I panicked and packed 4 pairs of shoes. This isn’t a fashion statement, more an attempt to cover all bases as I plan to stay in Hestercombe for my longest stint. It is Somerset Arts’ weeks, which means I am here from the 18th of September to the 5th of October. (www.somersetartworks.org.uk/artweeks14).
First job was to rearrange the studio. The logistics of making work in a new space without all my tools has caused complications in the past. So this time I have tried to bring enough materials and equipment to cope with any outcome.
Hestercombe is still beautiful and although it’s the first day of Autumn, apart from the lack of evening light, there are little signs of a season shift. After my last stay I can no longer face stripping wire and first take to experimenting with Oak Iron Ink. An old friend and excellent painter, Anna Illsely (http://www.annailsley.co.uk), suggested that it could be an interesting material to work with on some of my herbarium drawings (www.jolathwood.co.uk/artwork/university-of-kolophon). The ink has a fascinating past and is a good tool to traverse traditional craft with contemporary practice, for me and for the audience that come and visit Hestercombe. Dating back as far as the 5th century AD Oak Iron Ink has been used throughout Europe for various different tasks, including writing bank notes back when paper money was simply an IOU. The ingredients for the ink vary, as do the recipes, not to mention the 30-odd different species of oak gall! My first batch was a moderate success. I think I could make a better darker ink but it was good for a first try. As is the nature of artists, I became far more interested in the ink going wrong. After adding a thickening agent I discover an effect that causes the ink to separate into tiny veins across the page. The history, biology and chemistry of ink has lead me to want to share my findings. I hope to run some workshops at Hestercombe over the next couple months and maybe even produce a small art book explaining this amazing parasite.