this is the barn wall (at blackthorpe), all four metres of it (although it doesn’t look it), the barn wall which i encountered a while back, where i would have to display (and since have) my art for the new ‘artworks’ exhibition.
there is so much surface ‘activity’ and ‘incident’ in this stretch of barn wall already that i feared the new works i had been quietly making would soon disappear into its rustic, aged surface. yes, two or three large, colourful paintings would work well in this location but all my 2011 work (a prerequisite for this exhibition, which is good) are all about twelve inches square (or smaller).
sometimes, you just have to commit to your artwork and hope it will work out in situ (i did ‘do’ a wall plan). so, not wanting a wall of repeats, i ended up putting in work from three different but related series – green woods, broken earth/circle/relics and the earth/bound panels. wood and all of its derivatives are the uniting factor. i didn’t fully break away from the format of the square, but i have intervened in subtle ways…
[my artworks hung above the patchwork barn 'tideline']
the private view (or preview evening) was well-attended with over five hundred people milling through the exhibition over the course of a couple of hours. i talked to new people about my work and i bumped into other people i knew who i hadn’t seen for many years – it was all good.
out of the wood/shed III, 2011, paper, oil & pigment on wood, 150mm x 150mm
broken, 2011, mixed media paper relief, 300mm x 300mm
in the absence of a more neutral wall/interior i did feel (ever so slightly) that my work was drained of it naturalistic colours.
so, given that i have no bold, graphic or colourful works to show off here, instead i will share some photographs of other works in the exhibition which blipped on my radar.
mike ashley’s paintings are inspired by winter walks in the countryside, often transitioning between figurative and abstract elements in a vigorously worked yet gestural painted surface.
gill levin’s work is concerned with structures, both manmade and natural. she states it is the ’spaces between’ that interest her most as a painter, and on closer inspection they coalesce into rythmical, patterned abstractions.
eileen revett has continued with the universal theme of time in this new series of large woodcuts, ‘analog‘. these are hand-printed on japanese paper and the delicate repetition of gouged marks suggest a contemplative, meditative process in their making.
anthony jones embarks on a mission of artistic time-traveller, envisioning how an abstract painter might work in the presence of the renaissance artist and mathematician piero della francesca. similar to mark rothko and italian frescos, anthony has developed his own visual responses to art history.
katie millard’s new series of abstract paintings, while seemingly a departure from her more widely-known norfolk landscape watercolours, look to be playful magnifications of expressive swathes of colour in response to nature and the elements.
roger gamble’s very striking acrylic paintings also reduce the figurative landscape to its most abstract & formal elements – a pop art sensibility with colour combined with wry observations of our modern times.
both roger and anthony have made me want to re-evaluate my relationship with colour, since in ‘real life’ i am drawn to colours and geometric patterns (even the garden shed is styled on mondrian), but it never materialises in my own artwork. this is probably because i am still working through my experiences of the rural landscape, which nearly always take the essence of the materiality of time as the central concern (it’s a subject difficult to ignore).
i was thinking (of the dark wood barn wall) that some of my work is akin to camouflage, they they would quite effortlessly blend into the real landscape, that a type of environmental reality is constructed, although they stop short of being completely true. however, in the end, i have to create my own reality.
or, put another way, a conventional landscape painting is an open window to a memory, it invites you to travel back to the original moment. i would like my work to create the moment in the presence of the work, right here in the ‘now’. the visual associations, although perhaps drawn from prior experience, create a brand new visual experience, not a picture of a past event. i create very tactile, textural works in recognition of a sensory world, one that the pace of technology (esp. of communication) seems capable of eradicating. am i a luddite? of course not. we will create ambitious new sensory gardens in the concrete & glass jungles to appease the deprived..
‘painting from nature [...] is a sort of diversion; creates a balance. i would say that landscapes are a type of yearning, a yearning for a whole and simple life. a little nostalgic. the abstract works are my presence, my reality, my problems, my difficulties and contradictions.’
gerhard richter, 1985
artworks exhibition, blackthorpe barn, rougham, suffolk, 10 september to 2 october 2011 (10am – 5pm, open daily). there is also the ‘artworks shop’ where i have some of my papier mache bowls (also relics of a sort) on display.
Artworks is a professional art group of thirty contemporary East Anglian artists. Each September we have a group exhibition at the medieval Blackthorpe Barn, set in the heart of rural Suffolk.