I just donated my piece in this show to the cause…to get a book of the contributions made….and at the last time of looking it seems (with a little over a week to go) that it has only 22% left to raise. So why not head over to Kickstarter and pledge? There’s a range of goodies on offer and the book itself will be really interesting. This initiative from Andrew Bracey has already been a terrific success so please consider capping it with a contribution.
Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know how I made my contribution…luckily well ahead of C19! But besides my work there’s plenty of others to tempt you!
Meanwhile back at my ‘day job’ I’m pushing on with part two of my epic journey around Leicestershire…the Charnwood Borough (with its strap line of Playground Of The Midlands…). Today I’ve signed off on Wymeswold (above) & Walton (below).
I thought at this time of appalling embarrassment to be British (through no fault of mine I should add) I ought to find some way of reminding myself that some of us at least remain committed Europeans. So this picture, one of my Lunar Pulls series, just completed might suffice. Named after, and drawing upon, words from the great Portugese poet Fernando Pessoa.
As one ages excessive alcohol consumption requires practice; and so those of us who have endeavoured to cut back begin to realise that over indulgence on a more occasional basis leads ever more often to severe hangovers. So it was yesterday. The consequence being a severe drop off in productivity. There’s a modest upside though. The dulling of the brains prevents bravery and so a certain plodding ensues. In this case plugging away at a canvas that has been through a serious amount of surgery. But I’m none too disappointed with Before Play. A tad ironic title (coming from a poem from the great Vasko Popa) but also referencing the endless pissing about this one has gone through.
For reasons that need not detain…it’s been hard going of late. Hardly anyone mentions it but making work can be drudgery…at least for me. Not least in these strangest of days – sort of post-lockdown but with many of us still testing the bounds – when motivation is hard to find. I’m still pushing the Paintings Standing Up but also endeavouring to drag one or two pictures that stubbornly refused to ‘work’ first time around kicking and screaming into satisfactory conclusion. Easier said than done.
Two things to trail…firstly Enough Is Definitely Enough curated by Andrew Bracey with a piece by myself opens at Pineapple Black in Middlesbrough on Friday 18th September 6 – 9pm alongside other private views at The Auxiliary and Platform A. The show then runs 24 September – 17 October 2020, 10am – 4pm, Thursday to Saturday. Andrew is also running a fundraiser for a book of the show – why not subscribe?
Secondly my good friends Moira & Allan are running a show – Days Like These – in Lyme Regis this autumn with work by myself, my wife Sarah R Key & Stuart Reid as well as themselves- details here…with more to follow!
Only share…experiences with those you trust completely. First trip out of the district since the self imposed ‘lockdown’ and some five plus months since the last time. To dear old YSP with my chum Simon and it was a treat…not nearly as tricky or odd as might have been expected. Yes we were masked in the buildings (other than in the restaurant where we managed a nice table out on the verandah) but otherwise much as before. Lets hope it stays that way (though despite a general consensus of government. media and – it must be said – much of the public cases seem inexorably to be creeping up again*).
What of the art then? I enjoyed both offerings. Joana Vasconcelos is big, bright, jazzy, post modernist internationalism with a good dose of feminism, local culture (Fado, Catholic symbolism etc. – she’s Portugese) whilst Brian Fell is rooted in modernism, an Abstract Expressionist cum New Generation vibe (I immediately thought of sculptors like David Smith and particularly Ibram Lassaw on the one hand and early abstract Caro, King and Witkin etc. on the other – though Brian is mostly in the more complex physical spaces of the earlier of these). Both rewarding in their own ways; inevitably my personal interaction with Brian’s work more satisfying given our ages, cultural reference points and aesthetics.
