Ingenious Pursuits

A new collective Ingenious Pursuits reflecting the hidden talents of makers in North Cornwall was a weekend event over the May bank Holiday.

The whole idea for the event was inspired and curated by friends Rich and Jane.  They own Jacques Cabin, a local company who make beautifully crafted furniture made from recycled woods in a myriad of colours.

Norton Barton farm, a developing business with food and creatives in mind was a perfect venue for this weekend event showcasing the cream of North Cornwall in terms of design. They added a great bar and food from the up and coming producers at Norton Barton.

I was very privileged to be a part of this event.  It was cleverly laid out in a big barn over two levels mixing everyone’s work together creating sets reflecting a home.

Two new paintings ‘Sunset over Lundy‘ and ‘Supernova‘ provided the core of my display along with some smaller originals and a selection of framed prints.

The standard of workmanship on the furniture and diversity was stunning and everything was enhanced by artwork from myself, Stephen Brownhill Photography, Merlyn Chesterman and  Katie Godden Green with beautiful contemporary lighting from Stuart Lamble Designs whilst Welcombe Pottery , Stone and Ocean and William Peers sculpture added a three dimensional element.

The furniture providing the backbones to the exhibition was stunning and visually beautiful in it’s contrast and style.  Exhibitors were the eclectic Jacques Cabin, Max Marshall , Pacha Design and Paul Anderson.

Castle exhibition ‘The Call of the Sea’ held in Bude

A very busy Spring and early summer with open studios. As  Baamfest workshop organiser and with other projects, my Castle exhibition, Bude in July was looming fast.  Painted almost entirely in two months, I fully immersed myself into my artwork.

Having the large studio at Wooda, gave me the space and time to bring this collection together with some very large finished pieces but also with some large sketchy vignette style paintings in mixed media.

Large paintings

Large pieces were supported by ink  and oilbar sketches. With so many different styles I thought it was going to be a nightmare  to hang, but I was very pleased with the result and after a very social preview where all the booze was drunk, over the following three weeks sold eight pieces of work 😊.

The remaining pieces will be available to view in the studio from next week on. I’m taking the weekend away to enjoy Port Eliot Festival. More news on this next week.

It wasn’t just the coastline that was tangled!

Seven weeks ago I thought I was going to have to call in past commissions and sold paintings to help make up the numbers for the exhibition at the Castle. The  Willoughby Gallery is a large space with lovely white walls and huge windows, but for the meantime this was just the back up plan.  I had to see how the next few weeks panned out.

I never saw myself as the temperamental artist, but the strong focus distorted my usual day to day life as the guilt of not pulling my weight at home against the pressure of time and sorting the tangle in my brain took over.  However what did really work for me was having the new fresh uncomplicated space at the barn studio.  It is impressively lofty and incredibly peaceful, so when there I could entirely focus on the job in hand.

Another dilema.. this isn’t supposed to be a job. I didn’t want to paint to please the public, but remain true to myself and paint what I felt but as someone pointed out, it’s a vocation and Graeme letting me use the space has helped me fulfill this and I DO KNOW how lucky I am. This deliberate stance to paint what I felt mattered to me at that moment meant there were lots of varied styles as well as different surfaces, sizes and framing and this all sort of came back and bit me on the bum when it came to hanging, but after four solo shows I’m getting the hang of it now.

What some might call pressure I think I might call, shutting off the world for moments; letting others take responsibility and allowing myself  the time to really focus the ideas; work out solutions and let new ideas breath and develop.  And boy did they come!  I have to say at this stage that my husband might not agree with this as I certainly put a ‘load’ on him, but it needed to be. I now understand the solitude of art practice and how the creative mind is so underused but also so vast if it’s allowed to breath.  It really felt like it was 75% of my brain in a very physical way.

It was still very important to me to get the full experience from my surroundings, so I was up some days with first light and out with the ink sketches which enables me to lose the unnecessary, but focus on the important structure of the painting and sift through the finer detail.  Having the ideas, I needed the studio space to work how ways of how to express what I saw and felt and each piece required a different approach for me which kept it fresh, lively and exciting. I used oil on board, acrylic like watercolour mixed with inks on canvas, bright flourescents,  lots of different mediums, sprays, rollers, sponges, and of course my hands.

The resulting exhibition was made up of over 20 originals, some ink sketches and a selection of my art prints.

