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.
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
The exhibition at the Portmanteau Gallery in Bridport opens today and i am delighted to say it looks beautiful. Björk’s work and mine work together really well and I am really inspired by how, together, we have created a cool, calm and classy atmosphere.
The Portmanteau Gallery will be open between 10am and 4pm only on the following dates: 20, 21, 24 to 29 August 2016. I won’t be at the gallery every day so if you want to catch up with me your best bet will be to visit on Wednesday 24 or Friday 26 through Sunday 28 or call me to arrange a time, or come to the Private View tonight between 5.30 and 7pm
The Portmanteau Gallery is at 10 North Street, Bridport DT6 3JQ on the corner with Rax Lane where there is limited on-road parking as well as the car park. Look out for the yellow ART signs marked “21”, our Bridport Open Studios venue number.
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 have been pleased with the quality of visitors to my Open Studios this weekend. Most people have displayed a keen interest in my work and I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and talking about art. I’m also pleased that I have sold something each day – including today when I was technically not open! A visitor over the weekend called this morning to say they had decided to by “Outfall 2”, the piece pictured above. It’s quite a special piece for me and I am delighhted it has found an appreciative home.
I have also sold some of the small studies I framed up and another larger piece, “You Were Born And So You’re Free”
I am increasingly interested in the idea of veiling work so the viewer has to work harder to see what they are looking at and have used semi-opaque papers in collages to mute and soften images below. I am considering using etched and frosted glass in front of some pieces, in particular some black square ideas that are 3D or relief pieces. The image above was totally by chance when I covered the erasure drawing I was doing with tissue to protect it till I returned to make any final adjustments. I am certainly tempted to experiment with more veiling, maybe with silk voile or cotton muslin. Perhaps I should go the whole hog and use black perspex or something totally opaque like black-sprayed metal to cover work?
Last year the show I had in Ramsgate was called “The Seen and the Unseen”. That refered partly to #Letter365 being sold unseen but also to the fact that my work is designed to make the eye unsure of what it is actually seeing (amongst other invisible aspects). During the #Letter365 process I had a number of conversations with people who liked the idea of never opening the letters and Schrödinger’s Cat was mentioned on a number of the envelopes and in many conversations.
So much of my work has been inspired by the sea’s marks on the shore and the transient and uncontrollable nature of our existence. It could be said that much of my work is an attempt to freeze a record of those unseen forces at play in the littoral landscape and my mind and emotions. Perhaps my work should move towards even more conceptual and ephemeral work?
For now, I have this piece to finish off. I have not seen it for a few days and other issues may arise when I do, but the biggest question I had when I left it was “how much do I clean up the edges and how big a border”? Of course it still needs a signature, which will, of course, be erased!
It may seem odd that my work on black squares and my Tidelines theme are intimately linked but it is all a continuum. This latest phase – erasing and redrawing and erasing again for as many times as necessary to get the effect I want – mirrors the tide’s twice-daily erasing of the sand patterns and debris on the beach; rubbed out but leaving a trace of the history of previous times and tides. I am experimenting with various surfaces. These featured are on 300gsm Canaletto paper. It is thick enough not to buckle and stretch too much and robust enough to take repeated erasure yet still soft enough to hold the indentation of an HB pencil.
I have chosen to use traditional pencils rather than a clutch pencil because it allows a greater degree of chaos to enter the mix. The sharpness wearing to bluntness and my reaction to it in the marks I make, plus the length of the pencil affecting my grip on it as it gets shorter, are important elements in the content of the works.
The piece I began today (detail below) is on a full sheet of Canaletto paper 500mm x 700mm on which I have created a semi-accurate ruled grid. I am using what I believe to be HB pencils that were liberated from conference rooms at various hotels 20 years ago – knew they would come in handy! I may have to buy some more as they are disappearing at an alarming rate. In future drawings I may use harder pencils depending on what the surface of chosen paper suggests. For the first layer I am trying to be pretty loose and not get into my usual rythmns and shapes. I am listening to Soft Machine and at times using my left hand. Once this “ground” has been established, with the general shape and form of the piece tentatively mapped in, I will be more controlled about the marks I make after each successive erasure.
I have had this knocking around the studio for months and have finally resolved it. The paper is quite interesting to work with. It is Jackson’s own-brand “eco-friendly” 100% cotton, handmade paper from India. It is made from recycled cotton, each sheet being individually set into the moulds and then dried in the Indian sun. I like that these papers made in small moulds which means each sheet has 4 deckle edges in 1/4, 1/2 and Imperial sizes, so each sheet is unique and individual. Most sheets have got thumb or finger prints on. It doesn’t cut or tear cleanly because it has threads of cotton in and the surface is really fragile so no scrubbing and rubbing! Show it low-tack masking tape and it falls apart and sticking it on the wall with white tack is likely to tear a hole out of it. The surface absorbancy is completely random, the texture is variable and the colour is different from batch to batch. In many ways it is rubbish paper: so for me it is brilliant! I have to be either 100% certain what I want and hope it works or give myself over totally to its whims