Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The idea of making work on a handkerchief invites a process of inspiration that takes in fashion, crafting, high society and folk art. The works in this show reflect these histories of usage, and many draw on their use as items of courtship and fancy. Though the handkerchief may today have lost its currency as an essential everyday accessory, it’s ability to draw on these histories as tokens or signs in our contemporary awareness is still very much present.

Matthew Cowan
artist in residence
Cecil Sharp House
April, 2009

Notes on the Song 'Flash Company'

The song has been collected many times in England; by the collectors working just before the First World War, and also by those active after the Second. It seems to have been particularly popular in East Anglia in recent times, but was found all across the southern counties, from Sussex to Somerset, but no version seems to have been noted further north than Herefordshire. It has also been found, once or twice, in North America.

As with many other traditional songs, this one may be an amalgamation of two songs, or it may have undergone radical rewriting in the mid-nineteenth century. The earliest versions, called The Wandering Girl, or Once I Loved, dating from perhaps the 1820s, are from the female perspective, and do not include the verses about 'flash company' or a 'yellow handkerchief’. The earliest version I can find with these elements is a broadside, where the song is actually called Flash Company, which is undated but is probably from the 1850s or perhaps a little earlier.

It is quite possible that the song refers to yellow silk handkerchiefs that were popular with sporting types - especially the boxing fraternity - in and around the 1830s. These handkerchiefs were called 'yellow-men' or 'yellow-fancies' and were not like our present pocket-handkerchiefs but were large enough to tie round the neck. The well-known sporting and low life writer, Pierce Egan, includes the following comment in his Book of Sports (1832), 'Sporting the yellow-man. The wipe was bright yellow, made on purpose for him'.

Steve Roud

Emma Cowan

Title: eggs & bacon

Emma Cowan is an artist who sees the details of everyday life with a sense of abundance and fertility for art and inspiration. Drawing from her love of gardening and domestic traditions of making - baking bread, preserving food and sewing, Cowan's work is often photographic, and documents a quirky aesthetic and sense of detail. Originally from NZ but currently working in Australia, her work can most often be found on the internet, in online projects such as or

Friday, 24 April 2009

Bishi & Giles Pearson

Flash company....been the ruin of me

Singer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ Bishi has been described as the doyenne of hybrid music She has studied Sitar at the Ravi Shankar school and was well know as the face of notrious cult nightclub 'Kash Point.'
Her debut album 'Nights at the Circus,' was nominated for a South Bank Award and culminated in a collaboration with The London Symphony Orchestra.
She has been featured on 'Tonight with Jonathan Ross,' and recently composed music for 1923 Silent Classic, 'Salome.'

Essex boy Giles Pearson is a womenswear designer and stylist for the music industry. Most recently working on tour costume for Beth Ditto and Roisin Murphy, Giles also works with vintage wallpaper and pornography to produce stitched male nudes. "I really enjoyed working with Bishi on our hanky panky poo! I felt really inspired by Bishi's cover of Flash Company and the art work from the EP but wanted to work towards something with a more vintage worn out feel, hence the fabric choice and dyeing of the hanky with red wine, cigarettes and tea"

This hanky in collaboration with Giles Pearson was based on the artwork for the single 'On My Own Again,' on which 'Flash Company,' was a B-Side.

Rotating the main image of bishi's head from the single,it resembles an occult style symbol. It is the relationship between the pagan to the pop image and back that has charactarised much of Bishi's work.

Alan Kane

Title: Your Mum

Alan Kane is a London based artist. He has worked collaboratively with Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller including a touring exhibition of contemporary British folk art, Folk Archive. His recent commission The Stratford Hoard opened in February 2009 for Art on the Underground.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Maggie Tran

Tea Stained Love

Maggie Tran is a performance based artist, she uses personas and different types of live (re)actions to question and explore ideas on identity, definitions, behaviourisms, habits and general human existence. She creates super stereotypes - polemical categorisations or situations that are the epitome of their kind - reaching a fantastical status/height – a combination of her desires to subvert and to embrace otherwise limited generalisations. She is drawn to extremities, contrasts, opposites, fanaticism and trivialities.

