Kitty comes home

Kitty Come Home

So today “Kitty” moved house, in other words our lovely, very heavy cast iron printing press (made from a converted mangle and named after Kitty Wilkinson ) came to its new home at the Art Room on Rose Lane. More correctly it should now be seen as the Art Rooms, in the plural, since we have annexed the store room next to Paul’s original teaching space as our new print room. The new addition is not a huge space but it is a definite expansion of our resources and will allow us to run with the momentum we had started to build up over our Biennial residency in Saint John’s Market.

We started at 9 this morning and our heroic friend Gary, (who has helped us in the background with the logistical side of making things happen since we started printing) arrived with his van. The back of Saint John’s toward the freight lifts was the workings of the old market where deliveries would have, at one time in its hey day been frantic and constant. There are 4 lifts but these quieter days only one is needed and operational. It is very different in this back-stage area not meant for customers with an austere feel like an abandoned Soviet state hospital. I had to stop to take some photos before we left…

With Gary taking the brunt of the heavy lifting and Paul and I working very hard we managed to get all of the kit, including the plan chest and materials cupboard, tables and chairs and a tonne of print kit across the city to its new home. Paul, Liz and I then reassembled the press and emptied the room of various dumped junk including 5 broken vacuum cleaners and set up the new print extension as a baby brother to the Art Room proper. Print days will soon be on Sunday and Friday afternoons with a possibility of Thursdays too, if there is demand. We’ve had great fun over the summer working at Saint John’s and will miss the lovely Italian cafe and its excellent cakes, easy access to Wilkinsons and Ryman’s for printing handouts and lots of other benefits, but today felt like a big step up and it felt like coming home.


Sketching in the presence of Royalty

close up roof

LIAS Tutor, Alison Little, has spent a delightful week in the midst of her native South East, taking the chance to fit in some urban sketching on her travels.

Starting with some views of the new retail mecca: the Eden Centre, based in High Wycombe. Exploring transparencies and simple line work she captures the hustle and bustle of the shoppers. A short wait allowed an opportunity for an image of the contemporary bus depot exploring the reflective qualities of the glass frontage, numerous automatic doors and the array of untinted windows present on the waiting single and double-decker buses.

A day in Windsor allowed for a pen and ink image of the Castle to wake up the creative urges. Due to the fine weather eating outside for the midday meal provided more sketching opportunities. A details graphite depiction was completed while waiting for lunch to be served. ‘The Prince Harry’ public house took centre stage in the afternoons artistic pursuits, red white and blue bunting transcending the streets of Royal Windsor.

Although Alison is no a major Royalist her next day was also passed in the company of the Nations Kings and Queen’s at Westminster Abbey. Two very strong graphite images were completed looking at the main stained glass window and the Gothic architecture of the Ancient Cathedral.

And what has the LIAS tutor to say:

‘It was a joy and a pleasure to return to drawing in the places which informed my only a little decadent youth, it has revived my interests in Gothic Architecture which I will look to continue when I return to Liverpool.’

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Sketchers put on a Show

Gatenby Watches Urban Sketchers Put Up Own Exhibition

Fresh from his exertions in various London pubs, LIAS tutor Paul Gatenby, throws himself into the rigours of watching people putting up their own exhibition. Although ostensibly the curator of the Urban Sketchers Exhibition, part of the Liverpool Biennial Independents, Paul managed to delegate all the work of hanging the show to the rest of the group, we picture him here ‘supervising’ LIAS colleague, Toc and Urban Sketchers stalwart, Jamie Pickering hard at work with a digital spirit level.

Meanwhile the exhibition itself provides a fair representation of the Liverpool Urban sketchers work. There is work from 20 different artists and a range of different approaches to drawing en plein air including pen and watercolour but also collage (and yes she really did do it plein air) Most of the work is completed on the day on one of the Urban Sketchers monthly meet ups (which take place on the first Saturday of each month. See their Facebook page or contact Paul Gatenby for details.), although one or two have been completed later or taken into a different medium such as Etching.

The show is part of the Liverpool Biennial independents and is at the former George Henry Lee building, Liverpool,(entrance in Houghton Street) and runs until the 27th October.

Picture Credits: Margaret Cummins, Jamie Pickering and Liz Miller

Art + Poetry

Scan Fluctulation installation

LIAS Tutor Alison Little talks about making art from Poetry.

Artists have used literature and poetry as a source of inspiration for Centuries. Some of the most famous include Millais (John Everett), Ophelia, the Pre Raphaelite who took the source of singing before drowning from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Lewis Carroll’ Mad Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland was depicted by the famed Surrealist Salvador Dali.

Alison earlier works looked toward contemporary poetry as a source of inspiration of textiles work. She fell in love with ‘In the Red Dress I Wear to Your Funeral’ written by Erin Belieu and wanted to start work on a depiction immediately.

In the Red Dress I wear to Your Funeral

‘All the Fun of the Fair’ was originally a central chapter in the novel Alison is working on. The art form took the form of a large lobster using shredded paper and polythene as the material for the form. This was displayed and a section of the chapter was read for Liverpool’s Sound city. From this, an installation was created as part of the Biennial Independent at Bold Place.

