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Toy Story

Toy Story / Friday 9th May 2014 - Saturday 28th June 2014

This exhibition will feature the work of toy makers who employ traditional techniques which encourage children to engage and interact with toys and to use their imaginations. The exhibition is also intended for the enjoyment of families, who may discover toys which will be loved and enjoyed for generations.

Toy Story celebrates the golden age of handcrafted toys and games. The idea for this show began following a conversation with a regular customer who had bought hand designed toys for his children which they had cherished, but was bemoaning the lack of beautifully designed toys in the world.  Toy Story will provide inspiration for adults and children alike, which defies the throw away aspect of our society.

Exhibitors will include Ed Boxall, Susan Evans, Diana Heredia, Anna Howarth, Annie Hutchinson, Annabel Little, Ian McKay, Keith Newstead, Jeff Soan, Sally Weatherill, Donna Wilson & Jan Zalud.

 

Own Art Logo for Website Picture-16IFB 2014

Click ‘Artists’ above to see more information.

Anna Howarth web

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It all started when I was a little girl and I used to pester my dad to help me construct the dolls' houses I designed. Then I used to make the dolls, the furniture, the carpets, everything. So when I grew up I decided to train as an architect thinking that this would be a suitable vocation for one with such interests.

I learned to draw neat lines on tracing paper and went on building sites to see fine pen and ink transformed into bricks and mortar. This was all very well but I loathed the paperwork and sadly missed the cutting, sticking, knitting and stitching of my childhood that had led me on this path in the first place.

I went to work in a big London theatre for a while where I wore overalls all day and made scenery and then, on a whim, I decided to go to Italy. Where architects have been known to design plates, typewriters and chairs. Where beautiful things are produced. I worked in Milan for ten years, as a scenic artist, as an architect, as an interior designer; I started working for a magazine founded by an architect who had, coincidentally, also designed plates and chairs. I spent my earnings on Prada shoes and acquired a taste for expensive furniture.

I married a man with a head full of poetry and a house full of things he’d picked up at flea markets. I married him because he made me risotto with quails and said I could do up his house.

Now I have children of my own, two houses to play with in Italy and a studio at the Bluecoat in Liverpool where I concoct all manner of things, from paper dolls to pictures and places for real people.

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I am an artist, writer and creative educator living in Hastings, England.

I work in many areas such as printmaking, small scale book publishing, poetry, storytelling, songwriting and education.

I self publish my visual books as The Pearbox Press. My first  Pearbox books ’The Storm Tree Stories’ were published in 2006. Books in the series such as The Shell Collector take childhood rural holidays as a starting point but mix dream and reality freely. More recently my writing has focussed on children’s poems. The books are a labour of love; an attempt to make enchanting visual poetry for both adults and children. I love to perform my stories and poems.

I like getting my hands dirty printmaking and make my own handmade prints, using techniques such as woodblocks, lino and mono printing. My  books and prints are available at various galleries and shops in the UK such as The Towner, The De La Warr Pavilion and The Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

I am an experienced Artist-Educator in schools, colleges, galleries and museums. This practice is inseparable from my own artwork- I’m constantly inspired by working with people and the techniques and ideas in my personal work are the basis of my educational practice.

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‘Decorated wood is my main concern, whether it is a toy, tells a visual story, a sculpture and moves or doesn’t move. I like making interesting and quirky pieces which appeal to me and hopefully, to the observer. They are mainly intended for adults but it is a bonus if children like them too. My work is a fusion of many interests and influences, including a passion for wood, a love of the sea, Folk and Bible stories and all natural things, particularly birds and fish. I get much inspiration from Folk Art of all countries and medieval stone and woodcarvings. Travelling in Yemen and Nepal has also provided me with much inspiration from the architecture, colour and carvings found in these magical countries.

I use all kinds of wood, much of it recycled and driftwood. I love the individuality and uniqueness of each piece of driftwood, which, if it could talk, would have its own story to tell. I try to make many of my pieces interesting by including simple movement. The mechanisms I use are mainly cranks, cams and levers. If the pieces are non-moving, I usually mount them onto carefully chosen selections of hardwood such as elm, oak and poplar burrs. All my carvings are done in both air-dried or kiln dried lime. I prefer to use air-dried lime but this is limited in its availability. I use acrylic paint, washes and coloured inks and seal with a matt, water based varnish or wax polish.’

