Summer interlude and a bit of Bergman

At time of writing we’ve just tidied away our remaining stock after our second session at a local makers’ market in the wonderfully historic Market Cross in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. We had so many interesting conversations and chances to liaise with local shoppers and art lovers and enjoyed chatting with passers by whilst sampling the wonderful Victoria sponge from the cafe there. We return to the market next month and for 2 days at the end of November when it will start feeling a bit seasonal. We have a range of small originals, limited run and unique prints, resin pendants and one off handmade velvet clutch bags using fabric printed with some of our favourite designs. We also stock a range of blank greetings cards and are developing some brand new items in the run up to Christmas. Some of these items have featured in our Etsy shop.

We’ve had a really busy Summer and the title of this blog alludes to this and the feeling that now is the time to reflect a little as the season turns.The blog borrows its title from Ingmar Bergman who was an expert at existential symbolism but for our purposes we just ask 5 minutes of your time to reflect a little on the Summer with us…its what he would have done as well.

One such existential point of departure (although we stop short of being political as this is not the place really…) we have to report that with thousands of other small businesses and traders Brexit has adversely affected our options to trade abroad (for now at least). Costs and customs regulations for sending items abroad have increased and become complicated by a bureaucratic jumble of red tape, that puts small traders and their customers off before the ink on the shopping list is even dry. Businesses that used to routinely trade with established continental trading partners have ceased doing so and its quite common for craftspeople and artists to now advertise the benefits of supporting local artisans, artists and crafts people rather than looking further afield, advising previous partners and customers abroad to support their local small traders as well. Suffolk and East Anglia is our home in this era and in some ways, the makers’ market we are a part of is a way to step into this ‘local’ domain and to engage with our community. Please support your local creatives and makers.

Another lively local scene full of energy, vibrancy and talent are the multitude of artists linked in with the ever resourceful Suffolk Open Studios collective, even when studios aren’t routinely open there are group shows around the county and this year alone we have exhibited at the Pond Gallery Snape, the 142 Gallery in Felixstowe and at time of writing at the Ferrini Gallery in Pakefield, Lowestoft. This has really opened our eyes to what’s on our doorstep, which after all lessens our collective carbon footstep and perhaps should be perceived as an opportunity to embrace local diversity. We’d love to ship items round the world as we have before but, instead we’d now like to drop them off in person with you. This has been one of this year’s themes. Perhaps now is time to let you know we have a 3 month exhibition at the Angle Gallery in Bury St Edmunds in the New Year, expect future updates about that one.

Our home county of Suffolk is such a beautiful county whether you are resident or passing through and local folklore, imagery and architecture continues to inspire. We’ve delved into the myriad history of religious imagery in local churches this year particularly fascinated by how Angels are represented and their juxtaposition with local St Edmund legend, pre reformation fragments are spread throughout Suffolk and give us glimpses of a strata of life and belief in Medieval Suffolk whether it be religious or sociological. The local church St Mary’s, in Bury St Edmunds has a long and diverse history and only survived the dissolution of the Abbey by an ‘exchange of ownership’ from elite monastical to universal public , a sort of ecclesiastical precursor to the much more wide ranging French Revolution on a very local level! We’ve enjoyed liaising with St Mary’s this year and they now have a range of our cards on sale in their bookshop which are directly inspired by the Angels which hold their roof up… inspiration to completed Artistic response doesn’t get closer than that! These cards are also stocked by Denny Brothers in town and we thank them too for their continued support.

This year continues to be about where we are and being here, maybe Ingmar Bergman would have approved as we transcend into mellow fruitfulness, whatever happens we embrace it wholeheartedly if it means we get to meet more of you. As creatives its always a pleasure to see and thank people personally for supporting us and liking what we do. Thank you again and cheers Mr Bergman!

Gabriel goes home

In 2020, confronted and confounded by a unique set of circumstances in our lifetime, we found ourselves like everyone else locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Just prior to that we had visited St Mary’s church in Bury St Edmunds during a moment of sorrow regarding an imminent bereavement. We went in search of peace and were staggered by the 22 life-sized carved oak angels that had been looking down for 600 years at us all, with knowing looks from the roof above which they had supported for all that time. They have seen and endured so much and somehow their perseverance gave us a bit of hope that day.

As we went into the first Lockdown, we set out to collaboratively draw 3 of the angels; the King and the Queen and then a life size Gabriel on an 8ft x 5ft piece of watercolour paper. He is the largest collaborative work we have ever done.