Catherine Bertola

Title: untitled

Over the last ten years Bertola has undertaken a number of residencies and commissions, working with organisations such as; Locus+, Newcastle upon Tyne, the Government Art Collection, Triangle Arts Trust and V&A Museum in London. She has exhibited widely across the UK including The Drawing Room, Union, Fieldgate Gallery and Jerwood Space in London and Baltic in Gateshead. Solo shows include International 3, Manchester (2005), Fabrica, Brighton and Firstsite, Colchester (both 2006). International exhibitions include CAC, Vilnius and Kaunas Picture Gallery, Kaunas, Lithuania (both 2007), Galerie M+R Fricke, Berlin (2007/2008) and Artium, Vitoria Gastiez (2008).

Current commissions include the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, National Museum Wales in Cardiff and Tattershall Castle, a National Trust proerty in Lincolnshire. With forthcoming exhibitions at Workplace Gallery, Gateshead, Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown and the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.

She is represented by Workplace Gallery, Gateshead and M+R Fricke, Berlin.

Jon Garlick

Title: Untitled (Form), Dropped handkerchief mounted in found frame, 2009. [detail]

Jon Garlick was born in Leeds, 1985. On completing a Fine Art Foundation course at Leeds College of Art and Design in 2004, he studied BA Fine Art at Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design graduating in 2007. Exhibition's have included selection by the University of the Arts, London for 'Direction 2007' at the Lethaby Gallery, London and recent shows at Auto-Italia, London and The James Taylor Gallery, London. Jon Garlick continues to live and work in London.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Anna Maltz

Title: Brown Bread

Anna Maltz uses humour to explore identity and societal norms and her practice can be summarised through the belief that art is about having a good time while doing things that have very serious ideas behind it. Anna was born in London, earned a BA from the Middlesex University before moving to San Francisco to live for 5 years. While there, she extensively exhibited and earned an MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts. She now lives and works in London.

Adam Rompel

Title: Only Living Traditions Will Survive, 2009

Adam Rompel was born in Los Angeles and 'found' art on 24 September 1994, during the Bruce Nauman retrospective at MOCA. He went on to finish his studies at U.C. Berkeley, exhibit his content specific work in SF & LA, and open a project space called Lucky Tackle. Most recently, Adam completed his MA at Saint Martins and now spends his time immersing himself in English traditions through cultural references that were available to him in his youth. Although his work is based in a conceptual practice, his bio is plot driven, which is a prerequisite for being America.

James Johnson-Perkins

Title: untitled

Johnson-Perkins' artwork reflects a retrospective and nostalgic gaze at pop culture, exploring iconic imagery and play. Recently he has used materials and subject matter which have a resonance with adolescent experiences such as Lego, 80's computer graphics, 80's TV programmes and pop music.

He has exhibited in major art spaces in the USA, Russia, Japan, Germany, Spain, Romania, Lithuania and the UK. Including the The IMAC Theatre, New York, USA, National Centre for Contemporary Arts (NCCA), Moscow, Russia, Toyota Museum of Modern Art, Japan, Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Glasgow and The Royal College of Art, London.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Alec Finlay

Title: woven poem (handkerchief), 2008

Alec Finlay is an artist, poet & publisher. Born in Scotland and currently based in Newcastle, he has composed in many minimal forms, including the mesostic, circle poem and, here, the woven poem or monostich.

