Tag Archives: salthouse

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…

an hour by the riverbank

Saturday 25 July 2009

sketchbook drawing of tree at riverbank

pen and ink sketch, about half an hour… a real challenge to draw water, and the sun kept going in and out…

sketchbook - dappled shade - overhanging tree branches

another sketch, another half-hour or so… dappled shade….

refracted  reflections of trees

intriguing refractions of tree branches…

sunlight, shade, reflections on water

shafts of sunlight, tree reflections and underwater vegetation…

underwater vegetation - a found abstract painting

ah… a found painting, a little monet… or any of the derivatives…

the salthouse 09 art exhibition continues… salthouse 09 : 2 july to 2 august 2009

salthouse, uninterrupted views

Monday 13 July 2009

on the art exhibition salthouse: salt of the earth, at salthouse church, norfolk…

salthouse art small paintings in exhibition
[detail of my work, saltscapes i-xxv, at the salthousesalt of the earth art exhibition]

over the weekend i gave a brief artist talk on my work in this exhibition, saltscapes, about the ideas and concepts behind it and my use of materials…

jazz green artwork on wall at salthouse art exhibition

i was surprised (and very happy) to hear that my work has attracted a lot of interest from many visitors, and one of the exhibition’s invigilators said that i had effectively sold it three times during the day (just once is very nice)…

the next day i was at salthouse church yet again to do my stint of exhibition invigilating, which gave me a chance to revisit some of the artworks in the salthouse art exhibition…

andy cairns’ salt encrusted construction corroded, crystallised, coalesced is a fascinating piece of coastal assemblage, displaying both resilience and fragility…

rory mcshane’s woodcut print salt squares shared some similarities with my work, exploring the geometric formation of salt crystals, echoing the wider pattern of the constructed landscape…

ross loveday’s three drypoint and carborundum etchings reminded me a little of the london skyline paintings by john virtue, as their natural rural counterparts, with their rich, dark expressive tones, evoking the wind-swept flat vistas of the north norfolk coast……

the celebrated east anglian painter maggi hambling displays one of her recent north sea paintings,storm wave, an energetic, power-packed painting in which its swooshing, watery depths persuade you to jump in and yet there is a fear drowning if you stay there a little too long…

marcela trsova’s piece light vessel, is a beautifully crafted construction of salt crystals and wire, an ethereal boat surrounded by wire fish suspended from the ceiling recalling souls to prayer…

both antje ernestus and jane wheeler reference the ritual collection and harvesting of salt in their sculptural, ceramic pieces…

david page’s some views of the marsh is a curiously abstract and dream-like painting, as one seemingly floats high above the salt marshes, with a solitary, small figure just visible heading inland…

colin yorke’s the outcasts is a work that is sensitively made, embracing the organic, weathered qualities of aged, spalted wood, as a group of only partially seen carved heads – all the more moving when seen in their final resting place (outside the church wall)…

there is also the work of ana maria pacheco, colin self, kabir hussain – too many to mention here as there are fifty artists included in this exhibition (it’s a big church), but it is a show that is defintely worth its salt (sorry, no pics of their work, but there is a colour catalogue). salt of the earth is curated by simon martin, curator at the pallant house gallery, chichester.

salthouse : salt of the earth : 2 july to 2 august 2009, salthouse church, norfolk

p.s. see some photographs of some of saltscapes, in progress, in the studio… or click on the photograph below for a small glimpse…

saltscapes artwork in progress for salthouse art exhibition

wood-textures

and finally… [i found this and thought of yew…]