Tag Archives: norwich

rebirth: an exhibition

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Rebirth: An ancient culture and philosophy revisited; rediscovered; revitalised; readdressed and remade.

Rebirth, curated by Lorraine Cooke, is an exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Art inspired by Ancient Jomon culture and Japanese aesthetic, in collaboration with the Unearthed exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

The Rebirth exhibition features artworks by Sahoko Aki, Megumi Baba, Shaun Caton, Veronica Grassi, Jazz Green, Tsunaki Kuwashima, Barbara Leaney and Keika Sako. Rebirth, the exhibition, at gallery Art 1821, runs from 29th July to 8 September 2010.

The gallery Art 1821 has a strong curatorial ethos and shows contemporary art by established and emerging artists. Together with exhibitions of new work, the gallery has works for sale by established artists from previous generations. Works by Piranesi, Fernand Leger, Prunella Clough, William Scott and Jamini Roy sit alongside works by established living artists such as Maurice Cockerill, Eric Fischl, Laxma Goud and Colin Self.

i like the linking curatorial concepts behind unearthed and rebirth – as something re-discovered, re-visited, re-contextualised, re-vitalised… i have three large paintings in this exhibition.

i have also been pondering on (the year) 1821 – it was the year Baudelaire was born, and also the year that Keats died…

UPDATE: see some gallery pictures of the rebirth exhibition here…

last chance to see… the NCA 2010 (Norfolk Contemporary Art) exhibition closes at 6pm 21 July 2010

faux, the love of artifice

Wednesday 14 July 2010

some thoughts on the wider significance of the lichens… it seems quite simple – they signify life amongst the decay, a sign of gentle renewal, the circle of life, the quiet resilience of nature, all the more poignant when experienced within the context of a graveyard, existing on the very surface that marks and memorialises a death (as previously seen in these photographs – on looking and lichen, december 2009, and more recently the lichen drawings) – but that wouldn’t fully justify making art or paintings sourced from lichens, as the photographs might convey these ideas quite adequately, in the right context… it would seem there is a challenge inherent in objectifying the powers of nature within art – and artists have been doing this for some time…

it was quite difficult to focus on the quiet matter of some painting over the weekend due to the cacophony of resident noise, (i need not go into the finer details of the myriad power tools in usage, dear reader, except to say that the particular occurence of some petrol-powered hedge-trimming at 7.30am was not music to my sensitive ears)… so, my best painterly intentions went a bit awry… what did i create instead??

lichen textured experiments
some alien biscuits or are they mutant cornflakes? some tentative lichen-ness experiments, which could do with being a little more crusty

like lichen
i attached one to the painting canvas…

lichen art
shown here with the artist’s hand, to give an idea of scale…


just looking, through the lichen-ness…

this idea, of creating fragments to use in work goes back a little… in my mixed media collages of the 1990’s i re-created fragments of stone, rust, metal, etc, which were then assembled into the work – many people believed i had found these fragments – i had not, they were entirely faux…

here’s an example of some eroded fragments from early 1997. you can see some of this older mixed media collage work on my collage art page

speaking of artifice, here’s a small detail of a large painting on panel, edgescape: lichen/algae, a work that precedes the current encusted fascinations by a few years… but it is also relevant to mention here in that it will be included in a new art exhibition…

i am really pleased to have been invited to exhibit three of my large edgescape paintings (algae, corros and rost) with a new gallery in the fine city of norwich, art1821. they will be shown in an exhibition that has been planned in collaboration with the sainsbury centre for visual arts, focusing on japanese art and the environment. the exhibition at art1821 is called rebirth, to coincide with the sainsbury centre’s unearthed exhibition… (many thanks go to BM for helping me get my paintings to the gallery)…

the art1821 gallery has a charming ambience with its low ceilings and irregular, cobbled, whitewashed walls, situated in one of the city’s oldest ‘listed’ buildings in the heart of tombland, the medieval quarter of the city… in a curious way, these historical features seem to complement the showing of modern art (i saw some margaret mellis assemblage works on the wall), in the way that the sainsbury centre’s minimalist open-plan aesthetic, of the transparent, inside-outside architectural design (not much changed since the 70’s), brings a fresh-eyed perspective to a substantial collection of old world artefacts… (for those that do not know, the scva building was designed by sir norman foster) … i would really like to visit the unearthed exhibition…

i had just enough time to also quickly see the norfolk contemporary art show at the forum – did i mention that i have some work in this exhibition too? whilst there i discovered that there is also a series of lunchtime artist talks (but i had just missed one) and also a series of ‘artists-talking’ videos on permanent playback during the exhibition – i enjoyed watching a couple of these short video talks before i had to dash back… i am not involved in this, so anybody desiring to find out a little more about my art and inspiration may find something of interest in this very blog.

