, 2004, p.23), seems almost to be thrown in as a formality, considering Harper’s some-what untamed writing style so far. Similarly, when referring to quilting in a historical context: “…for example, in the immigrant homesteads of 18th and 19th century US America…” (Harper, 2004, p. 23) Harper’s language becomes considerably more formal, less expressive and a little more stilted. This does disjoint the text, as does the inclusion of Sarat Maharaj’s argument: “Maharaj argues that the “allusive, narrative force” of the quilt is never quite liberated from just keeping warm in bed, by hearth and at home” (Harper, 2004, p. 24). While these references do support Harper’s intended points, they do rather dramatically change the tone, as does the rather unexpected question: “So, why do I love these works so much?” (Harper, 2004, p. 24) which Harper utilises as a means to conclude her essay. As a result the essay feels as if it has been rounded off haphazardly, as though Harper has realised half-way through, that her essay can’t be made up entirely of her own opinions, and that it ought to include an idea of the context of quilting in order for the essays audience to relate to it.

“Crafting and whoring might be more connected than we think” (Harper, 2004, p. 22): surely it can’t be argued that this is the prominent underpinning theory of this essay. Harper immediately introduces it to us, continuing: “Both are, if not exclusively the employments of women, then at least conventionally ‘women’s work’” (Harper, 2004, p. 22). This theory that crafting and whoring are both considered to be age old ‘employments’ of women is supported and accompanied by the idea that women, both past and present (specifically Tracey Emin in this case) pour their private lives into a quilt, parading their lives and secrets for all to see, even making money out of it. This is compared to the apparently equally old act of whoring of women, where women would similarly display themselves and exert a not entirely different amount of effort as they might while ‘crafting’, for money. Perhaps another theory could revolve around the idea of protection; the idea that a quilt is ‘crafted’ to protect from the cold; to hide; to preserve; to act as a distraction during its creation: “…as if the constant action of stabbing cloth would puncture harm, as if the talismanic use of family fabrics would outshine the ‘evil eye’” (Harper, 2004, p.24).

Towards the end of ‘I Need Tracey Emin Like I Need God’ it becomes clear that, though Harper does present the likeliness between crafting and whoring, she ultimately appreciates Emin’s blankets because of their honesty, normality and reflection of Emin at the time of their creation, rather than for any statement they are, or are not making. Ironically, what Harper likes best about them is the quality that just about every ordinary quilt has, when it isn’t being picked-apart by art critics. It is what it is.

Nevertheless, the text deals with various themes along the way, particularly Emin’s trademark disclosure of what most would consider to be very personal details. The integration of the artist and their art: where is the line drawn between producing art as a career and producing art simply as an extension of yourself? Harper explores this concept while questioning the differences between crafting and whoring, all the while alluding at Emin’s own position as a crafter/whore, selling her secrets, the secrets of her body, with her artwork and her willingness to display ‘herself’ within her art and the art itself. 

It’s possible that a theme runs throughout the essay in the way Harper writes. Her choice of language is immodest, sexual, and provocative, not unlike Emin’s pieces. One might think Harper is even mirroring Emin’s visual style in her writing. She is bold,  un-abashed, even creating motifs in the repetition of certain words. However, as this repetition occurs towards the end of the essay, we could easily assume that, like Harper’s odd opening to her conclusion, this is merely because of a need to wind down the sensual language and explain her-self.

Female pursuits inevitably appear as a theme, indeed the line between this theme and theory is blurred; Harper frequently refers to crafting as ‘women’s work’, which is a persisting point of view even today, and one which may well never cease to linger. Hand in hand with crafting as a female pursuit, is sex. Harper presents the vague idea of sex as: whorish, girly and nostalgic and as a means of procreation…creation in its starkest form.

