It was a real pleasure to get into the studio today…not only did I resolve two of the large Conversation pieces to my satisfaction but I was able to take receipt of this generous gift of a painting by Arthur Goodwin. It came to me very fortuitously from Jill Langford to whom I am so grateful. Arthur was Vice-Principal at Exeter College of Art up to and including the period I spent there on Foundation studies. His son Paul and myself studied together in the art room at Hele’s School Exeter overseen by the wonderful teacher and distinguished sculptor Peter Thursby. I happened to mention this to Jill on a visit to her home a few years back…she is moving and downsizing so her collection requires a bit of pruning and she recalled our conversation and offered me this choice cutting! At the time I first saw it it was late and quite dark at her home…now I can study it carefully in good light it is particularly interesting to see that the work is painted on a cupboard door. One of the things about the picture I particularly like is the way in which the wood and its grain is used to good effect as both ground and surface incident. Interestingly I saw another work a year or so back in my curated show ‘Painting Too’ by Mathew Macaulay that in some ways provides an echo of this work..painted on a reclaimed timber with very loose painterly handling. Arthur painted his picture in 57/58 , under the influence of post War School of Paris though no doubt with a nod towards Abstract Expressionism from the States that was relatively still unfamiliar in those days in the UK. Matthew’s work was painted last year but I suspect the influences have similar echoes overlaid with a contemporary sensibility – another example for me of the inter-generational interaction I recently wrote about here.
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’.
And now that ‘The Discipline of Painting’ is underway…it’s already time to start thinking about, and organising the arrangements for, ‘Painting Too’…the follow on exhibition that will look at more abstraction that, to put it rather indelicately, is a whole lot messier than the first! Of course I am being rather cheeky in saying this as all the artists in this second look at abstraction are just as pernickety about their pictures as those that precede them. It’s rather that, instead of a lot of planning and thinking through in advance of making in this show it is more reaction and response that is the hallmark of the works on display. However one of those exhibiting was right on the money perhaps because he was coming to the show from so far away. Stephen B. MacInnis will, I am sure, be pretty well known to most readers of this blog. His extraordinary commitment to the ‘Long Series’ and the amazing originality and continuing invention of it is – I am sure – fairly unique in the current field of abstraction. I am absolutely delighted to have a sequence of images from it in ‘Painting Too’