H-Art Festival 2013 – Herefordshire Open Exhibition


Welcome back to the last part of Hereford Art Festival 2013 reviews!  We had such a great time writing about the artists that presented their works at Herefordshire Open Exhibition, and we hope that you will enjoy our selection.

If you have missed our previous entries, do not despair. We have them all archived properly and links are posted below for your convenience.  Just a reminder – The Call of the Wild was dedicated to Love Zimbabwe and the art of Karl Hamilton -Cox. Part two took us to back alleyways where we had a chance to discover places that are normally closed for the public: The secret gardens of Apple Store Gallery and Fired Earth in-store exposition.

Part 1: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/h-art-festival-2013-the-call-of-the-wild/

Part2: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/h-art-festival-2013-apple-store-gallery-and-fired-earth-exhibitions/

h.Art Herefordshire Open Exhibition leaflet - front

h.Art Herefordshire Open Exhibition leaflet – front

h.Art Herefordshire Open Exhibition leaflet - back

h.Art Herefordshire Open Exhibition leaflet – back

Today’s entry is a comeback to the mainstream. Herefordshire Open Gallery and Herefordshire Young Open Exhibition (which we sadly had to miss this year) are the two main events for H.Art Festival. Organized in the same heart of Hereford City, both of them draw huge crowds of visitors on their opening nights and remain popular through out their duration. We concentrated on Herefordshire Open Exhibition as it offered the best selection for our needs: younger artists were exhibiting next to well established local creators and international stars.
We tried to present sculptors, painters, mixed media artists and abstract painters – each reader can find something of interest for themselves.

Some artists had a chance to show their works twice: at the Herefordshire Open Exhibition and again at their own studios or homes (usually called venues). The full list of all venues opened during h.Art festival 2013 can be found in PDF folder below. Each place has a link to the official site, short description and one selected work that represents a solo artist or a group:

Click to access guide_2013.pdf

Enjoy our picks and do not forget to write to us to tell us what do you think!
You can reach us at rdabrowicz”yahoo.com. No spam please and thank you!

And now, Ladies and Gents, we are proud to present Vanadian Avenue Guide to the best art and artists of h.Art 2013! Enjoy!!


Julian Meredith – Woodcut prints
Official website:
More information: http://www.northhousegallery.co.uk/art-exhibition/artist/julian-meredith/bee-eel-elm-tree-extinction/

You know what they say – size matters, especially in art.  Julian Meredith is one of those artists, who can steal an entire exhibition with just a single piece of his work, and he did exactly that at Herefordshire Open Exhibition.  Julian knows how to work with big formats – sometimes hundreds of feet long and the final effects are simply breathtaking. Born in 1952, Mr Meredith has a long and very successful career in arts: he received  at least 30 prestigious awards, held multiple solo exhibitions and participated in group art displays on several continents. His works can be found in almost all important museums and private galleries in the UK and abroad.

Julian is fascinated by history, fossils, stones and natural prints of animals that inhabited the Earth million of years ago. His artworks feature mostly fish (eels, whales, tunas), but also birds, otters, deers and insects. He portrays an unique relationship between species and their environments. His favorite medium are wood cut prints colored by hand with oil and ink. Mr Meredith loves working outside of his studio as well: he is known to create enormous artwork in sand, snow or grass.  We were amazed how detailed his artworks are.  The picture you can seen below shows “Bluefin (Tuna)” one of his delicate prints made on rice paper. Every line, every bone or scale is clearly visible. The viewer has a feeling like his is watching the fish through the lens of a microscope – we are full of awe as we didn’t know such surgical precision in printmaking is even possible!

Mr Meredith’s daughter commented her father’s work with those excellent words: “My father lives in a world where wood becomes water which flows into fish which fall eaten to the bone crushed by stone into lime that lives as a whale formed in a field in a sea full of grass where water once ran.” We think no other comment is truly necessary.

Bluefin (Tuna), wood cut print by Julian Meredith was priced at £6,000 (framed) and £5,00 (unframed)

Bluefin (Tuna), wood cut print by Julian Meredith was priced at £6,000 (framed) and £5,00 (unframed)

Elmigration -wood cut print by Julian Meredith

Elmigration – wood cut print by Julian Meredith

Wendy Houghton – Porcelain paper-clay
Official website:
More information: https://www.facebook.com/wendyceramics

If you haven’t heard about porcelain paper-clay, don’t you worry, you are not the only one!  Rita and Mal has covered hundreds of art exhibitions and spoke to many artists, but we have never came across such medium in our art related  journeys before. Wikipedia to the rescue – by definition, paper clay is any clay body to which processed cellulose fiber (paper being the most common) has been added. Wendy Houghton uses porcelain paper clay to make the most delicate and elaborate ceramics sculptures we had a chance to see this year.

It takes years of practice and a lot of skills to use paper-clay. There is no single, universal recipe how to prepare this medium. Each artist composes his or her own mixture and works with it. If you’d like to give it a go, do not pester others to ask how they did it. The best way is to try it yourself, by trial and error. Porcelain paper-clay art is not for people who give up easily. Wendy has been perfecting her art for nearly 30 years but the works are worth all the pain, sweat and tears. Mrs Houghton says she is fascinated by the fragility, delicateness and vulnerability of the surrounding world and tries to add those qualities to her sculptures. One artwork named “Nest I” has been voted as one of the most popular pieces of art at Herefordshire Open Exhibition by the visiting public – and rightly so!

Nest I by Wendy Houghton (on the left) with another artwork in the background - priced at £450

Nest I by Wendy Houghton (on the left) with another artwork in the background – priced at £450

Will Carr – steel sculptures
Official website:
More information: https://www.facebook.com/willcarrsculptures

Will Carr is one of the youngest abstract and figurative sculpture makers from Herefordshire. He was raised on a farm and since the early age, was drawn to  technical and practical skills. He taught himself to weld old machinery parts  and by accident discovered his passion for creating and sculpting. Will has extraordinarily imagination that allows him to picture the final product before the work begins. He doesn’t need to sketch the concept or divide his time on separate parts.  His unusual vision and skills allow him to easily finish an entire sculpture in one take – something very rare for an artist that is at the beginning of his artistic path.