Selvedge is an independent, bi-monthly publication that places the highest importance on its images and their quality.  While it’s aimed towards all those who love and appreciate crafting, its main focus are those who consider textiles to be their main interest.  Due to the broad range of creative topics that they cover and the concept of creativity as a lifestyle, Selvedge has acquired a wide International audience. Inevitably, with such a specialised theme though, Selvedge’s audience is likely to be comprised of those who consider textile art highly and have more than just a fleeting interesting in the subject, especially considering its price.  Evidently essays and a lot of historical information are included in this publication, indicting its audience must have particular tastes, perhaps frequently leaning toward the academic and so we can only expect to see academics, students specialising in relevant areas and those likely to really gain something from buying Selvedge, as being its main audience. To an extent we might assume that Selvedge is a rather middle-class publication, as it is indeed rather expensive and therefore could be considered only worth buying if it has some context within the consumers life. Evidently the intended audience for Harper’s essay is predominantly female as is her focus of the essay. The fact alone that Selvedge is considered to be aimed more towards women, supports Harper’s theory of a link between women and crafting.

I am a Forest hq from Alex Schulz on Vimeo.

A tad busy at the moment. I will have plenty of time to patch together all the things that have been going on, next week.


A little bit higher and you'd see my crazy - cheesey grin. Happy happy! Rebecca and I had fun peeling off the sticky layer which covered one side of each of the pieces, which I originally thought was just paint or from where the acrylic had been cut. Better than popping bubble-wrap I reckon! And it's half term! Wahoo! I'm going to get stuck into a few more of my own non-uni related designs which I may send off to get cut by Zap Creatives in the future.


Okay, so I attached all my acrylic sea shapes to a chain, but as I couldn't locate my jewellery pliers set I just used my hands. Wire ends and fiddly bits do not happy fingers make.


My acrylic laser cut pieces arrived! About a week later than they were meant to, but I guess that's the way of things. So I need to have a rummage for my jewellery pliers and bits and pieces to finally make my necklace! I'm really pleased with how they've turned out! The detail's just right and they don't look messy at all, as I'd half anticipated, considering my poor Illustrator skills. 

We've started the Cross Pathway Group Project. I like working on my own, or with other illustrators in the making, so this is going to be a (I almost said painful) tricky few weeks and already I'm counting down to half-term. 

Our brief is simply: KINETIC. Yey. I entirely understand the purpose of this project, and to be honest I think I'm pretty good at working within a group, but what makes it so difficult for me is when we're supposedly coming up with ideas, and the other people in the group just sit there. I can't stand that sort of silence, so it ends up being me suggesting ideas and trying to drag something up. But what pisses me off is when those ideas then get basterdized or don't meet my personal standards as a result of the group dynamic. It's so tempting to forfeit the 10% that the project makes up and stay home working on things that won't get me this highly strung. But that would make me one of those annoying people within the group who you can never rely on because they don't come in. So that's not going to be happening any time soon. Anyway, I don't think I need to stress too much just yet, as our group's pretty cool so far.

On a brighter, less whiney note: I've really enjoyed writing the Critical Analysis essay. Critical Studies always makes me miss studying English Literature, even if William Blake and sodding Emily Dickinson were the bane of my life at the time.

There's still so much work I need to post this week...and does anyone know where I could find a classic metal slinky?! I've looked everywhere! I think I may have to revert to Amazon.


Carrie Garrott

"Beauty is a major component that I strive for in my artwork. I design with elements considered universally pleasing to the eye by employing features found in nature, specifically botanicals. The shapes, forms and colors of flowers transfer well into jewelry and art. Some of the jewelry pieces I create are stylized representations of botanicals made of sterling silver. Others are composed of actual petals and blooms. The real petals and blooms are dried, coated in beeswax and often combined with silver. Even with a coating of wax they are still quite fragile. The fragility of these pieces is a commentary on the delicate and fleeting nature of life. The manner of these works forces the wearer to take care not to do damage. It is my hope that people will see my work and take it (even on a subconscious level) as a reminder of life’s brevity and preciousness."

Says it all really.

