Quiet Authority…

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I mentioned Lawrence Carroll a few days back.  And now I just took delivery of this very handsome monograph.  Whenever people tell you, as they get older, that they have no regrets don’t believe them.  Ok if you’ve lived a bit they may be modest ones but there will be some things that could have, may be should have, happened.

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2:80  Mixed media on paper, mounted on glass fibre, 38 x 36″

Around about the late 1970’s my work seemed to me to be complicating itself to the point where I needed to step back and rethink.  Over a year and a bit (from late 79 through 80) some very minimal pieces were made that – I hoped – had a certain ‘quiet authority’ and communicated through their simple presence in the world.  Only one or two were ever exhibited (in group shows) and I never had a chance to see them in a decent space where their cumulative impact might have been greater.  

 

They were large works, with minimal titles too.  Made on big sheets of paper I backed them with glass fibre resin.  Over the year the use of this, naturally with scant regard to health and safety back then, resulted in some extremely deleterious health issues. Coupled with a change of circumstances (work, home and studio) my dissatisfaction with this work led to an abandonment.  When I settled into my new circumstances months later I began re-complicating my work and over several years this accelerated, culminating in a brief period of figuration in the mid-eighties (I wasn’t alone in this).  Over the subsequent thirty plus years a certain seesawing between a more minimalist position and a complexity in my work has continued to this day…though I’ve rarely gone as far out as the 1980 works.  One regret I have is that I never got a chance to see more of Carroll’s work. My other regret is that I’ve not been a wee bit more disciplined and plotted a more steady course over the years.  Whether this would have produced better work, or I would have been happier who can say?  

In any event activity continues…Rock Of Ages, the third (and final) part of my Landscape & Memory project is slowly drawing to a close.  With three of the 18 that make up this section completed over the past couple days, only 11 to go now.

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Pompous Ruskin, acrylic on paper, 106 x 94 cm., June 2019
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A rock on which to stand…

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or a series of such…Rock of Ages – the third and final part of the Landscape & Memory project.  This one Savoy by Walpole is probably nearer the first part of the whole work, the Waldgeschichten part than most of the other seventeen (each of the three parts comprise 18 individual works).

At least for the moment as this one is only the fourth to be completed in this last group.   Some kind of fundamental underpinning to what one does seems all the more important as the external world gets crazier by the day and appears to be spiralling towards nasty intolerance, authoritarianism and worse.  On top of the rest of it came news today of the passing of Thomas Nozkowski – a painter for whom I have had immense fondness for over twenty five years.  It’s nigh on impossible to figure out how to respond to these things for the best.

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RIP, Thomas Nozkowski, 1944 – 2019

Swapping horses…

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Contemplation by St. Francis, acrylic & collage on paper, 107 x 94 cms., March 2019

I’m a passed master at swapping horses in mid-stream…after all I’ve got three smallish canvases completed since Xmas with another seven, one a fair bit bigger (a metre square), underway.  All of these are probably, even with my piddling about, quite near to completion so – just the moment to turn away from them and reconnect with something quite different!  But that’s my M. O. as anyone following this blog will know.  So back to the Landscape & Memory project and getting into the final stage – the Rock series.  Here’s the second of the eighteen that will make up this group – Contemplation By St. Francis. Click on the relevant tag for some kind of explanation about this malarkey.

Year End…

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I Give You The Morning, Oil on linen, 15 x 15 cm., Nov. 2018

Nothing concentrates my mind like the impending end of the year.  I know its foolish of me but the wholly artificial milestone of the 31st December tipping into January 1st has me frantically endeavouring to tidy up production of work. Given my equally absurd penchant for multiple objectives for my work in the form of various ‘series’ or ‘projects’ this is, as one might imagine, something of a tyranny.  So I have three more of the Coastal Banners to complete – will they get resolved?  I’m revisiting a host of the Playground Of The Midlands canvases to see if I can put more of them properly to bed.  A number of Very Like Jazz follow ups are assuming a more prominent place in the pantheon of T2R2  (those that require resolution) not least because Better Git It In Your Soul is, courtesy of the energetic and exceptionally talented and generous Robert Priseman (who has done so much for Contemporary British Painting) is on tour again in 2019.  So I’m thinking this strand of my work that has been quietly bubbling under for the past year needs more of an outing. 

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And of course I’m heavily into part three of the Landscape & Memory project – Rock – that I’d dearly like to have fully completed by the time the clock ticks over again into 2020 but at my rate of prevarication means quite a lot of cogitation as well as more painting (though mercifully all of them are in play now).  Of course I have all those small things that bump along more or less all the time.  The Wonky Geo series, now heading north of 60 in total, a set of little abstract landscapy things as yet untitled (and unseen) and two more tiny boxes full of half baked and half realised workouts…oh…and the glacial progress of the i series as above.  And just to top it off there’s a host of Paintings Standing Up, experiments in three dimensions, that I cannot for the life of me decide are worthwhile pursuing or not.  Yep nothing fogs the mind like the impending Year End!

Sound and fuzzy…

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Here’s a rarity – a kind of semblance of recognisable imagery with this – the penultimate piece in the L’Histoire De L’Eau section of my Landscape & Memory series – The Vain Water-Poet.  Named in honour of John Taylor whose escapades fit well within the broader history of English eccentrics.  As always there is little that connects the picture with the event beyond the very loose form of the boat and the text but that is not really the intention as I’ve suggested before.

As it happens this image, most likely because it was the one up on the wall in the studio at the time, is featured in the visual advertising for Lucy Cox‘s enterprising series of podcast interviews – Painters Today where I am honoured to be the third artist in this endeavour  – connected to the Contemporary British Painting group and the excellent Priseman-Seabrook collection.  Whether anything I said over the course of a longish interview has any value is for others to judge but it might shed a little light on the activity I get up to and is recorded here.

A Good Morning…

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for finishing up another (number thirteen) of the L’Histoire De L’Eau subset of Landscape & Memory.  And alongside this I’m tidying up the four sculptural pieces that I’m taking, alongside my banner pictures to the exchange show we are mounting in the Greniers A Sel in Honfleur, Normandy alongside the artists of the Contre-Courant group.  We being the artists associated with Harrington Mill Studios in Long Eaton Nottingham.  Although I’m no longer a studio holder there Jackie Berridge, the Head of HMS, has very graciously invited a bunch of us ‘alumni’, myself and my wife (the artist Sarah R Key) included, to be part of the fun.

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Getting a good morning start…

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I watched Picasso’s Last Stand the other evening…he never got up in the mornings they said.  Me I don’t sleep so well nowadays so now the days are longer I rather enjoy the early start.  As it happens too I’m now using a wall that gets the early morning sun.  Add in listening to A Rainbow In Curved Air (on my original vinyl copy) and it doesn’t get much better.  And it helps with the productivity – in the past two days I finished up three more of the L’Histoire De L’Eau gang.  Here’s Ditties For Her Majesty…referencing the first Elizabeth rather than the current one…

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