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Prague, where I was born, is dotted with puppet shops and theatres. Puppets and puppet-making seem to be part of the culture, and maybe that helped me to choose my path. It’s hard to know what came first – my fascination with wood, and what can be made from it, or my love of puppets and all things moving, such as automata. Obviously, the combination of the two wins every time

Automata can be seen in many different ways – to me, it is animated or mechanised sculpture. It can be inspiring, amusing, simple and yet powerful, or ingenious and intriguing. My automata are an attempt at all of these.

The making process for each one can vary from a sudden inspiration to a progression of an idea taken and developed step by step.
Keeping the wood in its natural unpainted state not only exposes its inherent characteristics, but sometimes it can also show or indicate the working process.

Over the years, I have tended to keep the mechanism open to be viewed. In my mind it often forms part of the over-all design.

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Donna Wilson set up her company in 2003 after making odd knitted creatures for her final show at the Royal College of art. The creatures sold out and since then she has built her business designing and making a collection of curious cushions, luxurious lambswool blankets, and variety of products for you and your home.

Originally from Scotland, Donna runs a studio and workshop in London. Her hardworking team knit, sew, pack and send out products to individuals and design shops around the world - 25 countries at our last count!

Passionate about creating products that people can connect with, the studio is committed to making things that our customers will treasure.  We use UK based manufacturers and suppliers wherever possible, doing our bit to keep craftsmanship alive.

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After studying graphic design at Essex University I went to work in an art studio in Newcastle but left after only six weeks suffering from extreme boredom.
I travelled to Finland and took a job delivering newspapers but as the temperature was minus 20 degrees I decided to come back to the UK to find warmer employment.
I became a motorcycle dispatch rider (a little warmer). During this time I started to make and sell jewellery and later I saw a TV program about automata. I found the mixture of art, craft, graphics and movement very exciting and it wasn’t long before I made my first piece.
I took it to a shop in London called ‘Cabaret Mechanical Theatre’,which specialised in modern automata and is now sadly closed and the owner, the legendary Sue Jackson, said she liked it and would try to sell it for me. it sold in a few days .
I gave up dispatch riding after ten years and started to make a living from my automata, working with CMT.
That was 20 years ago and my fascination with automata has never left me. I love to experiment with new styles and materials and to find new ways of creating movement. I never aim my work at a particular age group, and it makes me happy that both children and adults enjoy my work. I am always happy to accept new commissions both large and small.

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Sally Weatherill studied art history and creative writing at Brown University, Rhode Island, before pursuing a degree in textiles at the California College of the Arts, graduating with Highest Honours. Thereafter she moved to London and set up a print studio, specializing in devore velvet. Her collections of devore scarves were featured in many magazines including Country Homes and Interiors, Homes and Antiques and Draper's Record, as well as in several books. Sally sold her devore scarves through craft fairs – including The Chelsea Crafts Fair – and galleries. She also received commissions for collections of scarves from the British Museum Shops and Neiman Marcus.

Recently Sally has focussed on weaving while continuing to work on print design as is evident from her new collection of digital ties and scarves. Her current collection of woven work displays her love of colour and texture and is a result of much experimentation with high-twist yarns and the shrinking and felting of lambswool.

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Annie has always had a love for textures which has developed consistently  since studying Fine Art Sculpture in Cheltenham. Many traditional skills are performed in the making of these armature figures, needle felting, hand and machine stitching, incorporating appliqué and embroidery, simple lino-cut printing  techniques and painted images These skills married with Annie’s magpie tendencies to seek vintage materials and discarded treasures come together to form the basis for her other worldly folk.

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Jeff Soan is best known for his articulating wooden creatures which he has been creating since 1987. Jeff studied Art and Design at Goldsmith's College in the 1960s, taught for a few years, travelled for a while and started a building business in the 1970s.

A chance encounter with a wobbly rat from Chile changed his life. He was so inspired by this articulating folk toy that he joined a course in toy making at the London College of Furniture. He set up his garden workshop in 1987 making toys which he sold at a local craft market and after a year he returned to the articulating creatures that had so fascinated him.