Matthew Cowan

Title: from the series 'Love Spray'

Matthew Cowan is a New Zealand born artist who has been working in the UK since 2003. His practice is in the realm of traditional British and European customs. His works are photographs, videos, installations and performances, which play with the inherent strangeness of the continued popularity of long established folk customs in a modern world. Recent shows have been in Newcastle upon Tyne, Poland and New York.
He is currently Artist in Residence at Cecil Sharp House, the headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

Erin O'Connor

Title: Spanish Coaster

Erin O'Connor makes small figurative paintings. She has a BA in Painting from Glasgow School of Art and an MA in Fine Art from Central St Martins College of Art and Design, and is currently living and working in London.

Hannah Maybank

Title: untitled

Born in 1974 Hannah Maybank graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1999. She has had recent solo exhibitions at The New Art Gallery, Walsall and The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle. In 2007 she was 'Artist in Residence' at ArtSway. Her paintings form part of a number of private and public collections, including the British Airways Art Collection and the New Art Gallery, Walsall. Having been a part of a number of group shows, both nationally and internationally, Maybank will be exhibiting at “The New Forest Pavilion” at the 53rd Venice Biennale. She will have her third solo exhibition at Gimpel Fils in November 2009.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Rachael Gorchov

Title: Bindle of Achievable Dreams, 2009, Mixed Media

Through compiling, altering and copying photographs lifted from advertising and mass media, Rachael Gorchov’s work brings these ubiquitous and disposable images to center stage in order to study how they represent American’s collective dreams and daily life.

Rachael attended Tyler School of Art, Temple University and Hunter College, CUNY. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently works and lives in New York City.

Michelle Bloom

Title: Mini Mari

Michelle Bloom is the performance artist otherwise known as Michelle Griffiths, who has exhibited both nationally and internationally. As a post-graduate of the Royal College of Art, she has taught at Wimbledon School of Art and the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University. Her performances over the last 12 years have been spectacles and re-enactments of spectacles. In these she has created tableaux and events that recall dreams and forgotten images in the viewer; of martyrs, legends and folk traditions, and spectacles that have not yet happened.

As a member of the EFDSS and participant in May Day folk events, she is embarking on research that maps the common ground between traditional folk practices and performance art and tests re-enactment as a low-fi method of documentation.

Hayley Lock

Title: John Thomas

Hayley Lock’s practice is based on reproduction and reconfiguration. Recent works have focused her interests towards hierarchical and fantastical subjects of monarchy and noble folk. The work derives from a cross - cultural mix of folklore, slang and imaginary alternative secret societies with its roots based alongside traditional European painting whilst appearing to mock the human desire for self-aggrandisement, questioning taste and how it is constructed socially. Lock’s practice has a tendency to be figurative within its subject of reworking old works, suggesting a darker side to the seductiveness of beauty whilst disrupting the real.

David McKeren

Title: untitled

David McKeren
studied at Southport College and Liverpool John Moores University 1996-1999. He has been exhibiting since 1992. He has had solo exhibitions in UK and group shows in UK and Europe. His work has been shown at art fairs in the UK, Europe and New York. He is represented by Philips Contemporary Art and his work is held in private collections in the UK, Europe and the USA.

Mami Fujita

Title: Something Blue

Mami Fujita was born in Japan and has studied at Randolph College, USA and Byam Shaw School of Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, UK. She has exhibited in group shows in the USA and the UK.

Paul Hearn/Lustrous Chemistry

Title: Foxhead

Paul Hearn is an artist, graphic designer and collagist who currently resides and works in Poole.
He has created his own website LustrousChemistry as an attempt to align the many facets of his sometimes disparate practice. He has an affinity towards music and has worked closely with musicians on a variety of projects. Paul also has a love of contradictions, paradoxes and double-entendres.

Michal Pashtan & Matthew Green

Title: Gain

Michal Pashtan was born in Canada, grew up in Israel, and has lived in Berlin and London. She is occupied with tracing or capturing a sense of belonging, whether searching for dreams, or home, or something unknown. Her work is as full of tension as it is serene and reflective.

Matthew Green is from London. He produces immersive works of installation and sculpture that hypothesize impossibly idealistic worlds, allowing them to glorify themselves before they self-destruct.

