Be Canny Wild & Free

Delighted to have been asked to be part of Love of the Norths Exhibition in Spanish City.

I’d been noticing spring emerging and various insects emerging. After a little bit of research (and a wander down the local nature reserve ) I’d found out about various butterfly species that frequent the North East Coast. Can you spot and name them ?

Originally inspired by a design of a trio of butterflies on a vintage matchbox, these butterflies were displayed on fresh spring green leaves with a bright pink background. I’ve made this a little different to what I’ve illustrated in the past with a smaller font and a singular border. This one off A2 canvas will be available to buy during exhibition starting tomorrow 4th April 2022

Details:

https://www.fortheloveofthenorth.co.uk/

Art Matters Now – Home Away From Home

I was commissioned by Art Matters Now to create artwork around the theme of migration. I explored the many ways of transport immigrants can take, the landmarks of Sunderland and the hopes and dreams people have. Adding the flower of the area in blooming across hands reaching out for one another.

Reflected on my own history as a child constantly translating, dealing with racism and finding my own way to communicate through art.

You can read the description of the artwork below from https://artmattersnow.org.uk/home-away-from-home/

‘The idea for the ‘Home Away from Home’ publication project emerged from my experiences navigating a new identity as an immigrant in the UK. They were formed against a backdrop of a global pandemic: worsening xenophobia, little real-life contact and the further marginalisation of minoritised people. In these testing and precarious times, I am eager to create a collaborative platform for artists and writers from a minority ethnic or diasporic background—like myself—to connect with each other and communicate through creative expression. I hope that this can be a place where we can define the terms in which we wish to be seen and heard.

I was fortunate to be awarded Sunderland Culture’s 2021 Creative Development Fellowship, which enabled me to commission work from artists and writers as part of this publication. The project has evolved over time and now manifests in two forms: a physical publication and a digital VR exhibition that both presents and extends the ideas through multimedia works.

The first edition of ‘Home Away from Home’ looks into the fluid notion of ‘home’ and narratives surrounding it—from frustrations to contentment, shared vulnerabilities to collective hopes. The publication brings together artworks and texts by five contributors who have made Britain their home. These individuals are Claudia Obag, Dovile Lapinskaite, Marga RH, Sofia Barton and myself.
Readers are invited to reflect on how the ideas raised might relate to their own experiences of belonging and their sense of home. Is ‘home’ defined by a location? Or is it defined by people? Is having a home a right? Or is it a privilege?

— Christie Chan’

Unite – Sofia Barton

New Matchbook Series

I’ve always wanted to draw a matchbook in contrast to the matchboxes I do. This design was the first to pop out of my head as it were. The shy bairns get nowt print was quite popular lately so I’ve used the saying again, this time adding a LIT match and of course the Geordie icon – the magpie sitting right next to it.

To buy this print see my Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SofiaBartonArt or to commission a design get in touch via the contact form.

Artist for Bay Create

Since August I’ve been lucky enough to work with Whitley Bay Big Local and Barnardos the Base in delivering workshops around the mindfulness of mandalas. After a ‘dragons den’ style interview where the participants interviewed me in June I started work on planning this participatory art project straight away.

Working with age groups from 12-90 years of age, and introducing co-creation amongst them has been a worthwhile experience. To many of the participants this was an opportunity to emerge from isolation, and the negative effects of Covid-19 on their mental health. To be able to speak to them and provide a safe environment to create was key with Whitley Bay Big Local and Barnardo’s The Base.

The variants of experience and personal stories has been profound. They all contributed to the final outcome of artwork, constructed together like their many narratives in the Whitley Bay community. This cross generational team all blossomed week after week, with different ideas and experimentation of techniques.

Dependent on what the group wanted to do we explored themes like : sustainability, recycled materials, natural inks (we looked at blackberry picking and using spices), mandala making, geometric symmetry, using leaves and flowers, stencils, Stamp making, designed post cards, used acrylics and watercolour pens in our sessions. On taking feedback from what the groups wanted I would create worksheets and bring materials in for them to explore the following session. As it was a drop in session too the groups evolved with different dynamics as time went on.

August- December flew by. At the end of the project I had four large canvases 1m by 1m ready to display at Whitley Bay Library. One solely by Marsden Bridge Middle School Art Club. Alongside the group work with Jason Eason and the documentary photos in the middle – it makes a great exhibition. On view now in Whitley Bay Library for a month 🙂

See the Matterport link for a 3D rendition: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=AoP6iKhNciQ

Many thanks to the amazing staff involved who are so supportive :

Jason Eason was the Bay Create artist working alongside me exploring photography and collage. Helen and Sarah, who managed the project & are all around amazing human beings.

Thanks to all the amazing groups involved:

Whitley Bay Big Local

Barnardos The BASE Young People’s Center

Marden Bridge Middle School Art Club

1st Forest Hall Guides

North Tyneside Carers Centre

Unity group at the BASE

Funday Friday group at The BASE

Caitlains programme group at the BASE

4TH Monkseaton Guides

Eothen Residential care home

Eastbourne Residential care home

Whitley Bay Big Local drop-in participants

Mind map
Three mandala canvases. All shapes were made my multiple participants across the project. From left to right: constructed into mandala shape by the Barnardo’s the Base Group, Whitley Bay Big Local Group and Marsden Bridge Middle School Art Club

The project was funded by spiritof2012hq and carries on to another year with new artists in 2022.

