Written musings on making art and the results. Life in the slow lane.
Images for sale, both unique artworks and limited editions.
J.S. Mill said in effect freedom is the ability to challenge the rules, the grid of laws and social convention. As artists we should challenge, change, innovate not conform to other expectations. The grid of galleries, art market and critics are not the arbiters of quality but a reflection of a reality unrelated to art, a reality of exploitation and control, of money. Our grid is different.
My Verdun Triptych has now found a new home in a local public school, and there’s a story behind this dating back to the 1970’s. When I complete my degree course I was upset to be handed the application forms for a posts-graduate teaching course. This seemed like a...
For me as an outsider it is enough to sit and enjoy being a part of a vibrant community. Outsiders refer to Seaford as a deprived seaside town. We may not have many folk driving Bentleys (although there are one or two) and we may not boast large company headquarters, but we are still a thriving community. Surrounded by National Park, adjacent to the Seven Sisters we enjoy our town.
In my ‘declining years’ I have found a place to belong.
It’s a wonderful town, we all know that. My first visit, as a young artist and college lecturer, was on Laker’s Skytrain from Manchester, £99 return for the US independence bicentennial celebrations in 1976. I took hundreds of images of skyscrapers and made my money back with a mini lecture tour of groups in Lancashire showing the slides. Just recently I discovered I wasn’t the first of my family circle to visit the city nor to collect images of it.
To those demonstrators who littered tons of rubbish on London streets as ‘environmental protest’ I say shame on you, don’t expect government’s magic wand to absolve you of responsibility. You littering hypocrites – your penance should be to collect an amount of rubbish from hedgerows and beaches where you live equal to that you dumped on our streets. Look hard at how you use our world. Change will only come from all of us making individual changes. Government has already made significant alteration to our national emission pattern but really, most of it now is down to you and me.
There is so much complexity and sensitivity in Nash’s work. The work builds on a relationship with the land, with Ffestiniog, and is rooted deeply in the past as well as reflecting an individual delight in materials and the workings of the natural environment. Nash is claimed as a minimalist in some writing. For others he belongs in the school of ‘Land Artists’. For me he has the mysticism characteristic of the Welsh, but above all he is an environmentalist, and in that sense very much a part of our future.
Where I wonder do service kids go today? I read that for example in the Royal Navy now most people own houses ‘off base’ giving their children stability but perhaps at the expense of the absence of a parent. Do service brats still suffer the dislocation of their parents postings? Is the struggle to retain trained manpower in the services still being exacerbated by poor service housing – the press reports seem to suggest so. Do the children of service families in the RAF and Army still face the choice of staying with the family or being sent to boarding school?
Scale is an important consideration in relation to the mark. I want to be able to put myself into the work and that means working with the whole body. As pieces get smaller so the ‘hinge’ around which the mark rotates changes. Small pieces use the wrist as the hinge, then it progresses to the elbow and with true scale the mark can be made from the shoulder increasing the vigour of application and pulling in the whole body to engage. I love large paintings like those Waterlilies of Monet which can engulf you as a viewer, so you don’t just spectate but are forced to engage within the piece, be absorbed by it, engulfed by the colour and emotion.
Much art, from the Renaissance onward, contains these hidden messages. When you buy a piece or look at a work in a gallery, look for hidden depths. Paintings are not all just decorative, but read in the light of their contemporaneous history can reveal meanings not immediately obvious – the immediately obvious usually being reserved for cartoons
Open your studio for visitors. Sound easy, doesn’t it? Ha! Sometimes there is hardly room for me to fit in between the piles of tape, open stretchers with rough cut canvas draped over them, dirty palettes, rolls of paper leaning in corners, three easels, unfinished or...
Just 16 houses around a Saxon church. Over thousand years of history seeming to slumber in the summer sun. England past and present. The pigeons cooed; the crows cawed. Sometimes time seems almost to stand still.
Close encounters with elephant, lions, hyenas, cheetahs and rhino amongst the ‘big five’ beasts, elephant shrew, lion ant and others in the ‘little five’ have all been enjoyed in touring Southern Africa. It has been at its heart a search for beauty and wilderness, gripping my artist’ soul. The last wildernesses lie in these lands of the San people, the earliest populated areas, birthplace of homo sapiens, with rock painting tens of thousands of years old. Africa has captured the heart of many, addicted others. I too am hooked.
As nature grows and responds to the seasons so too must I. It may be for urban artists the awareness of the rhythms of life are different, determined by their social engagement with the urb. However, the superbly violent thunderstorms of the other night were a reminder of the power of nature. Cities cannot ultimately protect from these elemental forces. Life in the Hive is an artificial construct maintained by an army of underpaid workers: the bubble is fragile.
“did the grid” of squares I have used for years, represent “the same mental repression I was criticising in the other artists’ work” she asked? This brought me up short. I have used the grid for many years, for many of which I was locked into a marriage that was loveless. I justified the grid in terms of it being a symbolic representation of the way politics and social rules distort and move the colour in individuals’ lives. Maybe it did indeed reflect a suppression of recognition my marriage was dead?
