In the Studio -Further Investigation

Following on from my previous experiments I wanted to firmly plant my work in the realm of art rather than craft but I was still unclear as to how to go about doing so and was hoping to narrow down the difficult subject of differentiating art from craft.

Through a TED talk by Laura Morelli I came to realise that the divide between art and craft had much earlier origins than the industrial revolution. Morelli reveals that “It wasn’t until about 1400 that people began to draw a line between art and craft and in Florence, Italy, a new cultural ideal which would later be called Renaissance Humanism was beginning to take form. Florentine intellectuals began to spread the idea of re-formulating classical Greek and Roman works while placing greater value on individual creativity than collective production. A few brave painters, who for many centuries had been paid by the square foot, successfully petitioned their patrons to pay them on the basis of merit instead. Within a single generation people’s attitudes about objects and their makers would shift dramatically such that in 1550 Giorgio Vasari……..published an influential book called ‘Lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and Architects’ – elevating these types of creators to rock-star status by sharing juicy biographical details. In the mind of the public painting, sculpture and architecture were now considered art and their makers creative masterminds – Artists. Meanwhile, those who maintained guild traditions and faithfully produced candlesticks, ceramics, gold jewellery or wrought iron gates would be known communally as Artisans and their works considered minor or ‘decorative arts’ and their works connoting an inferior status and solidifying the distinction between art and craft that still exists in the western world” (TED-Ed, 2014).

It would appear the issue of the celebrity culture within art has been present much longer; and whilst this is of great significance for establishing the importance of art I do feel that talent and superiority had perhaps been sold ‘sold’ for gossip and tittle-tattle. With this in mind I do wonder if society would be so quick to revert to pre-1400 categorisation as it was to change it in the first instance. I feel that with both art and craft having evolved dramatically independently of one another that marrying up art and craft again could prove problematic.

For me, I feel that a good defining factor to wether an object is art or craft is deeply routed in the level of human qualities personified within the object or even projected onto it. “Artwork is not completely useless, nor is its only function its beauty” (LaNoue, 2011). The function of art is fluid and malleable, its purpose ranging from documentation of events to political campaigns. 

Craft on the other hand “is functional, yes.  And it can be exceptionally well-rendered, but ultimately it lacks the importance, the impact, and/or the emotional currency of art. An artisan who creates a basket has only made a basket. An artisan who creates a basket and who tries to make itmore than just a basket, who attempts to elevate it to the realm of fine art, may or may not be successful, but that artisan might then be considered an artist based on their success. Furthermore, they may need to sacrifice the functionality of their basket to achieve their goal of fine art” (LaNoue, 2011). LaNoue’s definition of each respectively is one of the few views thus far that I agree with, craft is created with a fixed purpose – it cannot exceed those. Art is much more ‘user friendly’, art can be projected onto by the viewer and its purpose changed. The viewer can identify with art and appropriate its meaning or intent to be more in line with the viewers own experiences or emotions. Art is, in many ways, like a mirror.

With this in mind I returned back to the studio. In order to complete my goal of having my sculptural work echo the aesthetic qualities of my drawings I set about drawing potential sculpture pieces as pictured below. I used various methods of mark making from straight forward drawing to drawing with my eyes closed or drawing with the wrong hand.

I felt that the most successful of those was the initial drawing, that was the one I was most happy with however that is also the least free of the four drawings. Perhaps I need to find a way to become more free with my work.

The drawing, I felt, transferred highly effectively to the sculptural work with the 3D printing pen. The legs and body in particular have a definite sketchy quality.

I am still unsure as to how I feel about the wings, I have moved away from the decorative “craft-like” (whatever that means!) aesthetic of the wings; instead trying to retain a fragile delicacy yet retaining a definite “skin” on the wing – these I feel are not totally successful due to them looking rather like they are suffering from electric shock.



Further investigation continues.



LaNoue, M. (2011) Fine art versus craft: Is there a difference? Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2016).

TED-Ed (2014) Is there a difference between art and craft? – Laura Morelli. Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2016).

In the Studio – Art Vs Craft

Art – The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Craft – An activity involving skill in making things by hand.

