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Emma Hill: Paintings to dream into

I first met Emma when the four winners of the #LibertyOpenCall met up at Liberty HQ in London to work on our fabric designs with the Liberty design team. We had a great lunch together and a pint afterwards, and then went our separate ways.

Duncan Grant: Milan Liberty London factory
Day trip to Milan

We all met up again at Gatwick airport for an extended day trip to Milan, looking round the Liberty factory and getting a first glimpse at the test prints of our fabrics.

Our third meeting was for the  launch of our fabrics, back in London’s Regent Street at the Liberty store. And then, later, at a Liberty book launch reception, where we hobnobbed with fashion glitterati, including Chatham girl, Dame Zandra Rhodes.

We’ve all kept in touch since then, and Emma Hill kindly submitted some of her art to an exhibition (remember those?) that I organised at The Hot Tin in Faversham, Kent.


Liberty calls
Unlike me, Emma had her eye on Liberty for quite a while before her successful submission to the #LibertyOpenCall fabric design competition.

#LibertyOpenCall was the first Liberty Open Call to be conducted entirely online. Prior to that, aspiring artists/makers would queue up outside the store, sometimes for six hours or more, for the chance to make a four-minute pitch about their product to the Liberty buying team.

Emma Hill: Scarf collection
Emma’ scarf collection

Emma Hill: Scarf collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma had spent two years developing a scarf collection with Liberty Open Call firmly in mind.  Her designs were  inspired from her ‘Itchycoo’ painting series, featuring the enchanted garden from the stories that she told to her young children. Each scarf featured: a heart; a tiny motif of Mimi, a child in a red dress from the Itchycoo stories; and a daisy and an iris – the names of Emma’s daughters. But Emma and her scarves never made it to London.

Emma: Hill: 'Somewhere Beyond The Sweet Milk Mountain'
Somewhere Beyond The Sweet Milk Mountain, the start of Emma’s ‘Itchycoo’ series

‘The first year, they didn’t have an Open Call,’ Emma remembers. ‘And then they did have one, but I was abroad so I didn’t hear about it until after the event. And the last Open Call I missed as we were doing up our house. So I never got to pitch.’

In 2018, six years after Emma completed her scarf collection, a sponsored ad for #LibertyOpenCall  popped up on her Instagram feed. There was no queuing for this fabric design competition. Aspiring designers posted their entries on Instagram and added the #LibertyOpenCall hashtag. There was a fantastic prize. Winning designs would be made into fabrics to be sold in Liberty’s flagship London store and online, and would enter Liberty’s historical fabric archives alongside the design greats, including William Morris.

Emma submitted her painting Graffiti Summer, which was inspired by a day spent in London with her daughter, visiting the Fashioned from Nature exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum and photographing graffiti in the East End.  Her entry  was chosen as one of the four winners.

Emma Hill: 'Graffiti Summer' work in progress
Emma Hill: ‘Graffiti Summer’ work in progress
Emma Hill: 'Graffiti Summer'
Emma Hill: ‘Graffiti Summer’ finished work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘I hadn’t really put any thought into which painting to hashtag,’ Emma reflects. ‘If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have chosen Graffiti Summer. That painting took me on a rollercoaster of highs and lows. It had been a battle making it, so it wasn’t a favourite. I felt so relieved when it was finished. However, now I’m really pleased that it accidently became the one, because it’s so much richer because of all the layers. It has a good story behind it and now, with a bit of time, I’ve grown to love it. ‘

Emma Hill: Liberty London fabric
One of the fabrics created from Emma’s ‘Graffiti Summer’ painting
Emma Hill: In the Liberty design studio
In the Liberty design studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of her Liberty experience, Emma was chosen to feature in a BBC documentary called A Day That Changed My Life. The cameras followed her creative journey from submission through to the nail-biting moment when she heard that she was one of the winners.

‘It was fun to share my art journey and the background of the winning painting,’ Emma says. ‘It was also the first time I’d shown my fresh new style of painting after a three-year break, so it was amazing to get such a fantastic initial response.’

You can read Emma’s own account of her Liberty journey here:
Launch
Liberty mill at Olonia
Liberty London design studio

#LibertyOpenCall winners 2018
#LibertyOpenCall winners 2018
#LibertyOpenCall winners 2018
#LibertyOpenCall winners 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A really important part of the Liberty experience for Emma was meeting the other three winners – me, and fabric designers Catherine Rowe and Natasha Coverdale.

‘It wouldn’t have been the same if there was just one winner,’ she says. ‘What made it so valuable and amazing was the four of us being able to experience it together. And the opportunity to learn a bit about each others’ work and to get to know each other.’

Early days
Emma was brought up in the UK but is half English and half Norwegian. As a child she spent school holidays in Norway visiting family. There were summer camps in the mountains in summer, and skiing in the winter.

Emma Hill
Working for British Airways, Emma travelled the world

Although she really excelled at art at school, she didn’t get into art college. They said she ‘needed to be more free’. This was a massive blow for Emma. She became very insecure in her art and began to believe that she couldn’t paint.

She decided the best way to get her passion back and find her creativity again was to learn more about art.  So, after a ‘mind-blowing’ year studying art and philosophy among the mountains and lakes in Lillehammer in Norway,  Emma, aged 19, returned to the UK to pursue a joint honours degree in Art History and Scandinavian Studies.

