My time as Emerging Artist in Residence at CFT is part of a collaboration between the theatre and the University of Chichester’s Art Department. As an MA student approaching the last leg of her studies, I had to show my work to date for the final module in an Interim Crit with University Tutors and fellow MA students. Much of this work has been created in CFT and consists of drawings, some of which are exploratory and are perhaps preparation for paintings. Part of Interim Crit is to show the pieces of work that are significant to the development of my art practice within the MA programme. This has been a useful exercise for me, during this time of reflection on the material gathered so far at the theatre.
I made some notes on painted paper, about the issues that my time so far with the theatre have made me consider, both in relation to my practice as an artist in general and as a painter in particular. I shall put this ‘reminder’ list on the wall of my studio so that I can interrogate new work in relation to them. They do not represent rules as such, but I do want these elements to be evident in my current body of work.
Bringing light to a dark place is fundamental to the theatre and very much part of the magic of live performance, and so I have made studies where I start with a dark background and impose light areas or remove the darkness:
My palette has historically been light, colourful and even pastel. Bringing darker tones to my paintings has been a challenge for me.
Symmetry is very evident in the refurbished building of the main theatre, including in the Foyer area. Through collage and editing, I have taken two very similar drawings based on the stairs up to the auditorium, and played with the symmetry and mirroring which existed within them.
Repetition is an inevitable feature of the rehearsal process and eventually, the run of any show. I found the repetition of shapes within the set of The Rehearsal became magnified against the back wall of the stage,when the direction of the light source was changed. This was quite compelling. I am considering how repetition might be incorporated into my paintings.
I wanted to show Katherine Kingsley and Niamh Cusack very simply in my observational drawings of their rehearsals, whilst locating them within the intimate space of the Minerva.
By contrast I enjoyed the space surrounding Edward Bennett and Jamie Glover in this drawing, whereas there is a closeness and tension between them, in quiet conversation together.
On entering the theatre, any painter can find a multitude of subjects to work with. I have found the discipline of being forced to be selective in my gathering of material very helpful. The auditorium in particular presents so many areas of interest, even before the ‘set’ for the production is considered. The need for selectivity aligns with an approach that I have already introduced into some of my compositions, as in this painting from the Oaklands series.