Unique Screenprint part of a series on migration
I have always found entering some of the many Open Competitions to be a good way of giving myself a goal. And to make myself finish work if I am being a bit diletttante. It provides a new audience and who knows what might come of it.
So, this autumn I entered some pieces of work for various competitions including Bristol West of England Academy, Royal Society of Printmakers The Masters, and Oxford Art Society. And guess what – I got pieces accepted by all three. I must be on a roll.
As we all know, entering Open Competitions is a bit like playing the Lottery. There are so many factors governing the choice of work which have nothing to do with the quality of your entry. Does it fit with the other choices ie how will the hang look overall? How many entries were there? What percentage of new and emerging artists do they want? And, as with all art, it often comes down simply to the taste of the Curating Artist.
Knowing this does not stop it being desperately depressing when another kind rejection email pops into the box. Thus I was braced for disappointment but determined to give it a go. I felt my latest series of work had merit so time to get it out there. Imagine my delight when it was accepted by all three. Happy days!
Unique screen print part of series on Migration
This is a fascinating exhibition featuring some of the most famous images from British war artists in World War I. The pictures so much inform our idea of how trench warfare was that it is difficult to imagine how shocking they must have been to their first audience. Futurism with its subtext of ‘humanity subsumed by the machinery of war’ [IWM text] produced pictures which vibrate with anger and despair and their titles punctuate that purpose with an exclamation mark! Nash’s desolate landscape entitled ‘We are making a bright new world’ or Nevinson’s bleak painting of dead soldiers, ‘Paths of Glory’, are raw with emotion and were even occasionally banned by the ministry as unhelpful propaganda. The relationship between war artists and government has to be an uneasy one – that would make a fascinating dissertation topic…which is a particularly interesting point in the context of the exhibition, which separates in different rooms works of ‘truth’ and works of ‘memory’. I preferred the ‘Truth’ section as it felt more directly from the experience of war but how much is my taste governed by the fact that our contemporary culture values the instant, the immediate rather than the mature and considered reflection of ‘memory’?
I absolutely recommend a visit if you get a chance. It raises all kinds of questions and, as with the best exhibitions, doesn’t provide any of the answers. Personal favourites were a series called ‘Dance of Death’ by Percy Delf Smith. Finishes 8 March.
I have rejoined the employed temporarily as I have taken up the post of acting Curator at West Ox Arts Gallery in Bampton, Oxfordshire. It is only one day a week in theory and I am responsible for hanging and organising exhibitions, producing the publicity and a few other bits and pieces. It’s actually quite fun and should only be until the summer as I am providing maternity cover for the existing Curator but it has really brought home the issues that maternity benefits throw up for a small business. The Gallery only employs 2 people and to lose one for up to year but not be able to fill the post makes life really difficult. Don’t mistake me; I have children and I used the advantages that maternity laws offered but it does seem to me that it might be more sensible to have slightly different rules for large and small companies. Apparently we are a) not allowed to ask the curator whether or not she wants to come back until she is ready to tell us (within a certain time frame which is I think a year) and b) any decision she makes in the meantime she can revoke so, even if she says today that she does not want to come back, she can change her mind and the job must be available. Can this really be correct? Because if it is it seems incredibly patronising – a woman six months after she has had her baby is still not sufficiently in her right mind to make a decision as to whether or not she wishes to go back to work! Really?! Ok – just a small rant and now it is over…
…meantime my lovely new Polymetaal etching press is still sitting waiting for me in my studio…