Another Box!

No. 1

You know how it is…you finish one box and another comes right along. So here’s A Confusion Of Clouds. Forgive me if I already signalled their arrival – I started it back in January of this year…but only just revisited it. So who knows, after all its all pre and post COVID…

No. 22
Installation View – Days Like These

And also a plug…for Days Like These, now showing at the Malthouse, Town Mill Galleries, Mill Lane, Lyme Regis until 4th Nov. (daily 10 till 4) where I’m showing a few of my Paintings Standing Up.

Drudgery…

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Brum Infanta, 2020

For reasons that need not detain…it’s been hard going of late.  Hardly anyone mentions it but making work can be drudgery…at least for me.  Not least in these strangest of days – sort of post-lockdown but with many of us still testing the bounds – when motivation is hard to find.  I’m still pushing the Paintings Standing Up but also endeavouring to drag one or two pictures that stubbornly refused to ‘work’ first time around kicking and screaming into satisfactory conclusion.  Easier said than done.

Two things to trail…firstly Enough Is Definitely Enough curated by Andrew Bracey with a piece by myself opens at Pineapple Black in Middlesbrough on Friday 18th September 6 – 9pm alongside other private views at The Auxiliary and Platform A. The show then runs 24 September – 17 October 2020, 10am – 4pm, Thursday to Saturday.   Andrew is also running a fundraiser for a book of the show – why not subscribe?

Secondly my good friends Moira & Allan are running a show – Days Like These – in Lyme Regis this autumn with work by myself, my wife Sarah R Key & Stuart Reid as well as themselves- details here…with more to follow!

 

Pest Control…

But first…Wonky Geo No. 158

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Wonky Geometry No. 158, mixed media on paper, 27 x 27 cm., August 2020

So I’m casting around last evening for entertainment and chance upon theYouTube video of Andrew Graham-Dixon sashaying about Sotheby’s pimping their sale (a few days back)…actually rather more interesting and informative than might be imagined.  And this morning I briefly looked up the results. A goodly proportion of the lots went and most within their estimates.  However a Banksy nearly doubled its upper estimate figure going for £2,235,000.  This triptych of altered pre-existing paintings of seascapes references the on-going tragedy of migrants endeavouring to cross the Med.  Setting aside my profound antipathy for mega wealthy individuals (both vendors & purchasers) salving consciences in this way, the means employed – riffing on the altered readymade pioneered by Duchamp over a century ago – seem a bit tired and hackneyed.  Nonetheless to the credit of those concerned all proceeds will go towards building a new acute stroke unit and purchasing children’s rehabilitation equipment for BASR hospital in Bethlehem.  Better that than redistribution from billionaires (Oligarchs etc.) to mere millionaires (Gerhard, Tracey, Damien, Jeff etc.) …

 

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Auctioneers Fears (PSU No. 34), Oil & acrylic on reclaimed timber, c. 40 x 48 x 17 cm., August 2020

But what took my eye particularly was the attachment  of  a Pest Control Certificate of Authenticity to the work.  Why one wonders?  My hunch is that these three rather manky canvases were picked up in a local bazaar and might be subject to dry rot or other assorted mange…and if you’ve just podded out over £2 mil you probably don’t want to see it fall apart that quickly (though long time Banksy watchers might hazard the guess that’s precisely what he intends!).

It got me to thinking about my Paintings Standing Up (most recent example seen above), after all were one ever to sell then given the dubious sources of their materials perhaps they too should have such a certificate.  But who issues such things…Rentokill perhaps!

Reasons to be cheerful…

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Tea and Polo, acrylic & watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper, 56 x 76 cm. 2020

at least I’m not spending cash during ‘lockdown’…rather revisiting and reworking stuff I’ve had kicking about the place.  For example there’s my large series of TFTLR that have been ‘repurposed’ (what a ghastly word!) as Paintings Standing Up.  I’m also unearthing the ‘failed’ pictures on paper from my earlier virus series and jollying them up to show a tad of insouciance in the face of the you know what…

In the Country of Lost Things…

Dancer's Air
Dancer’s Air, timber & acrylic, 2020

‘Lockdown’ is increasingly feeling like being inside of Auster‘s wonderful (and as it turns out prescient) novel.  And hereabouts I’m digging around in the tight spaces of those things either abandoned or discarded.  But every cloud etc.  So more Paintings Standing Up are mushrooming into life!

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French Toast, Oil & acrylic on timber, 2020

Paintings Standing Up…

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Beetlebum, wood offcuts & acrylic, 2020

The continuing ‘lockdown’ is probably sending a lot of us a tad nutty…certainly I’m bouncing around the studio playing with all sorts.  This includes my growing collection of Paintings Standing Up that developed out of an earlier series TFTLR (Tales From The Lumber Room).  These scrappy little constructions have been littering the studio for several years and over the past week or two I’ve dusted some off, given them some TLC and given them titles.  So there’s now a ‘body’ of work (well seven or eight) to put up online.  The first and second are here now…

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Stockade Boozing,wood offcuts & acrylic, 2020

Year End…

I Give You The Morning
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. 

Made in Britain

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!

