A very busy autumn

It’s all very well being run of my feet with art deadlines – but when then do I feed the blog!! Well, the answer is never – so to make amends here is a very speedy overview of a very very mad packed six months – after the RA Summer show.

Next up was the Print Show at Newtownbarry House, in Bunclody in Wexford. This was a group show curated by Robert Lane who invited print artists established and emerging to exhibit for the whole of August.

2016-08-09_wex_23543715_I2 Clody print-show-crop invite cover

Clody and Anya of the Gallery (with collector) at the opening, which even made it into the press.

After this was the sound project for Cities and Memories, based on the London Underground. This whole project got quite a bit of attention in London. and before that on the ‘Prison Songs’ project.

 The Next Station CnM July 2016    Prison Songs

This was just sent in and there were workshops on Twine and Analogue Game designing; Twine not so much,but I can see possibilities in the other!


Then etchings had to wrapped and sent via courier to Yorkshire for the Zillah Bell exhibition; I was thrilled to be invited to this by Normal Ackroyd and even more thrilled to meet him on the night.

Invite front page 2

Just got back from this to have to get ready for the next UK exhibition, this time in the Bankside Gallery London, just around the corner from the Tate Modern. I’ve been eyeing this up for some time, so delighted to be included. Not only that, but they produced a gorgeous catalogue of the show as well.

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In both cases I was in extraordinary company, with many of the best printmakers included.

They chose the same etching too !


Tractor and Pump

Barely got my bearings on this when I was off to do a set of interviews and field recordings in Lisbon for the WebSummit. Cue lots of mixing! If I have learned one thing from this experience, it is move heaven and earth to get a press pass – it makes the whole think just so much more fun!

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Somewhere along the line I topped 2000 followers on Twitter too.

So, July the RA London Summer Show, August The Print Show in Newtownbarry House, September the Zillah Bell Gallery, Yorkshire and November the Masters exhibition in Bankside London. and that’s not including the audio works or general painting, drawing, sketching and research for the next projects.


Is it any wonder I didn’t get round to blogging??

For more on the digital pieces see here

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2016

I am delighted to have a piece selected and hanging in this well established prestigious exhibition.

Petrol Pump4web

Petrol Pump by Camilla Fanning

This exhibition has been going strong for nearly 250 years, established by Joshua Reynolds.  It has it’s roots in the ‘Ancient Academies’ of Artists which developed from the guilds of the quattrocento and renaissance era,  that were the effective union of their day, and most importantly the final arbiters of taste. The Academies by the 19th C were calling all the shots, declaring artists good or bad, in or out; the buying public followed suit. At least that is until that famous schism of the French Academy with the Impressionists.

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Over the centuries the Royal Academy has gone through phases of stagnation only to renew itself and re-establish it’s relevance. At the moment it is particularly reinvigorated with a wonderfully eclectic membership of artists working in a wide variety of genres and media. This is reflected in the selections made for the Summer Exhibition 2016.

This year for the first time ever there is an online gallery of all of the exhibition with the works available for sale.  We are all cautiously optimistic that this will have a real impact.  Here it is.    (for more information feel free to contact me directly at info@irishetchings.com or leave a reply below.  See more works here.)

Varnishing Day

Well, this was a hoot! It has been a tradition from the beginning and is a day to celebrate the artists in the exhibition and indeed artists in general.  In it’s day it was a last chance for the exhibitors to see how there works looked in situ, make a fuss, or even some corrections.  These day’s it’s more of an excuse for shin-dig.

First things first, we collected our exhibitor pack and the small price list booklet.

pack invite

The artists gather in the courtyard, overseen by Sir Joshua himself, and the annual Summer Show Commission of a major sculptural work. We parade out led by a steel band and church leaders, the Academicians present at the front, but after that a general melee.

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The special service for artists was across the way at St James church and we stopped the traffic on Piccadilly to get to it!

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There was also a wonderful sermon by Revd Lindsay Meader all about how important artists are – which of course we lapped up!

Then back to Burlington House for the first view of the exhibition and a very generous reception.  We all guzzled for a while, prosecco flowing, then everyone scooted around the exhibition to find out where their work had been hung.

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I found mine (in the middle) on a choice piece of wall and in very good company!

The Application Process

These days no self respecting application process goes without a full on registration process to start with. the RA is no different . Short version – it all takes time! From the very start it is clear that this is going to be a long process and that’s that.

This is all done online, and there are a limited number of ‘slots’ available; They sell out quite quickly.

So, having registered to apply, the application then gets sent in. Joyfully this year we could send in a jpeg of the work in the first instance, thus saving a small fortune in shipping costs until we know we had at least got as far as the short list. I wish every open sub did this at the very least.

Of course we have to pay to enter, in sterling! So the cost-clock starts ticking right away. I decided in a fit of enthusiasm to do two, there was some complicated instructions to the effect that I  had to decide there and then, and no adding on afterwards, no refunds for any change of mind. So, in for a penny in for a pound – I booked the two application ‘slots’.

