Last weekend I was really fortunate to be invited to the Maldon Art Trail’s Children’s workshops – a day of free art and craft workshops for local families. Maldon’s Art Trail began in 2008 and every year is organised by an enthusiastic group of volunteers to showcase the work of the many outstanding local artists, taking over shops, cafes and public buildings all around the town.
I brought along my jelly plates, inks and rollers and taught about 50 children how to use jelly to print onto paper bags. I have to say that I was very impressed with how well behaved all of the children were and how fabulous their prints each looked.
As time was short and there were so many other activities for the children to try, we just focused on the basics of jelly printing (although there is so much more to learn, as the printers on our five week printmaking course are discovering at the moment).
I was also asked a few times throughout the day about other children’s workshops here at Slamseys, so perhaps I’d better put a few more printing dates in the diary – but in the meantime, we are supporting The Big Draw this weekend with our Children’s Dreamtime Art workshop, inspired by storytelling and Australian Aboriginal paintings.
For any of the parents who are interested in making more jelly prints at home with the kids, there are some directions and recipes here.
Find out more about the Maldon Art Trail here and check out the last few Essex Summer of Art events of the year here.
Thermofax is one of my favourite methods of printmaking. I like it because firstly it’s very quick and very simple, but also because despite this it gives great results.
One day I will own my very own thermofax printing machine, but new machines cost about £1,000 and old machines, although sometimes cheaper, can be a bit of a handful to keep in working order. At the moment I get my screens from a company in Northamptonshire – you can either design your own, or choose from a large selection of their premade screens.
Thermofax works in a similar way to traditional screenprinting, but is effective on even a very small scale. Your design is burnt into fine mesh which allows the ink to move through the screen. Using a lightweight squeegee, you push the ink through the burnt design to produce your print – simple!
This morning I have been playing around with my new screens and I can’t wait to start printing some new project ideas – I’m thinking about customising our Slamseys Art aprons, printing some new cushion covers to give my old sofa a new burst of life as well as printing a series of original prints to hang at home.
I love how each one is an original print and you get slight variations in the thickness of the ink. I’ve been using simple black ink this morning, but you can use any colour in your projects.
It’s official – we are now in Summer. Yesterday the Essex Summer of Art launched their season of events. This year there are 38 art trails across the county for you to explore, featuring painting, printmaking, sculpture, glass, photography and more. There is so much on offer and all for free so I really recommend visiting as many as you can.
Here at Slamseys we were extra excited because the launch party was happening in our very own Barley Barn on the farm. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks installing giant insects made from reclaimed metal by local artist Graham Thrussell. We’ve placed his fantastic art onto tractor tyres, pallet plinths and tree trunks and I have to say that it looks absolutely brilliant!
In the main barn we have an exhibition called AFTERLIFE, the headline artist is Gillian Allard from Suffolk, with her intriguing photographs of animals once they have passed away. She has a brilliant use of light throughout the series and gives each creature a dignity in death. For the launch yesterday we were treated to a video installation detailing a fox decomposing over a three week period – it wasn’t for the squeamish, but was a fantastic display of nature at work.
After a slight hiccup with our taxidermy exhibits, I am really grateful to the John Ray Gallery at our local Braintree District Museum, for loaning us some fabulous taxidermy specimens as well as a deer and fox skull replica. Dunmow based artist Edward Norman (whose mammoth canvas is on permanent display in the barn) also came up trumps with several small cabinets of curiosity on very short notice, which make an excellent addition to our display.
The exhibition and sculpture trail as part of the Slamseys Art Month are open Thursdays-Saturdays 10:00-16:00 until the 27 June. We also have a special event on Sunday for the national Open Farm events – more to follow on that one.
If you like the unusual, the intriguing and the wonderful, then please come and say hi and make your way along our art trail.
For more information about the Essex Summer of Art, have a look at VisitEssex.
Whoops – it’s been a little while since I’ve done a blog post as we’ve been so busy at Slamseys between taxidermy workshops and hosting an 80th birthday party for my granny.
Now that the marquee has been taken down and the chairs and tables have been collected, I can get back to focusing on our Art Month as it opens to the public in exactly one month – yikes!
The sculptures are being created, the photographs being framed and the barn is being tidied and dusted and spruced up for the big occasion. It’s doubly exciting because the whole of the Essex Summer of Art is being launched from our barn at the beginning of June, including a talk from ENAS artist David Trenow.
As part of our Art Month we will also be running our workshops, including a brand new photography workshop, aimed at encouraging budding photographers to move away from the automatic settings on their cameras. Gillian Allard who is leading the workshop, is also one of our exhibiting artists.
All of our workshops reflect our theme of ‘The Natural World’, exploring the beautiful countrysides and landscapes around us. I can’t wait for it all to kick off!