Tag Archives: east anglia

on art and the sea

Monday 2 April 2012

a few days back i attended a one day conference at the UEA (university of east anglia), art and the sea. there was an engaging and diverse mix of contributors in the day’s programme, from scientists to museum curators, and artists.

thinking about the effects of the sea on the coastline got me thinking again about the small experimental water paintings i had begun last year (and what i was trying to explore)…

and also these, my after the storm’ wabi sabi relic bowls

[ashore, or washed up…]

and an earlier piece of work from 2006-2007…

[a view of covehithe cliffs, new year’s eve, 2007]

many perspectives of the sea (specifically the east coast) were analysed, discussed and reflected upon: symbolism in art and literature, mythology, ancient settlements, archaeology, heritage & social history, oceanography, mapping and geology. interestingly, some current research into the changing coastline is using art (mostly paintings) as a key measure of evidencing change. there was also a presentation of a research paper on JMW Turner’s relationship to the sea which was also very engaging (if not provocative in its assumptions about Turner’s life experiences), and the day concluded with some contemporary artists making brief presentations on their work about the coast.

needless to say, climate change, sea levels, coastal erosion and the environment were at the forefront of the discussions & i left the conference in a contemplative frame of mind – and with many pages of my sketchbook filled with many quotes, notes, drawings, diagrams & doodles documenting the day. there was quite a lot of literature to take home too…

just a week or so before i had spent a day at the coast, once again gazing up at the ever-eroding cliffs…

and just below the line of this photograph, i spied a thin stream of brightly-coloured blue-green stones or pebbles, so I scrambled up the slope and gathered a few into my hand – and with a unbridled feeling of excitement, holding something which had not been ‘seen’ for centuries. i do not know what these small rock fragments are but I considered they must have some copper mineral in them…

[green treasure]

a while back, i took some photographs, close ups, of the surface of one of my earth/bound paintings, using a torchlight – and now, when i look at the pictures i can see a volcano (i think i may have broken the ‘child’s’ microscope, trying to adapt it…)

farmscapes, in focus

Saturday 12 February 2011

farmscape i - abstract painting - mixed media on canvas - by jazz green
[farmscape i 2010, mixed media on canvas]

farmscape ii - abstract painting - mixed media on canvas
[farmscape ii 2010, mixed media on canvas]

farmscape iii - abstract painting - mixed media on canvas
[farmscape iii 2010, mixed media on canvas]

farmscape iv - abstract painting - mixed media on canvas
[farmscape iv 2010, mixed media on canvas]

farmscape v - abstract painting - mixed media on canvas - by jazz green
[farmscape v 2010, mixed media on canvas]

farmscape vi - abstract painting - mixed media on canvas
[farmscape vi 2010, mixed media on canvas]

farmscape vii - abstract painting - mixed media on canvas
[farmscape vii 2010, mixed media on canvas]

farmscape abstract painting - artist studio
[and… possibly farmscape viii, in progress in the artist’s studio]

these paintings are all 60cm x 60cm, unframed…

i thought it was time to view some of my abstract farmscape paintings all together – and review some of my thoughts and words about them, as ‘quoted’ and collected in my artist journal [blog]…

what is the philosophy behind the farmscape paintings?  they remodulate, within a very reductionist format, both the farmyard and the fieldscape, a mathematical sense of order within an organic surface, as a means to challenge, subvert or recontextualise notions of a pastoral, romantic vision of the rural landscape. i actually view them as blind paintings, the ‘images’ that a sight-impaired person might conjure up in a touchy-feely, tactile environment devoid of spatial perspective... [this week]

the ‘farmscapes’ are meant to be very cool, sparse paintings, hinting at enclosure, mechanisation, rural industral landscapes, reducing the pattern and structure of agricultural land and its outbuildings to an economic geometry… [03.08.09]

another ‘farmscape’ [working title].. there is no reason to hurry.. it takes time.. and i am a slow painter… [18.08.09]

the ‘farmscapes’ are developing slowly, as i will wait for the cooler hues of autumn and winter to pervade my colouristic senses.. at present they look bereft of true colour – dark olive green, slate grey, ashen blue, taupe.. [25.08.09]

with a cooler palette of metallic greys, bronzes and blues… [18.02.10]

agriculture depends upon the seasons, and nature through its cyclical changes imparts its own identity on an otherwise structured landscape… [18.02.10]

there is a reference to landscape in colour and format, a modulation of stripes hint at the structures of agriculture – a farm (buildings) and its landscape (fields) distilled into one work, when viewed in both the horizontal and the vertical… [28.02.10]

