Adding colour to the souvenirs

I’m continuing my work producing souvenir sculptures for each city in England. I’ve started adding colour and they seem a lot brighter than my usual work. This feels a bit unnerving, but I’m taking that as a sign that I’m doing something outside of my comfort zone and that it will lead to a more creative result.

I began this process by researching each city, elements of its history, mythology, and heraldry. I then began sketching each object to determine how I might create it in paper. My intention was to do more sketchbook work around the imagery that would be painted on the objects, but I decided to take a more organic approach by working directly onto the sculptures, using a process of appropriation and intuition. Through working in this way, new possibilities arise for this, and future work.

For example, the objects of Bath and Brighton are represented using human figures. I began by painting them bright colours in a similar way to the others. However, I wanted to pull out their features a bit more, so I repainted their faces white. Although I will do more work on these sculptures, I like the effect of the white against the colour so I’m documenting the process to return to later.

One of the finished souvenirs, representing Bradford, takes the story of a wild boar from the Middle Ages, the motif of which is featured on the city’s coat of arms. Using the boar as the object, I then took the image of the brick well and highlighted the shape of the bricks as a reference to the building material of the Industrial North. The design running across the top of the boar’s head reflects the water motif also taken from the city’s coat of arms.

As I am working on each of the sculptures, I have started to see similarities in some of the motifs, therefore they have come to represent both distinct and general aspects of the histories of English cities, to highlight the separate elements of a homogenised country, united through language and government.


Souvenir sculptures

I’m currently working on my exhibition for the PhD which consists of a series of self-designed souvenir sculptures to represent each of the 44 cities of England. I’d originally considered producing souvenirs for the whole of the British Isles, but then decided it would be better to make it a bit more specific and self-reflexive.

The idea behind the work relates to the study of images of culture and how such images are produced as a dialogue between producers and consumers of a culture. Based on England’s long history, I decided to use a range of influences, including heraldic imagery, landmarks, mythology, and historical and contemporary figures from the region.

Each of the figures is made from paper, reflecting my previous practice using the medium, as well as the role of the material in the colonial history which tourism studies draws on. The lightweight, ephemeral material also echoes the throw-away and transitory nature of souvenirs, despite their often artisanal qualities.

Taking influence from the bright colours of tourist souvenirs and artefacts I have drawn previously, I decided to decorate these sculptures with acrylic paint, applying a vibrant background colour before painting additional imagery from the region on their surface. The work also borrows from kitsch and pop art in producing ‘mass-produced’ objects as part of a fine art tradition.

The object as representative of a location or region shows it as being part of a larger network of tradition and imagery. However, it also obstructs the agencies and decision-making processes that contribute to the production of images of culture. In this way, these sculptures are an ironic comment on whose agency is represented through souvenirs and tourist art.


Kinesis and Stasis conference

The Barbican
London, UK
27th November 2015
Organised by TECHNE

“Kinesis and Stasis, movement and stillness, embody an essential component of human life, and a fundamental dialectic within any culture. All entities move, and their social milieu evolve with them. Ever-newer waters flow onto those who step into the same river. Yet the constant state of flux and perpetual kinesis of our living world ultimately evokes an enduring stillness: change is the only permanence. Culture is an ever-present yet ever evolving form of sociality. Creativity is a moment of reflection and a moment of action, a mode of doing and being.” (

The Kinesis and Stasis conference was held at the Barbican on 27th November 2015, and I was invited to present my paper ‘Fragments of Venus’. Taking my previous explorations of the Venus figure in art, I decided to present a threefold process of capturing movement in art: Firstly, my studies of the Venus sculpture by Antonio Canova described a way of navigating the object through drawing. Secondly, the Venus figure in 15th Century Florence incorporated a method for drawing movement in hair and drapery borrowed from antiquity, such as in the painting ‘The Birth of Venus’ by Sandro Botticelli. Lastly, the Venus as a motif in art and culture has perpetuated from Antiquity to the present day. This omnipresence represents the movement of pagan imagery, both geographically and temporally.

