I thought I’d try something a little different over the weekend of our annual Open Studios. So I dug out some things I worked on the summer before last in Verpiana and re-jigged them. Resulting in LAVANDERIA DI ITALIA, Oil on Canvas, 2013/4. That’s about all I can manage this weekend what with one thing and another going on at the moment…tomorrow morning it’s back in the van collecting work and returning to the studios…
It doesn’t look too hard but there was quite a bit of work getting the Conversation series installed in Bartons for The Carnival Of Monsters (opening this very evening). There is a solid contingent of us from Harrington Mill Studios showing and alongside my own there were several others to be hung. However we are quite pleased with how its turned out and the big open space suits the canvases pretty well. During daylight hours it looks well and it will be interesting to see how the lighting effects the work this evening. Alongside this my wife (painter Sarah R Key) and myself had conspired to be showing simultaneously…or at least installing at the same time (her show opens next Tuesday evening). It saved van hire costs but meant we had quite a solid two days activity!
As it turned out we managed to make both trips on day one so yesterday was rather more pleasurable…simply putting the work up in the lovely and rather elegant New Court Gallery at Repton School. So two busy days but both of us happy with the way it has all turned out. But both of us have foresworn too much more exhibition activity (at least of our own work) for the next few months.
As I’m participating in the upcoming ‘Pareidolia’ show at Matthew Macaulay’s Pluspace in Coventry I had occasion to visit last weekend that gave me the opportunity to view David Beaumont’s Drawings. I curated a show of recent large scale drawing last year at Harrington Mill and in my introduction suggested that “Drawing is paradoxically both better and worse off than it has ever been. As the first way in which humans made sense of their surroundings visually it remains central to the idea of our visual culture, at the same time the advent of technology has made it – for many artists – utterly redundant. It features rarely in many contemporary art events.” So it is refreshing to see an artist at work for whom drawing is the process and the product of his creativity. That the subject of the work is a careful, indeed almost forensic, examination of his surroundings is also fairly surprising, much of the drawing activity I have recently seen by younger artists tending to be process driven. The exhibition features a dozen or so of his recent output. Most of the subjects are probably recognisable to those who frequent the streets depicted on a regular basis but the show explicitly doesn’t reveal location except by occasion reference to signage. This is I suspect to serve not to distract the viewer from a careful inspection of the topography of each location. The construction of which is quite calculated and painstakingly accurate. Indeed the work has a meticulousness that betokens the level of sophistication at work here. Evidence of the working out of placement and the heavily invoked selectivity of the angle and cropping set against the demands of the papers edge are testament to the creative vision of the artist.
Another striking aspect of these drawings is the beautiful use of negative space and the signifier of blankness that is a feature of windows and other apertures in each of the works. Such careful and considered deployment of the light that is occasioned by the heavy working of line around these punctures in the image is yet further indication of their specialness. So much contemporary practice (across the so called ‘expanded’ field of painting, drawing and sculpture) is dependent on gesture, on the ‘casual’ or provisional that something like a Beaumont drawing that is so rigorously planned and executed comes as something of a shock. But its a really good shock and one that, in his case, one can look forward to seeing more of.
A dark cliff above and just beyond Whitesand beach and another of these small formalist pictures is made. I think this may go tomorrow to the ‘Samebutdifferent’ art fair at Temple Newsom in Leeds this weekend as one of my ‘spares’. Harrington Mill Studios have taken a booth…maybe I’ll see you there!
And so another year is past…and although it was a reasonably busy one I’ve always the feeling I could have done more. I’ve have liked to won the opportunity to make the table top works I proposed for a local museum competition for one thing – I was taken with the idea of stripping down the imagery of the viruses in Epidemic! with imagery taken from bacterial cultures…like Salmonella (above)…they would have been different and I suspect more challenging pictures to make but fun nonetheless. The project called for work to sit inside glass table tops and I thought to jolly to put salmonella right under patron’s noses. But later this year our merry band of creatives at Harrington Mill are taking over the local hospital art programme so maybe I can take a shot at the idea then!
I am happy with the work that will be titled Full Metal Jacket that I’m being invited to put into a show in Cardiff in February (I think)…that calls for paintings that draw inspiration from other cultural contexts. These pictures are as always with me pretty resolutely non-figurative but do take the work of Vietnam War reportage photographers as a starting point.
Those are but two things I know are on the horizon but other than that it’s pretty much a blank canvas, both literally and metaphorically. Good – it’s fun when you really don’t know how it will pan out…I’m looking forward to it with some relish which is how it should be.
There is always something poignant about the end of a journey. A sense of relief at having completed it certainly but also a feeling of sadness that the adventure is drawing to a close. So it is today as I come to the end of a year of programming the exhibition space at Harrington Mill Studios. We hosted a view for Stroll On, an exhibition of art about walking and this piece is one of those I showed.
It came about whilst walking around the man made Foremark reservoir a year or so ago…and as the show came to a close I fell to thinking that the ‘journey’ was the ideal metaphor for the programme as a whole. Indeed when I started back in March with artist Maggy Milner and a show centred on a walk around the Thames in London it didn’t occur to me that the year might end with a slipcase of books by Ingrid Newton showing very nearly the exact route of Maggy’s perambulations!
