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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
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Portal Painting

acrylic on canvas ( 122 cm by 76cm )
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Light over Glastonbury Tor

Doing some armchair travelling as we are on lockdown, through some old photos and found this one from two years ago when I was at Glastonbury Tor just before a storm in the evening. The light changed dramatically and I took this photo.

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Reflection

This body of work has taken me to unexpected places. Through it I have explored themes of time, perception and the human experience through personal narrative. Poetical texts , journals , talks and exhibitions have fed into this process as have links with industry and specialist practitioners. Crow pulp paintings have emerged through this – the limited tonal palette becoming a counterpoint to the high key palette of the paintings. Crow symbolism has been extensively explored and led to different branches of opportunity and expression.

The creative process has been discussed and shared through peer sessions, tutorials, an exposition and blog. It has also been recorded in notebooks , life drawing/ painting and partially through photography. Questions have been asked, theories considered, reflected on and responded to; partly in the poetical art statement to share with my peers and exposition attendees and also as part of the ongoing process.


Creativity is not as the crow flies but rather as the tree grows.

Below is an adapted part of the poetical art statement in two ‘wings’ expressing the themes:

Evolved Triptych: the idea of three distinct images connected through time and meaning

Painting as an expression and archive of time

Perspective change over time

Time is relative

An illusion

Birds: messengers and symbols of freedom, vulnerability, protection, shadow and light

Divination, communication, ancient meaning

The crow family circle the battlefield

Open to interpretation

Emptiness fulfilment

Being

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Exposition – E-Day

Together, the Fine Art element of the MA put on a group exposition as a culmination of our expanded studio practice. After considering various venues, we secured a show space at Partisan. The build-up and process of developing the exposition was arduous, dramatic and convoluted to say the least. The role of social media in the process was valuable at connecting us, yet not all read the posts and information became repetitive, misunderstood and frustrated at times. The problem with the written word is that sometimes the tone and intention is lost. The name of the exhibition , I felt, was not encompassing of our practice. The only way I could concede to it was through the democratic process, in that most accepted it and also in another sense of the phrase:

One-Night Stand: a performance that happens only once in a particular place

dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/one-night-stand

However, we did use different media platforms to promote the work such as ArtRabbit and Facebook, plus physical posters that were circulated. On the day we organically curated the space and worked considerately to accommodate the needs of individuals whilst retaining an awareness of the whole show, to create a diverse exposition in the basement space. It was physically challenging because we were not allowed to have any fixings on the walls and the surface was loose and crumbly making it impossible to put adhesive forms on there. We did use the given fixtures and fittings creatively though. I was fortunate to find on my chosen wall space two parallel nails from which I could hang my clipped pulp paintings. I had also planned ahead and brought free standing easels, as had others.

When we had all set up, we were reflecting on the tumultuous process and decided it would have been a better plan to allocate roles to working parties and to spend more time on promotion. Personally, it was interesting discussing my work with those who attended as I found a distinct polarity of appreciation in that some really resonated with the paintings, use of colour and were fascinated by the crow symbolism, whereas others very definitely felt an affinity with the delicacy and tonality of the pulp paintings. I came away with a sense of accomplishment, shared experience combined with a process of valuable, reflective group and individual artistic cooperation and evolution.

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Inspiring Berardo Collection in Lisbon

Yves Klein…. This was such an inspiring collection and a journey through recent movements, artistic and social change. It was all free for the people too! My kids couldn’t wait to show me what was in the next room..