I have had the most wonderful summer in the studio ... glorious weather, fabulous students, oodles of creativity ... not to mention the excitement of holding my first Open Studios and meeting friends old and new. Thank you once again to everyone who made the journey down the picturesque tree-lined drive, not knowing quite who, or what, they were going to find at the end. I hope you found it worth the journey.
To say I was exhausted would be an understatement, but a brief, welcome, escape to the relative tranquility of Norfolk has reinvigorated me, and I'm already itching to get back to the studio for the Autumn Term. So, what do I have to tempt you all to come and join me? Alongside, the established courses (new students are always welcome to join any of these), I also have a number of new workshops that I'm excited to introduce. Further details, and booking information can be found here, but if you need a little tempting, brief summaries of the ongoing classes and new workshops are listed below.
Date: 19th, 20th September 2018
This two day course is a perfect compliment to any of the other workshops on offer, but is mainly designed as a stand-alone course. Students are encouraged to work in a media of their choice (eg. watercolour, acrylics, graphite, collage, textiles), while exploring an abstract and expressionist approach to painting/drawing landscapes. Weather permitting we will spend time working outdoors, breathing, feeling and experiencing the landscape.The second day will allow students to further develop their artwork, plus there will be the option of mounting and framing one of your works, to take home at the end of the course. More details, plus booking information, can be found here.
Date: 28th, 29th, 30th November 2018
This three day course is designed to encourage you to paint on increasingly larger surfaces. Moving from working on the table to easels, floors and walls, we will experiment with developing your mark making and painterly approach to different scales. Suitable for all levels - beginners will leave equipped with the necessary skills to go it alone, while students with more experience will be encouraged to push their boundaries and create more individual and exciting work. More information can be found here.
Mondays Sept 17th, Oct 8th, Nov 19th, Dec 17th
A course of monthly workshops exploring a range of contemporary drawing, painting and mixed media practices. Whether you are a would-be painter, textile artist, sculptor or designer, these workshops are a great way to boost your skills in a wide range of media, whilst producing exciting sketchbooks and finished work that you will be proud to show off! More details can be found here.
THE CREATIVE SPACE
Mondays Sept 10th, 24th, Oct 15th, 29th, Nov 12th, 26th, Dec 10th
These fortnightly practical workshops are designed for artists who would like encouragement and support to become more confident and self-motivated with their own art practice. The workshops will allow you to explore all areas of contemporary art: drawing, printmaking, sculpture, painting, sketchbook work ... and ways of using them creatively and effectively with your own chosen subject matter. More details, plus booking, can be found here.
Thursdays Sept 13th, Nov 1st, Nov 22nd, Dec 13th
A series of four individual workshops devoted to the wonderful medium of watercolours. With plenty of demonstrations and hands-on experimentation, each session will be based on a different approach, subject matter or way of working - all with the aim of increasing your painting vocabulary and helping you find your own unique watercolour style. More details, plus individual workshop information, can be found here.
Fee: £200 (complete course) (or £60 per individual workshop)
Dates: Sept 5th, 6th, Oct 10th,11th, Nov 14th, 15th, Dec 5th, 6th
These monthly workshops are for experienced artists, and provide a vibrant space to experiment and grow in confidence with your own artistic practice. Each workshop will start with a short introduction, looking at works of historic and contemporary artists, before exploring strategies to apply some of the ideas and approaches to your own work. Critique of work, artist research, and lively discussion are an essential part of each session. Details of this popular course can be found here.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I now declare booking for my Autumn Workshops officially open, and I can't wait to see you in September xx
Wow! What fun it was to meet friends old and new as I joined other artists across the region, and opened my studio doors for the first time this year as part of Cambridge Open Studios. The studio was the perfect place to escape the intense heat of this glorious summer, and never looked better than when full of people looking at the work, chatting, laughing, or just hanging out on the sofa. It was lovely to see you all - thank you so much for coming x
But, hold on, there's more! The most valuable part of the experience, was undoubtedly the opportunity to make some new work. I have been working intensely for the past few months, and with no masterplan in mind, started exploring the materials of painting (paper, paint, ink etc.,) in the same way I would approach the exploration of found objects and materials in my sculptural practice. The result was an unexpected joy at the qualities of paint on paper - the rips, tears, drips and edges, as exciting as any imposed subject matter. Even more thrilling, it would appear that others liked them too, as I waved goodbye to a number of paintings, and saw them head off with smiling owners to their new homes.
