I’m Back!

Acrylic on panel

It’s been a year and two months since my last post, I have a condition called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, but was lucky enough to get on the transplant list and was given a left lung transplant in June this year. It has been a slower recovery process than I anticipated but I have been drawing regularly and the image above “September Evening, at Chapel St. Leonards” and is the first painting I have completed since the transplant. I live by the coast, I have for the past 30 years, and so I have used imagery and memories that were close at  hand to research and draw upon. A few friends have had beach huts here and I have enjoyed many good days with them on the beach. The image below “Beach Huts, Chapel St. Leonards” is the second completed from a series of six I will complete.

Acrylic on panel.

Hope you enjoy them and if you have any comments about the work would love to hear from you. Both images are Acrylic on panel and measure 50cm x 50cm.

In the New year I have plans for two exhibitions in 2020 and a couple of Open Studio events, so keep looking in for info or indeed follow me and I will keep you up to date.

In Search of the Purple Fish.

“In Search of the Purple Fish”.

A contemporary sculpture and assemblage.

Purplefish_06

“Our English word purple comes from Latin purpureus, which comes from Greek porphyra, a noun denoting the purplefish. This sea mollusk, properly the purple limpet or murex, was the source from which all purple and red dyes were obtained in antiquity. But the purplefish had another name in ancient Greek, namely kalche, and from this word was derived a verb and a metaphor and a problem for translators. The verb kalchainein, “to search for the purplefish,” came to signify profound and troubled emotion: to grow dark with disquiet, to seethe with worries, to search in the deep of one’s mind, to harbour dark thoughts, to brood darkly”(1).

I first came across the term “in search of the Purple Fish” in Anne Carson’s book Float. In the section “A Right to Remain Silent” the text varies slightly but the explanation and source is what started this piece of work. I think it was the idea of a colour expressing the depth of ones thought that appealed to my painterly intuitions.

“Tyrian purple may first have been used by the ancient Phoenicians as early as 1570 BC. The dye was greatly prized in antiquity because the colour did not easily fade, but instead became brighter with weathering and sunlight. Its significance is such that the name Phoenicia means ‘land of purple.’ It came in various shades, the most prized being that of “blackish clotted blood”. (2)

It is also an idea that has always accompanied humanity, that introspection, as we seek to understand ourselves and our place in community, society, nation and the world. Something the greatest minds have laboured with; that artists have explored, composers and musicians come so close to touching and although it is something which I cannot explain or answer it is a joy to have that sense of being that the search stimulates.

About the Work: like most of my work the initial idea springs from a simple or small intuition or recognition of something which is outside the normal perspective or meaning of an object or text, something I see differently.

This piece began with the piece of dead wood which reminded me of outstretch arms (see below), but it became someone crucified, when a family member found the piece of wood that became the crucifix, but although I use the term crucified it has nothing to do with crucifixion but the idea that most things are on a spectrum, when it comes to ideas nothing is precise the placing of the outstretched arms halfway between the cross and the base, it is whether the idea is worthy of raising up to the top with merit or lowering to the base to be lost.

outstretched arms

But this was a search for the “purplefish” and so I wanted something to make that journey on so I created something that reminded me of the bridge of the “Star Ship Enterprise” that bold went forth to explore the universe. (below).

flightdeck_detail

The old fashioned chair on the flight deck is taken from a painting by Van Gogh which has his pipe and tobacco on it, a whim on my part and a nod to my painterly self. Also I heard the painting of the simple rustic chair as Van Gogh’s homage to the poorer and overlooked in our society.

Below the top deck is a section which is loaded with pebbles (see image below), that the figure in the piece is collecting this is a reference to all the personal opinions, grudges, biases, loves, affinities both good and bad that we gather through life and influence how we look at others. These are important ideas that we use to be who we are but can sometimes hold us back from seeing what is really before us.

flightdeck_detail 01

The final part of the work is the light which is in a Perspex ring case which is guilded (roughly, I did not want perfection) and painted with a transparent purple paint. The light is connected to a PIR motion sensor so that it comes on automatically when anyone ids detected near to the work. It stays on for a minute then goes off but will come on again if anyone stays in the vicinity. The sensor can be seen in the image below in the crate being dragged from the sand.

detail_01

The light which can be seen in the image above, also shows the distressed guilding of the perspex casing.

light_01

I could spend a great deal of time explaining in more detail the meaning of the work but even when I who created the piece goes onto explain about the work I seem to loose the essence I saw when I was creating the work and hat I feel when I look at the work now so I will stop here, adding only that I like the idea that as long as the light continues to come on humanity continues to exist, unless of course it is not a person that triggers the light but the cat!

(1) Anne Carson – from “Variations on the Right to Remain Silent” from A Public Space, Issue 7 / 2008

(2) Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_purple

The Kindness of Strangers

“The Kindness of Strangers”

(An assemblage of wood, sand, bought and found objects, dimensions in cm.: W26 x D30 x H43)

This work began life as a piece about place, there was two reasons for this. Firstly a curiosity about the influence place has on who we are and secondly the object that started the piece on which the glass bowl is held is a holder for a mobile phone to use it as a Sat Nav. in a car, which I bought but it turns out I didn’t need it.