‘I thought that through my studies, I could learn about art, discover what interested me and get into painting again,’ she reflects wryly. ‘In fact, studying art history had no influence on my art whatsoever!’

While she was studying at the university, Emma started attending life drawing classes at the art college across the road from where she lived. Eventually, she applied for a place there but was told she would have to choose between the degree she was taking which was nearly complete, or a completely new course in fine art. She decided to complete her degree and afterwards, spent the summer in Norway with her uncle, training to be a divemaster.

After the dive season in September 1996, she came back to the UK and started working as cabin crew with British Airways and, that Emma says, is where her real art education began.

Art Culture Vulture  

Emma Hill: Artist' journal 2020-22 India and South Africa
Emma Hill: Artist’ journal 2020-22 India and South Africa

‘I travelled extensively and made it my mission to search for art and culture everywhere I went,’ Emma recalls. ‘It was a real adventure. When I arrived in a county, I would visit whatever exhibitions were showing. I found amazing exhibitions from the largest retrospectives in New York to tiny local galleries in Calcutta, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and everything in between.

‘The  days when the time frame just didn’t fit,  or when galleries were closed were often the most fun as they were totally unpredictable. I’d often find myself in the most unusual of places.’

‘I documented everything,’ she continues. ‘I wrote it down and organised it according to time zones, starting with London at 0 degrees Longitude. It was a kind of response to three  of Mathew Collings books – Blimey: From Bohemia to Britpop: London Art World from Francis Bacon to Damien Hirst; It Hurts- New York Art from Warhol to Now and Art Crazy Nation.  I thought of my writing as a commentary on art and culture at the turn of the century, from the point of view, of a 20-something-year-old girl.

Emma Hill: Artist' journal 2020-22 India and South Africa
Emma Hill: Artist’ journal 2020-22 India and South Africa

‘I kept it all my writing on an old floppy disk, but luckily I had it printed up as a book, which, last year, came out of storage after eight years. In the New Year, 2020 I picked it up and had a read. After 20 years I realised that my thoughts about art and my purpose are exactly the same today.

‘What interested me back then was how art becomes like an international language, communicating cultural diversity and differences without the barriers of speech and geographical borders. Art uniting people while sharing new, rich perspectives. I’d be in Thailand and they’d be promoting art from Finland, or I’d be in Brazil looking at art about the arctic – completely different culture promoting each other, educating and sharing an insight to their world. It was like there was this network of people communicating and understanding each other’s cultures, and it was all through art.’

Emma Hill: Art book collection
Emma’s collection of books from exhibitions around the world

With the prospect of more time during the first lockdown, Emma prepped up, with canvas and paint and was looking forward to explore her creativity. But when lockdown came, she didn’t feel like painting. Instead she decided to write up her travel diaries as blogposts.

‘I thought it would be interesting to see if I could look back at where I’d been and continue the story, but on the internet,’ Emma says. I looked back at where my painting started off, in Australia, where I became hugely influenced by Aboriginal art and culture.

Sharing Love With HeArt: 'Fluoro'
Sharing Love With HeArt: ‘Fluoro’

As I was revisiting my archives during lockdown ‘Black Lives Matter’ came to the forefront of my awareness and I thought that I would celebrate Black Art and the huge influence that it has had on my work. The previous week I had started painting heart’s for an exhibition in Vienna, All You Need is Love.  All of a sudden I was continuing my story – painting Love HeArts, that were expressing unity, celebrating difference and visually expressing all the beliefs and thoughts from what I had written all those years ago’

You can see more of Emma’s Love HeArts  here

Sharing Love With HeArt: 'Buttercup Sunshine'
Sharing Love With HeArt: ‘Buttercup Sunshine’
Sharing Love With HeArt: 'Cherry Blossom'
Sharing Love With HeArt: ‘Cherry Blossom’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, six weeks into lockdown, Emma was painting again and exploring new ways of communicating her art through social media. You can watch Emma talking about influences on her work from Black art, in this IGTV broadcast.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Emma Hill (@emma.hill_art)

Early commercial success
As she travelled less while bringing up her children, and with her artistic influences broadened and developed through experiencing so many different cultures and styles from around the world, Emma, started to paint more. In particular, as she mentioned above, Emma was inspired by Aboriginal art. This is particularly evident in her earlier work, albeit with a ‘European spin’.

Emma Hill: Lucid Moonlight, Liquid Sun
Emma Hill: Lucid Moonlight, Liquid Sun
Emma Hill: Pink Sock Polka Dot
Emma Hill: Pink Sock Polka Dot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma’s first breakthrough came when she visited the Affordable Art Fair.  A case of mistaken identity got her a conversation with New British Artists who took her on as their ‘wild card’ artist.

Emma laughs, ‘I’d only done one painting, so I had to do a couple more. Three months later I had a whole wall at The London Art Fair and I sold out. It was amazing!’

New British Artists, represented Emma for 10 years, exhibiting and selling her work at art fairs around the UK.  But although she was experiencing a great deal of commercial success at this time, Emma still hadn’t achieved the ‘freedom’ in her painting style that feedback from her original art college application suggested she was lacking.

‘My style was very controlled,’ Emma explains. ‘I would have a scrap of paper and I would scribble and balance shapes and then when I came to the canvas, I would take time transferring that design to the canvas and then I’d paint it in.’

