“Traces” will feature work by me and the immensely talented Sharon James. Both of us explore the traces of things past and endeavour to create something more beautiful from subjects that are sometimes not so pretty. Sharon James’s latest works are concerned with what has gone before in her own history and in the world around her: investigating matters both deep and superficial. On the one hand, her autobiographical work explores her black identity and links to slavery through a series of drawings and paintings; on the other hand, she has developed a series of digital drawings/collages that deliberately aim to produce something quite different and beautiful, an antidote to what is often quite a dark subject. As most of you know, for some years I have been exploring the notion that nothing is ever completely eradicated. Usually my work is directly inspired by the patterns and processes in our landscape, but much of the work I have chosen for “Traces” focusses on human conflict and the sad fact that wars and discord will always flare up again and the causes can never be covered up or eradicated. I will be showing some of the pieces created for the “Artists On Conflict” show in Woodstock plus some other work where you can see the links to both my Black Squares work and the Erasure pieces. “Traces” continues until 11th May with the gallery being open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10am – 5.30pm.
I have been somewhat remiss of late in updating this blog and it is some months since I have done so. This, then, is to address that failing with regard to some recent successes in open entry competitions.
I am especially pleased to be showing “A Few Lines About Dora And Dale” (above) in the Society of Scottish Artists Annual Exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh. I am told the competition is vigorous and the selection process is rigorous so I feel proud to have had work selected. I am sad that I have not been able to arrange a trip to see the show, especially as it looks a really impressive show from images I have seen and is beautifully curated with plenty of space rather than the too frequent “cram as many as we can get in” approach of many open shows. The work looks interesting too! Many open shows get clogged up because members get automatic selection. That doesn’t seem to be the case at the SSA: work is selected on its merit. As a member of the SSA (yes I know I am not Scottish nor do I live there, but any serious artist can apply to join) I also get to show some small works in the 30×30 selection. The show runs until 17 January 2019.
The other two prestigious open exhibitions I was selected for recently were the RWA Open, Bristol, and the Black Swan Arts Open, Frome, Somerset.
Yesterday I launched a new personal project, #BlackSquares365. Each and every day for the next year I will create a small artwork from scratch and post it on Instagram and Twitter before the end of the day. Each piece is available directly from me for a bargain £40 including worldwide postage* (email me for details – hopefully soon I will be able to create a safe online way to buy them).
I’m calling it “distributed art”: lots of people can own an individual, unique piece of art and at the same time hold a share of one larger artwork spread across time and space; no one person will own it all, nobody will ever see it in its entirety!
The idea that it’s a work that is deconstructed and scattered to the four corners of the globe (hopefully) fits the themes of erasure, redaction, forensics, geology and landscape that run through much of what I make. Little traces of #BlackSquares365 will be lodged far and wide: the dispersion making it harder for it to ever be completely destroyed.
Selling small pieces at a price within the reach of ordinary people appeals to my democratic sensibilities. I see it as a bit of an antidote to the high-end art market where art is a trading commodity: works of art gain prices that have little to do with the level of pleasure or intellectual stimulation they engender becoming, instead, conceptual currency notes. In that world only wealthy individuals and institutions can own large works but anyone can buy into #BlackSquares365 and get their own small piece that is itself a part of the much bigger community-owned art project.
Each piece will be 8” (20cm) square and will be signed on the reverse with date and number stamps and a brief description of the materials used. Despite the much-reduced price each will be made with the same quality materials that I use normally, such as artist’s paints and acid-free professional papers and will be made with the same care and attention as any of my work. I will use a simple quality control measure throughout which is that only work I personally would be happy to frame and have on my own walls at home is acceptable. Talking of framing, 8” x 8” will fit into standard off-the-shelf frame available from Scandinavian lifestyle superstores and other outlets (though it always pays to have things professionally framed. I will not be giving titles to anything (the prices would have to rise enormously!) If you fancy the idea of reserving a piece made on a special day that’s fine. I would expect full payment with the order. You can rest assured that I won’t let you down – I have completed two year-long projects like this before – but in the unlikely event that I gave up or was prevented from continuing I would fully refund your money.
So why Black Squares as a subject? Well that is a long story which I will weave in and out of further posts, but those who know my previous Black Squares work will know that “black is not the only colour” and “other geometric plane figures are available”!
*I can only afford to send work at the most basic postal rate and cannot be responsible for any taxes or customs duty when posting to other countries. If you require a faster or more secure delivery I am happy to arrange at cost.
