After a period when I could not work on large drawings because of a bad back, I am now back on form and have been working on a strand of the erasure work I began during my 50 Collages Before Christmas project.
I have been merrily working away at this project in a measured kind of way. It has been interesting to work with collage in a much bigger way than I have ever done before with some at A1 and one almost A0, though most are around the 50cm x 50cm mark. I have found that some have taken much more time than I ever could have imagined – just physically gluing and trimming takes proportionately longer to ensure everything is just right.
The reason I chose to do the project was to give me a focus. Having been out of the studio for a while I was stacked up with ideas and didn’t want to be flip-flopping about. Well that didn’t work: the project is spawning more ideas than ever and it’s difficult to focus on any of it.
However, I am happy with the direction things are going and I have quite a few pieces on the go and working well (plus a few that don’t want to go the way I hoped!) I have been blogging about the process on a-n so you can read more about it there. Below are some of the collages to date. I’ll create a page with all of them when the project is complete.
This piece, Abstract Drawings For Dummies I: The Tiny Section of My Soul marks the start of two series of work: Abstract Drawings For Dummies and 50 Collages Before Christmas. I had been adding small sections of collage into my erasure and redaction drawings and decided to include text – something I did quite a bit in drawings 45 years ago (including erasing the words and writing what I had done!) and occasionally more recently during my #Collage 365 and #Letter365 projects. I have always had a leaning towards the surreal and absurd with a bit of tongue-in-cheek conceptual thrown in. Influences from cartoons and illustrations, exploded diagrams and information boards, maps and instruction books and much, much more form a lattice of lunacy in my brain. Lay on to this the soft spot I have for Frank Zappa, Bonzo Dog, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson and other slightly odd (and some other decidedly, very odd) music it is not surprising this kind of thing will surface in my work from time to time. The series title Abstract Drawings For Dummies obviously refers to the hugely successful series of “how to” books. The books are, in my experience, well-written and of a high standard and the use of “for dummies” is in no way demeaning or patronising. By using “Dummies” the publishers are signalling to ordinary people they don’t need to feel threatened by experts and that everyone is quite capable of attaining a working knowledge of the subject of the book. Most abstract artists are continually asked to explain what their work is about and during my #Letter365 project where the artwork was sealed unseen into an envelope and sold “blind” I was particularly strongly questioned. At that time I devised a series of works that might help people find a way into art they were not readily comfortable with: works which have instructions, directions and explanations as part of the composition. This new series is planned towards the realisation of that idea. It also features some of the convoluted workings of my brain which had a small opportunity for expression, sometimes quite wittily, on the envelopes of #Letter365.
As I was clearly fired up to do all manner of work I chose the moment of completing this piece to commit to 50 Collages Before Christmas too.
In my next show, at the Sugar Cube Gallery, Hambridge, I continue my explorations on the notion that nothing is ever completely eradicated: barely perceptible traces of every action remain like DNA signatures, capable of being read by those with the knowledge, sensitivity and technology. These traces affect what follows, whether we know it or not. Referencing crop marks, stone circles and mapmaking, a new suite of minimalist drawings using erasure and redaction will be on show along with selected work from two strands of my Black Squares series – asemic writing and “colourful black squares” plus anything else I can fit in to “the smallest gallery in Somerset”. All the pieces are small to medium in size and as such are affordably priced and would make great Christmas gifts for friends, family or a treat for yourself!
The show runs 7 November – 21 December at Sugar Cube Gallery, The Courtyard, Bowdens Farm, Hambridge, Somerset TA10 0BP Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm. There’s a preview evening on Friday 4th November 5pm – 7pm and it would be great to see everyone for a glass of fizz and a chat.
I am delighted that “Double Erasure: Winter Field” has been shortlisted for the Wells Art Contemporary Awards 2016 and will be on show at The Bishop’s Palace, Wells 8 – 22 October and is already featured on the WAC website
I am opening up my studio as part of Dorset Art Weeks. Everything is set up and looking good ready for the public opening at 11am on Saturday 28th May. I am delighted to be showing a good number of brand new pieces: work that I have produced this year! I am also showing some of the “Black Squares” work I exhibited at Black Swan Arts, Frome, last November which hasn’t been seen in Bridport before.
