Tag Archives: Robert Fitzmaurice

The Nine Realms Art Workshop Special

16 Oct




We ran two workshops in The Gallery at Hanse House on the 4th day of The Nine Realms: a Norse-themed poetry workshop in the morning, and an art workshop experimenting with the printing technique of monotypes in the afternoon.  Both workshops were facilitated by creatives involved in The Nine Realms project: poet, Rebecca Audra Smith and artist, Robert Fitzmaurice.

What you’ll find below is the second of of the 2 post specials on the workshops. This week we’re focusing on the art workshop with a written exploration of the whole workshop process by Robert Fitzmaurice. 








As one of the participating artists in The Nine Realms project I was pleased to be invited to deliver a monotype workshop. It was planned to take place on the last day of the Hanse House event and be offered free to any members of the public who wished to attend. Norse mythology is full of bold words and images, so following on from a poetry workshop in the morning which had been held by Rebecca Audra, an afternoon of uninhibited image-making made perfect sense.

Most printmaking techniques rely upon a reusable matrix (e.g. an engraved, or etched plate), which can be repeatedly inked to produce a series of identical, or nearly identical, images. In contrast a monotype image derives from an unfixed ephemeral matrix (e.g. a sheet of glass or aluminium) on which the image to be printed is created and manipulated. Sometimes the monotype artist will get a second impression, termed a ghost print, which they then develop further with a variety of media. Degas is one such artist who adopted this approach.

Similarly in my own practice I have often turned to monotypes to unlock new motifs and generate new ideas that can be turned into paintings. Unlike other forms of printmaking the results come relatively quickly and quite often unexpectedly. I think this is the key thing about monotype, that one is liberated from those very rigorous processes normally associated with printmaking to focus purely upon image generation. In essence it is an act of unlocking.


I took the view that the surrounding Nine Realms imagery and texts could act as a spur, however it was to be each individual’s wellspring of imagination that I would aim to appeal. Since the focus would be on releasing imagery I decided to avoid coloured inks and limited the materials to a good quality water-based ink, rollers, acetate sheets to act as the matrices, and a variety of mark-making tools, including a variety of brushes, pens and sticks.

The workshop

On the day the workshop twelve people turned up. As it had originally been planned for eight people seating was somewhat tight, but fairly quickly one person decided they preferred to go and do something else, and so it was time to make a start.

By way of introduction I gave a quick overview of the monotype process and how it differs from other more rigorously procedural printmaking techniques. I really wanted to emphasise the liberating nature of monotype to ensure people felt free to enjoy themselves. To this end I cited Leonardo Da Vinci:

“Look at walls splashed with a number of stains, or stones of various mixed colours. If you have to invent some scene, you can see there resemblances to a number of landscapes, adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, great plains, valleys and hills, in various ways. Also you can see various battles, and lively postures of strange figures, expressions on faces, costumes and an infinite number of things, which you can reduce to good integrated form. “

I felt this was very much in line with the Norse tendency to imbue the ‘meaningless’ of the natural world with symbols, especially with regard to seeing landscape as the figure writ large.

Perhaps my introduction went on a bit too long for some, but I got everyone’s attention again once I started demonstrating the basic principles and techniques and it wasn’t long before the floor surrounding us started to fill up with images. Forest forms, blackbirds, songbirds, dancing lines, something that somehow referenced a helter skelter and a bipedal crustacean – these were just some of the fabulous monotypes that emerged during the afternoon.


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The learning process was interesting to observe. Sometimes ink was rolled too heavily which caused loss of detail when printing and other times the opportunity to take second ghost prints was overlooked, but quite quickly people learnt from each other and adapted.



Looking back

By the end of the session everyone had got suitably messy but that didn’t matter as we were able to enjoy looking at what must have exceeded fifty images, many of which turned out to be strikingly original.

What would I do differently next time? I think I would put more of my verbal introduction into printed hand-outs, and include some images of monotypes by famous artists. I would also provide the practical content (tools, techniques, tips and no-nos) in a separate section.

