“Complicit l” Plant extract stains on Snowdon Cartridge 59cm x 84cm
I have been working on this series since the turn of the year. They are, perhaps, the most political works I have ever made. I have always tried to lead an ethically decent life: I’ve campaigned on ecological issues, been on marches, try to buy locally, gardened organically and yet I rarely openly touch on these issues in my work. In my collages and Tidelines work I have certainly hinted at my anger and despair at the way we dump things in the oceans and my titles for pictures give the game away, but this is the first time I have started to explore my conflicted feelings about our consumerism and it’s intertwining with a capitalist system which is clearly breaking society and our environment. At last, everyone seems to be talking about the scourge of plastics, a dream gone wrong, and what we can do to cut down on our use of it before it totally chokes life here on the planet. This has encouraged me to deeply look again at what I can do to use less of the things that damage our world and I find that it is almost impossible to be free of complicity.
So I am starting from the standpoint of a favourite quote from Beth Orton and am trying to “…learn the trick to turn|What’s not so pretty|Into something more beautiful”. I will be writing more about the series and the story behind these monoprints, but it needs a clearer mind before I do.
“Complicit l” (detail) Plant extract stains on Snowdon Cartridge 59cm x 84cm
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.
“Double Erasure: Winter Field” Multiply erased graphite on Canaletto paper 495mm x 695mm
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”
“We two erased black squares together clinging too” Erased pencil on Canaletto paper 302mm x 216mm
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”
“Ashes and embers” Watercolour and ink on erased graphite on Saunders Waterford paper
The whole thing looks like this:
“Ashes and embers” Watercolour and ink on erased graphite on Saunders Waterford paper 381mm x 559mm
And another similar exploration:
“Otherwise unseen” Watercolour and ink on erased graphite on Saunders Waterford paper 381mm x 559mm
Erased black square 1 Pencil and eraser on Canaletto paper
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.
Detail of surface after repeated erasing and redrawing
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.
Erased black square 2
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.
First layer of marks (detail) on an as yet untitled erasure drawing
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.
Crazy For You Drawing – inktense pencils on paper 279mm x 381mm
Another dotty one for my #arteachdaypost. It has a certain calm serenity with a little prickle of vibrance and I have posted it because it is the exact opposite of my current state and the running of the last few days, which have been challenging to say the least.
My #arteachday post on Twitter was this experiment using masking tape. I was just testing out some making tape on various papers with my field drawings in mind and this spotty MT Washi tape my son gave me as a present started producing some interesting results so I started playing before reverting to the original ideas and purposes.
Slightly All The Time Drawing – ink on Somerset paper 381mm x 589mm
No. Really. It is there! You have to look very carefully and maybe click on it to enlarge, but it is there. You can perhaps see why I have been struggling to get good photographs of my work! This was today’s #arteachday posting on Twitter and I immediately had a reply from someone that they couldn’t see anything! Admittedly it is a bit minimalist but I can see it standard size on my PC. It is another of my repetitive “field” drawings. For those of you who still can’t see it here is a detail:
Slightly All The Time Detail of ink drawing on Somerset paper 381mm x 589mm
The Blessed and the Meek Ink drawing on handmade watercolour paper 559mm x 381mm
I promised to put up some #arteachday pieces today that were different to the #Letter365 work I did today. The one above I have been playing around with for ages: I just needed the time and space to let it settle into what it needed to be. I realised that I couldn’t let it fall into any casual or habitual solutions and that although it fits in to my “field” drawings and also has echoes in my Tidelines work it actually has some deep roots into some personal atavistic issues and, I am realising, my old interest in alchemy and alchemical drawings. Anyway, I am now very happy with it after its long gestation. I just need to get some better photographs of it!
Nulla in mundo pax sincera Photographic elements on Kadhi paper 300mm x213mm
The second #arteachday piece is a collage made out of my photographs and an altered image from the newspapers of Russian warplanes amaased near to the border with Ukraine. There is a slight whiff of mushroom clouds and shockwaves.