We had always intended to take Gabriel back to where he came from and today we did. We were delighted to meet so many of the congregation and to answer a wealth of interesting questions, as we all stood around him laid out looking directly up to his original counterpart. We thank them all for their very warm welcome and kind interest. At time of writing there is a very real chance that he will be displayed one day in the church which has its place in history as “the peoples church”. Integral to the original Abbey, it survived the dissolution specifically because it belonged to the people rather than the Abbot and our image of Gabriel is of the people too.

We are delighted to announce that new card designs will soon be available to purchase in the shop in St Mary’s and the Giclee print of Gabriel is available again in our shop on this web page with a percentage of any sale going to St Mary’s to help with the upkeep of the Angels in hope and expectation that they will look down on future generations. We will update you all soon on further news of Gabriel’s journey home.

A new vision

For a long time now we’ve been looking for opportunities to expand our Artistic vision into areas beyond even what we as collaborative creators thought was possible. As an Artist you create the original by drawing upon a myriad of stimuli and lived experiences and methodology, however the ongoing process doesn’t necessarily end there. We found Prinfab online, there will be many other versions but we like their digital tools and soon discovered that some of our originals could convert seamlessly into prints onto fabric. People who saw the original prototypes were moved by what they saw and we never forgot that, for a while we just played with the tools and enjoyed the fabric ….until now.

Lorna has been making some of the designs into bags which are beautiful bespoke works of Art in themselves, each one evolving the source original into a new form unique to its creative journey. Stephen utilises the digital tools to further the original image to this end particularly the potential to invert and mirror designs onto the fabric used for the article.

And so we arrive at the items we are delighted to share with you, unique Art works in themselves that have evolved from a unique collaborative process. At the moment, to wear an Art Gallery you will have to visit TheKirinsArtShop over at Etsy, but from next month we will also be making them available in person at small local makers’ markets starting with The Market Cross in Bury St Edmunds on the 14th of August.

We thank you all for coming on this creative journey with us.

Cyanotype collaborations

‘Sleeping Furies‘ collaborative Cyanotype

We’ve been immersed in the brilliant alchemy of the Cyanotype, a chance to explore new conjunctions of our images both old and new together or separated from any original context. We’ve loved the results so far and wanted to share some of these new images with readers here.

The first thing to consider is change in scale and the effect that has , immediately these Cyanotypes gain intimacy during a process that’s one or two steps removed from the original intensity of creation. The next thing to consider is change in context when sequenced with another images or filtered through a different colour spectrum. The Cyanotype has its own context, amidst these considerations the process has refreshing possibilities that become gripping as the final image is revealed.

We’ll share the ones we’re most excited about onto TheKirinsArtShop over on Etsy and anyone local to Bury St Edmunds can see them in the flesh at the indoor makers’ market at the Market Cross in August.

Suffolk Open Studios 2022

Its been a little while since our last Blog post, not because of inactivity so much but a lot more because of a lot of activity!..By way of introducing where we find ourselves today we both thought no better place than Last year’s event was coloured by the Pandemic but nevertheless we managed a safe and successful series of consecutive studio openings over several Weekends. It was a ‘no brainer’ to join with the event again this year.

We’ve taken great pleasure in showing work never seen before in public including our first collaborations on canvas and new multi-media pieces combining watercolour and print techniques. We also have new resin pendants on display for the first time alongside individually created paintings and sculpture that compliment our collaborative story. Holdcroft Handmade knits are making a special guest appearance with us this year, with a range of chunky scarves, hats, headbands and handwoven wall hanging. For more information, please visit Holdcroft Handmade Etsy shop.

It’s been tiring but very rewarding turning a workspace into a display space, for us there is even a slight nostalgia about a similar process all those years ago at Art school when end of year shows were curated but that’s along time ago! The result for Suffolk Open Studio 2022 is a comprehensive overview of what we have been doing recently presented in a beautiful woodland setting, we sincerely hope a few of you can come and see our work. If you do come to our beautiful corner of West Suffolk, its sensible to book a visiting slot here, as we are rural, guaranteeing a parking space completes a visit. This year for the first time for part of the event we have a work experience student on placement with us who we hope and expect will leave with a well rounded experience of how an Artists’ studio works and the constituent parts of our practice.

We hope to see some of you over the next two weekends in what we hope will be sunny Suffolk X

Bird Life Spring 2021

Spring 2021 after a long drawn out sort of Winter. Incrementally light and warmth make their presence felt and with them come colour and activity, the birds are busy. As the eye catches impressions of blues, reds and yellows at speed something resonates with us… maybe we should be a bit quicker in our movements and show a bit of colour ourselves? Another response is to let some of this activity inform our Art; narrate parts of the unfolding story visually, hold and cherish little parts of nature waking up for just a bit longer. We’ve cleared the stage for some of our visitors in these collaborative pieces to speak themselves as the days get longer.