Overall it was a rewarding session for me, and from the feedback received, for all of those who chose to attend.


Robert Fitzmaurice



Here’s a short snippet video from Rob’s workshop:



Here are a couple of pictures: Rob beside his piece ‘Odin riding through Niflheim to save his son Baldr from nightmares’ and a close-up of the same piece. 



Many thanks to all those who participated in Rob’s art workshop, and to Hanse House for the great gallery space which seemed to be the ideal informal environment for our workshops. I am looking forward to developing the use of workshops further in our future projects and the national tour we are planning for Transformations and The Nine Realms in the years ahead. 

NB. You can find the link to the poetry workshop post here.


Thank you, as always, for your interest.

The Nine Realms Update #7: August

10 Aug

nine realms8


In the last update I said that June had sped by.  If June sped by July just disappeared.  Last month was filled with lots of work on the DVD and  trying to lay down the foundations of really good press coverage for The Nine Realms, as you’ll read below. This month all the threads of this 9 month journey are being drawn together with a heavy emphasis on getting the promtional material right for the whole event. With a bit of luck this week both posters for the events in Hanse House and Norwich should be printed along with the flyer.  

Here is what has been afoot! 

1. Press Coverage and Workshops

Next week an article promoting the poetry and art workshops is going into the King’s Lynn News. This is to consolidate interest in the two free workshops we will be running in Hanse House on the Monday of our event. Poet Rebecca Audra Smith will be facilitating the poetry workshop (for up to 12 participants) and artist Robert Fitzmaurice will be running the art workshop for up to 8 attendees. These two workshops will get people accessing their creativity within the context of the nine realms. These workshops were going to be paid ones, but after some deliberation we made a decision to make them free so that finances weren’t a barrier to participation.

Articles are also going into  your-local-paper and (excitingly) onto the big screen via the local Majestic Cinema (for a week).  We are also chasing up an article in the Eastern Daily Press (Norwich) about the poetry reading. I am  also making sure there is something in the online What’s On with the Norwich Writers Centre, the King’s Lynn On line What’s On, KLFM Radio and an established online magazine in Norwich. So we should be well covered! A further King’s Lynn photo-call will take place on the 20th August, with the press also coming on the 11th September for the official launch.


 2. Final Greetings Cards

Here at long last is the third card  which features the realm Midgard showcasing Viking artist Raymond Bentley and Viking poet Jim C Mackintosh.

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3. Schools’ Day News



a. Whitefriars Church of England Primary Academy:

I’m delighted to say that we’ll be having 60 year 6 pupils coming on the Friday morning of the Schools’ Day (11th Sept). They will be coming from a local King’s Lynn primary school (They’ll be coming in two staggered groups…which is no bad thing!!!). The Whitefriars pupils happen to be doing a project called ‘Vicious Vikings’ in the first half of their term and our event fits in perfectly! We’re also hoping a Year 9 class from the King Edward VII Academy will also be coming in the afternoon.

ArtiPeeps is excited to have made this new connection with a local primary school in King’s Lynn because this means we can now extend our educational reach to a younger audience. In conjunction with the year 6 teacher involved we hope to create a tailored package for them. It’s exciting!  There will be lots of photos taken throughout the schools’ day by photographer Sonja Seear which should give you a good idea of what the Schools’ day is like.


b. Schools’ Book

I’m pleased to say that I have completed the first version of a Schools’ Book for our The Nine Realms project. This contains the 5 stories from Millfield School that were showcased on ArtiPeeps last month and will contain the work of the Whitefriars pupils after they have finished creating in their ‘Vicious Vikings’ project. Their work will be added to the book retrospectively. As I have created the book via Lulu.com this will be an easy task.  This will be the first of our ‘Classworks series’, and ArtiPeeps hopes to create a bespoke project Schools’ book for all our large-scale work with schools in the future.


