Highlights of AUTUMN 2012

Sophie Kamlish the Paralympic star
The major event this year for the all families and friends linked in any way to Sophie Kamlish, including ours, was her amazing performance in the Paralympics London 2012. She is my niece, the daughter of my sister Roz. Sophie was in the 100m and 200m running and got through to the finals in both. She is a below the knee amputee on one leg and runs with a blade. She is the youngest member in the GB team. We really loved it that she wore this massive flower in her final race.

Award winning graphic novelist
My graphic memoir, Billy, Me & You received Highly Commended in the Popular Medicine category of the British Medical Association’s 2012 Medical Book Awards. Here I am at the ceremony.
Mostyn Conference: Giant Step 2
The Centre of the Periphery & The Periphery of the Centre
21 – 23 September 2012
John and I were invited to participate in Giant Step 2 hosted by Mostyn in Llandudno, Wales.
Robert Stephen was the guest blogger for the conference, here’s his post about our presentation  Read it here. I really like the photo he took of us, this is it…

Compass by Beacon Art Project
Beacon presented an exhibition of four new commissions at three heritage sites in rural Lincolnshire:Woolsthorpe Manor; Grimsthorpe Castle and Ayscoughfee Hall. The four invited international artists drew on the particularities of Lincolnshire to create new artworks. It was a treat to work so closely with such interesting artists and a new and exciting departure for Beacon to work with durational performance artists.

Liverpool Biennial The Unexpected Guest
Curated by Sally Tallant, this Biennial showed the work of 242 artists in 27 locations. Here’s John on the way to join the queue to see the orchestra of 100 electric guitars playing in the Anglican cathedral, for the premiere of Rhys Chatham’s  A Crimson Grail as part of the launch event of the Biennial. Our end of the queue didn’t make it in and it was one of those spectacles that everyone who was there said was amazing. Annoying, but a good queue!

Dan Graham’s 2-Way Mirror Cylinder Bisected By Perforated Steel
This was in the courtyard in front of The Bluecoat playing with our perception of space and enabling us to watch others at the same time as watching ourselves, reflecting how we operate within society.
Mona Hatoum, Present Tense, 1996 soap and glass beads
This was shown at the Cunard Building. Hatoum’s interest is in territory and displacement. She refers to these themes on a large geographical  and domestic bodily scale. Hence the use of the map outlined with beads on blocks of soap suggests the instability and changing nature of political territory, both for country and women. What a beautiful and seductive piece of work.
mona hatoum detail
Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2012 at the old postal sorting office
Anita Delaney Untitled (Ready for a Fight) 2011, Installation, HD video

I found this video fascinating. The figure is a woman in underwear, yet the androgynous presentation removes any sexual suggestiveness thus challenging our assumptions. The figure is fighting yet gives a sense of vulnerability at the same time. The cloth over her head both disguises her (gender) and puts her at a disadvantage in the fight in so doing.
new contemp
Manchester Art Gallery The First Cut
This is an exhibition that you could take anyone to and they would like it. It shows the work of 31 artists who work with paper, cut, sculpted and manipulated. It created a distinct wow factor when you walked into the gallery space. The intention was to challenge our assumptions about craft. It was a well curated and exhibited exhibition. For me, after the initial impression had worn off, there was little that I found challenging or thought provoking in the exhibition. My favourite was the work by Peter Callesen, who creates his pieces from A4 pieces of paper.
peter callesen
Cornerhouse David Shrigley: How Are You Feeling? 
This was an enormous model of one of Shrigley’s drawn figures, so the proportions were not anatomically correct. I’d much rather do a life drawing of this than some poor freezing cold, usually woman. The room was set up as a life drawing studio and the viewer was invited to make a life drawing of the model. On a timer, the model pissed into the bucket. There were so many people drawing. We  do love a draw and a join in don’t we?  Brilliant, funny and clever.

Highlights of SUMMER 2012

JUNE 2012
Documenta 13
7 – 9 June,
Kassel, Germany
This is the third, maybe fourth time John and I have been to Documenta, we went for the preview days this year and it was nice to have Sally join us.
Kunsthalle Fridericianum
Signage at Documenta 13

Here are some of my favourite works…

Charlotte Salomon, 1917-1943,
Life? or Theatre? A Play with Music, 1941
A Jewish German artist, Salomon was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943, aged 26 and five months pregnant. she created a biographical cycle of text and images when she fled to France and lived there between 1941 and 1942. During that time she created 1,325 gouaches using only primary colours. From these she selected 769 to comprise this work, that was first exhibited in 1961. It is significant for daring to mix the political history with personal memory, the public with the domestic, with attention to the experience of women.
Ida Applebroog b.1929
“At the center of Ida Applebroog’s work stands the human figure, with all its neuroses and complexities.” (Documenta 13 Catalogue, 2012)
A New York artist whose work has focused on the domestic and the everyday. The space at Documenta was filled with printed reproductions of her private notes, including posters for the audience to take. The material is from files that she has not looked at for about 40 years. 
Massimo Bartolini b.1962
Untitled, (Wave), 1997-2002
There was something contemplative and surprising for me as a viewer about this work. His work is about questioning our assumptions about the physical certainties of environments.
Geoffrey Farmer, b. 1967
This was the work we all agreed on as good!geoffrey_farmer_1
It was a massive installation of images from places like Life magazine, reflecting a pre internet time when magazines were relied upon for visual references for fashion, lifestyle and news.geoffrey_farmer_detail