Read more about this in following posts to come. Purposely omitted any pictures here. The words were too important.

Connecting Beach Rubbish to an Art Experience

Last year I joined an art appreciation group.  Affiliated with Tate St Ives, they  have set up several groups in cornwall which run like book clubs, but instead of books, we discuss art. Last year we were approached Anna, exhibition organiser at the Castle and asked if we could curate our own exhibition.

As it turned out one of our group, Chris knew of a Schools Art Collection that had recently been given to the Royal Cornwall Museum by Cornwall Council.

Over 100 artworks from sculpture by Barbara Hepworth to drawings and paintings from many of the St Ives School are held with them and we wanted to get them out of the cupboard.

It’s been an incredible amount of work but the exhibition was up for five weeks and was incredibly successful with lots of visitors and great reviews.   For my part, I was treasurer but also helped to get the blog up and running after giving a crash course to a few people and also helped with the running of it.

Some of the work was by artists that are no longer here such as Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton and Borlase Smart, but there were a few contemporary works by Naomi Frears and Andy Hughes.

Andy Hughe’s artwork was a photograph which had been worked over when he was the first artist in residence at the Tate St Ives.It became one of the focal points of the exhibition with a question label, asking the public for their interpretations. I was familiar with him but it wasn’t until I saw a copy of the book Dominant wave that I was hooked.

Dominant Wave Theory Book

Dominant Wave Theory Book

Beach rubbish and collecting it is a passion. What with the “It’s not Rubbish Art Show” and #2minutebeachclean and Widemouth Task Force and now bottle top strings with Rame Peninsular it is quite a focus of daily life. I ordered a second hand copy of the book and the images are outstanding,  but when I read the foreword and essay I realised there was much more to it and I could see it as an art form.

Andy Hughes sees the objects in their pure form and links it to the light of St Ives and the sculptures of Barbara Hepworth.  They are beautiful pictures in their own right, but as he says it’s a double edge sword and for the viewer a constant struggle between appreciation of the art form and the monstrosity that afflicts our modern life  with the huge amounts of plastics that end up in the sea and washed up on our shores.

This book was published in 2006 and has excellent images I haven’t shared them as not sure of copyright issues)  Andy has done some amazing expeditions and work since with lots of groups highlighting the plastics in the sea with a new book due out this year called ‘Gyre’.  For more information see his excellent website. Andy Hughes

This is just a small part of the exhibition experience and I learnt a lot about many of the artists and their work, but this connection and further investigation of Andy Hughes will influence what I do next and the possibilities for new projects.

If anyone is interested to read it, the blog for the Your Art exhibition is at www.budelookgroup.wordpress.com

 

 

Cruel and Curious Sea II, fitting end to a perfect Summer

The warmth of September has faded into October and it seems a good time to reflect on a full on summer filled with family love, Tom home, lots of beach, social and friends time as well as a few days away. Italy, Port Eliot Festival, Minack Theatre, an art trip to Bristol and painting at Newlyn Art School and representation in a new gallery in Plymouth as well as building up my own space at the Barn studio.

The veg patch also gave us the best crop of tomatoes ever along with grapes, pumpkin, courgette, salad  cucuamelons and tomatillos and endless herbs.  Now I know why it felt like we were never just doing nothing and the tv was turned on a handful of times….. we were incredibly busy!

The last big event of the year for me was ‘The cruel and curious sea II”, and it didn’t disappoint.  Fair weather meant people turned out to Stowe Barton in their hoards and with a bar and food this year, there was a real party atmosphere. It was also larger with more artists and more space to be shown in.

I had the same pitch as last year so knew what I was working with and on the day it all came together and had amazing comments from people having doubted it  all at some times, mainly because it was so far removed from how I have painted over the past few years.  But as always, pushing myself in a new direction led to new discoveries and practices that I can put to use in  future work.

Part of the build up including being filmed at the barn studio with Rhodri from the National Trust, but suspect that the two hours filming might result in 10 secs of film in the final edit, but it was a lot of fun and as often happens, through talking about my art, it also gave me great insight into the what and why of my day to day  painting head.

Cai from Hickory Nines, and Jeff from the National Trust work so hard to make this happen, and with other help from some crew, Stowe is transformed and transported into a timeless warp of cruel and curious sea and everything else and I can’t wait to see what happens next year.