to Our Dark Materials, courses, and my book launch in July
Here’s this week’s promised extras. Sadly my jetlag is yet to fade, but it’s nice to be able to announce some real world things, and share a little of the other sides of my life, as part of the Dark Mountain team, and teaching wild, foraged, scavenged and improvised art materials. One of my until-now secret promises to myself was to find a space where all of my tributarian tendencies (which is to say many apparently different modes of creative expression) could find a home. I still think this is that place. So here’s an update from the unruly corner of my world which is materiality, colour and texture.
1: Our Dark Materials is a series of pieces I commissioned for Dark Mountain’s online edition from artists whose work and choice of raw materials eschew the pristine in favour of the real, the everyday and the overlooked. Trenchant ideas and deep politics can be expressed by working in natural, traditional or scavenged materials, just as well as they can by factory-made components. The work our four featured makers create are like oases of haptic richness in a tactile desert. This week features Allan Brown and his incredible Nettle Dress, the subject of a new film. The next 3 weeks will feature an American alchemist ink-maker, a Mexican American natural dyer / multidisciplinary artist, and a Lebanese British calligrapher / artist speaking of the ephemerality of colour and the sacred urge to make art. There are many other artists and makers I could have chosen for this series, so Our Dark Materials will probably return in the winter.
2: Courses in real life, and online. This year is proving to be particularly rich in new teaching experiences and contexts.
Online: Next up on 30th May and 6th June is a two week online course with my excellent host Flora of Plants and Colour. Following on from my popular Watercolour Deep Dive, we present the prequel! Join us for a deep dive into Pigments for Paints: how to source, wash, grind, prepare, refine, modify with heat, store and use them. If you are an artist who would like to start sourcing your own materials, this is for you.
In person: After teaching with the Dark Mountain Project at Schumacher College this midsummer, I also return to Dartington (Devon, UK) to repeat my ‘natural art school in one week’ course: Found and Ground Art Materials. We will cover pigment foraging, paints of many kinds, inks, charcoal making, quill pens, brushes, sketchbook making, cordage, lake pigments (with guest teacher Nina Cadzow), pastels, historical materials and methods, no-waste practices and more. Students go home with everything they need for a low environmental impact, high beauty art kit. You don’t need any previous experience in drawing or painting, just a desire to get closer to the unmade world and make space for wildness. Dartington provides great food and accommodation too, the grounds alone are a delight, full of huge ancient trees.
I have other courses and classes this year too, in UK and Netherlands, if you want to stay up to date, join my art newsletter here, which comes out every two months.
3: If you are in England then please do come to my book launch for Found and Ground on 20th July 2023. It will be held at the Dartington Trust bookshop in Totnes, Devon. From 6-7pm I will give a demonstration and talk, with a small gift for everyone, places cost £3. Then from 7-8pm there will be a free public reception and book signing, all are welcome. It’s a wonderful local bookstore full of such a great selection of books, and so far I think this will be my only public book event, as my students and colleagues are spread around the world, rather than being in one geographical place. We shall see, I am open to invitations. Afterwards I’ll be at The Bull Inn with friends and local students, as the rhubarb margarita made such an impression on my taste buds last time, I feel the need to top up the flavour again.
If you can’t come along, you can now order my book online or from your local bookstore. Or for a discount and free shipping you can order direct from Search Press: go here for USA and here for UK. As soon as I get my copies at the start of July, I will also be able to supply signed copies, just drop me a message on my website contact form.
Extra: To round off this necessarily self-referential extras post, here’s a piece about me on a US website. I am happy to be quoted as ‘dissing the ruling classes and praising earth’. I will never tire of deep red ochre, nor the delight and joy of getting down on my hands and knees to pick up just one more bright stone. I hope this weekend brings you such simple pleasures. See you on Monday for my regular post.