Why size really does matter. Part One: My Flies are Undone!

I am occasionally asked by people, “Why don’t you go bigger, make really really big Bugs?” Well, does size really matter? No, not at all. But from a practicable point of view size really does matter. It basically all depends on how much space you have.


Tiny Computer Component Bug

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The diverse variety of materials I am presented with upon opening up electronic gadgets can facilitate different forms and shapes and inspire new design possibilities. Of course, to find the pieces that fit perfectly together requires collecting, sorting and displaying literally thousands of components.

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The displaying of the found objects in one’s working space is vital to the process because it is a discerning eye and a forager’s mentality which brings the separate pieces together to form the whole. It takes a lot of looking and searching through all the components to find ‘just the right one’. Then of course you need the space for experimenting…

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Knowing how much space the collecting of components for my tiny sculpture’s take I am reminded of the artist Edouard Martinet who creates beautiful sculptures from found objects… one of my favourite sculptors,  I marvel at his incredible works and, giving that all the large components for his pieces all fit together perfectly, Martinet uses a huge array of components in order to find ‘just the right pieces’. Kitchen utensils; pots and pans, cake tins, bottle openers, cooker parts. Car and motorcycle parts; hub caps, chain guards, head lamps, car doors, windscreen wipers, speakers, radios, flashlights, the list goes on and on and I wonder at how much space he must require. I would imagine… a great deal of space!

waspWasp by Edouard Martinet:
Abdomen : steel tips for boots, bike headlights
Thorax and head : steel tips and bells from bikes and typewriters
Eyes : vintage watch case
Antennae : spectacles arms
Legs : bike brakes , bike chain , spoon handles
Wings : glass

“When Edouard Martinet was 10, one of his teachers introduced his pupils to insects, but in a rather obsessive way. Subliminally, the fascination sunk in to the young French boy. Fast-forward 40 years, and Martinet has become the art world’s virtuoso insectophile, transforming bits and pieces of cast-off junk culled from flea markets and car boot sales into exquisitely executed insect, fish and animal forms. What sets Martinet’s work apart is the brilliant formal clarity of his sculptures, and their extraordinary elegance of articulation. His degree of virtuosity is unique: he does not solder or weld parts. His sculptures are screwed together. This gives his forms an extra level of visual richness – but not in a way that merely conveys the dry precision of, say, a watchmaker. There is an X-Factor here, a graceful wit, a re-imagining of the obvious in which a beautifully finished object glows not with perfection, but with character, with new life. Martinet takes about a month to make a sculpture and will often work on two or three pieces at the same time. It took him just four weeks to make his first sculpture and 17 years for his most recent completion!”
(Wall St Journal)

redantRed ant by Edouard martinet: 65X42X22 cm
Thorax and head : sauce spoons, car parts
Eyes : marbles
Abdomen : bike or motorbike headlights
Antennae: small bike chains
Legs: cream chargers , brake parts , chains, alarm clock feet , spoon handles

mothMoth by Edouard Martinet: 78 X 42 X 17 H cm
Wings : moped chain guards ( rusted and patinated)
Abdomen : motorbike headlights
Thorax : very old car headlamp
Legs : large upholstery tacks , car boot hinges, pieces of windshield wipers, bike brake parts, chain guards
Head : old rear position lamps , bike parts, pieces of a daisy wheel
Butterfly trunk : clock springs
Antennae : aluminium heating resistor

In my own studio (tiny spare room), filled with boxes and shelves and trays full of possible Bug components, spilling out into other rooms, the mind boggles at what kind of space Martinet’s Creative practice must require. So, for practicable reasons, in the meantime I shall remain small scale. But the temptation to make bigger is too much. I have already started. Its exciting!…there will be a couple of BIG pieces revealed at a later date….

The Broken Promise

I think that probably 50% of my sales of artwork are bought from me by other artists, maybe more than 50%. I really want to show my gratitude by buying other artist’s work too but I promised myself that I would never buy art for myself until I was well and truly established and making a living from my own art. Well I’m not quite there yet so I broke my promise to myself. But the two pieces I’ve recently bought are really really tiny and so lovely I just had to have them. The first piece was a hand embroidered Golden Poppy from Heather Everitt Embroidery


and the second, this unusual hummingbird skull ( not a real skull) artwork from Handmade Geeks.


I learn so much from other artists, sometimes major things and sometimes little things that are so easily overlooked but things that can make a real difference to whether or not your customer will return. And the one thing I’ve learnt from both these two artists is about the packaging… the parcels which in both of these cases were a pure delight to receive. Upon opening my Hummingbird artwork, tiny hand-made butterflies and stars sprinkled out of the package.


With Heather’s parcel the surprise was an extra gift, a gorgeous hand embroidered Christmas tree hanging Butterfly, beautiful packaging with printed bug paper and ribbon, specially made stamp prints on the parcel


When I began selling my work online I’m afraid I was rather bad at wrapping my wares, bundling them in tonnes of bubble wrap with not much thought to added extras or charming finishing touches. So delighted have I been upon receiving these two recent purchases, its really made me think about how I present my work to the buyer so although I broke my promise to myself in the first place and felt guilty for doing it, it was certainly by no means wasted money, after all I have gained so much more than the art I bought, much more than I ever expected for the money spent…. and the guilt has gone. It was meant to be. Can’t wait till I am in a financially better position so I can buy more art.

