their judgement of artwork may be faulty…

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16 works in progress, Wonky Geometry series, each 30 x 30 cms., 2018

“their judgement of artwork may be faulty”…Many, many moons ago I worked in an art gallery, and the Director (just returned from NYC) gave me a piece of paper.  Its here now…

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Although it was written (gawd help us) nearly forty years back much of it, despite the many changes in the art world, still stands.  It was the dealer Ivan Karp who, having had enough of artists pestering him, wrote it to stem the flow.  Goodness knows what he’d make of today’s art market.  But its that last sentence that resonates with me right now.  And what stands for dealers and gallerists and curators (what vulgar, squalid words they are!) equally stands for judges in competitions. I know many of them are artists too, but generally they are those whose primary objective is not making work but ‘networking’ and ‘brown nosing’  the aforementioned thus rendering their judgment equally faulty.  Its in my mind as yet another competition has passed me by…or not (as I’ve observed of late, that many of these exercises in fleecing artists of their meagre funds, they often ‘extend’ deadlines to pull in yet more gullible punters) and I marvel at the plausibilty of all of us – I’m not immune as I, albeit occasionally, do it myself – in falling for the lure of bright lights and associated fame promised by the tiny odds of success.

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Truckin’ On…

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Etienne, Catherine, Leonard, Acrylic & watercolour on paper, 130 x 90, 2018

Trucking’ On…Time passes, and seems to do so with increasing rapidity as one ages.  It seems only a few weeks back that it was Christmas and we are rapidly approaching the longest day of the year after which, as my dear old mother was fond of saying, the nights will start drawing in.  I often feel that I don’t get much work made in a year but perhaps thats simply because I dither about making pieces (like the one above) that take for ever to get to a point that I’m (more or less) happy with.  This is the final outcome of the three banners that were to have gone to Honfleur (see previous posts).  Whether or not they may be able to be shown in the return leg exhibition is a moot point as space will likely be at a premium.  In the end I titled them after the three major churches of the town of Honfleur that I viewed one morning from the town’s best vantage point, Mont Jolie.

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And today I’m even more aware of time passing as its ten years since Esjborn Svensson died, tragically in an accident.  E.S.T. were always one of my favourite bands since I first came across them in the early 1990’s and his death was a sad reminder of tempus fugit.  All the more so a decade on.  Yesterday I played the above discs as I worked but today the maudlin’ might be a tad too much. So let’s just keep truckin’ on…

Ah what bliss!

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Ah what bliss!

With nowt worth watching on terrestrial telly nowadays I was drawn to The Trip to Italy last evening. On retiring my wife suggested I shouldn’t be so envious of funds as I’d expressed, quite forcibly, the desire to sample some of the venues visited in the programme…and I agreed that actually I was doing alright enough with our requiring 500+€ a night accommodation in the Med (not that it wouldn’t be fun…).  This came back to me this morning with the Mediterranean weather of late having deserted us for ‘typical’ English summer (cold, wet and windy) and I decided to bring a small banner work into the kitchen where I can work on it in the warmth.  Along with a pot of decent coffee and a soundtrack of Corrie Dick’s wonderful ‘Impossible Things album life doesn’t get any better…

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As it happens Corrie turns up on the new Dinosaur album…notionally Laura Jurd’s band but I reckon now truly a collective effort with – certainly Corrie’s input – but also as intense a presence from the other two members, Elliot Galvin on synths and Conor Chaplin on bass. Together they have made some especially extraordinary music this time around, not that their first album wasn’t a great piece of work (recognised with a Mercury nomination). But this one is a peach mixing jazz with, well, just about everything, all sorts of influences from sixties UK jazz (think Gilles Peterson’s Impressed samplers), through roots folk, to heavy metal riffs all bound together with Laura’s superb trumpet work that has a fluency and lyricism blended with an edge that evidences her understanding of the very best contemporary jazz phrasing and technique.

