pictures newly hung
It never rains but it pours. This last Wednesday saw the hanging of my current exhibition with Gail Gibson Tait, Sense and Serendipity. It also saw the private view of the Affordable Art Fair which I unfortunately had to forego.
Hanging an exhibition is a strange art or science – or mixture of the two. You start with a chaos of shapes and colours and sizes. If there’s more than one artist there’s also the question of style and compatibility. You lay things out. You move them round, change your mind again, try out a few unexpected juxtapositions. It can take ages. It can go fairly smoothly. Slowly, surprisingly, order and dare I say beauty emerge.
It’s always interesting when someone else hangs your work because they see it without all the baggage and associations you yourself attach to it. But they don’t always pick up the details, the little things that mean the exhibition flows. The eye moves easily from piece to piece but spends enough time on each without distraction.
In this case a broken wrist meant we and not the curator hung (hanged?) our own pictures. And, if I say so myself, it all looks great. This is very satisfying!
The Grange Gallery is a real discovery. Once the home of the artist William Nicholson, who also lived in Newark in a very similar house, it’s set on the picturesque old village green. It’s almost opposite Kipling’s House and the award-winning public gardens which once belonged to Kipling. If the weather’s good you can picnic there and stroll through the lovely walled gardens.
Birds on the hoarding
Newhaven has its own distinctive atmosphere, the clean lines of sea and buildings set against an appealing decrepitude. Its geography is intimately bound up with its identity as a port – a port struggling against obsolescence, social change and decay. As you wait in line for the ferry you have time to absorb the atmosphere.
The birds here are waiting, too. For dusk? For what? Where will they go? I hadn’t crossed the channel from Newhaven to Dieppe for years but used this route a month or so ago.
So the paint was hardly dry on this piece when it was collected to be shown at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea next week. It’s made with mixed media (acrylics, inks and pastels) on board. Another brand-new piece that has gone there is my Lady of the Downs. Recognise her?
Lady of the Downs
The full painting is below. It started with the Long Man of Wilmington, an unmissable part of the Sussex landscape. which is set in a sort of natural bowl whose contours and striations contrast with the stark clean lines of the ‘drawing’. I’ve doodled and sketched this many times. Suddenly I realised that what I was drawing was an elegant feminine figure, with a pronounced waist and hips. It seems I’m not the first to have thought this. I like the thought of a benign feminine presence on the Downs and have set her in a landscape with soft colours and flowing lines. Again it uses mixed media (acrylics, inks and pastels) on board’
Lady of the Downs
A third brand new painting has also gone to join other recent pieces in Battersea.
Back from holiday, making new work, getting ready for exhibitions.
That’s the flavour of autumn each year. Last year’s return to work was after a soggy, cool summer. No-one can complain about this last one. Lots of long warm days. Nevertheless I did far less painting than planned. My studio was still a shambles after building works and disruptions.
So now it’s full steam ahead: resolving and finishing (or scrapping) older work in progress. Attacking new ideas. Working out how to tackle ideas that have been with me for a while but not yet found their expression.
I always talk about ‘making work’, I find, rather than just ‘painting’. There’s such a lot of practical stuff to do. Preparing boards or supports or canvases. Making paper, in my case – I did quite a bit of that in the hot sunshine. (It’s such a messy watery business and the cat always tries to get in on the act so I much prefer not to do it indoors.) Then you need to set aside mostly-finished work for a bit so you can come upon it unawares and glimpse it objectively. It might need radical work, or simply a tweak or two.
Just occasionally you must learn to leave well alone – it works! That’s it: enough. Do not touch.
And then there’s the mounting and framing…that’s another story.
More details soon, but I have two art events in the offing. One is my joint exhibition with Gail Gibson Tait at the Grange Gallery, Rottingdean, later this month: Sense and Serendipity. I’ll post separately about why we called it this.
Secondly, the Affordable Art Fair at Battersea, 23-26 October. again with the Nicholas Bowlby Gallery. It never rains but it pours: the two shows overlap so I’m not yet sure which work will be in which show. Serendipity I hope! And then I’ll be looking out for some new opportunities.