Posted in inspiration

Are you with me now?


Broughton Street with fluffy cloudsby Cassandra Harrison

Listening to Cate Le Bon (and hey here’s a link for you should you care to hear and see Are You With Me Now?) somehow makes me want to swim around in my memories a bit and think over the past 12 months.  Not that the first of a new year had anything to do with this feeling. Or the fact that I am three days into my personal new year of being.  Or the fact that in the last year major changes have turned me onto new, unimaginable paths.  I found me a nice fella (the previous year).  We had ourselves a pretty baby.  And now we live in a new town in a house that is older than the country of my birth.  And so.  How can you not sit back, drink a cup of tea and think ‘Bloody hell, my life sure isn’t boring.’

I’m currently in the happy place of being on maternity leave.  Did you know freelance creative types could do this?  Neither did I, but it’s somewhat enforced as I don’t want to be fretting about work whilst Lottie is learning to grab stuff (like my hair!), teething or giving out the biggest, bestest smiles that would melt the coldest of hearts.  But in a few months, the reality of being a working artist will rear its pleasant but alarming head and I need to ‘hit the ground running.’  I don’t know how that is going to happen as Lottie seems to have a sixth sense.  Food is put before me.  She cries and needs attention.  The gentle whirring sound of my computer turning on…she wakes up from a deep sleep.  Hm.

My plan (a very lose one, not even written in pencil it’s so lose) is to get Lottie a playpen for my studio.  I’ll  need to eventually sort out her naps so that I can work during her quiet hours.  I would rather not give up my sleep at night; I’m a horrible person when I’m tired.

My projects need to be ready to tackle in small chunks of time which means a bit of planning to have my materials and space ready for those minutes that are free.  Now I seem to spend any spare minute tidying as I wonder what to do with the spontaneous bit of freedom that just happened.  I’d like to tackle one more artwork for Stockbridge, this time to include people, like the ones I did for Broughton Street.  There is also Berwick upon Tweed and some interesting views I’d like to recreate in my style.

And hark.  What is this I hear?  Lottie needing me.  I don’t mind.  In fact, I love it quite a lot.


Posted in galleries and shops, Hula, Leith Late, process, Urban Outfitters Exhibition

Madness is doing the same thing over and over and over and over

The Christmas market run. Oh, what fun it is to see it from the purchasers point of view and not from the POV as person freezing their buns off on the other side of the table. My first venture into Christmas Marketstall Holding happened 8 years ago, that effing cold fateful winter in London at Greenwich Market. There wasn’t room enough in the inside, so a bunch of us were set out into the cold wilderness, standing on cardboard because that’s what you do to avoid frozen toes and unhappy feet. On that day, I sold one knicker bag. (This was back in the day when I was peddling various bags for knickers, shoes, swimsuits).

From that year until the Christmas of 2010, I spent my December running from one Christmas market to the next. I would spend a frantic Night Before Market preparing my products with irons and taggings. The set design needed assembling, hence, tables, chairs, hat racks and whatever household item could lend itself to be used as prop was taken from its home and added to the ever growing pile of things to be used at the market. The day of the market meant sitting and smiling for hours, wondering if the person standing infront of me wanted to be engaged in coversation or not. It was not always easy to judge. Sometimes Possible would be interested in the ‘this is how I make my stuff’ spiel, whilst others would quickly retreat. There was that awful time I had flyers made up to hand out to strangers. I’d stretch out my cold, shaking hand with flyer attached and the passers by would recoil, as if I were trying to hand them a disease.

And so. Last year I decided to end my relationship with being a stallholder at any Christmas market. I did make the necessary money to earn my table, but for all of its stress, it just wasn’t worth it to me. I now go to those things and enjoy the wander around and the chat with the makers. Those markets can be a tough gig and I applaud each and every maker and creative using this method to introduce their wares to the world and to make some much needed, much deserved, hard earned cash.

As I’ve been relaxing from my whirl around town, reading the Wrap magazine purchased by my boyf and myself, I have been thinking about other things I will not be doing once January slips into my present.

Here is my short list:

1. I will no longer be using Gocco as my only means of printmaking. I tell myself this every year due to the fact that the supplies are becoming increasingly more difficult to come by as well as more expensive. I find the Gocco print restrictions on the size of my images could also be putting a restriction on my creative process.

2. Over the past year, I have booked venues to display my artwork before even creating the work. Although I feel that I am somewhat organised and flexible enough in my work schedule to deal with this, I find that the deadline rushes up so quickly that my last works suffer due to rushing the work through. Not ideal. And a mistake I don’t tend to repeat if I can help it. I feel that having had these many pop ups over the last 12 months (I Heart Cafe on Leith Walk, Urban Outfitters on Princes Street, Hula Juice Bar and Golden Hare Bookshop, both on Victoria Street/West Bow) has seen my work change. New ways of working with fabric and colour and collaboration with other artists (okay, one other artist, and of course we know who that is) has helped to develop my work. With that said, I think that I need to approach the new body of work in a more relaxed way. Not so much rushing, but more thinking, experimenting, and the nerve to ditch an idea if it isn’t actually working out. (Sorry Space Embassy, but we know I’m talking about you).

3. Not talking enough with the gallery owners that currently sell my work. I need to develop a closer relationship with the two galleries. I think my relationship with the boutiques is healthy and I do keep in good communication with them. It’s now time to give the galleries the same attention and see what we can make happen there.

Posted in galleries and shops, golden hare pop up, news

Put a badge on it (and other ventures)

For those of you who haven’t been introduced to the bizarre world of Portlandia, please indulge in this little clip: Put a Bird On It.  Go on.  You know you want to.  It will only take one minute and 42 seconds of your time and I promise you with my whole heart that you will thank me for it.


