Spaceships, Skulls & Partridges in Pear Trees

This year Settle Stories connected with multi-disciplinary, multi talented artist Steven Hodges whose practice explores and conquers his interest in sculpture, installation, printmaking and drawing.

Steven helped make the 2014 Storytelling Festival out of this world as he curated the ‘What Would You Take To Mars?’ exhibition. Settle Stories have recently reignited their relationship with Steven and he's just produced a limited edition hand-printed candle bag for us to raise funds for our charitable work. We caught up with Steven to find out about his practice, insiprations and his fascinating creative process.

Tell us more about your practice?

I see my practice as being split in two halves in that I have two totally separate approaches toward making work; one being informed by contemporary art issues and the other more graphic and illustrative based. My sculptural works tend to explore the notions of high and low art - they’re much more aware of their own aesthetic in terms of form and structure. The drawings and prints that I produce are much freer in that I’m drawing from thought or something that caught my eye at the time. Both sides of my practice tend to draw from quite dark subject matters. I have always been fascinated by the grotesque in art; how this has been portrayed through art in the past and also how accustomed to such imagery we have become in the modern world. In order to make a living as an artist, one has to be versatile and adaptable. Sometimes I have to put my own interests to one side and that can actually be a welcome break. It's fantastic working with others and creating their artistic ambitions with and or for them. 

What inspires your work?

Life. Death. The in-between. Everything? I couldn’t pinpoint one thing that inspires my work more than another. I’m fascinated by technical processes and experimenting with materials so the works I produce are constantly evolving. 

What are the highs and lows of your creative process?

There are always highs and lows within any creative process; for me this is what I find most addictive when making work. Following processes and learning technical skills is what pushes my work forward and so I have become quite used to the idea of things not quite working the way I would like.

Tell us about your relationship with Settle Stories. Has this helped you develop as an artist?

The subjects that my works deal with are heavily rooted in conceptual art practices so working with Settle Stories has been a great way to step away from that. Since working at the 2014 festival it’s been great to be invited back to work on a new project. Through working alongside Settle Stories I’ve been able to get back to working with others and not simply on my own in a studio. I find collaborating with others a really exciting process so I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to work alongside a creative organisation like Settle Stories in such a welcoming environment.

Can you explain the process of making the candle bag?

I was really interested in helping Settle Stories raise money for their charity. The work of the charity brings high quality arts to the area and being a local person I'm all in favour of that! As its coming up to Christmas I wanted to create a decoration that people were able to display on their dining table or in their window as well it be something they could keep for Christmas’s to come! I choose the design of ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree’ from the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ as it’s a really iconic image that people can relate to. When there’s a candle lit in the bag it really brings the design to life- it’s a perfect accessory to your living room on a wintery Christmas night!  The print on the candle bag was created using a printmaking technique known as Lino Cut. I really love this way of working as you can achieve some quite interesting patterns and lines that wouldn’t be possible in a drawing. I started with a line drawing and transferred this to a square of Lino. Using tools, I peeled away areas of the Lino to create a relief plate. Once I had removed enough Lino I inked up the plate and pressed a candle bag on top of it. Pulling the candle bag off of the plate reveals a replicated print of the design. What’s really great about this technique is that each print is different.

Get your hand printed candle bags here.

£5.95 for 2 bags inc P&P 

Dimensions: Height 26cm Width: 15cm Depth: 9cm

Bags are fireproof and are reusable. 

All proceeds support our charitable work with storytelling. 




Want to see more of Stevens work? Check out his website.