2013 proved to be an excellent year for Mr Carr. He has exhibited his works all over the county and won the prestigious Hereford Young Artist Bursary Award. Please keep your eyes open for Will – we will hear a lot about him in the nearest future!

Turkey Tail Fungus by Will Carr - wood and steel sculpture

Turkey Tail Fungus by Will Carr – wood and steel sculpture

Helen Crawford – Embroidery and textiles
Official website:
More information: http://h-art.herefordshire.gov.uk/hartvisithart2013/harteast/helen,-gilbert-and-rebecca-crawford,-rachel-padley-and-paul-shepherd-%281%29.aspx

H-art festival has always been a very important event  for us. We love discovering new trends, meeting talented people and looking at the beautiful pieces of arts. This year’s edition is double special as we not only had a chance to learn from the artists themselves by watching them at work, but also because we discovered Helen Crawford. Helen, a well established artist in Herefordshire, lives in small village of Bromesberrow near Ledbury. She specializes in embroidery, textiles and mixed media creating artworks so unique that they can only be called a true masterpieces. We know, we shouldn’t have our favorites, but Helen’s artworks are mesmerizing. Talking to the curators of Herefordshire Open Exhibitions, we were told that Helen has been taking part in H-art for about six years now and each year her artworks are well received by the critics and public. Rita thinks that last year, she must have been completely blind as she cannot find any other rational explanation how she managed to miss Mrs Crawford’s artworks. Helen holds a degree in Stitched Textiles from Gloucester College of Art and Technology and completed two City and Guilds Courses in Embroidery (Part 1 and Part 2). She is inspired by woodlands and wild landscapes surrounding Malvern Hills, music and poetry.

As  a member of Rubicon artist group , this is how she describes her own works: “My silk paper seascapes and landscapes are created from hand dyed silk fibers, which give me a rich palette for washes of color. Composition and content are integrated during the construction and subsequent enrichment of the surface with machine stitch and mixed media”.

Helen’s artworks were displayed in Venue 75 along with works of Gilbert and Rebecca Crawford, Rachel Padley and Paul Shepherd. We are not sure if Helen is related to Gilbert and Rebecca, but if she is, then the artistic talent runs in the entire Crawford family!
If you’d like to see Gilbert’s furniture and Rebecca’s hand made jewellery and artworks, please click on the links below:

Gilbert Crawford: http://www.herefordcraftguild.org.uk/#/gilbert-crawford/4549142865
Rebecca Crawford: http://www.myspacefruit.com/

Golden light by Helen Crawford - silk paper, mixed media and stitch

Golden light by Helen Crawford – silk paper, mixed media and stitch

Detailed picture of Golden Light from Helen's official website.

Detailed picture of Golden Light from Helen’s official website.

Véronique Avon – French artist in the UK!
Official website:
More information: http://www.atelierveronique.co.uk/index2.htm

What can happen if you take a French artist, move her to British country side, give her “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupéry’ and a lot of  free time? The answer to this question is surprisingly easy: she will start painting!  Avon has been born and raised in Provence and moved to Herefordshire over 20 years ago. She still misses the sunshine, flowers and cicadas of France but is mesmerized by  black and white village trail, picturesque river Wye and the lovely landscape.

We admire Véronique for her well – defined style and for not being afraid to experiment. Her works are very colorful and beautifully designed – each painting has many layers, specific mood and a leading theme. Did we mentioned that she gives her paintings a long titles?  They are in fact haikus – our favourite is “Angels of the past, Of far away memories, Gardeners of the souls…” which you can see below on a picture.  Outside of painting, Mrs Avon is interested in medieval illustrations, stained glass window art and making prints and hand made cards.

Véronique Avon's fantastic work entitled "Angels of the past, Of far away moments, Gardeners of the souls..."  - oil on canvas

Véronique Avon’s fantastic work entitled “Angels of the past, Of far away moments, Gardeners of the souls…” – oil on canvas

Anita Louise Davies – geometric and expressionist  abstract art
Official website: http://anitalouisedavies.wordpress.com
More information: http://ciderhouseartists.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/anita-louise-davies-questioning-geometric-and-expressionist-abstract/

Anita Louise Davies is  an abstract artist specializing in geometric and expressionist forms.  There are not many artists out there who create such specific artworks and we have to admit, Mrs Davies is doing an excellent job. Her work entitled “Collateral Damage: On Face of it” has been made with aid cotton bandage, painted cards and safety pins and gained a lot of attention from the public. Anita exhibited two works at Herefordshire Open Exhibition and participated in collective display at The Cider House, Lodge Farm Barns in Canon Pyon  with Miranda Goudge, Caroline Holt-Wilson, Liz Morison and Dani Sangway (Venue number 9 as Cider House Artists).

Collateral Damage: On the face of it by Anita Louise Davies. Cotton bandage, acrylic paint  - not for sale

Collateral Damage: On the face of it by Anita Louise Davies. Cotton bandage, acrylic paint – not for sale

Professional picture taken by the artist. There are 16 small canvases on board

Professional picture taken by the artist. There are 16 small canvases on board

Anita took several detailed pictures for her blog and they can be seen here:

Simon Meiklejohn – kinetic art
Official website: http://www.simic.uk.com/
More information:

There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy – said Hamlet to Horatio. Yes there are things in this world of art that Rita and Mal hasn’t heard of  yet. Well, we are learning fast! Another surprise after porcelain paper-clay, is the kinetic art.  Some of you might be really surprised that we just recently learned of its existence, especially when first kinetic sculptures were produced at the beginning of 20th century.  However, please note that we never studied art and everything we know comes from self studies and discoveries, exactly like this one. When we come across something new, we tend to research the topic, until we have a good understanding of it.

Simon Meiklejohn is a very well known kinetic sculptor living and creating in Hereford.  He studied fine art sculpture at Teesside University in Middlesbrough, UK and in Cleveland, USA.  He is also a certified mechanical engineer on both sides of the Big Pond. His works combine the best of both worlds: the precision of engineering and the beauty of art. His skills are unquestionable and Simon’s sculptures can be seen in many prestigious museums and galleries including Riverside Museum in Glasgow, the Royal Institute of Art in London, The Sea Henge exhibition in Kings Lynn, The Kelvingrove Museum & Art gallery in Glasgow.