With hindsight it occurs to me know that it is in my best interest to send in a hard copy reproduction quality  jpeg as it is that much more likely to end up in the final catalogue if it gets that far. But that would require a level of hubris I lacked at the start of this first ever submission to the Royal Academy of London Summer Exhibition.

The selection process

We all wait for the email. The one that says if we have made it to the next round. the first submission is global with over 12000 entries, this is reduced to 4000 for the next round.  I get this far. Another email arrives to say I am now in the last and final selection of about 1000 entries. Both prints are still in the running. but I am still not certain if either will be hung. I am delighted to have got this far in the selection process!

We get an email looking for a short artist bio – just in case. a separate email for this. I sort this out. These things always take longer than you think, and the requests always happen at the most inconvenient times. I file away the memory of all of this for future use.

And now the Kafkaesque dance that is UK  VAT registration  begins. The RA requires it of every exhibiting artist. Even from ‘overseas.’  I have to register for something else first, emails and alerts fill my inbox. Finally I can apply for the VAT number itself. I scan every ID document I have and sent it off. I promise to sell something, but not a lot. As the deadline to send in this number approaches – and while I still don’t know if I am in the exhibition or not – a useful looking envelope arrives. I ignore it for a day or so, I am complacent, knowing that I have just received the much needed VAT number.  I sit down to send this in the the RA, open it, and to my alarm and horror discover it is a few more pages of application clobber! Sign this, fill in this, define the value of sales (do I look like a fortune teller?). I phone the UK VAT  Ministry. Get a helpful bod at the end. I can sign and scan it, send it in. All is not lost! cue another evening of faffing with scanners and paperwork. THIS is the real ‘life of an artist’! The bit no one sees! Finally I call to ask where to find it, am informed it’s on my online account; cue rooting for the password. I get in, search it, and can’t find it. The deadline is now 24 hours away.

I email the Royal Academy bod. I send him a copy of the announcement  that I do in fact have a VAT number, and explain that I can’t find it, but it’s only a mater of time; it will follow.

He send me back a thank you, and tells me that  it’s on the third line, and he has already done the necessary. Phew.

Paperwork. The bane of every creative life!


I see the word congratulations before anything else. One print has been accepted. The email has a longer preamble, the standard this year was very high blah blah blah. I don’t care – I have a print hanging in the Royal Academy.

They tell me the Exhibitor pack is there to picked up at reception for us overseas exhibitors. Am dying to get my mitts on it.

Now the pace picks up with a vengeance. These emails were sent on the Saturday preceding the Friday of the main event for artists – Varnishing Day. I consult a friend who has done this before, is it worth the cost and hassle of going to be there. Yes, she says, very definitely yes!! So I decide to go. I lose the will to live trawling online comparison sites looking for a cheap  – last minute – flight to London.  In summer. At an Irish bank holiday weekend. Brilliant! But my efforts pay off, and I am going!

Will I apply again?? – I’ll say! It was brilliant! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some Reviews

The Londonist



Nine things to know about the Summer Exhibition

Making Kilkee

This is a short one – this is a slide show of the development and printing of the Carborundum print ‘Kilkee’ – as you can see it wasn’t all plain sailing!


Cill Rialaig: The Residency & Artists Retreat

Arriving to the artists residences in the erstwhile abandoned village of Cill Rialaig feels like coming to the end of a pilgrimage.  Time is left behind as the road narrows and winds at a forty five degree angle along the top of a cliff. At just the point when it seems this must have been a wrong turn the first of the cottages appears nestled behind a dry-stone wall with clear sky and sea all around. At once it is clear this is a place of calm and quiet,  the silence is palpable, even the sea is not too loud.

My first thought (after wow) is – this is going to brilliant!

IMG_0512   CR Carpark

Getting down there

I drove down. I had left myself notes on what to pack for weeks beforehand, and on the morning, of course, read the wrong list and still managed to leave something behind. But nothing vital.  I brought with me every possible item of art material I thought I might need, and for every eventuality including being rained in solid for two weeks. (It can happen!) I just put the boot down and kept going – ok, with the odd stop to tidy up a few loose ends (8 hours down; 5 home!).

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The car was stuffed to the gunnels and  I’ve developed a soft spot for motorway service stations.

Settling in

I had set off with an increasing concern that maybe I wasn’t the hermit type – well, more like a creeping certainty. I needn’t have worried, the place has got the balance right between being left in peace and not been found eaten by cats.  The caretaker is chatty and helpful too.

The Place

The cottages are lined along the old headland road, overlooking the Atlantic. It is right on the edge of Ireland. Indeed, of Europe.

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The landscape is stunning.  The scale and breadth of it is a challenge to capture  in any medium.

There are hares all over the place. This is very unusual. They are big bruisers and fearless, they run ahead and across the road at a leisurely pace, just moving on. I now understand why Barry Flanagan chose them for his sculptures, they are a real part of the landscape here.