i have also added a couple of new webpages to this website, of which this earnest ‘artist journal’ is just a small (but ever-evolving and expanding) section of it…  there is now a new page devoted to the recent/ongoing series of travel-inspired intaglio collagraph prints on canvas. here are four of the canvases currently on exhibition in the aforementioned norfolk contemporary art


norfolk contemporary art 2010

my four iCon works, fjord, tuscany, havana & sushi, are displayed between an intriguing mixed-media assemblage by andy cairns – an artist who was also in the salthouse exhibition i was in last year, and whose work is mentioned in my little bloglet devoted to the salthouse 09 art exhibition – and also a rather small but perfectly formed susan gunn painting… i would like to see this year’s salthouse exhbition, landmark 10, but travelling is a bit problematic at the moment (with a knackered, soon-to-be decommissioned iron horse…)…

i have been thinking about a collective title for these small intaglio works on canvas, briefly considered iCons (or eye-cons) and then decided upon eikons (from the greek, a symbolic or representational object) – it was still a suitably concise-sounding word – but an icon now also refers to little square computer symbols or visual shortcuts – but the variant, more archaic ei spelling also suggested a reference to the electronic internet… with so many con-nections, i was suitably con-verted…

everything is so e, i or ii these days, isn’t it… do you have an e-car yet? i once made a birthday card with a comical u-pod, using an apple-style umlaut, with party like it’s 1978 as the tagline, appropriating an image from a knitting pattern that i found in a charity shop, of a chap modelling an itchy-looking sweater with a (now) very retro, 1970’s sony cassette player – oh, how w-e laughed about the u-pod!!  but i-digress, i-had better just keep to the art (but it was quite artistic, in an ‘i made this just ‘4u’ sort of way)…

so, in the small (ei-kon) works i inverted the process of idea/source to object/meaning by employing various processes and methods to determine a unique ‘identity’ for the work… they began as humble, small-scale textural experiments for printmaking purposes, drawing upon the visual signs of decay in agricultural outbuildings and the local environment – but then some analysis of colour and associated words, and their real-world connections or counterparts, led, inevitably, to the concept of pursuing some virtual travelling, an activity which gave rise to the titles, and thus gave the work a new, more global resonance and identity… those diy paint colour charts were just the start of it…

what’s in a title, a name? is it vital or important, is it meaningful, revealing, persuasive, or just a means of differentiation?  within the context of (or absence of) subjective art titles one might also mention the artist martin creed again, or mark rothko even, but i am just seeing a lot gushing red stuff, so let’s not go there today…

i liked pursuing the open-ended nature of this sideline activity, that i would, in a vaguely lynchian way, create works that followed a more convoluted, non-linear course; the end became their beginning. it was also a deliberate move away from a series of strictly numbered works… the virtual travels also inspired the idea of starting a faux sketchbook… in that, if anyone cared to contemplate upon it, that the vast network of the internet is not just a window to truth & knowledge, but is equally a platform for some deliberate artifice & creative reinvention of one’s identity and sense of place in the world…

random fact alert! i actually graduated in the presence of the great david lynch! he was awarded an honorary degree by the RCA


a lichen drawing in a sketchbook, june 2010

i have also created a new webpage to show some of my recent lichen-esque drawings

i really would like to pursue the idea of doing some larger versions of these – where does one get rolls of good drawing paper, and perhaps, more importantly, is it very expensive?? i probably have one too many ideological plates spinning (or they are just wobbling and are likely to shatter in a very messy, greek fashion) – the eroded circles/discs, the cubed/3d prints, the lichens and their various transformations, the green mould prints, dissolved image transfers, small etchings, virtual travel sketches…

now, i am even contemplating  growing fake lichens in my spare time…

reasons to be cheerful: one, two, three… and four

Thursday 1 July 2010

i was going to just ‘blog’ about the NCA 2010 (Norfolk Contemporary Art) exhibition today; i didn’t actually make it to the PV, sadly, but i am sure it was very good…

i have a small mention in the catalogue’s main introduction to the exhibition (and four small works in the show)… it has caused a little contemplation on the matter of the origins of contemporary art

‘The example of the significant developments in attitudes to painting that occurred in America in the fifties and sixties of the last century – abstract expressionism, colour field painting and minimalism – are represented here in the works of Jazz Green, Geoffrey Lefever, Zheni Warner and Rhona Fleming. The preoccupations of those times, the flatness of the canvas and its nature as an object are clearly represented here.’

the flatness of canvas (the surface) and ‘its nature as an object’ in itself is indeed a preoccupation of mine – but thoughts drifted through my mind like the tangled balls of tumbleweed rolling across the dusty prairies, reminding oneself that no artist is entirely resistant to the winds of such international influences… america, as a second home to european artists such as duchamp, mondrian and albers gave both sanctuary and freedom to artists, in the making of their art, as process-driven ideas and concepts developed, quite separate to any desire or need for a pictorial narrative… it is, perhaps, due to the pioneeering and independent spirit of the age, a radical welfare & arts program, the art was unburdened by (and physically detached from) the historical trajectory of european art. american artists have been colourfully swooshing around the paint ever since, while in britain things were a little more muted…  well, there was the small matter of a war (and its subsequent debts) to deal with (i simplify, of course)…

someone said to me recently that you need to look at a lot of art and then forget about it, before you can make your own… one hopes that any traces of influence will be subtly distilled into a new form…

these four small works are currently in the NCA10 exhibition… all are 13 x 13 x 3.5cm…


fjord 2010


havana 2010


sushi 2010

and…


tuscany 2010

NCA 2010 is open daily, 1 to 21 July 2010. NCA is a curated, contemporary art exhibition, with sixty-five works selected by the arts writer Ian Collins and the artist Derek Morris. The exhibition includes painting, photography, printmaking, ceramics and mixed media works. A full-colour catalogue is available to accompany the exhibition and all artworks are for sale.

despite this current exhibition, the urgent matter of ‘work’ preoccupies my thoughts most days… over the weekend i penned (or designed, but it still needs a ‘little’ work) a leaflet to promote my good self as a freelance art tutor – this might be another string for the bow that has yet to pair with its corresponding arrow… and then there are my plans or development of ideas for more decorative objects in 3D… this multi-disciplinary approach, i believe, is critical to any financial stability… it is not good to be left hanging in the balance, waiting for a call…

meanwhile… i received, via email, some photographs of the setting up of the next exhibition, textures, traces and elements at beyond the image gallery – on what was probably the hottest day of the summer, thus far… angie, the gallery manager, was instrumental in the ‘hang’; immensely giving of her time and a very calming influence on us all…


critical discussions going on…


talking labels and other matters pertaining to the final touches of the exhibition…

here is a quick snapshot i took just before we left – i really respond to carol’s layered porcelain and slate pieces… i already have one of carol’s smoke-fired pots…

here are hazel’s paintings in the exhibition. to understand some of hazel’s paintings you really do have to see the incredible images that she draws out from the patterns seen in the most humble-looking of pebbles. she has an inspiring, spacious studio too, full of her coastal, beach finds..


[hazel bignell – paintings]

and now for something [not so] completely different; a more formal introduction to the textures, traces & elements exhibition, a poster…

TEXTURES, TRACES & ELEMENTS at Beyond the Image Gallery

2nd July to 1st August 2010

Textures, Traces & Elements is a contemporary art exhibition of mixed media paintings, collagraph prints, ceramics & textiles by three Suffolk-based artists: Hazel Bignell, Jazz Green and Carol Pask. These three artists respond boldly and uniquely in both process and media to the rural East Anglian landscape.

Beyond the Image Gallery is a contemporary, artist-run exhibition space located within the beautiful setting of the Thornham Estate, conveniently situated just off the A140, midway between Ipswich and Norwich. The Thornham Estate also includes twelve miles of waymarked footpaths through naturalised meadow and woodland, known as the Thornham Walks.

Textures, Traces & Elements at Beyond the Image Gallery is open Friday to Sunday, 11am-4pm, from the 2nd July to 1st August 2010.

Click here to view the gallery location on Google maps.

meanwhile, the promotional mill grinds on – i am very much looking forward to showing some new work at the 11th annual ‘Artworks’ exhibition at blackthorpe in september (Artworks is an established group of thirty professional East Anglian visual artists), with the environment and mankind’s impact on it as the broad theme of the exhibition… so, no pressure then…

stop press: it looks like i will have three large edgescape canvases in another exhibition, entitled Rebirth at Gallery Art 1821 in the fine city of Norwich,  opening 29 July – 8 September 2010.

read more about the future exhibition Rebirth