From arriving home from Portugal to hanging my exhibit at Lakeside there doesn’t seem to have been time to breathe! Or to reflect….and cogitation is a much undervalued commodity in modern life it seems. It was often something I complained about whilst working in Higher Education where a deal more cogitation would have often saved us from numerous cock ups and contra temps. Anyway today is an opportunity to sit back a little and savour what we saw on our all too brief trip and to contemplate a little now that Epidemic!/Black North is on the walls in the Angear space at Lakeside. I need to pay tribute to Neil and his staff who were highly professional, smoothly efficient and helpful in a way that a lot of other bigger art spaces in our region could learn from (and further afield for that matter). In particular Freddy & Luke got the pieces up quick smart.
I’m happy with the way it looks and relieved it worked out pretty much as I had intended. I just hope to get some positive feedback on a project that, one way and another, has dominated the past twelve months and more. If you don’t know already it runs from now until 2nd February 2014 and there’s a viewing evening on Friday 22nd November from 7pm.
I have been to the Porto area of Portugal six or seven times now and it is always a pleasure. Fresh insights occur every time and this time around was no exception. I made a project several years back on the extraordinary (to me at least) space between the beach on the Atlantic and the lagoon. The photo here shows the toilet block (!) near the beach at just about the narrowest strip (less than a couple hundred yards) of it at Costa Nova. I am always fascinated by the way in which the salt air affects everything on the one side and the lagoon seems to protect everything on the other. Another trip took us up into the mountains around Arouca…I’d been up there further north before but this time the terrain was more rugged and exposed (reminding me a little of Dartmoor in Devon).
On the way up we saw some lovely landscape and on top it was glorious until the mists and rain came in…just in time to prevent me from photographing the largest waterfall in the country…I got these shots, one of which shows the information board…!
Up we go, into the high hills that precede the mountainous region on the south side of the Douro, past Arouca. Having first paid a brief homage to the seemingly endless beaches and the glorious lagoon that stretches from Ovar down to and beyond Costa Nova. Only three days away but a fantastic sampler of what the area around Porto has to offer. Suzana & Anibal, as ever, wonderful hosts. I shall write more on the subject in the next day or two once I have delivered my work to the Lakeside Arts Centre in Nottingham.
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’.
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.
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!
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.