DIY Cultures the Third


I'm currently experiencing a bit of a come-down from the weekend. Not for any chemical reasons, but because on Sunday DIY Cultures happened. It was the third DIY Cultures at Rich Mix and my third year there, but it was my first time with my own table, although I was the next door neighbour of the radiant Hanecdote. Here we are all set up:





This year was particularly frenetic, with over four thousand people attending. Unfortunately the busyness made it difficult to focus on the talks, which were on everything from arts education cuts to gender and technology. But the conversations I had with passersby, customers, and interested parties were equally as fascinating.

I spoke to the founder of an online publishing house and to a woman who hand stitches protest banners, to name but a few. And I sold out of Treasures For Your Troubles zine! I will be making it available to print-by-order online in the next few weeks.

There was a wonderful atmosphere at DIY Cultures; relaxed, and genuinely friendly, with none of the reserve one typically associates with the British. It was a summery day, and visitors had dressed accordingly; Hannah and I kept commenting to each other how gorgeous everyone looked.

I spoke to the lady presiding over Alternative Press's stall, where their project A Room of One's Own was features. AROOO, as it is abbreviated, focuses on "social housing, not social cleansing", and the effects of gentrification and "regeneration" on local working class and low income families and single parents. On the importance, which Virginia Woolf recognised, of having your own space for creativity. I will be following the project's development with interest.


A lovely woman bought my last fox brooch and immediately pinned it to her bag. We had quite a chat about the beauty of foxes.


Last but not least we met the man we referred to simply as Zine Man. He was, as you might have guessed, covered in zines; he swapped his own for ones for sale at the fair, and pinned them to his clothes and hat.


I couldn't stop smiling all day; here's to another three years of DIY Cultures. Long may it live.



Verdant



Yesterday my Mum and I went for a walk through Epping Forest. It had been raining, fitfully and heavily, all day, and had just stopped when we went out.

The forest was still dripping, and I was struck by the very particular smell of the forest when it rains; mossy, and of ferns unfurling. Mum agreed, and said that the smell was verdant; imbued with green.

Inspired by this sensory experience, my old friend and fellow artist Kat and I wandered into Walthamstow Forest this morning equipped with a plethora of film cameras.

Here are the results which I can share with you straight away; Polaroids shot on my Spectra camera, with a variety of filters and costume changes.

The first three photographs are an extension of my self care rituals of rewarding oneself with stickers - this time I've covered Kat's face with merit stickers - badges of honour for surviving. This is a theme I'm planning on developing considerably in the near future... I'll keep you posted.




















You Didn't Cry


Do you remember my Treasures For Your Troubles project from May last year? Well the ideas that inspired it have been bubbling away in my mind, and I've created a lino cut version of this embroidery, to remind everyone (myself included) to reward ourselves for the little things. It's also a bit of a self-deprecating in-joke, like a lot of my art.

I hadn't given lino a go since I was twelve, when I famously managed to cut away the parts that were meant to be printed rather the reverse. So you could say my expectations were fairly low, but I'm still pleasantly surprised by the results!

If anyone is interested, there will be six lino prints on calico going up in my Etsy shop, which I'm planning on opening next Saturday (drum roll!) Who knows, perhaps by then I'll have cut and printed the next design!

Rolling with the homies




"You'll turn into a pumpkin"

"You'll turn into a pumpkin" is still a phrase my mother is fond of saying to me when she fears I'm staying up too late. It's a reference, of course, to the fairytale Cinderella, in which the Fairy Godmother transforms a pumpkin into a carriage to transport Cinderella to the ball.

I too like to recycle and transform things in unexpected ways. Some old Polaroids I took during my A Level Photography course will make an appearance in my new artist's book, Big Teeth

The shoot was inspired in part by enigmatic symbolic/surrealist photographer Francesca Woodman, and in part by, you guessed it, Cinderella.

I've recently got back into taking Polaroids, and do seem to gravitate towards the colour gold (whether it's spray painting golden pumpkins or covering my face with gold reward stars); perhaps it's the warmth of Polaroid film which suits golden tones.
.









