“Heaven and Earth, Implicated”.

“Heaven and Earth, Implicated”. Acrylic on Canvas,
Image: 75 x 110 x 3 (cms), Frame: 81.5 x 116.5 x 4.5 (cms)

I have dabbled in poetry for donkey’s years but never created anything that struck me as worthy, but this following piece I wrote recently (its merit I admit debatable), however I liked it and it gave rise to this painting.

I have always admired this painting, “The Kiss” by Max Ernst, in some of his work he would
throw pieces of string or rope onto a grid and transfer the shapes with the use of a grid to his canvas and make images using the random shapes provided but that was his base he would always select and amend the random as we can all do with life’s random events.

So this is the process I used to create the work but instead of using string I used a video of a starling murmuration, I stopped the video in numerous places but eventually selected three images and traced the lines around the shapes the murmuration made. When I arrived at the next stage I found that the two I used gave me what I wanted, and after a little manipulation found a linear image that interested me. (See photos below).

The murmuration images.
The process to the final linear image which reminded me of a landscape but also strongly of somewhere safe.

In the final image the element seeming to guard the smaller entity but he is looking out beyond it, This world is an amazing place but it does not safeguard you, there are catastrophic natural disasters, pandemics, etc.. This current pandemic had no place in the creation of this work but is perhaps apposite, but it could so “easily” be a safer haven. It is as people we define heaven, which can mean many things to different people but we could also do better there which is why I find both “Heaven and Earth, implicated”, but I also find so much hope for the future.

It was Fate, that brought me here ………

moirai_web

Fate: The Three Moirai.

Oil on Canvas, with found watch dials and sand built into the frame, Image size: 49,5 x 39.5cms., Fame size: 69.5 x 51 x 5cms. Completed January 2020, inscribed bottom left, signed on the land the tangle eft side of the canvas on stretcher frame.

The Moirai were three ancient Greek Goddesses who embodied the destiny and fate of everyone. They were Klotho, the spinner who spun the thread of life, Lahkesis who allotted the portion and Atropos who cut it short.

The three ribbons in the work allude to each of these facets of life and the tangle we struggle with daily. The spheres are symbols of life and living, and whilst much of the time I feel in control of my destiny the more I look back the more I see how much chance and circumstances play in our lives. Some choices we make will be successful and seem to be made completely by our will but they are also dictated by the circumstances around us at the time, and at other times it seems we cant achieve or get to where we want to be because of circumstances beyond our control.

in a few parts of the image the ribbons purposely do not follow the correct visual path and seem to go through what should be the solid vertical stripes of the background.

On a personal level I have never really had a destination or sacred achievement in mind for my life, just seem to enjoy the journey, but it is extremely important to me in my own way to try to leave the world a slightly better place than when I arrived all be it in a small way, and it will be a small way!  Sometimes when I see what is going on in the world I wonder if making art is a positive contribution, but this world is a wonderful place, so I keep trying. I am aware that for a great many people this is not the case but when I think about the complexity of the natural world with its diversity of species, the ability of man to create history through language and learning, (animals don’t have histories), and to develop the world though politics, this world, this universe never ceases to amaze me, and the very fact that I exist, given the random nature of reproduction over generations never mind the last three or four millennia or many generations is remarkable and able to contemplate this world and universe is something that inspires me. The world I aspire to better is more than just the physical world but the world as imagined by all humanity, how we see and deal with each other, how we see the universe, who decides what we are taught, how : and annotated by humanity. Making sense of this imagined world is what interests me and inspires me to make work.

These seems like “grand ideals” but they are in fact just life.

About the Work: The work is oil on canvas in a handmade frame with old pocket watch dials built into the top of the frame, the first of which I found on the beach nearby. Time is a human construct and has to pass for the “Fates” to act so the hands there are no hands the dials, there are four hands on the bottom left of the frame hinting at different timescales as to how and when things occur. In the painted image there are a few parts where the ribbons purposely do not follow the correct visual path and seem to go through what should be the solid vertical stripes of the background.

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).

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 🙂