Steel kinetic sculpture "Fleeting moment" by Simon Meiklejohn in motion

Steel kinetic sculpture “Fleeting moment” by Simon Meiklejohn in motion

Fleeting Moment in motion again

Fleeting Moment in motion again

Fleeting moment in motion for the third time

Fleeting moment in motion for the third time

Simon is the owner of engineering/artistic company named Form and Function and is open for commission work.
You can visit his business site here: http://www.form-and-function.co.uk/
Or visit his official YouTube channel to see the kinetic art in motion: http://www.youtube.com/user/simeiklejohn

For the H.Art, Simon contributed several sculptures: three were displayed at Herefordshire Open Exhibitions and others were displayed at Venues 65 and 113.

John Meiklejohn sculpture entitled "I''ll give you all you ever wanted (But if you want too much, I might go off you a bit)"

John Meiklejohn sculpture entitled “I”ll give you all you ever wanted (But if you want too much, I might go off you a bit)”

Simon Meiklejohn sculpture entitled "Of my own making"

Simon Meiklejohn sculpture entitled “Of my own making”


As last year, we would like to award some artists with Honorable mentions on our blog. We have chosen 4 creators that deserve to be watch closely. We loved their artwork and if our intuition is correct, they going to be huge in the next few years.

Honorable mention number 1 for 2013 is Andrea McLean.
Official website: http://andrea-mclean.co.uk/cv.html
More information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/mclean-andrea-b-1968
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-McLean/189946051039253

Andrea McLean was born in 1968 in  Denbighshire, Wales. She studied at Falmouth School of Art, the Slade School of Art and the British School at Rome on an Abbey Scholarship in Painting. Her painting “A Contemporary Mappa Mundi’ is on display at the British Library as part of their permanent collection and can be found near the entrance to the map room.  Andrea has been voted as a favorite painter by BBC website viewers for their art project “Your Paintings”.  She lives and works in Ledbury.  For H.art Herefordshire Open Exhibition she donated “Ledbury Dreamscape”.

Andrea McLean's Ledbury Dreamscape, oil on canvas

Andrea McLean’s Ledbury Dreamscape, oil on canvas

Closer look at the Ledbury Dreamscape by  Andrea McLean

Closer look at the Ledbury Dreamscape by
Andrea McLean

Honorable mention number 2:  Jeremy Stiff
Official website: http://www.jemstiff.co.uk/
More information: http://www.axisweb.org/p/jeremystiff

Jeremy Stiff is living in the wilds of the Black Mountains, in South Wales, with his wife Menna Angharad a painter and a  daughter. They are in charge of a large  animal farm, an orchard and a bit of private forest. Outside of taking care of animals and  the nature, Jeremy is also an accomplished sculptor with many solo and group exhibition to his name in the UK and abroad. Mr Stiff holds HND (Higher National Diploma) in Figurative Sculpture and MA degree in Fine Arts from Cardiff Metropolitan University. At Herefordshire Open Exhibition, Jeremy displayed one of his newest sculptures entitled “Essentials”

Plaster sculpture Essentials by Jeremy Stiff being displayed at HOE

Plaster sculpture Essentials by Jeremy Stiff being displayed at HOE

Jeremy Stiff  plaster sculpture called Essentials

Jeremy Stiff plaster sculpture called Essentials

Honorable mention number 3:  Xaviere Hughes
Official website: none yet
More information: http://www.hca.ac.uk/About/Whos-Who/June-2013/Xaviere-Hughes

Xaviere Hughes completed his BA Honours Degree in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art, and an MA in Art & Design from Gray’s School of Art before studying for a Post Graduate Certificate of Education with the university of Wales and working in Arts Education. As a teacher at Herefordshire College of Arts, he mentored many young students who achieved national and international fame. In his own art, Xaviere concentrates on mixed media that mixes real life domesticity with careful composition and articulations of detail and colour.

In recent interview, Xaviere described his art with those  words:  “I am concerned with the choices and decisions that a person has the opportunity to make within their lifetime. I am interested in the way in which an ever changing and disposable society such as ours, can influence the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a generation. I am attempting to capture an essence of ‘lifestyle’ media bombardment by manipulating messages and imagery that have been conveyed both through history and via the mass media and mass consumerism. Take it or leave it…the choice is yours.”

Xaviere Hughs political incorrect art entitled "Mother Fucker", mixed media on paper

Xaviere Hughs political incorrect art entitled “Mother Fucker”, mixed media on paper

Honorable mention number 4: Kate Morgan Clare
Official website: http://morgan-clare.com/?page_id=36
More information: http://www.breconwomensfestival.co.uk/section582168_211332.html

Kate Morgan-Clare mixed media sculpture was Rita’s favorite piece of art at the Herefordshire Open Exhibition.  Entitled “The Granny chair”, it was made of delicate paper, beautifully colored and designed by the artist.  Kate lives in The Welsh Marches and currently is studying  for Fine Art Honours Degree at Hereford College of Arts. She has been painting for many years and her works has been exhibited numerous times. She is concerned with human condition, identity and a sense of place and memory.  Her best known work is a series of  mixed media drawings dedicated to children living in the UK during the WWII. Kate spent a lot of time investigating clothes, toys,  old photographs and histories trying to create works imitating real life during difficult time of loss and uncertainty.

Kate Morgan-Clare's Granny chair - mixed media art. Sadly, not for sale.

Kate Morgan-Clare’s Granny chair – mixed media art. Sadly, not for sale.

Wow! A real art overload. We could write on and on and on, and yet we would not be able to describe all  the wonderful artworks and  talented people who made them. If you have  a bit of time, please visit Hereford Library on Broad street, opposite the Cathedral. The art gallery is located on second floor, just upstairs from the library. Herefordshire Open Exhibition can be seen till the end of October. The Gallery is open 5 days a week (except for Mondays and Sundays) between 9 am and 19:00 pm and admission is free.
You can contact the Library by telephone at 01432 383600 or by email: herefordlibrary@herefordshire.gov.uk

Our next blog will be published on Halloween and it going to be dedicated to Doctor Who, so please make sure you stop by to read it!
You know you want to!

Till then,
Rita and Malicia D.

A layout, paywall, ethical content and newspaper gadget walk into the newsroom – more ideas for printed media to be profitable in the digital age.

