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Here we'll keep you up to date with news of our design activities - but also with details of exhibitions, events and artists who we're being inspired by.

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Rena Gardiner at MMU October 15 2016

Manchester Metropolitan University's Special Collections are currently hosting an exhibition dedicated to the work of Rena Gardiner.

Rena Gardiner (1929-1999) spent her life entirely devoted to her art, creating books, prints and paintings. She is best known for a series of guidebooks to historic places, buildings and the countryside, each of which she wrote, printed and illustrated herself. This exhibition will include some of these guidebooks alongside paintings, pastels, linocuts and sketch-books and a display of work by some of the artists who influenced Rena including Eric Ravilious, John Piper and Edward Bawden.

The exhibition is based upon the book Rena Gardiner: Artist and Printmaker by Julian Francis and Martin Andrew, published by Little Toller Books in association with the Dovecote Press, 2015.

Rena Gardiner: Artist and Printmaker at MMU Special Collections runs until 18th November 2016. Visit their website for full details

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Michael Kirkman October 14 2016

'Time Was Away', an exhibition by painter and printmaker Michael Kirkman, opened in Inverness last week and continues until 29th October 2016. The exhibition features a body of new paintings, drawings and limited edition prints. Michael explains...

"The work is an ongoing exploration into how the figure in art can suggest and communicate thoughts we all have. They can appear dreamlike at times, but I strive for the old meaning of surreal rather that the confusing and often over stylised interpretation that became fashionable in the post war years. I always work from memory, so often the images come from a real moment. I try to illustrate and make that feeling or sense of time and place available to look at in my pictures. I am very interested in the new Glasgow boys and in particular, the work of Steven Campbell, and also the general tradition of figurative work in Scotland with greats including Robin Philipson, the two Roberts, John Bellany and Joan Eardley.”

Having studied at Edinburgh College of Art, Michael Kirkman graduated from an MA course at the Royal College of Art, London in 2010. His inspiration comes from a need to communicate moments in time that seem strange or extraordinary, to capture what goes unnoticed. Some important influences include Eduardo Paolozzi, Mimmo Paladino, Balthus, Edward Burra and Jonathan Gibbs.

'Time Was Away' continues at The Castle Gallery, 43 Castle Street, Inverness IV2 3DU until 29th October 2016. View the online catalogue

We have a selection of Michael Kirkman's limited edition prints available over at our online gallery and Michael will join us in London from 23rd November until 4th December 2016 for our latest St Jude's In The City exhibition at The Bankside Gallery.

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Michael Kirkman 'Icarus's Wing' oil on board (48cm x 60cm)

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Michael Kirkman 'Rest from the Sea' pencil drawing (57cm x 69cm)

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Michael Kirkman 'On The Wrong Way' oil on board (48cm x 49.5cm)

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Michael Kirkman 'Weekday' linocut (41cm x 50cm)

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Michael Kirkman 'Propeller Boy' pencil and oil pastel (40cm x 30cm)

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Michael Kirkman 'Pablo's Cat' oil on board (48cm x 64cm)

Mark Hearld in Edinburgh September 23 2016

Opening in Edinburgh on the 5th of October is Collage, Pigeons and Platters, Mark Hearld’s first solo exhibition of new work following his critically acclaimed curated exhibition The Lumber Room: Unimagined Treasures which opened the recently refurbished York Art Gallery in 2015.

The exhibition continues to explore his love of the British countryside, a recent trip to Shetland and Orkney and his continuing curiosity for objects with a magpie approach to collecting in this new collection of collages, limited edition prints and hand-painted ceramics.

Talking of his collages, Mark explains…

“Collage as an approach is at the core of my work. It enables me to pull together a whole range of surfaces and textures to dynamic effect. It is inherently abstract; each bird silhouette is also a cut out piece of paper and the paper profile is very important to the overall effect.”

Visitors to the exhibition will also have the chance to see a selection of Mark’s fabrics and wallpapers for St Jude’s.

The digital catalogue for the exhibition can be viewed online now.

Collage, Pigeons and Platters runs from 5th-29th October 2016 at The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street. Edinburgh EH3 6HZ.

We're currently working on a Random Spectacular journal dedicated to Mark's The Lumber Room: Unimagined Treasures exhibition in York. To find out more nearer to publication, subscribe to our St Jude's Prints newsletter.

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The Shetland Times, 2016, mixed media with collage on paper, 56 x 75 cms

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Grey Partridge, mixed media with collage on paper, 40 x 40 cms

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Mark Hearld working in the studio

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The Shetland Ewe, 2016, mixed media with collage on paper, 56 x 75 cms

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Heron, 2016, mixed media with collage on paper, 56 x 75 cms

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Flight Platter, hand-painted ceramic, D:38 cms

Katy Hackney September 22 2016

We're delighted that jeweller Katy Hackney is taking part in our current Editions & Objects exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park which runs until the end of October 2016.

For the exhibition Katy has created a limited edition of ten box wood pendants, each individually decorated and numbered.

Born in Dundee and now based in London, Katy Hackney received a BA at Edinburgh College of Art and a MA at the Royal College of Art, London. Continues below...

