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You Can’t Kill the Spirit

You Can’t Kill the Spirit
Acrylic on unstretched canvas ( 150cm by 250cm)
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You Can’t Kill the Spirit is inspired by the protest song sung at Greenham Common and sung to me by my Goddess Mother as she remembered her experiences there with my mother:

You can’t kill the Spirit
She is like a mountain
Old and strong
She goes on and on and on

It has been a source of inspiration as I develop this body of work.

I have finally finished this huge unstretched canvas – it’s taken four months.

These are some notes I made as I created this work:

  • NOVEMBER:
  • It’s like the chaos of the earth – I’m trying to make beautiful sense of it and find my way through perceived pathways
  • Mapping the Soul
  • It could take months to make aesthetic sense of this( it did!)
  • DECEMBER
  • I need to get the deep red and purple roots of the thing on almost like a development of soulseed painting
  • Elements of galaxies, growth and a flurry of wings.
  • The galaxy is an area of it like a shard or upside-down mountain
  • Today is about swoops of gold
  • I feel like I am painting Kali Yuga
  • There are three states/ Muses of transformation dancing towards the Moon.
  • Like an eruption
  • I’ve got the dancing form of the thing on
  • Don’t push it! Emphasise the flow
  • This is how I find myself again!
  • Titles are like riddles- I’m not here to explain, but create mystery work open to interpretation.
  • Transformation and mystery of the Cosmos
  • JANUARY
  • Layering on the deep undertones
  • There’s a process of refinement going on
  • Trying to come up with a process that works
  • This painting is going somewhere very gradually….
  • I started today invaded by distracting thoughts, but with persistence in painting , just keeping going, I have vanquished them
  • Trying to do it like pieces of a puzzle in a way. So focus on small parts of the painting. Having faith that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts
  • Creative ways of Protest
  • Trying to get something of the Spirit, the dance, interconnectedness and transformation
  • Ancient connections to the moon too and triple Goddess elements
  • Something older than Patriarchy
  • It’s like the birth of new beings across an everchanging Cosmos
  • Painting the brimy cosmic ocean
  • I feel like it’s morphing into being now
  • A key element seems to have occurred today with one figure-the fiery seed woman overlaps the Cosmic-coming-into-being woman
  • Starry weave is yet to be completed
  • It is coming into being
  • It takes the time it takes
  • FEBRUARY
  • Making the gateway with drips where the Moon is and the yellow figure
  • This painting evolves as I do – it’s a symbolic process
  • I feel I may be finished by Spring Equinox
  • She is cradling a spiral galaxy – the birth of a galaxy
  • I am only seeing this painting one stage at a time. It is a like a cosmic birth. The birth of a star. Star Maps.
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Black rain on the Temple Roof

Working with zen poetry in the studio

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HereNow Exhibition

Exhibition of Masters in Contemporary Fine Art graduates this year in November at the exhibition: HereNow.

It was great to finally be there after all the hard work, creative process, discussions, critiques and exploration.

My brother Jake and friend Shelagh came with me to the celebration.

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Current painting experience

Recently, my work has undergone a seismic shift during Masters study at Salford University (2018 -2021) This has been sparked by the inheritance of my mother’s photos of the Greenham Common protest. The figures I was painting began to emerge and converge with the landscape in a state of flux and metamorphosis bridging the abstract and figurative. Painting is a portal or window into the imagination and expression of the artist. Having grown up in an environment of feminist protest: the body of work that I am currently creating reforges the expression, power, symbology and otherness inspired by the women’s protest movement of the twentieth century amidst the current upwelling of feminist protest.  The deep symbolism and powerful colour vibrancy of the work speak for different protests and the expression of women’s spirit of interconnectedness over time.

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The Red Gate Process

Witch Woman Life – The Red Gate
Red Gate on the kitchen table
Red Gate Figures
Red gate profile
Red acrylic dripping through charcoal
Red Gate mediums
Working with charcoal on acrylic
  • The Red Gate is one of the Greenham Gates associated with artists
  • “Witch Woman Life” I saw on a protest banner which resonated with my work
  • Working with unstretched canvas first horizontally and then vertically
  • Charcoal over acrylic paint
  • Red paint dripping through charcoal
  • Expressing the interconnectedness, power and struggle of the women
  • Re-visioning and taking ownership of the way women are portrayed
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On the Shoulders of Giantesses

Working with unstretched yet primed canvas. Using sponges, palette knives, bubble wrap and stencil brushes. I used washes of paint mixed with medium to keep the texture yet intensify the colour. I also left some of the underpainting visible and developed other parts.

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Creative Process in the expanded field: February

I’ve been working with mum’s archive of Greenham Common photos and also in the expanded field. From gestural beginnings on the kitchen table |I pinned up the canvas in the studio and let loose.

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Initiation: Creative Process

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Initiation: The Ages of Woman

I am working on Definitive Practice for the MA Contemporary Fine Art at Salford University. This is the final part of my Master’s degree which by the time I finish will have taken 3 years. I took a leave of absence through the several lockdowns of the last year as I am homeschooling my children as well as working as a teacher two days a week. This enabled me to slowly work with my final piece over a longer period of time punctuated by the rhythms of this new pandemic life. On the plus side I have a studio at home where I could set everything up, use the space whenever I could and leave everything out. On the negative side it has been a time interrupted and lengthened. This has been an organic process really as it’s been a case of adapt and survive.

My proposal for the final definitive practice is to explore the Ages of Woman through the triune lens of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Going right back to the start in a re-visioning, a contemporising yet referencing pre-Christian, pre-patriarchy, folkloric, mythological concepts and symbols both personal and universal. Facilitating an intuitive response and alchemical development, creating my own mythopoeic language.

Who are we? What are the Ages of Woman now and their deeper significance and links? When do our initiations through time and a sense of being occur? What are our significant phases of growth? Where do we perceive our evolving place in the world to be? How do we counter the lasting effects of  Patriarchy and honour our process, retell our story? Can our changing role and state be mapped and connected with something more eternal and universal? How can these questions be explored and expressed through this work?

My final work has developed from creating a huge concept scroll of my practice on this MA. I traced my process to this point: I used elements of paint and print imbued and influenced by interconnectedness, perception, time, cycles, crows, feminism, philosophy, archetypes, dreams, symbolism, otherness and magical realism. I have come to a point where I am reviewing the bigger picture and re-visioning the life cycle or Ages of Woman.

This has stemmed from MA work on the concept of motherhood, grief, memory and experience and has broadened though tutor conversations to embark on a creative journey exploring the Ages of Woman. The lens has widened to not only include my own experience of this lifecycle and those around conversations with other women but to also consider epochs, art and movements such as the persecution of witches, the suffragettes, feminism, woman’s protest and #metoo. I aim to draw upon and reinterpret our rich heritage, memory and a personal archive of historical photographs from Greenham Common.

Here are some gestural beginnings stemming from releasing the canvas from the tyranny of the frame and working in the expanded field ( in my kitchen!)

Unstretched canvas in the kitchen
Paint tubes straight o to the canvas
Gestural beginnings with knives
Moving into the studio
Composition emerging from chaos
Working stood on a stool in the morning
Sat down in the afternoon
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Freeing Up

Having spent 160 hours on the first painting of my large triptych I feel completely spent. So I’ve decided to spend the Summer creatively freeing up and going wherever the muse takes me!

Exploring colour, process, texture and creating surfaces to work on (paper and board)

acrylic paint, oil pastel, gouache and glaze
acrylic paint, gouache, glaze and crow feathers
acrylic paint, glaze and masking tape