Inspired Responses 9 -The Brindley

During the autumn of last year I was working with two secondary schools in Halton as part of the Inspired Responses programme.  Inspired Responses is a mini artist residency programme where an artist visits a secondary school, sharing their practice and passing on the skills that they use, before the teacher develops work with the students during the term.  The artist returns at the end of the programme to advise on presentation of the work in an exhibition at the Brindley Gallery.

The exhibition is currently showing at The Brindley until 22 February 2014.

With the Heath School we looked at the jet-washed drawings that I have been making recently.  We went on a walk around the school photographing and drawing signs, and the students felt as though all of the signs in school were negative, telling them not to do something, or not to go somewhere.  So working with their teacher Mrs Wade they have designed signs that are positive actions that can be carried out in school.  They developed these designs by cutting stencils from paper and experimented with layouts by painting them onto banners.

The students designs have been turned into digital files that can be cut out on the school’s laser cutting machine.  Using a sturdy plastic we have created stencils which have been jet washed onto both the school playground and onto pavements around the Brindley.  Here’s a video of the designs being installed:

The after-school club at the Grange looked at a selection of my works about movement and chose the ‘One Minute’ drawings on paper to be inspired by.  These works are about how people move around spaces as viewed from the top floor of a building.  The new building that houses the Grange school is sleek and modern, with curving balconies and staircases where pupils pass through, much like the places in my ‘One minute’ drawings.
We took a walk through the building, taking photographs and videos to record the movement and the shapes of the architecture.  Using pencil, graphite sticks, graphite powder and stencils cut from paper the students experimented with making marks, photographing their drawings at a number of stages to create a selection of short animations.  Learning from these initial experiments, each student has created their own graphite drawing inspired by moving through the school, taking the ideas and techniques that I’ve shown them and making the work their own. I’m really pleased to see such an interesting range of techniques in their works – I might borrow some of their ideas for my future works.
Inspired Responses 9
The Brindley
High Street
18 January – 22 February 2014
The Gallery is open: Mon – Fri 10am – 5.30pm, Sat 10am – 3pm
Closed Sundays & Bank Holidays

The Drawing Project – Castlefield Gallery 14-23 February 2014

I’m currently making a new piece of work which will be shown at The Drawing Project at Castlefield Gallery this month.  It’s a piece of work that I’ll create live on the opening night that involves projection, rubber stamping and migration.  It’s all under wraps at the minute, so you’ll have to come to the event on Thursday 13 February between 6-9pm to see how it all comes together.

In the meantime, go and have a look at all of the other wonderful artists who use drawing who will also be part of the exhibition:

Urmson-Burnett Photogram Open

Urmson-Burnett Gallery announced the first national prize competition for photogram makers in August 2013. Submissions have been collated and a final selection made. To view images that will comprise the show click here

Submissions came in from throughout the UK, and, as a nice but unexpected surprise, a number of works were submitted from abroad. Photograms from artists in the USA, Hungary and Malta have made the final selection.  Claire Weetman is exhibiting a multiple exposure photogram ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here (Up)’.

The exhibition takes place at Urmson-Burnett Gallery in Salisbury from 25 January – 15 February 2014 and then tours to Silverprint in Elephant and Castle, London from 18 February – 15 March 2014.

Urmson-Burnett Gallery
34 Winchester Street, Salisbury SP1 1HG
Open: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat 11am-5pm

120 London Road, London SE1 6LF.
Open: 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday
10am – 4pm on Saturdays

Where do you want to be?

Stop, Collaborate and Listen: A dancer and a visual artist begin a journey in a library.
Simon Garfield’s On the map provided a starting point for an exploratory day between dancer Sophie Tickle and I at Chester Lane Library in St Helens. Having never worked together before, the question ‘Where do you want to be? provided a useful way to begin the collaboration. We started by talking a bit more about what each of us do, what tools of our trade each of us had brought with us and considering how to begin.
We started with a map of where we are now.
St Helens.
In a library.
Feeling a bit self conscious.
Not wanting to sit around talking all day.
Wanting to play.
Shelves of library books surrounded us, so to find out how each of us were interpreting the question, we searched the shelves for titles that sparked a connection. We both brought back books about journeys: I selected Thirty Nine Steps and Sophie selected The girl on the ferry boat and Let not the waves of the sea.
‘Where do you want to be’
the importance of the journey to get there
a process
the trials of the journey
Which led us onto books that were barriers to getting to where we want to be: Crossing the line, Overcoming anxiety and Money money money featured here. Physical borders, mental barriers, financial obstacles. Some of these are self help books, linked into the idea of finding our own way through life, which linked into the next group of books: Letters from Skye, The woman who went to bed for a year, The inquisitor and Girl in the Mirror.
Sending a letter to yourself
Time to reflect
Asking questions
Where are we heading? That was represented by only one title: The wish list.
The things that spur us on through the journey.
Walking through the shelves caused us to start thinking in metaphors.
A journey through a library,
a place that can transport us to anywhere.
The aisles in the library as different paths in life.
We unfurled rolls of fabric that I had brought with me, imagining them as paths on our journey, or letters that we might write to ourselves. We wove them in and out of the books, passing them from one aisle to another thinking of them as the time along the journey when we reflect on where we have got to.
Playing in between the shelves we lay down on the floor thinking about the lows in life, and how the view looks different from down there, how we could glimpse each other’s eyes through the gaps between the books, and climbed up onto chairs to see the view from on high. It all got a bit philosophical as we built barriers using the fabric and Sophie experimented with moving through those barriers, then pulling the fabric to create tension between the different paths that life could take, getting tangled in a web of our own advice and that of others, of life unravelling and paths becoming more difficult to walk along. While in the large print aisle we got our only question from a member of the public, who asked if Sophie was doing her exercises. We made a film of movements glimpsed between the books, and started to imagine how this could translate into a performance or an installation, or both.
We drew some diagrams, made some notes and thought about an audience. How would they experience this? As an installation to navigate through themselves, with barriers to duck under and stairs to ascend changing their viewpoint and causing them to move differently. Videos of eyes watching them from between the books. A viewing platform where they could take in the whole thing (the audience playing the part of hindsight). Shelves populated with books selected by the audience, the books obscuring the view from one path to another. Thelibrary as a performance space where dancers could tell the story of these multiple selves that we take on our journey. A movement score that uses verbs from our initial playful explorations:
And then, we realised that our initial collaboration, starting from nothing, had become an exciting potential project combining dance and visual art. So we’re meeting again next month to play some more, only in a different library this time. Can’t have the lady in the large print aisle thinking that there’s a monthly exercise class there.

