Helen Pailing: The playful approach

Helen Pailing is a sculptural artist working with found objects as her base material. She has a playful approach towards the creations of her work believing it’s more a collaboration between herself and the material rather than it being a one sided conversation from herself to the material.   
The above piece is my favourite example of her playful approach, constructed out of wire loop end ties, this untitled piece has a playful yet edgy appearance and could easy be used in a fashion show as a query accessory.

Many of Pailing’s work are created in the moment, which she says both restricts and pushes her, this can be witnessed from the series she did during her artist in residence in 2014. ‘Object a day’ was a series of 365 different objects which as the name says come about from the constructed of an object one per day, the goal of this was to push herself and her making skills so that even when she wasn’t in the making mood she still had to do something.

 ‘Warp’ however is my hands down favourite piece by Pailing, constructed inside an abandoned fishing house the building was wrapped in fishing line. From the way it catches and manipulated the light within the old building to the way it eerily hangs in still time gives off a ghost like memory. A simple but affective way to remember the past.


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Miriam Hancill: Engulfed in colour

Miriam Hacills work can be described in one work, calming. Her use of both paint and mono printing techniques is in my opinion, a surprisingly mixture that is very pleasing to the eye.

Hancill can be seen as reasonably new in the art world. Compared to the other artists in our talks Hancill is the least experienced but none the less she is confident within her work.

Hancill specialises in a combination of paint and printing and uses a layering method where in which she prints on paper and then uses paint in order to complete the art work. She first began experimenting with this process when she believed she could do more within her style of painting. In truth printing has opened up an array of new fields where in which Hancill has managed to expand her painting abilities. Presently Hancill uses a printing technique called mono-printing, this simply means that she uses a single print rather than numerous ounces.

When viewing a piece your engulfed by its sheer size, it radiates a calming air wrapping you in its neutral appearance and soothing your mind.


Personally I love the use of colour, she has an ability to harmonises a verity of colours together and catch the light in the room. Her layering technique adds a depth within her work. Were the different layers interact with each other you can see the colours sinking and mixing together creating new shades.

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Kevin Petrie: Learning something new

Another artist with a passion for drawing is Kevin Petrie.Professor and Doctor Kevin Petrie is also our every own Course leader here at Sunderland University, it comes to show how simple hard work and determination can come along way in turning you from a budding young student into the thriving artist we all hope to be.

During his artist journey, Petrie has experienced a verity of fields such as glass and ceramics, even becoming a published author along the way. Throughout all this however it has always been drawing that has continued to spark his interest.

Within his talk Petrie guided us through his methods of working, one method in particular sparked my own interest as it has links to my own project I am currently working on at the moment. ‘Mould Drawing‘ for lack of better titles.

“St Peter’s Church”

A kiln glass method of his own invention in which a plain mould is created and left to dry, once dried a drawing can be carved into the service of the mould creating an indentation. The carved drawing acts as a negative where in which powdered glass is added in large amounts, black into the carved lines to add to the appearance of a sketch and clear glass to give strength. Coloured powders can also be added to add to the image. Once fired the mould is carefully removed leaving behind the positive image.


Simple yes? NO!

The process is one which I have been toying with for a while, trying to figure out a way in which you can get the appearance of a sketch into the glass itself. It’s almost aggravating how the answer was so simple and literally right in front of me at times in the form of Kevin Petrie himself. It’s easy to say that his talk was very VERY! Informative and will defiantly not be something I will forget in a hurry. After all how else would I learn.

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Mark Angus: In the moment

“the eyebrows are the most important feature”

If your anything like me, Mark Angus is a name you’ve heard before, have an idea towards his importance but sadly you have no idea where you’ve heard the name from.

For myself my eureka moment came from the mentioning of ‘Daily Bread’ a very controversial stained glass window installed in Durham Cathedral 1984. The work today is still seen as controversial but its more widely excepted thanks to the changing views in modern culture towards art. Personally I love ‘Daily Bread’, it depicts an abstract view of the last supper, the selected coloured glass alongside the sunlight makes the window almost sing. Its simply beautiful and I truly need no other words to describe its beauty it’s just a sight to behold.

