Here Only – Smriti Mehra & Matt Lee

A lockdown photography collaboration with Smriti Mehra for the ‘Once Together‘ project, curated by Ina Kaur.

‘Forced to stay indoors in their one-bedroom apartment in London, this photo series explores the physical, virtual, mental and emotional confines of the strange instance created by the pandemic. Through the objects in their home the artists imply routine, repetition, anxiety, exhaustion, domesticity, technology, the inescapable political climate and the experience of time.’

The work of all the artists who contributed to the ‘Once Together’ project can be seen here. A curatorial note about this project can be read here.

Smriti Mehra & Matt Lee

Hiii Illustration Awards 2019

IMG_4727I am delighted to have received a merit award in the non-commercial category at the Hiiibrand international illustration awards for my ‘All You Can Eat‘ series. These images were created last year for an exhibition in London with Hero of Switzerland illustration collective.

The competition was judged by Marc Burckhardt, Arianna Papini, Calef Brown, Tim Weiffenbach, Charles Hively and Anna GoodsonThere will be an exhibition of all the finalist’s work and a publication next year. The finalists can be seen here.

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Wicked Arts Assignments: Practising Creativity in Contemporary Arts

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A new book ‘Wicked Arts Assignments: Practising Creativity in Contemporary Arts Education’ will be published on the 31st August by Valiz. Edited by Emiel Heijnen and Melissa Bremmer, the book features an assignment devised by Ramesh Kalkur and me for the Little Gestures art intervention studio course at Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology way back in 2008 (images by Urmila Shastry). I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

“Wicked Arts Assignments are bold, unusual, contrary, funny, poetical, inspiring, socially committed, or otherwise challenging. Everyone who teaches art knows them: the assignment that is seemingly simple but which challenges participants, students and pupils to the max. Many artists and arts teachers have that singular, personal, often-used assignment in which everything comes together: their artistic vision, their pedagogical approach and their love for certain techniques or methods. The almost hundred arts assignments collected here connect to the visual arts, performance, theatre, music and design, but more importantly: they encourage cross-disciplinarity. They reflect themes and ways of working in contemporary arts, offering opportunities to learn about ourselves, the arts and the world.

The first part of this book provides a theoretical view on arts assignments from historical, artistic and educational perspectives, complemented by interviews with experts in contemporary arts and education. The second part consists of the actual wicked arts assignments. These can be carried out in various contexts: from primary schools to higher education, from home to the (online) community, and from Bogotá to Istanbul. They are meant to spark the imagination of both teachers and students, contributing to new, topical educational and artistic practices.”

The book will be available to buy directly from Valis of Waterstones.

www.valiz.nl/en/publications/wicked-arts-assignments.htmlwww.waterstones.com/book/wicked-arts-assignments/emiel-heijnen//9789492095756

All You Can Eat – Cyanotypes

It’s already been a year since the All You Can eat exhibition with hero of switzerland in Walthamstow Village. Not much has happened since then, eh? Here are some cyanotype prints I made recently of the artworks from that show.

These limited edition food-themed prints are available to buy here.

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British Library Watermarks Project

The Watermarks Project is an ongoing collaboration between members of the Conservation and Imaging teams from the British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership. In this project we have developed tools which highlight and reveal the watermarks found within a series of ship’s journals dating from 1605-1705, relating to the East India Company’s voyages. My role has involved drawing and digitising a collection of 78 watermarks that vary in design and complexity. Read about the process and techniques used to make these watermarks visible on the British Library’s Digital Scholarship blog.

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Gif created by Jordi Clopes-Masjuan.

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REALLY//REAL Exhibition – Fringe Arts Bath

Fringe Arts Bath is going online this year. One of my images from the All You Can Eat series is part of REALLY//REAL, an exhibition curated by Toby Rainbird.

The exhibition is available to view online between 22nd May – 7th June.

https://www.fringeartsbath.co.uk/real

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British Library Cyanotype Workshop: MA Fine Art Digital, Camberwell College of Arts

During the recent MA Visual Arts: Fine Art Digital low-residency, Smriti Mehra and I, Matt Lee, led a cyanotype printing workshop with students in collaboration with the British Library. The workshop began with an introduction to the process and looking at examples of cyanotypes from the British Library collection, including reproductions of blueprint maps from the Indian Office records and Anna Atkins’s self-published book of Photographs of British algae.

