It is that time of year again and boosted by the successes last year I decided to give the Summer Exhibition another go. I entered one piece – a Screenprint of my great hero Leonard Cohen who sadly died in 2016. I feel like he sang the refrain to most of my adolescent years – deliciously depressing, haunting lyrics – no matter that they mostly didn’t make sense! Most of his songs are etched in my memory and he would definitely be on my Desert Island choice. So, the Summer Exhibition, like most of the big competitions nowadays, has a first submission by email. They have around 13000 entries which is astonishing, and they weed that down to 4000 for the next round, when you have to take the actual picture up to London. The final hang is about 800. I have just received notification that I am through the first round – yea!!! great excitement. So I have delivered the pic to the RA and await to hear if I make it through. Watch this space.
Meantime Oxfordshire Artweeks is coming up in a week and I am exhibiting with Emma Ablitt again in Longcot which should be fun. We are in a new venue, the Old Methodist Chapel, which is not the easiest space to manage so a bit of a challenge. But it is always an enjoyable week, meeting lots of people, talking about what we are doing and, hopefully selling some pieces as well. I shall have screen prints, linocuts and some carvings to show, plus a few photos from my New York trip – a bit of an eclectic mix to give a flavour of what I have been up to in the year. We will be open every day from 11-18 May so I hope to see some of you there!
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!
I can hardly believe it is that time of year again. Emma Ablitt and I have exhibited together with Oxford Artweeks for the last five or six years so we reckon we have it down to a fine art (no pun intended!). However, it still always takes me by surprise how much of one’s time is taken up with the peripheral things that aren’t actually making images – so, framing, mounting, signage, personal statements…the list goes on. I have just lately been having a go at carving in soapstone. I am really enjoying it but it brings its own set of problems – how will I display them and do they need attaching to their base in some way? Decisions decisions! Anyway, I have collected the last few of my pictures from the framers, added the finishing touches to my paperwork and then I should be pretty much ready for the big hang. Artweeks are a great opportunity to show friends and followers what you have been doing through the year so I try to put a selection of all the different things I have attempted over the months.
This year I have a handful of carvings, quite a few linocuts and monoprints, and some pastels. I am generally reasonably pleased with the selection so hope people like them. It is incredibly useful to get feedback from ones audience and if people are enthusiastic about one direction then I will often go back to the studio and pursue it further.
Setting up starts next Wednesday and we continue the exhibition from 15-25 May – please do drop by and say hello if you are in the area. Details on the Oxford Artweeks website.
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.
Finally I have got back into my studio and started printing – feels great to be back. So I thought I would update with a couple of examples that I am working on. I have been looking at Ben Nicholson among others and really enjoy the way he uses line, and different viewpoints so have been experimenting with that. They are, I suppose, monotypes rather than monoprints but that is quite a technical difference. We have quite a crop of apples, and gourds from the garden this year and autumn feels like an appropriate time for these sorts of colours.
What else has been going on? Well, if you subscribe to ‘Artists and Illustrators’ then check me out as I wrote the ‘star letter’ which resulted in a lovely voucher for £50 for art materials. Decided that maybe I should abandon art as a career and just write letters to magazines! I have nothing booked up in the way of exhibitions till next May when we do Artweeks but that always requires a lot of new work, and, in addition, publicity photos need to be in before Christmas! I have another biggish exhibition in October 2015 in New Brewery Arts Cirencester, which feels like a long way off but, again, will require all new work, so I really do need to start getting serious.