I've just ordered some printable fabric, and plan on incorporating the Polaroids into the book as pockets which will hold embroidered handkerchiefs. For now though, it's back to stitching up the poem which runs through the book.

Trophy Tears

When I was growing up, if I was being particularly whiney, my mum would occasionally say "I'm playing the world's smallest violin for you".

For this latest instalment of Treasures For Your Troubles, I wanted to create the world's smallest trophy, awarded for achieving precisely the opposite; for navigating the treacherous waters of life without breaking down into floods of tears (or is that mixing the water metaphors a little too much?)

For the embroidery's background, I dyed an antique linen handkerchief with onion skin, similarly to The Onion Cutters' Club.






This idea was actually suggested to me by Pip, who thought I should get the phrase engraved on to a real trophy (maybe one day, Pip). It's also a bit of a self-deprecating in-joke with myself; some days I really do feel it's a grand achievement that I've gotten through the day without bursting into tears. And now I have the world's smallest trophy and dozens of gold stars as reward!

Quite some time ago, appliquéd some felt tear drops on to spangly sparkly gold lurex material. It's a happy coincidence that this piece ties in with the colour scheme of Treasures For Your Troubles. If the project was ever exhibited, I would like to display the tears alongside the more recent works. I'm enjoying the way the naivety of these two pieces work together.


No rest for the wicked; I've got a number of summer exhibitions to submit to and/or create work for. First up, a bee crying (what else) honey over some melancholyflowers. My name is Kate Elisabeth Rolison, and I make art about crying!


Treasures For Your Troubles

Once again, I'm back to my old tricks of hipster bingo (typewriting on Polaroids). This time around though, my efforts are a bit more considered. I hadn't bought Polaroid film in years, but when the idea for my Treasures For Your Troubles project popped into my head, I knew I had to get my hands on some for a very special shoot.

The idea of covering myself in gold stars, mundane rewards for struggling or succeeding through life, struck me as an arresting image, and one which would work particularly well in the soft tones of Polaroids. I'd written a few lines of sing-song poetry on the theme, which I decided to type on the frames of the Polaroids with my cursive typewriter (how analogue can you get?!) If you want to get really pretentious, I could say this was something of a self-care or self-affirming ritual. Or I could say it was just an excuse to cover myself in glitter (though who needs an excuse?)




This project is a celebration of the human spirit in all its absurdity, mess, and glory, and I think the ink smudges (which I dreamily imagine could be tear stains) and blotchily developed photographs, in all their beautiful imperfection, demonstrate this.

More Treasures For Your Troubles to follow...

Gold Star

As a habitual pessimist and anxiety queen, I have recently begun keeping a record of one good thing from each day, to remind myself that actually, my life is pretty darn good.
 
I've also been indulging in an incredibly childish (and mildly embarrassing) practice; giving myself reward stickers.
 
A few months back, on the advice of friend, collaborator and fellow artist Hannah Hill, I started keeping a record of daily to-dos and achievements as a means of patting myself on the back (something I'm often not very good at) and as an impetus to get stuff done. I nicked Hannah's idea and added reward stickers, and as I noted at the time, self-imposed bribery to do things via a stickers-based reward system worked (un)surprisingly well. Yes, I am a child.
 
There's something about gold reward stars in particular that is incredibly crave-inducing; they must be engineered that way. Maybe its my innate and irritating perfectionism, mixed with nostalgia for primary school, I don't know.
 
Anyway, in homage to the humble gold star reward sticker, I wanted to make a series of work celebrating the minor achievements of us bumbling humans as we muddle our way through life, making it up as we go along and getting bumps and scrapes which (hopefully) only serve to make us a little bit stronger... I'm bumbling myself now.
 
I'm tentatively calling the project Treasures For Your Troubles, which is what the first embellished piece of the series spells out, in (what else) golden star sequins.

 




 
The next element of the project (which will be a multimedia undertaking) will be accomplished with the aid of my trusty old Polaroid Spectra camera, and some Impossible Project film which I was happy to find had arrived when I got in from work this evening. Now if only we'd have some good weather, I could get on with it! Just one of the (very minor) obstacles in life the project is all about overcoming.