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The morning was spent exploring the British Library archive and creating collages from an assortment of printed negatives from the British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership project collection. This rich and varied material included historical photographs, illustrations, maps, iconography, typography, patterns and textures. To cite a few examples, a striking portrait of a Meccan woman in bridal attire from 1887-1888, a strangely surreal illustration of a Waqwaq tree from a 17th century Persian manuscript and landscape photographs of a Central Persian trade route from 1901. Using this diverse archive as a starting point, the students worked intuitively and conceptually in response to the images, creating juxtapositions, patterns, narratives and incorporating the technique into their creative practices. The workshop was an opportunity to play with the material to explore meaning and form. The collages were then placed on top of the photosensitive paper and exposed under UV light in a darkroom. The prints were developed, washed and rinsed to reveal vivid Prussian blue monochromatic images, which were left to dry and darken over the next twenty-four hours.

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The workshop was followed by a visit to the British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership project in St Pancras. Here a team of photographers, conservators, translators and cataloguers work together to make collection items related to the history of the Gulf and Arabic science available online via the QDL portal. In the conservation studio, we were introduced to paper conservation, binding techniques and shown examples of collection items undergoing conservation treatment. In the imaging studio, students were shown the plethora of specialist equipment used by imaging technicians to photograph a range of items, including Arabic manuscripts, books, loose-leaf items, maps, photographs and vinyl records. Students then shared their cyanotype prints with British Library staff, who in turn shared some of the creative projects they have worked on during Hack Days, where the imaging team respond to this historical material across different contexts. A zine by Hannah Nagle examined data and gender inequality through the collection, an animation by Renata Kaminska drew attention to damage in one manuscript caused by insects and Darran Murray’s interactive photogrammetry project of an astrolabe quadrant. The workshop and this interaction opened up a dialogue with the students of how historic material may be accessed by different creative practitioners, in different ways, making it relevant and being a valuable resource to build ideas from.

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The tour ended with a viewing of a rare book of original cyanotypes by Julia Herschel – ‘A handbook of Greek Lace Making’ published in 1870. A selection of cyanotype prints from the workshop were then photographed in one of the British Library’s imaging studios. The intention is to create a zine for possible inclusion in the British Library’s permanent collection.

For artists wishing to explore the British Library collections, their Flickr account offers open access to public domain images and encourages people to explore and re-use. Images can also be downloaded from the Qatar Digital Library, which contains collection items that relate to the Gulf Region. The British Library Labs also support creative projects that use collections in innovative and inspiring ways.

Course Leader, MA Fine Art Digital: Jonathan Kearney.

Students: Alexis Rago, Betty Leung, Friederike Hoberg, Kelda Storm, Leah Yang, Matt Fratson, Taiyo Huang, Will Wright.

Meaning in a Matchbox – Article for Archivos Magazine

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I have written an article for Archivoz: International Archives Magazine about Indian matchboxes. The article discusses the visual and social significance of these objects as well as my personal journey through collecting, archiving and digitising over 750 labels.

Read my article here.

Archivoz is an informative digital journal in blog format relating to archives and records management.

Open Projections

Would you like to welcome the new decade with a drink, lying on the floor and staring upwards? Open Projections is a video art and moving image exhibition at Coventry Cathedral. Works, including mine, will be projected onto the ceiling of the cathedral, using the roof’s design as a screen for each work.

Free entry. 7.30pm-1.00am, 31.12.2019

Facebook events page: https://www.facebook.com/events/576724573132314/

Tickets: https://www.universe.com/events/open-projections-4-new-years-eve-tickets-9P5QL8

The Wrong Epicentre

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Between November 2nd, 2019 and March 1st, 2020 I will be exhibiting my work in The Wrong Epicentre at Centre del Carme in Valencia. Epicentre is a project by David Quiles Guilló for The Wrong, with the support of GVA Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana.

The Wrong Epicentre is a digital art group exhibition of digital art on routers and screens. +4oo works by 132 artists are exhibited simultaneously in +2o embassies: institutions and municipalities of the Valencian Community each hosting a part of the exhibition.

Alcoi, Aldaia, Alicante, Almenara, Benetusser, Benicarló, Castelló, Chelva, El Campello, Elche, Les Coves de Vinromà, Macastre, Orihuela, Potries, Sant Joan d’Alacant, Sant Mateu, València, Vallada, Vilafamés, Vilafranca, Villanueva de Castellón

The Wrong Biennale runs from November 2nd, 2019 to March 1st, 2020. More details at https://epicentre.thewrong.org and https://thewrong.org

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