Small Change, Airspace Gallery. Until 7 December 2013

AirSpace Gallery – 8th Nov – 7th Dec, 2013

CURATED by Sevie Tsampalla
ARTISTS – Jane Lawson, Noor Nuyten, Lauren O’Grady,
Claire Weetman
COLLECTIVES – Buddleia / public works, Network Nomadic Architecture, Plus-tôt Te laat, Quartier Midi, Spectacle

“small change focuses on change and placemaking in the city, seen both as a physical and imagined entity. The project comprises a group exhibition featuring existing and new work by four artists, a public intervention and a talk. Alongside artists, collectives from the UK and beyond contribute to the exhibition with audiovisual material that documents their engagement with the public realm. 

The exhibition is a response to the book Small Change by architect Nabeel Hamdi and its main idea that small-scale actions have the power to bring about positive change in urban communities. Acknowledging creative practice and collectivism as agents of change, the exhibition invites artists and collectives whose practice addresses issues of place and social change. The artists will realise new work, alongside showing existing sculptures, drawings and video’s. Audiovisual material from collectively-run projects that aim to making meaningful contributions to their environments, will open up the gallery space to various localities and concerns.

I am exhibiting a number of works in this show, Watermark, an intervention in four directions is being shown on four monitors installed at floor level.  Using the paving stones of a pedestrianised square in Istanbul as a canvas, Watermark follows prominent lines of passage across the space, linking ferry, bus and taxi terminals at the edge of the Bosphorus with the Beşiktaş area of the city.

Chatham Road (Eventually everyone had moved) traces where displaced residents of a single street had relocated and has also been selected for this show along with a first public outing for my Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here collages, which can be found gently glowing in the darkened space to the rear of the gallery.

I’m creating a new intervention as part of this exhibition titled ‘reversal of flow’ which will take place in the city centre of Stoke on Trent during the exhibition and is inspired by recent re-organisation of bus routes and one way streets in the town centre.  Watch this space for documentation of the work once it has taken place.

There’s a host of other great works in this show, including Jane Lawson‘s proposals for alternative economic systems, Lauren O’Grady‘s ‘Other Possible Locations’ sculptures and the beautifully poised works of Noor Nuyten.

Thoughts and Pictures, The Vice Chancellor’s Lodge, Liverpool

An exhibition in association with Arena Studios and Gallery, Thoughts and Pictures brings you a taste of the impressive work which is emerging from Liverpool’s grass roots arts scene.

Featuring: Josie Jenkins, Richard Robinson, Phil McKay, Susan Stevens, Carol Ramsay, Mike Snowdon, Lucy Wilson, Nathan Pendlebury, Helen Pendlebury, Anthony Pendlebury, Mo Peacock, Claire Weetman, Julie Dodd, Anna Ketskemety, Richard Robinson and Gareth Kemp.

This Autumn, Sir Howard and Lady Newby are delighted to host Thoughts and Pictures, an exhibition which brings together a mixture of selected artists showcasing artistic talent from across Liverpool. The featured artists are linked through the craftsmanship they use to represent their vision, presenting art, craft and illustration which displays real skill and process in its execution, whether the work is figurative or abstract.

A small percentage from the sales of work in this exhibition will be donated to Arena Studios and Gallery to support its continuing programme of events and exhibitions. For more information about Arena Studios and Gallery please visit .

