Sixteen artists from the Artel Group will be exhibiting their work in the Oxmarket, Chichester from 14 August to 26 August excluding Mondays. The exhibition is promising to be both interesting and intriguing, each artist having a completely different approach to our subject, Elemental. Several disciplines of art will be displayed and I am looking forward to curating the show as part of a small team from Artel.
My own work will take the form of an installation of paintings and (space permitting) some 2 dimensional paintings on the same subject.
Cookers and Kettles 1
Light Bulb Moment 1
Rigid Element 1
Finally, I have a permanent studio space. I have had ‘the spare room’, a shared studio space at Unity Studios in Chichester, a fabulous (but rather expensive) studio in Lavant all to myself and the most grotty space on a smallholding in Almodington. Finally I have a dedicated studio space at home. It is wonderful.
Dry studio space
At one end I have my capacious plan chest, which has been with me for nearly thirty years and indeed was my studio for many years. This is the ‘dry studio’, where I do clean work like mount cutting or any of my spinning or textile work.
I have been working on a new body of work during 2017. It is informed by my previous studies of interiors: in particular, Oaklands Park House, Turner’s House and Pallant House.
I have deconstructed drawings of the hallways and reassembled them in abstract paintings. Repetition comes through the work, picking up another theme, which has been evident in my abstract paintings.
So Different was the first in this series.
I am Stretched
The Last Day
Pallant Green 1
Pallant Green 2
Leaving Crow’s Hall Farm
It’s the end of an era for me having packed up my studio in Lavant, which was very generously proportioned and a luxury I couldn’t perpetuate. Here it is looking very sad with no paintings on the wall and everything packed away.
Lavant Studio – all packed up
Lavant Studio – all packed up
A new studio!
Fear not! I have a new (smaller/cheaper) studio in Almodington. It is closer to home and I won’t have to cross the dreaded A27 to get to it (phew!). The new studio is still being prepared but the move has physically taken place now. It has been a timely opportunity to review my work (and find some of it!). I have cleared some of the old work, sold one or two pieces and am ready to think about future work.
My painting practice has had several months of interruption now but I have continued with drawing interiors, mainly at Pallant House. Stairs, doorways and now chandeliers are at the heart of my interest. The subject is still centred on transition and Janus – the Roman god who looks both ways. Staircases offer a great opportunity for looking at the space you are leaving and the space you are about to enter.
Details from staircase at Pallant House
From my sketchbook
My teabag project continues (more information on this in earlier posts) and has been another source of practical work whilst the, surprisingly lengthy, packing up of my studio took place.
Having been utterly blown away by William Kentridge’s stunning Thick Time exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, I am severely prompted to think about how I can make my own teabag project stimulate all the senses.
A return to Painting
I am so looking forward to returning to painting after this enforced ‘paint fast’. I can’t wait to get organised so that I can wallow in some paint again.
It’s been a couple of months since I gave an update on the Teabag Diary project. I now have 4 months worth of dried teabags and 6 jars of dried tea. These were collected from our tea-drinking at home, at the studio and also when camping.
Today I was able to get my original Teabag Diary (1999) out of storage and take some photographs of it. The piece(s) is very fragile. It is also a lot smaller than in my memory. I thought it was quite a project at the time of doing it.
Tea stains on muslin, applied to paper with double sided adhesive tape
Teabag Diary 1999
I can now see that it was a ‘good start’ but needed progressing further. Seventeen years later is rather a wait, but I am happy to have embarked on a new Teabag Diary: ‘A Year of Drinking Tea’. I shall soon be trying to find a suitable location to display the work(s).
To return to my original tea bag diary, I was disappointed at how the double sided tape had discoloured so badly. On a positive note at least the staining does not clash with the tea stains – rather they may enhance them. Lesson learned on using the wrong materials however! I also used masking tape to join the sheets of backing paper. Why on earth did I not find some suitably sized paper in the first place? I have executed a couple of small repairs just to hold the sheets in place but I need some advice on how I can preserve the work for the future.
It is interesting to note that both projects are about ‘time’. The diaries create a record of how much tea we drank in a day (for the 1999 diary) and by the month in the current diary.
My original plan for the current diary was to keep each month’s collection of tea bags separate. In practise I have done this for the loose tea collected from the bags and our teapots. Once I had decided to stitch the empty tea bags together, I made the judgement that I would need quite a few months’ worth of teabags in order to make a ‘statement’
As I am in the process of packing up my Lavant Studio, I am keeping my stitched teabags as modules of 2, 4 and 6. This means that they can still be stored flat very easily and won’t be damaged. I laid out the modules which have been stitched already onto a board to get an idea of how much more I might need to do and to see the impact that the teabags make. Not all bags are exactly the same size so the piecing of the teabags will be quite tricky for the final piece.
Future Art Practice
The teabag diary does not replace my painting and drawing practice, but sits alongside it. It is not my first venture into recording the waste products of daily domestic life. I have also unearthed a series of photos the I took on a daily basis (probably 2004) of the waste peelings and probably teabags from my daily food preparation. Yet again, the work is about the passage of time and the evidence of the household consumption. We were a bigger household then, with two daughters living at home too.
I have taken the opportunity to re-visit a project I did back in 1998: a teabag diary. I still have the piece, which records on a small square of muslin, each day’s tea stains from used teabags. The study demonstrated that on days when we were out for most of the time we had fairly clean muslin. By contrast, we had deeply stained muslins on days when we had visitors or life was a bit OTT.
I find the quality of paper used in teabags, very tactile and appealing. The staining from the, mostly redbush, tea that I now drink, is beautiful.
The New Teabag Diary Project:
I dry the teabags and then cut out the tea, saving the empty bags. For what purpose? The amount of ‘waste’ tea is fascinating and accumulates daily, in jars in my kitchen. The sheer quantity of tea that just two of us are consuming is surprisingly high. The empty teabags beg to be stitched together in a quilt form and so I join together pairs of bags from each day’s harvest of teabags. Perhaps a quilt will follow.
sewing empty teabags together
I think that, by publishing this, I now have a prod to persuade me to continue this project alongside my continued painting practice.
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.
Open Studios have got off to a slow start, but I’ve had some interesting conversations so far. Come and see my latest paintings.
The second weekend of the art trail was even slower – not just for me but for other artists that I spoke to. I am starting to question if this is a good investment of 5 days when the turnout is reducing and is so subject to the weather. The second Sunday was very hot and Chichester was gridlocked with people queueing to get onto the Witterings road.
6 Jan 16 Drawing by Candlelight
Dark evenings offer artists the opportunity of being able to work in a very different light, candlelight. With very little light, many objects in my still life become very simple shapes. The careful positioning of four candles created unusual darks and lights. With very little light, I found that I had to really ‘look’. Not only could I not see the still life with any clarity, but my drawing was hard to see, too. This resulted in a much looser drawing. Everyone enjoyed the experience and so I shall do this again. Drawing by Candlelight workshops could be offered in November and December 2016.
After three sessions of drawing we each made a five minute drawing from memory, based on the whole evening’s observations.
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!
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).:
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.