‘Daily Bread’ Durham Cathedral


Here’s something I’ve learnt from his talk. Mark Angus is amazing, never before have I seen such enthusiasm and passion in someone’s work. Each of his artworks contain a beauty whether it be in its use of colour, it’s form or simply its overall charm that it radiates.

Angus’s work is normally the type of art I find fault and have an issue in viewing however from meeting the man and actually hearing him talking about his work I for one can actually see his own character and charm within the pieces. In generally he is an all round funny and nice guy, he creates art for the love of creating art. He draws, sketches and takes part in as much life drawing classes as he can.

He has a unique practice for making a sketch, covering each page in his sketchbook with colour before later coming back and completing the pages. A process I admit I will be trying in the future, after all it seems like an amazing way to make quick sketch that either relate to the colour, the pattern or contradict it completely.

He says he can easily make 365 drawings in a year but he doesn’t sketch everyday, he has to be in the moment in order to be inspired to create, something I can completely relate to.

Now I know this entry might seem as if I haven’t really talked much about Mark Angus but really he’s an artist you have to experience for yourself, and if your anything like me you will fall completely head over heels in love with his work, even with its let’s say unique take on the world.

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Rachel Laycock: ‘Little Black Book’


It’s not very often you get a moment that truly moves you and makes you rethink art. During Rachel Laycock’s talk I had such as moment.

In 2007 Rachel Laycock created a piece of work which I find makes you stop and think about the true value of art. Within any initial ideas and pressed for time Laycock looked towards herself for inspiration, which she found in the form of her diary that she kept at the time.

‘Little Black Book’ would go on to become a symbol for a very hard time in her life. During the time of the pieces construction, Laycock was suffering from postnatal depression, this mental health issue she believes affected her work and can be seen within the piece itself, ‘Little Black Book’ a piece created out of her diary entries, displayed in the form of falling glass pages. The piece I believe holds a sense of an impending doom, the use of shadow play coupled with the way the falling pages appear to be frozen in time, edges towards a sense of waiting for time to move on and everything to come crashing down.

The way Laycock expresses herself, opens up her life to the viewer is commendable. It’s easy for an artist to use their work to express themselves however many do so in order to release themselves of the subject or stress that they have at the time. Laycock uses her work as a way to almost embrace the issue. ‘Little Black Book’ is a piece that can still be seen affecting her to this day. Talking about such a moment in her life was hard for her and even harder to watch, you can see that much like the pages Laycock is waiting for a time where she can restart time and embrace this moment. It is truly a piece to make you stop and think about the value of art.

This artwork holds a meaning greater than its original purpose, it holds a moment in time that both shows her pain and with further time I believe will also show her recovery.

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Vanessa Cutler: Pushing forward.

Vanessa Cutler is a contemporary glass artist focused on pushing the parameters of glass, to be more pacific she is driven towards pushing water-jet cutting technology. Water-jet cut glass is a reasonably new art form, over the last couple of years water-jet cutting technology has evolved dramatically thanks to artists such as Vanessa Cutler, whose work pushes the technologies limits in order for it to improve.

During my time at Sunderland University I have been made aware on many an occasion that we as students are very privileged in terms of materials and equipment. In fact at present we stand the only University in the country to have a water-jet cutter available to students as well as visiting artists. When I first saw the machine myself I was blown away really, It’s impressive and by that I mean it’s big and intimating. It’s size coupled with the technology and endless complex programs used to power the machine leaves me at times very confused but none the less impressed at the skill and knowledge that goes into working such technology.

Personally I find Cutlers work inspiring in terms of her material usage and the about of personal research which goes into each piece of artwork. To an untrained eye her work could be seen as simple and easy to make however in truth the reality is much different. Within her work Cutler incorporates complex geometric patterns and forms and exhibits them in a very ‘natural’ manner. From this I point towards her use, or lack of use of colour. She prefers to let the material show its own beauty letting the cut lines created portray its own meaning.

I will admit that the way Vanessa Cutler has worked towards mastering this art of water-jet cutting has left me inspired and also jealous in a sense. To have such a drive to go and not only explore a field but to then commit and master that art is in my own opinion highly commendable, her work is a testament showing that if you keep pushing forward you can achieve many things.

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