During our time looking around we developed the
Plowman system for the categorisation of good art
To be great, an artwork needs to gain top marks in the following categories:
*Popular with a wide audience
*A good idea behind it (ie beyond the wow factor)
*Personal opinion
22 June 2012, Beacon Art Project
Visibility and Invisibility: Audience, Artist and Curator
Reading Room & Chapel, High Street, Wellingore, Lincoln LN5 0HW

Food, conversation and debate were shared with guest speakers Penelope Curtis, Director of Tate Britain and Alfredo Cramerotti, Director of Mostyn, Wales. The programme for the day was structured around the lunch with questions before and answers after, incorporating contributions from two artists previously commissioned by Beacon, Doug Fishbone and Kelly Large.
30 June, 2012
A family visit to the farm. What a line up with Patty Smith and Bob Dylan…oh and Bruce Forsyth And the only hot sunny day this year.hopfarm1hop_farm_3bruce_forsythhop_farm_2

JULY 2012

A most wonderful and stimulating visit to Toronto, where I spent a week or so being completely inspired. I finally got to meet artist Plum Johnson who has been a great influence for me through her work across the pond since 2007. I  also met her highly talented daughter artist Virginia Johnson and we visited her beautiful shop. Her tote bags had just appeared in the film, ‘Take This Waltz’, hence the window display. Here are shots of the shop interior, the cover of ‘The Perfectly Imperfect Home’ by Deborah Needleman illlustrated with the most exquisite watercolours by Virginia, a close up of the tote bag and a
smiley mother daughter shot.
Third International Graphic Medicine
Conference, Toronto
Comics and Medicine: Navigating the Margins
22 – 24 July, 2012
My reason for traveling over to Canada was to participate in this conference. The graphic medicine conferences are like nothing else! (in a good way). They manage a unique combination of creators, academics and medical professions, meaning there is never a dull moment.

I was on a panel talking about why older women are making comics works about experiences they had when they were younger with artist Sarah Lightman; Rosalind B. Penfold, author of ‘Dragon Slippers’ about domestic violence; Sandra Lundy who has drawn about infertility issues in her cartoon strip, ‘Between Friends‘ and Lesley Fairfiield author of ‘Tyranny’ about anorexia.

The Toronto Globe and Mail did a write up about us. Read it here

During the conference I took part in a Radio discussion on CBC Radio about comics and medicine with conference organisers and artists, Shelley Wall and Ian Williams listen to it here (start listening at 1hr09m)

At the end of the conference there was an evaluation session.
Here from left to right are some of the organising committee: MK Cerwiek (in the white shirt), Brian Fies, author of ‘Mom’s Cancer’, Michael Green, Susan Squier and Ian Williams (gesticulating). Sitting with the hat is Joyce Farmer, who gave the keynote and is the author of ‘Special Exits’. On the right side is Riva Lehrer who is an artist. The conference opened with a short film about a painting collaboration she did with Alison Bechdel.

I was commissioned by Lincoln Business Improvement Group to produce an illustration of Lincoln Steep Hill, to celebrate it winning Britain’s great street this year.

John and  I went up for a couple of days, because I did a talk at Word Power Books with fellow Myriad Editions graphic novelist Nye Wright, author of ‘Things to do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park when you’re 29 and unemployed’.

So we experienced the festival a bit. We saw Josie Long who was brilliantly funny and I was interested to pick up a zine after her gig.

And we got to see art. It was a chance to see Martin Creed’s public art commission from 2011, where he transformed Scotsman Steps which connect North Bridge and Market Street by replacing them with marble. It’s really my favourite kind of public art. I think for me it scored highly in the Plowman categorisation system!

Highlights of SPRING 2012

MARCH 2012
Names Not Numbers 2012, Portmeirion

9 – 11 March
John and I were overjoyed to participate in this year’s Editorial Intelligence’s weekend symposium, run by the brilliant Julia Hobsbawm. We had a ball!

