vesselcollective

Archive for the ‘Submission’ Category

39 David Litchfield

In 99 Cent Dream, Submission on September 11, 2011 at 10:35 am

Bedford is a small(ish) town in the East of England. It’s about an hour away from London by train and is famous for being the birthplace of John Bunyan and Ronnie Barker and for once having a factory that made Toblerone chocolate bars.

It is one of those places that when you are growing up you can’t wait to leave (as Ronnie did!).

Most of the towns artists, musicians, filmmakers or anyone who does anything interesting soon move to London, or nearby Cambridge or anywhere else but here really.

Or, at least that’s how it used to be.

Recently there has been a change of attitude in my hometown. The artists and musicians have started to stick around or return to the town. They have also started to be proud of what they do and not hide their talents through fear of being mocked and beaten up by the infamous ‘Bedford Chavs’ (God bless ‘em!). This may have something to do with the fact that people can’t afford to move to London at the moment, or that people are feeling less inclined to move away from home for University, or it might have something to with the people of Bedford becoming bored of living in a boring town and deciding to do something about it.

My first ‘Drawing A Day’ exhibition was set up by a group called ‘We Are Bedford’ (essentially two very lovely Bedfordian’s called Kayte Judge and Erica Roffe). With funding from the RSA and support from Bedford Borough Council ‘We Are Bedford’ was set up earlier this year to promote and help showcase the art, music and culture the town of Bedford produces.

Their first event was an astoundingly successful two-day festival that took over the many empty shops in Bedford and turned them into art galleries, gig venues, stand up comedy stages and (erm…) shops selling home grown produce and goods!

Thousands of people attended and Bedford suddenly felt really good about itself. ‘We Are Bedford’ has since gone on to host a successful ‘Busking Festival’ in the town. It has also influenced such things as a ‘Book Festival’ and a new art led newspaper ‘The Bedford Clanger’.

Bedford is on a massive creative high at the moment, fuelled by ‘We Are Bedford’ as well as the amazing work achieved by the ‘Bedford Creative Arts’ and ‘Creative Bedfordshire’, and this was one of the reasons I wanted to host my exhibition here.

When Kayte and Erica first started talking to me about the exhibition I was about 1 month away from completing the year-long ‘Drawing A Day’ project. The fundamental reason for undertaking the project was to practice and develop as an illustrator and I really did not dream that I would ever exhibit them to the public (or that too many people would want to see them!).

A few people had mentioned that I could exhibit the drawings early on in the project but the first seeds that this may be a good idea was when Matt Witt mentioned the idea in the feature he wrote on the project in Creaturemag:

“We are impressed by David’s commitment to his creative development and with the consistent quality and talent displayed in each drawing. It’s also really great to observe his different techniques, to see how they are merging and developing into a distinct Litchfield style. We hope he has a show at the end of it, the walls plastered with 365 pieces of intriguing creative output.”

Kayte and Erica are very good at working fast and within a few weeks they had managed to bag a space (another empty shop in the newly fashionable and ‘up-and-coming’ Castle Quay development), get some promotion in the local press and on BBC radio. They also arranged merchandise (magnets and postcards, so very, very cool) and were bolshie enough to get the Wells and Young’s brewery to give us drinks for our private view night. They also blagged some free cakes from the amazing Bedford cake shop ‘Fancy’ and the loan of some really rather cool vintage chairs from the furniture shop ‘Cool Haus’.

Other local establishments such as The Riverside Grill Restaurant and Angelo’s café offered their support, as did Bonfire Design who did an amazing job with the marketing material and merchandise.

It was incredibly satisfying to see all of the local organisations willing to come together to help support something like this.

We plastered the town with posters and gave a ton of flyers to a lot of slightly bemused but on the whole intrigued town centre pedestrians. Word soon spread around town (so much so that even my postman wished me luck with the exhibition!).

Kayte received the keys to the empty shop 10 days before the private view opening on August 12th. You might think that this was more than enough time to set up an art exhibition, but the thing that was giving me and everyone else sleepless nights was the thought of framing and hanging 365 drawings (as well as continuing with our normal lives and jobs). The fact that I didn’t yet have all of the 365 frames was also something that was also quite daunting.

But then the good people of Bedford came through.

I started putting notices up on Facebook and Twitter for people to donate their frames to the exhibition. The Bedfordshire On Sunday also featured an article calling for frames.

A week before the show the Times and Citizen did a massive feature on the exhibition that bought more frames to my door.

Individual people gave me their old and new frames and companies such as The Art Centre shop and Emmaus Project were very generous in stocking me up with frames.

Word started to spread and in the end we actually had too many frames and I gave the spares to a charity shop.