And I couldn’t have known back in March that this year of exhibition organisation that took me back thirty five years to the time I spent as a Gallery assistant would end with a call from the current Director of that very gallery inviting me to lunch to reminisce about that time for an exhibition upcoming about the period. Everything it seems that goes around actually does come around…
So I’ve worked with and shown thirty three artists between March & December of 2013 and want to use this outlet to thank each and every one of them for a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience. It’s been a pleasure to spend time with you and your work, Maggy Milner, Rob Van Beek, Anibal Lemos, Eric Tistounet, Adela Miencilova, Eva Bergenwall, Susan Disley, Rosie Kearton, Jackie Berridge, Mik Godley, Kate Smith, Robert Luzar, Sooky Huh, Julie Parker, Olivia Punnett, Jo Love, David Ainley, Katrina Blannin, Luke Frost, Lauri Hopkins, Andy Parkinson, Dan Roach, Trevor Sutton, Terry Greene, Vincent Hawkins, Lisa Denyer, Matthew Macaulay, Rachael MacArthur, Rachael Pinks, Stephen MacInnis, Glen Stoker, Ingrid Newton and Rachel Wing. Have a good Christmas all.
One wall of TFTLR at the Open Studio event this weekend past. I pinned up a brief statement by way of explanation…
“A few weeks back I was thinking hard about a next move in making some work. Encountering Lauri Hopkins work (on show by the studio entrance now) made me feel that the paintings on aluminium that Ive been labouring on for nearly a year were somehow over elaborated. Not surprising perhaps as the imagery has been at play for nearly two years now (earlier pictures, oil on canvas, watercolours) and I’ve fairly exhausted my capacity to deal with them and with the ways of making them. I got to thinking more about the predicament just as I was contemplating shifting out a huge stockpile of timber offcuts from under the stairs to our cellar. And that’s how these – Tales From The Lumber Room – came about.
The process couldn’t be simpler really…I take a few pieces of the lumber, clart them together with a little wood glue, and put some paint on them ( all in one session). And behind the actions as little premeditation as is possible. A complete contrast to the two years work that preceded it. There is one of these odd little pieces for each day if (as is inevitable in a busy life) I miss a day the next day I make two. What I make of them I’m still not sure but that’s always been the case with my work, and whether they are finished I’m still working out. How long I’ll keep at it I don’t know either…but there’s a big stack of timber still down there.”
It’s hard to believe that this blog (set up two summers back, on return from Gotland, Sweden) has now reached 200 postings…so many words and a good deal of images have entered the digital sphere, signifying what I’ve really no idea! Today for example I’m musing on the organisational and arrangements side of being an artist. To outsiders I imagine it seems both quite exciting and exotic on the one hand and (probably) all rather easy (or at the least relaxed) on the other. Today is a kind of antidote to all that. First off I have to complete packing of the fotografische werk exhibition and make arrangements for freighting it to Porto. I need to chase up Friday’s session at BG (as I’ve become impromptu Module Leader) and get my text off to Lakeside. Thats things that have to be done, there are plenty of others I could be doing!. But then its off to the studio…not to contemplate the work in progress at leisure…but rather to photograph, pack and store the Lakeside show (ready for delivery in a couple weeks time) and finish painting the floor ahead of the Open Studios event this Saturday. I’m not complaining – I love doing all this stuff and sometimes the basic chores are actually amongst the best things to do. But it isn’t quite the image that I imagine a lot of people have of the ‘life of the artist’.
Some things tickle me – I mailed a contributor to ‘Painting Too’ (the show that follows ‘The Discipline Of Painting’) and suggested that the ‘idea’ behind the show was to show work more informal, looser in conception etc. as a counterpoint…and he replied that he had no problem with indisciplined work! Of course that wasn’t what I meant exactly…but it amused me. And reminded me of a time (many years back) when I chaired a national student art competition. A leading UK art critic reviewed our exhibition and said “It was sharp, critical and tightly organised, perhaps too much so” – I felt compelled to write a riposte…”did you want it fuzzy, uncritical and badly organised, because any bloody fool could do that!”.
What has the image above to do with any of this? Very little really though transport arrangements seem to chime with a picture entitled ‘The Turnaround’ and its also my contribution to ‘Painting Too’ in the ‘control group’.
is the first of two abstract painting shows that are a part of my year of curation for Harrington Mill Studios. I am very excited at the opportunity to put some of the very best artists working in non-figurative painting on display in our modest exhibition space. Not least from the purely selfish point of view that I will be able to study them up close for several weeks! One of the many joys of being able to mount these shows is to bring together work by artists I have met and in some cases know well with those I have admired but never yet had the pleasure of meeting. It also gives me an opportunity to place a single work of mine from a particular point in my life as an artist in the company of artists that, in all honesty, I’d never have had the opportunity to do otherwise.
Alongside the show itself I am creating a small display made up of a few single works as a kind of ‘control group’ borrowing a bit of scientific jargon*. In my control groups I am putting myself in some very elevated company indeed…but then again it’s my show so it’s only me to blame if I make a fool of myself.
I’m gradually gathering together information on the first show – entitled ‘The Discipline Of Painting’ here. And in a week or two I’ll be fleshing out detail for ‘Painting Too’ the second of the shows on the 2013 Harrington Mill programme blog.
* A control group in a scientific experiment is a group separated from the rest of the experiment where the independent variable being tested cannot influence the results. This isolates the independent variable’s effects on the experiment and can help rule out alternate explanations of the experimental results.
Ah…the joys of real life…in this instance Mens Singles Final Day at Wimbledon. And it was (rightly) suggested that it might well mean virtually no-one would turn out for an Opening that clashed with it. So a quick workaround required…and now it’s 5pm on the Saturday (hopefully the Womens Final ought to be completed by that point) rather than Sunday. I’m really hoping we get some response to this show that features one of my dearest pals and an old friend I hadn’t seen for many years till we fixed this one up.
And now of course I’ve completely hexed Murray’s attempt to reach a second Final…