"Inverse Bowl II" Fine silver, beeswax, rose petals

"Gerber Daisy Necklace" Gerber daisy petals, beeswax, sterling silver

"Delphinium Ring" Delphinium blooms, beeswax, sterling silver

"Hydrangea Ring" Hydrangea Petals, beeswax, sterling silver

"Vellum Hydrangea Chain" Vellum paper, sterling silver, beeswax

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor is an award-winning textile artist, based on the Isle of Wight, from where she draws much of her inspiration. Taylor has been interested in textile creations from a young age, as a result of watching her grandmother working away on a Singer sewing machine.

After experimenting with her own creations as a child, gaining qualifications and making bespoke bridal gowns, Lindsay Taylor has progressed into making her own complete range of organic inspired products.

These shoes remind me of a project I did in high school in year 8 where we had to make our own shoe. I made a fairy shoe, not unlike the Poppyhead shoe above; I used loads of dried leaf skeletons and came second place in an independent schools art competition (brag brag). I think it ended up getting mauled by my cats.

Droool! This is like something out of Alice in Wonderland or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original old film, not the awful new one).

I'd love to try making jewellery like this. I may attempt to knit some lace.

I would love a hibiscus necklace so much.

And THIS is my favourite! Bracken/ mossy necklace, reminds me of seaweed too. I don't know what it is about that kind of leafy tendril that captivates me...

The amount and quality of detail which goes into Lindsay Taylor's work is stunning. The fact that her work is as beautiful as it is, as well as being something that is used or worn, is what I like best about her work. I think I need to attempt my own bracken/seaweed/moss fabric necklace. Or set up camp in a forest...


Is it sad that I welled up at todays Google image tribute  thing for John Lennon's 70th birthday?


I spent most of Tuesday morning emailing Zap Creatives about sorting my necklace out, and a few hours ago I paid £32 in order to get [as Zap dubbed them] Lots of White Sea Shapes cut into acrylic. Because they have a minium order quantity of £25, and one set of my shapes would have come to just under £5.00, I ended up ordering five sets in order to get them! Most expensive bits of plastic I've ever bought, so I hope they're worth it. 

I am actually really excited about them though! They should arrive by Tuesday and then I'll get them all hooked up onto a chain. I'm very grateful to Zap Creative's Dave, who was very patient with my queries. I'd really like to use their services again in the future, not only for uni work but for my own as well.

I think I'll attempt to sell the other four necklaces (maybe three if I like it enough) on Etsy and see if I can't get my money's worth back. Even just to sell one would be ridiculously exciting. Though not if it's to my mum.

I've been cracking on with my narrative sequence brief and I'm enjoying getting stuck in, though I need to consider it's presentation before Friday. I was surprised and pleased by todays tutorial, too. I am thoroughly enjoying the freedom that this year is so far offering; I feel as if there are a lot more possibilities and my mind feels a little freer to explore my own ideas and interests without being nudged towards a goal. I'm also feeling a lot more responsible for my ideas and work; I enjoy that self-reliant feeling, rather than feeling like I'm waiting to be told what to do.

And despite finding it hard to resist the urge to hibernate instead of getting out of bed in the morning, the minute I get into college I feel very happy to be there. Hopefully the rest of the year will be like this, including next weeks dreaded group project.


Blogger is being rubbish and not letting me post images and being all flickery. I am unimpressed as I've spent the day gathering stuff together to post. Error 503 my arse. 

The Fable of Annabell Lee

The Fable of Annabell Lee from fashionbuddha on Vimeo.

The Fable of Annabell Lee

Zap Creatives

While desperately searching for an alternative to paying £100 for a four hour tutorial at Fred Aldous, I thankfully discovered Zap Creatives, an online laser cutting and supply company who may be able to cut my designs into acrylic plasticcy stuff which I will then be able to attach onto a necklace chain myself. So I've emailed enquiring about this and attached the required illustrator file for them to check and see whether they'd be capable of doing it, what with it being quite intricate. I really hope they will be able to. It would be nice to know that it's off being done and I'll get a lovely, if half finished, result in the post that I will (hopefully) be very proud of. 

