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Visited Ort in Balsall Heath yesterday. Cute and cool higgledy piggledy cafe/gallery/performance space fronting the most amazing building. Celia showed us round this vast cavern of prospective artist studios, workshops and office spaces, topped off by a beautiful light and airy exhibition space up in the roof. It’s being refurbished mostly by volunteers and it is already brilliant. I have a yen to hold a post-MA show there. A really big yen. I need to make some phone calls and have another visit or two. I would love a studio there. If it was a little bit closer to home, and I had spare money that is! Maybe….one day….

If you are around Birmingham and looking for studio space… get in there!

I don’t know how I’d get on in a studio based community. Never done it. But I feel at some stage I should, just for the experience. I work from, in, and around my home. The home is the root of it all I suppose, and the family and how they function around each other. I don’t know how moving my work away might change something crucial. It runs around my head and my veins. I have a fear that the arty-bollocks would overtake me and I’d never be able to escape its clutches!

http://ortcafe.co.uk/


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It has to be said… I’m over-excited again. A very damp postman knocked on the door and delivered this this morning:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Cool-Shed-Inspirational-Hideaways/dp/1862059330/ref=pd_rhf_cr_p_t_1

And there it is… on the introduction page, and on pages 44 and 45, lovely photos of my lovely shed, with lovely Dan sitting in it with his lovely guitar and my lovely fabric all around him. Jane’s words about my work are lovely too. I am suffused with loveliness today! Rain? What rain?

Big smiles.

Also…. Later in the day had an unexpected tutorial with visiting artist Jim Mooney, who said unexpected complimentary things about my work. He unexpectedly got everything I was trying to do and say. He asked questions I unexpectedly knew the answers to. I am now feeling unexpectedly positive about my future. Don’t know how long that’ll last, but I’ll take it where I can and enjoy it for as long as it does last.

More big smiles.


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And relaaaax…..

Over the last few weeks I’ve been booking acts for Life and Other Art, the festival that we put together between the Life Drawing group and the Rebellious Quilters. Life and Other Art Festival was becoming a bit of a mouthful, so, thanks to a flash of inspiration from Dan, we’re now calling it LOAF. Why didn’t we think of it before… I love it being called LOAF… it’s friendly, comforting, funny, and has endless opportunity for punning.

Its a funny little do really, that has grown over the last few years… please go and visit the listings on my website… which thankfully is now back in working order and all info up-to-date.

www.elenathomas.co.uk/events

There’s also a recently renamed facebook event page…

http://www.facebook.com/events/398026833542060/

The music programme is now complete, the Quilters are furiously stitching to at least get some projects finished (mine on the day, no doubt, will be a “Work in Progress” as usual!)

The life drawers are sorting through other projects, so we will have the usual collection of drawing, ceramics, textiles, oils and watercolours, photography. I’m thinking of hanging some of my stuffed children’s clothes too.

The new title also gives us the possibility for a themed display of refreshments… assorted sweet and savoury loaves definitely….tasty!

So, the wonky little poster I’ve been drawing will now be done properly. I think a wonky hand-drawn poster will go well with our wholesome wholemeal new title.

I’ve had more exciting news too… but I’m saving that for a post all of its own at a later date.


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I don’t often talk about my “Other Life” on my blog… my teaching life that is. I teach art to ks2 in a primary school, but I also teach art to training primary teachers. It’s great teaching both ends of the art-in-school spectrum. Each informs the other.

But adults don’t half come with some baggage about art and teaching art.

Over the past couple of years I’ve heard the same phrases over and over again:

“I can’t draw”

“Well you’ve either got it or you haven’t”

“It’s a gift”

“I don’t know why we’re doing this, you can’t teach drawing”

“I’m not in the least bit creative”

“I can’t see the point in ME doing ANY of this”

“I’ve got an essay I could be writing”

“I’m not using charcoal it’s filthy”

“The school I’m in, they don’t allow painting in the classrooms” (They had a bit of space in a corridor, where a classroom assistant was allowed to take 4 children at a time, once a week, but only the “Good” children)

And overheard as they went out of the door “I’m not coming next week if we’re doing clay”

And these are people who in a couple of years time WILL be expected to teach art in some way or another.

I only get 3 sessions with them. It’s hard to start undoing all that negativity in 7 hours.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some people in these groups who love art, and will be great in the classroom. And most of them will be perfectly fine with a bit of experience under their belts.

But what has our art education system done to these people when they were children?


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It’s just dawned on me that what I’m doing is ok. The way I do stuff is ok too.

I’ve just been designing the layout of a poster. The idea was that I would give my piece of paper to someone else to make it better… to use photoshop, digital media,proper fonts. In this way it would suddenly become a PROPER poster.

But you know what? It IS a proper poster! It’s a bit wonky, some of the lines wiggle. But you know what else? I like it! It’s very “Me”! The ink line drawings intended to hold the place until real photos arrived are OK! my handwriting is legible, that’s ok too. I don’t need Tahoma or Arial… I eschew Avant Garde! So sorry Mr D. Signer and Mrs P. Shop, I’m going to scan it in just as it is.

This might be a woman thing? (Some) women don’t have the certainty that (some) men do. I’m not saying this is good or bad, just different. Each has its place.

I’m still not sure whether this scratchy inky poster will be the one used, but I’m not going to apologise for it. It is what it is and it’s good.

In the words of Homer Simpson “I never apologise! I’m sorry, but that’s the kind of man I am!”

(Fed up with quoting Baudrillard, returning to the Simpson’s – Homer has a quote for EVERY occasion)


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