Monday, 20 August 2012

'Print the Past' workshops - Cooke's Creative Heritage project.

It was great to pay another visit to Cooke’s studios last month and work with the volunteers in a new ‘printing the past’ workshop. After the fantastic images that were made in the last sessions, creating computer-generated patterns based on Cooke’s history, I was really keen to get us doing some printing! Once again, drawing inspiration from the colourful and rich timeline of the building, we put together some shapes and images that related to the former use of the studios. Some taking part wanted to continue the same theme that they were working with before, others wanted to try a fresh subject and chose something new to illustrate. The up to date computer equipment at Signal Films meant that we could create shapes and patterns in the design program ‘photoshop’ and print these out to make stencils. Everyone did a brilliant job cutting all of their detailed computer designs out of stencil vinyl (a plastic sticky paper) and we mounted these to the back of silk screens in order to print multiples of the designs. We had fabric to print onto that will be turned into shopping bags to accompany the exhibition for the project. A lovely little reminder of what the building used to be!

Some generated images of the tools that would have been used in the top floor workshop; others illustrated the dress sales and haberdashery link to the building. We even printed some of the designs onto paper, and used the negatives of the stencils to make screen prints too! A really productive couple of days where everyone had a go with the modern technology as well as the traditional printing method.

After two weeks of image-making up at Signal Films with all of the volunteers, I have more than enough designs to start putting together a really special item for the end of project exhibition. Not only are we going to have a collection of shopper bags with the Cooke’s designs on, but I’ve been commissioned to make an extra piece that will reflect the building's history and contain all of the artwork too. After spending so much time in a store that used to house a cabinet maker's on the top floor, you might imagine what I'm planning to make....

Monday, 13 August 2012

Pushing Print 2012 - Festival talk

 For the last few years Margate has been running it's own independent festival -'Pushing Print'- that celebrates all things... printed! Although it has only been running since 2009, this growing event has become an unmissable few weeks in Kent's creative calendar and draws visitors and submissions from all parts of the country.

As this year's theme for Pushing Print is 'applied print', I've been deemed appropriate to give a talk about whatever I like. (I make a daily habit of applying print to unusual things you see)

I've entitled my talk 'The Potential of Print', and intend to only briefly touch on my own work before moving on to discuss what I feel are the fantastic ways that this process can be used outside of paper or fabric, and those who are diversely wielding it in 2 and 3D. Some of this information I deliberately don't even know yet, and am excited about researching for the next few months. More than ever I was keen to give a contemporary talk that was more than just the life and work of Z.Murphy.

The article below will feature in the Pushing Print newspaper and is an introduction to my talk. Please join me - 11am on the 13th October at the Pushing Print festival - to see what I have found out!

Details of tickets can be found on the website for Pushing Print.

The Potential of Print. 
By Zoe Murphy

As a person who makes things for a living, I have always been indifferent to surface in the very best of ways. This might seem a strange notion, as craftspeople are usually remembered for their ability to value a particular material. They will work to highlight the individuality of their chosen medium and attempt to distinguish it from other metals/wood/textiles. Oddly enough, I contrast to this in having a very unbiased approach to the surfaces I come across. This has turned out to be a driving force for my work in print.

It is thanks to this sort of material-blindness that I have developed into a designer that subconsciously ignores a lot of the conventional uses for materials. One that doesn’t initially see the difference between fabric, metal, and timber, - I credit them all with the same potential and possibility. I print onto fabric, on to wood, glass, and on to laminates and Formica, using them all for anything from furniture to jewellery. It would not be an obscure idea to me to think of applying the same process to a floor, or a wall, or a car, or a person. Although it is always compulsory to refine the process after exploring the material, I still think this kind of ‘well why not?’ approach to a newly discovered surface has been fundamental to my work.

When I was studying for my BA in Textile design, I realised that I often included found objects or surfaces in my design work. This then quickly turned into using my design work on found objects or surfaces, and I finally created a series of re-used furniture and textiles that were entirely decorated using screen-printing. There followed a wonderful amount of interest from my graduation show and it allowed me to set up my own design business in Margate creating more of the same kind of furniture and textiles.

This love of indiscriminately printing onto everything that sits still, marries perfectly with the other driving force behind my work – my huge compulsion to try and reduce waste. Armed with the notion of ‘I don’t care what it is, I’ll print on it’, I have used this favourite process of mine to recycle chests of drawers, silk from wedding dresses, kitchen tables, and all manner of other surfaces and objects. It is paramount to me that consumers have a stronger relationship with the things that they use, even more so that these objects might be ones that are in existence already and not being appreciated to their full potential. So I try to use my printed designs as a life saving tool to re-use surfaces that seem to have exhausted their current function, either because they are damaged or because they are dated.

Print, for me, allows that wonderful injection of colour or image that can recapture the attention of a consumer, usually because they are chosen specifically for that consumer. All objects should be designed timelessly and well in the first place, but most 21st century homes are full of surfaces that weren’t. I have long been struck with the idea that print can be a way of getting these items closer to a situation where people don’t want to use them up and throw them out.

My talk at Pushing Print this year will illustrate some of the pieces I make, but will also look at the possibilities of the process of screen-printing. Paper and fabric are what is associated with this very traditional oriental method, but I will be looking just how broad the application can be, and giving examples of contemporary makers who are truly ‘pushing print’.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Great British Creativity

I am a pretty enthusiastic person at the best of times, but I had no IDEA I would catch Olympic fever to quite the degree that I have in the past week. To be honest though, why did I ever think that I wouldn't? To see a person, young or old, be the very best at something, and representing all of the people that they share a nation with in doing so - I could grab a flag (I have one, very near) and cheer right now at the very thought of it. The connotations of such a strong will to support talent and develop personal skill has spread right into other areas for me though. I want to work harder at what I do, to an Olympian level even, and get behind everyone in my country who has had the same kick up the bum! I guess that's part of what they are talking about when they refer to the 'legacy' of the games.

I think the lovely folks at We Heart had the same spark of this feeling long before I did, as they interviewed me a few weeks ago for part of their 'Create GB' feature.

"Aiming to celebrate Great British Creativity, our Create GB project will see the pages of We Heart brimming with up-and-coming British creatives in the four weeks leading up to the London 2012 Olympics. From illustration to fashion design, art to food and drink, Create GB will showcase our tradition for convention-prodding creativity…"

I'm posting the interview here because it's a great opportunity for me to talk about the inspiration I've had from living in a host nation, and it's also a lovely little article with some good questions you might not have heard me answer before. Enjoy!

(Go team GB!!)