Cathy Lomax

Title: 'Tess', 2009, oil, canvas and thread on dyed hankerchief

Cathy Lomax is an artist, writer and curator. She runs Transition Gallery in east London and edits and publishes two art and culture magazines, Arty and Garageland. Lomax completed her MA in Fine Art at Central St Martins in 2003 and her recent exhibitions include The Image
Duplicator at Contemporary Art Projects, The Golden Record at Collective Gallery, Edinburgh and The Collection, Lincoln, Remember My Name, Sartorial, London, New London School at Mark Moore Gallery, LA, USA and Vignettes at Rosy Wilde, London.

David Owen

Title: SHOO!

David Owen is a graphic artist from Whitby with "a highly individual and somewhat unconventional worldview - A wierd slant towards pop art with a twist of carnival thrown in for good measure - a bastard son of Joseph Cornell and Peter Blake. He's handy with a scapel and an Apple Mac and can best be described as "cheerfully subversive".

Clare Qualmann

Title: untitled

Clare Qualmann is a London based artist whose work is concerned with the ordinary and unnoticed – looking for beauty in the everyday mundane. She works across a wide range of media ranging from drawing and sculpture to artists books and live art events. Repetition, domesticity, routine and the collecting and collating of words, images and artefacts provides the
starting point for much of her work. Qualmann also works as part of the collaborative practice 'walkwalkwalk: an archaeology of the familiar and forgotten', and is an associate lecturer at London Metropolitan University.

Michael Davies

Title: Border

Michael Davies is a member of the Byker Mummers and an artist based in North-east England. Central to his recent artistic production have been bricolage images of domestic banality and escapism. A recurring motif for the artist has been of flying ducks; here altered to suggest bullet wounds, shell bursts or flowers... which appear to resonate with the use of white handkerchiefs as both love tokens and signals of surrender.

Ele Carpenter

Title: SpiderWorkerKnitter

Ele Carpenter stitched this handkerchief at the Umea Folk Festival in Northern Sweden, February 2009.

On arriving in Sweden Nano Stern ( ) was intrigued to hear a children's song familiar to him from Chile. Nano sang his own version of the song, starting with the original character of the spider, but translating the work of the spider into the idea of a worker, and the spinning of thread into knitting. Weaving together the threads of webs, workers and making, Nano's passionate song struck a chord with the open source embroidery project ( ).

Billy Childish

Title: Brown Spotted Mouse

Billy Childish is an English artist, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist. He is a consistent advocate for amateurism and free emotional expression and was a co-founder of the Stuckism art group in 1999 which he left in 2001. Since then a new evaluation of Childish's standing in the art world has been underway, culminating with the publication of a critical study of Childish's working practice by the artist and writer Neal Brown, with an introduction by Peter Doig, which describes Childish as "one of the most outstanding, and often misunderstood, figures on the British art scene."

Pete McPartlan

Title: Some Irregularities

Pete McPartlan is an artist and experimental film maker working with generative music software, soldering iron, vhs tapes, a pen and scraps of paper. His drawings are about differences in meaning of composed(deliberate), improvised, random and arbitrary mark making.

Kathryn Johnson

Title: Goodbye England's Rose, 2009

Kathryn Johnson is an artist living and working in Newcastle, she works mainly with sculpture and installation, making realistic copies of undervalued or disregarded things. The resulting sculptural forms are made from the manipulation of a wide range of readily available materials sometimes encompassing found objects. Their staging is given a heightened sense of drama due to alterations of form, scale or unexpected placements.

David Foggo

David Foggo is a Newcastle-based artist who works in sculpture, installation, photography and text. David also writes haiku poetry, aphorisms and pun-based wordplay which also informs his practice. He graduated from his MFA at Newcastle University in 2007 and currently has a studio at the Waygood organisation in Newcastle.

