Pick Me Up – ten things to see

The annual graphic arts festival opens in London today and there’s plenty to see from emerging artists’ work to a major exhibition of Alan Kitching’s letterpress prints. Here are ten things you simply shouldn’t miss

Now in its seventh year, Pick Me Up is a well-established fixture of the illustration and design calendar. Acting as part-exhibition, part-fair, part-workshop and talks space, Somerset House has done a great job in bringing it all together again for 2016.

While Alan Kitching’s A Life in Letterpress exhibition offers a brilliantly-realised survey of some 100-plus works (we’ll explore the show in more detail in a separate post), there is also a strong group of new artists and illustrators showing very varied work in the Selects room.

This year, joining up the individual exhibits, the workshops and events programme is a type system devised by studio Hato (and formed out of public submissions) which threads the whole show together.

We had an early look around the festival and, here, we present here our list of ten things that you need to see.

Corin Kennington’s sign-painting

Kennington’s large-scale, slightly warped type pieces combine a bold graphic approach with traditional sign-painting techniques. The result is a series of big, glossy chunks of letterforms – and the first work that visitors see as they enter the show. corinkennington.co.uk

Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith

3rd Rail screenprint studio

The London-based screenprinting works has moved into PMU for the duration of the festival, enabling visitors to get their hands inky via the studio’s carousel. They also have a wealth of clobber and editions on display (and for sale), with new releases from Hattie Stewart, Archie Proudfoot, Mr Penfold and Lynnie Zulu. 3rdrailclothing.co.uk

Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith
Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith

Rachel Lillie’s In Between series

A mixed-media display in the Selects room, Lillie’s work has a wonderfully wintry quality to it and her paintings are paired with carved wooden objects. The series apparently explores the theme of ‘in between’ and is based on walks around the outskirts of London (where the wood was also collected). rachel-lillie.co.uk

Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith

Cuckoo’s Nest

This intriguing pair up between gallery/agency Beach London and the Museum of British Folklore sees a range of artists responding to objects from Britain’s weird and wonderful cultural traditions and held in the museum’s collection. Includes fireworks and morris men. And very large heads.

Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith
Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith

Julian Glander’s lenticular prints

Back in the Selects space, Glander’s prints are the only examples in the show that you feel obliged to move around in front of. (Feel free to move around in front of other people’s work, of course, but after a while you might get told to move along.) In a nod to his great work with Gifs, Glander has produced a series of lenticular prints – so they animate in front of your very eyes. He’s also showing some charming ‘floam’ characters as well. julianglander.com

Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith

Clay Collective display and workshops

The Clay Collective room is a lovely collection of handmade ceramic works – vases, bowls, sculptural works and more. Even the shelving is lovely. If you’d like to try your hand at some of the basic pinching and coiling methods used to make everything from pots to mammal heads, then the collective’s workshops will appeal, too – there are several being held over the next few days. clay-collective.com

Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith

Camilla Perkins’ series

Drawing on the visual style and dress of various African sub-cultures, Perkins’ work is bold, bright and full of pattern. The colours in the prints, on show in the Selects room, are sublime, too. camillaperkins.com

Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith
Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith

Made North’s space

Patrick Murphy has brought plenty of work down for PMU from his Sheffield-based gallery, Made North – including a set of signed prints of road signs by Margaret Calvert (children crossing example shown – but the other three are also available as prints). As part of the North & South project there are also prints by Anthony Burrill, Ian Anderson and others on show. madenorth.co.uk

Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith

Jack Sachs’ Inside Yo Body

Having injured his ‘drawing hand’, Sachs looked into 2D animation software. In recovery, he combined the two and a good burst of the results form part of his show in the Selects space. “Look at how interesting our insides are!” he says. And he’s right.

Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith
Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House. Photo: CR

Alan Kitching: A Life in Letterpress (and live demonstrations)

One of the biggest draws at Pick Me Up this year will undoubtedly be the major retrospective on Alan Kitching’s life and work. A Life in Letterpress takes in six decades of his typographical design, alongside a display of sketchbooks and equipment from his studio. The show, over 100 pieces of work arranged chronologically, is fantastic. John L Walters’ new book on Kitching (published by Laurence King) is also be launching at PMU and will be available from the Rizzoli Bookshop at Somerset House.

And if you want to see the master at work, Kitching will also be giving live demonstrations as he prints “a Utopian-themed artwork” between 12-3pm on Friday April 22, Sunday April 24, Tuesday April 26, Thursday April 28, Saturday April 30 and Monday May 2. pickmeup.somersethouse.org.uk

kevin-meredith-16-04-20-5d-mrk3-1865 copy
Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith
kevin-meredith-16-04-20-5d-mrk3-1863 copy
Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House © Kevin Meredith
Pick Me Up 2016 at Somerset House. Photo: CR

In addition to these choice cuts, there is a whole series of events, workshops and talks at Pick Me Up this year. Pick Me Up is at Somerset House in London and runs from today until May 2. Tickets are £10/£8 concessions. A festival pass is £17.50. Tickets include entry to the Alan Kitching exhibition. Full details are at pickmeup.somersethouse.org.uk

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