Works by Mike Snowden, Julie Dodd, Susan Stevens
Works by Mo Peacock and Josie Jenkins
Works by Nathan Pendlebury

The Exhibition will be held at The University of Liverpool Vice-Chancellor’s Lodge, strictly by invitation only and not available for viewing at any other time. If you would like an invitation to one of the open events, please email

Keep the Pavement Dry

Friday 18 October saw the opening of the Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival, with the venues of The Gallery at Bank Quay House, The Pyramid and Warrington Museum & Art Gallery being linked by a trail of drawings cleaned into the pavement surface.

The artworks are the culmination of a commission I’ve been working on called ‘Keep the Pavement Dry’ and began life during a number of photography walks around Warrington in Early September.  Groups of enthusiastic photographers joined me on research walks around the town with the brief to ‘be curious’.  Walking around the town with fresh eyes, looking up, crouching down, peering through or climbing over, photographs were taken of often overlooked parts of architecture.  The photographs, shared via an online blog, provide a snapshot of Warrington and are an interesting exercise in how different people are drawn to a range of details in their environment.
During the walks I became interested in two key elements of the townscape.  The first element is what inspired the title of the work, ‘Keep the Pavement Dry’.  Queens Gardens, in the centre of the Cultural Quarter, houses a white painted, cast iron piece of street furniture.  The tall, narrow, ornate canopy stands in the centre of the gardens raised on steps.  On one side is a profile of Queen Victoria, whilst on the other three sides is the inscription ‘KEEP THE PAVEMENT DRY’.  Curiosity was aroused and I looked into why this instruction, endorsed by a stern looking Victoria, should be on this item of street furniture.  A short internet search discovered that this is a common inscription on public drinking fountains, it seeming that mischievous Victorians would be only too happy to splash water around the place without this reminder.  The bowl of the Queens Gardens drinking fountain was removed at some point (someone told me how, as an enthusiastic child, he tripped while going up the steps surrounding the fountain and split his forehead on the edge of the bowl).  Knowing that my process of creating a trail of drawings around Warrington was going to involve spraying water onto the pavement, this seemed too great a coincidence to ignore.


The second element of the townscape that piqued my curiosity was also Victorian in origin – cast iron railings.  Warrington is renowned for it’s ornate ‘Golden Gates’ in front of the Town Hall, but it was the overlooked railings that were of greater interest to me.  Railings moderate our movement around a city, separating private and public spaces, marking out the boundaries of property or preventing us from falling into basements.  During the second world war many iron railings were removed with the intention of helping the war effort, resulting in fewer barriers to movement, a democratisation of public space.  The railings adjacent to the Golden Gates were victims of this cull, the cropped curls still visible on the low wall that edges around Bank Park.  This absence draws attention to the railings that still exist, their decorative points extending upwards, preventing us from falling down into basements or from balconies.
I worked the decorative designs from these elements of Victorian street furniture into drawings, first on paper and then using the computer.  Linear elements were combined with flowing organic designs to create a set of stencils that could point people in a certain direction around the town, moderating and influencing their movement in a similar way to railings and providing maybe a more gentle guide than the stern instruction to not splash water all over the place.
The drawings were cut into thick plastic using a laser cutter, creating stencils that could be placed on the pavements around Warrington.  Further walks around town located pavements which were suitable for the process of jet washing the drawings in place.  The requirement for a flat, smooth, suitably dirty paving stone meant that large areas of the town had to be disregarded due to tarmac footpaths being present.  Locations were chosen considering how people move through the town with junctions and corners being the key locations for the drawings.  The work considers what routes are taken from the town centre into the cultural quarter.  Can this intervention effect movement towards the festival venues? 

My practice involves drawing, often with graphite and an eraser, so the process of using a jet washer to erase dirt from the pavement is not such a big leap away from a more traditional artistic approach.  Assisted by Warrington’s Town Centre Wardens who provided equipment, manpower, a knowledge of where to get a water supply and a can-do approach, installation of the work began.  The stencils were placed onto the pavement, considering which direction people should be led in, then water was jetted through the stencil, removing the dirt from the pavement in that particular area.  When removed, the stencil reveals the clean, erased, pavement contrasting with the dirtier, original surface.  The A1 stencils were placed around 150 times around the town, creating a drawing approximately 120m long if all laid end to end, making this a physically demanding drawing process due to it’s sheer scale.
The drawings have begun to interrupt people’s movement within Warrington, with people having been sighted hopping over them, walking around them and showing their curiosity with a double take as they walk past them.  The designs will gradually fade as footfall, air pollution, weather and street cleaning activity redistributes the dirt, resulting in the pavement naturally returning to an unembellished surface once the festival ends.
The best way to see the work, is to just wander around Warrington, especially Queens Gardens and the Cultural Quarter with a curious eye, whilst hopping between the broad range of exhibitions and events at venues and in the Town Centre.  Below you’ll find a map which shows how the drawings are located around Warrington, with each pinpoint clickable to reveal a photograph of the artwork.

View Keep the Pavement Dry in a larger map

With thanks to:
Culture Warrington, The Gallery at Bank Quay House, Warrington’s Town Centre Wardens, Creative Remedies Photography Group, Eco Street Adverts, all the photographers who contributed.