25th June 2013

Wonderlands Exhibition the blog tour!

There’s just a few weeks left to catch my exhibition, Wonderlands at DCA.

The show closes on Sunday 7th July,

 

In the meantime, here’s the blog tour I promised for those of you who live in far away lands!

 

Welcome to Wonderlands…

 

I’ve wrapped the gallery facade in a lattice of Victoriana style swirls and curls,

Crisp black vinyl on stark white wall sets the tone for what lies within.

 

Inspired by Alice’s adventures in Wonderland,

I wanted to create a show that captured the tale’s sense of magic, charm and intrigue;

Inviting the audience to be curious, to peer closer.

I hoped the show would be playful and in some ways nostalgic,

A series of monochrome worlds in which to loose yourself,

All underpinned by an evangelical approach to the craft of drawing.

 

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then let’s begin…

 

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

 

Forest

 

Entering the gallery, you find yourself amidst a black and white woodland.

 

Most of my commercial work is small, able to fit into the palm of your hand;

A book cover, a beer bottle, a soap packet.

The exhibition was a chance to scale up and immerse the viewer,

So instead of creating a world to be observed from the outside, I could immerse you within the artwork.

 

Suspended from the ceiling are a series of printed paper trees, gently skimming the floor.

Their placement requires you to wonder between and around,

Finding your way through the leafy sheets peppered with songbirds and other hidden curiosities.

As you progress deeper into the forest, the trees grow taller,

With the mightiest branches reaching a lofty 4 meters.

 

This piece was inspired by theatrical sets and the miniature shoe box worlds I made as a child.

 

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

 

Heartbreak

 

The lonely figures of 2 of the last remaining prints from this edition created with Heartbreak Publishing.

Silk screen printed, then encrusted with a shimmering coat of Diamond Dust;

Tiny shards of fragmented glass which sparkle and twinkle like frost.

 

 

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

 

Wallpaper

 

My post Art School career began with wallpaper.

Hand printed rolls of monochromatic ink for the bold and the dramatic.

 

A 25 meter wide gallery wall demands something more playful and adventurous than your average living room,

So I hashed up the designs and colourways, creating an inky mix tape of wallpapery stripes.

 

Each drop of wallpaper was silk screen printed in the DCA print studio, just below the gallery.

With a team of willing helpers, we printed until our hands blistered.

It took days and days, cost a pretty penny and frequently had us pulling our hair out

(No thanks in the main to my rather dodgy math skills).

But digital just wasn’t an option for me.

The designs were hand drawn, so I wanted to craft the papers with a similar touch.

Besides, there’s something quite magical in gazing along that expanse of wallpaper and knowing it was made just downstairs…

 

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

 

Boat

 

This boat started life as a car.

Sort of.

 

I’d previously worked on a TwitterPicture style live drawing on a Smart Car.

24 hours, a few pens and a whole lot of frantic.

The exhibition was a chance to refine and perfect what was sketchy and rough.

 

However a car proved tricky to source.

I worried for a while, then toyed with alternatives.

I searched Ebay for ice cream vans, dodgems and rickshaws

Before finally settling on a sailing boat.

 

Inked using Edding paint markers,

The white fiberglass body was a delight to draw on,

The ink slipped onto the silky smooth surface like biro on a banana skin.

 

A nautical inspired panoramic projection casts a watery shadow onto the crisp white sail.

Panning left to right, it gives the impression of movement and travel,

A homage to those crackly old movies where a stationary car is made to speed through the countryside by a scrolling scenic backdrop.

 

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

 

Cuckoos

 

Kitch, eclectic and hung in what I would describe as a Higgeldy Piggeldy formation.

The collection of hand drawn clocks are encased within reclaimed frames.

Their faces gently swept by passing hands,

Each set to a randomly different hour.

Only when the gallery is at its quietest can you detect the crazy staccato that is a cacophony of clock hands.

 

Hidden around the clocks you may notice the odd flash creamy porcelain.

There are 12 little white cuckoos hidden within DCA.

How many can you spot?