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Hackney’s practice is driven by the materials she’s excited by. Materials she uses include woods, plastics, precious and non-precious metals, found objects, paint, formica and enamel. Her current influences include vintage toys and folk art.

Her work can be seen in the permanent collections of the London Crafts Council, Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, and the Ulster Museum, National Museum of Northern Ireland.

We took the opportunity to find our a little more about Katy's work and current activities...

Can you tell us how to came to designing wearable works of art?

When I left the RCA I set up in business and designed and made more commercial production silver jewellery which sold well but it was tedious work.

Then I discovered cellulose acetate which spectacle frames are made from, began to experiment with it, and my work became larger and more colourful and I became interested in finding other materials to use, such as wood, Formica, other found plastics… colour! Continues below...

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You also teach at Central St Martins; how does this impact on the type of work you create?

I don’t notice that it does, something must seeping in?

It does keep me up to date with what is going on the jewellery world as we have a great programme of lectures.

I enjoy passing on knowledge and working with students from all over the world, and working with an amazing team.

What are your major influences?

Everyday things, I often get an idea from something I see in the street on my journey to college or on holiday or trips abroad.

I use my Instagram account as my visual diary, I often go back to it and print out photos of textures, colour combinations, shapes.

Working on lots of other things also feeds in to my work.

I love old toys and objects with a 'story' showing in their wear and tear - doors, tiles, tools and peeling paint.

What is a typical day for you?

My days are fairly varied. As well as teaching I work with knitwear designer Jo Gordon as colour consultant, helping to design her collections each year.

I also work as a picture researcher for costume in film, a job I started a few years ago and love. It definitely informs my work and I am learning something new all of the time.

Most recently I was the costume researcher on Suffragette and I’m working on other projects that are in production.

What is your preferred material of use?

At the moment it's wood.

You use an incredible array of materials, how do you decide which to use in a project?

I have boxes of bits that I gather along the way from all over and I work in a 'collage' sort of way with lots of pieces on my work table. I’ll move these around and arrange, cut then rearrange until I get something I like.

It gets really messy and I have to have a big clear up then I begin all over again! Continues below...

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You work as a colour advisor to Jo Gordon Knitwear; how does this impact on your work?

It definitely does as we do research on different ways and I end up looking at textiles which I didn't really before.

The costume research really influences and helps in both jewellery and design work for Jo. I'm currently researching clothing in 1950 to 60s for a job. The colours and patterns of dresses then were amazing. This will all feed into my brain and re-emerge somehow in my jewellery!

What is your favourite colour?

Yellow

What can you see from your studio today?

Usually it my neighbour’s wall!

But today from my balcony in Barcelona I can see a narrow street filled with little balconies covered in colourful washing, a man delivering a cooker and a tiny barking dog having a pee.

What single tool would you consider essential to your work?

My jeweller’s saw and my camera (usually on my phone).

What are you working on now and what is coming up next?

The staff of St. Martins are having a show COUNTERCURRENT in Arthur Beales, Yacht Chandlers in Shaftesbury Avenue. My response to the shop was to collect, borrow and steal Nautical themed jewellery and fill a little cabinet with it, we installed in amongst the shops stock... I'm also researching for a costume project. Teaching will begin in October and so will working with Jo.

Editions & Objects at Yorkshire Sculpture Park continues until Sunday 30th October 2016. Find out more about the exhibition or take a look at all the available works online including Katy Hackney's box wood pendant.

Portrait photography by Jenny Lewis.

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Modern Studies September 15 2016

Our friend and collaborator Rob St. John (who we've had the pleasure of working with on Random Spectacular projects generated from Rob, Tommy Perman and Simon Kirby's Concrete Antenna sound installation) has just released a new album as part of chamber pop quartet Modern Studies.

Their quietly experimental landscape songs are played on analogue synths, cello, double bass, drums, guitars, a wine-glass orchestra and, at the creaking centre of things, a Victorian pedal harmonium. The band came together in early 2015, when Glasgow songwriter Emily Scott recruited old pals and collaborators Pete Harvey (King Creosote, The Leg), Joe Smillie (boss of Glasgow’s The Glad Cafe) and Rob St. John.

Modern Studies have created a short trailer for the album, shot on a Super 8 camera at Port Eliot festival in Cornwall in July 2016, where the band played for Caught by the River.

We'd definitely recommend that you order a copy of the album (on CD or vinyl) via Song, By Toad Records.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins September 11 2016

Artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins is currently exhibiting a series of new works at the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff.

Perhaps best know as a painter, Clive has recently been creating a series of limited edition screen prints, working with Dan Bugg of The Penfold Press.

The duo are currently working on a series of prints based on the theme of Gawain and the Green Knight, which was vividly translated for the 21st century by Simon Armitage.

The exhibition features the prints created to date alongside paintings and drawings.

Looking at 'The Green Knight Arrives' author James Russell explains...

"Clive looks beyond the poetry to explore the character and cultural implications of Gawain’s nemesis, in an intense portrait of mingled power and vulnerability. The upper body of the Green Knight fills the frame, his statuesque head and massive arm suggesting the might of an ancient god – but in a sensitive pose reminiscent of Rodin. That flowing beard hints at the graphic gravitas of a playing card king; look again and it is a river flowing through a tattooed forest. Our 21st century Green Knight is a modern primitive, whose identity is etched into his skin."