Many a good tune…

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The Fidler, 66″ x 22″ x 25″, rescued timbers & jesmonite, 2017

well its been an interesting week…generally I make it a rule nowadays not to enter competitions. My only exceptions over the past decade has been the Moores (out of habituation, I’ve been doing it since the early 70’s) and the CBP because a goodly number of painters I respect have been party to this set up since it began around 2012. So it was something of a punt that I found myself entering and then – surprisingly – being short listed for the Threadneedle Prize for figurative art with a sculpture. Oh yes…quite a surprise for anyone who knows my work as being a) resolutely abstract and b) almost exclusively painting. It came about by capricious accident, my wife (a previous prizewinner in this same competition) was entering it one morning as the deadline approached and a tad mischievously suggested that one of my Paintings Standing Up (the series yet to be fully resolved) might pass muster as ‘figuration’. Well it was true that it was around the right height for a figure and that the violin mounted onto the ‘torso’ projected from it around the right angle for being played. Adding a dodecahedron on top and two boots below and…é viola you have The Fidler.

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So being shortlisted required delivery to the Mall Galleries last Saturday morning, a round trip of 236 miles that went surprisingly well and, being a gloriously warm sunny day for late October, was augmented by a visit to Tate Modern. So far so good but, hey, not that surprisingly, a rejection followed on this past Thursday that, you’ve guessed it, meant another journey this Saturday. Not such a breeze as first the weather was wet, dark and greasy all the way down and secondly Regent Street was closed requiring a work around the centre of town to reach The Mall. This time we turned tail and headed back ‘ome straightaway. I’ve no complaints – you shouldn’t enter these things if you’re not prepared to be knocked back but, gawd, its been a bit knackering!

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sketch for Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into The Future

Oddly enough the trip to Tate was to take in the Ilya & Emilia Kabakov show – the central element of which (and that gives it the title) is Not Everyone Will Be Taken IntoThe Future…in this installation the ‘Art’ train is leaving the station carrying those works deemed ‘good enough’ whilst a heap of canvases etc. are left spilling over the platform…to which we might now add The Fidler!

Things Have Changed..

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Thurcaston – Playground Of The Midlands, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm.  2017

People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

So his Royal Bobness fetched up in Nottingham for the first time (I think) since 1966…opening up his set with these particularly pertinent lyrics – at least for yours truly. Maybe (mostly) its a consequence of my age but they seem to sum up our ridiculous and crazy world. How we can be sleep walking towards totalitarianism across the western world I really don’t know – just shows how seventy plus years of stability makes people (or rather a lot of them) complacent I guess. We can only hope that once things start getting seriously askew they may wake up.

And Bob has also changed everything, not least the tempo, tone and even the melodies of some of his best known songs alongside those many more recent and less well known ditties (a solid bunch off the Tempest album). But it was a decent show, house lights down on the dot of eight pm. and an hour and forty minutes of non-stop boogie, hard rock and some alarming crooning! But Bob always goes his own way and as one of these standards said ‘Why Try To Change Me Now’? So I kind of appreciate this bobbing and weaving to keep the audiences guessing.

I’m flitting between bodies of work in my painting too. As is by now well known to any followers of these ramblings I don’t do a ‘signature’ style but address each set of pictures in whatever manner seems to me to suit the occasion. Its especially messy right now. In one corner sits the canvas pieces for the Lavanderia series, in another the lumps and bumps of my Paintings Standing Up. Over on one wall another in the extending series of Very Like Jazz whilst right here is another of the twenty five or so small oils in the Charnwood series Playground Of The Midlands. Up on the balcony are the Water paintings (the second part of the Wood, Water & Rock pictures that take their cue from Schama’s Landscape & Memory). And somewhere at the back a small panel collection provisionally titled The Rigged Deck. Of course there’s also the painting of maps, the Wonky Geometries and the RagBags that just chug along forever. So who am I to call the world crazy!

Over thinking…

sevens-autumn-store
Sevens Autumn Store, 72 x 48 cm., acrylic on aluminium, 2017

it (the making) is something I’ve not thought about for, oh, about thirty five years or more.  I do recall being concerned that it might be happening to the large paper panel pieces I was making in 1980 as I was also fretting over the use of fibre glass to back them (it was the coughing up blood that finally persuaded me to abandon that idea!).  But earlier today I was working on my Paintings Standing Up (still far too early to post here yet) and realised that I had put several vocal performance albums to accompany the activity.  I’ve written before that when painting I normally only listen to instrumental music and it got me to thinking why did moving into 3D suggest I could make the change?  Did I value the work less, did it require less focus?, is it a different order of thinking?  Sitting making some more components for these new pieces it struck me that perhaps my ongoing feeling of dissatisfaction with much of my recent painting process (rather than the pictures themselves) comes from over thinking them.  As a young painter I’d just crack on with the work but over the years I’ve taken to thinking hard about each stage of the process – even those parts of it that are intuitive or seemingly random have gone through a deal of soul searching.  Enough already methinks…from now on I’ll put on whatever tunes I damn well like and try to actually enjoy painting!

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Six Mile High, 72 x 48 cm., acrylic on aluminium, 2017

In any event, as is my habituation, I’m stepping away from the Geo series for a bit.  The two above are the most recent, whilst three of the earlier pieces are slated for exhibition at The Crypt in Marylebone soonish.  Invite below, get along there if you get the chance.

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