When her agent retired, instead of finding someone else to represent her, Emma got a job teaching art at ARTHOUSE Unlimited, a charity presenting the artistic talents of adults living with learning and physical difficulties who require varying levels of support, where she continues to work there today.

A change of style

Emma Hill: Rainbow Tsunami
Rainbow Tsunami, Emma’s first painting after 3 years

Six years ago, Emma took a three-year break from painting to renovate her house.  While the garage was being converted and with a wall down and plastering yet to be done, Emma felt inspired to paint again.

‘I put this huge canvas across the gap and just started painting,’ Emma says. ‘I was painting intuitively, just expressing how I was feeling, which I’d never done before.’

That painting was the beginning of a process that Emma now uses to produce all her work, which she describes as ‘spontaneous, intuitive, expressive and emotionally charged’.

‘It explores my memories and experiences within nature, of the sea, sky and landscape,’ she explains. ‘But not in the traditional sense of recording by recognition, but by my use of colour and texture. The energy of my mark-making, born of my emotional feelings and associated memories becomes the essence as it creates a visual mindscape. My heads is clear, empty of thought, I feel the colours and textures, intuitively.’

Emma Hill: The Great Adventure
Emma Hill: The Great Adventure

Each painting starts with a single brush stroke – ‘the start of a conversation’ Emma says. But it is only as the conversation continues, that the final painting begins to emerge, as she explains in her artist statement.

A streak of turquoise leaps over a zig-zag spectrum. Parchment and lilac play beside striking fluorescents. Prussian blue drips like pouring rain and brilliant white miniature dots light up the sky like stars. Paint is thrown wide and poured tight, meandering and flowing, following a journey of life. Gradually, layers of colour build phrases of optimism. Slowly, fragments of structure become suspended within the painting, revealing a glimpse of something familiar. Inspired by nature, brush strokes grow, constantly explore, entwine, separate and die. Occasionally, there is the hint of the figurative, recalling a hint of a memory which begins to form, shapeshifting and disappearing deep into the clouds or ocean. Sometimes landscapes emerge as lost cities or far away planets, luring like candy.

It is only when the painting is finished that Emma is able to assign meaning to her work. Her completed lockdown painting Hope with its zig-zag ‘forests’ reminded her of time she spent in the mountains Norway with its glacial lakes, waterfalls and the Northern Lights. And, although this was not in her mind at all during the painting process, Emma’s painting Joy , she realised, reminded her of water and the pond that she used to run past every day during lockdown.

Emma Hill: Hope
Emma Hill: Hope
Emma Hill: Joy
Emma Hill: Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But using  Emma’s metaphor, like all good conversations, there is not always agreement and there might even be a few rows along the way before a consensus is reached and the final direction of a painting is resolved.

‘If I have a gut feeling that I need to change something or I need to do something else, I just do it, because, actually, it’s in the risks and the doubts that there is the chance that I might find something amazing,’ Emma says. ‘But it is a bit of a battle. I start adding things and I think, “Oh no, what have I done? This looks dreadful.” And it gets worse and worse and it’s almost like I’m destroying it. Until you get to the point where it is so awful that you just hate it. But eventually it works out and it feels like I’ve found magic. Actually, my favourite paintings are those I’ve had the most heartache with and absolutely hated because they were so disastrous. But I’ve ended up loving them.’

Emma’s lockdown painting Joy, started as half of a huge rainbow painting to celebrate Sir Tom Moore’s 100th birthday and the NHS. The original paintings has been painted over so many times that now, there is just a glimpse of what was there before.

Emma Hill: 'Hope' and 'Joy' - work in progress
Emma Hill: ‘Hope’ and ‘Joy’ – work in progress
Emma Hill: 'Hope' and 'Joy' - completed works
Emma Hill: ‘Hope’ and ‘Joy’ – completed works

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘I think it makes the painting richer,’ Emma comments. ‘It gives it more depth and a story all on its own, by the journey it takes. It starts good and kind of gets worse and then you find a way to bring it all together in the end. I share the mistakes and accidents in the hope it will inspire others in art but also in their lives to carry on, giving them hope.’

Watch Emma talking about Hope

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Emma Hill (@emma.hill_art)

Watch Emma talking about Joy

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Emma Hill (@emma.hill_art)

You can hear Emma talking through the way she works, with reference to some of her more recent paintings on her  IGTV channel.

Building supportive communities online
Now Emma continues to consider how she can use the power of the internet to communicate with others through art. This year will see the launch of her podcast  Art Seeker Stories, based around her Art Culture Vulture diary.

‘It will be partly nostalgic, looking back at my travel adventures twenty years ago, but I’ll update those, continuing the conversation with what I can find now – online, most likely during lockdown,’ Emma explains. ‘But I’d also like to interview and support other artists, to share their background stories. Other people’s art is incredibly important to me and I’d like to celebrate that, to build a community that is creatively inspiring and supportive of each other.’

Emma has personal experience of how much members of an online artistic community can support each other.

‘On occasions,  when I have lacked confidence to paint myself, I seek refuge in other people’s art, ‘ she says. ‘In a way, other people’s work is just as important to me as my own and I guess what I’m hoping is that I can give the same, or even a fraction of what other people’s art has given me when I’ve most needed it, to somebody else, with my own artwork.