As well as providing evidence for the movement of iconography through Aby Warburg, Hugh Honour, and related topics such as Image Studies, I also discussed how my artwork had been influenced by these ideas. I showed how the initial drawings made from the sculpture had been digitally printed and then recreated into a geometric shape, in order to reassemble the drawing into a 3D form. The digital images were also bound into an artist book, reflecting the time-based element of both experiencing the sculpture and viewing the book. The presentation was supported by a selection of images from the artist book presented as an exhibition.

Leeds Revisited

Dortmund, Germany
12th October – 7th November 2014

plakat-leeds-neuEast Street Arts has been invited by Dortmunder Gruppe to curate an exhibition of members’ work at the BIG-Gallery in Dortmund, Germany.

“The project is a continuation on an ongoing creative exchange between East Street Arts and Dortmunder Gruppe. The first East St Arts Salon, launched in November 2008 at Patrick Studios, was then materialized in the Torhaus, Dortmund as ‘Salon:Dopplegänger’. In 2009, ‘Salon:Vardøgr’ was East Street Arts participation in that years’ Leeds Art Fair, celebrating the 40th anniversary of twinning between Leeds and Dortmund, which culminated with a visit to Leeds by German artists and their works later that year.

Dortmunder Gruppe, originated in the 1920’s as the ‘Dortmunder Künstlervereinigung’ (“artists association”), disbanded in 1934 because the members were not prepared to comply with the dictates of the Nazi Regime. Re-forming in 1956, its roots lie in artists of the 50’s need to rediscover the buried traces of modernism. Although the Dortmund Group initially decided to devote its activities to abstract or non-figurative painting and sculpture, without however drawing up a programme of artistic principles, i.e. a manifesto. Other forms of expression were gradually taken into consideration.

Today the ‘Gruppe’ has 22 members. One of the important aspects of collaboration with the City of Dortmund, is the development of contacts with artists abroad. The ‘Gruppe’ has exhibited in Romania, England, Lithuania, Netherlands, Serbia and France, and invited artists from those countries to exhibit in Dortmund, as well as from Switzerland, Austria and Latvia.”

As part of the Leeds Revisited exhibition, I will be showing my works ‘Head of a Nat Spirit’ and ‘Figure of Ganesh’. This body of work is produced using drawing and collage and focuses on collections, particularly the relationship between objects in a museum context. In studying the formal qualities of ethnographic objects within fine art practice through text and image, my aim is to consider the categories used to describe artworks from around the world, and how this contributes to ways of understanding cultural production across disparate geographical regions.

Works exhibited by: Louise Atkinson, Lorna Barrowclough, Carine Brosse, Ellen Burroughs, Paula Chambers, Paul Digby, Jon Eland, Hondartza Fraga, Christopher Hall, Fiona Halliday, Jason Hynes, Andrew Lister, Ellie MacGarry, Eva Mileusnic, Carla Moss, Annie Nelson, Eleni Odysseos, Kathryn Oubridge, Anna Turner, Katrien Van Liefferinge, Chris Woodward, and Valerie Zwart.

AMBruno 2008 – 2014

Bower Ashton Library 
UWE, Bristol, UK
3rd March – 3rd April 2014

“AMBruno is a coalition of artists with diverse individual practices, including painting, photography, video, performance, printmaking and sculpture, with a common interest in the medium of the book. First brought together in 2008, we are a London based group which has since grown to include artists from further afield.

Making books is challenging for most of us as artists working principally in other mediums, though it takes us out of the habitual into new spheres of thought, engaging in conceptual adaptation to a different methodology of a new medium.

New books are made for each event such as specialised book fairs and exhibitions. Since 2011 we have been working to a theme; a call for proposals is made, given a subject title to respond to, such as Blue, Lines, Black Circle, One-fold books. These may be taken as a formal, conceptual or referential springboard. As only a certain number of books can be shown, a process of selection is undertaken; the proposals (made anonymous) are given to an independent arbiter. A choice is made and the selected artists proceed with the production of their book. Working to a theme creates a mini show, a self-contained and cohesive body of work connected by the thread of the motif.