In the studio I’ve been getting used to how the 3D printer pen works and had decided to return my area of investigation – to the insects I had been looking at in 2015. The project had trailed off after I had failed to successfully translate my drawings into sculptural representations of my insects. The 3D printer pen thus provided an opportunity for me to amend this.


Above: Early Experiments.

Early experimentation with the 3D printer pen (and its garish selection of coloured filament) had produced a rather clumsy butterfly. It give me understanding of how I would need to structure any further insects made with the 3D printer pen but did unfortunately look rather like the product of a demonstration video into the capabilities of what the pen could do.

I returned to the studio, having managed to create a decorative wing pattern that I was happy with and set to work. I wanted my new foray into sculpture to produce very delicate and much more refined insects.

The wings were the easiest part of the insects to create, using a template and drawing as you would do with a pencil onto paper. Once cooled the plastic will just peel away from the paper template. I elected to use a hat pin for the main body as I wanted the insects to look like they do in sketch form and carry a sense of delicacy. I drew around the pin, effectively cocooning it in the plastic filament until it became part of the 3D drawing. Once complete it was time to attach the wings, the hot plastic essentially bonding the two plastic parts together. The legs were a little more difficult as they required careful manoeuvring of the pen so as not to damage the existing work done with the hot nib. This also restricted movement and workable area. The legs turned out rather spindly and had a sketch-like quality. Due to the fragile nature of the legs strengthening them was difficult, layering the plastic was difficult as the hot nib would often break the already thin threads of previous layers. This also resulted in the butterflies being unable to support themselves and are supported by a further hat pin mounted in the plinth on which they sit.

After discussion with the fabulous Jo Clements it became clear that these new insects I was creating were teetering on the edge between art and craft. That discussion has lead me to where I am currently – what separates art from craft?

Maintaining the boundaries between art and craft has been a long contested and hard fought battle and it would appear that one must not fall into the others ‘camp’, so to speak.

I was well versed in the origins of art, being traced back to early cave paintings from nearly 40,000 years ago. Art is “the ability to think of abstract concepts is what distinguishes our species from other animals – capabilities that also led us to use fire, develop the wheel and come up with the other technologies that have made our kind so successful”(Ghosh, 2014). I find that art is what makes us truly human, it is the foundation on which everything human kind has done is built. Art has evolved alongside humans, it continues to grow and strive much as we do. For every new advancement we make as a species art keeps pace. 

Arguably by the same token craft must have existed at least as long as art. There have long been ‘craftsmen’, by which I mean those involved in small scale production of goods or services (blacksmith for example). In a time before industrialisation a craftsman would flourish in his trade, usually in a small, self supporting community.

When one thinks of craft today we usually associate it with the ‘Arts and Craft’ movement that gained popularity in America and Europe around 1880. The movement was a response to the recent industrial revolution and a reclamation of human interaction within the manufacturing process.

“It was a movement born of ideals. It grew out of a concern for the effects of industrialisation: on design, on traditional skills and on the lives of ordinary people. In response, it established a new set of principles for living and working. It advocated the reform of art at every level and across a broad social spectrum, and it turned the home into a work of art”  (V&A, 2013).

It is important to understand that before the rise of the industrial revolution that many people would very rarely leave the small communities that they were born into. Goods would be locally sourced and the community would be self supported; industrial revolution suddenly meant that goods from all ends of the country could be seen side by side in the home, in a shop, in construction. This new (and highly unregulated) way of manufacturing, as fantastic an advancement as it was, shattered those communities over night. The arts and crafts movement was thus an effort to hold onto traditional values and reject industrialisation.

Coming back into present day, ‘arts and crafts’ seems to be a tag applied to those who take up a creative practice quite innocently as a hobby, often with little artistic background and low skill level – I remember this being rather brilliantly coined as “Shed-work” by Tim Wonnacott on an episode of Bargain Hunt. There seems to be a feeling from artists that to partake in craft is an insult to their practice, but why is this? What defines what is art and what is craft?

