As well as being a columnist for the East Anglian Daily Times, Martin Newell is a musician, writer and poet of wide renown. He makes great records and writes books. He has written for the Independent titles, the Guardian, Mojo, Record Collector, Viz comic and other titles. He is also the resident poet for the Sunday Express. Visit his website here.
Martin has been a very valued supporter of Dunlin Press since its launch and we’re always grateful for this help and advice. However, this review clearly comes from the heart and we’re so happy that he ‘got’ the concept of Tinsel’s book.
You can buy the book here and you can read the piece below.
Artist and illustrator Ella Johnston created 21 bird illustrations and well as incidental and cover images for The Migrant Waders book. Here she talks about the brief for the publication and her thinking behind the drawings…
The original brief was to create a collection of wading bird and shorebird drawings on a plain white background.
The creatures needed to be immediately recognisable and all drawings had to have a consistent style in order to work as a collection, while also being able to be used as stand-alone pieces.
I frequently explore landscapes of woodland, coastlines and marshes, I feel a very deep connection with the different kinds of birds that inhabit each environment. My year now revolves around when these birds are in my space – and me in theirs.
The waders are my real favourites. The sense of calm and serenity these birds give me is extraordinary. Time stands still when I’m watching the redshanks and godwits digging around in the mud. I marvel at the majesty of the curlew and elegance of the little egrets that visit our creek and quay. The high-pitched squeal of the lapwing, the pip of an oystercatcher and of course the comforting call of the curlew are transcendental – they take me out of whatever is going on in my life and bring me into the moment. I’m grateful to these creatures – they’ve given me peace. I have to draw them.
The application of colour is very loose, free and instinctive. Each portrait is created on watercolour paper that absorbs the paint and ink beautifully and I believe best shows off the quality of this medium. The birds are first drawn as a light sketch, in pencil, loosely highlighting key areas. Then, layers of watercolour washes are applied, each heavily diluted to gradually build up the colours – this provides interesting combinations of hues and texture. I then apply detailed drawings over this with a range of black felt tips – I love the way the different nibs allow me to work up the texture of each feather and capture the character of the plumage. Some pieces are heavily layered with black fine line ink detail, others only need a light touch – it’s a lovely way to work and, again, it’s an instinctive process.
The birds are deliberately painted without a landscape. It’s an important artistic consideration for me. I want to emphasise and focus the viewer’s attention on the decorative, sensual elements of the subject itself, allowing the spectator to scrutinise, deconstruct and interact with the portrait. I also don’t feel it’s right to tie these birds down to a particular location: waders migrate across many lands and don’t recognise the borders that humans create and that we see on maps. They are my winter but someone else’s summer.
As well as creating a detailed wading bird illustrations, the Migrant Waders book also required an enigmatic cover illustration and accompanying imagery that gave the reader an idea of the sea and the depth of the oceans covered during migrants. Illustrations needed to be atmospheric – with a simultaneous sense of solidity and lightness.
This rather abstract image was created by applying layers of watercolour and merging two paintings together in photoshop to create a cover that suggested the sea and the sky. The book also features little watercolour droplets throughout the pages to key in with this sense of ‘journey’
Dunlin Press’ new release Priced Out is written by acclaimed artist Tinsel Edwards.
Priced Out is Tinsel’s first book and is being launched at Atom Gallery, 127 Green Lanes, London N16 on 3 August 2017, 6-9pm.
Tinsel Edwards (born 1979) is a British artist originally from Leamington Spa, England. She lives and works in London.
Tinsel’s art is politically motivated but there is also an autobiographical element – the subjects and themes she tackles often relate to her personal experiences. Predominantly she works with oil paint on canvas, but her varied practice also includes printmaking, sign writing and painting on different surfaces such as bedsheets, reclaimed wood and correx board.
She has exhibited across the UK and in Germany, Austria, Poland and America. She has worked with The Art Conference, Jealous Gallery, Pure Evil Gallery, The Art Car Boot Fair, and Galerie Michaela Stock in Vienna, amongst others, and has also produced work for Banksy’s Dismaland.
Tinsel was a singer in a girl punk band called The Fairies Band (2000-2007). She later co-founded a record label called Pushing Pussy Records. It specialised in 7” vinyl and provided a platform for female musicians. In 2012 she co-founded a gallery, project space and studios called A-side B-side in Hackney, East London.