Jeff states "my work reflects equally a love of creatures, great and small, and a love of wood. My earlier training as an artist and more lately as a toymaker has led to objects which can be seen as playful sculpture or perhaps sculptural toys but I generally refer to it as Wobbly Wood."

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There is a celebratory aspect to Anna’s work, which refers to the rituals of cultural identity and the joy that it brings. The cyclic pattern of the seasons and the human response to natural phenomena is represented by paper-cutting which in itself is a very basic art form, containing elements of folklore.

Anna’s work explores two contrasting themes, the visible and the invisible: the light and the shadow. The visible is her study of human nature, created from imagination and memories. The invisible explores the unconscious: a thread, which loosely connects her work to Celtic mythology, folklore and fairy tales. Her drawings stimulate a narrative, which is created by a technique of precision cutting with a sharp blade. Restricting this method to a paper silhouette, contrasting against a light background the work exploits the intrinsic properties of light, shape, narrative and structure and generates many possibilities, thus enabling the viewer to see themselves and the world in new and different ways. Life is like the narratives she assembles.

Her pictures are symbols and stories from the past, present and the future, from dreams and from poems. The primal qualities of a silhouetted world are inhabited by characters from childhood memories, bringing forth powerful experiences shared by all. Such is the universal code, that a narrative is instantly recognised by the cut-out animals and children, who venture across the enchanted paper landscapes, existing somewhere between an innocent reverie and a wished for dream.

 

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Since 1990 I’ve been making automata and mechanical toys in my studio on the edge of Bath.  In that time I’ve shown in galleries across Europe, America and Japan.

All work is handmade in my workshop outside Bath, UK, from british hardwoods, or found objects.

Everyone has toys, everyone plays. My mantra is ‘play every day’. Life is very serious and I think it’s good to have a bit of light relief. Children use play to find out how the world works, while adults use it as more of a distraction. It’s interesting watching how people react to my pieces. Most of them want to have a go and the experience of playing with them is quite liberating, it acts as a kind of escape.

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Having always had a passion for art and design Diana studied interior architecture for four and a half years and learned the many aspects of design and engineering while staying in close touch with some of the basic crafts like woodworking, blacksmithing, silversmithing, printing and felting.

She wants to create things for children suited to the way they move, discover and question things.

Her aim is to question conventions and give children something really challenging and encouraging that defies the throw-away society. It is important for Diana to contribute to her local economy and to have as much made from ethical and natural products as possible.

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Almathea Rose was born in 2012 as the creative vision of print designer and illustrator Katie Pugh. The Central Saint Martins School of Art graduate has worked in the fashion industry for over 10 years and so Almathea rose was created as a way of owning unique pieces that are timeless in their beauty.

The designs are created in the studio in the picturesque settings of the Wirral as original watercolour paintings and printed with state of the art printing methods which allow the paintings to come alive on fabric whilst retaining their intense colours, detail and texture.

The whimsical designs are inspired by the natural world, mixed with folklore and imaginary tales of fairies and enchanted gardens, using references to the Pre-Raphealite artists such as J.W.Waterhouse, Gabriel Dante Rossetti, Orientalist paintings and the decorative style of Gustav Klimt, Shakepeares ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ and age old fairytales.

Our designs are a modern take on the idea of beauty held by the Pre-Raphaelite artists. Our scarves and cushions give you the chance to own a unique piece of art which livens up any outfit or home! Our mural services give you the opportunity to make your space unique with a painting which is designed exclusive to you.

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I design and make wooden Automata. I make a mix of commissioned pieces for big birthdays and anniversaries and pieces for various galleries and exhibitions in the UK.

I keep the mechanisms quite simple, I don’t paint or varnish the wood. I use different natural colours of wood instead.

I sometimes work from photos of individuals, their kitchens, workshops, offices or own items to make the details personal.

All the wood I use is either reclaimed or small off cuts. Most the shaping is done on a tatty (and noisey) mini belt sander with a inch wide belt. I have a small bandsaw, scroll saw, pillar drill and a dremel.

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