When I started the project 50 Collages Before Christmas I knew there would be times I would be too busy to guarantee a collage each day so gave myself plenty of leeway. One of those times has been this week when I have been setting up my exhibition “Squares, Rings and Hidden Things” at the Sugar Cube Gallery as well as fitting in a visit to London. Please don’t think that the hiatus in posting new collages marks the fizzling out of the project – I have 4 large and 3 medium-sized collages in progress in the studio and I am pretty sure when I get back there this afternoon I’ll be able to finish off at least one. Certainly 3 or 4 of them will make the grade in time!
The image above is one of my new series of drawings on show 7 November – 21 December at Sugar Cube Gallery, The Courtyard, Bowdens Farm, HAMBRIDGE, Somerset TA10 0BP Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm
This piece, Abstract Drawings For Dummies I: The Tiny Section of My Soul marks the start of two series of work: Abstract Drawings For Dummies and 50 Collages Before Christmas. I had been adding small sections of collage into my erasure and redaction drawings and decided to include text – something I did quite a bit in drawings 45 years ago (including erasing the words and writing what I had done!) and occasionally more recently during my #Collage 365 and #Letter365 projects. I have always had a leaning towards the surreal and absurd with a bit of tongue-in-cheek conceptual thrown in. Influences from cartoons and illustrations, exploded diagrams and information boards, maps and instruction books and much, much more form a lattice of lunacy in my brain. Lay on to this the soft spot I have for Frank Zappa, Bonzo Dog, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson and other slightly odd (and some other decidedly, very odd) music it is not surprising this kind of thing will surface in my work from time to time. The series title Abstract Drawings For Dummies obviously refers to the hugely successful series of “how to” books. The books are, in my experience, well-written and of a high standard and the use of “for dummies” is in no way demeaning or patronising. By using “Dummies” the publishers are signalling to ordinary people they don’t need to feel threatened by experts and that everyone is quite capable of attaining a working knowledge of the subject of the book. Most abstract artists are continually asked to explain what their work is about and during my #Letter365 project where the artwork was sealed unseen into an envelope and sold “blind” I was particularly strongly questioned. At that time I devised a series of works that might help people find a way into art they were not readily comfortable with: this new series is planned towards the realisation of that idea. It also features some of the convoluted workings of my brain which had a small opportunity for expression, sometimes quite wittily, on the envelopes of #Letter365.
As I was clearly fired up to do all manner of work I chose the moment of completing this piece to commit to 50 Collages Before Christmas too.
I have not used such large sections of my photographs before and it’s been quite a challenge. When I did my #Collage365 project a few years back it was to do a small collage from scratch every day. I settled on 6″ x 9″ almost from the start, so getting things to fit and line up as I wanted was not much of a problem. With this latest project the smallest I have done so far is 50cm x 50cm and I am printing images to order and it is forcing me to work harder and stretch my technique and process. So You Didn’t Try To Call Me, the 6th offering in 50 Collages Before Christmas, features more of my photographs of grids: some more from Bruce Nauman’s installation at the Hamberger Bahnhof, Berlin and some from boarded-up shopfronts in Bristol. As I said, sometimes it is difficult to stick down collage elements in the precise positionsplanned but everything got measured, cut and positioned perfectly – almost effortlessly – on this new piece. The photo has a little shine on the left which makes it difficult to see the small dotted marks on the photo which mimic the perforations in the cardboard – my favourite bit, except perhaps for the section centre left which delights my eye with its ever-so-slightly trompe l’oeil effect.
Number 5 of 50 Collages before Christmas is “You Were Meant To Follow The Plan”. It harks back to some of the darker collages I did during my #Collage365 project a few years ago, only this one is a lot bigger!
The piece above, From Under Your Nose is Number 4 in the series. The photographs are discarded prints by Bridport photographer Brendon Buesnel that he gifted me as collage materials a couple of years ago. The piece below is Number 3, In The Room With No Soul. It features a photograph I took inside Bruce Bruce Nauman’s Room with My Soul Left Out, Room That Does Not Care which I saw at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. A small piece of one of these photos has already appeared in #Collage50 and I can see it could be a theme that develops. Well, it’s a grid isn’t it!