So, the goal is: The Necklace! The rings will have to remain a pretty idea until I've had time to experiment more in more own time, which I'd really like to do. However, I may see if I have time to get them cut on the paper-cutter, perhaps in a thicker card. Though I think I shall put the settings that I have made already onto metal bases and actually wear them, 'cos I think they're funky!

Dave Mckean

A while ago I bought Neil Gaiman's 'The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish', illustrated by Dave Mckean. The nature of Mckean's work is very layered; he seems to manipulate photographs, patching them together and layering them over one another, and then layering his own specific drawings on top of the backgrounds. This makes his work seem almost surreal  but very textured. 

I recently recommended him to Holly, as elements of his work reminded me of a lot of things she's produced in the past, though I'd still like to mention him as he's pretty damn cool. Plus, he collaborates a great deal with Neil Gaiman so he's obviously doing something right. 

The above is from Crazy Hair, written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave Mckean, which I've yet to get a proper look at. How amazing is the hair!? I love that mix of photography and Mckean's collagey drawings. It's not necessarily something I'd incorporate in my own work I don't think, though I really admire the style itself.

These are two images from The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. 

The mix of photography, layered paper and drawings creates such a brilliant atmosphere, it has something of a comic style to it too in the way Mckean frames his images and the elements he focuses upon.

Freaking Out.

Okay. My original ideas for the Product brief included: 

- a paper-cut lampshade inspired by Yu Jordy Fu's Cloud lamps

- intricate jewellery set

- a hanging mobile

These ideas all revolve around a sea theme, with lots of seaweed, anenomes, coral and beach flowers being the inspiration for the shapes and with the aim of making something with a very organic feeling. However...this being one of our first projects, and being of a 3D nature, I'm begininning to feel I've bitten off more than I can chew by attempting the hanging mobile. Especially as each piece that would need to be cut, by either the paper-cutter or the vinyl cutter, would require it's own individual design, due to the way I planned the prototype. There are also six or more layers to each flower, and I'd planned for about ten flowers. 

Bearing in mind that I rarely work in 3D and have barely experienced Illustrator AND have no idea how to go about making the hanging for the pieces of the mobile, I'm going to run away screaming from this idea and go with the plan I'd originally been really enthusiastic and happy with: a jewellery set!

I love the mobile, and I'm going to complete it in my own time, without the pressure of it having to be  able to mass produce it, and without the push for it to be made by someone / something else. I love making all the pieces by hand, by paper and allowing each piece to be entirely different from the next.

The jewellery set concept is a lot more do-able as there are fewer pieces to the jigsaw (so to speak) and I'm a lot more confident in my ability to pull it all together. I'd definitely want to attempt the mobile again in the future, using the required methods, but with two other briefs and no experience in this as of yet, I'm afraid I need to take a step back and chicken out for now.

This was my first experiment playing with the jewellery idea; I think I shall work more on this, and hopefully the final product will be made from vinyl. More research needed.

Shadow Play: Alchemy Redolence & Enchantment

Look.... a 3 day Illustration Symposium organised by Cardiff School of Art and Design which will take place from the 2 - 4 November 2010. This is right up your street! Guest speakers include Roderick Mills, Graham Rawle and Anna Bhushan.

Blogging as I go, blogging as I go, ee aye ee aye oh blogging as I gooooo. Tune.

Yu Jordy Fu - Cloud lamp

Lizzie Thomas - Hidden Winter

Snowflake Curtain - found here

Sarah Rothe - Papercut Earrings

Corinne Okada Takara - Fish Mobile

"Our Heartbeat" - Origami Star Mobile


I saw this a few years ago and still love it so much. Mostly for the music, especially the female vocals which send a shiver down my spine, but also for the execution of this animation, using Slavic mythology I believe. The animation was created for the Russian band Theodor Bastard

A tiny google search later and I found this site with brief descriptions of aspects of Slavic mythology. From this I chose a few pieces of information which I think could have influenced this animation. It's all guess-work and my own interpretation as I couldn't find any information about the animation, nor the Russian animator. But here goes:

