Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Adjudication of Lytham Art Society for Three Consecutive Years. Article by Jill Reidy

Lytham Art Society is just one of the many local art establishments which has forged close links to Blott Art Studios over the years. Corrine Streetly, director of Blott Artist Studio, previously demonstrated painting and art techniques at several Art Societies within Blackpool and the Fylde, including Lytham.  The Art Society was founded in 1912 and has grown from small beginnings with just a handful of artists into a thriving group with more than four hundred members.
Laura Havenhand, curator, and Corrine Streetly, director of Blott Art Studios.
For the past three years Corinne has been approached to provide a professional artist from the Blott Collective to act as adjudicator for the Art Society's Spring Exhibition.  
In 2012 Corrine, herself, judged the exhibition.  The following year, Christine Riches, who had been a Blott member for the past decade, was pleased to perform the task, and this year, Blott's curator, Laura Havenhand is looking forward to adjudicating on the afternoon of Sunday 27th April.  
Christine Riches, a member of Blott Art Studios for the past ten years.
The Lytham Art Society's Spring Exhibition will run from May 1st -17th in the Fylde Gallery, 1st Floor, Booths Supermarket, Haven Road, Lytham, open 10am-6pm daily, except Sundays when it closes at 4pm.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Past School Work Experience at Blott

As Director of Blott Artist Studios, artist Corrine Streetly has spent many years spreading the word about art and artists in Blackpool, and encouraging young talents to become involved in the art and culture scene.  As we approach this year's annual Blott exhibition, we have been reflecting on past members and volunteers.  

Natalie Percival and Becky Davies tell us here what it was like for them as school work experience girls at Blott Artist Studios.  

Becky Davies confessed that at sixteen she wasn't really interested in any of the numerous businesses connected with her school for work experience, and veered more towards something artistic - the path she was hoping to follow at college and university after sitting her art GCSE later that year.  As her mother had connections with Blott Art Studio, this seemed an obvious choice for a creative young girl.  

Working at Blott gave Becky the unique opportunity to talk to a range of artists, discover what inspired them and how they actually produced their work. She enjoyed learning about different methods and was even treated to a few lessons on drawing techniques.  She immersed herself in the art and says she loved to hear the stories behind the images and objects that she was selling.  Becky explained that she learned how to communicate properly with potential customers and basics such as how to use a Mac properly.  Whilst she was there Jenny Bennet, a previous Blott artist, made a paper dress which Becky was thrilled to model.
Becky Davies, modelling the paper dress

Finally, Becky told us the time spent at Blott was a wonderful learning opportunity, a great training ground, which subsequently helped her get jobs, college and eventually university placements.

Natalie Percival at Blott
Natalie Percival, featured right, says she really wished for a placement at Blott due to her love of art and design. She wanted to be in a creative environment, and she wasn't disappointed as it turned out to be exactly that. Natalie loved the fact that she was welcomed into the studio and was "immediately surrounded by creative minds and brilliant artists." She thoroughly enjoyed her time at Blott, which gave her some exciting ideas for an artistic future. Having completed her placement, she was sure that she wanted to continue with the creative arts and so went on to complete a National Diploma in Art & Design. 

Natalie's oil painting from her time at Blott
Natalie told me, "During my work placement at Blott Artist Studios, as well as working in the gallery and speaking to visitors, I was given an introduction to oil painting with Corrine Streetly. Having never worked with oil paint before I found it very useful to learn from such an experienced artist, and I learned many useful tips and tricks that I still use today. Overall it was a brilliant experience and I really enjoyed it. It also helped me to make the decision about studying in the creative arts. I am currently in my first year of a BA Illustration course at Blackpool & the Fylde College, and also volunteer at Blott each Saturday. I am looking forward to meeting more of the artists involved with the studios at the exhibition in the near future!"

Natalie says she felt volunteering in the gallery would be a further opportunity to be in an ever changing creative workspace and to meet like minded people.  As a bonus, she would also be giving back to the community in a way that is personal to her.

Regrettably, Blott Artist Studios is no longer able to offer school placements for work experience, due to logistics and the demands of administration within the collective.  Opening times are now subject to the availability of Blott's volunteers.  