Kirstie Beaven addressed this in a 2011 ‘Tate Debate’surrounding Grayson Perry’s curated show ‘ The Power of Making‘. Beaven suggests that “Perhaps intention makes the distinction. If a maker intends to express something perhaps that makes it art“(Beaven, 2011). I strongly agree with this sentiment, one only needs to look so far as Duchamp and the ‘ready made’ to see the argument on intent. The intentions of an artwork are equally important to the aesthetic quality and skill of the artist. Beaven then goes on to say:

However, I asked a few makers at a contemporary craft fair last week, and they often felt that it was the material they worked with that made it craft – textiles, ceramics, glass seem to fall into the craft category, never mind if their intention as maker might be an artistic one.

Perhaps it’s how a maker learnt their skill. As an apprentice coming through a process of learning a skill, hand to hand, as it were? That’s craft. As a fully formed genius honing an expressive talent? That’s art” (Beaven, 2011).

On the point of material I disagree, although often associated with craft I do not feel that art or craft should be defined by it. Material, in my opinion, is fluid and free to traverse the boundaries between art and craft. On the second however point I do agree completely, this is the definition of craft that I feel we should all take note of.

Grayson Perry makes good points in an interview for the guardian in which he makes comments on the demand for craftsmen-made Chinese pieces and the celebrity nature of fine art. I do agree with Perry’s comments on the celebrity and perhaps that is where the sense of superiority an artist feels over craft stems from. Perry comments that perhaps it is the level of craftsmanship (or dedication to one’s craft) that should be considered when separating art and craft.

As of today I am still in the early investigate stages of the ‘Art vs Craft’ debate; perhaps they are other factors to be considered when looking to define art or craft, perhaps it is time to stop the segregation and unite the two practices?

I will continue to research this subject and report back soon.



Aitkenhead, D. and Bennett, C. (2012) Grayson Perry on crafts vs art: ‘I don’t want to see something I could think up in the bath and phone in’ – video. Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

BBC (2016) Full steam ahead, episode 1. Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

Beaven, K. (2011) Tate debate: When is a craft an art? Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

Clements, J. (no date) Jo Clements. Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

Craftmama (2015) DIY 3D VLINDER | 3D pen Tutorial | butterfly | how to. Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

Ghosh, P. (2014) Cave paintings change ideas about the origin of art. Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

Oxford (2016) ‘Oxford dictionaries’, in Oxford Dictionary. Available at: (Accessed: 23 July 2016).

Victoria and Albert Museum (2013) The arts & crafts movement – Victoria and Albert Museum. Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

In the Studio – Image Science

Image ScienceA transdisciplinary approach to the creation of art through investigation of image making technology and equipment. Dating back to the 19th Century and early photography, Image Science has evolved and led to the creation of video art, interactive art and digital art in its embrace of new technologies. Can be included as part of Visual Culture/bildwissenschaft.

Camera Obscura‘ is arguably one of the first glimpses of ‘Image Science’ the world was exposed to, a new technological advancement in the history of mankind. It was new, it was exciting and it was divisive. Since then artists have been swiftly embracing new and emerging technologies to further advance our art history in to new territories. ‘Image Science’ does not have one defined route but rather several ‘offshoots’, the explosive rate at which the internet and computer development has flourished has provided endless platforms of exploration for artists. We can now paint digitally, create three-dimensional environments, access and manipulate video content and transfer it into new contexts, make commentaries on our dependence on social media and even design 3D models and print them at the touch of a button.

I remember it being around 2010 when 3D printing really took off (and became more affordable). Were it not for the generous gift of a 3D Printer Pen for my birthday I may not have been investigating the area in which I now find myself.


Of course, the name ‘3D Printer Pen’ is quite misleading. The pen shares only very few similarities with the 3D printing process; it does not have any involvement with the CAD (computer aided design) process and could be more accurately described as a glorified hot glue gun.

The pen itself is simple to operate and I became confident in using it very quickly. It works through melting coloured thermoplastic filament at high temperature to make it malleable with the consistency ranging from string to paste depending on speed and temperature settings. As the user draws with the pen the plastic cools and hardens so once a base layer has been drawn the user can then draw upwards and create a three dimensional artwork.