I was getting local directions. ‘Just up there’  he said’ there’s the baby graveyard’. He pointed up the hill across the stone walled fields. ‘Where?’ I asked, squinting into the sun’. ‘Just there’ he said ‘that stone wall there, there are stone crosses and all’.


We went in search of it another day, but could find only the remains of a 6th c Oratory and Slab crosses. No sign of a burial site for unbaptized babies.  Later I did some research – that is I Googled it! – and found out that these were called Cillins. The tradition was to use to previously sanctified but abandoned sites, even old megaliths. So the Oratory is indeed a Cillin after all.

The Wheels

Act as my mobile studio, stuffed with everything I might need for a day out in-situ en plein air painting and drawing.

I check the map for likely spots and then drive around the narrow country roads keeping a look out for mad cars and great views.  I have come to think of this as location hunting, when I find a good spot I mark it on the map.

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The car is just about still moving. It is well used to rocky lanes and uneven terrain. Another dent will just fit right in, although I do try to avoid it. I am a bit afraid it is on its last legs.


If the weather is atrocious I can push back the seat and draw from inside, or I can wait out a squall and be in position when the weather breaks.

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My investigations were thorough and often till late evening. Some places I ended up were odder than others. I never did see the dinosaur footprints, but maybe they can’t be seen at high tide. And it was chilly!


I like cliffs

IMG_0578  cliff road

It takes a certain degree of stubbornness to set about drawing a cliff landscape.

First of all there is the issue of access, often requiring a bit of clambering and careful navigation of 45% sloping fields, and those were the easy ones. And of course I have to clamber back up them afterwards. And all the kit has to carried both ways.

And then there’s the continual breeze and or small gale coming off the Atlantic. Cliffs look the way they do because of being battered. Hence, said battering is aimed at anything cliff like or on a cliff – artists included. On a few occasions I had to give up as it got so wild I couldn’t keep the sketchbook flat (the pages are held open with bulldog clips –but the gusts were so strong the whole book was lifting!) but mostly I jammed myself against a big rock and carried on.

In Cill Rialaig, the best views needed afternoon light, so this influenced my schedule. No point trying to paint something obscured by too much shadow, and it took light to bring out the colours.

So, cliffs are spectacular, have the best ‘motifs’ and some of the best colours as the sea churns at the foot into deep cerulean, turquoise and viridian with shots of Prussian blue and gold, all laced with white, beside the dark edges of the rock and shadow. But they also present the greatest practical challenge of getting to them and being on the spot to paint and draw.

Did I mention I like cliffs?


I found an excellent cliff to paint just up the way from the village. It necessitated climbing over the fence steps to the Oratory and then continuing down towards the sea. following the line of the stone walls. At the end of this I perched on a rock near the edge and balanced my paints carefully, worried a gust would take the lot – and me – into the depths.

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I trundled around looking for more and found a spot in Valencia Island looking back across the bay southwards, the Skelligs in the distance, disappearing and reappearing in the sea haze like Hy-Brasil.


The view from the top of Bolus had was also quite spectacular. A huge panoramic vista of mountains, headlands, islands and sea. The scale was too much for my iPhone (I use it to take record shots to reposition the page on return visits to the same spot).


Eventually I went to see ‘The Most Beautiful Cliffs in Kerry’ – very spectacular and almost surreal. Strangely striped with bright yellow lichen. Whistling gale at the top though,  so I didn’t get much done.

Most Beautiful IMG_0825


I took out a selection of dry media and paint everyday, but in the end reverted to the usual selection of watercolour with some pencil sketching. There is a reason for this beyond familiarity. Over the years I have developed a kit and method for painting in awkward-to-get-to places, I have it all whittled down to the essentials. So, inevitably, this was what I used most.


Back at the cottage I laid out every piece of material I had brought with me, a real luxury (I am already missing the dedicated studio space) and did some follow up work from the sketches.

  Laid out all media   IMG_0531 

In some cases, I’d had to give up because of rain or too blustery wind, and did what I always do marking them up with tone code to finish off later.

work up

As you can see I am also going for housekeeper of the year award.

As I searched around for the perfect spot I realised that large chunks of the seascape looked just like Donald Tesky paintings and prints.  The landscape down there meets you on its own terms, I could see it might be a battle to get to grips with it. And indeed it took the better part of a week of sketching and walking around for it to finally ‘click’. 

The final word

Somewhere along the line thoughts that had been gestating came together and coalesced into a final something.  A next stage. I had been wrestling with a few formal concerns and a technical issue and somehow in the two weeks I was there these got resolved, sending me onto the next level of trajectory. To say I was pleased is an understatement! I can see this having a real impact on what I do next.

The place is isolated enough that is is away from irritating distractions, but with enough people around or passing by that if you want it a chat can be had or a dinner shared.

I loved every moment of it. I am now ‘sold’ on the idea of residencies, and I can’t wait to do more  in other places.  And to go back to Cill Rialaig again.