the ‘farmscapes’ have their obvious mechanical, minimalist geometry, but on some days I question their formality, they seem too detached from their source… [08.02.10]

this led me to research the origin of the word farm, which as a verb has only been in use since the 19th century, the noun ‘farm’ derives from the Latin ‘firma’ meaning ‘fixed payment’ (from the Latin firmare) denoting a lease of land, later specific to agriculture… ‘firmare’ also leads to the word firmament, a tangible expression of the skies or heavens above… [03.08.09]

the landscape of East Anglia, broadly-speaking, with its patchwork pattern of arable fields and reclaimed fenland, especially when seen from above,  has all the obvious markings of a rural landscape shaped by man – a factory without a roof… [18.02.10]

this review has helped me refocus…

here, there and everywhere [drawing]

Thursday 18 February 2010

I had some free time this week to get out sketching for an hour or so, here and there…

These are small sketches, about 14cm square (travelling light again, with a new sketchbook that just about fits in my bag), finding odd moments of calm and contemplation, experiencing some cool blustery breezes and light rain showers, a sprinkling of frost and a little sunshine too…


[looking north east, rain clouds ahead]


[view over brow of a hill in field]


[open fields, hedgerows and big sky, early afternoon]

I made a trip to the fine city of Norwich (that’s their promising tagline, Norwich, a fine city) to see a few exhibitions this week (and to pick up my artwork from the Forum)…

One of the exhibitions I went to see was Watercolour in Britain at Norwich Castle (part of the Great British Art Debate, on until 18 April 2010). However, before I went in to see the main exhibition, I perused the rotunda of the Cotman Art Gallery. Here, you can see (in a somewhat subdued and yellow light) the watercolours and drawings of John Sell Cotman and his contemporaries. There is permission to take photographs (without a flash), and so with a lens pressed against the glass I tried to analyse this particular drawing. I felt a little touristy in this regard, but wanted something I could look at again and again.


John Sell Cotman, Irmingland (trees and vale)
black and white chalk drawing on grey paper, 1841 (with an unintentional self-portrait)


[left hand side of drawing]


[right side of drawing]

This one was apparently drawn over two days, 10th-11th October 1841, and Cotman had briefly returned to his native Norfolk in the autumn (from London, where he was working as a drawing tutor) due to ill health (he died the following year, aged 60). He said in a letter ‘judge for yourself my happiness on finding your flints capable of once more creating a blaze in my heart‘. One can assume that these drawings were preparatory studies for paintings that he did not live to complete.

Firstly, it’s interesting that he added an extra piece of paper to the right-hand side to make the scene more panoramic (on the second day?). I like how the foreground although roughly sketched out in hatched shading, creates angles of interest before one’s eyes find the cluster of trees in the middle. It is difficult to know what this foreground vegetation might have been, but as an autumnal landscape, I could conjecture that its texture and colour would have been pivotal to the overall composition. I’ve often felt that Cotman’s Norfolk landscapes are too sentimental, at times over-embellished and exaggerated, but this drawing has a truthful, wind-swept bleakness about it. Irmingland no longer exists as a true village, having been effectively consumed into a larger parish by the Enclosure Acts of the 1800’s (an act of parliament in which previously common or grazing land was passed over into private hands) – and perhaps by the sprawling estates acquired by the many country manors – forcing the locals to live and work elsewhere – often migrating to the cities. According to Oulton Parish Council, in 1845 Irmingland had only 13 residents, by 1881 it had dropped to only 5.

The landscape of East Anglia, broadly-speaking, with its patchwork pattern of arable fields and reclaimed fenland, especially when seen from above, has all the obvious markings of a rural landscape shaped by man – a factory without a roof – it can be just as polluted as the city, and its green-edged agricultural roads are often noisier than the average suburban avenue. I have no romance with it, but I want to explore my relationship with it, none the less – and drawing has been a means of doing this in a more immersive and emotionally direct way.

I have been preparing some box frames for four of my farmscapes this week..

These are looking like they will have the colours of spring, I think… (but no daffodils)…

and this one, with a cooler palette of metallic greys, bronzes and blues, of autumn perhaps… agriculture depends upon the seasons, and nature through its cyclical changes imparts its identity on an otherwise structured landscape.

Too many words already; I will have to continue with my thoughts on the the intriguing side exhibit Drawing on Cotman, and the main exhibition at Norwich Castle Watercolour in Britain tomorrow… and what I saw and made of the other two current exhibitions, The Artist’s Studio at the SCVA and The Jerwood Contemporary Painters show at NUCA