Friday, 21 July 2017

Art in Norfolk in July

During July I went to see the Paul Nash exhibition at the Sainsbury Visual Art Centre in Norwich which is on until 20th August, 2017.  I knew Paul Nash was best known as a war artist, in particular I associated him with the First World War but he was also a war artist again during the Second World War.  

The exhibition starts with his brutal 1stWW landscapes and explains how he preferred to use symbolism to depict the devastation of war.  From these paintings the exhibition then moves into his earlier dream like works, still of landscapes, influenced by the poetry of William Blake and the pre-Raphaelites.  The exhibition also covers his work between the wars - during the 1920’s he suffered from depression and emotional shock as a results of his war experiences.  During these inter-war years he explored other art movements such as abstraction, surrealism and modernism. “He was a founding member of the British modernist group Unit One which included painters, sculptors and architects such as John Armstrong, Barbara Hepworth, Tristram Hillier, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth” and the exhibition includes works by some of these artists.  

Again at the start of the 2ndWW Paul Nash was appointed as a war artist and there are two large paintings in the exhibition, “Dead Sea” which depicts the vast wreckage of fighter planes at the Cowley Dump near Oxford as turbulent waves in an ocean and the second painting, which I believe is “Battle of Germany”, shows an aerial view of a town before being bombed on the lefthand side of the painting, the central section shows white spots representing parachutes coming down and then the devastation of an aerial attack on the righthand side of the painting.  The exhibition then moves to the landscape paintings that he was working on leading up to his death in 1946.

Definitely an exhibition worth going to see and made me reflect on the work I had done for the EAST “Between the Lines” exhibition - from looking at the work of artists such as Paul Nash and poets like Edmund Blunden I felt that using symbolism and landscape helped me deal with a very difficult subject.

When EAST hired the Zinc Art Centre in Ongar last year for a workshop I created this free standing, three dimensional landscape inspired by Paul Nash’s landscape, “Wood on the Downs” painted in 1929.  It’s not a finished piece but just part of a journey.  I also used his trees as a template to create this wood from layers of tracing paper - again it is not something I intend to take further.

My second visit to Norfolk in July was to Cley Next to Sea, as part of the Cley17 contemporary art exhibition, I saw this wonderful piece of work by Mike Dodd called “Stranded” constructed from tree branches and twine - I though perhaps it represented the bleached bones of a beached whale.  Again the exhibition is on till early August.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Power of Colour

In the last few weeks a new landscape has appeared on my studio floor - its where I work best when laying things out.  Its funny how things stick at the back of your mind and slowly you try things out.  I think it must have been last year I did a series of little paintings showing a yellow and grey landscape, I suppose the rapeseed fields we see around us earlier in the year.  I then tried painting with Procyon dyes onto silk organza some of the marks - like telegraph poles and fences overlaying yellow fields with misty shapes in the background.  I did several pieces varying the shades of yellow and on separate pieces tried out marks representing distant trees and shadows.  The yellow strips  of fabric came out very bright and I wasn't sure about them at first but last week I tried playing around with these along with other pieces of organza that I had painted/made marks on and the landscape below emerged.  I am usually drawn to softer more muted shades but feel the composition below is starting to work and bringing in the trees and shadow on the left of the picture makes me feel more comfortable with the yellow.

The one thing I am very happy with are these distant trees in the picture below - I have overlaid two or three layers of organza with different shapes painted on, each modifying the shapes to give the final effect.

At the moment the fabrics are not pinned down - I photograph every few days and change what I don't like.  I felt the trees were sitting too low in relation to the telegraph pole - I feel happier with that now - I also like the curve of the shadow.

This part of the landscape I think is where the action will be - just some marks to be added, probably in stitch, to show that some birds have come down in the field margins.  I feel the stitching should be kept to a minimum.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Finishing Off and a New Beginning

Over the last few weeks I have been stitching several panels inspired by still life paintings and last week I finished the latest one which you can see below.  It has been a good exercise and has shown me how I can work a piece that I designed last year which is an abstract still life.  I was very pleased with the design but just couldn't see how I would work it as a textile.

This is the abstract design which I see as a still life - a bottle, plate, cup and saucer and odd bits of crockery overlaying each other in the foreground and a landscape in the background.  I don't know when I will start it as a textile but now I know the technique/method I am going to use it's now just time.

Also last week saw the end of the EAST exhibition "Following a Thread", which has been at both Braintree Museum and Snape's Pond Gallery.  At each venue I waved a fond farewell to the two "Two Trees and Sheep" rolling landscapes - I will miss them so it is good I have photographs - the best is below.

So it is now time for a new beginning and I have started to cover a new sketchbook which you can see below.  Part of my new inspiration comes from a book of poems by Kate Innes "Flocks of Words" and which is also the first poem in the book.  I find words very important  and I love the image that is painted by this poem - of the words that describe a landscape migrating like birds with the seasons and how they return in the spring to dress the land.  I think the season of spring will probably feature quite strongly but we will see how things evolve.