The Skinny: Practical information

Details about the residency and applying are available on request and they have a Facebook page too. The application procedure is straight forward enough, dates are assigned about a year ahead of attendance and there is some wiggle room on the timing, although it looks like there is a positive stampede for August dates.  From what I hear on the grapevine there also seems to be a different atmosphere down there depending on the time of year. I got the impression that throughout the summer it was all very business like. Maybe people who have a very limited precious time to get a lot done.

Visiting artists leave a piece of work (or bring one with them) to donate to the fund raising efforts for the residency. Writers might leave a signed copy of their book.

WIFI is available free in the Cill Rialaig Art Centre itself. A few – though not many – local cafes and pubs have a sign up to say it’s available, but it’s not everywhere by any means. Data allowances used to create a personal hot-spot  get gobbled up pretty fast, and I also found this unstable and unreliable in the cottage. I didn’t use it much, just the occasional urgent email, but in fact, some of those didn’t get through, despite reading as sent at my end! That said, I did hear that some of the others had solid enough connections.

Location, location, location.

The retreat really is off the beaten track. Without a car you would be stranded. There really is nowhere within walking distance – and I will walk! The village is at the top of a winding hilly road, the nearest shop is back towards the Art Centre & Gallery, which is a good 30-40 minute walk each way.  This is a small garage shop with essentials and lovely soda bread. All around the area are holiday homes and even a caravan park, it seems to be catering for these.  It is not the cheapest. The local destination is Ballinskelligs beach and beyond that a small harbour.


The nearest pub –Cable O’Leary’s –  is also about 30 minutes walk away down that hill. This is the biggest pub for miles around and is where the locals go. There is music on some nights.

There is (2015) one bus to Caherciveen every Thursday and one to Killarney every month on a Tuesday. Local taxi’s can be expensive.

The nearest supermarket is in Caherciveen but this is quite a good branch of Supervalue with all the usual stock as well as few local items.  chaherciveen itself has a good selection of shops, in particular a brilliant fish shop and French Patisserie (2015). Otherwise the usual scatter of general shops, banks and trendy tourist shops. There is even a €2-Shop – which has its place in the scheme of things after all. There is no real art suppliers, Quirkes has very basic stationary, and a few school art supplies; it’s good for maps and books.

Staying there

It is a wonderful place to stay, really perfect for an retreat style artists residency, especially if you want to put your head down and work without distraction. When I was there there were a couple of cottages where the occupant never appeared. Equally, it is small enough that if people are inclined to be friendly the opportunity to bump into your neighbours is there too. The Rule is that no-one should be disturbed, and there are even signs on the doors saying as much (I did start to feel a wee bit like a rare zoo exhibit).

The Cottages

The cottages are divided into a main room, with the studio at one end, and a small kitchen and matching size bathroom. Upstairs above these is a mezzanine floor with the bed.

The kitchen has an under counter fridge with a cool box, a kettle and toaster. I even found a Cafetaire.  All the basic’s needed for self catering are there too.  The bathroom is fully tiled with a shower and a heater. Towels were provided, as is bedding.

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The main space is the height of the ceiling with excellent light, and a lot of electric sockets and artificial light as well. There is solid state central heating and where I was it was downright cosy. There is also a small wood burning stove for a bit of extra oomph (bring firelighters & matches).

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I rearranged a bit

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An easel was provided and as well as a few work tables. There was lots of space to spread out.  Each artist rearranged the interior to their own liking, which was a hoot, as each was so different!

Some of the cottages had a radio too. But if these were on, I  didn’t hear them.

The silence there was magnificent, only the occasional bleating of sheep to break it.


Snozbot, Fungus and Twine

Yes, really. I didn’t make this up. This is what they are called.

I am looking into using computer Games for some creative pieces. This all started with an evening show and tell organised by Creative Animators Network in November 2014,  all about Game design and introducing some of the software available to make them.  In particular open sourcesoftware designed to be used by beginners and non-programmers. It was very very interesting.

CAN logo

Lindsey, the organiser, arranged a more formal than usual presentation about Game designing with three experts. And of course, being Dublin, they were all from just down the road.

Introducing Twine
Twine tales this is for making interactive fiction.  it provides a free easy game writing tool for making games or interactive sotries. it can also be used for mapping out a story as pasrt of Game design .  It is arelated to the original role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and can plug into the  back of other tools, like Fungus software. It si very good for artists to use is Interactive.
Twine is  free,  easy and adaptable, based on narrative branching.  It will adapt to your skills, enable you to get your story across.  A good example of a Twine Game is this one a detective story or to see some other examples of what can be done see Dublin Twine Jam.

Introducing FUNGUS
Developed and made available as freeware,  by SNOZBOT – a Dublin based tech company FUNGUS  is used in combination with ‘Unity’ a free all-platform  Game engine. Well represented on YouTube, the  Unity forum is good and there is also  the Unity asset store where you can find readymade ‘castles’ etc.