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Initial experiments resulted in the creation of a spider web-like object testing just how fine I could get the material without it breaking. I found that the material can be worked thinly over a great distance, the only limitations for me at present are a short extension lead! The ‘web’ created is very light and surprising quite soft to the touch, having a similar feel to that of false hair. This piece has since been moved into a new studio and various joins within its structure held well.

I felt that the thin nature of the web made it difficult to see every detail, even with the alarming colours of plastic used. I feel that maybe there is an option to experiment here with light and shadow.

Further investigation will see me return to the subject of insects as the 3D printer pen could be that much needed bridge I need in order to translate my drawings successfully into sculptures.



Beards Brothers (2013) Andy Warhol’s – 15 minutes of pain. Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

Beards Brothers (2013) Supraliminal machines V2. Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

Beards Brothers (2012) Transparent playground. Available at: (Accessed: 25 July 2016).

Grau, O. (ed.) (2010) MEDIAARTHISTORIES. First edn. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT Press.

Visual culture: Inventory of definitions (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 22 July 2016).

What’s this?


Could it be? Have I been doing some actual work?

I am afraid so, however I don’t want to give too much away just yet.

I want to do this right and for me that means being able to provide a half decent contextualisation of my practice alongside postings of my work – something which I am still working on.

Another aspect of showing my studio activities has also delayed what I can show you due to the unique way in which capitalism works with technology.

That aside, progress of my work is due very shortly, I promise, but for now here is a teaser image of me in the studio to wet your appetites.



With my initial intention to post everyday being largely unsuccessful I figured it was high time I updated you all on what has been happening.

The Exhibition


Above: My work, “Shipwreck 13”, in situ at Chapel Gallery.

Friday evening saw the preview night of “West Lancashire OPEN Exhibition 2016” at Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk.  The standard of the work shown was incredibly high – I really do not envy the position the judging panel were in having to award the prizes among such a pool of talent! The work sat well within the gallery space and also complemented the other work around it. The atmosphere was incredible and staff were keen to engage in conversation about the selected work.   It was great to see how inclusive the gallery was with regards to painting, drawing, print making, ceramics, sculpture, installation and mixed media work. I did, however notice a lack of digital work (work displayed digitally). Whilst perhaps digital artwork is not the cliché “chocolate box” image the public conjure up whilst thinking about art, it is no longer the emerging art form it was, it is no longer emerging, it has emerged, it is current and quite possibly is the backbone of what recent artistic habits and practice are built on. Without greater recognition and inclusion, particularly in smaller galleries, our recent cultural history could be erased or forgotten. This aside the show was fantastic. I was particularly taken with Elizabeth Munro’s ‘Jekyll & Hyde’, a mixed media miniature cabinet containing potions and concoctions (and winner of the student prize). Emily Rusby’s ‘Vending Machine No1′ was very well received on the night, interactive art is highly effective in encouraging the public to interact with art. The piece was a fully working vending machine, inserting 20p would result in the user receiving a snippet of the Communist Manifesto in a capsule. Overall the night was thoroughly enjoyable and I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved.

“West Lancashire OPEN Exhibition 2016” at Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk is open until September 7th 2016.

Online Presence

My aim, ideally, was to post on the blog (here) every day. For one reason or another this has not come to fruition. I have, however ensured that I posted on social media everyday at least, be this Twitter, Facebook or both.

WordPress – I did run into a bit of difficulty with wordpress over the last week which resulted in my lack of posts. I found that I was unable to get more than one blog post to appear per page. I found that this was cured by creating  custom menu in the settings.

Facebook – 

post 3

Above: Statistical insight from my facebook page. 

Whilst facebook is the quickest and easiest way for me to keep the online community updated on my goings on within my practice, it is rather unrewarding at present. My facebook page audience is largely made up of friends. Interaction with them on my art page is ineffective with friends preferring to like/comment on my art through my personal account rather than the art page. Facebook does give me handy statistics of how my page and each post is doing though. Definitely worth pursuing.