Hi again,

At the end of August, we had published first post in a series of entries summarizing our knowledge and experience in the media world. It ran into nine pages of text and had even longer title (“Media in the digital age – or how freelancers, press photography and newspapers can beat up the crisis”). It sounds so know it-all, unintentionally, but it really isn’t. It was created as our own voice in an ongoing debate about where journalism is going and what is the future of creative minds that often work freelance in the field. We realize the situation on the market is far from perfect, but we wanted to find some practical solutions that could tip the scales back into the “profitable” regions. Previous part concentrated on how photo and news archives could be used to create a difference. This post will be a bit different. We want to talk a bit about layouts, ethical content, pay – walls and newspaper gadgets. Four elements that look like they have nothing in common, but that’s just because you don’t think outside of the box.

To access the previous entry click the link below:



Next year it will be sixteen years since Rita and I left high school with a burning desire to do something practical, anything really as long as it was not theory. Since then we have worked as cultural journalists, we organized conventions, exhibitions, wrote blogs, attended panels and conferences, painted, photographed and promoted other artists. Sometimes it was our job and we were paid for it, sometimes we freelanced, sometimes we worked for free and relied on daily jobs. The smallest thing we did was to help around at a miniscule comic convention in our home town. The biggest was bringing World Press Photo exhibition to Malta – a project with a 20K budget. Truth be told, we are not even sure how to call ourselves at this point (we do like “cultural bloggers” label though). What we do know, is that we have been around the block few times over in three countries (Poland -Malta-UK) and we have seen the good, the bad, the ugly and the tragic. You have got to try your best to surprise us – we have seen a fair share. What we say in our posts is directly derived from our experience and our observations (and research of million + hours on the World Wide Web). This entry may not be a game-changer for the industry, but we try our best 😉

Mal on assignment in Berlin before going to cover Cartier Bresson final exhibition in 2004

Mal on assignment in Berlin before going to cover Cartier Bresson final exhibition in 2004

Rita at Roskilde Work Camp 2007

Rita at Roskilde Work Camp 2007


Before we will get to the meritum of our post, we want you to read an article that appeared in Seattle Times. We realize that it may sound somehow pompous but if there was ever a “prophetic” feature in a newspaper, it would be this column from March 17, 1991:


Firstly it puts down in plain writing what sells a newspaper: a mix of hard news (“breaking news”), soft news (opinions, columns, and celebrity stuff) and advertising. Secondly, it admits what has been whispered around the newsrooms for ages – the little things that media workers find unimportant can actually sell the newspaper – just read that paragraph about food column on Wednesdays.

It was written in 1991, remember – a whole generation away. At the very end of the article you can find this sentence, and we think it was revolutionary back in the day to even spell it:


“Are newspapers in the midst of an evolution? Definitely.”

We will admit it. Prior to finding this article (told you Rita can find just about anything on the Net), we thought that the changes in the industry started around 2003-2004, when the first wave of crisis ravaged media world, books and comic publishers. We were eager to rationalize that the cultural periodicals were first to be hit. We were wrong. The revolution and constant changes in the media world are omnipresent; they were as demanding and challenging at the beginning of the 1991 as they are at the end of 2013. We can be excused though for overlooking this; back in the 90s we would not pay attention to anybody unless they were on MTV and our stint with journalism was limited to writing a music section for a school newspaper. But we have come a long way (also known as getting old 😛 ).

So, now that we defined what sells a newspaper, we also have a solid ground under our feet for a further discussion – media is ever changing environment, prone to drastic turns overnight and always on the edge. This is by no means a safe place to wait for retirement, as it is driven by adrenaline, constant insecurity and evolution.

We have to agree with Seattle Times. To avoid bumpy ride from one curve to another, the newsroom must have a careful driver (the editor or director of the media house) and a good strategy.  Especially, since we seem to live in era of “Google economy”:


We said before: set up your archives and capitalize on it when needed. Here’s a good strategy, part two!

Let’s get visual!

We will start with the layouts, because looks are important in the media world. In the battle for revenues and readers, the graphic department is your biggest ally. They will be responsible for executing technical side of the creative vision. The biggest eye – candy can be planned in the boardroom but eventually, it will be those guys with their noses in the Mac’s that will deliver it. When deadlines are pressing, the graphic department will also edit photos, so editor must oversee if the standards are in place.

Lay-out of a newspaper or interface of a website must be readable and catching. It has to capture the attention of a prospective reader from the news-stands or from the computer screen. We have stressed it before, but we will repeat it here. We live in visual times and we judge the paper by its front page. If it’s not grabbing people’s attention in the first 30 seconds, then they will not pick it up. Tabloids discovered it decades ago with their flashy covers and incredible headliners. If you ever wonder why it is The Sun or Daily Mirror that sells out at the end of the day – now you know. There is however a line between being cheap and being interesting. If a daily newspaper runs a flashy front page without a good reason, it may damage its credibility and lose readers. Over the years, newspapers have learned a good lesson to design their pages in such a way to be visually stunning and informative in the same time.

Nothing works better than a good (practical) example – so if you have a minute to spare, please see the blog below. It will show you how the newspaper can be re-designed section by section. Good old fashioned “before” and “after”, straight out of the graphic designer’s lair:


MANGAzyn 100% Games cover

MANGAzyn 100% Games cover

Magazines – unlike the newspapers – have better conditions to establish themselves on the graphic front. The quality of paper is better; you have more time to work on each page and enough space to balance between text and images. Most importantly, you have got many people to work on the final project as well. And you can really use your team to enhance the magazine visually. For example you can trust your photographers` instincts:

Rita and I spent nearly four years working for different magazines, most importantly MANGAzyn – comic/animation and video games magazine. Rita was the main writer in our team. I was providing photos and when I was not shooting, I was responsible for finding suitable graphics for our articles: screenshots, artworks, press packs, hi res graphics for posters. I was the one with a trained eye for good quality materials – as most photographers are. On several occasions materials I found landed on the covers. In March 2004 our biggest project was issued. A whole issue dedicated to games called neatly MANGAzyn 100% Games. It took us a year to complete it and a huge part of it was the way we have planned the visual side. It was a revolutionary issue and I’m glad to have left a small mark on the history of the journalism in Poland 😉