‘One year I looked at the artwork of Jessica Zoob every day. Her paintings gave me such comfort and joy. Years later, I won her painting, Sunlit Waters as a prize in a competition she set during lockdown, with my painting Joy. It felt amazing to have my own work recognised by someone who had given me so much through her own work.’

Emma recalls the support she received from the online artistic community during a period of anti-climax after the excitement of winning the #LibertyOpenCall competition.

‘I was so excited,’ she says. ‘I had a Liberty fabric design and I had been on TV. I’d had great exposure and I was looking forward to getting my art out there. Yet I couldn’t get anywhere. Everything I applied for I didn’t get in to. I’d built up this massive portfolio of work but didn’t know what to do with it.

‘And then it occurred to me – I don’t have to do anything. I realised I didn’t have to paint any more. It was euphoric. It was like a weight off my shoulders that I wasn’t going to have to do it again. Every underlying pressure was taken away. I could just play with paint and have some fun, but not necessarily to make a picture.’

During this time, although she was no longer painting, Emma continued to post art from her archives on Instagram.

‘I wanted it to look productive and busy, like everything was fine,’ she explains. ‘And then one day I received a really lovely comment from someone saying that she had really connected to my work emotionally. It made me feel good and give me a purpose. I thought, “Oh maybe there is a reason why I’m painting”. So I got over myself and started to paint again.’

Soon afterwards, Emma was accepted by ArtCan a charity set up to help artists promote their work and began exhibiting again.

Emma HillL Exhibiting at 'Fake News' with ArtCan
Emma’s paintings, ‘Chaos’ and ‘Evolve’ exhibited at ‘Fake News’, with ArtCan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liten as Emma talks about engaging with the Instagram community on IGTV.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Emma Hill (@emma.hill_art)

Looking ahead
So what’s ahead for Emma?
‘2020, creatively,  was my awakening,’ she says. ‘I exhibited in Fake News the week before the first lockdown in March and in Vienna in September. And although planned exhibitions got cancelled there were various online virtual shows. I also won first prize to show my art with Trinity Art Gallery at The Grocer, at London City Island which, luckily, went ahead in the summer.’

Exhibition at 'The Grocer', London City Island
Exhibition at ‘The Grocer’, London City Island

Exhibition at 'The Grocer', London City Island

 

 

2020 was also the year that Emma feels that her story, vision and purpose became clear. She got a new website to represents her and her brand.

‘This year, 2021, I’m excited,’ she says. ‘It is my time to take action. To  put all I’ve learnt into practice. I have a new range of limited edition prints and hope to extend my print and product range and get involved with new ventures and collaborations.

‘One already in the pipeline is with Bombette, a slow fashion brand, environmentally conscious, creating artist collaboration clothing. Artistically, I continue with working with ARTHOUSE Unlimited, either in the studio or remotely.

‘I’m planning to make a start on a project on trees, influenced by my daily jogs around the golf club and the woods and the Haywood exhibition Among the Trees that I visited in March. I would also like to explore creating paintings in response to people and places, to compliment my Artist Journal and Art Seeker Stories, although I’m not sure which direction this will go in.

‘Most of all I’m very excited to be doing all I can to produce a podcast, for Art Seeker Stories that will be a platform where I can share my own and other artist and creative’s stories to inspire others and give a sense of belonging and community, expressing individuality, diversity and inclusion –  Sharing Love With HeArt.’

Further information and to get in touch with Emma
Web : www.emmahill.co.uk
Instagram @emma.hill_art and @artseekerstories
Contact – studio@emmahill.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hot Tin: Making a bid for the future

Duncan Grant: What a Liberty private view
‘What a Liberty!’ opening night at the Hot Tin

The Hot Tin Auction is Live. Click here.

It was just about this time last year that I exhibited at The Hot Tin arts centre and cafe in Faversham, Kent. https://www.the-hot-tin.co.uk/

I’d just received some samples of the Liberty London fabric printed with my designs and it was the perfect place to celebrate alongside the other three #LibertyOpenCall winners.  Barman, William Ford, designed a cocktail ‘The Drunken Duncan’ (gin, lime, lovage and absinthe) specially for the occasion and we danced the evening away to Northern Soul, from DJ Ged ‘Stax Volt’ Kelly. htpps://m.mixcloud.com/XRAYSOULCLUB/  It was a great night! If you were there, you can relive it a little here: https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/05/19/what-a-liberty-great-first-night-at-the-hot-tin/

The Hot Tin, Faversham
©cene-magazine

Well how quickly things can change.

Just a few days before the UK went into official lockdown, on 20th March 2020, Boris Johnson announced that pubs, bars and restaurants would close for the foreseeable future. Three months down the line, small venues like The Hot Tin are struggling to survive.

RouteStock
The Hot Tin
(or The Tin as it is known) is the brainchild of Romana Bellinger and Mike Eden.

Their company RouteStock  https://www.routestock.org/ is a non-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) dedicated to bringing communities together through art and music.  RouteStock  specialises in creating audiovisual content for prestigious live arts events all over the country.

