Us at the Jazz!

One of the highlights of the events in Cheltenham is the incredible Jazz festival. Myself, three talented illustrators and the Cheltenham Illustration Awards were lucky enough to be given an opportunity to exhibit at the jazz festival, in the delightful Gardens Gallery.

It was a fantastic experience and a privilege to exhibit alongside so many talented illustrators including the successful entrants of the Cheltenham Illustration Awards. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many people enthusiastic about creativity - music and art. Hearing your wonderful feedback in person and finding out your thoughts about the work was incredibly lifting - a lovely reminder of why we do what we do.

We were thrilled and at times slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people we managed to fit through the gallery’s doors. Roughly 3,000 people visited us over 6 days!! We barely managed to keep the count. Huge thank you for all your support; to the visitors, the customers, well wishes, the helpful folk from Gardens Gallery, all our glamorous assistants, the University of Gloucestershire and of course my fellow exhibitors - Emma Evans, Naomi Powell and Aimee Sullivan - THANK YOU! We couldn’t have done it without you. Looking forward to the next big event! See you soon.

Wonderful Work of Wojciech Jakubowski

Stumbling across beautiful prints in person doesn't happen to me very often. I often hunt through boxes of frames in charity shops or rummage through second hand book shops looking for hidden treasure that an untrained eye might often over look. I usually find some interesting things but no original prints. However I recently find myself browsing through oxfam and longingly gazing at the collectors cabinet, when a rather unassuming grey book sleeve caught my eye. The description read;

"50 loose-leaf engravings by WOJCIECH JAKUBOWSKI
limited edition of 80 copies of which this is number 63
Accompanying booklet signed by Jakubowski
Published GDYNIA 1998
Mint condition"

They had me at 'engravings'. Timidly I asked the elderly lady at the desk if I might look through the prints, half expecting that I was not worthy to be entrusted with such a holy item. The cabinet was unlocked, I was seated and handed a magnifying glass. I was not disappointed, after carefully removing the outer sleeve and unfolding a simple but well made case I was blown away by the artistry and craftsmanship I found inside.  

Jakubowski's technique uses cross hatching to build up tone and line. The subject differs from print to print, but often we see depicted a romantic, classical impression of nature, figures and objects. Jakubowski uses abstraction alongside realism to create flow and contrast in his work. It amazes me how he manages to fit it all into such tiny prints and so effortlessly. It is easy to see that Jakubowski is a competent and experienced printmaker as he is able to successfully produce complex, harmonised prints. The Detail is mind blowing; he is able to engrave with incredible precision, in such a small scale creating intimate prints. I can't begin to imagine the patience and skill required to create such exquisite work. 

Sketches from Berlin

I've uploaded my sketchbook of Berlin, giving you another perspective of my time there. As well as sketches I often used my sketchbook to write notes about where I was or where I was going. I don't have a great sense of direction or memory and had to write clear instructions to myself when I explored Berlin on my own. The sketchbook was made by 'Paper and salt', you can find them on Etsy - Paperandsalt and Instagram - paper_and_salt . 

Berlin 5th - 10th March

Berlin is a wonderful atmospheric city that captures the best of urban living. It only takes a little detour off the main streets and you'll discover street art on epic proportions, brightening up the grey. The Germans have a reputation for being excellent designers which is reflected through their architecture and well designed city. It's almost surreal to walk along spacious streets of a large city without being jostled about by irritable crowds. 

There is also plenty of opportunities to delve deeper into Berlin and Germany's history. Although their recent history is tragic and difficult to fully grasp, memorials and museums commemorate those events and all those lost, often in thoughtful and powerful ways. Parallels between the refugee crisis and the plight the Jewish community has suffered were made through powerful and moving exhibitions. I will dedicate a separate blog post to these exhibitions. 

On our first day we explored the lesser known streets of Hackescher Market. Here we were led through an archway; covered in graffiti, stickers and posters. Beyond the arch was courtyard dedicated to all manner of street art every inch of reachable wall was covered and decorated. At the other side of the courtyard tucked into a corner, camouflaged by stickers and posters was an intimidating door. On entering we discovered a stairwell covered in, you guessed it, graffiti and stickers. Unsure if we were really supposed to be there and if this entrance was meant to be open to the public, we discovered a haven to illustration. A bookshop and gallery dedicated to graphic novels, comics, zines, picture books and all manor of books on art, design and illustration. In the afternoon we explored the Pergamon museum and enjoyed views from the Fernsehturm TV tower.

On the second day we visited the Hamburger Bahnof museum, filled with fine art which, was mostly unappreciated by us illustration students, struggling to understand its meaning. On our way to Berlin’s technical museum we stopped by Brandenburg gate and the Reichstag building. We also took a moment to reflect in the Memorial to Murdered Jews in Europe. The memorial is designed so that as you step further into it, the ground gradually slopes down and the concrete pillars tower above you. The pillars are arranged in a grid formation, one minute its easy to see those around you but, by simply turning a corner you can quickly loose track of everyone around you and find yourself alone. Although you are aware of the possible ways to exist it’s easy to become disorientated and loose all sense of direction. Upon emerging I was struck with an element of guilt, I had experienced a small and (in comparison) pitiful amount of the emotions and sensations that many jews had faced but, unlike them I could walk away and leave that experience within the concrete pillars of the memorial. We spent the rest of the day at the technical Museum.

The third day we visited Staatliche museum Berlin full of all sorts of artefacts from around the world, a perfect place for lovers of nick naks and collections. In the afternoon we explored a section of Berlin’s botanical gardens. Due to its vast scale and our mission to capture the wonderful and weird plants through sketches and photos we were enable to see it all within just one afternoon. (sketches of the trip to follow)  

Our final day we were given free reign. I decided to have a wonder and an explore on my own. It was only at this point did finally grasp how the S-bahn worked and could at last navigate my way. I started my day at the jewish museum. The architecture created atmospheric spaces giving visitors an insight into the mentality and emotions of how many jews felt suffering under the nazis. I then made my way to the Kathe Kollwitz museum, it was fascinating to see how her work developed through the years and her influences. I wrapped up the day at Brohan museum, their collection includes art nouveau, art deco, functionalism and paintings and prints from the Berlin Secession. I don't think I've been so excited over vases before.  

What I appreciated most about my time in Berlin was the opportunity to learn and connect emotionally to the history. Something which is hard to pick up in a text book. The Parallels made between refugees of the past and the refugees of today were thought provoking and powerful. I will explore this further in my writings another day.

Looking forward to sharing some of my sketches of Berlin with you as well my time at the London book fair. But that's all for now.


Looking forward to sharing my travels and adventures with you. Only one more week before I head off to Berlin. I'll be posting photos and sketches here, of my time in Berlin. Other events and trips will also follow. Auf wiedersehen!