Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Spring- It's all new

Hello, and happy new year! I realise it is now March and so we are well into 2014, but it's been awhile. Spring has finally happened in Cumbria, and everything is saturated in colour and light.
The drawing opposite is something I've been trying out recently. It's a kind of intensive doodling, I guess, teamed with the desire to rediscover figures, shapes, anatomy and nature. The monotone of a black fineliner helps me break this down a little, and I seem to have found a style.

This March Hare has gained some unexpected interest from a number of people, and orders for commissions have already begun to occupy my evenings. What a perfect way to spend the time! If orders continue to come in then I will set my mind to a more long-term course of production, possibly involving prints. At the moment though, it's great to do individual ones for people because even the replicas aren't quite identical- flowers differ, patterns change. Each drawing is unique.

I will put up more in due course; there are a couple of other poses of this long-eared lad, and I have begun a very detailed series of other animals that I see around the local area. Any ideas, orders or hello's, do get in touch at jo.gillot@googlemail.com

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Gigs, Guilt and the Gillotone

Winter's mad, isnt it.
The beautiful wooden instrument you're looking at is the Gillotone, a kind of harp made by Cameron Crook. It was my Christmas present, and it's made from an old oak mantlepiece. It's heavy as you like and is fixed with nylon strings and zither pegs. The sound is rich and mellow.
It's beautiful.
I've been a little too scared to try and write much music on it, as I'm worried that I'll not do it justice. But here is a quick tune that I wrote this evening for it.
Another significant first for me, is that I recorded that demo on my brand new pocket studio. As I've said so often before, I'm not blessed with the understanding or patience for sophisticated recording kit, but I treated myself to this little device, in order to be able to record my new album completely by myself. Not that I want to shut out all help, just that guilt creeps in when people start to go to all the effort of writing parts for my songs. Silly, I know.

So, the weekend before last, I supported Laura J Martin and Emily and the Faves at the Tudor in Wigan, and Dulcimer in Manchester. Both gigs were brilliant fun, organised by Imploding Acoustic Inevitable. These guys are some of the best promoters I've had the joy of gigging with. They're supportive and great fun, and put on brilliant live music. The second gig resulted in me getting one of my songs off The Lido played on BBC 6music this week, on Marc Riley's show. Very exciting, and so flattering!

So, with music firmly in my sights, we are hurtling onwards with 2012. I'm also making a patchwork quilt. It's the most complicated thing I've ever attempted to make. It'll take me years.

Anyone else feeling a little exhausted already? No, me neither. Let's go!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Thoughts on Book Forms (part i)

My recent creative projects have reignited a fascination which has been flickering away, quietly, for some time now. I have this thing about books. It started whilst on a foundation art and design course in Chesterfield back in 2005, when I opted into a module which taught me about the creation, binding and concepts involved in making books as art forms in their own right. There was a course trip to NYC where we visited the HQ of the wonderful Booklyn artists alliance. Named 'creative book structures' as part of the foundation course, 'book art' by some, and 'artist's books' by others, it is a strange and often overlooked art form, and one which I'm currently attempting to tackle in my dissertation for my MA in Contemporary Curating. This is partly the reason for this informal piece of writing today, as I'm hoping the process of explaining it will open up some more doors of thought for me.
I am aware that every object varies on this, some politically, some in terms of function or concept, but for this particular article, I am focusing on the handmade, the inclusive and the labours of love. In other words, books which are part of a project.

Last fortnight, Lancaster, once my hometown for three years, saw the launch of Back & Beyond, described as "the flagship publication for Made in Lancaster, a collective of creatives sharing skills and offering peer support." It's beautifully designed and printed on big, light sheets of paper; it draws on the practicality of a newspaper, but retains a sincerity and attention towards Lancaster and its local creatives. This is not an artist's book, but it is creative in appearance, in its literary content, and is as accessible to the public as any of the artist's books which gained a platform through Printed Matters publications in the 1970's. In this way, the publication is promoting the very notion of art for everyone, art by everyone. Lippard would be proud.
Having only had a brief read of someone's copy, I hope to pop into a shop or café somewhere in Lancaster and pick up my own copy this week.

And that is where part of my problem lies. I collect things. When it comes to books, in particular, those creative book structures, or books where the content is unusual or the design a little bizarre or homemade, I feel that I must own a copy, be it for its history or ingenuity. Were there as many collectors of fiction, autobiographies and various books of reference, as there are collectors of the coffee-table photography book, the one-of-a-kind, the early edition children's book (all of these I am guilty of obtaining), there may be no libraries left. A couple of months ago, I was overjoyed to obtain an early edition of children's book Babar The Elephant, became mildly worried when one of the dogs attempted to chew it up as it arrived on the doormat, and have resigned to feel slightly foolish for the fact that I wont really do anything with the book. It's so precious that the children for whom it was originally written, would probably not be allowed to read these early editions; rather, they would be scolded for attempting to turn the pages, just as the poor dog was scolded for attempting to chew it up. It's utterly daft.
The real contradiction, however, lies in the fact that I criticise myself for preferring some books just for their structure and design, yet there are hoardes of artists out there whose book art deliberately forgoes content for form, and it really works.