©cene-magazine
Romana and Mike ©cene-magazine

Their professional portfolio includes Lost Lectures https://lostlectures.com/ which Romana describes as ‘a bit like Ted talks but funkier’, the Breakin’ Convention hip hop fusion dance festival at Sadlers Wells https://www.breakinconvention.com/ and work with live orchestras.  Three years ago,  they worked with the late Roy Budd’s wife to produce a restored version of the 1925 film Phantom of the Opera, accompanied by a 74-piece orchestra,  which premiered at the London Coliseum.

The Hot Tin
©cene-magazine


Finding a venue
But the dream for Romana and Mike was always to create their own arts venue, to complement and extend their RouteStock projects.  When they saw the  Grade II listed, converted tin chapel online, they couldn’t resist.

‘The idea was always to have a place of our own, so that we could do what we love doing – connecting with people and bringing people together,’ Romana explains. ‘When this building came along it was a match made in heaven. The living accommodation was beautiful but when we saw the main hall, we just thought, wow, we can do so much with this!’

Tin chapels
Originally, St Saviour’s Church (still  the building’s official address) was a flat-pack church, built around 1885. It was probably made in the Old Kent Road in East London, and then brought down the river to Faversham on a Thames barge.

During the Victorian era, the rapid growth of urban populations , prompted the mass production of cheap, easily erected buildings to meet the needs of new communities.  Pre-fabricated churches were relatively cheap. £150 would buy you a chapel seating 150 people. The size and other embellishments could be altered to meet different needs and budgets. If you are interested, you’ll find lots of technical information about these buildings here https://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/tin-tabernacles/tin-tabernacles.html

Before it’s recent transformation into an arts space, The Hot Tin building experienced many reincarnations. It remained in use as a church from 1885 until 1950, when it was deconsecrated.  After that, for a while, it was used by a school for gym lessons and piano teaching, and then as a scout hut.  Romana explains that the different glass in all the windows is probably down to the ball games played inside.

Over the years, the building has also been a camping shop, a printers and an antique furniture showroom, before being used as a joiners for 30 years. Romana and Mike bought the building from Nick Kenny, who had converted the back of the building to living accommodation and used the main hall to build bespoke kitchens and bathrooms.

Renovation
Because The Hot Tin is a Grade II listed building, remodelling possibilities were limited but that suited Romana and Mike. ‘We didn’t want to dress it up and make it prettier than it was, because the building has its own beauty,’ Romana explains. ‘ We painted to some extent and opened up an area that had been blocked off.

The main thing was cleaning the ceiling. It was in a terrible state. So we had one of those telescopic cherry pickers and we were up there with Henry the Hoover, for about a week, cleaning off layers and layers of wood dust.’

Because it is a tin building with no insulation, The Hot Tin gets very hot in the summer – hence the name – and cold in the winter, so Romana and Mike researched a way of heating the big space that would be as efficient and sustainable as possible. Now infra red heaters keep The Tin hot all year round.  Future plans are to restore the building, rather than to change it.

The Hot Tin, Faversham

A new arts space and cafe
For 18 months before the lockdown, The Hot Tin  was thriving. The cafe, with its art exhibitions and workshops, locally sourced coffee and homemade vegan food attracted families, local businesses and other residents during the day. And in the evening, live music, DJ sets and films attracted a broad spectrum of people from around Faversham.

The cafe is now an important and integral part of the business but it wasn’t always in the business plan.

The Hot tin, Faversham
©cene-magazine

‘When we saw the building, we immediately thought arts space and we started to apply for our licences,’ explains Romana. ‘But because some people in the area just didn’t understand what we were doing, we got a lot of opposition. So we thought maybe we should have a cafe. That would support our events and allow people to get to know us and to understand who we are and what we are trying to do. ‘

Local resident Debbie Lowther was one of those who was sceptical at first.  ‘When I first saw the planning permission for turning the Tin Chapel into an entertainment venue, I couldn’t see how it would work,’ she says. ‘ But work it does… for quiet coffee meetings or lunch during the day and for its music, great art and yummy cocktails, all unique in Faversham. I love it!’

Griselda Cann Mussett, who also lives in Faversham, agrees. ‘The Hot Tin has become something of a marvel with excellent food, art exhibitions and occasional music and all so well-run. It’s an imaginative use of an unusual and special building,’ she says.

‘Our main ambition is to provide a one-of-a kind venue for live music, performance, films and the arts,’ Mike says. ‘We want to promote musicians and artists from around the world and around the corner.’

‘What we strive for is to be a place that is inclusive and where people feel comfortable,’ Romana adds. ‘Everyone is welcome here. We want to bring these sorts of arts events to the people of Faversham in their own town, so they don’t have to go to London for them.  We want to make The Hot Tin a resource for the community again, which is really what this church was built for.’

The Hot Tin, Faversham
©cene-magazine

Although it has only been open for 18 months, The Hot Tin has hosted some classy acts.  These include Switzerland’s urban folk band Black Sea Dahu https://www.blackseadahu.com/ French-born Tucson singer Marianne Dissard (who now lives in Ramsgate) https://www.mariannedissard.com/ local electro-acoustic duo Liotia http://liotia.co.uk/ and from the forefront of the new London jazz scene, the Ash Walker Experience, a multisensory show with a six piece band. https://www.cenemagazine.co.uk/news/2019/12/6/the-hot-tin-ash-walker-experience

The last artist to play at The Hot Tin before lockdown was spoken word artist, writer, saxophonist and bandleader, Alabaster dePlume whose performances have received wide critical acclaim https://www.alabasterdeplume.com/

 

Lockdown and beyond
The coronavirus emergency and the closure of entertainment spaces and venues has hit The Hot Tin hard. Because they have so little outside space, Romana concedes that they will be unlikely to reopen for quite some time.

