Monday, 1 February 2016

Teaching Creativity in Schools

The UK is renowned worldwide for its creativity.  This innovation enriches our lives but also enriches the economy; creative industries are contributing almost 10 million pounds an hour to the UK economy, according to a recent press release from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), and they're growing -  by 8.9% in 2014 You can read more here.

The last couple of years saw the Crafts Council succssfully lobby for the inclusion of craft within the DCMS creative industries definition used to produce their economic estimates.  You can read more in the report; "Measuring the Craft Economy" found here.  The same report concludes that craft industries and occupations generated nearly £3.4bn for the UK economy.

The Crafts Council have published other reports too, dating back to 2010.  Some of the research relates to the craft economy, others to innovation, technology and education. The Crafts Council are persistant advocates for craft and run programmes such as 'Firing Up', which saw dormant ceramic kilns in UK schools fired up and teachers inspired to teach ceramics again.  You can see a short film about the programme here...

Photo: Sophie Mutevelian.

We need to ensure we have a future generation of 'creatives' to build on the current growth of this industry through an excellent and broad education in schools.  Richard M Wilson has created a petition lobbying for the inclusion of 'expressive arts' in the English Baccalaureate.  "Creativity must be at the heart of our schools."  If you feel passionately about the subject, you can find more information and sign the petition here...

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Finding beauty in decay

There’s something fascinating about decay.   Something about nature taking over, something that reminds us that there’s something more powerful than the perceived control we have over our everyday lives.

Talking about the pleasures of specifics..... “ the wonderful peculiarity that accrues from dilapidation; what we build gets differentiated as it comes apart - boards loosen to crazy angles, windowpanes fall out, and rain and snow streak white clapboards”  “People too become marked and thus individualized as they age”.
Robert Adams in Why we photograph. p79

The photos of derelict London mansions in this Guardian article highlight this fine balance between order and chaos,  'Inside London's derelict mansions' article

I’m not alone in my love of the derelict… “Strand, like Cartier Breton was attracted to the picturesque desolations and damages of urban life” Susan Sontag, On Photography  p101

One of my most inspirational trips was to Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, USA.  The most wonderful thing is that the site hasn't been tidied up, cleaned, renovated....  which led to some fantastic photographs. There's a sense of authenticity with a site like this; its uncompromised, and this leads visitors to a deeper connection with the building.

All of this got me to thinking about the preservation of buildings.  I came across an article written by Rowan Moore, about the difficulties of choosing which buildings to assign heritage status to.  The article really highlights the challenge; how do we decide which buildings are culturally and historically significant?

You can read Moore’s article here:  Architectural heritage article

Monday, 4 January 2016

The future of maps...

Knowing how much I love maps, a friend forwarded me a link to this article by Suzanne Wilson, which talks about the future of mapping in a digital age and particularly how Bristol city council have used digital technology to create 'Know Your Place'.

'Know Your Place'  layers contemporary over historic maps so that the viewer can easily study the changes to Bristol city between the two time periods.  Not only that, a toolbar on the screen allows the viewer to layer further information over the top, including the location of historic cinemas, or listed buildings, for example.  For me, the most exciting feature is to be able to pinpoint places on the map corresponding to archive photographs of that precise area.    You may not see me for a couple of weeks while I play with this...!

In most of my public art projects, one of my first areas of research is to study local archives, often looking at historic maps of the area, looking for clues to distincitve local stories, which may form the basis for the artwork.

For Broomhill lane in Denbigh, I scoured the historic tithe and OS maps at Denbighshire Archives for visual motifs, patterns and lines which I could collect, like a database of map symbols.  I then used these symbols to create new compositions to tell seven individual stories about Denbigh, including local Author Kate Roberts and the significant Welsh press; Gwasg Gee which was located in the town centre.

Maps were also a starting point for a vitreous enamel public artwork I made in 2014 for Wardour street in London.  Like the 'Know Your Place' application, only on paper, I layered hundreds of years of maps of Soho over eachother as a starting point for the design process.