In addition to books, other projects of ours include film/videos to the constraint of 101 seconds duration, shown in New York. Surfaces: works on paper exhibited in Porto and 18 prints by 18 artists to the theme of I’m telling you stories. Trust me. for Multiplied at Christies in 2013.

Lists etc. is our current theme for at the Leeds Contemporary Artists’ Book Fair in March 2014, Gustavo Grandal Montero, Chelsea College of Arts Library, made the selection for this. The works will include favourite shirts that the owner can’t wear, failed collections, and an archeology of erotic writing.

Also to be exhibited at this event is Book Act, for this artists perform and embody the concept or essence of their book through the medium of film. The exhibition will comprise of the originating books and corresponding video work including live performances.”

Artists in the AMBruno 2008 – 2014 Bristol survey exhibition include: Alvin Watt, Ana Efe, Barbara Greene, Cally Trench, Charlotte Andrew, Christian Nyampeta, Clare Deniau, Francesca Galeazzi, Heidi Locher, Ingrid Jensen, Jane Grisewood, Joanna Hill, John McDowall, Judy Goldhill, Julie Johnstone, Karen Blake, Kathryn Faulkner, Louise Atkinson, Lydia Julien, Manya Donaque, Marco Cali, Mary Yacoob, Maureen O’Brien, Nancy Campbell, Paula Naughton, Penny Matheson, Philip Lee, Sara Dell’onze, Sharon Kivland, Shelley Rae, Sophie Loss, Steve Perfect, Valerie Mary and Veronica Pérez Karleson


Albert and the Dots: Reading Rooms

Alfred Gallery
Tel Aviv, Israel
22nd March – 13th April 2013
Private View: 21st March, 8-10pm
Curated by Gali Timen

“Barely ventilated, strangely lit, full of books and magazines, and with that faint musty smell: reading rooms are supposed to be quiet, silent spaces. You can almost catch every breath, hear every page turn, occasionally you hear the librarian whisper or an unexpected sneeze. People sit there deeply engrossed, or pretending to read, gathering information and collating research. From time to time they write down scholarly notes, they try to expand their knowledge taking from the books. But why do we learn, in this way, about life? 

Only from sitting in reading rooms and reading books can we discover knowledge worth knowing? There, in this quiet and still place, you can create the subversive, something mysterious, that can pop up from the silence and surprise you. Each artist involved in the Reading Rooms exhibition has created something that not only comes from this kind of institution, but represents the hidden side of it that is often overlooked.”

My work ‘Appropriating Joseph Beuys’ How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (before Marina Abramovic)’ is related to questions I’ve been considering for a while about the nature of appropriation in art and the ways in which that is justified. As part of my research, I am interested in how “aesthetic objects are often used as transferors of meaning within culture in general, and in this sense are part of a complex social system of exchange, be that ritualised, monetary or ideological.” In short, this means that to create a consensus of understanding, there needs to be elements of appropriation within society. A popular example of this would be the use of internet memes.

I was particularly interested in developing this work on a number of levels, as it not only appropriates ritual and Shamanistic imagery within the original performance, but is then reappropriated some 40 years later as an homage. My appropriation (based on an image of myself as a toddler) represents a debate on a kind of creativity which allows ‘marginal’ voices to represent themselves, rather than meaning and intention being attributed to them. My position in this work is somewhat ambiguous, as both the artist and subject, but is intended to act as an interpretation of the artworks within the title, whilst exploring the nature of self-representation in general.

The artists taking part in ‘Albert and the Dots: Reading Rooms’ are: Adi Bezalel, Dvir Cohen-Kedar, Dan Birenboim, Alicia Shahaf, Yael Ravid, Karen Harvey, Steve Perfect, Leanne Moden, Louise Atkinson, Alma Machness Kass, Sharon Pazner, Carmela Weiss and Gali Timen.

The curator, Gali Timen is a conceptual artist and curator, and a graduate of the MA at Central Saint Martins, London. Gali curates projects in alternative spaces as well as conventional ones. 