MANGAzyn 100% Games was first periodical in Europe to report on Korean comics and games, we also were the first in the country to give the magazine feel of an art-book. We had our friend Pablo from another gaming magazine working with us on this task. We discussed each and every page, each screen and piece of artwork (usually our meetings were held in a local arcade over Mortal Kombat 3 machine). When we uploaded the graphics on the FTP server, our editor called back and shouted at us for blocking the bandwidth. The graphic team also had a hard job choosing the materials for the layout. But when the magazine came out it had this big VISUAL SHOCK mark on the cover. We have recently checked online and some issues of that magazine became collector items on Ebay. Looking back at the experience, both Rita and I agree that it was our interest in art (don’t forget Rita is also a painter and a bit of photographer too) that gave us the idea to turn the usual gaming magazine into an art- book and to use larger amount of illustrations than other magazines at that time. We were getting a lot of attention when the issue came out, even from mainstream media. We will write about the experience in a different post on the blog since it will be ten years anniversary next year. For now we hope we have proved our point that good layout is extremely important when it comes to newspapers. It’s 25% of your success. The other component is obviously content and the security of it.

Page out of MANGAzyn 100% Games showing Soa Anala pin up

Page out of MANGAzyn 100% Games showing Soa Anala pin up

(To) pay-wall or (to) open source – that is the question.

A decade ago, only the scientific periodicals were charging their readers for the access to articles and reportages. Things like premium subscription online were simply non existent. Handful of titles (that also included MANGAzyn) had hidden parts on their website which were password protected. You had to buy printed copy of the magazine then find the password and you could access some bonuses online. These days when printing slowly goes the way of the Dodo, a good security system for the online page is a must. We will admit, pay walls (system that requires a paid subscription) are hugely controversial. Not everybody likes them, people believe that once something is on the Internet, it must remain open source (meaning that it is open to all and not restricted in any way) and free. Others argue, that journalists and photographers cannot work for free, especially taking the current poor working conditions into consideration. We believe that the truth lies in between: general sections of a news portal should remain accessible to all (such as breaking news), but other parts can be protected (it takes a lot of work to produce a good reportage and the writer/photographer should be paid well for it).

Restricting newspaper content and asking people to pay for it does not always work. The Atlantic had to give up their pay wall, the same concept failed completely across South Africa (for example for the legendary Johannesburg Star). Guardian had to remove the pay wall from their Eyewitness app.

However there are examples that show this concept is bringing good revenues:

–  PIANO system which is now used by most newspapers in Eastern Europe is considered bug-free, reliable and user friendly. This idea is based on traffic free website (with general news) and paid specialized content (such as columns, reportages, photo essays etc), with a technical backup that eliminates technical mistakes and hacking attempts. Polish biggest daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza is one of the most successful users of PIANO.

In -depth description of this pay-wall system can be found on Wikipedia:


Or on the official website: http://www.pianomedia.com/

–     Mediapart`s in-house subscription and hard news content only. French online portal Mediapart was created in 2008 as a response to readers` dissatisfaction with celebrity news being reported on a daily basis. From its inception, they were breaking into investigative journalism, reportages and own correspondences (Le Club part of the portal). Their subscription system eliminated advertisement completely from the website. In 2012 company reported over 60 000 unique subscribers and over 700 000 EUR of profit by offering specialized and serious content, showing that there is a demand for analytical journalism.



News regarding other pay-wall systems can be found at:  http://paidcontent.org/ It is also a paradise for tech buffs with all the news and information about upcoming security measures.

There are several types of pay-walls that newspapers can implement. The complete blockade (or “hard” type) will eliminate you from browsing the content of a website in general, the soft version (which we find the most suitable one) allows access to opinion pieces, general news and celebrity materials. There are also mixed variations that allow you to read part of the article only or assign you a pool of ten reportages per month for free.

PIANO official page

PIANO official page

Pay-wall systems (and newly created API – application programming interfaces) are closely linked to ethics. Let us come back to the controversial aspect for a moment. The main argument against is that hiding your content behind a paid subscription goes against the very principle of journalism – the right to information. Journalism is a service industry – it provides society with awareness. Critics often ask what will happen to the flow of information if all the newspapers will wall themselves up. On the other hand of the spectrum is the journalism as a business model and for a newspaper to be up and running – the business must be successful. Defenders of paid systems draw attention to the fact that other people’s work simply cannot be put out there for free or it will ravage creative industries. And to be honest, we have something to worry about. If you read the online pools, 70% of people will tell you that they prefer to look for content somewhere else than pay a minimal subscription. If we look at the rates that musicians are getting from Spotify or how downloading of books contributed to closures of libraries (if you don’t believe us, just ask uncle Google what UK government plans about local libraries – it’s nothing short of terrifying!), there may come a day when we will no longer have artists, musicians, journalists, writers or photographers – because everything was for free out there and people had to move to other jobs to make a living.

MediaPart website

MediaPart website

This discussion about the access to information is nothing new. We had seen something similar in the 90s with the TV stations, when the cable channels introduced scambling (encrypting or coding of a signal). Viewers had to buy decoders and pay monthly access to watch for example Sky News. BSkyB came under a media storm when they first introduced their strategy to code the signal, but they didn’t back down. In the end viewers had to adjust and cable providers had to implement specialized packages. Other stations followed suit, while BSkyB hit a mark of being accessed in 10 million homes in 2010, Europe’s first pay-TV platform in to achieve that milestone.

We have been thinking – if TV viewers accepted the pay-platforms, why newspaper readers don’t want to pay as little as 3 EUR for a monthly subscription? Isn’t it just one and the same thing?  Perhaps, the devil lies in the details, or rather in the relationship with your reader?

Why ethical content and a good premium system could mean more revenues?
There is an eye opening article published by Italian freelancer Francesca Borri. For working in a war zone in Syria, she was paid as little 70 USD per piece. Not enough to cover basic needs like insurance or equipment. This article can be seen in a link below:


This article shocked a lot of people when it first came out as this is exactly what happens to creative industries when their work is downgraded to content only shared on social media. Pay – walls were introduced mostly as a dam to stop the trend of seeing other’s work as a free stuff. And you know what they say: if you get everything for nothing, you start to take it for granted.

