World War I Battlefields, 100 Years Later



Fields of Battle?Lands of Peace 14-18 is the work of photojournalist Michael St Maur Sheil. Captured over a period of seven years, Michael’s photography combines a passion for history and landscape and presents a unique reflection on the transformation of the battlefields of the Great War into the landscape of modern Europe. Michael remarks:

“This collection represents a legacy which I hope will create a gateway to the battlefields themselves, thus encouraging people to visit these historic landscapes during the centennial period and so create awareness and understanding of the events and historical implications of the First World War”

From August 2014 (the start of WWI) to Armistice Day in November 2018 (the end of WWI), sixty powerful images will be publicly exhibited around the UK and then internationally; bringing the centenary of the Great War to tens of millions of people in their own communities 24 hours…

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A New Monotype

I’ve recently started a printmaking course with the Open College of the Arts (OCA). The first part is about making monotypes and this is a painterly one I did this afternoon. It’s based on a photograph I took from the plane window as we flew to Marmaris in Turkey. I’m not certain it was taken over Turkey. It could have been Bulgaria.

Sometime ago, I went to an exhibition of paintings by Gerry Halpin at the Gallery at St George’s House in Bolton. Since that exhibition I’ve loved the idea of trying to turn aerial views into artworks, and if I’m able to get the window seat often spend most plane journeys now with my camera ready looking out of the window. This is the first time though I’ve actually done something with one of my many such photographs.


Olive Groves – Monotype

I taped down my piece of A3 paper along one edge to a large sheet of glass. I then painted onto the glass using Speedball water-based relief inks. I could probably have been able to use acrylic paints but I’m used to these inks for my gelatine monotypes so decided to stick with them. The Book suggested that the whole thing should be painted and then printed in one go. I ignored this and painted a bit, press the paper down to print, painted a bit more and so gradually built up the image over a couple of hours. Here is the original aerial photo for comparison.


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“Each student is an individual”

Before retiring six years ago and discovering art, I taught physics and science for nineteen years. We were frequently told about our students being individuals and how our lesson plans should be geared to the different abilities within the classroom at any one time. Fine words, but it’s only when you’re on the receiving end that you appreciate what they mean.

In Julia’s Monday morning class, the different ‘abilities’ are really different temperaments and approaches to their art. Some enjoy doing detailed work in pencil. I do not. My way of working is far looser and expressionistic. Today Julia wanted us to do studies of trees with exposed roots using pencil, charcoal, pastels and, with the aid of a brush, water. I hated it! It did absolutely nothing for me. I spent the first hour producing a pastel and charcoal representation of a photographed tree then started playing a game on my mobile waiting for the end of the session.


This shot of the ‘show and tell’ at the end shows what others were able to do.

Julia, who was aware that I was getting nothing from the lesson (others were enjoying the approach, I hasten to add) asked if I wanted some ink (she knows it’s my favourite medium). She gave me a bowl of ink and a torn train ticket and showed me the type of marks that I could get. Wow! Off I went! Within minutes I’d produced these three drawings and loved everyone of those minutes! The first two are based on Julia’s photos of trees and their roots and the last one was of a snowy mountainous landscape which she had.




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International Print Exchange 2014

Earlier this week a package arrived which I excitedly unwrapped but was disappointed to find that instead of it being my IPE2014 prints it was only the travel documents for my next holiday. Today though I was able to collect my prints from the delivery office! Yeah!

IPE14-KThe International Print Exchange is run by Green Door Printmaking Studio in Derby. Although it has been running since 2009, this is the first time I have taken part. I sent of an edition of ten gelatine monotypes, each 14 cm square with a white border. Here are the eight prints I received in return:


Assembly 1 – Becki Pate – Linoprint – UK


Job 38:15 The Wicked Are Denied Their Light

John Bergmeier – Serigraph (screenprint) – USA


Summer Love – Katie Argyle – Linocut – Canada


My Eyes Think Differently – Michael Hitchens – Whiteline Style Woodcut – UK


No. 8 – Pauline Clancy – Screenprint – UK


Robotica – Philip Evan Broad – Drypoint on Copper – UK


Moon Song – Sophie Fordham – Screenprint – UK


Madonna – Teresa Parker – Linocut – USA

While this is the first time I’ve taken part in the IPE, I have been involved with the 20:20 print exchange organised by Hot Bed Press since it started, also in 2009. It was interesting to compare the two exchanges.

IPE is for individuals and is fully international with just under half from the UK, and the rest from fourteen other countries around the world. HBP’s 20:20 is organised through printmaking studios. This year, I have been told, we have a couple of non-UK/Irish studios but at the moment we are not promoting the exchange with overseas studios.

