A return to Chichester Festival Theatre Residency drawings

Observational drawings from CFT

Observational drawings from CFT


After a period of reflection (and recovery) after completing my MA last September I am making a return to CFT drawings, which resulted from my residency at Chichester Festival Theatre. The stimulation of imagery and architecture were quite overpowering at the time. I had to focus quite closely on the exhibition at the Minerva and on my degree show and so I had to ignore much resource material. I am now taking the opportunity to return to it as I prepare for a new period of painting. The Foyer continues to attract me visually and I have completed a ‘medley’ of small drawings which are 20 x 20cm.
A medley of small drawings from CFT residency

Minerva Exhibition

Minerva exhibition
Minerva Theatre Exhibition
The MA is now complete, the degree show has finished, all stewarding is finished and the work has come down. For me, I still have paintings on display in an exhibition, which has been so expertly mounted by Sophie Shaw and Harriet Rose in the foyer of the Minerva. I have two drawings and five paintings on display, showing some of the work completed during my residency, focusing on the production, The Rehearsal.
Minerva exhibition
One of the paintings on display is the one which I started in the Foyer of the main theatre, and shows the place which Luna had described to me as being a special place for her. You can find this painting immediately to the left of the Minerva Box Office.
Minerva exhibition
I am very proud to have my work shown in this prestigious location and I am endebted to the theatre and my MA tutor Dr Shirley Chubb, for their support and encouragement.
Come and see some Chekhov at the Minerva and see the exhibition for yourself.

MA Degree Show and CFT Residency exhibition

MA FINE ART invitation (FI). jpeg

Two years of study are coming to fruition in The Imaginary and the Real exhibition in artOne. The show is fantastic and not to be missed. I am very proud to be part of this cohort of MA students.

For me, I also have my body of directly theatre-inspired work on display at the Minerva from Thursday 10 September until 14 November. Come and see how this collaboration between the theatre and the university has resulted in an entirely new body of work.

Getting ‘edgy’

Different Drums - work in progress

Different Drums – work in progress


With a week to go until the MA deadline I’m definitely getting edgy. The final two paintings for the show are shown above ‘in progress’. A scary moment! Is this really the end of the course? Relief and sadness combine together. But all this emotion is too premature. The paintings need to be prepared for exhibiting first. I’ve debated with myself long and hard whether or not to paint the edges of the paintings. I had intended to leave the marks of making on the sides. However, I couldn’t deny that they were a distraction. The work is not going to be framed and so I reluctantly started the process of painting the edges. I didn’t want white for the abstract paintings as this would detract from the colour of the images. Where I had graduated coloured grounds to work with, this means choosing whether to go with the lighter tone or the darker. I’ve always gone for the darker, to somehow ‘ground’ the piece against the wall. A bigger problem is to get the edges painted and dry in time to be able to pick the paintings up and move them around. I can only complete two large paintings at a time as I need to lay the paintings on their backs on tables to reach (and see!) the edges clearly. One slip of the brush and I could ruin a painting!
Watching paint dry!

Watching paint dry!


To go back a stage, to the paintings themselves – I have made a transition in my work, moving more fully into abstraction and, I realise, into something more performative. I had experimented with the idea of symmetry, which has come across so clearly to me from working in the newly refurbished CFT, where an asymmetrical Foyer has become symmetrical. Even the staircases are known as Stage Right and Stage Left. In this painting I added marks to the canvas on the basis of what I add to the right I will add to the left (I have since turned the painting through 90 degrees).:
Symmetry

Symmetry


It was a liberating experience. I didn’t want an exact mirror image so my repetitions were diagonally opposite and altered in colour or size etc to keep the painting interesting. I feel that it needs editing further – it is either too busy or not busy enough. What it has done for me is to introduce a new way of working and from this experiment, the content of my degree show has been made. I kept the same palette (magenta, cerulean and lemon) as I had been using for the earlier paintings from The Rehearsal. I now have two bodies of work, one, which I will exhibit at CFT, with direct and recognisable links to the production The Rehearsal and another, which represents development into the body of work for my degree show.

Studio time

I am in the last stages of my MA now and am busy preparing for my exhibition at the university in September. I need a coherent body of work, which will look good hanging together. I have been using some standard sizes and thicknesses of canvases for a while now, all beautifully made and primed by Sophia Alexander-James. This means that I will be able to choose from the latest paintings, knowing that the canvases won’t be a distraction.
This is the space I work in – it is rather messier now as I am working much more with canvases on the floor and pouring and splashing paint

artOne studio

artOne studio


At the end of June I had painted “We’re Supposed to be Rehearsing”
Rehearsal 4

Rehearsal 4


This painting has some good qualities but I am unhappy with the area to the right and may yet attempt to resolve this. July has seen me ‘mining’ this painting for new paintings and in particular using a heightened version of the colour palette. I am not ready to show these paintings until the degree show (my equivalent of Press Night) but I could reveal some snippets
Rehearsal (detail)
Distant Stage detail
Alongside the practical studio work I am drafting my 2000 word statement on my latest work and I am beginning to prepare for my seminar, which has to be given to my tutors and others on 8 September – not far off now!