We honestly believe that there can be a common ground between business side of journalism, the creative forces (often freelancers) and readers. But to keep the media house profitable, the journalists paid and the reader satisfied, inevitable change in perception must take place. Gone are the days of reader being just receiver of news as a product and journalists sitting on a high moral horse and knowing it all. Today, reader must be a partner to media house and must be engaged in the news – making process. Reader needs to feel responsible for newspapers and be a participant in its projects.

Francessca Borri in Columbia Journalist Review

Francessca Borri in Columbia Journalist Review

There is something we can learn from TV stations: viewers feel very possessive about their favourite channels. Try to cut one out from the cable package and the viewers will come calling in and they won’t be nice to you. They also feel responsible for their channels. In August 2003 CBS and Time Warner got into a heated argument over fees which resulted in over three million of subscribers in US being unable to watch the broadcasts. What brought both sides to the negotiating table was sheer anger of the public.

Newspaper doesn’t need to have three million followers, but it is always good to have a strong back up from the community that they serve. Guardian deputy editor Katharine Vine summed up nicely what can be done to bring readers and newspapers together:

Allowing readers to contribute to the stories to make the report more accurate

Admitting mistakes – transparency strengthens trust in the newspaper

Being open for tips and potential breaking news – have a channel for communication open and advertise it.

Ms Vine would disagree with us on pay – walls, but we would like to add another point to the list she proposed:

Use the premium fees from pay -walls to fund the content that people want to read

We have all heard about crowd sourcing. Portals like Kickstarter or Pledge Music allow musicians or artists to collect money directly from the fans, who then receive goods upon the amount they paid for. Part of the profit stays with the service provider.

Similar idea can be applied to newspapers. Let us use again the example of Francesca Borri. In her article she mentions that she works on a piece about social impact of organisations such as Al-Qaida and their networking among poverty stricken communities. However rates she is offered make it impossible for her to continue with the research, she also feels that editors often discourage journalists on the ground from picking up such complex stories, favouring bloodshed instead.

Now let us imagine that part of the subscription fees from the readers was invested in the freelancers on the frontlines. It would allow journalists to be fairly paid for their work in dangerous circumstances; newspaper would receive a complex and serious piece from the source and the readers would enjoy exclusive content and knew that their own money contributed to the final result. This is not only an ethical content and industry solidarity, but also a signal for the readers that they are partly responsible for their newspaper and through it, for the community and well being of other people in the world who may not have a voice otherwise.

Gadgets – a little extra with the newspaper

Right, we have reached the last segment of this longish post. This part will have some illustrations, so we hope you are still awake! In our previous post we argued the importance of a functional photo archives and its many uses that can bring additional revenues for a newspaper. Right now we want to explore it a bit more in relation to newspaper gadgets.

You will be perfectly entitled to your opinion if you find this idea silly. However coming from a comic/video games/ hobby magazine background, we know the power of a good poster or a demo CD. Good gadget requires a lot of work to get it and it does strengthen sales. We can tell you stories how it took us a year to receive a permission from Microsoft/ Team Ninja to have a poster from game called Dead or Alive for our special issue of MANGAzun 100% Games (it was never published but that’s a different story) or how we had to pitch with digital artists like Carnelian or Soa Anala for small pin ups.

MANGAzyn cover for Nov-Dec 2003 edition that came out with a bonus CD and input called Kamikaze

MANGAzyn cover for Nov-Dec 2003 edition that came out with a bonus CD and input called Kamikaze

Cover of MANGAzyn Extra issue  - more articles with more serious content.

Cover of MANGAzyn Extra issue – more articles with more serious content. And a comic.

In the last 15 years gadgets became integral part of any newspaper. Back in our day, MANGAzyn used to have CD, comics, game demos and deluxe issues (“Kamikaze” insert with columns and more mature articles and separate issues called Extra sold  every quarter) in its offer to attract buyers. Other newspapers went for anything: Bollywood movies, special thematic issues and even a Prince record. It is actually funny, how music publishers protested when Prince (or Artist formerly known as Prince) released his album with Mail on Sunday in 2007. You can read about it here:


What gets sold with a newspaper is actually a big business in itself. So having a functional photographic archive can be very helpful indeed. It can for example allow media house to create their own gadgets which can be either sold on their own or be presented to subscribers. Coffee mugs, post cards with archival images, photographic cards for all occasions – you can tap into souvenirs market and target both locals and tourists in your destination thus creating a niche for yourself.  Real strength of such gadgets would lie in difference from anybody else.

Let us show you how prospective gadgets could look like, because over the years we managed to grab some fine examples:

Postcards – they can come in various shapes and sizes, from exclusive Hallmark photographic cards to small historical representations of how life looked back when. These two cards below were inserted into Malta Independent on Sunday (correct us if we are wrong) back in 2006. There were more of them every week and we remember that people were very pleased with getting them. We were one of those who bought newspaper for the cards and a historical article that went along with it. Beautiful combo to be introduced for an Island that offers so many spots to visit for tourists and locals, too bad it was discontinued after several weeks.

One of the cards that were sold with the newspaper

One of the cards that were sold with the newspaper

Another card showing old sights of Malta

Another card showing old sights of Malta

In 1980s Maltese stationery ABC printed a series of photographic cards in the UK – using their own stock and photo archives of various places in Malta. We came across the cards this September as ABC decided to get rid of the old stock and put them for free grabs in their shop in Valletta. Cards are in a bad condition but what a rarity they present – they were probably first photo postcards ever produced on the island!

One of the ABC cards using  photos of old Valletta

One of the ABC cards using photos of old Valletta

More vintage ABC photo cards

More vintage ABC photo cards

Back of ABC vintage photo cards.

Back of ABC vintage photo cards.

The last card was being produced by PR and Advertisement Company ARF who often collaborate with the city council of Bytom in Poland. This card shows beautiful Kosciuszki square situated in the middle of Bytom as it was seen at the turn of XX century by using an actual photograph from the era. This square existed up to 2007 where it was ravaged to make a supermarket Agora. The design of whole city was ruined and it is considered now a public shame for whole Poland but the square is …gone. Bytom was industrial German city built completely in Bauhaus and neo-classical styles that are disappearing fast across the Silesian region. It suffered complete degradation in the last twenty years; we are heart broken every time we are in the area, because we went here to high school. This card is often used as a proof how once a beautiful and spacious the city was.

