Tag Archives: memory

on artworks and two small paintings

Saturday 8 September 2012

the artworks annual exhibition opens this weekend at blackthorpe barn in the heart of rural suffolk. i am one of thirty artists exhibiting new work in this art exhibition.

[edit: i would like to mention here of my gratitude for the encouragement and support i have received this year in the continuation of my membership of the artworks group. they will know who they are, and i thank them.]

each artworks artist is allocated a space in the barn and here is a small picture of my wall of (very) small paintings.

these paintings are very possibly the smallest paintings in the artworks exhibition, and my intention was to produce a series of delicately textured paintings which would require close scrutiny so that the beams (in all their rustic heavyweight charm) did not entirely steal the show.

these small paintings are framed in white wood frames (using natural liming wax), floated within extra-deep window mounts to give a degree of separation and independence from the exposed beams and overlapped timbers of the barn’s rustic interior architecture.

small paintings - art exhibition - blackthorpe barn suffolk

plain white walls do help to concentrate the gaze when someone happens upon an artwork for the very first time, where there is no background noise to distract from the ‘get to know you’ conversation (or creating a dialogue as some artists will call it, but a conversation seems much more personable).

this series of (very) small paintings combine my rustic style of painting with collage, constructed in many layers to create subtle accents of texture and relief within the surface, minimalist in composition offset by irregular striations and stacks of textured colour, to evoke everyday sensory elements of the rustic and the rural – walls, fences, boundaries, edges, horizon lines, buildings and structures.

here is a picture of one of the (very) small paintings on show in the exhibition (minus the picture frame)…

small painting - suffolk pinks, tarmac and straw
[suffolk pinks, tarmac and straw 2012, 10cm x 10cm)

this (very) small painting evokes striated, layered memories of walking, cycling or driving (or sometimes just taking the bus, which is nice) through the suffolk countryside in late summer, of straight roads and stubble fields, the harvest straw and dust as it clusters and clumps by the roadside, of sideways glimpses of traditional ‘suffolk pink’ farmhouses, sometimes set back from the road behind hedgerows, gates, fences and walls – and wondering (in that brief moment of passing) what it might be like to live there, with those fields as your only neighbours…

here is another (very) small painting in the artworks exhibition (again, minus the picture frame)…

small painting - purple sage, potting shed, garden
[purple sage, potting shed 2012, 10cm x 10cm]

sometimes it’s the smallest of things that momentarily hold the attention. the textures, colours and aromas in the garden on any given day, a purple-leafed sage in a terracotta pot, the dust, dirt and cobwebs in the shed as you sort through a jumble of odd-sized plant pots, the aroma and texture of compost in your hands as you sow the tiniest of seeds, or the patina of waterlines on the inside of a rain bucket or watering can.

these seemingly mundane visual experiences, now insignificant memories, seem to have filtered through when making these small paintings, perhaps to acknowledge some of the humble pleasures of rural life, and to cast away the less pleasing aspects, as things are ‘felt’ and layered in one’s memory, without recourse to a more ‘literal’ narrative.

if there (ever) was an overarching idea, an underlying motive, a subconscious need, it was a need to evoke such sensory memories –  in a way which felt authentic, honest and pure, quietly evocative, modest in every way – as a small expression of retreat or escape, back into a small world which i could claim as my own, and from there on in, came the titles.

rural life has been an inevitable influence in these (too?) small paintings as i continue to be drawn to the colours and textures of time passing, a humbling antidote to the relentless pursuit of ‘perfection’ in contemporary life.

artworks 13th annual art exhibition
8th to 30th september 2012
blackthorpe barn, rougham, suffolk (SatNav IP30 9HZ)

the artworks exhibition is open daily, 10am to 5pm, from 8th to 30th september 2012.

artworks is a professional art group of thirty east anglian artists who organise a showcase exhibition each year at blackthorpe barn. the thirty exhibiting artists in the 2012 exhibition are:

