Eighteen months is a long time, in any world not just, as they say, in politics. In the Seaford art world it is bringing changes as the Crypt Gallery becomes a trust, the gallery being leased by the council to a charitable trust formed by the Friends.
Eighteen months is a long time in any world, and in my world it has seen me finally break free of type 2 diabetes (you can do it through diet), beat cancer (you can do it with the help of the NHS) and now struggle to defeat kidney damage. Eighteen months in which painting has provided a solace and refuge for a battered body but a resilient mind.
Eighteen months is how long since my last show at the Crypt, and now, inspired by my garden flowers which entice me from my studio with their glorious dancing colour and scents, the gallery will be filled with colour for my new show, called, appropriately ‘A Seaford Garden’.
Drawings and paintings of Poppies, geraniums, windflowers explore colour and space. Interlocked with the grid of experience they shift and move creating jewel like experience of colour illusions, paralleled by allusions to distortions and disruption social structures inflict on innocent lives.
Painting is about creating the illusion of space, of another reality. It is also about comment reflection of life politics and all that. Unable to reproduce the scent I have tried to reproduce the seductive colour contrasts that hopefully will please you in the way that the real flowers dazzle and attract the bees. Unwilling to engage with a corrupt political process I remain an Outsider, an observer of the continued destruction of my country by political and managerial incompetence, and the controlled chaos and dislocation of colour in my work reflect my observations of life.
The grid is a stable structure and allows me to have a set of ‘rules’ that govern what happens as the work progresses, again reflecting the rules that govern our everyday lives – gradual accretions over centuries that provide security and structures in living but which can also be a strait jacket distorting individual lives, conflicting with individual will. The grid is an artistic element that has origins lost in time, and when used is traditionally obliterated in creating the painting, covered by paint, invisible in the result.
It has traditionally been the rôle of the artist to challenge these rules through their art – in many instances they were used by the powerful, as the artist of the Renaissance were used, as the artists of the Soviet Union were, to foment change. Many stepping out of lines drawn by the powerful, were first controlled but then, if that failed, persecuted.
In my youth, I campaigned, but the cynicism of senior political colleagues, their contempt for the electorate and desire to create their own dreams, to change people to their own model, led me to disengage for mental self-preservation. Most folk live fulfilling lives within the rules. My self-imposed rules are liberating on the canvas, providing stability and confidence in rendering the images as I want. Game play in a format that allows my aesthetic sense full flow.
In the studio, my focus has been within the cocoon the space becomes. Not a withdrawal from reality but a chance to distil the experience of it, to respond to it with a degree of detachment whilst pursuing the eternal artistic search for truth and beauty. With images drawn from my experience, my gardens, my travels. All seen through the filter of myself, trying to be as objective as all that went into making subjective me allows.
The latest pieces, pulled from time spent working in Seattle, from some beautiful snapshots of geraniums in a harbour in Tacoma, were worked on quickly, two at a time, totally engaged with in, if I am honest, a kind of desperate fear of the operation dominating my future. Totally immersed, my working method frightened my partner as I ended exhausted by full eight-hour painting days. Her fear stoked too by my reworking my will, putting ‘my affairs in order’, apparently not uncommon when people approach their third anaesthetic episode in a year.
The exhibition has been a welcome target taking my mind off the forthcoming operation to remove bit of my innards. In the studio pain and discomfort disappear. Producing enough work to have a show of completely new work has resulted in a series of flower paintings in which colour has an intensity that will fill the gallery with light. You can see them all in the Gallery here if you can’t come to the show – click on each to see in detail. You can buy online too – it keeps me in paints. It is not just flowers either – the wave series is still coming through together with a series of prints made from imagery gathered as I have travelled.
Come to the Crypt Gallery between the 15th and 22nd October and meet me (I will be there until the 19th, in hospital on the 20th) and revel in the colour. My painting is an expression of my faith in life, and reflects the vitality of life in Seaford. Even flowers follow rules.
Follow my studio progress on Facebook (though there will be nothing happening there until after the operation
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