Bytom postcard

Bytom postcard

Bytom postcard - back

Bytom postcard – back

Coffee cups
– This cup was bought in 2008 in an artisan shop Galeria w Szafie (Gallery in a wardrobe) in Bytom. What you can see printed on the fine bone china are drawings of local Silesian artist Franciszek Dziadek showing the landmarks of the town of Bytom itself. Dziadek dedicated his whole career to design of various books, periodicals and newspapers in the region. Being a true legend and institution, it was a local initiative to introduce a series of coffee cups with his works, aimed at first for the use of media workers. It is very popular among local journalists who, as we all know, live on coffee and take away grabs when working. Somehow the cups also became public favourite – including our dad who makes it a point to start a day with a fine cup of coffee each morning when visiting Malta (dad actually brought this cup from Poland during one of his trips to ensure he had suitable kitchenware to use when on holidays). We just love the idea to incorporate works of a person who dedicated his life to design newspapers into something that can become ultimate newspaper’s gift. And it caters beautifully for general public too – after how many truly artistic cups you see on display? If you look closely at the artworks they are small masterpieces and the finishing is nothing like the usual. Quality and art make a supreme gift for a subscriber – they can now start their morning having coffee and read their news in style.

Our dad`s coffee cup - front

Our dad`s coffee cup – front

Cup - right side

Cup – right side

Cup - left side

Cup – left side

Post-cards, coffee cups, coasters, posters, themed collections are part of the media landscape. They can be turned into small works of art and sought items. It is all up to the creativity and business approach of a newspaper.

One thing is for sure – investing in proper layout, good premium system, content and tightening bonds with readers will result in one way or anther.

If you are curious how the newspaper market is slowly recovering due to various measures, you may find this final link interesting:


Thanks for reading this post and we hope to present you soon with the last one chapter.

Mal + Rita

H-Art Festival 2013 – Apple Store Gallery and Fired Earth exhibitions

Welcome back art lovers!

We are really sorry that you had to wait so long for another part of the H-art review. Rita had a bit of health issues and needed to undergo a thyroid operation, but now she is feeling fine and is back at work! You can expect a lot of blogging in the next few weeks as Rita is having a lots of great ideas and cannot wait till she shares them with you all!

Official Logo for  Herefordshire Art Week

Official Logo for Herefordshire Art Week

If you missed the first part of the H-Art 2013 review, please clicks on the link below to read The call of the wild. The first part was dedicated to Martha Holman (Love Zimbabwe art and charity) and Brian Hamilton-Cox:

For the second part, we decided to do something completely different.  First of all, we went off the beaten track and skipped the grand openings that we attended last year. We love socializing with artists and people but since we have seen it all just 12 months ago, a small change was  very much needed. It was decided that we should skip the bigger events and concentrate on the smaller venues that are likely to be missed by general public. The experiment was a huge success in our opinions – not only we could spend a lot of time looking at the artworks without being pushed around by the crowd, but we had the time to speak to the artists and owners of art galleries. Of course, do not misunderstand what we just written – while visiting the H-Art venues we were never alone. H-art is a very popular festival with hundreds of visitors and passer by’s, but we had the luxury of photographing artworks without having to watch for other peoples elbows being stuck in our lenses or being stamped nearly to death by art enthusiasts. Skipping the night openings and exhibitions previews can be a fun experience too. You might not be able to grab a free drink, but you can contemplate  and enjoy the art in silence as long as you please.

Official Create Herefordshire logo

Official Create Herefordshire logo

Smaller venues do not usually organize any openings but they offer you a bit of privacy and the feeling is really important to us. You can walk around the venue,  stick your nose into every hole and explore freely. For example, we have noticed that some venues have additional visiting rooms that normally are closed to visitors as they are either part of private workshops or stores. In normal circumstances, walking into those parts of the artist’s house or gallery equals to trespassing. During art festivals, artists not only open their own houses for the public, but they will happily give you a tour of their garden or show you an old barn that has been turned into painting atelier or a photography studio.  Art galleries are acting in similar fashion.  Backrooms and offices are normally inaccessible, but if you pay them a visit after the opening madness has ended, you will find out that the extra rooms are being open and serve as additional exhibition space.

We have chosen two smaller galleries in the Hereford City Center especially for this review: Apple Store Gallery on Bridge Street and  Fire Earth Store on King Street. We would like to thank the owners for showing us around their premises and introducing to three wonderful artists. It was a real pleasure to speak to them and learn more about their work.


Official Apple Store Gallery Logo

Official Apple Store Gallery Logo

Apple Tree Gallery has been founded in 2005 by husband and wife team, David Laws and Marion Campbell, in an Arts & Crafts apple store in Brockhampton, Herefordshire. They moved to Bridge Street offices in 2010 and since then, they became a very important spot on Hereford art map. David and Marion have nearly 30 years of experience in art management and work very closely with numerous Herefordian artists, painters, jewellery makers and arts and crafts people. If you are new to the area and you’d like to talk to somebody who knows what is going on in the county, David and Marion are your best bet. We have met them for the first time in 2011, and they are  wonderfully well informed couple, always ready to help and direct the lost souls in the right direction. Apple Tree Gallery is open all year long and organizes literally hundreds of events. Every time we walk into the art gallery, there is something happening there. The place is so popular, that the gallery is booked solid till the end of 2014! David and Marion will  speak to new artists and if you’d like to exhibit your works at Apple Tree, all you have to do is to contact them and explain what you do.

Apple Tree Gallery offers additional services as well: you can buy  art materials, frame your artwork and learn how to paint. During the H.Art festival, the gallery was a sponsor of Herefordshire Young Open exhibition and End of Year show for the BA Fine Art Degree at Hereford College of Arts.

Apple Store Gallery Official page: http://applestoregallery.com
Apple Store on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Apple-Store-Gallery-in-Hereford/174009972629325

Address: 3 Bridge Street, HR4 9DF Hereford, Herefordshire
(Tuesdays to Fridays from 09:30 am to 16:30 pm and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 13:00 pm)
Telephone: 01432 378436
Email address: applestoregallery@btinternet.com

Apple Store Gallery banner

Apple Store Gallery banner

We have visited Apple Tree Gallery on Saturday 7th of September to see what David and Marion have prepared especially for the H.Art Festival. The first thing we noticed was that the gallery have been redecorated: some cabinets  were removed to make more space for exhibition stalls and easels. A small corridor leading to the back of the building was also decorated with paintings and portraits and the garden was now opened for the visitors. It was actually the first time, we could enter the garden and take look around.  It is beautifully designed and looks like a real secret garden should. Among wild flowers and narrow alleyways,  we have discovered a white tent containing beautiful artwork by two artists: sculptor Sally Grant and painter Roland Moore.