Valerie Armstrong, Mike Ashley, Lyn Aylward, Penny Bhadresa, Gillian Crossley-Holland, Helen du Feu, Genista Dunham, Janet french, Chris Gamble, Roger Gamble, John Glover, Jenny Goater, Joss Goddchild, Jazz Green, Lynn Hutton, Alison Jones, Eleonora Knowland, Christine McKechnie, Katie Millard, Elaine Nason, Carol Pask, Anne Paton, Doug Patterson, Ben Platt-Mills, Ursula Kit Price Moss, Lizzie Sanders, Colin Slee, Constance Stubbs, Liz Waugh McManus, Virginia Wright.

a little something for the weekend

Saturday 23 October 2010

may i introduce to you another small installment in my virtual world travelogue..? here is another mixed media abstract on paper on canvas, in the ongoing series of diminutive travelling icons or iCons. this one is entitled venezia

mixed media canvas print venice venezia

venezia, 2010, 13cm x 13cm x 3cm, intaglio collagraph on paper on canvas

mixed media canvas print venice venezia

venezia is one of a new series of very small works (virtual travel ‘iCons’) that focus on colour and visual associations with locations around the world – but i never quite know where i will visit next. this one is quite formally patterned as an object and i have begun to envisage it as work in textiles, perhaps as a woven wall hanging or a rug.

the dark brown recalls the damp wood of mooring posts and the striations echo shop front canopies, and also the mineral traces of waterlines on the buildings. the very small but perfectly formed venezia iCon is up for some real-life travelling should anyone wish it to give it a room…

so, a virtual weekend break, spent in venice, italy… well, not exactly (if only), but this is where i landed

venice - gondola

however, venice is presently in my thoughts, as i recall memories of when i first visited, many years ago on a journey through italy. we arrived aching & mildly dazed after a through-the-night train journey (in economy class, naturally), venice shrouded in an early morning mist which mizzled on for most of the day – but venice seemed like a very accommodating place in which to get slightly disorientated…

 venice canal and boats

venice also reminds me of my first experience of italian ice cream (or gelato) and the visual array of textures & colours on view along the counter. i was amazed to discover that ice cream came in so many flavours, and then i savoured my first taste of the very aromatic pistachio. it was lighter and more crystalline in texture than british ice cream and i marvelled at the sophistication of its presentation, elegantly scooped up and served atop a stylish cone. it was something of a glacial epiphany when all i had previously known was raspberry ripple in a large tub (re-used as a lunch box when empty), cinema choc-ices and maybe a wall’s funny face

venezia now joins tuscany, pompeii, milano and roma in a somewhat unplanned & erratic virtual tour of italy… these very small travel iCons (visual shortcuts, suitably squared, the equivalent of pixels, as small mementos to my virtual journeys) will continue the cause & effect – that of the aesthetic of colour leading onto faraway places; the subtext needs no futher explanation…

so, i found myself being taken back to what seems to be the very source of things again, the endless fascination with the signs of weathering, neglect and decay. i took a lot of photographs during my inter-railing journey through europe (about seven rolls of film) – of the cities and their buildings, the doorways, windows and walls – and even the pavements – any structure or surface which seemed to exhibit the textures of time, the evidence of history that didn’t require a tour guide…

later that year, during my art & design diploma (the pre-requisite qualification prior to embarking on an art degree) i first encountered etching. the printmaking workshop was a small but brightly lit room, with windows that overlooked the museum next door. in the centre of the workshop was a very old star-wheeled etching press. this seemingly archaic contraption of print technology was a much revered object, a prized antique (which, of course, it was). our printmaking tutor would often play old jazz records to jolly us along, so the atmosphere was more convivial and relaxed in comparison to the painting & drawing studios…

this is my first ever etching (1985), very simply titled ‘a door in venice‘. the subject matter of an old, weathered door and crumbling, decayed brickwork seemed perfectly in tune with the intaglio etching processes of open bite and aquatint

a door in venice, etching, 1985

is it really twenty five years since the not-so-grand european tour?