We were delighted that Clive contributed a series of illustrations to our second Random Spectacular journal and we're currently working on an expanded version of his interpretation of the Hansel & Gretel fairy tale which we will publish in November. Sign up for our Random Spectacular newsletter for details of this.

We'll also exhibit a selection of Clive's prints, in association with The Penfold Press, at our next St Jude's In The City exhibition at the Bankside Gallery in November.

Gawain and The Green Night: Clive Hicks-Jenkins and The Penfold Press continues until 1st October 2016 at Martin Tinney Gallery, 18 St Andrew's Crescent, Cardiff, CF10 3DD. Find out more

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'The Green Knight's Head Lives' by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Gouache and pencil on board, 55cm x 55cm

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'The Green Knight Arrives' by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Screenprint, 55cm x 55cm

Albion – A Celebration of Britain in Print September 05 2016

We’re delighted to be returning to The Town House on Fournier Street in the heart of Spitalfields for an event co-curated with The Town House proprietor Fiona Atkins.

The building dates from 1720 where silk weavers originally worked and plied their trade.

In addition to a showcase of our artist-designed fabrics and wallpapers we’ll be presenting an exhibition entitled ‘Albion - A Celebration of Britain In Print’ featuring limited edition prints by St Jude’s co-founder Angie Lewin and printmaker Christopher Brown.

Christopher Brown was born in London in 1953. He attended the Royal College of Art where he was introduced to, and eventually assisted, Edward Bawden, the master of the linocut. It was Bawden who encouraged him to explore this medium.

Since then, Christopher has exhibited at the Michael Parkin Gallery, The Royal Academy, The Fry Gallery, The Fine Art Society and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

We’ll also be launching Christopher Brown’s ‘Albion’ wallpaper, his first for St Jude’s, along with Mark Hearld’s Squirrel and Sunflower fabric and Sheila Robinson’s Monkeys and Birds wallpaper.

Monkeys and Birds’ was designed in 1958 by printmaker Sheila Robinson (1925-1988) and was printed by hand to decorate the walls of Cage Cottage, the family home in Great Bardfield. The design originates from Sheila’s hand cut linocut blocks.

A chapter profiling Sheila's work features in 'Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield' published by the V&A.

As well as the original colour way, we've worked closely with Sheila’s daughter, the printmaker and painter Chloë Cheese, to create two additional colour ways.

Visit us at The Town House, 5 Fournier Street, London E1 6QE from Tuesday 20th until Sunday 25th September. Open Tuesday 11am-8pm, Wednesday-Friday 11am-6pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm.

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Christopher Brown's 'Albion' linocut

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Christopher Brown cutting his 'Albion' linocut

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Angie Lewin's 'Sea Pinks' wood engraving

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Mark Hearld's 'Squirrel and Sunflower' fabric

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Sheila Robinson's 'Monkeys and Birds' wallpaper

Local Heroes August 11 2016

If you're visiting Edinburgh during August and are flying in or out of the airport, do look out for the Local Heroes pop-up exhibition and shop.

Curated by Dr Stacey Hunter, the project's nine designers were asked to ‘reimagine the souvenir’ and produce a unique travel-themed design object. Running from 1–31 August 2016 in partnership with Creative Edinburgh and Creative Dundee it celebrates Scotland’s contemporary designers who embrace colour, pattern and innovative techniques and materials.

The designers involved in the project include our friends Karen Mabon and Tom Pigeon (Karen is also taking part in our current Editions & Objects exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park).

Speaking ahead of the opening of the exhibition curator and Local Heroes Director Dr Stacey Hunter said:

“For many passengers Local Heroes will be their first impression of Scotland and will also form part of a fond farewell. Design is one of the most accessible expressions of 21st century creativity and I’m so excited that we can present a snapshot of Scotland’s colourful and confident design scene at such a unique location. We are surrounded by designers working on the most amazing projects - they trade, collaborate and work internationally. So where is it? Why can’t we see it?! I wanted to produce an ambitious project that showed Scottish design through the lens I looked through. It was also important to me to show Scottish designers that they are noticed and appreciated - and that’s where the name Local Heroes came from.”

Find out more about the Local Heroes project via their websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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The Local Heroes pop-up exhibition and shop at Edinburgh Airport (photo: Ross Fraser McLean / StudioRoRo)

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Designer Karen Mabon (photo: Future Positive Studio)

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Karen Mabon's umbrella/sunshade (photo: Stuart McClay Photography)

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Karen Mabon working in the studio (photo: Future Positive Studio)

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Tom Pigeon's neckpiece (photo: Stuart McClay Photography)

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Tom Pigeon's studio (photo: Future Positive Studio)

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Gabriella Marcella's Tropical beach towels

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Gabriella Marcella in the studio (photo: Future Positive Studio)

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The Local Heroes pop-up exhibition and shop at Edinburgh Airport (photo: Ross Fraser McLean / StudioRoRo)