The new work picks up where I left off last year before committing to the Black Squares theme for the Frome show, but clearly it has been developed with the experience of that focused process at play. There are new field drawings in colourful Inktense pencil, double and triple erasures and redactions, expressive ink drawings, new asemic text works and some sparse new pieces inspired by the coast which I have been wanting to do for almost a year!
Because there is so much new work – mostly imperial size or larger – I have had to hang more like an art fair than a gallery, which is fine if you remember this is just an open studios event!
I am not open every day during Dorset Art Weeks so check the opening times before you come. I will be open between 11am and 6pm only on the following dates: 28, 29, 30 May, 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12 June 2016. Other times strictly by appointment only.
I have been doing more erased drawings and feel there is plenty more that I want to explore in the area of partial deletion, redaction, becoming unseen. So I expect there will be a lot of eraser dust to deal with in the coming weeks. Featured below are a few pieces I have finished recently and am happy with. The first I have called “Double Erasure: Winter Field”. It continues the tidal theme of “Double Erasure – that soft spot in my heart” but connects back to some of my earliest field drawings.
The second is a reprise of a piece I did for the secret sale to support Bridport Arts Centre but in larger format. That earlier one was called “We two erased black squares together clinging” so this one is “We two erased black squares together clinging too”
I have also been exploring the use of colour with erased drawings, using ink, watercolour and or Inktense pencils over the erased graphite, as can be seen in this detail from “Ashes and embers”
The whole thing looks like this:
And another similar exploration:
I am delighted and honoured to be included on the shortlist for this year’s Wells Art Contemporary Awards. It is quite a new open competition for contemporary visual art that is gaining praise and respect in Britain and abroad. One of the reasons I entered was the quality of artists who entered in previous years, but the main reason was the high calibre of the judges who this year are Mariele Neudecker (Sculptor and multimedia artist), Donald Smith (Director of Exhibitions, Chelsea Space, who curated an excellent Derek Jarman show a while back) and Richard Wentworth (Sculptor and conceptual artist) These three judges initially viewed all the submissions anonymously and then the resulting shortlist was reviewed by a further panel “the 45 Park Lane Artists” comprising Sir Peter Blake, Brendan Neiland, Bruce McLean, Christian Furr, Joe Tilson, Martin Fuller, Patrick Hughes, Brad Faine, Donald Smith, and Tom Phillips.This process produced the final choice of works selected for the Wells exhibition which runs 9-24 October 2015 at the Wells and Mendip Museum. The prize winners will be agreed after the selected works have been curated. (The curator is Roy Ackerman.)
The piece that has been selected is a drawing, “Double Erasure – that soft spot in my heart” (pictured below)
I am delighted to report that I sold 15 pieces during Bridport Open Studios and generated a lot of good feedback and met some wonderful people. My new works on canvas were particularly well received and i sold “An Index of Metals (Thank You Brian and Robert)” pictured above. I also sold “The Bit They Know About You” (pictured below) which is one of my favourite pieces, so I am particularly pleased that someone has seen its merits. I hope it gives the buyers much pleasure for many years.
I suppose I am now going to have to change my Twitter header as the artwork I was using, “Mystery Evolves” (below) has also gone to a new home. I am fortunate too that quite a few smaller studies and collages sold, as well as the larger pieces mentioned in previous posts.
The first two days of Bridport Open Studios saw a steady stream of interested visitors and some good sales – and that was after me not really being set up properly. It’s a little more organised now and who knows, I might even be able to say I was ready! I am pleased to be showing a wide range of my work including new work on canvas, erasure drawings, field drawings, new watercolour pieces and a range of small “affordable” studies. I have aslo set aside some space for a selection of #Collage365 work
I also have some concertina books for sake too: