Last year was pretty grim wasn't it? I mourned with everyone else at the losses of loved icons and ranted over worrying global events, but by December the 31st I felt like I'd had it with all the negativity, I didn't want to look back at 2016 and only think of the crappy stuff!. I'd had enough doom and gloom!
So I thought I'd begin 2017 by listing some of the things I never got around to blogging about but still held an important place creatively for me in 2016. Here's some of my highlights from last year (also you can see more about these and other projects on my Instagram @gemma_parker_artist)
I mentioned briefly last year that I had begun working on some drag inspired embroideries and this had branched out to making work based on a variety of iconic and transformative make up looks. I am stitching portraits of people who inspire me and have used make up as a powerful tool of expression and creativity in their lives and careers. My most recent piece is of Dame Joan Collins, a lady I greatly admire and who I was lucky enough to see last year in her 'Unscripted' show. I loved her as Alexis in Dynasty which is where she created her most enduring 'look', a bold smokey eye and colourful lip combo that will always be associated with the legend of Joan Collins.
I am really enjoying making these works, they are kitsch and decorative and involve all the things I love. I'm hoping to make enough for an exhibition and I plan on making a piece to mark Kylie Minogue's new album this year and her 30 years in the music industry. I'm not putting any pressure on myself with this work, other than trying to speed up, I'm just enjoying it and loving the process. It's also fun to see where the work takes me in terms of style and use of materials.
Interview with Rachel Maclean for HOME:
This was a real delight for me as, over the summer, I got to chat to multi media and award winning artist Rachel Maclean about one of my favourite subjects, dressing up and artifice. If you haven't seen Rachel's work you're in for a treat, a deceptively sweet treat that coats a darker and unpalatable centre!
Filled with overblown characters, all played by the artist, Rachel's work inhabits make-believe worlds that might seem colourful and camp, but mirror our own world all too closely. Using her ability to play both grotesque and cute, Rachel's work says a lot about gender, politics and society.
It was great to interview Rachel about her love of dressing up and explore the reasons and ideas behind it. As a fellow lover of artifice I found the whole experience really interesting, not to mention the writing and editing the interview involved. The finished article was published in HOME's autumn programme. You can read an online version HERE
Working with Forever Manchester:
Forever Manchester funds and supports community activity across Manchester and I was thrilled to attend their Summer Social event as artist in residence drawing the crowd and making postcard portraits of attendees. My camera on the day was rubbish and didn't pick up any details but at least here you can see a taster of the people who sat for me.
I love doing events like this where there is a real party atmosphere and people are curious to see their image drawn right in front of them. Once I start, I can sit there and sketch for hours not realising how much time has past. I hope we can work together again in the future as Forever Manchester and the work they do is an initiative I really admire!
Enchantment Under the Sea Disco and Mermaid:
Having a moment with my mermaid
When someone asks me if I will paint a life size mermaid cut out I say YES! That's what happened here, when HOME threw an Enchantment Under The Sea disco to mark their 80's film series in the run up to Christmas. In honour of their launch film Back To The Future, the arts centre held a huge party inspired by the movie's legendary 1950's dance, complete with sub marine decoration and THE actual Delorian parked outside! (I had a great time posing behind the steering wheel).
Photo by Chris Payne
The event itself was a huge success and I'm happy to say that my mermaid with her 'I heart Marty' tattoo was also very popular on the night! This was a really fun project to do, from design to actual painting, I really enjoyed the challenge of working so big and painting one of my favourite creatures!
(incidentally my mermaid's look was inspired by the gorgeous Ann Blythe and her role in 1940's classic Mr Peabody and the Mermaid, check it out it's an enchanting little film).
One of the things I like to do is modelling in costume for art events and drawing classes. Having a model who enjoys dressing up, and posing in character makes an unusual and interesting change from still life and nudes. It gives the participants a chance to draw or photo a complete persona and try to capture their energy. Last year I was lucky enough to work with Tameside's Creative Arts and Minds CIC to pose for a photography group who had never had a model before. It was a really rewarding experience to see their initial wariness and nerves give way to some truly creative picture taking! I also worked with Bury Art Collective on a drawing class, Maid in Bury, which was such a fun night. I'll be modelling in Bury again this year for Bury art Society and I look forward to seeing what art gets produced this time round!
I'll try to blog more often, I do miss it, but I never seemed to get around to doing it much. This year I'll blog more. I have a few ideas for other things I'd like to achieve including a new set of greeting cards designs and I really want to get my embroidery work in a magazine! I began a new project last year based on updating old work but I lost all my enthusiasm for it. I still don't know where this will go but I hope I can resurrect this project maybe tweaking it slightly, so lets see where this goes. I also want to work faster. I like to take my time to create the best work I can but this can limit my output. 2017 is already nearing the end of January! I am getting my skates on as I type!