It’s not what you look at that matters, It’s what you see…

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It’s been a really special week or so for acquiring some terrific pictures.  Take this gorgeous little panel by my dear friend Sue Disley.  I’m jealous of her talent as not only is she a terrific painter but also one of the best ceramicists in the country.  I’ll come back to this one in a few moments but first onto another of the new works.  When I saw this little canvas by Stephanie Bates in the degree show at Bishop Grosseteste I knew immediately where it would hang if I could get my hands on it.  The corner of our bedroom where the spiral staircase takes me up to the study area above…already has a wonderful piece by Lauri Hopkins and adjacent to that my truly marvellous Terry Greene painting.  So now as I ascend the stairs to where these rambling are written you see Steph’s canvas next…

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And once I’m sitting at my mac I have Stephen MacInnis’ work from his ‘Long Series’ to oversee my deliberations…so put them together and it doesn’t get better than that.

Not strictly a new acquisition but my current boss and good friend John Rimmer restored his ‘In My Room’ canvas from 2003 to our care this week.  John has been mainly working with video over the past 7/8 years and though the work was really fascinating (in brief he explored notions of abstraction in painting through collaged film clips put through extraordinary digital convulsions) I’d love to see him get back to painting directly.  John has been consistently inventive in his painting over the years (recognised by two inclusions in the prestigious John Moores).

JR
John Rimmer – In My Room, Mixed Media on Canvas, 36 x 35.5 cm. 2003

The work has all the hallmarks of John’s interest in the fractured and disjointed figurative image, in this case wallpaper pattern, put through some considerable painterly intelligence.  I’d have made an effort to take a better snap but really you need to get up close and personal to see the variety of media and mark making displayed to great effect.

Another acquisition from the show on the course that John leads at BGU and that I occasionally teach into is this lovely little picture by Jordon Lawrenson. Jordon is the source of the quote that heads this column…by Henry David Thoreau and used it in talking about her work for the degree.

JL

The greatest pleasure in teaching is seeing students make real progress.  Jordon worked hard in the final months synthesising her own ideas and images with those of her two year old son.  Picasso said memorably “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” and I feel that Jordon has in a modest way latched on to that idea here.  Anyway I love it!

For me looking at work that’s around me and that I liked enough to purchase, swap or blag out of people makes me hungry to do better myself.  And these pictures all come into that category.  Sue’s small panel is a case in point.  As it happens I know the very spot that image is synthesised from…so maybe it actually matters greatly what you look at…and what you see.

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Coming Up Fast…

Invite

 

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.

Exciting Times

The first exhibition of the new season at Harrington Mill Studios has just been installed.   I’m curating this years programme which is one of my pleasures in life alongside making work and teaching.  I love working with other artists whose work I enjoy and getting the opportunity to bring differing bodies of work together or as in this case help an artist to shape their show.

DPP07DC04100A3002Although I’m excited about the whole programme (and think we have some interesting and vibrant work coming up – link here) I am especially pleased about the exhibition that I’m calling The Discipline of Painting. This is a tongue in cheek reference back to the show The Indiscipline of Painting that toured the UK a year or two back and will focus on the abiding passion that some artists have for formal abstraction.

 

mine

I have taken a painting of mine from 1973 (!) called Yellowgate and used it as a pivot for work through the intervening forty years that shares a certain intensity for form and colour.  Amongst the exhibitors I’m delighted that a young artist Lauri Hopkins has agreed to show some of her book works – an ingenious take on formal abstraction.

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