RadioRouteStock https://www.routestock.org/radio is still broadcasting LockDown DJ sessions. Details of tonight’s session (14th June) are in the image on the right. And Romana and Mike are exploring a subscription-based, TV broadcast quality, live streaming service, whereby audiences could have access to live interactive shows without being  present physically at the venue. Once The Hot Tin is up-and-running again, live streaming could continue to be used to increase access to events for those who are unable to attend in person.

Fundraising
To help get them through this difficult period, The Hot Tin is trying to raise some money through two fundraising initiatives.

‘We  are part of the Music Venue Trust http://www.musicvenuetrust.com/ and we’ve got a Crowdfunder campaign at the moment,’ Romana explains. ‘As a collective, we’re trying to raise money and awareness because grassroots venues are obviously going to be hit hardest by lockdown.’

So far The Hot Tin has raised nearly £2,500 towards its target of £10,000. Donations will help Romana and Mike keep some of their staff who ‘fall between the cracks’ of the government support schemes, cover some of the business’s ongoing overheads and losses, and help towards restructuring during lockdown and for when they are finally able to open again at full capacity.

You can donate here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/thehottin

The Crowdfunder campaign runs until 1st September 2020 at 8pm.  Any money raised over the £10,000 target  will be donated to the Music Venue Trust crisis fund to protect other small venues across the country.

Faversham-based artist and Hot Tin bartender, chef and cocktail supremo, William Ford, is also organising a silent auction to help keep the venue afloat.

There has been a callout to creatives to donate artworks, ceramics, merchandise and crafted goods. These will be displayed and described on an auction site, which goes live on 27th June. It will work a bit like ebay, with members of the public invited to bid on items until the auction closes on 19th July.

‘We have been overwhelmed with the support we have received ,’ says William, ‘Originally we asked for artworks, because that was the idea I had in mind, but we’ve had lots of makers offering to donate things – some beautiful jewellery and stained glass. We’ve had bands offering merchandise bundles and others offering online services, such as guitar lessons or a garden design consultation. So now the auction is a proper showcase of what The Hot Tin and RouteStock is.’

The Hot Tin, Faversham
©cene-magazine

To maintain social distancing, artists will be responsible for getting items bid for to those who have won them, although The Hot Tin can help if this is not possible.

If you are keen to see The Hot Tin reopen when the time comes and would like to donate to the silent auction, please contact William. will@routestock.org

Officially the deadline for donations is today (June 14th) but William is happy to receive new offers over the next week or two.

The auction goes live on 27th June. For more information, you can follow The Hot Tin on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheHotTin/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehottin/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheHotTin
or contact them info@the-hot-tin.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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Update: Exhibition of new work, Christmas cards, blog and Liberty fabric spotting

 

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Time for a few more quick updates.

My 20:20 vision – Exhibition of new work

I’ll be exhibiting some new work for 2020- inspired by my childhood, my town and other stuff – next weekend at St Andrew’s Arts Centre in Gravesend. Private view (you are all invited) from 6pm on Friday 24th January. There will be beer https://www.ironpier.beer/ and biscuits.

The exhibition continues on Saturday 25th January and Sunday 26th January from 10am to 4pm. There will also be biscuits and maybe beer then too, depending on how much gets (many get) drunk on Friday night.

Do pop along if you can!

New work will be added to my website in February https://www.duncangrantartist.com/shop/

St. Andrews Arts Centre has an interesting history. As you can see, it used to be a church. The Diocese of Rochester decided to close the church because of the cost of repairs, but it was rescued and bought by Gravesham Borough Council in 1975 and transformed into an Arts Centre.

The original church was built to serve Gravesend’s waterside community. In the middle of the 19th Century, the river Thames was really busy with cargo and passenger vessels preparing to sail to Australia, New Zealand or the Americas. Emigrants often lived on board ship, sometimes in terrible conditions, for weeks before they sailed.

Smaller boats serviced the larger ships and the crews of these boats lived with their families and livestock on barges moored just offshore. The priest of the local Holy Trinity Church, Rev C E R Robinson, considered all these people to be his parishioners and visited them. Records show that he carried out over 600 baptisms for emigrants wanting to be blessed before their departure.

A couple of interesting facts for you about St Andrew’s.
Did you know?

  • Most UK churches are aligned east/west. But St Andrew’s is aligned north/south because that was the land that was available and its parish was the river
  • The ceiling of St Andrew’s is shaped to resemble an upturned boat.

Come along to see for yourself next weekend. Did I mention that there will be Iron Pier beer, and biscuits?

Last word on Christmas cards
A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the Christmas card project, either by contributing a design or by buying the cards.  We raised £900, enough to fund Christmas lunch at Cafe No. 84 https://www.no84.co.uk/ this year, and with money left over either to fund a similar event next year if the cafe owners decide to do it again, or to donate to Crisis at Christmas if not. If you’re not sure what I’m taking about, more info here: https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/04/07/only-261-more-days-until-christmas-time-to-think-about-lunch/

Liberty fabric scraps of news
I think my Liberty fabrics have sold out now. The last remnants were in the recent Liberty sale.