John Stark

Caterina Lewis

Title: Country House, Acrylic on hanky

Caterina Lewis was born in London in 1977. She studied at Central Saint Martins, The University of Fine Arts in Budapest and was awarded a research scholarship in Oslo. She has exhibited in London, Oslo and Budapest and participated in performances during the exhibition Fluxus East in Berlin. She recently organised and curated the group exhibition Private Practice 1 & 2 in Budapest and London. She currently lives and works in London.

Graeme Walker

Title: remember remember

Graeme lives in Brighton where he makes things and makes things happen.

Claire Undy

Title: Empty Handkerchief

Claire Undy was born in Nottinghamshire in 1986, and moved to London in 2006 to study Fine Art: Painting at Wimbledon College of Art, and will graduate in June 2009. Most recently she has shown work in the Et Cetera Gallery, London; Deutsche Postbank, London; and as part of the Hans Brinker Budget Trophy 2008 in Amsterdam. She makes abstract paintings which are primarily concerned with the relationship between the painting and the viewer.

Lee Hunter

Title: Always Trying to Connect

Lee Hunter is a multi-media artist based in Berkeley, California.

Sarah Foque

Title: Hanky Love

Sarah Foqué is a Belgian artist/landscape architect based in the UK. Her practice focuses on the mapping and exploration of space and its boundaries. She uses tape or occasionally other media to visualize her understanding of the context she works in.

With this work the artist explores the different uses of hankies and translated it into a pattern, which she then printed onto the hanky. Although this work does no relate to space as Sarah's previous works, it still has the same aesthetics. The pattern on the hanky can be read like a map and tell its cultural story.

Gail Burton

Title: Over: Protestation Handkerchief

Gail Burton works with ephemeral materials, such as cigarette papers, tissues and paper napkins, to make drawings and paintings that emphasize the vulnerability of the artwork. Her work recurrently deploys a single word or short phrase – ‘psychic dregs’, fragments of news stories, government health warnings, and extracts of diaries (like bits of songs that got stuck in your head) co-exist and repeat. Rather than fade into the distance of historical detritus, these fragmentary moments are extricated and commemorated in her work.

Gail Burton is part of the collaborative live art project walkwalkwalk. Her drawings are documented on the blog

Serena Korda

Title: Killimangina

Artist Bio: Serena Korda, Born 1979, lives and works in London. Her work focuses on the retelling of forgotten histories. Through perfromance, print and film she works these stories back into the fabric of the everyday, telling them through the magic of the make shift and handmade. Recent exhibitions include, The Library of Secrets, Whitstable Biennale 2008; The Answer Lies at the End of the Line, Stanmore Underground station commissioned by Art on the Underground 2008.

Keara Stewart

Title: The last wave

Keara Stewart lives and works in London and graduated from Camberwell College of Arts in 2007 (BA Hons Drawing). Often making drawings from collected images and working with scavenged objects, her work explores memory, unknown narratives and forgotten places. Recent exhibitions include Pretty Vacant, Transition Gallery, London; Forget Me, Fort Brockhurst, Hampshire; That’s Entertainment, Transition @ Whitstable Biennale Satellite Projects; TAMTAM Festival, Leiden North, Netherlands (all 2008).

Helen Smith

Title: Handkerchief Girl 1972

Helen Smith is an artist and founder of Waygood, an artist led gallery & studios in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Her paintings depict girls and women, often in the guise of boys and men. They are a kind of diary that is a mixture of personal experiences, current news gleaned from her studio-radio and sheer fantasy.
Helen is happy to email photographs of her work and studio to anyone who get’s in touch.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Hyungji Park

Title: untitled

Hyungji Park is a Korean artist who lives and works in London.

"Doing drawing is like having a little break under the sunshine for me.

It is as if the moment allows you to enjoy the moment itself.

I grope around the moment by using simple and light gesture in my drawing."

Maurice Carlin

Title: 1,009,400 irregular quadrilaterals.