SALLY GRANT – Sculptures with a soul

Sally Grant is an internationally renowned artist with many years of working and exhibiting experience. She has been born in Aberdeen in 1973 and became interested in painting and sculpting at a very young age. She has studied Visual Arts at Cheltenham and holds MA Degree in Arts Management from Cambridge.

Sally Grant sculpture in the Apple Store Gallery garden

Sally Grant sculpture in the Apple Store Gallery garden

Sally Grant sculpture entitled "Remembering Head"

Sally Grant sculpture entitled “Remembering Head”

What we truly love about Sally’s art is her uniqueness – her style cannot be mistaken with anything or anybody else. All you need to do is to take a one, quick look at her works to be sure it is her. Rita has been interested in abstract art for many years now and she is always happy to discover a new abstract artist living and creating in Hereford. Sally’s sculptures have semi abstract feel to them, but they are not overly abstract or too hard to understand at the same time.

Sculptures on display

Sculptures on display

Sally has exhibited her sculptures inside the Apple Gallery  (in the main hall) and in the garden.
Official  website: http://www.sallygrantsculpture.co.uk

RONALD MOORE – the beauty of the Welsh border

Ronald Moore is one of the best known artists working at the boarder of Herefordshire and the Wales. His skills are almost legendary.  Mr Moore has a long and very successful career:  he is not only a renowned painter that exhibited his works all over the world (Asia, USA, Japan and majority of Europe), participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, but he is also a famous art historian and art teacher at several universities and colleges in the UK. The most fascinating thing about Ronald Moore is that he has spent  35 years working as a painting conservator for museums and galleries, English Heritage, the army and the church and has handled paintings by Caravaggio, Turner, Constable, Rembrandt, Canaletto and many other major names.

Beautiful landscape by Ronald Moore

Beautiful landscape by Ronald Moore

Ronald Moore artwork displayed in Apple Store Gallery

Ronald Moore artwork displayed in Apple Store Gallery

Mr Moore has several degrees to his name including:
1961-66 Birmingham and Oxford Colleges of Art.
1975 BA (Hons) History of Art at London University
1970’s Research in the psychology of perception with reference to early 20th century non objective painting.

In 2013, he has exhibited in Australia and New York  and his paintings can be found in private and public art collections in New York and New South Wales. He is also represented by British Royal Collection as well.

Mr Moore is represented by Ardent Gallery and Management:

Show me the way to the next art gallery....

Show me the way to the next art gallery….

We have left Apple Tree Gallery thinking that we would not be able to find another artist that could show us something as beautiful as Sally’s sculptures or so skillfully presented as the paintings made by Mr Moore. As usual, we were mistaken! Our next stop was FIRED EARTH, a store that specializes in hand made floor and wall tiles, paint, wallpaper, bathrooms, kitchen furniture, handwoven rugs and wood flooring. Wait a minute, you may think. Why after leaving an art gallery, suddenly we decided to go to a tiles store? Well, we didn’t go there to choose our next bathroom tiles, but to see a small exhibition by ceramic artist Kate Davson.  The cool thing about H.Art festival is the whole town is involved in it. You do not have to be an owner of an art gallery to participate. Many stores, cafeterias and coffee houses take part by allowing artists to put their works on displays in main windows or inside the shops.  Kate being a ceramic artist chose Fired Earth as the best place to showcase her ceramic wonders.

Fired Earth logo and design catalog

Fired Earth logo and design catalog

FIRED EARTH is located on 11 King Street Hereford, Herefordshire, HR4 9BW
Telephone: 01432 277000
Email: hereford@firedearth.com
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 9.30 – 5.30
Website: http://www.firedearth.com

KATE DAWSON – decorative & sculptural Raku

Kate Dawson made her official debut at H.Art 2013 with a group of other artists known as The Bredwardine Bunch (Kim Davis, Jackie Edwards, Rob Grunsell , Sam Hughes, Kate Pritchard and Jacky Thomas). The Bredwardine Bunch were located at Bredwardine Village Hall in small village of Bredwardine, nearly 13 miles away from Hereford (aka Venue 101). Kate’s ceramics however were displayed in several other places, one of them being Fired Earth where we had a chance to see them.

Kate Dawson exhibition in Fired Earth store

Kate Dawson exhibition in Fired Earth store

Raku pottery by Kate Dawson - Rita's favorite piece of art this year!

Raku pottery by Kate Dawson – Rita’s favorite piece of art this year!

Kate has spent many years exploring different mediums (including painting, jewellery making, textiles, Chinese brush painting and others) before she finally stumbled into ceramics in 2002. Since then she  acquired City and Guilds degree in 3D Design and Ceramics and opened her own ceramic studio with huge success. She specializes in raku – type of Japanese pottery that is traditionally used in Chanoyu – the tea ceremony. Kate and her husband live very close to the Welsh boarder and  work together from their studio overlooking the Wye Valley.

Please visit Kate’s Official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/kate.dawson.1460
Kate official website can be found here: http://www.ceramakate.co.uk/
Telephone: 01981 500696
Email: kate@ceramakate.co.uk

Detailed picture of Kate's  timeless raku pottery

Detailed picture of Kate’s timeless raku pottery

Since moving to Herefordshire in 2006, Kate has become a very active member of the artistic community. She is one of the senior members of Herefordshire Guild of Master Craftsmen and runs Hereford Life Drawing Group. She is also the main organizer of popular Portrait in Clay and Life in Clay workshops. If you are interested in purchasing one of her ceramics or taking a part in her classes, please contact Kate  and don’t forget to mention our blog!

We hope you have enjoyed this little trip through the back streets of H.Art festival. Please return shortly as we are going back to the mainstream! The third and the last part of our review will introduce you to young and very creative Herefordian art wolves that are planning to take up the art world by storm!

Have a good rest!
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz