Wednesday 19 March 2014

Re-imagining the artist's web-site

It is some nine years since I first launched my web-site, Over the years it has evolved, of course, but it serves the much the same purpose as it did back in 2005. Essentially, it has been my own gallery space where visitors can browse work for sale and from time to time hopefully make a purchase. The aesthetic of my current web-site is intended to be simple, clean and minimalist, little text with the emphasis on the images of the work itself. And it has served its purpose.

But in recent years I have also made increasing use of social media, principally Twitter, Flickr and Blogger to also talk beyond the finished pieces, about my works in progress and share my wider artistic interests and influences with other artists and collectors alike. This has proved to be fertile territory, vibrant with the benefits of the interaction, while the web-site has steadily become more and more static.

So now I think it is time for a radical re-design, to re-invigorate my web-site by expanding the content  and incorporating the lessons of social media. I envisage a kind of gesamtkunstwerk with news of current projects, including sketchbook studies, working papers and other material which help explain my creative process, as well as other related information which I think might be of interest to visitors to the site. There will still be a gallery for potential purchasers to browse but the emphasis will be on what I am up to now! I want the visitors to my site to have a reason to keep coming back.

The re-design and build of the web-site is under way, but I would welcome any input from fellow artists or followers of my work, new and old.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

January Diptych

Staring out at the garden the other week, my attention was caught by the sight of a solitary apple doggedly hanging on one of the very old apple trees in the garden. Despite all the wind and rain over the past few weeks this one rosy red apple was clinging on to its slender branch when all its remaining brethren from this last crop lay strewn over the grass. The birds had been eaten some and others were going brown as they gradually went to mush but this one crimson fruit stood out against the pale blue winter sky. But then I noticed that the first snowdrops of the year were beginning to emerge under the apple tree and I was struck by the juxtaposition. I think it just might make an interesting diptych.

Yesterday I finished the first study (20 x 20 cm.) celebrating the apple's rage against the dying of the light.

And today I began the second.... to be continued.

Postscript - that lone apple hung on until the very last week of March!

Friday 22 February 2013

Still XIV

still adv. even now
[Concise Oxford Dictionary]

I have been working, from time to time, on a series of 2D and 3D works on the Still theme for a few years now. In recent weeks I have been experimenting with time-based versions. So, as the snow started to thaw a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take advantage of the weather conditions to try and make a short time-lapsed video version of Still. The snow was disappearing fast from the garden but I scraped enough together to roughly form the letters on the grass, set up my still camera and waited for the sun to do its work. The resulting video only lasts about 1 minute but has given me encouragement to finish the others. See for yourself.

Saturday 15 December 2012

More affordable sculpture

These four sculptures are currently on exhibition at the Royal Birmingham Society of Arts until Christmas Eve. I carved the originals in limestone and then made moulds from which I cast these reproductions in Jesmonite. Jesmonite is a composite material used by museums and galleries around the world to create replicas of their prize works.

I use my own blend of aggregates to add to the Jesmonite which allow me to create these pieces with the look and feel of polished limestone. Cast solid in editions of 100, each piece is signed and hand-finished by me using exactly the same tools that I use for my carved originals. And importantly these sculptures are available at a price one-third that of my investment bronzes, making these more affordable sculptures available to a wider audience.

73 x 25 x 20 cm.

Primavera (Spring) is the first in a series of four sculptures, my Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons) series. Each sculpture depicts a female torso morphing into a plant form, representing a season of the year. With Primavera the figure has the head of a crocus with the hands and facial features just beginning to reveal themselves as the new growth of Spring emerges.

Reclining Torso
57 x 14 x 15 cm.

Carved originally from a shard of Cotswold limestone, the female figure in Reclining Torso is gradually revealed as if found in an archaeological dig.

The Sun-Worshipper
38 x 30 x 4.5 cm.

Carved in relief, again from a block of limestone, The Sun-Worshipper was inspired by a lizard sunning itself against a wall outside my studio one summer's day..

30 x 31.5 x 5 cm.

Arch is another relief carving with the figure sitting within an arched window.  

Tuesday 11 December 2012

RBSA Christmas Open - 10 #worksthatcaughtmyeye

The Open Media Exhibition at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists gallery in Birmingham, open until Christmas Eve, is like most open exhibitions densely hung with works competing for your attention. But I always enjoy open exhibitions because there is always an opportunity to be surprised, to find that work which you might normally miss in more themed or focused exhibitions. So here, I present 10 of the works that caught my eye during a visit to the gallery. An eclectic and personal selection but it might just interest you enough to go along and see the work for yourself. In no particular order....

First up is "Untitled " by Alex Homas. Reminiscent of Anish Kapoor's "When I am Pregnant" it leaves the viewer to his own interpretation of the sensuous forms. A conversation piece.

My next choice is "Hockley Brook" by Joanna Powell. I like the way this small oil painting hovers on the edge of abstraction with the vigorous brushmarks suggesting a sense of the energy of summer.

"Isobel" by Mo Enright. A wonderfully enigmatic and mysterious oil painting, it positively invites the eye to linger and lively discussion with fellow viewers as to the narrative behind the painting.

My photography could not possibly do justice to this remarkable small piece of glass sculpture, entitled "Stream", by Harry Seager. Made from geometric pieces of sheet glass it refracts and reflects light cleverly creating a sense of movement and interest from all angles. A piece which would make a stunning piece of public art. For me the work of the exhibition.

"Revival Gothic" by Philip Potter is a substantial fragment of reclaimed stone, possibly ecclesiastical in origin, skilfully reworked with letter-cut mathematical symbols and relief carving suggesting a more secular reading.

Keith Turley's large acrylic painting "Chain" seems to capture the heat, noise and energy of the foundry in this dramatically rendered depiction of a craftsman engaged in the making of chain links. The artist deservedly  won a award for this ambitious figurative work.

"Robin" by Matthew Gale is small, delicate wire sculpture. I just loved the minimalist approach to the head and the splash of colour. I could definitely imagine this on a monumental scale too. Charming.

This detail from a large drawing "St. Martin's Church and Bull Ring" is a remarkable piece of draughtsmanship especially when you learn, as the accompanying video exhibit demonstrates, that the artist Saranjit Birdi executed this drawing using his feet.

"Two Ugly Mugs" by Janet Groves is a tiny watercolour which could be so easily missed in a busy exhibition like this but I particularly liked because of she way she used a limited palette to make this little jewel out of such prosaic subject matter.

Joan Sharma's "Waves on the Shore" appealed to my own stone-carving interests in the way she has cleverly exploited the natural colour and texture of the stone and created interesting forms in this interesting block of Hoptonwood stone.

These then are my 10 "finds" from this open exhibition.  Incidentally I am also fortunate to have four sculptures in the exhibition but modesty forbids me etcetera, etcetera. But for those of you sufficiently interested they will be the subject of my next blogpost about "more affordable sculpture".

Tuesday 13 November 2012

The pregnant nude in contemporary Art

Jonathan Yeo's recent photo-realistic painting of a heavily pregnant Sienna Miller has attracted much media comment as much for the subject matter as her obvious celebrity. With a few notable exceptions the representation of the pregnant nude in Art is still relatively uncommon. Personally, I think this a great shame but I have been lucky enough to produce one work so far which celebrates this special life moment.

"La Serenissima"
chalk pastel
10.5 x 7.5 in. / 27 x 19 cm.

I had the great good fortune to draw my model Kate, with whom I have worked on a number of my sculptures, when she too was pregnant. And from these drawings I developed this pastel painting. The arch format, the treatment of shimmering light and the dark interior owed much, at the time, to a visit I had made to Venice. So I imagined Kate sheltering from the hot summer sun, seated by an open window in her palazzo in Venice, overlooking the Lagoon. In celebration of that transient but joyful state, I gave the painting the title of "La Serenissima", which means the most serene and is the name by which the City of Venice is known. Just seemed appropriate.

A pregnant torso will also feature as the third sculpture of four in a series carved in stone I am working on. Each season of the year in my Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons) series is represented by a female torso morphing into a plant form. In the case of the now finished Primavera (Spring) the figure is morphing into a Snowdrop. Este (Summer) which I am currently working on takes the form of a reclining torso morphing into  an Arum Lily and Autumno will be a pregnant torso as ripening fruit. 

Wednesday 7 November 2012

8 by 8

I am a big fan of the Courtauld Gallery. It has a wonderful collection of Impressionist and Post Impression painting but on a recent visit I was particularly taken by the Seurat Sketches in Gallery 11b. There are half a dozen oil sketches all about 8 x 6 inches, mostly done as studies for bigger work. I found myself drawn to them, going back again and again, to study them. In these sketches Seurat is experimenting with techniques and working with a limited palette. I found them very fresh and exciting as works in their own right.

And it got me to thinking about setting myself a project; to create my own series of small oil paintings with a restricted palette using no brushes, just a palette knife.Using a palette knife stops me fiddling and allows me to work the paint impasto in an almost sculptural manner. I also opted for a square format, measuring 8 x 8 inches (20 x 20 cm.). The square format presents its own compositional challenges but opportunities too. So far I have got two paintings which cut the mustard, at least in my own terms, "Le Jazz" and "The Show Must Go On!". With Le Jazz there is a lot of scumbled and glazed colour. The physicality of the paint is more apparent with heavier impasto in The Show Must Go On! There are others, works-in-progress, and I am enjoying experimenting, very invigorating. Another six to go for my little "8 x 8" series. Watch this space!