Maurice Carlin is an artist based in Manchester, UK. His current work is focused on found objects and stories, anomalies, and things that are difficult to value and place. As a foundation student in 2007, he co-founded Islington Mill Art Academy, a free alternative art school. The Academy exists to experiment with what an education in art can be, where it can take place and how it can be paid for.

Matt Stokes

Title: Dance Swine Dance

Matt Stokes is an artist and film-maker. He had a residency at Grizedale Arts in 2002 during which he researched the history of rave culture in the Lake District. In 2006 he won the Beck's Futures art prize for his film Long After Tonight. He has recently been working with 176 and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art to produce a new film 'the Gainsborough Packet'.

David Beech

Title: sshh...

In general, David Beech's work draws inspiration from the more sensual side of the 'human condition'. His work considers the juxtapositions and harmonies that conflict and contrast within our personalities. For example, this notion is applied in his work from the use of fabrics connected with domestic or industrial fixtures and fittings.

Marianne Shorten

Title: untitled

Marianne Shorten was born in Ireland in 1981. She studied Fine Art in the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, graduating in 2004. She recently graduated from the MA in Fine Art in Central Saint Martins. She has exhibited in Ireland, England, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Hungary and has been awarded bursaries from the Irish Arts Council, Culture Ireland and the Federal State of Lower Austria. She is based in London.

Pete Locke

Title: The greatness of a man's power.

Peter Locke is an Illustrator whose work is firmly routed in an enjoyment of mark making. His work often is the result of a quick response to a subject. The first idea is usually the best. When ideas are taken further they are usually developed through a processes of erasing and eliminating back to the bare bones of an idea. Not being afraid to rip it up and start again (or re use) but also embracing mistakes and the unexpected. Ideas of space and composition are ever-present and images are often constructed with this as a primary concern over more obvious decorative aesthetics.

Lawrence Abu-Hamdan

Title: Vaughan Williams’ filthy archive

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an Artist based in London, he studied at Middlesex University and is currently developing work at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. Abu Hamdan’s work is chiefly concerned with sound and its spatial practices, using a compilation of processes including performance, film, writing, cartography, illustration and even shoe making to achieve alternative readings of urbanity and the built environment. His praxis is characterized by the long term project Marches which has been in development since 2005, the project has been developed, performed and exhibited for multiple organizations including Transmission Gallery Glasgow, C-E-M Lisbon, Artangel interaction London, Resonance fm London and in Italy with Festival di Santarcangelo 2009.

John Lawrence

Title: Idea for Sculpture No. 8

John Lawrence is an artist living and working in London. He is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Art. His handkerchief is part of an ongoing series of unachievable sculptural ideas.

Rose Smith

Title: Item AC023: Handkerchief Vanisher, Demon Magic Catalogue

Rose Smith believes in the magic of everyday things, including paper cups and handkerchiefs. She likes discovering cast-offs and things she finds on the pavements, including pennies. Subverting objects' functions she makes coins that don't last, inhalers into periscopes, and ice cream makers into motorised kaleidoscopes. She likes light, red, plastic, sunglasses, drawing, 70’s technology, post-war make-do and mend, Midlands scrap yards and doing slightly bad things. Recent work includes a multiple commissioned by Liverpool Artists Book Fair 2008. She will be exhibiting in Paul Sakoilsky’s forthcoming Hastings show ‘May Day: The Dark Times’.

Sonya Lacey

Title of work: You do all the talking

Sonya Lacey’s recent work negotiates the difficult space between the subject and the social. Her work often considers communication as the interface between these two positions.

She is the co-founder of Newcall Gallery, and artist-run initiative in Auckland, New Zealand.

Maiko Kobayashi

Title: Take it away from me to forget you...

Maiko Kobayashi is creating projects where she is trying to give forms to invisible things such as 'Emotions' and 'Presence'. She is currently based in Toyko, Japan.