Sorry that it has been a long silence but I've been busy with a number of projects and have just had a very inspiring few days away - I went to Wakefield for a neon-making course.
Years ago, my final degree show piece at Norwich School of Art & Design was a neon and etched steel sculpture and I always thought I would like to follow that up one day with more work in this vein. So when i saw Neon Workshops in Wakefield advertised, I asked for a birthday present and last Friday saw me learning how to design, plan, cut, melt, bend, join and fill tubes of glass, bombard, electrify and wire up the same - all a bit mind-boggling but realising that the real skill is in bending the glass to the required shape.
I also learnt that all components of neon are recyclable and whilst it is relatively expensive to produce as it is nearly always hand-made, it is very cheap to run and will last for up to 50 years without maintenance if you are lucky but in any case 20-30 years. It uses hardly any electricity and is very unlikely to give you a shock so can be used in a wide range of settings. If you are interested have a look at www.neonworkshops.com. Artists Richard Wheater and Julia Bickerstaff run the only such courses in the country. My favourite neon in Norwich is the Maid's Head Hotel signage in Tombland, it's a classic.
Then we spent a day in York followed by a day at Salts Mill, Saltaire, just near Bradford - fantastic - a homage to David Hockney who must be my favourite artist. Lots of books and artefacts too so all in all a very inspiring time. Only a trip to Wakefield Sculpture Park would have topped it off. Still, next time. Meanwhile, back in Norwich...
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Marion Catlin, principal creative consultant for The Shift with extensive experience in cultural development and design for the arts, heritage and culture sectors