Framing the pictures was actually really fun. We didn’t have time to be too picky and choose which frame matched which drawing, but each image seems to work. My incredibly supportive and marvellous wife Katie took time off work to help me with this (and about a million other aspects of the exhibition), as did my very lovely band-mate and friend Rebecca De Winter.

Others also helped with the framing, my mum, my in-laws, Charlotte, Kezia, Steve and Jimmy Judge and others.

It felt really good working as a team to put up this exhibition and I was very grateful that they all felt positive enough about the exhibition to donate their time in such a way.

Whilst this was happening I also fitted in the ‘Window Drawing A Day’ mini-project.

For 5 days I painted a new image a day on the windows of the gallery space. This was something I had never done before and I really enjoyed working on a larger scale than what I was used to.

Also using Liquid Chalk was horrible, but again, the overall project was about trying out new techniques and materials so it felt be-fitting of the overall exhibition.

The Window Drawings also helped to gather more intrigue for the show from the many people who walked by whilst I was completing them.

I hung the pictures myself. I had a sudden spurt of energy one morning and got 11 months worth of framed images nailed to the wall in one day.

It’s probably worth noting that this all happened on the week that London, Birmingham, Manchester and other towns exploded in violence and mass-looting. It was a really scary week and one were no one really knew what was going on or what was going to happen.

The rumour was that nearby Luton and then Bedford was going to also break out in violence and somewhat selfishly (and probably stupidly) I was worried about the little empty shop I was filling for a few days! Of course nothing did happen in Bedford.

Anyway, after 10 days of setting up, marketing the event, sending e-mails and generally shouting as loud as I could about what was happening, the time for the Private View (7pm, Friday, August 12th) came about.

It suddenly hit me that maybe no one would come at all throughout the whole weekend and all this hard work was for nothing (in that I mean the setting up of the gallery space and the exhibition. I will always feel proud and fulfilled by the year’s worth of drawing that preceded this event).

But on the night I was absolutely overwhelmed. The place was packed. People came from all over Bedfordshire, London, Norwich and other places to see the show. We had only officially invited a few people but they had invited their friends.

My friends and family were there as well as new people who have quickly become friends. I also met people who I had only ever spoken to on-line through Facebook and Twitter.

On the night we had local bands Dynaphone Records and Rebecca De Winter and her band (minus me) busking outside. The spirits were high and I was absolutely buzzing. As the light faded people had to look at the drawings by candle light or by lighting the picture up with the glare of their mobile phone.

It really was one of the best nights of my life and one week on I’m still baffled, humbled and unbelievably happy about how that night turned out.

The following two days were equally as heart-warming. A steady flow of people visited the show throughout the Saturday and Sunday and again I had lots of people asking me questions about my work and the drawings. People wanted to see which drawing fell on their birthday, they asked me what inspired me to draw certain pictures, why I started the project, whether a drawing represented the mood I was in on the day I drew it, how long each drawing took, what materials I used. Everyone had so many questions and I was absolutely more than happy to answer. Kids came in to show me their drawings and so many people told me that they were going to start their own ‘Drawing A Day’ project.

I got so many positive comments, great feedback and met so many lovely people over that weekend. And then, just like that, it was Sunday night and it was time for the exhibition to come down…

Taking each image off the wall and placing it in a storage box was actually a little bit emotional for me. It was sad and I wished it could last for longer but I also felt that this was only the beginning.

As I write this I realise that I’m starting to sound a bit dramatic and I don’t want to show off too much, but I am super proud of what I achieved with the ‘Drawing A Day’ project and what I achieved with ‘We Are Bedford’ the helpers, the frame donators and the people who attended the exhibition.

As I put those framed drawings into their storage boxes I couldn’t help but smile about what was a truly amazing weekend and a truly fulfilling experience. I have never felt more passionately about what I do and more excited by what I hope to achieve in the future.

THE END.

Photos by: Katie Litchfield, Andrew Foster, David Litchfield

*David is a contributor to Vessel’s Say Anything song illustration project. He has polished off a fantastic interpretation of the song “Do Better”. Updates on the illustrations and how you can see them will be posted as they develop. You can read more from David here.

38 Ciera Fedock

In 99 Cent Dream, Submission on August 11, 2011 at 10:29 am




37 James DeFord

In 99 Cent Dream, Submission on August 11, 2011 at 10:01 am

I think I had my last 99 cent dream a long time ago. I met Shawn my sophomore year of high school, and we became best friends pretty quickly. We had the same sense of humor, liked the same music. When you’re 15, it doesn’t need to be a lot more complicated than that.