Last weekend, Jimmy and I put up our wee little exhibition at the Golden Hare bookshop in the Grassmarket.  We deliberated over the name and came up with the gem that is ‘New Wave Deco, ‘ which is an exploration of art deco architecture found in Edinburgh.  Buildings like Dominion Cinema, the Lothian House doors and the derelict Odeon were represented in bright, new wave colours created over backdrops of super stellar interplanetary ‘shizzle.’  The show piece was created by both Jimmy and myself.  It was an experiment of using my fabric techniques with his mixed media patterning and…badges!  The badges are mini artworks of the originals.  And hey, hey, lucky you!  You can have a mini artwork of your very own should you happen to wander through the doors of the Golden Hare.  Badges are £1.50.  Bargain!  Hello stocking stuffer and hello happy recipient.


Now.  About the badges.  I now need to introduce you to Tex and Bonnet, which can be found by following the yellow brick road to this link.  This is currently our holding page but hold on to your hats, kids, there’s going to be a whole lot of developments with this new venture as the months roll out.  We’ve been planning plans and scheming schemes.

As for me and my varied life as artist and teacher, I’ve been busy working in two local schools.  My day began with orchestrating the putting together of a dramatic Winterwonderland display.  One 4 metre stretch had a set design of 8 foot trees (white painted mdf) in the foreground and houses in the background.  The other space, stretching across 4 metres, is a set design of icebergs peopled by penguins.  The art departments have been busy creating 3D penguins galore, stars o plenty, background houses and 3D snowflakes.  As the children and teachers were discovering the set up, there seemed to be an overall feeling of ‘oh, penguins!  Cool!’ and ‘Man.  Those trees are huge.’  Hopefully a happy festive spirit has been properly injected into that space.

This afternoon I was at the primary school teaching young minds about the amazing qualities of salt on watercolour paint.  We were learning all sorts of fun techniques for watercolour painting.  These will be used next week when we revisit the Urban Sketching sketches they worked so hard to create.  With a little wax resist here and paper towel effect sky there, I should think their paintings are going to shine.

What a week.  And tomorrow…the commission of Royal Circus.

Posted in galleries and shops, golden hare pop up, process

Such a tease

The DC, EH10 <detail> by Jimmy Steel

Art Deco Villa, Costorphine Hill <detail> by Jimmy Steel


Her Former Glory <detail> by Cassandra Harrison


Drawing and print for Embassy by Cassandra Harrison

The above works are pieces to be displayed at the upcoming pop up at the Golden Hare, Victoria Street, Edinburgh. Jimmy has been creating vibrant, cosmic pieces and me, well, mine are very much still works in progress.
We have been planning this show for the past couple of months. Some discussions have been made whilst walking the studio mascots, Josey and Seal. Some discussions have been made whilst eating dinner or watching telly. At one point the floor was covered in frames and scraps of paper, with ideas, titles, artwork sizes and colours jotted down to try to keep it straight what each of us was to contribute to the exhibit.
There will be originals. There will be prints of originals. There will even be one piece that will be a collaboration. I’m rather excited about the latter as I think it will be such a lot of fun to make – a slight departure from what either of us are currently making. But it’s good to press yourself to try new things, develop as a person and see what new artistic expressions can be made along the way.
Exhibition opening night is December 1st, 7pm to 9pm. There will be drinks. And good music. And maybe even a little ‘Thanks for popping along to see us’ gift for those that rock up.

Posted in inspiration, process

Making your work pay

On Friday I attended a workshop for artists and craftmakers.  This workshop was about finding ways to make your work pay.  Essentially.  Yes.  That was the gist of it and I am very thankful that this event existed and that there are things like this and groups and organisations out there with the goal of assisting artists at various stages of their careers.  Apparently, I am an ’emerging artist’ which makes me feel like I am slowly releasing myself from an egg; me and my unique-to-me batch of talents breaking out into the world.  Cheep cheep notice me tweets.

So.  It was all very good and we learned important things like the obvious:  If you don’t value yourself and your work, no one else will.  We did an exercise for finding the basic costs of creating a work and what was needed to not just break even but to *gasp* earn a living through your work.  Why do we as artists and makers feel so bad when we price our work according to what it and our time is worth?  The next time I put a price tag on my work, a price that is fair and  reflects the cost of materials and the cost of my time (as well as the expense of framing), I will not display it apologetically.  I value myself.  I value what I do.  And I swear to God I’m not ripping you off.

So really, it’s value for money.  Think of all the many hours you will enjoy this work.  Think of the thought, the time, the materials and the love that has gone into this.

A good lesson learned.

Part of the workshop also dealt with how to approach galleries, which I feel fairly confident about doing by this stage of the game.  Do your research.  Obviously.  Scope it out and make sure your’re a good fit for it and it for you.  Obviously.  Know the name of the person that runs the thing. Yes.  Yes.  All good advice and chalk full of common sense.

There was a spiel about networking that I backed away from.  Networking is necessary for my type of work and it is a valuable lesson to learn that making connections is vital.  What I don’t like is engineering a situation that feels false and is driven by the thought ‘what can this person do for ME?’  False and insincere:  this is NOT how I roll.  I prefer my connections to be organic, friendly, if there is anything I can do to help you then great and hey, if we both get something out of this then isn’t that a bonus.

I am pleased that I attended this chat, this discussion, this thing where there were about 30 of us asking questions and having them answered.  There is much to think about now.  Unfortunately, my brain felt it was vital to think on it last night and didn’t seem to shut off until 4am.  Let’s see if we can put that thinking time into more useful hours, like, on a Sunday afternoon at a cafe with something nice and hot sitting across from me – like a hot chocolate with marshmallows.