it’s strange how the tide of time affects the memory of things, how those memories resurface when you least expect them to, when you come across something, a photograph or an object, something that both creates & completes the connection to the past, that takes you right back there, in an instant, and in that instant everything that has happened since seems to make perfect sense…

on art and photography, regained

Sunday 10 October 2010

photographic images rescued from a camera; hidden layers of digital data, memory extracted and reclaimed – digitally collaged fragments of erased photographs that were previously recorded (or found) then deleted (lost), now recovered again…

i obviously did not plan to create these actual compositions but i am their originator…

in this first digital composition there are three photographic images, of some naturally occurring lichens and two works in progress…

this composition also combines the surface elements of one of my paintings with yet another found abstract or painting, some rusty traces on a metal tank…

have you read about the minor discovery of the ivy drawings? nature’s means of making a mark on a surface – here montaged with a small glimpse of electricity lines (more drawing, or lines in space) and a snippet of surface rust – the black void of a small rectangle aptly completes the composition…

i am not sure why some of the rescued images were divided vertically, some lichens on stonework and more ivy found drawings

the middle section is a close up of some paintings, the lower section is as before and the thin upper section is a detail of some wood texture…

these images are exactly as found or retrieved, i had no direct input (other than expressed above) – the compositions seem arbitrary according to the original data and the colours are at times quite skewed.

now, there’s an idea; i can’t wait to see what will happen next… (please do not copy, reproduce, modify, distribute or otherwise use or reuse without the owner’s permission)…

these are images not just retrieved from layers of digital memory but are also intriguing montages of my observations, or reflections on the process of painting, my own visual experiences and memories collated & recollected in a new composite format if you will…

to quote marcel proust: ‘ in fashioning a work of art we are by no means free, […] we do not choose how we shall make it, it pre-exists us and therefore we are obliged, since it is both necessary and hidden, to do what we [must] do as if it were a law of nature, that is to say, to discover it.’

if art – or the task of being an artist – has no other purpose then it is first and foremost to bring into being a new discovery. these digital images, discovered by chance and yet actioned, reminded me that what makes the art is what makes us. these remind me that art, life & its experiences are ever-evolving, accumulating in many layers over time, and that art is still very much an essential, sensory need, even in a virtually giving world.

news: i will have a couple of small canvas works in the cromer & sheringham arts festival (a good excuse to revisit the wonderful north norfolk coastline). the cromer & sheringham arts festival takes place between 23rd and 31st october 2010 at various art venues and will include music, theatre, dance, poetry, performance & the visual arts – i will plug this event again nearer the time.

i have also been asked to put in some small works into a local exhibition, which will very much be filled to the rafters with contemporary art & craft – royal academy salon style – a month long view & buy event with extra work kept in backstock. also, i received in the mail an invitation from a gallery that i have worked with in the past to submit work for their anniversary show in 2011.

i have also been working on an exhibition proposal, or rather the ideas for some new work for it; we’ll see, nothing ventured, nothing gained…

other ideas are slowly percolating as usual, but i have become mindful of late that this blog is very much a reflective journal and not just a show & tell. sometimes i know i have said too much and perhaps should keep some of my thinking to myself. other times i see it as one side of a conversation; the artist talking.

what do you think? are you interested in the insight into some of my own creative process, or are you looking for some inspiring instructional how-tos?

in a previous post i mentioned that my creative block, or rather the obstacles which i create for myself, are often the extra finances required to push forward new ideas. perhaps these limitations will be good,but i fancifully thought that a little foray into ceramics or glass would be a natural development of my interest in surfaces & materials.

it seems that all of these little happenings will keep art matters ticking along for the foreseeable future, in the present circumstances…

[today’s date, one thousand and ten – looks like a random clip of computer binary code…]