4. Norwich Poetry Reading




I’ve had several exchanges with the Poetry Unbound Series co-ordinators in Norwich and there seems to be a base of around 40 people who regularly attend the readings, which sounds great for ours. They will also be encouraging some of the ‘regulars’ to write their own Norse-inspired poetry too for the open mic session in the last half-hour. I will be delivering the poster and flyers to the library this week and will be talking to the Poetry Unbound co-ordinator then.


5.  Future Radio Interview Update and Severn Radio Shoutout

I have been in contact with the arts producer at Future Radio to see how she is doing with compiling our programme. I haven’t heard back from her as yet, but will be pursuing this next week. As long as it goes out before the 11th all should be well.
Mystery Train Image
Viking musician Simon (Beavis) kindly pointed me in the direction of Severn Radio and a presenter called Alex Huskisson who produces a really good music programme on the station called The Mystery Train. Simon thought he might be interested in what we’re doing. I put together a little package of the music and some information about our event and Simon has sent this to him. 
Here is the radio programme that went out this Sunday. The Nine Realms is mentioned at around 1:16.39. A big thank you goes out to Alex for supporting us.

More information about The Mystery Train:


6. Multimedia DVD

We’re very nearly there with our DVD. It has taken the DVD manufacturers slightly longer to produce the DVD because they are having to put separate audio tracks on the disc as well as what is essentially a video (our combining of the art, music and audio poetry). This is not usually done on one disc/dvd, so we’re breaking new ground! All being well the disc will be manufactured at the end of this week. It now has menus and everything! It’s a 100 % testament of the high quality of the project poetry, art and music.


7.  The Nine Realms Soundcloud

Just in case you missed any of the poetry:



8. Sneaky Peek at the Cover of our Ragnarök Comic

Today was the deadline for our comic for the Schools’ day to be in , and here is a taster of the front cover. They’ve done an absolutely wonderful job Illustrated by artist Koos Kleven and the story by Elizabeth Fernandez. Koos and Elizabeth have done a fantastic job of visualising the story. Everyone will love it!


Cover of Comic



As ever, thank you for your interest and I shall put out another update before D day on the 11th September. 



Vikings Ahoy! The Nine Realms Update (April)

2 Apr

nine realms8

19 poets, 22 artists, 3 musicians and a Viking Boat

 Vikings Ahoy! 

Our Indiedgogo Campaign

The previous month or so has been filled with lots of preparation for the launch of our Indiegogo Campaign to raise funds for the commissioning costs of the 50 cm x 80 cm Carved Viking boat that woodcarver Mark Crowley is going to be LIVE CARVING for us from his studio in Newcastle.

We shall be launching our campaign on Monday 20th April!  I’ve been busy creating  our campaign video, and I am now putting the final touches to our Campaign Page and starting to show it to people. Over Easter I shall create a  special Campaign page for this site. So please do watch out for the launch, and consider supporting us and our boat!

It’s going to be very exciting to see the boat emerge from within the oak wood that Mark has chosen. The boat will act as the focal point of our poetry readings and realm tours.




This year we are also running 4 Twitter competitions attached to our campaign. Two poetry-led ones, one fiction, and one art. They will be run by Vikings : Shirley Golden, James Mackenzie, Kate Garrett (and myself) and Jim C. Mackintosh. We will release the competition dates and details after Easter. There will be some really original ‘The Nine Realms’ prizes attached.


Art work:

Although the deadline for all project art isn’t until the 30th April, three great pieces have already come in. From artists:  Ann Supan, Robert Fitzmaurice and  Chad Swanson.  Here they are:

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All three pictures have great impact and are going to compliment the realm poetry powerfully. For Ann, it will be her first ever exhibition experience, and for Chad his first UK exhibition. I’m so thrilled to have them both involved.  