In my search for beauty (and remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder) I treasure what I see every day. My art is based on the images of my own landscape – my garden predominantly, including recently the everyday washing line. It is not limited to this area of course and I use photography to extract both detail in my garden but also from walks, tours, trips to other places.
All my paintings start from my enjoyment of my visual world, and the image stories I create and show on my Facebook page are as important an expression of this for me as the more formalised realisation of ideas in the studio. As to where I go from here only time and work will tell. The next peg paintings are on their way.
I continue to find beauty on my walks, the latest interest sparked by the colours of spring blossoms falling into the gutters around my small town of #Seaford. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but if artist are to regain their position in history as the visual priest/magicians of our world, then they need to give more than politically correct sloganeering or be condemned to a footnote in the dustbin of history
Those who were staff and students in the Bauhaus are known as ‘Bauhäusler’. The last leader of the crew was Mies Van der Rohe, appointed in 1930. Mies remained in Germany until civil architectural work dried up as the economy shifted onto a war footing, leaving in...
There are still ringers being recruited. There are always things to ring for. This great tradition has, as a result of the Ringing Remembers campaign, breathed new life into previously quiet towers. I look forward to the next year and the next challenges. First of which is to get my hands in the right place and not pull so hard!
Place: Kasbah Angour, Tahanaout, Nr. Marrakech, Morocco Type: 4-star Hotel Operator: Owner and Creator Paul Foulsham Web: www.Kasbahangour.com Date of Visit: March 2019 A man with a dream – no, a Yorkshireman with a dream. A geologist working for oil companies buys a...
As art and design courses are threatened by forces from either within or outside of their institution, they tend to curl inwards protectively. The advantage that Gropius and his successors had was that they ran an institution that was dedicated to the art, from architecture through to weaving. They understood and fostered lateral thinking and its role in creativity, innovation and design. They understood the relationship between disciplines. They were free of academic oversight and bureaucracy able to innovate, setting a lesson for other learning institutions.
Death of a Dream In looking back at how the Bauhaus influenced and guided my own artistic, design and teaching practice I have come to realise that in the UK the art colleges are dying. The students are as bright and clever as ever, but the system is inimical to the...
Albers used paints straight from the tube showing how colour against colour changed perception of each in juxtaposition. Seeing change in a stable situation suggested that change in life could be seen too when it seemed unchanging. As one critic remarks, when these painting appeared in the 1950’s it marked the end of the Bauhaus revolution. Revolution became evolution. However, the impact on late 20th century art college teaching sprang not just from his work at the Bauhaus but also his work in the US at the famous Black Mountain College after the Bauhaus was hounded out of Germany in 1933
The employment of so many artists injected creativity as the Bauhaus made a major influence in modernising the world of design in parallel with the revolution in political thought taking place. Quite ironic when you consider the radical form of German socialism that was to ultimately destroy it in the same way that Stalinist thought destroyed much of Russian artistic revolutionary activity
The Pre-Dip or Foundation course was not seen by them as a necessary diagnostic for young aspiring artists and designers but as a course without parallel in other disciplines and which required investment over and above that for the diplomas and degrees it serviced, forcing a constant battle of justification in an area that was the foundation of Gropius’ model. With over 45 different design and fine art disciplines to be fed now, it is surely even more necessary today than when introduced by Itten originally in the Bauhaus, especially given how little teaching is now delivered in our Universities.
For now, I am like a Greek god maliciously deleting houses, whole roads and communities, removing data as preparation for adding new information. In a sense I am priming the canvas, making ready to create a new mythology. I am changing the meaning of the map from map into a piece of artwork.
No “Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir” and the only stately galleons were the rain squalls sailing majestically up the Channel as I walk the shingle shore. Closer to the water the smaller stones glistened like “diamonds, emeralds, amethysts, topazes, and cinnamon,”. There wasn’t a “dirty British coaster” in sight, the closest to a “gold moidores” is the bright yellow of the Transmanche ferry reversing its way out of Newhaven harbour.
Part of the beautiful displays are the cabinets containing items discovered in the cabins of individuals. Skeletons recovered so far allowed facial reconstruction to show images adding the faces of the dead to their belongings in the display cases. My partner found this disconcerting, but for me it brought the spiritual presence, the ghosts of these men from Henry 8th’s navy, into the room. Their spirits haunt this stunning museum, reminders everywhere of them in the initials, even names, carved into the recovered dishes. It is intensely moving.
The campaign started a year ago with a target of 1400 new ringers. Out of the eye of national media, but noted by local press with enthusiasm, the Ringing Remembers campaign has been a stunning success both for the organiser and for the individuals like me who took...
artists use what they see or find around them as a starting point. Whether it is a wheat field by Van Gogh, a grass field by Wyeth, a picnic table by Caulfield or an unmade bed by Emin, artists take from what they see or experience and transform it into a reflection of their own world, whether mental angst, romanticised observation, simple memory, or sensual moments revisited to share with and to entrance an audience.