However, on a more postive note there are other opportunities available in the local Blackpool arts scene. But for Becky and Natalie it seems their placements were an excellent grounding in art and design and set them off on creative paths that may well eventually lead to bigger and better artistic achievements. Both girls had nothing but praise for Corrine and the Studio and look back on their time there with a great deal of fondness and gratitude. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A Warm Welcome to New Members

In the past few weeks Corrine and Janine, director and gallery manager respectively, have invited three new artists to be part of the Blott Art-Studio collective.  The artists, all very different,  will each bring something new to the collective.  Mark, Mike and Jill are looking forward to making their individual contributions to Blott in the near future.

Mark Peatfield started painting and drawing when he was very young and continued up until his teens when, for no particular reason, he stopped. Many years later and following a series of traumatic life events he started painting again. 
Mark says his PhD in Cognitive Psychology and research background into computational models of human cognition shape his world view. His paintings therefore depict a mechanistic and strange world, where, for example, human experience is encased in a metal sphere.  
A Preston Winter Sunrise by Mark Peatfield

He is fascinated by models of human awareness and paints to express the descent into madness that results from gradual or traumatic damage to the fragile human ego. He visits literature, music and personal experience for inspiration. and also paints to express the isolation and loneliness which is the human condition - particularly in industrial settings.  

Mike Grattan, an avid drawer and painter from childhood, would get his pocket money every Saturday. By the evening, a sketchbook, bought with the money, would be full, and Mike would trail around local wallpaper shops asking for their old samples books, in order to draw on the backs. 

He attended Lancaster College of Art and made a career as a graphic designer/illustrator. His earliest illustrative influences were the artists of Marvel Comics like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Jim Steranko.

Elizabeth Taylor by Mike Grattan

With a life-long love of Pop Art, Mike has worked on various series related to media celebrities.  His finely executed images of iconic people in the media, from film star musicians and celebrities are a mass of detail, beautifully and carefully delineated in acrylic paint on canvas.  

In 2013 Mike had a one man exhibition in Liverpool.

Jill Reidy, another artist who spent her childhood drawing and painting, originally trained as a graphic designer at Leicester College of Art and Design in the late 60s/early 70s. After fifteen years running a cake decoration business and various other creative enterprises, she then spent a further fifteen years in the teaching profession, taking early retirement in order to pursue her passion, photography. 

Moon over Havana by Jill Reidy
Following a short visit to Havana, Cuba in 2012, returning with 1500 photos to process, Jill realised that her passion had become an obsession. 

She has exhibited at Blott Art-Studios and Cafe Dolce, and currently has a one woman  exhibition, 'Hanging Out in Havana', at La Piazza, Bispham, with another booked at the Solaris for November.  Jill also has a small collaborative exhibition, 'Blackpool' at Revoe Library.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Blott Studio and Artists Collective Out in the Community. Number One: The Donkey Men

David Butterworth's 'Three Donkey Men' in Revoe Library

It all started with a fleeting glimpse of a picture in a book. Corrine, Blott’s director, was flicking through a thick draft of papers, explaining that she and Janine, Blott’s manager, were compiling an archive history of Blott Studios when I first saw it. I loved it. Which is how I came to be in Revoe Library a couple of days later, photographing the original painting. High on the wall, above the shelves of books, 'Three Donkey Men' sat proud. Part of a series entitled, ‘Once Upon a Time in Revoe’, the painting by David Butterworth had been displayed in a community art show at Blott Artist-Studios in November 2008.

The concept of the exhibition, originally inspired by David Butterworth's painting of local character, roofer Brian Brown, was a resounding success. It was lovingly and painstakingly researched and organised by Lynn Butterworth, wife of the artist, and attended by the Mayor of Blackpool, local historians and artists. 

So successful was it that Revoe Librarians, Sue and Marion, were soon waxing lyrical about the painting, which has been much admired since its presentation by the Butterworth’s to the Library following the Blott Exhibition.  Glancing up proudly, Marion told me that she never tired of looking at it.

The story didn’t really end there though.  Interestingly, it was subsequently discovered that Linzi Cason, a photographer who previously undertook a student placement a few years ago at the blott gallery, was related to one of the donkey men. Derek, on the left of the painting, was her grandad’s uncle.  And Sue informed me that Steve, a security officer based at Central Library had also realised he was a descendent of one of the men.

A piece of art with a story behind it is, for me, a genuine bonus.  This painting is aesthetically pleasing; compositionally it works; and I love the way the characters of the three men sit comfortably beside each other on the bench, silently residing over the shelves of books. The fascinating history behind the painting, and the links with local residents make Revoe Library its ideal location for a long time to come.

Blog compiled by Jill Reidy