There is a theory and idea with which I have sympathy that we are very much shaped by the landscape and environment in which we develop, but the more I looked at this and my own feelings it was not so much the landscape that shaped me but the other people I met in those landscapes. Especially those who have been many who have shown me a great deal of kindness and support in many ventures I have undertaken.

So the work is about my journey, all the places I have been to that are prominent in my memory, but not just place names, names of buildings, descriptions of places without names and of some of the people I have met. It is like life is a mechanism that has been churning out events and circumstances I have responded to and they have influence the places I have gone to or lived in.

However the more I got into the piece I discovered that the places that most readily came to mind were places where I remember meeting someone who influenced me, and so on the back of some of the place name in the glass bowl is a record of who that person was. The one that springs most readily to my mind frequently even today after about fifteen years was a meeting with a priest in Padua, Italy.

I was visiting Venice and on a day trip to Padua to look at the paintings in one of its famous churches saw that there was notices everywhere to say there was no photography permitted.  Not a problem I enjoyed the paintings and in the afternoon went to view some paintings in another church.  I was walking round the church with my camera hanging around my neck and this priest came up to me pointing at the camera, I hastily babbled “Non” “Non” which the sophisticated amongst you will realize is French, the only two Italian words I knew were “Si” and “grazie”. Anyway I kept trying to make this priest understand I was not taking photographs, without much success because he kept going on at me, he obviously did not speak English, and I did not have a phrase book.  This seemed to go on for a long period which was probably only about seven or eight minute but when you seem to be at loggerheads with someone it is a long time. Anyway after the said eight minutes in desperation the priest took my camera in his hand and proceeded to take photographs saying Si Si! At last the penny dropped and what he had been trying to tell me for the past eight minutes was that it was OK to take photographs in this church. What struck me was that having decided to do me a kindness despite the language barrier and my lack of common sense he persevered until I understood, most would have given up after about a minute.  A small kindness but always remembered.

It is like life is a mechanism that has been churning out events and circumstances I have responded to and they have influence the places I have gone to or lived in.  In 2013 I was diagnosed with something called Pulmonary Fibrosis (it has a broad range of outcomes) and so the timepiece is indicative of the finite time we all have. But what I realized making the work is how little towns, countries and places influenced me and how much people have.

Chicken Run

Like many artists out there, I have a studio that can basically be described as a big shed. Which can be cold and damp and even with a heater is still damp, this is not conducive to the prosperity of my lungs who harbour a condition known as IPF.

So in this recent spell of inclement weather, I have remained in the house painting and drawing with acrylics and pastels. Why chickens, I don’t know, I have always liked drawing and painting animals and this is my first go at chickens. Looking forward to summer or just warmer weather and getting on with some other pieces I have in the pipeline.

The works are all mixed media of acrylic and pastel on paper and measure 40.5 cm x 38cm.

Homage to the “ordinary” life.

The Meadows of Asphodel, Maggie Louise.

Maggie LouiseThe Meadows of Asphodel, Maggie Louise. (Oil on Canvas, 41cm x 33cm)

About Maggie Louise: I came across the image below in The Times newspaper in March 2009, it was in an article by Helen Rumbelow about what can be the downside of Government intervention. Maggie was born more than 90 years ago the daughter of a tenant cotton farmer in the American south during the depression. A poet name John Agee was given an assignment by a New York magazine to get some “poverty-porn” for it’s well-heeled readers, the resulting book produce was “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”.

Maggie Louise

The original image from “Let us Now Praise Famous Men” from which I created the painting.

Maggie Louise was a bright girl and did well at school despite having to pick cotton to help support the family and had dreams to achieve things that would take here out of poverty. The cotton industry was failing at the time and instead of letting it collapse the government bailed it out with cash and one effect of this was to keep the tenant farmers in poverty. 50 years later another journalist Dale Maharidge went back to the area to see what had happened to the families and produced the Pulitzer prize-winning book “And Their Children After Them”. Maggie Louise had not been able to continue at school and had married at 15 and quickly became a young mother. At the age of 45 heartbroken to watch her own daughters having to do the same as she did as a child picking cotton, went out to a local hardware store, bought a bottle of rat poison and sat down and drank it committing suicide.

My interest in the image. We all have tragedy in our lives at sometimes, but I am often struck by how fortunate I have been, and the difficulty of the human existence lived by the vast number of the “ordinary” folk of humanity. This has always been something I have been drawn to. This is not to decry the heroic of this world but perhaps elevate the “ordinary” in lived lives to be the amazing thing it is.

This work is one which documents an ordinary but difficult life and is my little effort in praise of the “ordinary” and I hope that Maggie is content in the “Meadows of Asphodel”

The Meadows of Asphodel: in Greek legend the place where ordinary souls pass the afterlife.

AsphodelAsphodel Flowers.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives Homer as the source for the English poetic tradition of describing the meadows of the afterlife as being covered in Asphodel. In the translation by W. H. D. Rouse, the passage in question (from The Odyssey, Book 11) is rendered, “the ghost of clean-heeled Achilles marched away with long steps over the meadow of Asphodel.” In Book 24 in the same translation, the souls of the dead, “came to the Meadow of Asphodel where abide the souls and phantoms of those whose work is done. “Homer describes the experience of the dead souls and relates the meadow to its surroundings in these books and in Circe’s brief description at the end of Book 10. Asphodel flowers growing in the underworld is an idea that may predate Homer’s writings. (Source Wikepedia).