Aug 30, 2009

Inky Cuttlefish Studios

In the absence of the anticipated flood of responses from the Inky Cuttlefish Studio artists (I got one – thank you Michael Stanger!), I decided to head down there and interrogate whoever was around. This feature on Inky Cuttlefish includes everyone I found there during my visit but if there are more of you who want to be included please send me your info and pics before September 2nd.

One of the studios founders, Anna Alcock, was there on my visit so I asked her a few questions about the studios themselves and about her work in this year’s Trail.

1. How old is Inky Cuttlefish?
Inky Cuttlefish has been up and running for two and a half years, first in Pearl Road and now in its bigger space on Blackhorse Lane.

2. How many artists and will they all be participating in the Open Studios for the Art Trail?
There are 18 artists with studios here at the moment. Most of them will be showing their work here during the Trail but some will have their own exhibitions elsewhere. There are several different elements to the Art Trail event. Much of what will be shown comes under the broad heading of Variety but within that are some very distinct individual studio shows. We are also showing part of the Tales of Folk project. Inky Cuttlefish ran workshops for what started as a group of Asian Women for Joint Community Day Services. The project was to create artwork to be exhibited at a Tate Modern exhibition in July - part of Learning Disability Week - entitled 'This is my Life' and as an Art Trail exhibition at the Barbican Arts Group Trust.

The theme for the Art Trail exhibition 'Tales of Folk' includes work that participants did with facilitators exploring folktales and myths as a way of expressing themselves and enabling them to experiment with hands-on textile art techniques such as: collage, stamping, monoprinting, stencilling, drawing & painting and stitching. Other pieces include beadwork and sculptural pieces. The workshops were run by four Inky Cuttlefish Artist Facilitators: Ulrika Bygge, Kirsten Schmidt, Sue Brown and Carol Reid. NYONI ART

3. What work of your own are you putting in the Trail this year?
I’m exhibiting lino cuts and two paintings as well. I have been documenting the past year and exploring my relationships with the world, people, institutions and my growing family. Working mainly with relief printing and using experimental techniques and hand-colouring I’ve tried to use both established and new printmaking techniques as a means of looking at my own emotions.

4. Could you have done this work anywhere, or is it specific to E17? Did you respond to this year’s Art Trail theme ‘At Home’?
It’s all site-specific in the sense that my home is in E17, the studios are here so my life is kind of site-specific to E17. My subject matter this year happens to be ‘home’ anyway so the theme works.

5. Have you participated in the E17 Art Trail before?
Yes, since the first one in 2005.

6. How does your work this year relate to your previous artistic practice?
It’s a definite continuation of my printing practice but this year for the first time I am also showing paintings. There are only two but they are the result of an experimental process earlier in the year where I made painted over variations of a particular print. I then actually recreated that image from scratch using paint only.

7. What challenges (if any) do you face in realising this work?
Time! Organising family, studio management, my own work and all the workshops and projects to generate enough income to pay the rent is always a challenge.

8. Who is this work for?
It’s for me in the sense that it is a cathartic process that helps me to make sense of the world. It’s also for anyone who recognises something in it that has meaning for them but it’s especially for those who want to buy it!

9. What is your favourite place in E17?
My favourites are all the green areas. The Lea Valley and Walthamstow Marshes, Ferry Lane near the water and the Ferry Boat Inn.

Photo : Harriet Armstrong

I also found sisters Ulrika and Tess Bygge who are doing a collaborative exhibition project on the exterior walls of Inky Cuttlefish. The project ‘Watch Women’ will be a combination of Ulrika’s large textile hanging works and Tess’s experimental photo-emulsion prints. Although each is working in a completely different discipline both are exploring how perceptions are created and presented. Part of the concept of the project originates from their studio itself which they share with Mandora, a shop mannequin manufacturer. Mandora donated two mannequins for the project and as well as being photographic subjects they will also feature in their own right.

1. Please tell us about the work you will be showing in the 2009 E17 Art Trail?
I am doing urban wall hangings depicting different figures of women which are created from re-used or found textile pieces. It’s a long process. I often print the original outline sketch from a Mac and then work from that. I then apply the mix of textiles to build the shape in whatever way is necessary. This can mean anything from stitch, staple and glue to hammer and burn!

I am an applied photographer and this will be a very experimental project in which I will create prints on wood. I found the pieces of wood, whitewashed them and then applied a photo emulsion print. The images themselves are of mannequins who share our studio at Inky Cuttlefish.

2. Could you have done this work anywhere, or is it specific to E17? Did you respond to this year’s Art Trail theme ‘At Home’?
The studio is here and we’re exhibiting here so it’s site specific to Inky Cuttlefish. This studio enabled us to complete the project. It’s a creative haven and we are very happy to be here and proud of it.

3. Have you participated in the E17 Art Trail before?

Yes last year also here at the studios.

4. How does your work this year relate to your previous artistic practice?
It’s a natural progression for me. several years but I have gradually become more textiles/illustration oriented in a more site specific way.

It’s a big experiment for me. I've been learning for the past year at Rachel’s Darkroom (also housed in the Inky Cuttlefish building) and now I’m seeing where it takes me.

5. What challenges (if any) do you face in realising this work?
Challenges are size, scale and proportions! Everything I use in my work is recycled or found. I really don’t like to have to buy textiles to complete a piece so I have to plan and work with what I’ve got.

Working with a new medium and working out how to get the emulsion to set or stay on, underestimating the time it takes to saw and size the wood and how to make the final pieces weatherproof.

6. Who is this work for?
Anybody. This is why we want to exhibit it outside so that anyone passing by can enjoy it.

7. As well as being an artist what else do you do?
I do workshops and am a freelance illustrator and graphic designer

I’m an Art Technician at Kelmscott School and I do some freelance project work.

8. What is your favourite place in E17?
Inky Cuttlefish (x 2).

Another Inky Cuttlefish artist who happened to be loitering during my visit was Terri Durrant Her studio is very small but if all goes to plan it will be a mini multimedia experience under the heading ‘The Presence of Emotion. She is showing two paintings, a potentially participatory sculpture, a collage creation, a sound installation and who knows what else might be in there by next Saturday! The common thread, however, is an exploration of self perception and the physical presence, or absence, of emotion. The two paintings in the show focus on a visual embodiment of emotion while the sound installation will use snatches of songs to recreate a personal emotional journey in an abbreviated form. The sculpture asks questions about self perception and the collage provides some kind of an answer.

Terri is a full time accountant doing a part-time Fine Art degree at Chelsea College of Art so it’s safe to say that her biggest challenge is time. She has only been at Inky Cuttlefish for 4 months and doesn’t actually live in E17 or the Borough. However, I then bumped into a couple of other people who were also from outside the borough…….

Ian Wellwood and Amanda Buttery
Ian and Amanda will be exhibiting work that resulted from textile and print workshops they took at Inky Cuttlefish. It’s their first time in the Trail too but they were visitors at last year’s Trail and had such a good time they wanted to get involved and participate in the Trail themselves. The work they are showing consists of two bags, one of which is called the ‘Waltham Forest Shopper’, and four prints - two on textile and two on paper. For them the only challenge is getting here from King’s Cross at weekends!

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