Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Art In Action 2007

Well this entry has turned into something of a saga so you had better make yourself a cup of tea and get comfortable.

I set off at lunchtime on the wednesday and had a pleasant, gentle journey across country to Oxfordshire. The weather was fine and, after depositing my equipment in the Printmaking tent, I drove to the campsite and found a patch of ground at the higher end of the field - a good decision, as it happened. As you can see, my '76 VW camper isn't the smartest looking vehicle but it has character. The refit had cost more money that I could really afford but I spent five very comfortable nights in the van.

I walked back to the Printmaking tent - a sizeable marquee - and started to arrange my things.

I started by arranging framed engravings on the stands at the side:

Next, I covered the tables and arranged unframed prints in my browsers:

I was sharing the space with nine other printmakers (select printmaking in the drop down menu), an etching press and this magnificant 1876 "Super Royal" (ie. biggest) Albion Handpress:

What a beauty!

I hung my framed "Walking On Water" as my entry in the "Best of the Best" exhibition and, after dinner, since it was still fine, I made use of the framing workshop in the back of my VW:

A beautiful sunny day with many visitors and pleasing sales. Here are some of the visitors taking refreshments in front of Waterperry house. Art In Action takes place in the grounds around the house and surrounding fields and orchards:

Ten hours of rain! Here is the morning view from inside the camper (which amazingly no longer leaks), accompanied by Radio Three.

Meanwhile, in the Printmaking tent, the water rises!

Intrepid visitors arrive...

...and the ground starts to turn to mud!

Notwithstanding the rain and mud, I enjoyed Friday. There were fewer visitors, but they were not only intrepid but also interested in the work we were doing. There was time to have conversations and give one-to-one demonstrations. Here is my working area set out with sketchbooks, blocks and works in progress:

However, by the end of the day, the inside of the tent was ankle deep in mud!

We arriveed to find the situation no different and so decided to sort it out ourselves. Printmakers are such capable, practical people. Laurie (collagraph and etching), Chloe (lithography) and Nana (traditional and modern Japanese printmaking) are seen here bringing in the first barrow of straw. Many other barrows followed and we covered the floor. The whole tent had (for now) and pleasant, comforting rural aroma - rather like a dry barn or stable.

Saturday was a surprisingly good day, culminating in a marvellous meal served up for the artists and craftspeople who had been demonstrating at the event.

When the tent was opened on Sunday morning, the smell was enough to take the back off your throat; the mud-soaked straw had produced the unmistakable aroma of cowshed!

We set out in search of more straw and, once again, the Printmaking tent was a pleasant place to be. Sunday was busy but I found a little time to wander round and look at the work on display. Here is the etching press:

And the beautiful 1876 Hopkinson and Cope Super Royal Albion handpress that I used for demonstrating printing:

At lunchtime, I spent a few minutes exploring the lovely gardens of Waterperry House:

Soon, the last visitors left and we packed away our things before clearing the tent. I set off in my camper but soon found that the heavy rain was starting to take its toll:

I decided not to risk the floodwater in a 30 year old van and turned round to seek another route. Around me was evidence of the devastating floods that are now still affecting large areas of southern England:

All in all, and despite the weather, Art In Action was extremely enjoyable. I couldn't have hoped for more cogenial companions than the other printmakers. I enjoyed demonstrating engraving and also sold a pleasing quantity of prints. Without hesitation, I would recommend Art In Action to anyone with an interest in arts and crafts.


Celia Hart said...

that was an enjoyable read - and well done to you and your fellow printmakers for acquiring the straw - I bet exhibitors and visitors won't forget Art in Action 2007!

the setting for the event looks spectacular - must make a note to go along next year


Annie B said...

Great story, Andy. I really enjoyed the video and laughed aloud to see your muddy shoes every day. Glad to hear that sales were brisk. The place itself looks wonderful.

I envy you sharing quarters with Nana Shiomi. I discovered her work online a few months ago and would love to talk shop with her someday.

Letter C said...

I'm in Oregon, USA and thought that I knew rain. Ha!

I'm glad you still had attendees. And it looks all in all enjoyable albeit wet.

Thank you for taking the time to take the pictures and post them.

Gary Grainger said...

Nice work Andy! I've just blogged you (again) here:
Maybe we'll meet up when Ratdog tour again, or, you know, when Phil & Friends come over (ha! - woodcut of pigs flying!)