The Faber & Faber edition of the Booker Prize winning Milkman was in the shops at Christmas. Did you see this interview with Anna Burns, the author, and me?
https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/features/design-and-living/faber-interview-anna-burns-duncan-grant.html

 

 

 

Now a new hobby for me is watching products made from my fabric springing up in different places, especially in Japan, where you can buy pencil cases and other small gifty type bits in a Small Town design. I saw this one on Instagram and contacted them to ask if I could buy a pencil case. A woman replied. She said she liked my art and would send me one as a gift. As the parcel weighed less than the 2kg allowed, she has filled it up with Japanese sweets. Nice. Looking forward to receiving it soon.

Here is another one.

Top blog!
This blog has been going for just under a year now and you may have noticed that it has changed a bit. I ran out of things to say about myself and started featuring other talented and interesting artists of my acquaintance – check the archive. Well, imagine my surprise when I found I’d been included in Feedspots Top 100 Art Blogs and websites to follow in 2020.  I’m currently in at number 81 pop-pickers https://blog.feedspot.com/art_blogs/

I’m not really sure what this means or whether it will do me any good but I’d like to stay on the list.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already following the blog. But I would like to attract more followers if possible – aiming to get 200 maybe by the end of this year – have 159 at present. So if you know anyone who you think might be interested, just ask them to pop their email in the box at the top of this page AND THEN really important, click to confirm on the link that is sent out (it might go to spam, so check). They’ll get an email alert when each blog comes out – about once a fortnight – no spam, no ads, I promise. Thank you.

Well that’s it. I’ll be back with another really interesting artist for you in a week or two.  Hope to see some of you at the exhibition. Did I say there would be biscuits and beer…..?

 

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Updates: Christmas cards, postcards, podcast and pants

 

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Time for a few more updates

Christmas cards
Christmas is still coming. It’s November, so it is OK to start thinking about it. Are you ready? Have you got your Christmas cards yet? No. Well, I can help you with that.

These boxed sets of 42 beautiful charity Christmas cards and envelopes, each card designed by a different (mostly local) artist, have been on sale for a while now. They are raising money for Christmas dinner, this year, at No. 84 Tearoom and Eatery at Echo Square in Gravesend https://www.no84.co.uk/ Cafe owners Adrian and Andrea offer a free Christmas dinner to people in the local community who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day.

I’m delighted to say that over half of the boxes I got printed have been sold now. In fact, I’ve only got 38 boxes left so don’t miss out.  Boxes are available on this website https://duncangrantartist.com/product-category/charity-christmas-cards/ and in various venues around Gravesend, including https://www.no84.co.uk/ or you can get them from me directly, if you know where to find me.

Each box costs £20 (£24 including postage and packing if you order them from the website) with all profits going to help those less fortunate than ourselves this Christmas. You can find out more about the 2019 Christmas card project here https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/04/07/only-261-more-days-until-christmas-time-to-think-about-lunch/ Apologies to anyone from overseas who tried to order online but found that they needed to take out a bank loan to pay the postage. That has now been put right. Postage to Europe is £10, elsewhere in the world £15.

Art on a postcard
Once again I was honoured to be invited to donate 4 postcard-sized artworks to the 6th Art on a Postcard charity auction to raise money for the Hepatitis C Trust. If you are interested, you can find out more about the charity in my blog from June this year https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/06/26/art-on-a-postcard-urban-contemporary-vs-street-photography/

As well as me, this year’s line up includes anonymous contributions from famous names from the artworld such as Norman Ackroyd RA, Jock McFadyen RA, Carolina Caycedo, Vanessa Jackson RA, Dan Baldwin, Louise Lawler, Florine Démosthène, Joan Snyder, Timothy Hyman RA,  Jeremy Deller, Miya Ando, and Helen Beard. All cards start at £50 so if you think that you can spot a famous artist just from looking at their work, you could snap up a real bargain.  I was really pleased to see that all mine have now had bids so I won’t be consigned to the box of shame and will be raising some money for this good cause. Off to the private view on Tuesday. The auction is online https://paddle8.com/auction/hep-c-trust and runs until 14th November, so there’s still time.

Podcast
Last Wednesday, I met Nathalie Banaigs – Founder and Director of Kent Creative http://kentcreativearts.co.uk/ to record a podcast along with author, Frances Beaumont https://francesbeaumont.co.uk/.  If you haven’t had enough of me already, you can listen in here https://soundcloud.com/user-365282206/2019-11-05-artist-duncan-grant-and-author-frances-beaumont You may need to install Soundcloud to listen. There you’ll find all kinds of interesting chats with local creatives from all branches of the Arts – well worth a browse.

Walking the walk. 
Liberty fabric 'Duncan Grant' shirtIn September, Faversham seamstress Jane Potter https://www.facebook.com/jane.a.potter.textiles posted this on Facebook. Those of you who have been following me this year will recognise the fabric as one of the colourways of a design taken from my 2018 winning #LibertyOpenCall entry. https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/duncan-grant-tana-lawn-cotton-000620140.html?listsrc=Search%20Recommendation If  you don’t know what I’m talking about this blog from explains all. https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/01/30/liberty-open-call/

As part of my prize, I received five metres of green Tana Lawn Duncan Grant from Liberty – was going to post a link but looks like it has sold out – and Jane made this from it for me. Thank you, Jane.

