Double Century, organisation and arrangements

The Turnaround
The Turnaround, Oil on Canvas, 8 x 10″, 2004

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’.

Black North – nearing completion



Now that ‘Discipline’ is up I can turn my attention to completing the two series that will make up the show at the Angear Gallery in the Lakeside Arts Centre in Nottingham.  I’m at that difficult point where I’m reasonably certain that they are all – pretty much – the image and the ambience that I was looking for.  But there’s that nagging feeling too that a wash here, a sanding back there, a few brushstrokes this way or that, might just push one or two on to a place that seems absolutely right to me…or knock them right off kilter.  Chances are it will be the latter.

Busy busy…


Another busy day… plotting the details of my teaching for the coming academic year that is very nearly upon us.  Luckily nowadays I have only the teaching I’m doing (a relatively modest contribution to a couple modules this semester and module leadership of two after Xmas) rather than the endless and distressing administration and so forth that came with being a senior member of staff in one of our very challenging new universities.  I came back to a reminder of the date of delivery for the next significant exhibition I’m making…and the 15th November seemed a long way off back before summer…it doesn’t seem so now.  I’m excited to be showing alongside a major exhibition at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre, that will feature work by a host of big names (Hockney, Hamilton, Kitaj, Hodgkin, Hirst, Quinn, Turk to namecheck just a few) and I’ll be hanging around (literally) the outside of the gallery that will be displaying them!  It should be a lot of fun!


Coming to the computer I discovered a lovely new work in the Long Series by the irrepressible Stephen MacInnis.  In a way, although I suspect, coming from a very different wellspring, it reminded me of the work I was making way back in 1980…large paintings on paper that were very dark and doomy.  Then again given that Stephen is embarked on a long journey that requires him to be endlessly inventive (I really don’t know how he manages it) and very very busy…I realise what a sedate pace I’m going at…and with so many images he is creating there may be a fair few of us who can lay claim to a similarity to one or another of a series that is already heading past 1400 pictures!



An exhibition continues…


Perhaps it was the suddenness of the request from Luke (proprietor of the Tarpey Gallery) to mount a solo show when I wasn’t expecting it or the fact of the ongoing saga of the holiday breakdown and its aftermath but for whatever reason I’ve nor paid much attention to the current exhibition at the Tarpey Gallery.  I delivered it before the vacation and arrived back the afternoon of the opening…and that was that.  Until today when I went across to photograph it.


As can be seen it is a relatively small display of seven of the aluminium works and three of the watercolours.  My thinking about the aluminium pieces is that because they had been conceived as part of the bigger display (at Lakeside this winter) the ‘in your face’ coloration is a bit much in this smaller, more intimate, venue.  And the traditional hang (pretty much the only way it could be done in the Tarpey space) doesn’t entirely suit the works either.  That said Luke did a good job in making them ‘work’ reasonably well and overall I’m not too unhappy with the way it looks.


Before the work comes down I shall go back and spend a few more minutes with the pictures – for me the opportunity to see work on walls away from the studio is always worthwhile, and lends a perspective to the process of creation that for me at least I never get in my working space.



I have also benefitted enormously with this show from Andy Parkinson’s very thoughtful review.  Its good to have the opportunity to read what someone else thinks about your work – especially from a commentator of Andy’s standing and repute.  And also pleased to see that it provoked further interesting debate.





When Luke Tarpey asked me to step into an up-coming slot in his programme (at the Tarpey Gallery) a couple weeks back I was hesitant – after all I was proceeding towards the next show of recent work (at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre Angear Gallery in November) at a leisurely and orderly pace.  However as an artist of what might euphemistically be called advancing years I have learnt never to look a gift horse in the mouth and take whatever opportunities come along.  So now I have just three weeks dead to put together a show (albeit of modest size) before we disappear to Italy for a summer holiday during which the exhibition will open (though we will be back for a PV on Saturday 27th July at 6pm to which of course all readers of this blog are cordially invited!).

But if I’m honest I rather like the looming deadline…the countdown to it has a wonderfully enervating impact on your decision making and resolution of pictures.  Things you’ve been mulling over and not getting round to doing suddenly have to be sorted…or else.  And other pictures that you just cannot see a way to resolve either get shoved to one side or radically butchered.  All in all very bracing even if a little bit scary.

The Year just started



It seems really appropriate that this is my one hundred and one post on this blog and it’s the first day of a new year.  I’m looking forward to this one – like last year it starts with plenty of open options…but I said that twelve months back and almost immediately the offer of showing at the Ostrale came up – one that was too good to miss.  At the moment in terms of showing there is little on the horizon other than the exhibition at the Angear Gallery in November.  That seems a way off but I expect it will come round all too soon.  Who knows what may happen in between?

One thing I do know is that I shall be busy curating our exhibition space at the Harrington Mill Studios.  I have several really interesting shows lined up and will be revealing the programme in the next few weeks.  I love working with other artists and get a great kick out of seeing their work on show.  I’m also teaching again and looking forward to that – new ideas and fresh faces I’m convinced keep you young!

My resolutions this year are pretty simple – one involves getting out at least once a week to one of my half dozen or so favourite watering holes – this photo was taken a couple days back at Foremark Reservoir.

To all my friends who occasionally follow my blog – I hope 2013 works well for you…remember it’s the only one we have right now!