how things collide in your head during this isolation (I’m still too frit to properly venture out) especially as contacts with others is confined.So just as I begin sorting out the next substantial project – based on Alexandra Harris’ Weatherland – I find its concerns reverberatingin my thinking with Chapter Three of Jeff Young’s Ghost Town.I’d spent a good deal of a day siftingthrough the former arranging a series of quotations by others that Harris had used to be the framework on which my series will hang.Literally insofar as they are ranged around the perimeter of the canvases I’m intending.And then this very morning I find Jeff musing on the importance of weather…”The weather is memory and memory is the weather. It seeps into this place, becomes layered into it. The meteorology of memory.”And whilst I had been attracted to a brief passage from the introduction to Weatherland as the title of my sequence “I have tried to hang a mirror in the sky” my wife pointed out its connection to a title I have used before ‘Nothing But Mirrors And Tides’ (that stolen from Anne Michaels wonderful Fugitive Pieces for a solo show at Derby Museum nearly two decades back) and I’d already thought it perhaps overlong.And now – glory be – it seems that not only have I a marvellous title ‘The Meteorology Of Memory’ but those few words also crystallise the core of my thinking behind these paintings.
Because unlike the three series that comprised the reflections on Schama’s Landscape & Memory (Waldgeschichten, L’Histoire de L’Eau and Rock Of Ages) where the impulses for the form of each work preceded and then ran alongside the textual content here I have zoomed in on the texts (setting them in a framework of the months of the year) and hope to evoke memories, form, colours and reflections of each month as it unfolds.At least in the conception of the work as a whole because, unlike my normal way of working, I intend to make a sketch or cartoon (if you wish!) for each painting before making the full size work.Within this sits another secret source of imagery drawn both from my own reservoir of images and ones stolen from other observers of the world around them…something that has become so easy since the advent of the digital when everyone is a photographer of some (albeit) occasional distinction.
Nowadays it seems to be one thing after another…with activity that follows hard on activity. Of course it’s nothing of the sort really, just the onset of age gives the appearance of time rushing by. And things that I used to have to do ‘on the hoof’ I can now take time over… So it is with the painting, I give even more time over to sitting and pondering than I did when younger, though I could lose hours to cogitation even back then. Following on from the completion of Rock Of Ages, the third and final grouping of the Landscape & Memory project, I’m still drawn to one aspect of that endeavour, viz. the inclusion, or rather the wraparound, of text on paintings.
In other news the show I’m curating at Deda this autumn is rapidly approaching, much of the work for it is waiting patiently in my studio for delivery this coming weekend. The view is on Wednesday 11th September because before then we’re off to Venice for a few days to take in the Biennale though I’m imagining spending quite a bit of time in the Gorky, Frankenthaler, Scully shows about town too.
I’ve said before that I often find lyric music difficult whilst painting…but I just took delivery of the latest Keith Christmas album…so it had to be first up today. Go to his website and buy a copy!
In any event I’m now onto finishing the final touches to Petrarch Reads Augustine the last of the Rock Of Ages so its that light headed feeling that sees some optimism in the gloom that I find when I look at what is going on outside my studio! And to a certain extent that pervades Keith’s latest album too. With a bunch of tracks celebrating life and relationships and a lighter hand on the tiller of anger and outrage that characterised a deal of the (nonetheless) excellent songs on his last album (Crazy Dancing Days -why not purchase that one too whilst you’re at it). I’m also having a bit of fun with another of my TFTLR pieces… that lighten up the mood too…
from my last post…goodness knows why really. It does get harder to have much to say other than that ‘events’ sometimes get in the way of the activity of both making and commentating on work. And does that matter much? As I get older I’m realising that productivity isn’t the only criterion – though its one I do put some store in. Hence my desire to see the completion of the Rock Of Ages, the third and final part of the Landscape & Memory trilogy. So here is the last but two of the eighteen that make up this group.
Visiting friends is lovely but visiting friends who’ve bought work is even nicer! And work takes on another life when seen in a different environment from either studio or gallery. Especially when it’s a piece on paper exquisitely framed. So it is with Pan Tadeusz here in my pals, Moira & Allan, living room in Dorset. Pan is one of the Waldgeschichten, the Forest Stories, part one of the three parts that make up Landscape & Memory. This project is now finally coming to its conclusion, the fourteenth of the eighteen works making up third part Rock of Ages just now resolved to my satisfaction, and joining the other fifty with only four to go. Given that the early stages of the whole scheme started back in 2014, it’s only been five years in gestation. That might seem an inordinate amount of time but given my dithering and distraction I reckon half a decade ain’t too bad!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Of course tomorrow morning it may all turn to dust, that happens just as regularly!
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…