Our shop windows

Study for Winter Sycamore, January 2021

In this Winter double Lockdown of weather and worse, more and more we have found ourselves prone to bouts of what could be called ‘the restless pen or brush’. Times when sketches and studies flow like series of glimpses filling our lines of vision. Working fast, exploring ideas in notepads and sketchbooks, a series of lines, textures and methods mixed with chance encounters; sometimes unrealised avenues of expression, hinting explosively and occasionally at futures or bigger directions. These studies that still flow are pristine moments caught in time. They are so essential to what we do. This blog entry is another glimpse after all, towards whatever may come as the days grow longer. We are delighted if one of these studies draws the eye.

With this in mind we have opened an Etsy shop, simply as an outlet for these small works; often brief, small in size and left unframed and unmounted. It is a joy to match a glimpse with another eye here from time to time. We will also add print runs to this site.

We will continue to maintain our own shop here on our website. This is reserved simply for cards, prints and calendars (which we produce at the end of the year).

Galleries are hugely important to us and we exclusively deal with Bell Fine Art and London Contemporary Art for substantive realised paintings.

‘Layers Unlocked, Bury St Edmunds 2020’

We particularly wanted to work on a piece that matched the dates of the second lockdown in England exactly. The restrictions imposed have focused us all, as a nation on what is on our doorstep and we decided to settle on the market in our town of Bury St Edmunds as a very pertinent subject for collaboration. Glimpsing our market Square just prior to these latest restrictions, we imagined the layers of history unfolding before us; as if unlocked again as we became locked.

We have explored layered urban environments in London before but in Lockdown the aperture of vision came closer to home and Bury St Edmunds our local market town has become our focus. Different era’s and drama’s, building frontages and products on sale shift in and out of focus on the same plot of land and become a story in themselves that we wanted to explore with the silence of the Pandemic as context but very much continuity being the story.

We accessed archived images of Cornhill and the Buttermarket from the late Victorian period to present day and together with our sketches, we began to overlay the composition with the characters who have walked our streets and the business facades that have framed one of the centre points of our town. Moyses Hall, the astounding building in the far left hand corner of the square has been the corner stone for 900 years. It has stood for centuries, bearing witness to plague, upheaval and change, as well as trade, celebration and commemoration. We have had a market in Bury since James I granted permission for it to be held twice a week in the 1600s and it is a back bone to Bury St Edmunds.

Once the layering began, we soon realised the importance of leaving some areas clear, both to evoke a sense of social distancing that we are abiding by these days, but also to punctuate the painting with pauses which is so essential with an intricate painting. We have aimed to suggest strong rhythms throughout these spaces; connecting the past and present, crowding and isolation and our individual approach to the collaborative process.

As with most of our work, we enjoy twists and surprises and here the buildings and market stalls began to suggest larger figures…. even St Edmund makes an appearance!

‘Layers Unlocked, Bury St Edmunds 2020’
Watercolour, ink and pencil on St Cuthberts Mill Bockingford rough paper 76 x 56cm

Lockdown deja vu – 8th November 2020

A subject we return to is the urban environment and its layers. Occasionally, substantive reference points persist over time, but even immense structures eventually fall into disrepair and decay and inevitably memory, at this point memory becomes as much of a reference point as anything that persists. We’ve explored this concept by the Thames before, through briefly glimpsed wisps of people floating between old and new layers in ‘Bridge’ 2017. We returned to layered history once again in ‘Limehouse, One Dock Two Views’ 2019.

Now that a new Lockdown influences our daily movements our aperture of view has shifted subtly to our local town, Bury St Edmunds and it’s market. In existence for at least 1000 years, the essential medieval grid of the town and how it related to the Abbey has persisted. The huge Abbey is long gone, though amorphous architectural ruins strewn across the public gardens remain. The Buttermarket and it’s two weekly markets has changed over the years, but remains lively, though Lockdown has changed the movement of people. The reference points remain, the ancient grid now overlayed with a strict 2 metre rule to ensure social distancing. The Moyses Hall stands sentry over 900 years of layers and textures that have changed, adapted and renewed with the town’s remarkable history. This opens the market to a collaborative piece that gives us an opportunity to spotlight both the temporary nature of people in their environments and the persistence of people and activity among their reference points.

This will be a new subject for Lorna who has lived and grown very accustomed to the town over the last 5 years and Stephen’s paintings from 1997 already represent a layer glimpsed in the past that he’s keen to revisit.

SOLD ‘Market 1’ Stephen Kirin 1997 watercolour
SOLD ‘Market 2’ Stephen Kirin 1997 watercolour

We look forward to updating you with progress.