Look high, look low.

 

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

nds at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

 

Inky Bodies

 

The only time it’s morally acceptable to tattoo a dog…

 

Ordinarily, time constraints and commercial deadlines mean I have to turn away tattoo commissions,

So this was an opportunity to ink some bodies; 2 legged and 4.

 

His ink is inspired by sailor tattoos and masculine, thorny botanicals,

Hers by baroque ornamentation, lace and delicate filigree.

My canine friend wears a coat of patchy botanicals and foliage –

All delicately hand drawn in rich opaque Posca Pen.

 

The figures are set upon a polished black and white tiled floor.

A plinth seemed too formal,

The floor too ordinary.

The checkered monochrome surface seemed to just fit perfectly.

 

You can see lots more photographs of this part of the show on my Behance page.

 

https://www.johannabasford.com/uploaded_files/Wonderbeasts1.jpg

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

 

Wonderbeasts

 

You’ve seen the tweets, now see the artwork!

 

This super sized print is the result of my Kickstarter powered, co-creation project from earlier in 2013.

Backers to the project were invited to contribute towards the making of the illustration and in return, suggested an animal to be featured in the drawing.

From sloths to Fez wearing otters, giant squid to dung beetles,

This artwork comprises hundreds of delicately inked creatures, each one suggested by a Kickstarter backer.

Alongside the artwork hangs the names of each of my collaborators,

Also a key, so you can pin point exactly who suggested each bumble bee, honey badger or angler fish.

 

Find out more about this project here.

 

 

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

 

Glow

 

Tucked away in the small dark room at the back of the gallery, you’ll find Glow;

A vertical, botanical, fabric tunnel of light

(this is the best descriptor I can come up with, go with it…)

 

This piece started life as a paper cut, morphed into silhouetted light box and somehow ended up as a printed textile,

Such is the nature of the creative process.

 

My fascination with creating little spaces to be explored continues.

Yes, it’s 100% ok to sneak around the back, find the opening and creep inside.

In fact, I’d encourage it.

 

The botanical pattern, dense and thickly inked at the roots,

Becomes looser, more open as it nears the light source,

Allowing a soft haze of light to halo and pool around the organically entwined Plumen bulb.

 

If I were a Fine Artist, I’d spin you a tale with depth, emotion and hopes of how this piece may change your perception of the world.

However I’m not.

It is, what it is.

 

And finally…

 

 

 

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts by Johanna Basford

 

Studio

 

At the very back of the gallery, you’ll find a little sunny room that resembles my studio.

From jars of pens, to paper samples, my customised desk chair and botanical resource books,

With this room I wanted to give visitors a peek behind the scenes at how I do what I do.

 

There’s a mac playing a few videos and time lapses of me at work,

Don’t worry, it’s meant to be on mute (the sound of my own voice makes me cringe).

 

Also on display are various examples of my commercial work,

Absolut Vodka bottles, those skis for Line Ski, book covers, gin bottles and yes,

That Susan Boyle album cover, thank you Simon Cowell.

 

The walls are lined with sketches and final inked artwork, both of past commission work and the pieces that fill the gallery.

And you’ll spot the scale model of the Forest, used to work out the placement of the tress

(no fancy 3D mapping software needed).

 

I felt it was important to impart on people, that there’s no high tech trickery or fancy computer programmes,

Everything really is start pen on paper.

 

And that concludes your tour of Wonderlands!

 

For those of you not too far away, there’s still time to see the show.

It runs until Sunday 7th July and is open every day.

 

If you would like your own little slice of inky magic,

My book, Wonderlands, co-published with DCA is available to pre-order now.

A picture book full of my favourite portfolio pieces and a selection of photographs capturing the exhibition.

Each book has a hand printed cover that I made in the DCA print studio, individually silk screen printed to ensure every volume is a little special.

 

Wonderlands is £20 + P&P, available to pre-order via my website.

All books bought direct from the studio are signed and will contain some extra inky treats.

If you would like a special message to be penned within the cover, just let me know.

 

Photographs by Sam Brill.

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