In the Spring of this year, I organised and curated a small show in Lancaster (as part of Undecorated Café collective), in the window of shop Arteria. I enlisted local artists to make art that centered round the form of books, and named it Static Pages to highlight the difficulties in experiencing a book when it's behind glass. Not being able to turn pages, or hold the book, leaves these objects frozen in time. The visual response from the artists was uplifting, curious and good humoured, as they each tackled this obstacle in their own brilliant way.

It seems that places like Lancaster are perfect testing ground for overlooked art forms like books and publications, mainly because of their focus on community and inclusion. Artist's books, creative book sculptures or structures, and artistic and poetic publications, all lend themselves to projects which find a joy in, not just the showcasing of work, but the showcasing of work which sits happily in that very context, and which draws on the place and time around it. This is, in my opinion, a recurring format, possibly because there is safety and satisfaction in its cyclical nature. These are projects which can be started, seen through to the end, and picked up again for the next installment, be it a second edition or a follow-up exhibition.
This ties in very neatly with my own urge to own and collect these objects. When I curated Static Pages I enjoyed collecting the artists together, and when I put that exhibition up I wanted the participation of those artists who had made their work. I wanted them to be a part of the whole process. I wanted them to share in the satisfaction of completion. I strive for the collective, because I am a collector. Many of us rejoice in the complex, complete (yet quietly evolving) and contained nature of the book, because we, and those modest communities, are all those things.

Continuing in this very way then, I shall end this article here, and ponder a second article. Life trundles along, page by page, and I have a dissertation to complete.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Absence Makes

It really has been a while, and for that I apologise! Updates have been impeded somewhat, due to a combination of factors:

-Change of location
-Commencement of my Postgraduate study -New projects

The Lido is finished and now available on CD via Paypal. We're so proud of it, and how it has been near-singlehandedly produced. Many thanks go to Cameron T Crook, my musical and artistic counterpart.

I found my way back to the north again, and started something that I'd been putting off for a year- a big, healthy dose of intensive academia. My MA in Curating in Manchester finishes this Summer, and it's been a fantastic opportunity to get creative in a whole new way.

The aforementioned new projects have been keeping me busy too. My main new project is one which has been in the pipeline for about a year now, and it's going to consolidate all these creative projects and ideas into one website. It's an experiment in organising myself and my career. More on this soon.

I hope you're all keeping well. Tragic things are happening around the world right now, most recently in and around Japan, and this Spring I'm feeling pretty grateful about lots of things. There arent all that many opportunities around these days, but we can try at least. I'm feeling optimistic.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Making Mix-tapes for Friends

While 'The Lido' matures and ferments, one can only sit back and wait. It's always taken longer than anticipated to get songs recorded, as I flit between days where I am a tireless perfectionist who spends so long editing and retaking that I forgets to eat, and days where I am tempted to speed things up a bit by cutting corners.

This is a mix-tape I made for a friend. I made a photomontage cover out of old Royal Academy Magazines. Photomontage is something I used to do a lot of, and will probably return to again. There was a small surge of photomontage artists during WWII, and Soviet artists were using the technique from the 1920s onwards. It's a powerful way of mixing up ideas to form new ones. The one I've made certainly mixes up old images to make a new one, but not so much ideas. It's purely for the amusement of my friend, as he ponders the music I've chosen for him.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


After a long time not blogging, content to gig a little and work to raise some funds, I am getting my creative momentum back.

My current project is the completion of my latest CD, entitled The Lido. It's taking a while as recordings equipment, as well as my knowledge of said recording equipement, is basic. Still, it works well in achieving that homemade feel that I'm always after, and so right now you wouldn't get me into a professional studio for anything. These little challenges are part of what makes the whole thing enjoyable.

I chose the title because it sums up the feel of this mini-album for me. Having been living back in Ruislip for the best part of a year now, my walks to the lido have been great for clearing my head and gathering new ideas.

I love Ruislip Lido. It's a bizarre, slightly quaint idea, sort of stuck in the 1930s. There's a miniature railway, an artificial beach and a boathouse. It's about to undergo a big revamp, but I personally enjoy it when the weather's a bit bleak and all the swans are out, looking evil.

I'm excited about this new release. We've had a few offers from promoters who want to help launch it, and so even though I'm making and releasing it all independently at the moment, it should have a fair bit of publicity when it comes out. I'll need all your help in making it a success!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

26-10-'09 Dead or Alive@ The Old Queen's Head

So, the other day I played at this lovely little venue. My first gig in London in absolutely ages, and a really enjoyable evening! Lots of people turned up, merchandise went, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, which is the main thing really.
A good thing about playing to a whole new audience is that I could take a step back and play the earlier material that I wrote whilst living up north, songs which I didn't want to become tiresome for the regular audience. I dont think this was necessarily the case but still, playing Bit Of Zen to people who hadn't heard it before was a nice buzz. You can't just assume that absolutely everyone's going to like that sort of thing, and so it felt risky all over again.
The CD cases, and bags are both going well. I have printed quite a few, and once they're all made up fully, I'll pop a photo up here for you. Hoping they might go up for sale via the myspace, once I can sort out my faulty 'Buy Now' button.
I have also been working on an exciting side-project, which I will reveal more info about shortly. Watch this space!