Saturday, 21 August 2010

The beast

Well, I've finally finished the beast and I've dropped it off in Birmingham. I don't hate it as much, but I certainly don't love it ... I suppose which artist really 'loves' their work? I think being self-critical is part of the dialogue that pushes your work. I quite like some of the close up areas but as a whole I'm not sure if it works, hmmm.
Painting the beast has been a learning curve for me anyway and has brought up a lot of questions about painting for me, including colour, technicalities also also challenging Modernist structures situated within painting. It's been quite hard working in my study/bedroom (bad times having them in one room!) as I've had to be quite contained in the way I've been working. I love working in a studio where I can attach the work onto the wall to work on it and there are no restraints about spilling or dropping anything and I can have my materials all over the place in a sort of ordered chaos where happy accidents and the occasional process-led epiphany can occur.

It felt really good to finally hand it in and after rewarding myself to a little cake (okay so it wasn't little and who am I kidding, reward is an excuse) I had a right old gander around Digbeth/Eastside and visited the Custard Factory and Ikon Eastside. I finally managed to locate Eastside Projects and visited their current exhibition, Book Show which I've been meaning to do for aaages.
Luckily it didn't disappoint and although the work was extremely conceptual for me, it was particularly interesting to see how books had been interpreted in the sense of them being sequences of spaces and moments. I also saw the crazy offices there which was made by the artists Heather and Ivan Morison (above). At first I thought that it was an installation and thought ... oh wow it looks like actual working offices ... then I realise it err ... was! A brilliant publication called Book accompanied the show (which were only printed as 1000 copies so get yer hands on one!) which I know will prove useful in my research.

I sent off a postcard for the Paris Correspondence School last week as well which is a great project run by Charlie Levine. Lately I've really been enjoying  finding text in old books that I've collected and creating new texts which are removed from their original context(s). This was no exception and I like the fact the the chap that I stuck to the front of the postcard looks so stern and masculine and I thought the text fitted right in,
particularly layered on the image by Max Ernst underneath. I cut the image out from an old Polish banknote that was out of circulation and quite like the layering of different histories that have been made. I discovered afterwards that, the guy, Mikolai Kopernik was a famous Polish astronomer born in 1473 and was actually the person who discovered that the sun is the gravitational centre of the solar system! I sent the postcard by self service for the first time ever and forgot to put an airmail stamp on ... so I'm hoping it does actually reach Paris and is not lost in an international postal void!

Monday, 16 August 2010

A riot of colour

I've been working on a painting for the past week for an exhibition called When we build let us think that we build forever which marks the 125th anniversary of the magnificent Margaret Street building at BIAD. So far, I've had a love/hate relationship with my canvas; today we are not on speaking terms and definately not friends.
↑ Uurgh!!
I haven't painted in the conventional sense for at least three years and even then, when I was doing my MA full time and had a studio space, I was working on a massive scale and transcending normative structures of painting such as the canvas frame and the surface of the painting to create large-scale paintings and hybrid paintsculptstallations. It's no surprise then, that this piece has been a bit of a struggle. I've focused a lot on the idea of writing and text as well in my work more recently as my PhD explores the interrelation of the two, and so going back to 'painting' in a purer sense feels like I've gone backwards and has been quite hard.

I've set up a  project called Word Drafting and have also been creating 'book-paintings' which I feel a lot more comfortable with. The Word Drafting project is managed as a private blog and I've been using the book below for part of this project, which I guess is a natural progression of my 'book-paintings' that I showed at the University of Wolverhampton previously.
The book is currently on its way to Canada where the participants there can contribute to it how they want to, for example writing, poetry, textiles or photography and then send it on to the other members. I like the feel of painting in the books and there always seems to be less pressure than painting on a canvas.

I'm thinking of adding some text to the canvas I started and maybe being a bit more experimental in the colours and the mark-makings. I quite like how the colours work with each other but there seems to be no tension or compositional qualities. I've had all sorts of flashbacks of questions people ask me about my work ... what is your work about? what do you paint? what is it? ... all horrible questions that keep popping up in the back of my mind when I've been trying to work on the bugger! Aaaargh! Hopefully I'll post some images of the beast when we're friends again ... or at least speaking to each other anyway.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Who the hell is Penelope Fitzgerald?!

I had a great time last week on a low-budget holiday down south. Our first stop was Plymouth where I saw my friend Seaman Specialist Hawkins' passing out parade at H.M.S Raleigh naval base. It was a really special day and also really cool to have a look around the base to see all the things he did during the months he spent there doing some pretty intensive training, as well as being surrounded by loads of sailors which was a bit surreal!
We had a lovely evening stroll through the Hoe and the Barbican and indulged in a veeery nice Plymouth gin cocktail to kick off the holiday before travelling to our camp site near St Austell the next day.

I haven't been to Cornwall since I was little and it was nice to be somewhere so nice and back to basics with my phone switched off and no computer, although I admit it wasn't a highlight trekking across a field in the middle of the night in hiking boots and pjamas to go to the loo! We visited Falmouth, St Austell, Bodmin and some other little towns and did loads of stuff including dancing with a life-size Paddington bear (don't ask) and seeing some crazy animals like owls and badgers.
Although I left my research diary at home, I still brought my notebook and did some writing and it was really inspiring to just be somewhere else and be somewhere that was so slow-paced.

We also went to the Eden Project which was fantastic and luckily we had nice weather! The biomes themselves were a really amazing sight and unless you've been there in person, you can't really tell how absolutely massive they are and how much they impose on the countryside around it aesthetically.
I love taking photographs of flowers, especially ones which have really intense colours as I'm really interested in using really bright saturated colours in my work. And of course being at the Eden Project, there was a mélange of every type of flower imaginable!

I had a great surprise when I came back and found out that I've been selected to take part in Interrogation: West Bromwich in September which is run by Longhouse and the artist Anna Francis, which I'm really excited about : ) I took part in Interrogation: Walsall last year (and really didn't think I'd be selected this year, mostly for this reason) and did a collaborative project with my friend and fellow artist Rachel Marsden and it was such an amazing experience so I'm really looking forward to taking part in Interrogation: West Bromwich, in a new location and with the opportunity to meet new people (and also to wear a moustache again).

I've had various meetings in Birmingham since I've been back and noticed that some massive murals of birds had been painted on the side of the Birmingham Central Library when I was passing through. As the new
(and slightly controversial) library is being built to replace the current library in 2013, I guess the council decided to experiment a bit with the building which I think is ace!!

Lastly, I have to finish by asking the question: who the hell is Penelope Fitzgerald?! As you know I really love The New Art Gallery Walsall and went to visit their new exhibition programme (which is fab btw) when I came across this lovely and charming comment in the visitor book ...
Although I laughed, I must admit, I was actually quite shocked as well for someone to have such an extreme reaction to an art gallery. I don't think I'd like to bump into Penny when she's had a bad day!