Wednesday 30 April 2014

Calke Abbey: Documeting Decay

For a number of years now I have curiously desired to visit Calke Abbey, after being exposed to its existence by Rhiannon Williams during a context lecture, and now a number of years later on a dark and dismal Saturday afternoon, I had my chance.

On approach it struck me that externally the house resembled a miniature Chatsworth. With its regimented symmetry, countless features borrowed from classical architecture and rolling grounds, on first glace Calke Abbey was not dissimilar to the most Stately homes which dot the hills of Derbyshire.

But looks can be deceiving, and within the house reveals itself as a magnificent labyrinth of rooms in varying states of decay and disarray. Once you've made your way past the warm open fires and greeting smiles, you can truly begin to appreciate and understand what sets Calke Abbey apart from the usual Stately Home experience. Each layer of history is left tantalizingly exposed, with the different stages in the houses history easily distinguishable. Some rooms remained full of furniture, books and everyday objects, in  a state of fading deterioration, others claustrophobically packed with an eclectic array of collections. The dank smell of damp hanging heavy in the air was an ever present part of most rooms, and an occasional cold chill, only enhanced the lonely, eerie neglect of the building. In one room however, the ethic of preservation not restoration, appeared to have been lost. The only room in the house to have been restored felt somewhat uncomfortable and bizarre in comparison to the ruinous, threadbare atmosphere of the rest of the house.

The element within Calke Abbey which struck me most, was the bizarre ever present reminder of death and decay, not only in the house itself but also in the vast collections on display. In virtually every room was not only taxidermy but countless skulls, horns and antlers. This unabashed, slightly grotesque display of death sat strangely beside portraits of the great and the good, giving the house an inescapably sinister atmosphere.

Visiting Calke Abbey provided a wonderfully inspirational insight into the decline and decay of the stately home. A visually exciting and inspiring experience I encourage any creatives, especially those with a slightly morbid constitution to pay Calke Abbey a visit, I doubt you will be disappointed.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Danse Macabre Store

I am very pleased to announce that the official Danse Macabre Designs Big Cartel store is live! The store has been specifically created to stock my cards, and other products that I produce over time. I am aiming to improve the design of the store over time, and integrate it with my blog, but being no web wizard this is 'work in progress', and for now you have a fully functioning, slightly dull, store.

So please give the link below a click and visit the store to see what products are on offer presently!

(Please Remember that this is a brave new world for me, and to expand my product range I need your support. The more cards I sell, the more money I can invest in building the business, so dont think your support is unappreciated or doesn't count!)

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Danse Macabre Facebook

We are now present in the world of Facebook!

After investing quite some time in building the Danse Macabre Facebook over the past few months the time finally seemed right to for the page to go live. Hopefully this means more frequent studio updates for those interested, and allowing my art to reach new audiences.

Check out the page here:

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Bunch of Fives

The artwork for the 'Bunch of Fives' collection is finally complete, and has just been submitted to the printers. So as I wait with a mixture of eager anticipation and horrific nervousness to receive the cards, the time feels right to reveal all that Ive been working on, and the concept behind the collection.

The 'Bunch of Fives' collection is designed to be an exciting, different approach to expression and greeting cards. Each design is inspired by Traditional Tattoos and incorporates traditional imagery, as well as age old symbolism. Every card expresses a different sentiment, which is intended to be very personal, but versatile.

The initial idea for creating the collection came from the feeling that this art form and style rarely receives the attention it deserves, and that alternative people have no access to creative, different greetings cards which truly express what they think and feel, or which reflect their art, culture or personality. My aim in creating the collection was to design a range of cards which did exactly this, in a fun, honest way.

I feel really pleased with the finished designs, and the support Ive received has been absolutely phenomenal. Thank you all!

Below are the eight designs which I chose to send to the printers:

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Studio progress: Bunch of Fives

The new 'Bunch of Fives' project is moving forward at great speed. I'm really pleased with how everything's coming together. Its been a very rewarding challenge to work in a different style to that which I'm accustomed to.

Many of the designs which I am currently working on have been developed from sketches in my 'Ideas book'. The 'Ideas Book' is a bible like book which I carry absolutely everywhere and is thoroughly jam packed with anything my head conjures up. This unholy relic has a vast backlog of work which needs realization, some of which is being developed now.

The idea factory has been working overtime of late (both day and night at times) so expect lots of weird and wacky things. I really cant remember a time when I felt more creative or was having more ideas, which is a truly wonderful thing, I just need considerably more hours in the day!