“365” – the final piece in my #BlackSquares365 project
Today is the last day of #BlackSquares365, my every-day-for-a-year serial art project. A couple of days ago Paul Newman, the brilliant graphite artist, suggested I finish with an envelope. I woke up early this morning and thought (quoting Roy Harper), “He’s right! He’s right: I’ve not done that one for ages! Little bugger.” Paul was alluding to two previous projects of mine: #Letter365 and The Binding Grid of Creative Connection.#Letter365 was my second year-long art project in which I created an artwork from scratch each day, sealed it in an envelope and sent it to the gallery. The envelopes were displayed as an installation and only opened if and after they were sold. The Binding Grid of Creative Connection was created whilst I was in residence at my solo show at Black Swan Arts, Black Squares, Black Lines & Black Magic. It was a celebration of the connections I had made on Twitter with other artists round the world. 72 artists contributed a total of more than 150 4” square artworks, their takes on the theme of the show. Paul contributed a drawing to The Binding Grid, in response to which I made an envelope along with a statement of possible contents. To this day Paul does not know if his drawing is/was in that envelope; he doesn’t know if I erased it.
So, today, I have reprised that work. Paul cleverly connected my previous black squares work with a previous serial art project. I can add in additional connections to previous work and long-standing inspirations and influences. In particular there is a reference to the last chapter of Richard Brautigan’s “Trout Fishing In America”, about which I made a small sculpture (involving Letraset, which I have started to use again in #BlackSquares365) when I was at art school, probably in 1973! The sealing wax was a feature of #Letter365 and I have reintroduced it here: it should have said “bee” (I’m a beekeeper) but I panicked when the wax started smoking (we have lots of new very sensitive smoke alarms at the studios now!) So, I have cleverly connected this piece to the work Paul was talking of and have rekindled in him, I hope, that terrible angst of not knowing the whereabouts or condition of his work. I thank Paul for giving me this opportunity and for all his support and help over many years.
So my final piece ends the series with some unknowns and who knows if it even meets the criteria I set out at the beginning, but I like it a lot and it’s a fitting end to a decent project in which I made some pretty good work, stretched myself but didn’t fret and found the discipline the easiest of all the time-based projects I have done.
“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.
“A Few Lines About Dora And Dale” Ink on Saunders Waterford paper 559mm × 762mm
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.
“338 expressions on the journey of Hylaeus brevicornis” Ink on handmade Indian rag paper mounted on archival cotton paper with printed text 70cm x 38cm
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
“Double Erasure: Winter Field” Multiply erased graphite on Canaletto paper 495mm x 695mm
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.
“Solid IV” Mixed media drawing on handmade Indian ecopaper 30cm x30cm approx
“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.
This Is Where The Party Ends Graphite, ink & Magic Tape on Snowdon cartridge paper 59cm x 84cm
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
“A Few Lines Where Once I Danced” Ink on Snowdon cartridge 59cm x 84cm
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!
I was pleased to be asked to be a judge for this, along with Liz Wright and Peter Sheridan. The prize-giving exhibition revealing the winning design for the proposed tunnel mural will be held at the STEPS Club For Young People, Weymouth, on Friday 23rd March.
The aim of all this is to improve an eyesore and problem area on the Rodwell Trail with a community project. The plan now is to train a group of local young people to support Peter Sheridan, the artist hired to transfer and develop the winning design as a stunning feature along the Rodwell Trail, hopefully attracting more people to the area. The tunnel painting will be carried out during three weeks this August and hopefully it will bring a lot of people together in Weymouth and attract a lot of tourist and media attention.