The Fungus game looks like a picturebook.  Images are called ‘sprites’ and controls are drag n drop, you can add an mp3 or voice over, think in terms of a visual novel  -‘People like reading & writing stories’.  It is text based and interactive, a networked storybased game,  including features for dynamic story games. A typical example is the ‘ closed room game’ –  a genre  -and quest based games are popular too(eg 404Detective Agency)  in general each game lasts about 15 mins. Fungus games are shared on the Snozbot dedicated platform.

What the Writer of Games had to say

GameJams are useful.  The Game writer is a narrative writer-designer,  building the story. It is related to film/tv/online stories,  80% is like all writing and there can be Game writing panels. It is a very ‘crowded’ area and most writers can do some of the techy stuff too.  the best result is in a team with knowledge of marketing. animation, and programming. There are some problems and pitfalls unique to writing for Games.

Pitfall 1 Player agency. It is vital that the story must be driven by the player not the character, and the story advances only when they make a choice. There must be interesting nuggetts to play through,  sequences, quests;  lots of small stories plugged together.

Pitfall 2 Production.In TV etc there is a  ‘waterfall’ production model. In  Games it is not linear, it is very  ‘Agile’. It is completed in layers, some of the story wont make it, it can get  chopped up. Also driven by design needs ‘we have a submariine…..’ .

Pitfall 3 Deliverables
We still have some of the usual deliverables, a world bible, character, and scripts. It may not however look like a script, from Final Draft for example. In games  it may combine a word file, Twine,  a few notebooks and an Excel spreadsheet, in particular Excel is used for dialogue. You can also use Artsydraft to do this.

the writer will never go near the Game engine,  ‘Dialog available only if certain conditions met’ and there is no standard template.  If commissioned to write for a Game ask in what format the company want it delivered. See International Games Developers Association for information on submission formats,  also on Excel scripts and Quest design.

A Fungus Workshop -‘The Jolly Dublin Gamecraft’

This was on 6th December 2014 in the Irish HQ of Microsoft (https://www.gamecraft.it/events/jolly-dublin-gamecraft/) and included a table of game developers being introduced to FUNGUS for the first time. And me.

game workshop cropd

The user interface is designed to be accessible to non programmers and is essentially a series of drop down selection options, of course with its own ways, but a straight forward enough system. Just have to get familiar with it!

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Holding place objects are in the shape of toadstools –


Dave tries to explain to me the core concepts of  Computer Science –how code results in electrons doing summat.


Starting to think about making a Game

After a slow start it finally dawned on me what was the nature of these types of Games. Just as the local toy shop has shoot-em-up games with soldiers, it also has games like Lego and Playdoh, so computer Games can be non-confrontational as well. They can be Games about building a world, or be an interactive story. This is where FUNGUS and Twine fit in.

I have  two possible notions knocking about at this stage, one using Twine, a sort of interactive morality test, and the other a basic Game using FUNGUS.

It occurred to me having played with it a bit that the way to approach making a game using FUNGUS would be to visualise it like an old fashioned simple puppet show, with flat-form characters moving on and off a stage area, as if from the wings. As a starting point it felt like a good place to begin, and I just happen to have a lot of very old books on the subject.

pupp a

These are classic books about the craft of making puppets and puppetry as theatre. These are ‘how-to’ books from the 1930’s with no ISBN number or publication dates on them, mottled with age and full of detailed instructions on how to model a marionettes head or build a puppet stage.

Puppet book 3 puppet book 1

pupp 5    puppet book 2

pupp 6

So, this is one starting point.   I also need to look at children’s books – and indeed board games. And that’s before I go anywhere near the programmes!

I also discovered – even in my short try out – that if I am to use images, not just words, I will need some sort of raw material to work with .  I will need a background element, and characters and objects (or props) – properly called ‘Sprites’ in game design, which matters for navigating the Game engine commands.  So, I will need to make these separately and have them prepared for insertion into the Game when that stage is reached. I’d like these to be quite interesting and made outside the Game UI environment. And now, as ever, I cogitate.

Ha! It’s exciting!!

3D Printing is here. Now.

This is amazing, it’s one thing to read about it but to see it in the flesh makes sense of it in a way that is quite arresting. immediately a world of possibilities opens up, the ‘what ifs’ swarming around. It is rarely the case to see something that is clearly going to become so significant and so soon. This will change the way the world works  when the ‘what- ifs’ happen,  even ‘teleportation’ is on offer.

The Expo – 3D printing UCD 1st October 2014

Irelands first 3d Printing Expo was held in UCD in October  2014  showcasing the latest ideas and technology.  They plan to be a service provider as well as a centre of research excellence,  attendees even got a €5 voucher towards a 3D printed object.

The Festival of 3D Printing combined a display and demo area with a series of lectures, as well as a brief workshop on a new software UI designed for ease of use (though at first glance it did seem a bit limited).  The talks made clear just how much is about to change. It also turns out that a lot of 3D designing can be done using the same type of software used by animators in 3D rendering,  it can them be exported in the correct file type, uploaded directly to the manufacturers  and then the finished objects are posted back.  It’s expensive but not prohibitive.