Welcome to the Jungle

Tent Gallery
Edinburgh, UK
21st September – 4th October 2012
Curated by Inbal Drue
Supported by ASCUS

“Welcome to the animal kingdom; the place where we can unleash our human desires and let our subconscious, intuitions and instincts rule. This exhibition explores themes such as camouflage, masks, mythology, mating behaviour and mate selection through photography, drawing, sculpture and installation.

‘Birds to the Parliament’, a photographic triptych by Louise Atkinson and Zeev Parush, discusses political and social leadership and the phenomena of how leaders are perceived and who they really are behind their public mask. The triptych presents the transformation from several candidates to the ‘chosen one’.

Read from right to left, the first image represents the candidates in their masks who know how to manipulate in order to gain votes. In the middle are the people, represented by origami birds as if they are inhuman, manufactured and incapable of making their own, individual decisions. The last image is the leader, hiding behind their ‘feathers’, not to reveal the truth, their truth which most likely doesn’t match with the propaganda that has allowed them to become elected.

‘Collective Nouns’, by Bob Milner is a series of 3 drawings (A shrivel of critics; A worship of writers; A quibble of pedants). Bob says: ‘We are animal, we are base. Humankind masquerading as something better, more intelligent, more virile, more potent. We experiment, fiddle around. We mix it up, cut and paste, reinvent the wheel. Don’t believe the hype.’ Catriona Gilbert’s installation ‘After Freya and Daedalus’ is created using dyed goose feathers, cotton, glue, polystyrene and shows the transformative act of cloaking oneself, and the uncertainty of the cloaked form.

Further information on the artists can be found on the following websites:


This exhibition is supported by ASCUS

ASCUS is an open platform to inspire transdisciplinary collaboration between practitioners of science and art. They strive to inspire collaboration amongst artists and scientists by providing opportunities for networking, knowledge exchange, consultation, and support. Founded in 2008 by James Howie and Dr. Paul Parrish, both of the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh, ASCUS was originally intended as a vehicle for geoscientists to incorporate art into their research and to explore new ways of communicating science and data visually. ASCUS has since expanded its mission to foster direct collaborations between scientists and artists, and now includes members from around the world.
Image: Catriona Gilbert, After Freya and Daedalus, Dyed goose feathers, cotton, glue, polystyrene, 2009


Leeds City Library
Leeds, UK
14th – 24th August 2012

Bower Ashton Library
Bristol, UK
3rd December 2012 – 31st January 2013

Curated by Louise Atkinson
for Artist Book Collective

As part of Divided We Fall, the collective will present ‘Bound’ their first touring show as a way to strengthen connections within the group and promote books as an artistic medium.From the exploration of experimental binding techniques to more conceptual interpretations, such as the book as a ritual object, this new exhibition will investigate the notion of ‘bound’ in its myriad forms. Works will be also available for sale or commission.

The tour will begin at the Art Library of the Leeds Central Library, before continuing on to other venues, including The Centre for Fine Print Research in Bristol. The launch of Bound is the first stage in creating a permanent artist book archive for the collective in Leeds city centre. This will also be digitised online for the artists, researchers and members of the public to view.

For more information about viewing or buying works visit

Other profiles:

Image: Darren Bryant, Jack in a Box, Vol 2, Concertina with Relief Etching and Collage, 2012

Towser Bothy

Th’Owd Towser
Holmfirth, UK
15th – 24th June 2012
Open Fri 5-9pm, Sat, 12-9pm & Sun 12-7pm
Curated by Alice Bradshaw & Vanessa HaleyTh'Owd Towser, HolmfirthAs part of the 2012 Holmfirth Arts Festival, the oldest building in Holmfirth, Th’Owd Towser, houses a temporary bar and zine library as the Towser Bothy. 

Upstairs, a new festival zine library features selected limited edition, handmade and self-published books and zines from artists across the world, on a unique Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau inspired ‘Hafzbau’ book stand, constructed by artist Bob Milner. Downstairs, two new Nook Brewhouse festival beers ‘Sedition’ and ‘Twisted In’ are served at a specially commissioned dry stone wall bar built by Luke Powell and Tom Blaker. 