For 'Buy Black Country', I was commissioned by Wolverhampton Arts & Museum service to create a limited edition series of pieces for their museum shops.  Here, I created layered metal etchings of historic Black Country maps which showed the most wonderful symbols and patterns denoting the hundreds of industrial sites accross the area.  I cut circles of the etchings out and inlaid them in enamel hemispheres to create 90 magnetic brooches.

I can't wait for the next opportunity to be inspired by maps!

Here's a link to 'Know Your Place'

and to Suzanne's article 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Reminiscing about Copenhagen...

It's been so warm here in Bristol, I don't feel even slightly wintery.  I was thinking back to November last year when I visited Denmark for an enamelling workshop and had time to explore a cold, rainy but beautiful Copenhagen...

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Place Making


"As both an overarching idea and a hands-on approach for improving a neighborhood, city, or region, Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community."  by Project for Public Spaces:

Back in 2012, I was given the opportunity to explore what placemaking means to me, and to test the potential benefit that a Maker can bring to the process.  We spent two days at the fascinating Chatham Dockyard working with other makers, architects and students on a capsule project initiated by the Crafts Council.  Our brief was very open, and working in teams of three; one maker, one architect and one student, we explored;
  • How can the specialist understanding of materials and skills influence the built environment?
  • What does the meaning of preciousness or consideration of scale have on making a place special?
  • What impact can creative input have on local distinctiveness within place?
  • What kinds of places and communities can emerge from these collaborations?


We found ourselves looking for and identifying things that made Chatham 'distinctive', which wasn't hard in such a rich historical industrial site. The plethera of industrial relics appealed to my inner gadget- making child and I had to supress urges to start making some sort of motorised floating den... 

What also fascinates me about industrial architecture is the relationship between the building's form and its function; each window and roof facet fulfiling a specific role for the activity happening in and around it. The incidental beauty of the building's form and facade is meaninfully purposeful. 

To read more about the project and to watch a short film of the two days, you can visit:

Monday, 2 November 2015

New sculptural wall pieces for SOFA Chicago 2015

After months of development, I shipped three new, sculptural wall pieces to Chicago last week.  They're a development of the Monoscope series I showed at SOFA Chicago 2014, moving in to three dimensions.

I'll be showing with Kirsten Muenster at Contemporary Artifact Gallery Booth 404.

If you're lucky enough to be visiting the show, drop by and say hello to Kirsten and have a look at the pieces in person.

I got some fantastic images of the pieces before they left, so here's a sneak preview of what I'm showing at SOFA Chicago later this week.

And here is some of the work that went in to them....

New pieces for 'My Warehouse Home' magazine's Capsule Collection.

I'm excited to announce the launch of My Warehouse Home magazine's Winter Capsule Collection, which I've created a series of three wall pieces for.  They are available tomorrow through 

The pieces were inspired by a body of work I made for 'Collect' at the Saatchi Gallery, for the Bluecoat Display Centre back in 2012.  The work references historic shipbuilding with diagrams from my shipwright grandfather's workbooks etched in to the surface of metals.

Three circular wall pieces for 'My Warehouse Home' Winter Capsule Collection in copper and brass, each measuring 22cm diameter.  Warehouse Home | Styling by Lucy Gough | Photography by Oliver Perrott
 The full winter capsule collection for My Warehouse Home magazine with talented designers:

BeatWoven @BeatWoven
BLURECO @ala_blureco
Higgs & Crick + Setyard @higgsandcrick 
Katie Brown @katienbrown
Miles Dexter @m_dex1
New North Press @NNPletterpress
Nick Fraser @nickfraseruk
Primary Grey @PrimaryGrey
Stolen Form @StolenForm

Warehouse Home | Styling by Lucy Gough | Photography by Oliver Perrott 

Warehouse Home | Styling by Lucy Gough | Photography by Oliver Perrott

Work in progress back in 2012 when I first started developing this body of work.


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Rebecca Gouldson