I am going to pursue the fabric design thing. This week, I attended my first ever art-based since school, at the Fashion and Textile Museum, up in that there London, trying to get some Photoshop skills for my design stuff.  https://www.ftmlondon.org/ftm_courses/photoshop-for-textile-designers-3/ Had to walk through the Zandra Rhodes 50 Years of Fabulous exhibition to get to my class., which was kind of ironic because it is one year since I met her in person at the Liberty fabric launch. It was a small group – just four of us – and I’ve learnt a lot, like changing colourways, cropping images, collaging bits of designs and making repeats. Also managed to reset my phone to factory settings and nearly lost my wallet. But more on all that another time maybe 

When I entered the #LibertyOpenCall my mate Richard Marshall said, ‘If you win, I want a pair of pants made out of that’.  Well, Jane can also make boxers, Richard – and here they are! Now just your part of the bargain to fulfil – looking forward to the photoshoot. watch this space, readers.

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Launch day: My Liberty fabrics are now for sale!

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Well, what a day. Today I finally got to see the fabrics created from my winning #LibertyOpenCall design for sale on the shelves of Liberty! It was the first time seeing them for real. We only saw the strike offs when we visited the factory in Milan. The fabrics looks fantastic, brilliant quality and great colours. I have three colourway of one design ‘Duncan Grant’ on Tana Lawn and three of a second design ‘Small Town’ on silk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To mark the launch, the store was decorated with panels of our fabrics and information about each of the four winners all the way up the stairs and around the Haberdashery Department.

We were treated to breakfast with the design and sales team and then signed copies of our original designs, which will go into the famous Liberty archive.

We each received 5metres of one of our fabrics – I chose the one closest to my original design in terms of colour, and then I couldn’t resist buying a metre of each of the others.

All six will make an appearance at my What a Liberty! exhibition at the Hot Tin from 18th May, if you want to see them and can’t make it to the store. https://duncangrantartist.com/event/exhibition-of-small-towns-to-coincide-with-liberty-london-open-call-launch/

As one part of the journey ends, another begins. We’ll be kept informed of how our fabrics are used. So if, say, a fashion house uses one of our designs of fabrics for a garment in their 2020 season collections, Liberty will tell us and will keep our names with the designs as far as they can.

Will let you know about any developments on here. Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me, voted for me and supported me so far.  One of you is getting a pair of designer boxers. You know who you are!

Here are the links to my fabrics on the Liberty website:

DUNCAN GRANT https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/search?q=duncan+grant

SMALL TOWN https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/search?q=small+town

Originals of my Small Town Ink Drawings and digital prints are available in my Gallery:

ORIGINALS https://duncangrantartist.com/product-category/original-artwork/drawing-ink/

PRINTS https://duncangrantartist.com/product-category/prints/ink-drawing/

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Liberty update: Book launch and fabric peek

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Last night Liberty launched their brand-new bi-annual publication The Liberty Book  at their flagship store and I was invited with the other winners – we appear in the book – along with the great and the arty.

More about the book here: https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/the-liberty-book-000620000.html
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv0-Ye3g-aO/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Meanwhile, this image turned up on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/absolutelyhomemag/
Our winning designs as fabrics!

The first strip is Catherine Rowe’s designs https://www.instagram.com/catherinerowedesigns/

The second strip is Emma Hill’s https://www.instagram.com/emma.hill_art/

The third strip is mine https://www.instagram.com/duncangrant1965/
https://duncangrantartist.com/shop/

The fourth strip is Natasha Coverdale’s https://www.instagram.com/studiocoverdale/

Official launch date 8th May 2019 at the Liberty Store.

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Liberty production process and sneak preview of ‘strike offs’

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Liberty have just sent through these photos from our visit to the factory, near Milan. Great shots of the commercial print process on a massive scale…

 

And here we are – me and the other three winners – with the print samples (strike-offs) that the design team had prepared so the Liberty buyers could make their selection of colourways for production. Chosen designs will be revealed at the launch at the Liberty store on 8th May 2019.

Here is Liberty’s official piece https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/features/design-and-living/opencall-printing-process-2019.html?numfromstart=NaN&referrer=content-hub-interiors

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Liberty Open Call

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In September 2018, Liberty London, the designer department store, invited artists and designers to upload images of their work to Instagram using #LibertyOpenCall to compete for the chance to have that design used in Liberty fabrics. There were over 5,000 entries and, amazingly, I was selected as one of the four winners. You can see my design and those of the other winners here

https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/instore-pages/liberty-open-call.html

Earlier this month I was invited, along with the other winners to visit the iconic Liberty Store in London’s Regent Street to view the Liberty archive and work with Liberty designers to turn our images into fabric designs, to be featured in the Liberty summer collection 2019.

 

We had a great day. It was amazing how they can take bits of the design and make it work for different products. Liberty will print several test prints from each winner’s design and then their buyers will choose at least one from each artist to develop into Liberty fabric. Really exciting!

The next stage is a visit, later this month, to the Liberty fabric mill, near Milan, to watch our designs transformed into fabric.

HERE’S A SIMILAR PIECE FROM LIBERTY….with a little bit more information about what happens next.
https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/features/design-and-living/liberty-open-call-in-the-studio.html