The Program (selection)

Introductory course on 3D file generation


The workshop introduced a new ‘easy building block’ User Interface ‘Tinkercad’ This is designed to simplify the 3D rendering process.  It is essentially a drag and drop system of readymade virtual units of construction within a virtual three dimensional matrix.  After the basic construction is created it can then be finessed.

Touching the Constructs of your Dreams Lecture by Dr. Andrew Folan, NCAD (Printmaker & Sculptor).

Sculpture and Printmaker Dr Folen gave an overview of his work and experiment with 3D printing.  Artists bring ability to play with the technology

Folen’s printmaking developed into 3D sculptural pieces with a series made of Stacked prints; a 3D object made of printed images. This led him into 3D modelling. His interest peaked by the Kline Bottle, this is a construct which has only  one surface – it ‘cannot be real, only conceived’.

This informed his piece  ‘Autopoiesis animation Original seed 2013’   Made of laser-sintered polyamide  ‘built up like stalagmites’.

Another work  ‘ Prometheous’ is ‘like a series of snap shots, a  series of iterations of the same flower’ .

laser sinter, digital information made manifest. Virtual animation turned material

The 3D image was created using the animation  3D modelling software ‘Blender‘,   with rigging and skinning.  Finally it can be sent – that is uploaded  – to a service providers website which also handles the file conversion (this is an  .stl export from blender) the object is then printed out and eventually ‘a  courier arrives with the stuff’. (See below for a few links).

‘The printout in 3D is like reverse stop animation.  The virtual becomes real, material, like digital DNA.  It obeys the rules of virtual space. Each object has its own unique ‘fingerprint’ depending on its position in the build chamber; look at calcium layers of stalagmites- this is low tech, like printing layers of objects’ .

‘This is something you have made but never touched;  Making a non-material virtual object  which then becomes real.  Reminds us of Audience Theory – “me thinking an object into reality” –  making inner consciousness material.  Like making art’.

3D Printing: Yesterday, Today, and Especially TomorrowLecture by Prof. Debra Laefer, UCD

Arguably 3D printing was invented by women knitting yarn, and the first 3D Printer was the knitting machine.  Originally invented in the 1980 ‘Fused Deposition Modelling’ (FDM) was the start of modern 3D printing.  The patent expired after 20 yrs leading to a boom in 3D printing (see Stratasys).  It is very good for bespoke objects. These include dental applications, MRI printouts for practice,  personalised implants, printed skin, fashion (although filaments are still  brittle),  3D food – possibly incorporating medicine into food, or a  3D pancake or laser sintered sugar.  It has been used for once off complex objects, for example in aeronautics,  to test various designs for weight reduction of interior plane furnishings.  This  is not  cheap, fast or intended for mass production.  However, using 3D printing for testing is cost effective when the potential cost savings are taken into account.  Less weight equals lower fuel use so lower overall costs to the industry.

Tomorrow -the vision:  3D printing will be integrated with other technologies.  with Haptics remote touch (Ed; giving users a sense of touch within a virtual environment, important for a sense of control and for reaction) .  A  recent ‘technology to wear’ show was packed while the ‘traditional’ textile show next door was empty.  Developments proposed include a coat with  integrated GPS – directions to wear.  also, the conductive filament, Graphite, could be 3D printed.

The risk of carbon tax  impacts may include no more cheap outsourcing, with a need to restart local production.  To start with, 3D printing would be for the affluent.  However it may become  like internet cafes, but with 3D printers.  The  3D printers are getting cheaper, the industry is aiming for under €150. Uses include for testing,  modelling,  speedy production, using Google earth to make a 3D map or model; there is lots of enthusiasm for this new technology, it is highly intuitive.

So, what to do with the new 3D printer??? – ‘We’ll use it to print another one… ‘

Display & Demonstrations

Metal 3D Printing Machine Demo

The MLAB Metal Printer can make objects with elaborate structures. Metals used include gold, silver, bronze, stainless steel and chromium.  it uses non reactive metal dust and lasers.  The build chamber is quite small and it is expensive, so currently it suits small intricate objects.

In answer to several questions, ‘no –we can’t print guns in 3D because  plastic explodes. To print a metal one you would need to buy a machine costing about €2.5 mill – and still no ammo;  it would be cheaper to just buy a gun’.

3D Printing using Paper

One machine printed using paper and glue to make strong objects. Usually  they use plastic, this one was intended to be more environmentally friendly.


The process involved layer after layer of paper being glued together, pressed and then at the end the shape is cut out.

paper 3d printer 1  paper 3d 2

Paper 3d crop   paper 3d 4

paper print 5  paper 3d 6 cut

Paper 3d crop     paper 3d final

For Schools

Several suppliers are providing basic equipment for school use. a small handheld 3D ‘pen’ is also available.

3d pritning for schools brochure

The 3D Printing machine in action

Most machines use plastic filament bought on a roll and fed into the printer where it is used as the material to create the 3D structure.