Although I had been invited to participate in the first of Lydia Needle’s “50 Bees: the interconnectedness of all things”, I was too busy to be able to accept. So it was wonderful to have a second chance this year. Lydia has chosen 50 British bee species and allocated one to each of the artists involved. Each artist has created their own original work in response, which will be paired with Lydia’s amazing needlefelt representations of the bees encased in antique containers. A really diverse and talented group of artists and makers have made some phenomenal work, so the exhibition at the Richard Jeffries Museum in Swindon is worth a visit if you are that way.
My bee is Hylaeus brevicornis, the Yellow-face Short-horned Bee. Lydia apologised that there was not enough space to have a full artist profile for everyone but asked for a 100-word statement describing the process of making the work. This is mine:
“I make abstract work, often minimalist and repetitive, that explores the patterns and processes of Nature, especially the interplay between chaos and control. To be asked to create work about this tiny bee was outside my typical process. To do the task justice involved much research, scribbling, play, thinking, interconnecting with everything, planning, discarding and then being somewhat more reasonable. It became clear that I could never explain the process of arriving at the work in my allotted 100 words, so I made some the words part of the artwork. I will only explain more to whoever buys the piece.”
Those of you who share my joy in complying with rules will note there are exactly 100 words in the statement. That might give you an idea on how you might access the work
The show runs till 24th June 2018
I was delighted a couple of years back to have this piece, “Double Erasure: Winter Field”, shortlisted for the Wells Art Contemporary Awards. That was at the historic Bishop’s Palace at Wells in Somerset. I am doubly delighted that it is now selected for the inaugural show, “Connections” at the stunning new Wells Maltings cultural hub in Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk
It’s always great to be included in an exhibition but the reason I am especially pleased to be part of this show is my history with the North Norfolk Coast, particularly Holkham Bay which is just to the East of Wells-Next-The-Sea. Work about that beach and the landscape behind it sparked the idea of my Tidelines project (which I hope one day soon to fulfill) and was instrumental in me reconnecting to my art practice and subsequently committing to it as a full-time, professional engagement.
This piece is from my erasure and redaction work, rooted in the landscape and coastline, which explores how the traces of history and events are never completely obliterated but can still be read and forever influence the present. The marks are made and erased, made and erased, like the similar-yet-unique patterns in the sand are made and erased twice each day. This piece specifically relates to Holkham West Sands, the marshes behind and the Essex marshes where I grew up.
I am pleased to have a piece selected for Atkinson Gallery Summer Exhibition 201. It is the first time I have entered a drawing on canvas into an open exhibition and its acceptance is an encouragement as I am starting to do some more work on canvas. This annual show has built a good reputation for showing an interesting collection of work in a variety of media. All work is priced under £500 so it’s a great place to build your art collection
The show runs Monday 25 June – Friday 3 August 2018 (Mon – Sat 9.30am – 5.00pm) at Atkinson Gallery, Millfield, Street, Somerset. Free admission to all. The Private view is on Monday 25 June, 7pm – 9pm – all welcome.
“The Transformed Land” show I was part of at The Brewhouse, Taunton, and Circle Hospital in Bath last year is reappearing in a refreshed version at ACEarts, Somerton, Somerset from 26 May 2018 to 16 June 2018. Curated by Paul Newman and featuring a stellar group of artists including Linn O’Carroll, Deborah Westmancoat, Howard Phipps, David Daniels, Andrew Lansley and Jennifer Newbury amongst others.
I really like the energy of Bath’s FaB Festival and the Bath Open Art Prize that for me is at its heart, so I am hugely pleased to be included in a show which unashamedly includes work that is quirky and unusual. The show is on at 44AD from 25 May to 10 June 2018
I am delighted that “A Few Lines Where Once I Danced” has been selected for the Bath Society of Artists show at the Victoria Art Gallery where it will be exhibited until 12 May 2018. It’s a particularly fine selection this year, well curated and hung, so worth a visit!
Last week I also finished this piece I spoke of a few of posts ago, “”For Musicians Who Like Art”. The title is a play on Andrew Hamilton’s “For People Who Like Art” and whilst it is not meant to be representative of the music it is inspired by it. I have a lot of ideas how I might progress this work – and other work related to music. I am aiming to start trying some of them out on canvas and in collage, today, and I am keen to try out some ideas as monoprints soon.