Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bark: Art In Action

I spent the day in Oxfordshire today at an art fair I would probably have never even discovered the existence of if it weren't for my friend Mark. He's been involved with the festival for quite a few years now, and was running the printmaking tent this year. Being a volunteer, he had access to a couple of free tickets, which he very generously donated to my girlfriend and I, since we're both fairly artistically inclined (or at least artistically sympathetic).

And holy crap, we had a wonderful day there today. As you might expect, I took quite a few photos. We're definitely going back next year (assuming that the horrible weather this year didn't make it financially inviable for them to come back next year), because it's an incredibly inspiring place.

Three artists particularly caught my eye.

The first was Christopher Wiles, who was in the Drawing Tent. He was displaying a few of his portraits, which were done using a frankly amazing method: he was doing the portraits essentially in monochrome raster graphics. In other words, dividing a source picture up into a grid and then recreating it using a fibre-tipped pen, hand-shading each 'pixel' on the canvass. So when you consider that his canvasses are over six feet tall and three or four feet wide in some cases, you can imagine how labour-intensive this gets when each 'pixel' is about 5mmx5mm square... Absolutely mine blowing.

The second was in the Ceramics Tent; a lady called Lisa Ellul. She makes some wonderfully exquisite bowls using multilayered tubes of very thin clay. Without doubt, they were one of the most beautiful things on show in the entire fair. Check out her website here.

The third artist I really liked was Quek Kiat Sing - a lovely lady from Singapore who specialises in Chinese ink brush art. I had a nice chat with her about ink brushing technique, as I've tried using them in the past and found them to be very unforgiving to work with. She gave me a few useful tips, such as using water to wet the paper first to blend the density of the ink first, rather than inking the paper directly first and then trying to blend out. So I'll be having an experiment with that later, no doubt wasting a lot of paper...

So despite the weather over the weekend turning the place into something of a quagmire (and poor old Mark was in the unenviable position of having one of the squishiest tents), everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves. We're definitely going to go back next year (and hopefully the weather might decide to conform more closely to what we've normally come to expect from late July...) and perhaps even try to persuade Fleur's parents to come over for it as well, because they'd FLIP for it.
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