John Plowman, Peter York Photo: Habie Schwarz

On the Saturday morning, John was on a breakfast panel
Is It Art & Culture Not Politics That Changes The World Forever?
Co-Chairs: Jan Dalley, Financial Times and Peter York, Cultural Commentator & Editorial Intelligence
Panel: David Davis MP
Sophie Hastings, GQ</spa
John Plowman, Beacon Art Project  
And l was in Bright Ideas 3 later in the afternoon
Co-Chairs: Louise Chunn, Psychologies and Morice Mendoza, Mendozamedia
1. Jack Stoerger, eiAtlantic & James Long, Long Productions: A brief Poetry reading from Bloodaxe Books ‘Being Human’
2. Satish Kumar, Resurgence: ‘Soil, Soul & Society’
3. Nicola Streeten, Artist: ‘Fresh Forms of Art From Old Memories’We seemed to be a group of wild gesticulators…
Satish Kumar Photo: Habie Schwarz
Nicola Streeten Photo: Habie Schwarz
The gesticulating continued in the panel discussion right after ours

Mark Walport, Jon Snow, Martin Rees Photo: Habie Schwarz
Mass Over Matter in a Mass Age: Science & Medicine

Chair: Jon Snow, Channel4 News
Panel: Martin Rees, Trinity College Cambridge
and Sir Mark Walport, Wellcome Trust
There were some fantastic questions from the audience to these top scientists about ‘soul’ that followed after these back to back sessions. It was great, especially since only 8 out of the 100 strong audience had science degrees.

Some of my top things from the symposim…

***Meeting the most varied and interesting bunch of people
***The talk by Mrs Moneypenny
***Meeting Jon Snow, talking with him at dinner and finding out he’s as nice as his reputation holds
***Transportation laid on by partners, Landrover – a fleet of top of the range wheels..

John Plowman, Jon Snow Photo: Habie Schwarz
Thank you to Julia Hobsbawm, the queen of people connecting*********************************************************

And to make a good weekend into a spectacular one, I received news that I had been successful in my application for Arts Council funding,”To research and develop my second graphic novel, ‘Choices’. This will be a fictional work based on choices offered and made around pregnancy. The story will be developed from memory, imagination, interview and archive material… The research includes a visit to specific areas of the USA to collect personal stories and factual information.”

APRIL 2012
USA Research Trip
New York

We rented an apartment in Brooklyn via airbnb
The visit was a perfect opportunity to catch up with artist friend Alun Williams who runs Parkers Box in Williamsburg, where he was installing the next show with some fantastic work by artist, John Byam

John Byam, Space Shuttle, Found Wood
We spent a fun day in Williamsburg with artists Steve Butcher and Anna Consentino who run Spring Design and Art space in Dumbo. We were also joined by an old friend of ours artist Cyan Dee aka Machiko Edmondson.Interior of Spring in DumboWe followed the walk my dad did from his apartment to school in 1940-42dad nyc low

And captured some signs around the citythought_bankcurb_sign
We also visited Brooklyn Museum where we saw Judy Chicago’s The Dinner party, and the Keith Haring exhibition; Moma and MomaPS1 where a faourite was James Turrell’s Meeting

Keith Haring at Brooklyn Museum

I  gave  a talk about my work to students at Marymount Mountbatten College and we got some essential queuing in at The Empire State Building. Finally, we made it to Dia:Beacon which was one of the best art spaces I have been to, with great art. Plus we liked taking a photo of the Beacon station…because we run Beacon


I  hosted the pop up Laydeez do comics event at South Oxford Space which was a lovely building and space. It was a delight to meet up with Ellen Lindner,Bonnie Millard and Michael Kaminer who’s co-curated the Graphic Details exhibition with Sarah Lightman, (that we also got along to). Also it was a treat to meet the highly talented Nick Abadzis who also lives and works in New York.
South Oxford Space

And then we hired a car and headed South to Virginia…on_the_road

En route we stopped a night in Charlestown, at artist Danica Maier’s family ‘beach house’

Highlights of SPRING 2012
We also detoured to the Armish town of Intercourseintercourse
I got some good conversations with the Pro Lifers in Richmond Virgina, who were “holding ministry” outside the abortion clinics there.

Here’s the extraordinary fetus doll souvenir they gave me…
feet  held together in prayer?

MAY 2012
OnTrent commissioned me to work with schools to produce 9 illustrated walking guides between Gainsborough and the Humber Estuary. Here’s a photo from one of the field trips, and below, one of the finished maps.
Medieval Strip Farming…

Highlights of SPRING 2012

Tatton Park Biennial, 2012 Flights of Fancy

John, Sally and I enjoyed  a lovely summer’s evening at the opening, I was happy to see Jem Finer’s piece that was a co-commission with Beacon and will go on to be in Compass after Tatton Park.This was our favourite piece.
Olivier Grossetete, Pont de Singe Photo: Thierry Bal

Nottingham Contemporary Comic(s) Bodies Symposium 
25 May, 2012

I had a stimulating and enjoyable day as one of the keynote speakers.
Below: Me with Karrie Fransman, Matt Green and Mary Talbot. photo: Ian Williams