As some of the artwork came in early we could also create our first poetry-art greetings card in readiness for the campaign.  A pack of three different cards will be one of our rewards.  Rob’s Nifelheim piece was chosen, and paired with a poem by Realm poet  Tom Murphy called ‘Nifelheim’. You can listen to Tom reading his poem below:


Please click on the image to enlarge.





Future Radio



The Nine Realms DVD

I went to  Future Radio last week, the community radio station we are working with in Norwich, and we have finalised two dates when we will begin to edit together the poetry mp3, paintings and music, and create an event DVD. This is something we will do steadily until the deadline at the end of June, which is when the master file has to be with the Disk Manufacturers.

Interviews with Poets and Artists

I have also been in contact with the arts programme producer at Future Radio and we are presently working out how we shall promote our campaign through their programmes, whilst also creating opportunities within which the Viking poets, artists and musicians  can be interviewed and talk about their work.

Some of our rewards will also include backer poems and songs and will be aired on Future Radio, which should be great! 

At the moment lots of the tiny threads of the project are being pulled together which is exciting, but also a little bit nerve wracking. The thought of the boat being carved, and how the crowdfunding pulls the collective together is an ongoing salve. And whenever I think about our collective, and the notion of collective endeavour, I am always pulled towards the beginning of a quote by Henry James which I have returned to again and again over the years:

‘Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind-of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads…’

Over the next few weeks up until the launch of our campaign those ‘finest threads’ are coming together and becoming an immense sensibility! And that all feels pretty wondrous, I have to say…

Thank you very much indeed for your interest,  and have a Happy Easter-all. There will be another update next week.


Viking Nicky

The Nine Realms HQ


More details about The Nine Realms

Vikings Ahoy! The Nine Realms Update: March

5 Mar


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19 poets, 22 artists, 3 musicians and a Viking boat

Vikings Ahoy!


I finally sent off our application to Arts Council England (ACE) last week, which was a great relief after 2 months of fiddling with words and figures.  You become so anxious about wanting to communicate the worth of your project and the quality of the creatives involved, and hoping you’ve done everything and everyone justice…. I’m pleased to say that the day before yesterday I heard that the application had passed through the first stage, which feels great. I shall keep everyone posted as to the application’s progress. We will hear in the middle of April.

It’s funny how life works: that on the same morning that I pressed the submit button to whiz the application off to ACE, I also heard from Norfolk County Council, saying that we have been offered a provisional grant from them- towards the cost of hiring ‘The Gallery’ space in Hanse House. This feels brilliant because it reconfirms that the Council thinks highly of the creatives involved, the projects we create, and the opportunities we offer. And in terms of Norfolk, it’s great that they are supporting Hanse House in its development as a cultural venue. So good news all round!

I have also finally sent off two trust letters to The Paul Bassham Trust (supporting events in Norfolk) and the Laura Elizabeth Stuart Memorial Trust (who support projects in Norfolk with a broad educational remit) for help towards the hire of Hanse House and our Schools’ Day costs on the Friday of our event. Decision dates on trust funding can be quite quick. The trusts meet in April, and we can  hear 2-3 weeks later,  so watch this space….


With the trust letters off I can now concentrate on preparations for our crowdfunding campaign. We have decided to go for Indiegogo this time because it has a firm not-for-profit remit and flexible funding. It’s a difficult call to make- Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but the only way to know is to have an experience of both.  So this year its Indiegogo’s turn…..At the moment I am aiming to begin our campaign on Monday 20th April for 30 days.  Last year we crowdfunded for entire project costs. This year we are funding for the commission fees of our oak-carved Viking boat, which will be live carved by woodcarver Mark Crowley across the 30 days. Live updates throughout. The boat will act as a focal point in ‘The Gallery’ space throughout our event. We are going to be donating the boat to Hanse House after the 5-days, so it can sit within a suitable hanseatic setting. We’ll have to nab the boat back though when we tour with The Nine Realms…..