Twitter –  Twitter still seems to be where I get the most interaction and feedback on my art by strangers and professionals. I did have feedback from Hollis Fortune Art : “Interesting commentary on FB vs Twitter. Then you have to throw Instagram in there too! Hope you got some hot water…..TY4TF.“. This has resulted me in downloading instagram! I am still rather getting used to that but will keep you updated. I do, however get feedback on both platforms from a good friend, Peter, who was my first real customer and has supported my practice ever since. Without his support I may not have continued with my practice.


Above: Capsule from Emily Rusby’s ‘Vending Machine No1’, taken on Instagram. 

In the studio – Having moved studios last week and after further investigation with my 3D printer pen I feel in a position to bring you news and updates from in the studio. Watch this space!




Grau, O. (2010) MediaArtHistories

Opportunity Knocks


I will be the first to admit that I am a terrible artist. Perhaps not in terms of skill and ability but in terms of professionalism.

What follows is a message about getting yourself to exhibitions and the opportunities that could be passed up should you fail to do so.

Local exhibitions in small venues are just as important to attend as those hosted in large, national galleries; I recently attended the opening night of “We are who we are” at Bankley Studios in Levenshulme, Manchester. The exhibition showcased the work of  Samantha Mayo, Laura Daniels, Cecily Shrimpton. Farhaana Katun, Hannah Connor, Danielle Harrison and Olivia Brittain exploring the themes surrounding feminine social concerns, stemming from a range of female perspectives.

Firstly, the exhibition. The work gelled well within its surroundings and having seen some of it previously in another show I feel that it worked better in this environment. The environment in question, an old industrial building, provides an intimidating sight as you approach it, followed by a steep climb up a cold and narrow staircase. Having ventured this far little changes in the gallery space itself; the space is the same familiar white walls that we are used to but, perhaps because it is painted brick, the coldness seems to radiate throughout and seep into the work – adding new layers to the work. The atmosphere seems to radiate within the work, the comforts of our everyday lives seemingly removed; we are cleansed of our physical comfort and daily ignorance upon our journey to the gallery space through the front door and shown the world in a different light – a female perspective. This world is also cold and appears to lack a warm, human touch – a world in need of fixing.

Secondly, the opportunity. Going to see local exhibitions, studio open days and preview nights is a fantastic way to support your local artists – also, if you are an avid wine enthusiast this is also a good opportunity to partake in some sampling of the “refreshments”!

Local exhibitions and galleries are exceptionally good places to find leaflets and flyers for other galleries; perhaps you’ll find something to cure that “artist’s block” or perhaps, like me, you’ll find a leaflet containing those magic words “Call for Artist’s”. Many galleries put out a call for artist’s to submit work into an ‘open’ exhibition. This is usually a showcasing of many local artist’s with no real theme to what work is selected. You will be expected to frame and label your work according to the individual galleries taste and then take your work to the gallery where it will be judged on its worthiness for inclusion within the exhibition.

Bearing in mind I had picked up this leaflet (for Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk) on the 1st of July and the final day to submit your artwork (in person) was July 2nd, I was cutting it very fine! Luckily I already had two artworks labelled and ready to go from a previous (and unsuccessful) submission into an open exhibition. Galleries will often charge the artist per entry into such exhibitions and the fee (in my experience) is reasonable. It is often worth looking out for discounts on entry – this could apply to multiple entries, student/senior categories etc. It is also worth noting that you must be able to get to and from the gallery to submit and collect your work – these events can often be within days of each other.

By the 5th July I was notified that one of my two entries were successful, not bad at all for a lazy artist! To think that it had been less than five days since I was even made aware of the call for submissions. I am truly humbled to have been selected to have my work included and had it not been for my local artist’s I would never have had this opportunity.

Now, my work is hung on the walls of Chapel Gallery awaiting the preview night (Friday 15th July 7pm-9:30pm).

Supporting your fellow local artist’s is also beneficial for you too!


What have we learnt so far?

As I sit and fester in my own little cloud of rage, directed towards the shower which seems intent on withholding any level of warm water from my morning routine, I am at least granted the opportunity to reflect on what I have done so far in my efforts to establish my practice online.


WordPress has become quite the favourite of mine, I love its inter-connectivity with social media sites resulting in me only having to post something here and it is instantaneously posted on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. I guess this also ensures that my ramblings reach an audience too.