See a 3D printer in action here

Some links

Plastic filament supplier

D&R Reelings Ltd

3D Printer Suppliers


Laber Labz

Personal Design Processing Service 2D already here


All About Sugarlift

Parallel to the Peripheries project there are other prints being made for various exhibitions and group shows.  One of these is an etching combined with carborumdum, and using sugarlift.

IMG_0625 IMG_0622

This is a method of making a positive mark on the plate using a soluble resist (the sugarlift) which allowed to dry, then this is then covered with bitumen.  After the bitumen dries hard,  hot water is poured over the plate to dissolve the sugarlift , lifting off the bitumen, to reveal the shape. When this is finally revealed the bare copper is degreased and the aquatint is applied, creating an area of tone.

See here for a video of the process.


Peripheries 2: First Sketches & Research Trip 1

So, at last! I got down to the west of Ireland to the cliffs I was dying to get to draw!!!!! Beside myself with excitement !!!! (I don’t do ‘cool’- never have!) .

I left Dublin in driving rain and dirty traffic conditions, but when going West a bit of faith and optimism is required. The weather changes fast and out on the edges it’s got  mind of its own.

As I arrived to Kilkee the weather broke and by the time I got to the town the sun was shining. I couldn’t wait a second more and did a quick very rough sketch of the first cliff I saw – right at the edge of the Bay.  A quick watercolour which did capture the colour. (This proved to be very useful in the end!).


Packing for the trip was educational. It took a lot of organising.  I want to use the Irish trips as a dry run for more ambitious trips to Norway  and Iceland, as well as being research trips in their own right.  So I am keeping notes of what was useful. First prize goes to the Aran sweater – works hard. I also regretted not packing a few more specialist bits and bobs for cooking. Hardly matters for a couple of days but longer it might make a difference. I am assuming all the places I will be in are fairly off the beaten track, remote even.

So, first off – Kilkee.  This is a small village at the head of the Loop Head Peninsula. The village is mostly known for being a seaside resort – it is literally right beside the beach. And also as a starting point for the Loop Head routes.


Loop head is one of the underestimated landscapes of Ireland, and I am tempted to wish it stays that way – uncrowded,  quiet –  and all mine!  It has spectacular rock and cliff formations all along the headland, including breathtakingly gorgeous views of the Atlantic.

I spent the morning scouting the locations I want to return to. Settled on several points with views of sea-stacks, cliffs, caves and sea arches. Stunning. Also wild.

Kilkee 2014

I lucked out with the weather on the first day of drawing – perfect blue sky and warm, very little breeze. The water was dark rich blue. I sat on the scratchy bouncy grass on a cliff top to draw. Seagulls floated at eye level on the airstreams from the cliffs.

Sketch in situ

First small sketches to have a wee think, pen and pencil, then a bit more detail, then onto larger pages and chalk and charcoal.  I will keep drawing these ‘objects’ until I understand them and will gradually move into paint and colour. I need a lot of drawing references for the planned prints.

This is the first proper painting trip I have been on this year, so things were a bit disorganised – in bags and boxes – I brought EVERYTHING.  So, first job was to get the kit sorted out for the day’s research. In the end I put the equipment for each medium in its own bag. I also taped watercolour paper to Perspex boards to have the ready for use. Of course all this took longer than expected. But then it is also part of focusing for the day ahead.


As is the drive around to get a feel of the location. I have now begun to realise that this is part of the process too, in fact there is quite a palaver to selecting the right spot to draw. Quite apart from the practical considerations of how to reach it, and is it safe, it must also meet the requirements of whatever notion I am pursuing. It’s one of the reasons I return to certain spots over and over again.

I like wherever possible to revisit a view and draw it dozens of times to really get to understand it – much the way I would for life drawing. Usually, too, the spot has been picked because it is representative of a whole category, it is a good example of ‘the species’. Thus it can take a while to locate! But I got lucky with Kilkee and it is exactly the material I was looking for.


Day two the weather changed, but I was able to get in a few hours drawing before I had to leave. I have mastered the art of drawing from inside the car, it just requires some skilful if death defying parking. And a few contortions.

Car Park Kilkee

It also turns the car into a mobile studio, and as it’s also essential for scouting and reaching the places I need to be, at this stage I am including access to wheels as ‘ part of my process’ whenever I make funding applications.

IMG_0385 IMG_0384IMG_0383

By the end, outside was getting a bit blustery – an occupation hazard of working outdoors!


Then back to Dublin – Till next time…….

Next stage: The studio!

Starting Peripheries

May 2014.  As ever the beginning of a project is the hardest part.  And as ever finding the funds to do it is an issue, in fact it gets quite frustrating. I know exactly what I want to do, but until I get the wherewithal to do it I am very limited in what I can achieve. I will start however, and do whatever I can do under my own steam.

The plan is to visit a series of specific landscapes to do research drawings and paintings to work towards a print series.  I don’t like explaining what I do or to ‘translate’ it into words. but suffice  it to say for various creative reasons I need to be IN the landscapes themselves when I do this.