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The month ahead will consist of me pulling the campaign together on Indiegogo and creating a project video and campaign page. I’m having a different approach this year with the video, and making it a lot less talky and more image based, which I think will work much better. I’m also planning to storyboard it carefully first as well. We are also presently confirming the backer rewards, and I’ll reveal all as soon as they’re 100% decided upon.

Other Progress:

Two pieces of artwork for the project have come in thus far. I will share them with the Viking participants first, and then post them out in my next update. All the artwork is due in on Thursday 30th April which will be in the middle of our campaign.  I think it will be exciting to reveal all the event art in the middle of our funding initiative.

 As some of the artwork has already come in I have been able to start creating the first greetings card in  our reward 3-pack.  The artwork and writing features Viking artist Robert Fitzmaurice and Viking poet Tom Murphy . The card went off yesterday to the printers, and as soon as it is ready, I’ll release it to the world. 

I think that’s about it for now.

Thank you, as ever, for your interest.

Viking Nicky

The Nine Realms HQ

Transformations: Art, and Meeting Face-to-Face

29 Sep



Supported with public funds by Arts Council England.

Supported by Norfolk County Council.



Firstly,  let me share this link to the newspaper article that was written by The Lynn News in response to Transformations. It sums up the whole experience entirely: ‘ArtiPeeps King’s Lynn exhibition ‘rip-roaring success”:


And here’s the Wordle I did of the Evaluation Sheet we had at the exhibition (click to enlarge):


Cloud 17


For me, the most interesting evaluatory word in real terms amidst all of the above is the word ‘Confused’.  This lone word is potentially a real point of growth and development for us. What we presented to a viewing audience was a huge swathe of material that nearly everybody appreciated in someway, but that maybe still needs to be contextualised more for better understanding.  It’s made me ask: do we need more explanatory information?; how can we best guide people around our projects? are we putting on collaborations or exhibitions?  These are big, fundamental questions that affect our artistic practice and future projects. These are all really great questions to be asking as we step into our next project.


Art and Connecting

When Transformations first started out as a project I hadn’t even thought of incorporating art or making it a multi-form project. It was going to be solely a poetry project. However, the power of juxtaposing one form up against another is undeniable, and the more that thought brewed the more the idea of bringing art in seemed inevitable. The art and the poetry could juxtapose, they could also mirror. Either way they would stimulate interest in different ways, broadening out the reach of our project. I never thought in my wildest dreams that in the asking and in the return I would get such a diversity of mediums, themes and styles. The level of skill too was beyond measure too. Also the mixture of emerging and professional creatives provided a really good balance.

In case you’ve forgotten here are all the Transformations pieces:


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7 of the 15 pieces were framed by us, with some of the artists (Rob Fitzmaurice,  Diana Probst, James Mackenzie and Heather Burns) delivering their art themselves. It was such a privilege to meet them for the first time and here they are with their pieces:


Rob Fitzmaurice an The Transformation of Hecuba, Book 13

Rob Fitzmaurice an The Transformation of Hecuba, Book 13

Diana Probst delivering her Book  picture

Diana Probst delivering her Book picture

Heather Burns and her Book 6 painting A Circle Unbroken

Heather Burns and her Book 6 painting A Circle Unbroken


Seven seems to have been our lucky number as 7 pieces of art were sold too: James Mackenzie’s The Moon’s Dark Shadow, which went to the Vice Principal of King Edward VII Academy, King’s Lynn:

The Proud owner of James Mackenzie's picture

The Proud owner of James Mackenzie’s picture


And Lili Morgan had her first ever picture bought…Here’s the red marker going on, placed by the owner:


The moment Lili's painting was sold

The moment Lili’s painting was sold


Both Kelly Occhiuzzo’s piece Echo and Narcissus was sold, and two prints of emerging artist Charle Redding’s print The Mortal Coil were also sold. We hope to build on this next year with a designated promotion zone where people can sell other pieces and exhibition prints.

