Monthly Archives: November 2011

unwrapped, art for christmas

Sunday 27 November 2011

a short while back i was invited to contribute some small art for a christmas exhibition.

two very small abstract paintings on canvas, strata stripes

so, i made these, especially… diminutive free-standing square abstracts on canvas, which will be in the 2011 christmas art exhibition at the harleston gallery.

last year’s bumper christmas show was a great success, despite the hard times, perhaps because it was a welcoming, dynamic & eclectic mix of mostly small art without the usual detached sparseness of most art exhibitions (much as i like minimalism). there is also a communal spirit among local artists and it feels like a collaborative celebration of our efforts – and to exhibit work with artists who have become friends is always nice.

below are a few more pictures of the very small square abstracts. i enjoyed creating these small abstracts, a return to a minimalist-style interaction of colours, stripes and textures – even though i am now pursuing more naturalistic elements in my current work.

i have painted the sides & edges of the canvas white which gives the illusion of a frame, in contrast to the ‘wrap-a-round-the-sides‘ method i previously utilised in the icons series of small abstracts. so, i’m affectionately calling these small abstracts unwrapped art for christmas. the paintings measure about 11cm x 11cm, (they are now at the gallery, ready for the opening of the exhibition later in the week)…

small abstract painting on canvas, mustard yellow brown blue copper stratas

i would describe these striated colours as parchment, copper, darkest blue-black, light bark brown & mustard yellow ochre, which are framed by the matte white edges of the block canvas…

small abstract painting on canvas, ochre mustard brown blue-black strata stripes

this could be an abstract landscape, it could be something else, it’s the relationship of colours that i like (which do arise out of the landscape) but i often change my mind which way they should stand – but i think that’s ok…

small abstract painting on canvas, copper, brown, ochre yellow stripes

and yes, this small canvas does have a title….

small abstract painting on canvas, red, sand, ochre, gold strata stripes

on this second canvas, there are textured striations of a dark walnut brown-black, pale sand-stone, dark red & orange. below are the two small canvases pictured side by side, once again. i wish i had more time to make more mini-art…

small abstract paintings on canvas, red, sand, ochre, brown, copper gold, strata stripes

i think artists can be forgiven for partaking in the seasonal spirit of showing & selling at christmas art exhibitions. art will always make a unique & lasting gift, it obviously supports artists in what they do but it also benefits independent, local businesses in the process. so, art is for always really, not just for christmas.

i also have some work in the christmas exhibition at the reunion gallery (details below). it seems that mixed or group exhibitions ebb and flow with the seasons, with christmas often the busiest time…

christmas show, 1 – 24 december 2011, harleston gallery, norfolk

a touch of frost, to 24 december 2011,  reunion gallery, felixstowe, suffolk

harleston gallery, christmas art exhibition

reunion gallery, christmas art exhibition

on making art again

Thursday 24 November 2011

making art again…

with a fork…

most artists think a lot about what art is (and what isn’t art). most artists also think alot about what other people think about art, and how other people might understand or respond to art. making art is never just about making art.

some of this thinking about making art happens when actually making the art – starting a conversation about the making and meaning of art. artists sometimes call these conversations dialogues when they become more complex. dialogues may involve other artists or other things to do with the making of art.

i wonder if making art is still mostly understood (by most people) to be about the creation of an object or series of objects for visual or tactile consumption – and whether contemporary art which embraces other media such as music, film, installation or performance is adequately described with the single word, art. has the word art become ineffective in describing all of these varied creative outcomes? what do other people who don’t make art themselves think art is? why is art perceived differently to craft?

most artists want to make art that expresses or concretizes a personal feeling or opinion about something. most artists (but not all) also want to create art that lasts for a very long time. much work goes into the restoring & conserving of old works of art so that we can experience the artworks as the artist had originally created them (at least, we assume so). so, it’s very easy to think art is about the making of an object to express a meaning or concept which will last for a long time.

however, sometimes art is made to be ephemeral in intention or experience and a memory might be the only enduring record of it. for art that isn’t made to last, it is often documented by video or photographs a book, so that the art endures (or is at least remembered) in a more concrete form. sometimes the ritual of making art is a big part of the art and there is less concern for making an end object.

films are sometimes made as art and much like regular films they may be experienced once only. some people might watch films again (but rarely repeatedly, unless they have access to the film or it is permanently ‘installed’ in some way). sometimes art is also expressed through sound or music, and music is usually composed to be performed, listened to and experienced more than once.

similarly, writers or poets aim to publish their work so that lots of people will read their words for many years to come. a performance of words can also be art. all art needs a context and an audience to appreciate it, so art is perhaps more a desire to perpetuate a thought or opinion through whatever means are most appropriate and not so much about the making of an art object.

however, it would seem that most of the time art is created as a physical, tangible object of some kind, one which is made to be experienced by others and also made to last for a long time, but sometimes it isn’t. most people like art for the pleasure it gives in directly experiencing it, sometimes over and over again. this would require an object form of art, although film or performance give an objective expression of art, or a representation (or simulacrum) of a concept or an experience of art. art books are sometimes a substitute for such an experience, although a book as an object can also be art. it is the form or object of the art that brings the original concept into being as art.

the experience of art (or the art object) is an integral part of the art becoming art, which leads to appreciating why the artist made the art and then perhaps wanting to know more about how art is made.…

the real lends itself to unending exploration; it is inexhaustible.

maurice merleau-ponty


rca secret exhibition 2011

Wednesday 16 November 2011

a short while back i spent an afternoon making some new postcard artworks for the rca secret exhibition 2011. i cannot, of course, show you any pictures of these new postcards because it is a secret art sale, but here are my secret art postcards from rca secret 2010.

rca secret art postcards - royal college of art

[rca secret postcards 2010, signed & dated on the back]

see more of my secret rca art postcards 2010, rca secret postcards from 2009 or some previous years’ rca secret postcards are here.

there will be around 3000 secret postcards in the rca secret exhibition at the royal college of art in london, which is open to the public from 18 november to 25 november 2011. the postcards will also be viewable on the rca secret website from 18 november, all in the run up to the big sale day on saturday 26 november 2011 (queues likely).

remember, to purchase any of the rca postcards (maximum four per person) you will first have to register as a buyer. monies raised from the rca secret sale benefit the royal college of art’s fine art student fund. lastly, some mention must be made of the excellent organisation & voluntary work that goes on behind the scenes to make this event so successful, many of whom are current fine are art students.

the rca secret exhibition has become a very popular annual art event in london, with thousands of people queuing to be in with a chance of obtaining an original artwork for just £45. some of this year’s big name contributors include: tracey emin, grayson perry, gerhard richter, anish kapoor and yoko ono.

i always find it troubling to discover some buyers go on to immediately sell their rca postcards on ebay for much more money – especially when the artists donate artworks for free to support an art college in the education of future artists.

i am waiting with much anticipation to view all the rca secret postcards online and try to guess who has made what. it has become something of a sport, and perhaps there is a skill in knowing what to look out for, armed with the knowledge of an artist’s likely subject or style of work. there are always some surprises, though. i would dearly love to visit the exhibition, but i think work commitments will preclude me from doing so this year.

for breaking news (top tips, faqs, artist interviews, media coverage, etc) on rca secret 2011 i highly recommend a visit to the unofficial rca secret blog