RSC Residency – Susan Stockwell

I visited Stratford at the weekend and saw Susan Stockwell’s installations at the RSC. She is nearing the end of her one year residency at the RSC. I was particularly interested to see her work. Not only is she a very successful artist, but she was my sculpture tutor at Farnham and she progressed my thinking about sculpture significantly.
The Paccar Room was open, where Susan has made a smaller installation based on Sail Away, which was in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

Sail Away RSC Susan Stockwell

Sail Away RSC Susan Stockwell


Sail Away RSC Susan Stockwell

Sail Away RSC Susan Stockwell


Susan’s work is about trade and maps and the use of much handled currency for the sails of the boats is entirely appropriate.
See the University of East London’s video to see Susan making boats for the installation
Sea Markings
The site specific installation of sails above the foyer cafe is very powerful and again Susan has used second hand (much used) sails and also she made some sails out of used commodity sacks
Sea Markings RSC Susan Stockwell

Sea Markings RSC Susan Stockwell


Sea Markings RSC Susan Stockwell

Sea Markings RSC Susan Stockwell


I love the way that you can see a tiny person sat at a table in the cafe in this photo.

As for my own work, I am working intensively in my studio now preparing for my finals (late August) and the MA the degree show starting on 9 September in artOne.
I shall post some snippets of my work soon.

Painting in the Foyer

Today was the day to paint in the foyer at CFT. I wanted to re-engage with being in the theatre as I have spent June in the studio and on the final lectures and tutorials of my MA at the University of Chichester. As ever, Sophia Alexander-James was there to help me with the lifting and carrying and setting up and clearing away. She also makes and primes my canvases, which osteoarthritis prevents me from doing myself. I have no strength in my thumbs and wrists. Even drawing or any other fine movements with my hands can be painful. Sophia also filmed the painting session for me on a video camera. I also tried an experiment, to use my i-Pad to take a time-lapse video, which was successful for a few seconds and then something interrupted the filming and when it re-started, hilariously, the lens was facing in the opposite direction to where I was. I am able to find it amusing, only because of what it actually recorded. The flickering light on the tables and chairs and the wind blowing the foliage outside is truly beautiful. What a bonus!
Here is the link to see the video. https://vimeo.com/user25569393

Painting in the Foyer 7.7.15

Painting in the Foyer 7.7.15


Painting in the Foyer 7.7.15

Painting in the Foyer 7.7.15


And here is what I was painting:
Painting in the Foyer 7.7.15

Painting in the Foyer 7.7.15


This is only the start of a painting. There is much more work to do.
I also had a warm-up time before starting on this painting on a much smaller canvas, working from some earlier drawings.The painting is visible on the floor behind me in the first photo.
Painting in the Foyer 7.7.15

Painting in the Foyer 7.7.15


I used acrylic paint on both canvases, not my usual choice for painting, but working in oils on location is not very practical. The issues I have with acrylic paint are that mostly, the pigment is much less dense and dries very flat looking. This is fine for underpainting. Acrylic paint dries very quickly and I struggled at times this morning with the paint ‘setting’ before I had finished putting it on. On the second (square) canvas I painted water onto the canvas first to help with the drying time. I always use acrylic medium too as this helps with the loss of brightness of colour as the paint dries.
Here is the link to the time-lapse video of me painting in the Foyer:
https://vimeo.com/132906147
This is the painting after editing and re-working in the studio, using oil paint. There may be further changes too.
Meeting with Luna

Meeting with Luna

Feeding the inner artist

A trip to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition was the start of my day in London. Jim Lambie’s installation on the staircase up to the Wohl Central Hall was amazing:
ZOBOP by Jim Lambie
I was excited to see Pippa Blake‘s painting The Rehearsal, which resulted from her residency with CFT, observing Pitcairn.

The Rehearsal by Pippa Blake

The Rehearsal by Pippa Blake


Check out Pippa’s website for a better photograph than mine!
Oh, and did I mentioned that I was overcharged by 49p when I spent a penny in Victoria Station? 50P!!! It makes you want to get your money’s worth.
Visiting exhibitions is such a good opportunity for artists to step away from their own work and see what other artists are doing or have done in the past. It may seem like a luxury but I see it as essential nutrition for the working artist, even if you stumble on some junk food on the way.
The Sonia Delaunay exhibition at Tate Modern was equally rewarding. I had no idea of the scale of some of her work. Seeing someone’s work only in books can be so misleading. Her devotion to colour ticked all my personal boxes too. By contrast Agnes Martin‘s paintings use colour but at the most subtle level and seeing the two exhibitions on the same day was very interesting. I noted that there were not many men looking around the Sonia Delaunay – but rather more in the Agnes Martin exhibition. Draw your own conclusions.

“We’re supposed to be rehearsing”

Dress Rehearsal of The Rehearsal

Dress Rehearsal of The Rehearsal


This is the second new painting based on the above drawing from The Rehearsal’s dress rehearsal. The title is a quote from Lucile at the beginning of Act 2 “…we’re supposed to be rehearsing”
I’ve used magenta and a blue-green as they complement one another and blue-green was the colour of Niamh Cusack’s costume.
Rehearsal 4

Rehearsal 4


Rehearsal 4

Rehearsal 4


Rehearsal 4

Rehearsal 4


I wanted to echo the use of coloured filters in lighting, by using thin glazes of coloured paint to build a depth of colour.This painting has a stillness which reflects the stillness of the theatre before a rehearsal – no actors and no audience. This painting will be a resource for future paintings for my MA. The next paintings in this series will be based on my experience of being in CFT and drawing on the concepts which have occupied my attention as a result of being involved with the theatre. These are: repetition (rehearsals) mirroring, the scale of marks, stage left, stage right and symmetry. I also want to use this palette, perhaps emphasising some of the colours to create more drama in the paintings. I also need to become less representational in the work I produce, in order to meet the proposals that I have made about my painting in my MA.