Also the impact of the comic strip and cartoon orientated pictures was pivotal in the consolidation of our use of comics in what we do:


Teenager looking at Comic Strip


Schools' Day: KES Academy, King's Lynn, Sara Mena's Picture Strength and Disgrace

Schools’ Day: KES Academy, King’s Lynn, Sara Mena’s Picture Strength and Disgrace


The interest younger people showed in the comic strip material was obvious and a really good introduction to the material and to Ovid’s Metamorphoses. With The Nine Realms we will be having a designated Comic Corner, a physical comic and hopefully an animation of some sort.

Overall, a good number of us met for the first-time, and connected in real-time. I’m hoping that next year even more of us can meet and share in the collective experience. I’m excited to communicate our next project to a viewing and hearing audience in King’s Lynn and Norfolk, who now not only know who we are but also the quality of our work and our intention. In the not-to-distant-future I am hoping to put in place some sort of travel bursary to help creatives take part in our projects in real-time, so more of the collective can meet and see the impact of their work on others.

I shall be introducing our next large-scale project on Wednesday, and thank you, once again, for your interest.


All the very best.



‘Scratch the Surface’ with: Robert Fitzmaurice (Visual Artist)

10 Apr


The story behind a piece of artwork in the artist’s own words


>Robert Fitzmaurice:


Orsino before Viola

Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in.




I am neither illustrator or scholar however over the years the plays of Shakespeare have regularly provided me with themes to explore. I made this painting ‘Orsino before Viola’ especially for the 2012 production of ‘Twelfth Night’ by Reading Between the Lines Theatre Company. Other plays, such as Coriolanus and The Tempest, had suggested imagery to me in the past, however this play was quite different in tone. Ostensibly about love I felt the play’s true subject is love’s delusions, or – perhaps even more precisely – the ‘sol y sombra’ of desire. I was excited by the territory, but unsure how I would respond. 

All artists need points of departure. Sometimes I start a work in material terms and let the content emerge; other times I start with a particular idea (or feeling) and work towards finding an appropriate form. I knew a literal illustration just wouldn’t be my thing, but I have always been interested in how a work of art in one medium can inspire an artist working in another. Some great examples are Botticelli’s drawings of Dante’s Divine Comedy and Titian’s interpretations of Ovid. These are much more than spectacularly accomplished illustrations, they are untethered complements to their sources. Titian called his responses ‘poesie’, and to this day it is not unusual for artists to make some kind of distinction between their art and illustration. Perhaps some consider the latter is subservient, I prefer to think it is just a question of artistic sensibility: an illustrator will be happy to provide narrative embellishments, but an artist will want to explore the territory and find expressive equivalents.

Re-reading the play potential images started to emerge. Malvolio’s emotional isolation and the play’s blurring of identify and gender appealed, but eventually I was drawn to the character of Orsino. His affected launch: ‘If music be the food of love, play on’ shows him full of romantic swagger, strutting round the stage like a puffed-up peacock. Left undeveloped this characterisation would have been shallow, yet as the plot develops my fascination grew as Orsino (and the other main characters) become mirrors to our own romantic identities. We may laugh at the comedy, but if we are paying attention it will be somewhat nervously.

There was also a practical reason for choosing Orsino. I had an unresolved canvas in the studio, a large version of an earlier painting ‘Figure feeling its power’ which was ripe for modification. The composition already promoted a central male figure, but now it could also have an identity. The title was chosen to reference the Duke’s vacillation between fervour and malaise that lasts up to the revelations of the last act – but this could be no narrative embellishment. My aim here has been to express Orsino’s state of ‘being in love with love’. In the painting immediately identifiable physical elements merge with colours and forms to suggest his overtly romantic state of mind:

 ‘So full of shapes is fancy, that it alone is high fantastical.’ Orsino Act 1, Sc 1, l.14

Meanwhile, some way off, the boat carrying Viola and Sebastian is poised to split, thereby setting off the chain of events that finally will lead to the Duke finding true love.







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