This year IPE had 86 printmakers, each producing ten prints. It was possible therefore to give the print recipients information not only about the prints they had got but where their own prints went. Here’s part of the information sheet I received:


Last year’s 20:20 involved 40 studios, 585 artists and 14,625 prints! We therefore rely on the artists putting information on the back of each print about the technique, studio and so on. We do put all the prints on a flickr site so people can see them. An exhibition of one of each edition tours several of the larger studios. (Here is a video of last year’s exchange reaching Wakefield.) With IPE just being for individuals, the exhibition is only in Derby as far as I know.

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Punch Cartoon 43

I thought I’d share this from one of my other blogs as it gives an example of the impact cubism was having one hundred years ago.

The Humour of the Great War

In 1913, the year before the start of the Great War, a major exhibition in New York introduced the Americans to European modern art and to cubism in particular. Cubism was still very much a young art movement. The main work which caused controversy at the Armoury Show was Duchamp’s Nude Descending A Staircase which was described as ‘an explosion in a shingle factory’.

This is the background to this cartoon which was published in Punch on 14th October 1914:


Cartoon by George Morrow

Published in Punch 14th October 1914

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Drawing with Julia O.

Autumn. The season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and the start of Julia Ogden’s drawing classes with Enjoy Learning. Today was the first one and off I went with my fine liners, 6B pencil, graphite pencil and pastels. In fact the only things I forgot were my charcoal sticks and putty rubber. Guess what we used today! Correct! Charcoal and putty rubber!

Julia131014eOur drawings were based on black and white photos of trees using paper masks to give sharp edges. This is the photo I used:


Here is the sequence as I drew my wood:






This is my final piece. The original photo was much darker; this is a bit more delicate and misty. I commented to Julia that I bet the path was on the golden mean. At home I checked with my Phimatrix programme and yes, I was right.

Julia131014dphi Julia had done a Blue Peter and had a drawing that she had done earlier. I said I thought the darkest tree was on the golden mean. I was …. nearly right!



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I remember when I used to be a member of the local photographic society after each monthly competition I always said ‘It’s all subjective, isn’t it?’ Invariably my ‘winner’ was in the judge’s pile of rejects and there were many occasions that I was convinced that the judge was looking at different photographs from the ones I could see from the audience.

In the foreword to the catalogue for the neo:printprize2014, Professor Paul Coldwell says “A different set of judges would have undoubtably resulted in a very different show.” I managed to get down to see the exhibition in the centre of Bolton last Friday even though it’s been on for over a month. I was able to discuss the prints with Jason who showed me round. “I really like this chap’s work,” says Jason. “Sorry it doesn’t do anything for me,” I reply. “I like the way the grain of the wood is used in the sky of this one,” says me. “A bit basic,” says Jason. As I say, competitions are subjective. I could discuss the ones which won the prizes, but I’ll tell you about the ones I liked and the ones with interesting (to me at least) techniques.

My favourite piece wasn’t actually a print! Hey, the Jerwood Drawing Prize was won by a sound piece so whose bothering nowadays? When work was submitted for the competition four images could be uploaded. Gemma Lacey uploaded three prints and a photograph of the cabinet she had carved and used to produce the prints. None of the prints made it through, but the judges liked the Longing Cabinet! Incidentally, I did not realise that it was by a fellow Hot Bed Press printer when I decided it was my favourite!



The three prints on the wall behind the cabinet are my second favourite prints. They are called Also Available in White by Connor Maguire. The main part of each image was screenprinted and then the colour applied with spray paint using a stencil, which I thought was very appropriate for a car door.

This print is a lithograph. I’m not sure what constitutes a lithograph nowadays but this is a traditional one. You can see the outline of the stone used and it has clearly been drawn directly onto the stone with lithographic pencils. It is called Watching by Catherine Ade.


My entry for the neoprintprize2014 used different techniques for the text on the front of a t-shirt. One of the methods was to print lemon juice onto the shirt, dry it then use a hot iron on it which scorched the cloth. Everyone remembers ‘invisible ink’ when they were children! Kaori Homma used vinegar and a gas cooker in a similar way (the catalogue says ‘acid and fire’) to produce these two prints. (Sorry for my reflections.)


Arcadia According to  Claude with a view of

Dounreay Power Plant


Arcadia According to  Claude with a view of

Sellafield Power Station

My final favourite was a mixed media piece called Her Ladyship Remembers by Susie Liddle. It was an installation of textiles, most of which were cyanotype printed.


The exhibition is on at neo:gallery in the Market Place in Bolton until 2nd November.

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