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Anyway enough of the music reviews (probably best left to better ears than mine) and back to the paintings. As it happens I’m less focussed on the pictures at present (they seem mercifully to be taking care of themselves both colour and structure wise at the moment) and more thinking about presentation. Originally they were to be proper scrolls with canvas backing and rollers but then I decided to go with framing, cropped to the edges in a white stain wood. But now I’m considering an even more expensive solution, plain oak with a mount – go figure! (and not so much bliss…)

Making Colour Sing…

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A Sundoor In The Harbour, Acrylic & watercolour on paper, 124.5 x 30 cm. 2017

Make Colour Sing is the title that Laine Tomkinson has chosen for the exhibition she has curated at the Nottingham Society of Artists gallery on Castle Gate in the city. It’s an intriguing title, not least as alongside all the works in which colour features as a significant force, there are lovely etchings by Michelle Keegan that are resolutely monochrome – raising the old chestnut as to whether black is ‘properly’ a colour.  My own pieces use a raft of colour combinations that bounce about in a reckless manner.  This piece – A Sun Door In The Harbour – pretty much nails colour confusions and plays them off against one another within a loose geometric arrangement.  The show features Laine’s work, a delightful and playful exploration of form and gesture in her chosen medium of screen printing. And much else besides; Martin Heron with a range of equally delicate and intense repeated drawn elements that coalesce into form that is almost as solid as his sculptures yet shimmer and dissolve before your eyes; John Stockton‘s collaged photographs that evidence strong graphic style; Andy Parkinson‘s obsessive preoccupation with repetitive mark making that gradually off registers  to compelling effect.  There are plenty of other marvellous things on offer.  Laine asked me to write a short introduction to the show that I’m reposting below:

A gutsy, powerful and emotional vocal performance is a stirring thing…be it Beyoncé’s Check On It or Handel’s Oratorio and so it is with colour in art, whether it’s loud vibrant hues played off against one another or quiet sensitive interactions modulated by tone and texture.  Either way for many artists – and especially those gathered together by Laine Tomkinson here – Make Colour Sing, her chosen title, seems so appropriate.

Laine has ranged both close to home and across the nations of these isles to source artists for whom colour interactions are either the main spring of their interests or at the very least a vital component of the mix that makes up the work.  Not surprisingly, given her own intuitive, sensitive process for making paintings and prints, several of those she has assembled allow chance to play a significant role in the creation of work.  Insofar as colour is concerned this opens up possibilities that the artist might not have envisaged for herself and truly reveals fresh opportunities for the colours to sing out – in both close harmonies and also, occasionally, dissonances that act as counterpoint and contrast.  

Of course for some of those invited the procedures are much stricter. It may, in musical terms, be much more a closer reading of the score, indeed a literal translation of it where nothing is left to chance, each colour combination the result of finely considered adjustments, every action pondered at length. 

Either way, and acknowledging that for some it might be a case of both approaches deployed together, colour remains an elusive, slippery customer.  Over several centuries now distinguished figures from Goethe to Albers have tried to pin it down, codify and tame it only for it to spring back as vibrant and unruly as ever.  It has many voices and plenty of diverse ditties, from every avenue of the creative impulse, and quite a few have been assembled here too. 

Malheureusement…

malheureusement…has always been one of my favourite French words.  I don’t have many, a combination of typical British ineptitude with languages coupled to a right git oral examiner at ‘o’ level taking the piss out of me for getting my hair mixed up with a horse..!

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But this one stuck…I just loved it – and it comes in handy here.  It is a pity (or quel domage…) but I couldn’t resolve the three panel piece above for the show in Honfleur (see last post).  It was to be a glorious homage (crikey more French) to Honfleur’s most famous painter – the wonderful Eugene Boudin but this Quatre, cinq, six, sept kept slipping away from me.  And the tricky colour thing, a desire to keep it light and airy, has been hard here inland and often (over recent months) in the dark.  Maybe what it needs is a trip to the beach…somewhere bright and breezy…the south coast perhaps or – how about – Normandy!

Maybe I’ll scout out one or two of the fella’s favourite locations,  Deauville, Trouville or Le Havre whilst over at the show.  Peut-etre…(enough French already ed.)

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Knocked sideways…

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I’ve had quite a time of it recently…several bouts of mystery illness culminating in a nasty flu that still has something of a grip after a week…picked up ironically at our local A&E whilst I was waiting on a family member who was ill at the time!  Best to stay away from hospitals if you can it seems.  Today I’m feeling just a little more human, enough to review progress on the various projects I have on the go (regulars will know I keep far too many differing things in play than is sensible).  Here is the second batch of the L’Histoire De L’Eau pictures – part two of the Landscape & Memory trilogy based very loosely on Schama’s book.  Working with these is a curious process…whilst I have already chosen my eighteen texts some of the individual panels immediately suggest which one should accompany it but others much less so, to the point where some have to undergo drastic reworking to make them applicable.  And of course as each text is taken this gets harder so that eventually (at least with part one, Waldgeschitchen ) I am forced to write out each remaining one and shift them around the panels till I can make it work (or in one or two extreme cases replace them altogether).  I guess some might say – quite reasonably – this seems a cock-a-mamey way of going about things but its my way for better or worse.