It is easy to navigate. Yes, at first trying to get to grips with a new way of doing things was completely baffling and I was worried for a while that my posts would be lost in a sea of un-ordered chaos. I did, however, discover the ability to tag posts and have them categorised resulting in all posts of the same tag being grouped together. This is certainly one advantage over tumblr but for a blog am I now running the risk of it looking too tidy?


Creating my facebook page, , was a bit embarrassing to start off with. Having seen many an amateur photographer with their facebook pages, uploading over edited photo’s of over photographed “tourist-fodder” for three weeks one summer before it trailed into nothingness, I was certainly not wanting to be seen like that. I don’t intend it to be a hobby, I’d quite like to make a career from this. I guess the worst part is the worry of what your facebook friends will make of you when they get the invitation to like your art page, will they think you’re an ego maniac? What was wrong with posting it on your profile like you were doing?

The response so far has been very good, at the time of writing I’ve invited people to “like” me and had 66 do so. I am slowly chipping away at my friends list, unfortunately it seems I am unable to bother my friends list en mass and invite everyone.

At least with my Facebook audience the transfer of art from personal profile to Facebook page seems to be a positive one with similar numbers in audience interaction.


I am still rather confused by Twitter, I get that having a limited character number makes for concise and direct messages but what is it really for? I don’t change what I post based on the platform of social media being used. I have less friends who use Twitter in the same way they do Facebook. Twitter, it seems, is where the professionals and businesses seem to congregate. There is no end of galleries on Twitter, as they do Facebook but Twitter seems to be where you, as an artist, are closest to them. They are much more likely to interact with you on Twitter than they are on Facebook. Gallery interaction seems much more personal on Twitter – worth bearing in mind.

Nikita Drachuk

I think it’s always important to be aware of what’s going on in your field, especially your area of interest.

I recently came across these glass creatures by artist, Nikita Drachuk, through one of my favourite blogs of all time –

These creatures are made using the lampwork glass melting technique, using high temperature on rods of glass.

You can see more of the artist’s work here.

Exhibition News



One of my shipwreck pieces, “Shipwreck 13”, has been selected for exhibition in “West Lancashire OPEN Exhibition 2016” at Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk.

Preview night is Friday 15th July 2016 7pm-9:30pm

The exhibition runs 16th July – 7th September.

Chapel Gallery, St Helens Rd, Ormskirk L39 4QR

Trial By Social Media


So the time has come, I can put it off no longer. Kicking and screaming I make my way to my laptop and am forced to accept the inevitable, that I must complete the task I had been avoiding for so long – creating my online presence.

As a current MA student in Contemporary Fine Art wanting to make a career out of my artwork after graduation, having an online presence in today’s technology obsessed world is vital. We are blessed to live in a time where artwork can be seen globally by thousands of people and potentially within minutes of completion.

It would, therefore, be absurd to ignore taking advantage of a tool that could grant a global fan base and potentially turn a hobby into a career.

I did briefly have a tumblr account which acted as my only online presence from 2013 – 2015. I had intended for tumblr to act as a portfolio of my work and also a record of my exhibitions however soon I found that posts seemed to pile on top of each other and get lost in the archive of my activity. I had not found a way to separate my work into categories and so finished work would sit clumsily next to the end result of an impulsive visit to an evening life drawing class. It was this, combined with an ever encroaching job in retail slowly but steadily drove my attention away from creating art and thus maintaining my tumblr blog.

Having had quite enough of the awkward conversation that would follow “So, have you got a website?” or “Can you send me your portfolio?”, I have decided to take things seriously and do things properly this time. My presence on social media will be split down two paths:

Path A: Portfolio Website showcasing the best of my work (This is still a work in progress)

Path B: WordPress Blog (this one) linking to social media to display work in progress and my artistic ramblings. This is where the clutter will occur.

So what’s next? I am still investigating the best way to proceed with my portfolio website, the advantages of going through a web hosting service, does buying a domain name matter? How much should I be paying? Should I be paying?

Stay tuned for more gripping tales!