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).

Nine Point Circle

Opus 6: Nine Point Circle

“Opus 6: Nine Point Circle!. There is no circle in this image but it was created because of a shearing effect determined by two of the points in “the Nine Point Circle” that can be found in every triangle.

Nine Point Circle

There is no circle visible in this work but the shearing of the triangle was made using two of the points from the nine point circle.

The Circle Explanation:

The nine point circle is a mathematical phenomenon sometimes referred to as Feuerbach’s Circle, Euler’s circle, Terquem’s circle. Every Triangle has within it and through it a nine point circle.

The nine-point circle is a circle that can be constructed for any given triangle. It is so named because it passes through nine significant concyclic points defined from the triangle. These nine points are:

  • The midpoint of each side of the triangle.
  • The foot of each altitude.
  • The midpoint of the line segment from each vertex of the triangle to the orthocenter (where the three altitudes meet; these line segments lie on their respective altitudes).200px-Triangle.NinePointCircle.svg

                     Feuerbach’s Circle

Not being a mathematician that’s the best I can do with the technical explanation. The  following are my thoughts on making the work.

My thoughts that gave birth to the work:

“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two extremities of darkness” this is the opening sentence from Vladimir Nabokov‘s book “Speak, Memory”.

Two paradox’s of my comprehension gave birth to this work and others in the “Opus” series. The first is the idea that the infinite behind me is the same as the infinite in front of me as I move from one to the other and the second is that as some scientists think time did not exist before the “Big Bang”, although theories change all the time. No pun intended!

The two extremities of darkness for me are both infinite, and the small crack of light that is my life I am moving through, so the infinity behind me should be getting bigger and the one in front of me smaller but I am told that the infinite is always the same so can the one behind me remains the same as I get further away from it, no matter how miniscule in the universal eternity that may be.

I am vaguely aware that some scientists say before the “Big Bang” time did not exist but I can’t comprehend that, before the “Big Bang” the entire matter that makes up the universe was supposedly the size of a pea, and in my mind no matter how small anything is it needs space to exist and if it exists there must be duration and so there was always what I would consider time.

Now at this stage many scientist’s and cosmologist’s will be tearing their hair out at my ramblings but these thought whether right or wrong give rise to my thoughts and imaginings and the universe is realized through the thoughts and imaginings of  humanity.

These paradox made me wonder therefore if the “Nine Point Circle” existed before the Big Bang or was the theoretical phenomenon of life born with the physical. In my mind they must always have existed, but then my mind doesn’t half come up with some strange and wild imaginings every now and then, so reader beware!

So here is the simple premise for the work, I created a random triangle which can still be seen, created the nine point circle and using two of the nine points sheared the triangle on those points and then moving out created the pattern which  I then painted. The spacing and colour in the work apart from the shearing distance are completely intuitive and so that aspect of the work mirrors the idea of the universe being imagined by humanity, whilst the pattern is the creation of something that has always existed  imagined by myself.

This is My Life 2017 “Projections”

This is My Life 2017 “Projections ” Exhibition opens at the Embassy Theatre this week.  The portraits were created by the students of Linkage Community Trust using digital projections and traditional painting techniques. There are 19 portraits in the exhibition and the work can be seen until the end of August.

It was a pleasure to work with the students and staff at the Spilsby Unit.

           

This is My Life, an exploration of barriers.

This is My Life, an art exhibition and event at the Embassy Theatre Skegness, opening the 21st of September 2016.

Your Invitation:

Open invitation to the opening of the Art Exhibition "This is My Life"

Your open invitation to the opening of the Art Exhibition “This is My Life”

About: This is my life is an art exhibition and event which seeks to explore all aspects of disability through the eyes of those who struggle with various conditions. Our hope through the exhibition is to help those who struggle with various conditions to build a “wee” bridge from their side of the gap which makes it easier for us all to enjoy life within our community. To do this, two artists myself and Jason Wilsher-Mills have been working with various groups to help people to create images and texts which reflect how they feel about their lives or there place in the community. This includes the family and friends of those living with the condition as they are also affected by circumstances. The work created in theses workshops will be shown at the Embassy Theatre Gallery alongside work by six prominent disabled artists in the exhibition “This is my Life”. The exhibition work of the six artists is curated by Shape Arts, a national organisation which promotes artists living with various disabilities. Sometimes within a system people talk to you, make notes, record details, which are important to create programs to help but it can seem that although you have been heard, no one is listening. This exhibition seeks to reintroduce the personal human experience back into the conversation. Some of the work may not seem profound in its imagery; the profundity is born in the maker how the work is made and the memories the image records.

What: The Exhibition of work will run from the 21st of September until the 12th of November and will be opened on the 21st of September at 2.00pm with a large digital projection of the work created in the workshops with Jason Wilsher-Mills, after the digital projection which will last approximately twenty minutes there will be a new performance work by the students of Linkage supported by Rhubarb Theatre which will last again approximately twenty minutes. After this Jason Wilsher-Mills will give a brief talk on the Disability Discrimination Act banner that he was commissioned to make for the Houses of Parliament where it is on permanent exhibition, a second copy of the banner will be on show during the exhibition.

The exhibition will then be officially opened.

Participants. The six artists in the exhibition are artists, Simon Raven, Jason Wilsher-Mills, Rachel Gadsden, Tom Shakespeare, Brigitte Mierau and Natalie Papamichael, who all face challenges

through various disabilities. (Individual artists details are given in the additional information notes). Alongside the work of these artists will be work created by students from Linkage working with Jason Wilsher-Mills and work created by sufferers and supporters from Lincolnshire’s Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Cafes and other groups working with artist Malcolm Tait.

The event has been generously funded by Arts Council England with strong support from Magna Vitae and The Embassy Theatre Skegness. Also crucial in producing this first event is Shape Arts who curated the exhibition and Rhubarb Theatre who supported the creation of the new performance work.

To view some of the work that will be on show at the exhibition go to our sister blog https://thisismylife.live/

See you there 🙂

 

The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers

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 was a holder for a mobile phone to use it as a Sat Nav., it turns out I didn’t need it.

So the work is about my journey, all the places I have been to that are prominent in my memory. 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. Such a small kindness but always remembered.

About two and a half years ago 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.

Other views can be found in Gallery 5: Making and Assemblage

Archimedean Spiral

Spiral

I have always been fascinated by the relationship between the precise formulae  that exist in the abstract world of mathematics and the imprecise way they translate into the natural or real world.

The spiral this image is based on can be described by the equation     is named after  the 3rd century Greek Mathematician Archimedes.

The original line for the spiral is taken from an exact computer linear drawing of the spiral but as I widened it to a central ball, the precision is lost as I create the image by hand. The sections in the image like the central ball are simply creative and intuitive processes as I build the image.

I wanted to incorporate natural spirals into the piece so as I live near the beach decided to use shell found on Anderby Creek beach. The work is framed in wood from an old palette which has been sanded down and waxed. The idea on how to incorporate the shells into the work comes from a Jasper John work  which has a target as the main image but four small cast heads are incorporated into the top of a similar frame structure.