So sad that it is the final day of the Summer School. It has been such a privilege to spend this time focusing on my drawing, developing my creativity, visiting AMAZING places and hanging out with some really brilliant people. For our final day we were installed in the upstairs room of the Star by Hackney Downs pub. It was a lovely relaxed end to the week, we chatted, made artwork and had a few drinks.
Today was all about developing the drawings we had created during our week. Nikki had brought loads of amazing material including lino and ink, fabrics and thread, paints, pens and loads of skull pictures for collages. I work a lot with textiles and embroidery so was instantly drawn to the fabrics but also really wanted to do some lino printing. I adore printing and embroidery takes ages, so I decided lino was the way to go.
I looked through all of my drawings. The ones I was most pleased with came from Bart’s Pathology Museum and the Grant Museum. These were the skulls that I had a bit more time to draw. I love these drawings, but I wasn’t sure the detail and texture captured would work as well in a lino print. I decided to go for something simpler and bolder. I was still really drawn to the creepy double baby head that I drew at Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Wonders, so decided to revisit that.
It was really fun to have free reign to choose whatever materials we wanted to work with. Lots of people choose to work with the lino, but there were also drawings, painting and mixed media pieces being created as well. There was a fantastic creative buzz, with everyone chatting about the work they had created during the week and planning for the exhibition that we will be putting on in the autumn!
We had a bit of a break halfway through the day and were very lucky to have the brilliant Joanna Shears come and speak to us. As well as being a taxidermy artist, Joanna runs a website talking about death. She was so inspiring and spoke to us about being death positive, planning a funeral that is a celebration and meaningful (as well as how to do it without encoring huge costs). She is very passionate about eco burials and DIY funerals. She is currently making patchwork shrouds from vintage fabrics. We actually had a demo of how to shroud a body, with Nikki volunteering to be the corpse!
I found Joanna’s talk so interesting. I have been interested in funeral rituals for a long time but had only just found out about the concept of natural burials. Inspired by Joanna I have been doing a bit more research and started to plan for what I would want when I am gone. She encouraged us to write a plan so that our family were sure about what we would what. I found her death positive attitude really inspirational – I think it is really important that we are able to talk about death openly. After all, without death we would have no life. It is something we will all face and it makes no sense that it is such a taboo.
I am so sad that the Summer School week has come to and end, but there are some very exciting plans ahead. We have been talking about an exhibition, so I have taken away the prints I have done and are going to be developing them further over the next few weeks.
It really has been an amazing experience to dedicate this time to my own creative practice. It has made me realise how much I have missed drawing and how it should form an important part of my work as an artist. I have learnt to look at things better, and loved learning about some fascinating objects by really studying them closely. I am also really happy with the progress I made, from my first skull sketch at Victor Wynd’s to my deer skull at the Grant museum yesterday. It’s also been brilliant to spend time with people who don’t think you are weird for loving skulls and skeletons! I have promised myself that I must keep drawing, and am already looking forward to another Art Macabre Summer School next year.