To this end I have begun to apply to residencies, some in Iceland and some in Norway. I need to apply for arts grants to do these,  but then I need an invitation or acceptance letter from a residency to make the funding application;  there is no way to streamline the process, so I have sent out a bevvy of applications and submissions. I also expect to need to go more than once to each destination so if I can get accepted to more than one all the better!

First up however, is the West of Ireland – my favourite hunting ground of West Clare, in this case Kilkee. Thanks to a friend Orla K who has provided accommodation for a few nights right in the middle of where I need to be! It will still be a bit of a push to get there for the usual dull practical  reasons but until I get some drawings done I can’t start anything. Even if I can get just a few I can at least start to work on test plates. 

I have also just got an invitation to Gullkistan residency in Iceland. It’s very expensive, but the landscape nearby looks amazing!!  I could be properly excited if I was convinced I’ll be able to go, that said, I am thrilled silly!

I tripped over a Tony Robbins ‘you can do it’ sort of TED talk.  So, this will certainly be a test of his theories!

Of course, it’s not the only project I am working on, but it is the one which requires most resourcing, and will take longest. Luckily, I don’t feel inclined to rush.

Onwards and upwards –as I have often said, if artists got paid for filling in funding applications we wouldn’t need the funding in the first place! Smile

A Natural Selection: Making the Etching

This is a fairly significant exhibition of printmaking in Ireland presented by the Graphic Studio Dublin along with the Botanic Gardens.  There are 100 artists producing 100 prints at a fundraiser price of €100 each.  It is shaping up to be a veritable who’s who of printmaking in Ireland today!

The Background

The call went out last spring, and at that stage there was plenty of interest but no one at that stage anticipated to momentum it world achieve. It seemed more like  another fundraiser for the studio, if a large scale one.

Then the discussions began, and suggestions that there would be catalogue  and that it would tour Ireland, then that it would travel abroad… The thing just grew legs!!

The Botanic Gardens already has an extensive collection of botanical drawings in their archive and a full set of these prints will be added to this as well.

Botanic GSD  reseach old drawing 3  Botanic GSD  reseach old drawing 1


There were a few visits organised for contributing artists to go and see the Botanic Gardens in Glasvevin, and their sister branch in Wicklow.

I went to the Glasvevin one and we got a tour of the gardens, the plants ad the glass houses. Nothing inspired me. I left a little worried. What would happen if I got no idea for a print ? I sent a text to the committee asking what happens if I didn’t want to do a flower or plant? They replied that was ok, my print just needed to be inspired by the Botanic Gardens, either of them. 


Much relieved I took myself of down to Kilmacurragh, and promptly go inspired! I sat in a patch of shade the first day it was so hot, and the next day I went down to do more drawing, I was dodging downpours. But I got my idea!!


The plates

I decided to use two plates as I wanted to use colour.

Initially I had planned to use aluminium and spit bite, but the brief specified an edition of 100 prints. Now while I had sever doubts that I would sell that many, I have no doubts at all about Murphy’s Law – if I didn’t;t pan for 100 I would need it after all.  And no way was aluminium going to survive that.

So ‘Plan A’ hit the fan, and I decided I’d better use copper plates. This also made a difference to how long it would take, as I now had to prep the plates with aquatint before I could spit bite.

I also wanted to use sugar lift for one of the details so this then had to be more carefully integrated with the aquatinting, and everything done in the right order. In the end I completed the sugar lift element in its entirety then masked it off for all the other processes – or at least whenever acid was involved. So more time used up while the bitumen in this dried.

  IMG_2316 IMG_2164

Overprint plan

The  two plates were blue and yellow essentially, and I planned the overprint areas carefully for a wide variety of tone and mix. I also had a lot of texture and detail on both plates with added to the range after overprinting.  The yellow was quite strong, and the blue had a dash of extender in it.  There was a fair bit of fiddling around to get it right.  That said, I do a lot on the plate itself.



So, everything seemed reasonably in order, and then – aha! I discovered some weird and wonderful problems with the aquatint. After several – failed – attempts to solve this using the normal Ferric for spit bite I had to admit defeat and again adapt the plan.

This time, abandoning most of the spit bite and reverting to the more traditional method of blocking out. Slower again!!! But doable. With one major change.

I had to use Nitric! I don’t generally use it, but needs must so I just went ahead – my wee schedule had already hit the fan and I was now falling behind.  

IMG_2324   IMG_2318

IMG_2326     IMG_2165

As it turned out, Nitric worked a treat, and fast!!!  I caught up reasonably well and – finally got to the colour testing stage.

Colour testing

IMG_2338 IMG_2339

Hours of fun to be had – variations on a theme. I know I wanted to a blue/green/yellow  theme, but I also needed to see what was on the plates and try out a few variations and options.  Finicky work at times but very satisfying to see it all coming together.

The  Artists Proof

Finally – the colours were settled and the A/P made – from now on it’s Editioning!!