Borrow a book or zine from the library and relax at the bar or under a Luddite inspired cyanotype print silk canopy by artist Bob Clayden. There is also a programme of events as part of the festival. To find out more see
Zine library contributors are: Gijs Assmann, Tom Asz, Craig Atkinson, Louise Atkinson, Eva Bartussek, Tom Bevan, Lucy Cheung, W. Craghead, Black Dogs, Black Swan Collective, Black and White Cat Press, Joe Biel, Alice Bradshaw & Bob Milner, David Briers, Joanna Brinton, Kathleen Bryson, Andrew Burton, Anwyl Cooper-Willis, Charles Danby, Helen Dearnley, Oliver East, Becky Fawcett, Albert Foolman, Daniel Frost, Globe Gallery, Michael Hampton, Shelley Jackson & Ethan Clarke, Jonathan Johnson, John Kearns, Stuart Kolakovic, Sue Lawty, Hywel Lewis, Matthew Livesey, Loosely Bound, Melanie Maddison, Manchester Modernist Society, Jean McEwan, Sera Marshall, Milk Two Sugars, Jade Montserrat, Susan Mortimer, Lydia Moyer & Tony Wright, Peter O’Toole, Pest, Barry Edgar Pilcher, Betsy Rivers, Cristy Road, Rubric Journal, The Salford Restoration Office, Secret  Ideas, Soda Press & Big Dead Thing, Oli Smith, Cherry Smyth, Jenny Steele, Reginald Swinney, Andy Watson, Mandy Williams and Mary Yacoob.

I’m very excited to have been accepted to show work as part of the Towser Bothy. It’s given me some much needed impetus to create bookworks, as well as the opportunity to work with Alice Bradshaw and Vanessa Haley again. As this exhibition is in response to the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprising, it was the perfect excuse to create editions of my ‘One Minute’ book.

‘One Minute’ is a mini flip book consisting of individual pages, each representing a second. The aesthetic of each page mimics a digital format, but the turning of the pages is entirely manual. In this respect, despite the number of pages suggesting one minute (60 seconds), the manual nature of the flip book is such that the reader determines the pace at which the pages turn, rendering the use of the book as a timekeeping device useless. However, although the book is a mockery of the digital device that it mimics, it also represents the idea that time is relative, not absolute.

Surfaces: Works on Paper

Sput+Nik Gallery
Porto, Portugal
15th June – 28th July 2012
Curated by Steve Perfect & John McDowall
As part of AMBruno

Louise Atkinson, Dog Leg

The idea of ‘skin deep’ is commonplace, but some thinkers have sought to overturn this view of the superficial, and place significance, complexity, and profundity in the surface. Twenty four artists present work that engages with meaning captured in the surface. Artists exhibiting: Ana Efe, Cally Trench, Claire Deniau, Heidi Locher, Ingrid Jensen, Jane Grisewood, Joanna Hill, John McDowall, Judy Goldhill, Karen Blake, Katalin Hausel, Katherine Melancon, Louise Atkinson, Lilian Igbinosun, Madi Acharya-Baskerville, Manya Donaque, Marco Cali, Mary Yacoob, Philip Lee, Yaron Lapid, Sharon Kivland, Sophie Loss, Steve Perfect, Tim Riley and Georgia Elizey.

Visit and for more info.

I’ve been involved with AM Bruno properly now since last September, but I’ve gained so much from it that it feels a lot longer than that. My recent involvement has allowed me to focus more on my magazine collages as, although AM Bruno is a collective devoted primarily to showcasing artist books, its practitioners span a range of media and the exhibitions they produce often have a wider focus.

As part of this exhibition I will be showing two A3 works from a series of collages created from body parts cut from magazines. Through creating new images from magazine source material, the work aims the subvert the intended message and nature of the medium.

Image: Louise Atkinson, Dog Leg, Magazine Collage, 2009