Wells Art Contemporary 2015 shortlist (screengrab from WAC website) featuring my name
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)
“Double Erasure – that soft spot in my heart” Multiply-erased graphite drawing on Canaletto paper 500mm x 700mm
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
A selection of #Collage365 is on show at the studio during Bridport Open Studios
Outfall 2 Ink & watercolour on paper 559mm × 762mm
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”
You Were Born And So You’re Free Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm
“Double Erasure – that soft spot in my heart” Multiply-erased graphite drawing on Canaletto paper 500mm x 700mm
It’s that time again and now I have a studio at St Michael’s in Bridport town centre it would be foolish of me not to open up and join in Bridport Open Studios. Since completing my #Letter365 project I have been busy catching up on a couple of years’ neglect in the garden but I have also been getting on with new work.
Thermopylae (not as black as you think) Collage, acrylic & ink on board 306mm x 306mm
I completed the erasure drawing I was talking about earlier (shown above) and have been working on black squares (as usual not always black, not always square!) and various field pieces. Some of the field pieces are on canvas! That’s the first time I have used canvas or completed a piece on canvas for 43 years! (It has been interesting!) I aim to add images of some of this work in the next few days.
I have also been moved to return to using wet-in-wet watercolour again and have been creating large field pieces, starting a new series of work under the working title of “The Stone Archive – Fields of Oblivion”. I will post some of these later too, including some small pieces I have framed up especially for Bridport Open Studios. These small nicely-framed pieces are designed as affordable introductions to my work and would make great gifts for loved ones or yourself! They are the sort of things people point to in my sketchbooks and say, “Ooh, that’s nice!” Since I have been working on larger sheets than my sketchbooks when I am trying out some ideas (especially the watercolour and acrylic stuff as I can do more while the paint dries) I thought I would isolate some of the ones that work best and frame them for sale.
As usual there is a “6×9” show to accompany Bridport Open Studios. This year it occupies the foyer and cafe at Bridport Arts Centre and I have entered some specially made pieces that explore my current themes and, some, move into new territory. The show opens on Wednesday 19 August and runs till 18 September after which it transfers to Black Swan Arts at Frome.
Tissue paper lain over the almost completed double erasure drawing (detail)
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!
How much cleaning up at the edges of this erased drawing should I do?
Another Moment Waiting To Happen Ink on Paper 303mm x 216mm
I am delighted to announce that “Another Moment Waiting To Happen” has been selected for the Evolver Prize Exhibition at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton from 4th July to 29 August 2015. It is only a small regional prize but I believe it attracts some of the best artists in the area so I am delighted to be ranked among such high quality. (Sorry for the appalling photo!)
I Forgot Who Said That Ink and watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper 559mm × 762mm
I finally managed to finish this drawing a few days ago. It is the first of many that I hoped to do while working within my #Letter365 installation at Bridport Arts Centre. I am only managing to get there for a couple of hours a day and mostly I get involved with talking with visitors for some part of the time. I have started another piece but will finish that at the studio because the table I am working on is not wide enough to accommodate imperial size paper longways and there is a lip round the table edge that means the paper doesn’t lie flat. But I have another two weeks so may gat more done and I have gathered lots of ideas.
This piece, I Forgot Who Said That, is one of my field drawings but using a more colourful palette than my usual black and white. Although firmly based in the repetitive, compartmentalised grid structure of pieces such as Aleph’s Flux or The Dream’s Malfunction – and I have done some small-scale test pieces in this style – the more rounded marks are influenced by the stains of fresh-sawn logs on the Allsop Gallery floorboards left from the show What Remains – an installation by And Now back in September-October 2014
Composite image of some stains on the Allsop Gallery floor caused by fresh cut logs in a previous installation
I am aiming to do some more work related to these stains and the lines between the boards, but I’ll have to get a move on. Below is a detail of I Forgot Who Said That to compare and see how it may have been influenced more than I may have thought:
Envoy Watercolour and ink on Indian hand-made, recycled-cotton paper 559mm × 762mm
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
The Prophesy Restated Ink and watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper 559m × 762m
I am pleased to announce that my ink and watercolour drawing The Prophesy Restated has been selected for the RWA Drawn 2015 exhibition. It is the largest of a series I was doing at the end of last year. I am still interested in investigating the theme further now that I am a little freer to work on more complex and larger field drawings. This small success means that I will be exhibiting in Bristol for the first time and will have two shows running at the same time with my solo installation #Letter365 running at Bridport Arts Centre until 11 April.
I know I never finished the piece on my last trip to London and I’ve got loads of my own work to catch up on, but I’ve been to London for the day and have a long train journey so I may as well scribble a few notes about the day while it’s fresh in my mind
Of the two places I visited today there is of course no contest the Marlene Dumas at Tate Modern is streets ahead of the Works On Paper fair. Having spent much less time at WOP I want sure how to make good use of my time. I nearly just stayed at the Science Museum. There’s always interesting stuff on there. I didn’t even know if the Dumas show had started; moreover I was unsure if I wanted to see it. I was not familiar with her work and hasn’t really read the publicity or reviews.
I was almost immediately moved and disturbed by the work. Whatever you might say about her, Dumas knows how to compose a painting to give it power and to convey strong emotions. Ugly, crude, rude, angry, exquisite, composed, uneasy – nearly every painting commands attention. You can see that she can draw and that she sees so much more than just the physical form, so Dumas distorts and simplifies at will to deliver images that assault the emotions. There’s no escape: every blow is a low punch. Sometimes you are confused in what you feel, but there’s no doubt that you feel it!
But she is exploring far more than creating strong shapes to cause reactions. There’s a wealth of cultural, political and artistic explorations and allusions that I cannot begin to write about now.
I’m not really competent to judge her work technically, but I suspect some would criticise her thin paint and scrappy presentation. Yet her choice of medium seems perfect for each piece, for example the louche and sordid use of watercolour when exploring the pornographic and erotic. For me it worked perfectly and the freedom with which she uses her materials holds many lessons for me. That’s not to say I liked her work. I don’t think I’d be able to live with any of it, but I think it is very strong work and highly recommend it. I recommend it to all, men and women. In the limited things I have read there seems to be a sense this is being touted as a women’s exhibition and the vast majority of visitors when I was there were women.
So what about the Works On Paper fair. Frankly it was mostly a pretty scrappy affair. So much of it seemed to be the dog ends of artists with a bit of a name. I was shocked that it was so traditional! When there is so much exciting work being done now on paper there was little to be seen. What little there was didn’t exactly push boundaries, being mostly representational and easy on the eye. The rest was stuff salvaged from artists’ dustbins and junk shops and apart from a couple of half-decent Bawden’s (not all were that good) and a few of the many Terry Frost cards I wouldn’t give house room to most of it. I suspect that is unfair of me. I’m sure there were gems I missed, I passed by because I was finding it a little sad that money gravitates to the familiar. I’m also sad that bad work from artists with a name sells for more than good work by the unknown.