Shawn’s sister was a lot older than us. She had two daughters from a marriage that hadn’t worked out. Their dad didn’t come around anymore. They were great kids, quick and bright and happy, and their mom was doing her best to give them a good life, but it’s hard when you’re raising two kids alone without much of a job or an education. We used to hang out at her house sometimes, watch TV with the girls. After they went to bed, Shawn’s sister would drink a beer and talk about how she didn’t know what she was going to do. Between her job and food stamps, she brought in enough to feed everybody and pay the rent but not much beyond that. Her mom was a source of free day care, but was in no position to help financially. It’s not that she was unhappy, exactly; she just loved her daughters and wanted to give them a better life than she had. And she didn’t know how she was ever going to be able to make that happen. To give them anything other than the barest necessities.

Of course we felt bad. But what could we do? We were 15. We had no money to speak of, none that wasn’t given to us by someone else. And we both thought we’d be far from there in a few years, living the lives we always imagined belonged to us. Significant lives, grown-up lives. So Shawn and I took to stealing things. Never very much, mostly little treats: candy, magazines. Sometimes some cute school supplies, pink pens or folders with Powerpuff Girls on them. We particularly liked stealing Kool-Aid.

Kool-Aid packets are small, easy to hide. They’re cheap, so it feels easy to steal them, like it doesn’t matter as much. And they’re something that a mother on food stamps was never going to spend money on. Still, a lot of the time we had to smoke before we could do it. To make ourselves less nervous, to make ourselves care less. We’d bring the packets back and slip them to Shawn’s sister, all rolled up from our pockets. Or sometimes we’d mix it ourselves in a pitcher, leave it in the fridge for when the girls got home.

The looks on their faces was worth it. Kool-Aid’s fucking sugar water, of course. It’s citric acid and factory flavors; it’s nothing. That was their 99 cent dream. Some Kool-Aid when they got home, some pencils with Buttercup on them. Their dream was dirt cheap, but still too expensive for anybody around to actually spend money on. Such a small thing.

We didn’t have to steal, of course, is the funny part. I could have bought them. Any number of our friends could have chipped in, if we’d said anything. But I think that was mine: striking out, refusing (in some small, dumb way) to accept a world that gave such difficult lives to kids that did nothing to deserve it. Seeing that the game is fixed and deciding to cheat. Fuck your lemons and your lemonade. Sometimes the most just response to an unfair situation is to act unfairly. I was a kid too, and that was my 99 cent dream.

-James DeFord, Tampa

36 Krissy Mayhew

In 99 Cent Dream, Submission on July 22, 2011 at 11:31 am

I first came across a 99¢ Dreams store when I took my somewhat impulsive day trip to New York last October. I only had five hours to capture the city, so I didn’t pay much notice to the stores around me. It was only by chance that I glanced down a street and caught a glimpse of those illuminated letters lighting up the corner. I remember getting a kick out of the store name but not being able to pin point the exact reason why. Looking back, I assume it was the sarcastic nature of the sign and how it seemed to taunt anyone who took a second to glance its way. I mean, really, what exactly makes a 99¢ dream? Something that is found at such a low price may have the chance to hold a sentimental value, but it is cheaply made and will soon break, rust, or simply become lost as you acquire other items of value throughout life. Such a sharp contrast to what one would consider a definition for a dream. To put it simply, I view a 99¢ dream as a cheap dream that will fade in and out throughout life. It’s a dream that will never be achieved. Such a cheap dream will only exist to be looked at fondly; it will be remembered when life slows down and gives us time to escape into our own minds where we can take pleasure in imagining the long awaited outcome of achieving these cheap dreams that we hold so close to our hearts.

Image:
Cheap Dreams
Acrylic on Canvas

-Krissy Mayhew

35 Gina Moccio

In 99 Cent Dream, Submission on July 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

99 cent dream.

Move to New York to try and shape yourself into something and find that there is no such thing as a break. There is no cushion. This is like staring at the ocean and trying to pick a spot to fish in. Where first? But what if you’re missing out on a spot somewhere else… I hate writing about the situation. Just know that it’s hard. Progress is small. Trudge along. Eat a rainbow cookie. Write 1,000 cover letters. Hear nothing back. Trudge. Have a panic attack. “You cannot stay on Long Island.” Develop a plan to sell your car and move to Brooklyn. Decide multiple part-time jobs is the way to go. Get a part-time job in the city. 2 hours to commute to the city. Trudge. Trudge. People ask why you’re here. You don’t even know anymore. You think it’s because art and people are plentiful and you thought you’d start where you have family and it’s the closest you could get to London for a while. Trudge. It’s filthy here. Way too many people. Savings are getting low. And it’s nothing like London. Trudge. You think you have a lead on an art space to volunteer in. Breathe easier thinking you might have a nook to start settling into. People to share with. Family members point out the issues with your plan. Your uncle insists you need more work before you move. Your cousin understands the need to move. Your uncle calls his mortgage ‘The American Nightmare’. Everyone is drowning. Send emails to artists to contribute to a commissioned project. Try to keep some things in motion. You can’t make the meeting at work because of traffic. Trudge. Please understand that I’m trying. Trudge. Wonder about Atlanta. “Why didn’t you stay? Why did you think this would be easier? Because it was supposed to be.” Cry on the way back home to Long Island. Twice. Sit on the couch and watch a Showtime movie based on different women’s stories. Think about your feelings on abortion and sex. Wonder what the fuck you think anymore. Trudge. Scour Craigslist for a room to rent like it’s your job. It is your job. Trudge.

I wrote that piece about a month ago. It took a while to get used to things being difficult most of the time. Now when people ask me how things are going I say, “It doesn’t get easier. Things just change.” But that means that I have a bigger threshold for difficulty and faith in myself and time. Because if you’re working as hard as you can, both on what you need to be doing and what you want to be doing, there’s no way doors aren’t going to open up. My recent doors have been the success and progress of the Say Anything Song Illustrations. I have four completed and my, are they fantastic. There are a few being worked on. I’m moving to Brooklyn with some people I work with. I’ll be closer to the connections I need to make and events I want to go to. The amount of opportunities available to you when you’re closer to them widens greatly. I’m getting better at my job, though I know I’ll need to get something to pair with it to support myself with. I chose New York because I knew, or thought I knew, it would be tough, and that the lessons I would learn and challenges I would face would help me for the rest of my life, whether I stayed in New York long-term or scooted back down to the south, or what-have-you. Yes, the city is amazing. The little, rare interactions you will have with strangers are magic. The amount of available foods and things to do is overwhelming in a good way. But it usually feels like you’ve become Sisyphus. Forever pushing that rock up a hill that can’t seem to hold your rock at the top. Just once. But, depending on your perspective, you can find the joy in that. If you can position yourself in a spot where you enjoy that routine, you’ve made it. Forever.

34 Clint Hanaway

In 99 Cent Dream, Submission on July 22, 2011 at 11:12 am

This is my 99 cent dream:

I graduated from film school about a month ago. Everyone always said that a BA in Film & Media Art was essentially a degree in homelessness, but film is the only “profession” I can honestly say I love so I went for it. A bit before graduating I incorporated my own production company, a task I have been quite proud of, but seeing as how I have produced nothing under my company name it seems more and more like I’ve just appointed myself king over an empire of dirt.

In an effort to pursue my dream of making my living creating visual art I started fundraising for a documentary project I have been thinking about for the past year. I call it “Vagabondly Vagrant.” It’s a documentary about CouchSurfing.org, the community of people who use it, and the making of the film itself. It’s essentially a combination of the two things I’m most passionate about; film & travel. The past few months have been a whirlwind of pre-production, interwebing, and social networking. Not to mention that I happened to be attacked by a gang as soon as my fundraiser started, which ended up breaking my jaw and face in a couple of places. Needless to say, that put me a bit behind schedule. Thus far I have raised $177 out of the $15k I will need to actually create this film, and I only have 38 days left from tonight in order to make this dream a reality. This task is more then intimidating, but I’m down for it.

When it comes to following your dreams, it’s always going to be a daunting task. I guess I’m just going to take it one step at a time and count myself as lucky that I have a structured goal at the moment. After that, who knows. I guess only time will tell, but I’ll be fighting tooth and nail the whole way.

Cheers,
Clint Hanaway-
Vagabondlyvagrant.com


33 James DeFord

In Instructions for Life, Submission on March 3, 2011 at 6:40 pm


-James DeFord, Tampa

32 Melissa Soria

In Instructions for Life, Submission on March 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

-Melissa Soria, Tampa

31 Saige Silverman

In Instructions for Life, Submission on March 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm

1. Get outside. When in doubt, when stressed, when feeling cooped up just walk outside. Sit in the grass. Feel the ground beneath you & breathe.

2. Be happy. Just try at least. Sing a happy song. Do a happy dance. Be silly.

3. Find a hoolahoop. Turn on the jams. Move and feel the circular rhythm.

4. Listen to you own better judgment. Do what’s right. Stay out of trouble. Be safe.

5. Write. In a journal. To a friend away from home. Thank yous. The world could use more handwritten thank yous.

6. Give a gift. It’s more fun than getting one. Especially if you bake it or make it from scraps.

7. Daydream. If you can’t remember your dream from the night before, daydream for at least an hour during the day.

-Saige Silverman, Fort Myers

30 Regis Frey

In Instructions for Life, Submission on February 24, 2011 at 9:46 pm

-Regis Frey, Pittsburgh