Now that Spring seems to be on its way, the season of local art exhibitions is about to begin - preparations are in full swing, and I wish all those who are taking part the best of luck (not to mention lots of sales!). But why stop there? Why not take the plunge and submit a work to a national Open Art exhibition or opportunity? As much as I hate the phrase "you've got nothing to lose" it certainly rings true. Students and friends of the shedio who have taken the plunge, have recently been accepted in exhibitions by the Royal Watercolour Society (currently showing at Bankside Gallery, London), the Society of East Anglian Watercolourists, and Threads - a prestigious exhibition to celebrate Womens History Month in Edinburgh.
There are opportunities out there for everyone, whether you are an emerging artist, taking your first tentative steps in exhibiting, or someone who has been painting for a while, and are ready to share your work with a more discerning audience. Here are a few that look particularly exciting ...
Entering these opportunities has never been easier. Thankfully the days of trekking up and down the country with a portfolio under your arm are over, as submissions are now often by email. Most organisations ask for links to your facebook page, instagram account and/or twitter. The dreaded artists statement or link to a website is a must, not to mention beautiful digital images of your work. If any these requirements fill you with dread, fear not I can help! Just call me your Fairy Art Mother.
I have a couple of slots available on my mentoring sessions on Thursday and Friday next week - an opportunity for a 50 minute individual tutorial, which can provide focus and an action plan for your next steps.
Please feel free to share this email far and wide, and if have any luck entering any of the opportunities, then please, please let me know so we can celebrate your success!
Best of luck - I know you can do it!
For me, drawing does not begin and end with the connection of materials: pen to paper, charcoal to wall, or knife to clay. It starts with a thought that grows, leading to the collection of tools, the gathering of materials, the curating of objects. Through a process of realigning the broken, the accidental and discarded, new narratives are written.
My studio practice is often based on the actions of a collector ... items are found, and squirrelled away, to be brought out of hiding at various points in time, and temporarily married to other objects as a way of seeking out new narratives. The window sills, shelves and huge table, provide a great framework to try new pairings, and seek out new stories.
But sometimes, there is nothing that needs to be done, aside from an intervention to rescue and present what is already there. My latest collection is of around 30 unwanted hardback books, all part of The Thriller Book Club. Faded, scribbled, torn and tatty, they are more beautiful than I can say ... thank you Brenda x
The first time I visited the Centre Pompidou was as an innocent art student over 30 years ago. In the same year I had my first introduction to the works of Cy Twombly at a small gallery in Cork Street, London. His works reduced me to tears, and still do. It is fair to say my path through life has been forever steered by that time.
twombly (verb) :
To hover thoughtfully over a surface, tracing glyphs and graphs of mischievous suggestiveness, periodically touching down amidst discharges of passionate intensity.
twombly (noun) :
A line with a mind of its own.
Simon Schama: Cy Twombly at the Hermitage. 50 years of works on paper, 2004
Also on show in Paris are two smaller Twombly related exhibitions, both at The Gagosian gallery. The first, Orpheus, is a beautifully staged exhibition of some of Twombly's works on paper, which until now have not been brought together.
To complement these works, the Gagosian are also showing an intimate exhibition of poetic photographs by Sally Mann, selected from her time spent photographing Twombly and his studio: Remembered Light, Cy Twombly in Lexington.
In light of Twombly's death in 2011, and the knowledge that his studio will never again know his presence, Mann's photographs feel particularly intimate, and we are aware of the ability of a photograph to turn the present into a memory. Stunning.
