One of the key images that I love about winter is the silhouette of bare trees against the sky. So, as an addition to my winter sketchbook, I’ve created a short stop-frame animation of windy trees, inspired by William Kentridge.
SEVEN visited the William Kentridge exhibition at the RA last November which included a number of short, hand-drawn animations. I thought the simplicity of the animations was really effective and I wanted to try to capture this.
The first step was to draw several trees to illustrate the movement of them blowing in the howling winter winds. Each tree was cut out of card and photographed against my sketchbook, which I used as a background. I then built the animation and added a ‘wintery’ sound clip.
While for some artists exhibiting their work is partly motivated by making a sale, for SEVEN it’s simply about sharing our books. So after the pandemic hiatus a return to the real life Leigh Art Trail was pretty exciting – what would people say?
Spreading the Sketchbook Love
“I love this[.] Would prefer to have a sketchbook than a piece on the wall. Beautiful, ever changing work – I love it!!!” – B Dred
Mention selling the books to Jo and she turns all shades of white.
For us the Trail marks the culmination of our yearly project – individual explorations based around a central theme. This is the end of the journey, a point to pause, reflect on, share our work and hear what you have to say.
From Confusion to Curiosity
This year Trailers were invited to zero-waste grocery store The Refill Room to peruse our altered books. And, because our host venue is all about, well, zero-waste our group theme was Reclamation and we used altered (or reclaimed) books – find out more about that here.
Being old pros at this LAT exhibiting lark, nowadays we know to expect a variety of responses from backing out the door in befuddlement to Trailers who come specifically to see our books:
“Wonderful work – each one is so individual. A joy to finally be able to handle work again – especially such joyful, tactile pieces. Love what you did with my mum’s book Juliet!” – Anne L
We aren’t trying to be Bansky or Tracy Emin or anything…
Yes, our 2020 project began with the oh-so-serious zero-waste theme – really it’s shocking how much we waste! – but our yearly theme is simply a launchpad for creative exploration. That’s why we called our project Reclamation – the word gave us something beyond issues of waste to play with.
But, still, the very act of reusing old books proved provocative:
“Really liked what you’ve done with the Girl annual, but I struggled with it as well. If it had been done in an Eagle annual it would have annoyed me intensely, but maybe that’s a (small) part of the point…?” – Anon
So some Trailers come specifically to see us (colour us honoured!). Some stumble upon us. Others back away looking a little bemused. While some stop and pour over the pages with a kind of child-like wonder. Whatever the response – well, sort of! – we love to hear what you have to say.
Thank you to everyone who came along to Leigh Art Trail (2020) 2021 and took a look at our SEVEN art books, we can’t wait to see you again!
We might not have been going anywhere much over the last year or so, but our SEVEN journals have been. First it was New York with The Brooklyn Sketchbook Project then it was much closer to home with Estuary 2021.
Collective Journaling Inspired By The Thames
One of the last things we did in real life, before Lockdown 1.0, was attend an introduction to The Water Replies art journal project, led by Heidi Wigmore at Metal Southend – back where SEVEN all began.
Part of the larger Estuary 2021 festival, The Water Replies, aimed to create “…a collective response to life living and working by the Thames Estuary”. So, in between renovating houses and doing PE With Joe, SEVEN and hundreds of other Estuary dwellers were dabbling in their A5 sketchbooks.
While, the real-life journals have been showcased (throughout summer 2021) in the windows of Chalkwell Hall, in a kind of carousel scheme, which sees books moved and pages turned intermittently by invisible hands. Here are some of our pages:
Memory Lanes + Murals
At the start The Water Replies project seemed a little like treading over familiar territory for SEVEN. We’d shown Estuary-themed journals at The Leigh Art Trail and we often look to the local area for inspiration. Yet, 2020 provided this project with an unexpected backdrop and more space for deeper exploration.
So, alongside a kind of visual record of our (then present) Lockdown experiences, more and more memories resurfaced. For me, the stories my mum told me about escaping the grey East London streets for the magic of a seaside town, and the flashes of glamour offered by the yearly carnival and the accompanying torchlight procession seemed particularly poignant.
Curiously, some of my words even managed to break loose the confines of my book, taking on a life of their own. First they became a mural on the wall of Chalkwell Hall, before leaping all the way to London – they were last glimpsed at London Bridge train station (really) making their way to some exotic place – I like to think anyway…
The journals will be on display at Chalkwell Hall until the end of August 2021.
After the Spring lockdown and then being forced to move our fortnightly meetings to evening picnics in Chalkwell Park, we decided to get adventurous!
A trip to a gallery in London!!!
I led the way here by taking a reconnaissance visit to Whitechapel Art Gallery in July, risking public transport and spending several hours masked up! And so I was able to say, it was great. The train was quiet and I had walked from Fenchurch St to the gallery, which was very Covid-safe and empty. This is the best time to see art – there are no crowds!
We decided that Among the Trees at the Hayward Gallery would be a very interesting and varied exhibition with something for everyone.
After booking our time slot with the gallery, our travel plans were expertly co-ordinated by Juliet, who arranged which train and bus we would take. If the weather was fine, we planned to take a stroll along the South Bank.
Of course this is England in August and on the day of our trip, it was throwing it down, umbrellas and anoraks at the ready!
We safely negotiated the very empty C2C train to Fenchurch St, caught a bus from Tower Hill to Aldwych and walked over Waterloo bridge towards the South Bank Centre. This was also very quiet and we grabbed a lovely lunch at a restaurant with outside seating under large umbrellas.
So to the exhibition…Prepare to enter a forest of Art!
I’ve had a thing about trees for years and so it was fantastic that a whole exhibition should be devoted to artists’ interactions and responses to trees.
Among the Trees gathers together works by more than 30 artists who reconfigure traditional genres and develop new ways of representing trees in order to shift our conventional perceptions and understanding.
A varied display of installation, video, photography, painting and sculpture had us marvelling one moment then questioning and wondering how this was made! Sometimes a piece of art was even quite distressing (I’m thinking of Robert Smithson’s upside down trees here!)
Here’s a small selection of work that we loved!
Humanity is finally waking up to the importance of trees, that they might be sentient beings, which can feel and communicate with one another, that they are of vital importance to our existence on this planet and that they exist on a much slower time than we do! So next time you go for a walk in the woods, breathe in that air and marvel at these giants and how amazing they are!
For those who want to learn more about trees here’s my recommendations:
Among the Trees Exhibition catalogue – Hayward Gallery Publishing
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
Shinrin-Yoku: the Art and Science of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li
Wildwood, a journey through trees by Roger Deakin
Here is a list of the participating artists:
Robert Adams, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Yto Barrada, Johanna Calle, Gillian Carnegie, Tacita Dean, Peter Doig, Jimmie Durham, Kirsten Everberg, Simryn Gill, Rodney Graham, Shi Guowei, Hugh Hayden, Eva Jospin, Kazuo Kadonaga, William Kentridge, Toba Khedoori, Luisa Lambri, Myoung Ho Lee, Zoe Leonard, Robert Longo, Sally Mann, Steve McQueen, Jean-Luc Mylayne, Mariele Neudecker, Virginia Overton, Roxy Paine, Giuseppe Penone, Abel Rodríguez, Ugo Rondinone, George Shaw, Robert Smithson, Jennifer Steinkamp, Thomas Struth, Rachel Sussman, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Jeff Wall.