Tinsel currently works from her Acme Studio in Homerton, East London, and lives with her husband and two children in Manor House, Haringey.
Help us celebrate the launch of Tinsel Edwards’ book, Priced Out, at Atom Gallery, Green Lanes, on 3 August from 6pm.
The book is a personal and powerful account of being an artist during the capital’s growing housing crisis in the first years of the 21st century. It’s the true story of the degradation of quality of rented property, amid rising rents and costs of living, and during the huge explosion in unaffordable ‘luxury’ apartments. It’s about how artists, and the creative and cultural industries, have brought so much to this most wonderful, vibrant and diverse of capital cities. And it’s about how the cost of housing is forcing artists to turn away from the city they have lived and worked in, and loved, for many years. It’s a story that is common to many people in all walks of life. It’s a story of being priced out.
There will be words from Tinsel Edwards and Dunlin Press, and copies of the book will be available to buy at the launch.
We’ve also printed a limited edition range of postcards featuring Tinsel’s artwork that will be sold to raise money to help people in need after the Grenfell Tower fire.
Printed on high-quality, archival textured gesso card, the postcards are taken from a series of paintings and prints created by Tinsel that explore the human stories behind the crisis taking place in London housing. We have only printed 20 of each and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
When living in London is unaffordable to so many, can the capital remain a creative force in the arts?
Dunlin Press are proud to announce the launch of Dismaland artist Tinsel Edwards’ debut book, Priced Out.
Priced Out will be launched at Atom Gallery, 127 Green Lanes, London N16 on 3 August 2017, 6-9pm. atomgallery.co.uk
Limited edition copies of the book will be available to buy at the launch.
A set of postcards featuring Tinsel’s artwork will also be sold to raise money to help people in need after the Grenfell Tower fire.
Priced Out is a personal and powerful look at the declining state of housing in the capital through the eyes of an artist. It traces the high rises in cost of rented accommodation, the spiralling property prices, and skewers the reasons why artists, who contribute – like so many others – so much to the character, wellbeing and uniqueness of London life, are being priced out of the city.
Tinsel Edwards says of the book:
“It’s my artist’s story – of how and why I started making artwork about the crisis in London housing. It’s the story of artist friends and the people I know. I am proud to have lived here for nearly 20 years. But the London I have known and loved is changing. When I arrived, I felt that I belonged. I wanted to contribute to this fascinating, wonderful place that pulsated with the energy and creativity of communities old and new. Now when I walk the streets I feel like an outsider. Wealth and finance have taken over. The streets don’t feel like they’re mine any more. I am an artist. This is the story of how I came to London to work, and how I – and the fellow artists I’ve met and worked with – are being forced to turn away from the capital. It’s a story that is common to so many people in all walks of life. It’s a story of being priced out.”
Tinsel’s art comments on a variety of contemporary social and political issues. In 2015 her work was selected to be part of Dismaland, Banksy’s ‘bemusement park’ in Weston-Super-Mare. Banksy is a collector of Tinsel’s work and previously invited her to take part in a Santa’s Ghetto exhibition. She has presented work at the first edition of The Art Conference, produced by Tina Ziegler, and exhibited widely across Europe and America. She has worked with Jealous Gallery, Pure Evil Gallery, The Art Car Boot Fair and Galerie Michaela Stock, amongst others. Other titles from Dunlin Press: The Migrant waders, Est: Collected Reports from East Anglia, and Scarecrow.
The artists get there first. They seek out the empty quarters, the vacated spaces, the places in flux and transition. Transience and indeterminacy fires creativity. Disused industrial complexes can be easily remodelled into studio spaces and, sometimes, homes. Housing in less well thought of districts, or areas in decline and decay, is cheaper – affordable for artists who might only have a small income, or a more insecure income, or whose modest income from their creativity must be topped up with other, low-paid, sometimes non-permanent work. But the success of the creative sector can also be its undoing. Money follows creativity, although it is rarely shared out fairly with the artists themselves. Instead, it seeks out and exploits for its own ends the highly marketable quality of ‘cool’ that is inherent in artistic production. The creative quarters of any city so often become places of rampant commerce and capitalism that flushes resident communities out of the area. Behind the newly polished veneer of the creative quarter is the real deal – the rising rents and lowering of living standards that deteriorate as the artists seek to establish themselves. And so, just as the artists are the first to arrive, they are also the first to leave, priced out of a postcode – canaries in the coal mine – signalling the cost of what’s to come.