1. caught in or as if in a tangle
2. involved in an undesirable situation from which it is difficult to escape
If there was an exhibition from which it would be difficult to escape, I can think of worse places to be trapped than the current exhibition at Turner Contemporary in Margate, "entangled" - an exhibition of over 40 international artists who explore materiality, particularly in respect of thread, stitch and fabric, in their work.
The works on show vary in scale from minute grass seed heads, to a ceiling high column made from taut horse hair, but all have something more important to say than their initial forms and humble materials initially suggest.
The first work to grab my attention was Geta Bratescu's Bound Fan - a wooden hand held fan, rendered impotent by being bound tightly shut by a single, delicate thread. There is something intriguing by the notion of the functional being rendered useless by such a gentle intervention. Susan Hiller's Painting Blocks echo this idea of contradiction - oil paintings on canvas, cut and bound with thread into a stacked block, so that the original painting is both present and absent at the same time.
Other notable exhibits include Karla Black's What to ask of others - a large sheet of pale pink polythene, draped and suspended in the gallery space. The work acts as both painting and sculpture, and we are forced to reexamine our understanding and expectation of a familiar, often disposable, material. Stunning.
Feeling under the weather with a cold doesn't generally offer many opportunities for creative practice. However, a recent dose of the dreaded lurgy gave me a much welcome opportunity to lay on the sofa, and indulge in my long-held desire to research my family tree. I knew some names and dates, but not much beyond my own parents and grandparents. We were from the East End of London (or so I thought), and aside from my parents and grandparents, I knew nothing of the occupations of relatives further back in my family tree.
But joy of joys ... what a great wealth of knowledge the census returns have offered. I am a fan of the BBC programme, Who Do You Think You Are?, and have watched as celebrities have variously found they are descended from aristocracy, royalty, or in one case I seem to recall, God! My background is far more humble, but to me couldn't be more relevant or exciting. Ladies and Gentleman, I introduce my first whoop of delight in this journey of self discovery. My paternal great grandmother, Esther Wilson, a paper bag maker. I couldn't be happier!
Oh Mr Therrien, where have you been all my life? Simple forms, found objects, honest materials - all 'nailed' to pristine white walls, and classed as sculpture (and not painting, despite their being hung and 'read' as such). This is my kind of language, and I thank the Parasol Unit for bringing these great works together. The show as a whole was bewitching. Familiar forms (clouds, keyholes, switches) and equally familiar materials (wood, metal, enamel, paint) lured me in, but the ultimate works hinted that they were quietly hiding far more than they were ever going to reveal. There aren't many works that affect me physically (Cy Twombly's paintings have been known to reduce me to tears), but in the ground floor gallery of the Parasol Unit, I could have happily found a quiet corner, slunk down to rest on the floor, and just sat ... for hours ... breathing quietly, amongst the sculptural presences, hoping to hear their silent dialogue.
When I planned this four day Summer School, I had no idea it would coincide with the exhibition at the Foundling Museum, curated by Cornelia Parker: Found. What perfect timing.
Every item, object or thing in the world is made with a purpose, serves a function and is part of story. Take away that purpose, stop that function and that something is lost. Starting with a hoard of the discarded and broken, the members of the group breathed new life into these objects. Strange and exciting relationship were forged from the eclectic detritus. Histories and narratives were discovered and invented, and by the end of the four days the shedio was full of exciting drawings, pairings, medals and tools. Such great work ... well done all!
I love this time of year ... with a host of students at BA, MA and PhD level, all coming to the end of their respective studies, there are great works out there to be discovered. This weekend saw the opening of SHOW 16, the annual graduate show of MA, MPhil and PhD students at the Royal College of Art.
Some of my favourites are shown below ... but none of the images capture the wonderful optimism, pride and ambition that seemed to fill the air as the students cast open the studio doors to step out into the wide, world. It was a great boost, and a timely reminder to not let self-doubt and sensibleness (is that even a word?) get in the way of being who we can be, and making what we want (even, if in the words of my darling brother, it is 'only' a 'beautiful, useless thing'). I need beautiful, useless things in order to think and make sense of the world ... and in that case, they're not useless at all!
Thoughts, works, adventures and responses from the studio and beyond