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.

Still getting that feeling…

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Sometimes it just gets going…and what a good thing too, or I doubt I’d bother.  But just occasionally I get started on some new pieces and everything seems to jog along pretty well.  So it is with the Rock pieces, third part of the Landscape & Memory project.

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Of course tomorrow morning it may all turn to dust, that happens just as regularly!

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Still as the light fades (and today was proper Spring until four this afternoon) I’ve these three plus five others that have seemingly got something I can work with.  Tomorrow I’m out and about but it will be interesting to return to the studio first thing just to see how I feel about them…

process

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I’m back working with some serious intent after a dose of ill health – and focussed on completing three bodies of work.  The first of these is getting into the third and final part of the Landscape And Memory project, following on from the wood & water sections its onto rock.  And an opportunity to review the working process.  For the first part I pushed  collaged elements about with pva and acrylic paint across the whole selection of papers (some 21 in total) and then began working up each one, selecting text components as I went.  With the water work I’ve treated them piecemeal, with far fewer collaged elements, and it has been a far tougher ask.  So back to the first way of working in this section.

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It has me thinking over how much process impacts on the making of non-figurative work, something that maybe has a more profound influence on how paintings work out than might be imagined.  How and why we choose elements, especially using collage, is fascinating to me. I try not to analyse it too much though in case I find myself shifting stuff around to ‘fit’ certain kinds of imagery….though hang on don’t these look mountainous!  Just as I’m re-reading material focussed on the peaks of ranges, in the west and the east…and good grief now Schama is talking dragons…obviously I need to exercise caution now…

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