All the Fun of the Fair

Her latest poem, ‘Fluctuation’ was written for National Poetry Day. In this, she uses the first-person to depict emotions related to mood swings and possibly Bi-Polar. Exploiting the paradox of up and Down, High and Low, and ultimately heaven and Hell. The installation proposed will be created using a variety of found object, examples of ethnology relevant to the range of emotions and experiences presented. The tennis racket represents changes in mood, above this, we suspend objects from the ceiling using invisible string, below we drop objects on the floor using corse fibred strings. The top section is illuminated using a strong light source, the lower level in a contrasting shadow. The upper section presents a brightly coloured weightless table tennis ball, this is surrounded by butterflies to show a sense of uplifting, positive thoughts. The coloured petals and the paint palettes indicate creativity, pages of books and music notes indicate further artistry. The neat presentation of pill packets shows birth control and an indication of a committed stable relationship. In paradox, the underside of the racket presents a hard rock like ball. the floor is littered with used condoms, a vision of casual, nameless, regrettable sex. A torn pillow and a dishevelled ironing blanket present an inhabitable sleeping environment. Empty beer cans and spilt over drinking glasses show excessive alcohol usage, this is combined with paraphernalia indicating narcotic abuse. Negative lifestyle choices are demonstrated further by the array of luminous club flyers, discarded cigarette packets and empty medicine bottle.


We have an installation which will bring meaning to the initial poem. Alison will look for opportunities to create and display the installation over the next year.

3 art events: 1 solitary Saturday


Saturday the 13th of October is one jam packed Saturday for LIAS. Three events spread over one single day, all the LIAS tutors on hand.

We begin the day by inviting urban sketchers to become urban etchers and develop suitable drawings into dry point intaglio prints. This is a great process and easy to learn. Numbers will be limited to ten initially because of the size of the space available but we will run more than one session if there is the demand. Simply bring an image you would like to develop into a print of we can provide one. Workshop lead by Tony O’Connell, or the more commonly known as Toc, all materials provided.

To Book for Urban Etchers

Secondly we invite you to the Private view of Urban Sketchers exhibition, I images of Liverpool in a variety of mediums, featuring works by many Liverpool based artists. The cities ancient structures balanced against cutting edge contemporary architecture, the Cathedrals which hover above the city and the pubs which adorn the streets of the Metropolis. Images which capture café culture, visions of vitality which form the soul of the city. Light refreshments, exhibition continues until the 27th of October.

To Book for Urban Sketchers Private View

Finishing off with a two hour, vibrant, portraiture workshop lead by LIAS tutor Siobhan Carmichael. Look at muscle structure, likeness depiction and using of light when drawing. Looking to cover a variety of expressions used by the model, how we capture these in addition to the inner personality of the sitter. Materials provided and session to be accompanied by Mediterranean style food provided by LIAS’ latest addition, Mike the Chef.

To Book for Portraiture Workshop

A day of creative outpouring, why not take on either one, two or three events.

Scouser goes past Runcorn on Train


Scouser Goes Past Runcorn On Train

Reports have been confirmed that LIAS tutor and dyed in the wool Scouser, Paul Gatenby, has been on a train journey which took him past Runcorn which he thinks is all ‘down south’. The alarm was raised when his partner, Liz, noticed his forty year old rucksack was missing.

‘I was a bit concerned at first,’ said Liz, ‘he only owns one map and it’s covered with white bits with ‘Here be Dragons’ written on it. He also thinks mobile phones only work when they’re plugged in’

Concerns were allayed on Monday evening when he turned up back home unscathed.
Fearing no-one would believe him, he did a number of drawings which we publish here below with the artist’s commentary (including his nude self-portrait at the bottom of the page).

Now that you’ve scrolled back up here’s the commentary on all the other drawings.

1. View of Centrepoint from British Museum
Despite the more obvious classical splendour of the BM itself to my right I was drawn to this view of Centrepoint. Persons of a certain age may remember the scandal which attached to this building sometime in the 70s due to it’s remaining empty (for several years) during a period of acute housing shortage in the capital.

2. A view of St Paul’s Cathedral which omits the hideous skyscrapers of the City.

3. One skyscraper I actually like is the Shard. It’s graceful and as far as I can tell doesn’t ruin the local skyline. The houses in the foreground were clearly modest working class homes at one time

One reason for the trip was to meet up with some friends from online sketchers community. They were really friendly and welcoming whichis what I’ve always found with urban sketchers. It was nice to meet up again with Home Phoenix who came up to Liverpool for the Summer Sketchathon this Summer. Some of the London sketchers are currently documenting character pubs around the capital. Here’s a couple from Southwark. The people outside are Milwall supporters having quick snifter before the match. Despite what we’ve been told they were perfectly friendly with one chap coming over for a chat.

7, Final drawing of the weekend was this pub in Bloomsbury near my hotel.

And finally My modest hotel room, (or nude self portrait)



Making a Mess: the Process of Printing


LIAS recently had the idea of offering etching intros to some of the Liverpool Urban Sketchers. Urban etching sounded like a logical step to develop some of the beautiful tonal and line drawings that were cropping up each time the sketchers met. We were unsure of the types of images people would want to work from and they were pretty varied. Some, like Jamie, had prepared specific drawings with the aim of pushing them to dry point and some were working from photos or drawings of places that were important to them. One artist had even based drawing on a particular Rodin seen in Paris. The truth was if course that the session was geared toward introducing dry point practice and any appropriate image could have worked, but the first trigger was the urban environment. This was echoed in today’s Print Club session where we had a range of images but landscape and the urban environment cropped up again. The straight lines of the built environment seem particularly suitable for dry point. We felt that the sessions were so successful we are now eager to repeat and expand them so we will be posting the forthcoming dates in the next few weeks. Be prepared for more wonderfully messy and creative sessions in the near future.