So a good trip out…next week back to Derby for a further dose of 20c. modernism with Ronald Pope as well as a show by previous Vickers award winners. As for the studio…
Botanicals…a group of small paintings with quite a history even by my tortuous machinations. I’m fairly sure these started back in 2007 in the backwash from my bypass op. certainly there’s a number of clues in some of the forms. They were fiddled with for a year or so before being bundled into the store cupboard at Harrington Mill until I left there in, I think 2014/5? Back at the Chapel they went back into storage – and might have stayed there but for the ‘lockdown’. But now they are being revised, reworked and put to bed.
My paper has a headline telling me that 67 cases have appeared in NZ implying that they are ‘failing’…meanwhile no mention (unless you search it out) that the UK recorded 1400 + that same day…)
Being involved with the Contemporary British Paintingsetup has been a delight. Not least for the opportunities that it has afforded. I owe it a vote of thanks and also that terrific painter Terry Greene for the introduction.
A complete volte face…back to my Playground of the Midlands series…and the lay off means having to put a very different ‘head’ on. Back to working off of specific visual sources (that is referencing images crudely constructed from photos take on site). Working to resolve them whilst readjusting to using oils and as Thomas Nozkowski used to say keeping them open “so that everything is back in play”.
So I’m casting around last evening for entertainment and chance upon theYouTube video of Andrew Graham-Dixon sashaying about Sotheby’s pimping their sale (a few days back)…actually rather more interesting and informative than might be imagined. And this morning I briefly looked up the results. A goodly proportion of the lots went and most within their estimates. However a Banksy nearly doubled its upper estimate figure going for £2,235,000. This triptych of altered pre-existing paintings of seascapes references the on-going tragedy of migrants endeavouring to cross the Med. Setting aside my profound antipathy for mega wealthy individuals (both vendors & purchasers) salving consciences in this way, the means employed – riffing on the altered readymade pioneered by Duchamp over a century ago – seem a bit tired and hackneyed. Nonetheless to the credit of those concerned all proceeds will go towards building a new acute stroke unit and purchasing children’s rehabilitation equipment for BASR hospital in Bethlehem. Better that than redistribution from billionaires (Oligarchs etc.) to mere millionaires (Gerhard, Tracey, Damien, Jeff etc.) …
But what took my eye particularly was the attachment of a Pest Control Certificate of Authenticity to the work. Why one wonders? My hunch is that these three rather manky canvases were picked up in a local bazaar and might be subject to dry rot or other assorted mange…and if you’ve just podded out over £2 mil you probably don’t want to see it fall apart that quickly (though long time Banksy watchers might hazard the guess that’s precisely what he intends!).
It got me to thinking about my Paintings Standing Up (most recent example seen above), after all were one ever to sell then given the dubious sources of their materials perhaps they too should have such a certificate. But who issues such things…Rentokill perhaps!
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Barrie Cook recently. Like many another painter he ought to have been more celebrated but we’re not good at recognising the worth of them here in the UK. I didn’t know him well but I do recall two occasions, one many years back, one more recent, when he was much in my mind. The more recent happened on the occasion I wrote about here. For in this most unlikely of locations I passed round a large free standing wall in the middle of the upper main gallery to be confronted by a fine example of Barrie’s spray canvasses. How he had come to know Piet Moget who had assembled the amazing collection there I don’t know…but Moget (and Barrie Cook himself) were well travelled and connected. Sadly I didn’t get an image of the work on the day.
The earlier occasion speaks volumes for the warmth and generosity of the man. He had just taken up the post of Head of Fine Art at Birmingham and had called into the Ikon where I worked. I think he’d had a meeting with the boss but as he was leaving he mentioned that someone on the staff had told him I was a painter. We exchanged pleasantries but then he suggested that if I was finishing work shortly did I fancy a drink? We ended up sharing a couple pints with him looking over some slides of the work I’d just embarked on and offering encouragement and sound advice. He also gave me a copy of his small catalogue from the recently completed Gregynog Fellowship that I’ve treasured over the years.
I haven’t seen him in many years but it seems he was still working away daily down in Cornwall and had a good life, and that is heartening to know. A talented artist, a good teacher and a smashing bloke.