Created in Portsmouth Art Trail

The Created in Portsmouth Art Trail starts tomorrow and you can find a map here… http://createdinportsmouth.co.uk/CIP_TrailMap.htm  I am being represented along the trail by Island Pictures Gallery so please try to come along. I have many of my Computer Bugs and paintings exhibited including my Angel paintings which are inspired by the stone angels in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth. Please do have a srtoll along the trail and discover some truly wonderful artists and makers in their studios and galleries. Lets hope the sun shines…

Angel Painting (Kingsto Cemetery, Portsmouth)

“How do you make the wings?” Mixing the old with the new

The question most commonly asked about My Insect and Animal art is, “How do you make the wings?” Moth Well, it’s a fairly long process so I will simplify the process as much as possible here. Firstly a do a few Google searches of ‘natural history and insect photography’ to find images of clearly visible wings that appeal to me and that I think would work well incorporated into one of My pieces. I also use old entomological reference books and newer photographic reference books 10649532_947435761937138_2666882823733547848_n Then I do a few sketches and drawings which enable me to get the feel of the shape, the example here being the Peacock Butterfly design. I will not directly copy one set of wings from a photo I find but will take all the best bits and put them all together till I get what I consider to be the perfect wing. 21-09-2014 11;07;58(1) I will then paint the wings in the highly detailed manner of the illustrations in old natural history reference books, the traditional style of entomological drawings and paintings, painstakingly executed, by illustrators that I admire so much. tumblr_m7xupvgIA91rvjsk3o1_1280 So, I have my nice traditionally painted set of wings (the old). Now to add ‘the new’…. My hand painted wings are scanned into my computer. The next bit involves superimposing circuit images onto the wings. The images are created digitally in various computer programmes such as Ink Scape or Illustrator. This is the bit I have trouble with, I don’t really know what I’m doing and I have to admit that most of my designs are happy accidents. I can never repeat what I’ve done because I don’t know/ I’m not quite sure what I’ve done! I’m sure with time and practice I will get the hang of digital art but the point is to mix old traditional methods, painted illustrations, with new methods, digitally created art… 19-05-2014 23;10;16 Then the wings are printed out onto transparent acetate, cut out, a bit of extra hand painted transparent colour and a little extra drawing with permanent inks, ‘hey presto’ DSC09514 The tiny and complex patterns on the circuit boards are repeated on the wings as ‘veins’. I have packs of acetate which I found in the ‘Craft Bank’ The Beneficial foundation, in Portsmouth,

DSC07059Hampshire. Many of the used acetate sheets already have things printed on them but for 50p a box I’m not complaining…. so I compose my wings in such a way that they will print out only on clear areas keeping my work true to the theme of recycling. The Craft Bank are given stuff by companies…stuff that is no longer needed and the public can go and get the stuff… Its actually where I got my first big box of electronic components that first inspired the Computer Insects. I also found lots of computer key pads at the Craft Bank. It is inside the key boards that I discovered the transparent computer circuit blue prints that I also use for the wings. So, although many of the wings are not always directly from computers, they certainly are recycled, thanks to the Craft Bank.  Well, that’s briefly how the wings are done. Its a long process but well worth it. The art of up cycling – creating something beautiful and precious from waste materials.

Just for starters… A little bit about myself and my artwork

As a painter, photographer and sculptor my multi-disciplinary practice transforms found objects into something new, seemingly organic; growing and evolving.
My current work, ‘Computer Component Bugs’ incorporates the printed ephemera from inside discarded computers and gadgets. The recycled bits of cultural refuse that are woven throughout my work represent a direct encounter with the excesses of modern living highlighting the dangers of planned obsolescence and e-waste in the environment. I use found and manufactured materials because they can comment upon the accumulation of cultural debris and become their own subjective universes as they build form into patterns of the communicative behaviour of life processes.

My investigation process is focused around the idea of creating a stylized representation of organic structures through geometric patterns, networks and configurations often based on mathematic formulae found in the natural world. Paradoxically, this cultural debris also contains symbolic reference to our values and our diversity; celebrating human ingenuity and knowledge passed down through generations. The work displays an aesthetic beauty whilst offering a socio-political discourse, attempting to reclaim waste and the destruction of the natural world, in the beauty of visual art. The visual aesthetics of my work plays on our desires for beauty, poetics and enchantment. I engage these themes and contradictions, fashioning detritus into visionary objects that synthesize, inspire, amuse, renew and provoke.

1476624_565236260224492_1125230566_n(1)(1) My current work in progress in which my ‘Computer Component Bugs’ are being arranged into patterns and mandalas, is a direct response to Damien Hirst’s Entomology Series.DSC00784(1)

I am a full time freelance artist and regularly exhibit my work in group and solo shows often with accompanying themed workshops.

First time blogger…

I have decided to write a blog. I’m not even sure what a ‘blog’ is and I don’t like the word ‘BLOG’ but that’s besides the point. I am led to believe that a blog is pretty much like a website but also a journal. So its not just about putting up images of your work and selling; its also a platform on which you can really go into great detail about your work. I’m on a roll with my Facebook art page, ‘Julie Alice Chappell Artist’ which is pretty good for someone who was completely computer illiterate just a few years ago so now I think its time to boost my on-line presence further, after all, it is most important for artists to do this in this day and age. ‘You should not keep all your eggs in one basket’ is the expression and its true! Especially now with Facebook starting to get fairly restrictive with who can see your posts and constant requests to ‘boost’ your posts financially. I have ventured into Twitter, Pinterest and Etsy just vaguely but I really need somewhere I can really natter on about my art practice to my heart’s content without invading anyone’s ‘timeline’. I get so many questions asked about my work on Facebook and I need somewhere I can direct people with a genuine interest in what I do. Where to start? Where to start? I fear if I start at the beginning I will never catch up with myself so I have decided to start right here at the present with the work I am creating right now. This way I can dip in and out of the past recollecting past influences and inspirations describing how they have affected my present work and how they might be used in future work. I should give a brief explanation of my art practice to start with though. Here goes………