Making my first Matchbox Book

A video showing how a matchbox book was created. Artwork celebrates South Asian suffragettes and hidden figures in history ( part of the Narivad series) and a sneak peak into the makings of a matchbox book for the North East English Coast.

Materials used: Watercolour paper, ink, glue, black paint, white card, Stanley knife, ruler and scissors.

BALTIC Open Submission: Exhibition Update

Many thanks the BALTIC and Emily Holmes for these images. As you can see the gallery is being set up for the re-opening of the BALTIC. This will be on 6th January 2021 in the light of ongoing regional and national restrictions. It seems a long wait until next year, but certainly gives us all something to look forward to. Tickets will be available to book online, ensuring your safe visit to the BALTIC.

My painting, amongst many other very talented creatives in the North East will be available to view up close in this extraordinary exhibition. Watch this space!

Baltic 39

Excited to be a part of the Open Call at Baltic 39 in Newcastle and be exhibiting a painting called Death XIII. This was a continuation of work after my co-investigator role at the Newbridge Project. The canvas is 30cm x 30cm, a background diagonally divided into blood red and black, holds a two toned (divided) circle in the centre. In a halo of gold, a plague doctor stares out to the side of the painting. Two sacred hearts, one a watchful eye symbolises the passivism of the media and public. The second sacred heart symbolises action and survival. The figure in the centre is a personal response to Covid-19, how hopeless it feels, and an echo of the earlier history we were taught about Spanish Flu. There are many parallels of what happened in history that are similar to present day. The title ‘Death XIII’ relates to the tarot card, as Death is one of the major arcana and holds a tremendous amount of symbolism, of great change.

This painting will be for sale, and be going on exhibit November 2020 – January 2020. Catch a sneak peak below !

New Special Edition Matchboxes

After a planned exhibition, where I had agreed to make physical matchboxes alongside some newly designed prints, was rescheduled for next year- I started to think how this could be translated into an artwork that I could make during lock down.

I’m still making the ones for said exhibition, but need to keep those 10 designs hush hush for 2021.

The idea evolved into a larger box, which has hand painted and hand drawn elements. The inner box painted with acrylic and Posca pens. I’ve released two designs, the Newcastle Hyem Sweet Hyem and Spanish City (two best seller prints). Though a little time consuming, the boxes are actually fun to make. Hand drawn details over a separate white strip added to the design front of the box, on the top and beneath a panel of printed paper. I used the same paper I normally do for premium prints, to get the maximum amount of colour and saturation. Each series is limited to only 50 boxes and comes with certificates of authenticity. I plan to send these in premium little gift boxes if they’re not framed for storage purposes. Framing options include a box frame, with the edition of the artwork/sig on the front.

Pics below!

ETSY LINK: https://etsy.me/2BNcCY1

Using Winsor and Newton Professional Acrylics & Posca Pens

Everything’s on HOLD

I had started on several projects that were due for launch this summer. One of them included a major street art project with Creative Factory Middlesbrough, creating exclusive and historic pieces of art that are going to be displayed prominently on the sides of streets. Although I had created the artwork, the installation has obviously been put on hold with Covid-19. I cannot wait to show you the work for it, some of it can be seen on Inspiratori or Creative Factory’s instagram page, but will be completely different once its physical. See my Boro post for more on that and how the project began.

Gem Arts was another project, I was due to create the artwork for Masala Festival (which I did) but due to Covid-19 the festivals on hold. As well as Gallery 45. I’ll still be creating work for an exhibition (just secretly, and won’t be sharing it online to keep it a surprise) When the Covid-19 danger is over, I may also be doing workshops around the exhibition.

These organisations have been phenomenal in supporting artists. It’s great that we have these organisations in the North East and goes to show how important the Arts & Culture section is. I am so appreciative and I hope we survive as a sector after this crisis. Self employment will be a challenge as will the economic affect, but a message to you all – we can do it if we stick together.

I have ALSO temporarily closed my Etsy Shop. Why ? I left most of my supplies & paint at my studio in Ampersand Inventions and have no way of accessing it. The buildings shut with Covid-19 and has meant I have put some production on hold. This means I have to reassess the shop this weekend. My postal orders will dispatch less frequently for example and as the nurseries are closed – my work rate has somewhat changed pre-7pm. Kudos to all the parents right now who are home schooling and working, I’m still finding my way. It’s quite difficult To juggle. I hope you’ll be patient with me at this time until I find a solution.

Stay safe everyone.

Sunnycon

I’ve made some new pieces for Sunnycon later this month. They’ve centred around Aggretsuko and Studio Ghibli so far. Although anime isn’t my style I love the atmosphere that is Sunnycon. Some film art posters will be out too.  The audience, though a lot younger, provides a new perspective to the usual market fairs I go to. My usual North East designs don’t really fit in, but the animals and fantasy designs are hits. Less anxious about this year too since I’ve already done it. Also helps the organisers are super friendly !

If you’re about why not come along. I’ll be at the artist’s bay with a new layout /banner and (hopefully) dressed as Kiki.

Also SO glad that my Instagram following has gone up to 1,500, for someone who doesn’t actively work on that stuff it does feel good to get support off people liking my work. A little bit of encouragement sometimes when you’re in doubt about a sketch, or a particular theme, goes a long way. It really opens up the creative flow and has allowed me to be more comfortable working on ideas outside of my usual zone.