Perun is the god of thunder and lightning, very similar to Thor. His name comes from the root "to strike." He carries an ax or mace, his sacred animal is the bull, his sacred tree is the oak. He has dark hair with a long, golden beard, and is sometimes portrayed with three heads with fiery-red faces surrounded by flames. A perpetual fire was maintained in his honor; if it went out, it was rekindled by the use of a stone. Worshippers laid arms at his idol's feet, and stuck arrows around oak trees in his honor. His idol was thrown into the Volkhv River when Christianity came to Russia. A six-petalled rose within a circle was carved on roofs to protect houses from thunder and lightning, and the symbol may have been associated with Perun. Perun became Ilya of Murom in epic tales, and St. Elijah in the church, because the saint's chariot rolled like thunder and his arrow was lightning. Perun was also associated with St. George, since he slays a dragon (Volos). St. George is the patron of wild and domestic animals.

Navky, spirits of children who died unbaptized or who drowned.

Rusalka, the spirit of a child who died unbaptized or of a virgin who drowned. Rusalki live in lakes and have long, wavy green hair. Some have fish tails like mermaids, and some can turn into fish. They manifest either as beautiful girls, dressed in robes of mist, who sing sweet songs to bewitch passersby, or as ugly and wicked women who attack humans, especially men. During Rusalki week, around Midsummer, they emerge from the water and climb into weeping willow and birch trees until night, when they dance in rings in the moonlight. Any person who dances with them must do so until he dies. After that week, the grass grows thicker wherever they walk. In the 19th century, the Rusalki were connected with the cult of the dead.

Spor, the embodiment of fertility, who watches over the corn and cattle.

Vodyanoy, a malevolent water spirit who likes to drown humans. He will attack anyone who swims after sunset, or on a holy day. He can appear in different shapes to trick his victims. The Vodyanoy lives alone in his body of water, and he especially likes rivers with strong currents and swamps.

Vodni Panny, sad and pale water nymphs, who dress in green, and live in underwater crystal palaces.

Turisi - January 6
This is the day of the bull, Jar-tur, a symbol of life and fertility. People celebrate by wearing masks, parading and imitating the bull. They play games called "Turisi". This also ends the period thought of as the New Year holiday.

Rusalka's Week - June 19-24
On the Thursday preceding Whitsunday, women go into the woods, singing, and pick flowers to bind into wreaths. The men cut down a birch tree, and the girls decorate it. A ritual meal of flour, milk, eggs and plenty of beer and wine is eaten. After the meal, the tree is carried into the village and put into a special house to be left alone until Sunday. The tree becomes the focus of girls' songs and dances, then it is thrown into the river at the end of the week. On Whitsun Monday, a small shed covered with garlands is erected in an oak grove. A straw or wooden doll called Rusalka is decorated and put inside. People come bearing food and offerings. At the end, the doll is destroyed by burning or drowning. Sometimes a girl or horse replaces the doll and undergoes a mock funeral. This celebration is connected with the Rosalia, the Roman festival of roses. See "Women's Trance Ritual."

This also made for interesting reading.

And here is another Theodor Bastard video which I rather liked...

Theodor Bastard - Mir Album version from Nick Nickandrov on Vimeo.

Oh Lindsey Carr, how I do love you.

Acrylic on wood

Lindsey Carr is an artist living and working in Scotland and is possibly one of my all-time favourites. Her paintings seem to glow, and I'm always spotting something I missed the first time I looked, a flower or vine that takes time to emerge from a dark background, making it really feel like the pieces are alive.

From Clockwise: "Dukkha", "The Fox Confessor", "The Spoils of War" and "Natural Dark"

Carr's mix of flora and fauna is extraordinary.


Most of this summer seems to have been really really reaaaallllly awful and I would like it to stop now. Hopefully Autumn and Winter will be lovely and dark and crispy and there won't be any more big changes and I'll start to feel a bit more like me again.

P.S. I love tiny thin nibbed pens.


'Hark! A Vagrant' - online comics by Kate Beaton make me ridiculously happy. I think it's the amazingly expressive eyebrows...
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