Tablet Drawing and Posters February 2020

James Tovey and John Elson Pop Up Art Production Studio

The Vivacity Unit has been set up as a production studio for the week of live art. Visitors can get involved in the drawing experience as well as talking to John and myself about our methods and ideas. See the creative process from conception to the digital version ready to submit for publication. You could also get drawn…! Each of us makes very different work but both of us often use digital tablets to work on, we can also offer hand drawn portraits should a visitor want to sit for one. John’s speciality is caricatures which have proved very popular at many events around the country including last years Peterborough beer festival.

When:From Saturday 1st February – Sunday 9th February 2020
10am – 5.30pm daily (Late night Thursday till 7pm)
10am – 4pm Sundays


Where:Vivacity Unit, Queensgate, Peterborough. (Guildhall entrance off Cathedral Square)

Over the last few years Peterborough’s leading cultural charity Vivacity has been donating their shop unit to artists from Peterborough Artist Open Studios to showcase their work. This February 2020, the unit will once again be set up as an art space, going live with art in action, demonstrations and the chance to get involved creating some new energetic designs, some even destined for digital output and online presentation.Open for a week, the space features work from two of Peterborough’s artists, James Tovey and John Elson. The two artists have worked together on numerous community projects including the successful Future Floodlands event held in Cathedral Precincts and a two week project at the Westraven Community Garden building Peterborough’s first SolarPunk eco-constructivist sculptures as well as running workshops with the local community.

You can also get details on how to become part of Peterborough’s growing arts community in joining the yearly Peterborough Artists Open Studios event.Exhibition organised by Peterborough Cathedral Education team and Peterborough Environment and City Trust. Located at new building, Peterborough Cathedral, August to October 2019 to coincide with the Luke Jerram Gaia installation.The artwork idea was originated from bench ends and miserchord designs, particularly the Mermaid of Zennor.Framed in a large red oak frame and set up on a specially built temporary stand in the new building, the artwork received over 800 engagements many from Peterborough school children, The picture has been widely viewed and engaged with on the internet.

A further note on the making of Mermaid with her Mahi-Mahi and Oceanplastic: I held all the seaplastic objects in my hand whilst painting them, there is no fixed view point or vanishing point in the painting. The objects were never arranged other than in the painting for the effect of pattern and the illusion of space. The depth and space in the painting comes from the scale compared to the viewer and the mermaid and her fish. Some objects are larger than life-size, others smaller. I purposely did not play with combining different viewpoints in a cubist manner nor reverse perspective in a David Hockney type way; but the floating placement without a single perspective position and the conscious play of scale does nod to Hockney in that respect. The original concept was to make use of black delineations in a cartoon/graphic manner consistent with my ink drawings but that would have then flattened to space and obstructed the content as I felt its method would have become too dominant. I was injured at the time and had to paint with my right hand as well as my left it slowed me down and I averaged about six pieces of plastic a day, overall the picture took about a month to make, the sea blues had to be painted a few times to help with the depth in the pigment.

James Tovey digital tablet drawing 2020 – Fine art posters

Plastic, Native, Temple

Vivacity Unit, Queensgate Peterborough, PE1 1PU

7th – 20th May 2018

Plastic is now ubiquitous.
We’re living through the Plasticene. 
You can buy a 2.4m plastic cactus for your hallway; you won’t have to water a real cactus using tap water, that itself now contains plastic micro-particles.

James Tovey artist mermaid and #oceanplastic 2018

Mermaid and oceanplastic 2018

‘The plastic arts’ is a term that had existed long before plastic itself. I have wanted to try and look at the plastic objects I had collected over the last few years as naively as possible, as though life-drawn for the first time by an art student intent on learning through prolonged observation. Not interested in the Neoplastism of the De Stijl movement, instead my initial thoughts were of a metamorphosis and of bringing ancient mythology and plastic ¬- a 20th century invention – together in an uncomfortable way. However I found myself reluctant to go too far down the path of the collision of two plastic objects to transmogrify into a third construct – yet there is a definite modernist basis for some of the elements.

The mermaid painting backdrop idea came from a small toy figure found as sea plastic litter. It is actually the top half part of a small Barbie figurine, but I initially thought it to be Disney’s The Little Mermaid. I researched mermaid art and came across the mermaid of Zennor and was attempting to build a composition around that and some lines from Ovid but the plastic overwhelmed it.

Wood is an obvious counterpoint and natural contrast with which I have felt more at ease. The plastic components are essentially ready-mades although altered by collision with natural processes in the environment and some minor assemblage. Wood is also an ancient, relevant building material. In this installation, the wood forms a sanctuary, a natural structure and the plastic is an imposition on it and in it.

There is no doubt the terrible convenient addiction that societies have developed for plastic eases the struggle against decay in the short term. What now looks to be a permanent error is that plastic is with us for the foreseeable and has been injected into the human food chain. I can imagine a child born being described as a plastic native to perhaps a planet slowly choking at Plastigeddon,

Polystyrene skulls and accumulated plastic 2018