The Art from London Markets Project is a project exploring our relationship with people and trade in London. I started working on this project in 2014, and it involves painting, print making, story collecting, socio-economic and historical  research, blogging, and community projects, all investigating London’s trade.  Our markets say a lot about us, and we have a lot to say about commodities.

The relationship between trade and people in London is complex, it reflects all our diversities, cultural, geographic, health and economic, as well as taste.

I started off this project looking for the beautiful in the everyday: The simple gorgeousness of natural produce. I now find myself exploring the human story behind  markets and ideas of transience,  the fragility of humanity in flux and change, and of memory and identity.

 

 


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SUNDAY, 6 AUGUST 2017
Between September 14-17 I will be taking part in Roy’s People Art Fair in Islington and on October 8th the Corby Glen Sheep Fair: From urban Art Fair to rural Sheep Fair. I will not be selling sheep! At the sheep fair I will be recruiting people to join in with my Corby Glen project collecting oral histories, and will have a screen showing of “Corby Glen Walk” a series of local photographs in the Willoughby Gallery on the Sunday and I will be asking people to sign up to share their memories of the way in which agricultural trade has impacted on their lives.

At Roy’s People Art Fair I will be showing some of the work that I have produced in the last year engaged with evocative abstract spaces. I have been working on a new piece combining earth pigments; ochres and their artificial antecedents mars red in combination with poisonous Cadmium Red. Mixing rust colours with poison feels apt in the current global political climate. Naturally occurring earth pigments produced by iron deposits in the soil are the oldest pigments used by people for mark making along with charcoal. I combine them with industrial revolution colours, mars red an artificial red ochre, viridian an artificial green initially produced for ceramics (to colour earth), and cadmium red a poison: I will be showing “Mars Red” so long as it is fully dry, and the other works I will be selecting from can be found by clicking this link, if you like, let me know which ones you’d like to see the most of all.

http://www.artfromlondonmarkets.com/experiments-in-colour-at-roys-people-art-fair.html

Mars Red
Hand mixed oil on canvas, 100x100cm, 2017

My profile for Roy’s People Art Fair can be found on theRoy’s people Art fair website in the  Artists Section:

http://www.royspeopleartfair.com/artists.php?controller=pjLoad&action=pjActionView&id=72


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Using ochres, and industrial revolution colours, Viridian, Mars red, and Cadmium, from  earth to poison.  Layering and taking away.  The next stage was to turn around the painting and wait….


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I loved Malaga as a city to visit. Flying over the patch work of ochres on our way in was tantalising enough.

 

It has a rich and visually present cultural history.

The Alcazabah, built on the ruins of a Roman theatre is a door way into the city, its forms echoing down the centuries.

You start of entering gate after gate, winding up the paths, through the trees and occasional stopping places that allow you a little shade before you reach the gardens.

I suspect the walk feels much shorter in the winter. The gates are tall enough to have ridden a horse through.

And as well as finding a shady spot what you are actually doing is passing through the fortified walls. This would have been a well defended spot. It is said to have been built to defend the port against pirates. The Moorish features of the gates appear more pronounced as you climb the hill. I don’t know whether this is because they have been better preserved?

 
Whatever it’s function it is certain that it’s forms are beautiful, with gateways giving out onto sunlit path ways.
The cities biggest church now sits in the original eye-line to the coast.

And after a while the gate ways start giving way to court yard gardens, having taken over some Roman Masonry and found a use for it, and up through the orange groves. The sea is now visible above the city to the right.

And then the surprise of hill top water and geometrical gardens.

At the top the buildings, open on to court yards, the colours of the earth the plants the building materials speak for them selves.

 

The waterways at the centre of the pathways irrigating these mountain top gardens. And making it difficult to defeat the fortress, as they can keep a safe water supply and grow food and keep animals within the walls.


So it is functional, but not only functional


The geometry of the design lends itself to little selections of balance and beauty.
There is also a display of pottery artefacts, replicas mostly made in the traditional way. And this is where I find my first Malaga bull.

 

 

And so surprisingly does this Rub el Hizb star, present at the palace here but repeated in a different form on the door of the Church. and in the gardens doors opening onto courtyards opening onto doors …

And then there was the garden. And the joy in geometrical pattern persists in the brick work and painted walls of the cities churches. And the courtyards through out the history of architechture here coming all the way into the basement level of the contemporary Pompidou Art Centre.

 

Church Garden

I had originally gone to Malaga for the Art Fair as any one who follows this blog regularly would know. I had chosen a digital representation, however the biggest thing that I think I learned were :
1. It is difficult to be noticed in a massive art fair if all you are is a few images on a screen every 10 minutes, seems obvious but….

2.It is imprtant to make sure that any expectations you have are set out in the contract. So I was offered this digital display* but it was not clear what exactly they were offering, so I emailed to ask about the publicity which went with it…they emailed back to say that the artists on screen would be listed in catalogues, on line and off and would be part of the e publicity coming up to the show. Neither of these things happened until after the event. So I took the opportunity to leaflet, I had had some nice post cards printed in Spanish, but was asked not to by the organisers.

What I would say was that I was lucky, because the screen I was on was working from the Friday at the start of the fair, however half the screens were not working at that point and even half way through Saturday some were still not working.

There was other gossip I heard about the organisation of the fair that I won’t repeat here. The positives were that the fair was well attended by artists and the quality of the work was good, so they had that right. All the stands were of a good size, none were squished up. The venue is very big and it was filled in a kind of luxurious way with plenty of space in the aisles.
And yet by half way through there were very few sales made my rough estimate made by counting red dots was about 40. There were big crowds of people but I think most of the people there were there out of interest and without a serious expectation of buying. In fact the gallery that made the most sales was selling prints. There did not seem to be any Malaga based galleries or many Malaga based artists there, and this was probably a mistake, Malaga has a good art scene, and Malaga galleries would have brought in local collectors and buyers. It might have been better if the organisers had started with a smaller fair, but concentrated on a quality of audience as well a quality of exhibitors. I think they tried to do too much as it was their first fair.

My conclusion in this massive fair an on screen showing where literally the only presence was the screen was not worth the money. The purpose of showing in the Fair is to make sales and to create contacts, this did not really work for me. Lesson learnt.
* (In fact I was originally offered a stand, but weighing up the costs of the stand, and of getting my work there and an unknown untested market I chose to find out more about the fair by trying the on screen option and attending, that was a good decision.)
But back to Malaga itself: Going around the several world class galleries was a dream, the old centre of Malaga is all walkable and very attractive. I started off with the Picasso Museum, which of course got me thinking about gender dynamics, and that was the theme that stayed with me through out the trip.

 

This museum is in a lovely court yard style building so is cool and pleasant to be in. The collection is of less well
known work, curated basically along a time line so that as you progress through the galleries you progress through his life. His work has a very Catholic gender sensibility from the start, something very nineteenth century which doesn’t change with the twentieth century in which he lived. Women were often his subjects, and seem to have been in both sense of the word. His over arching theme was to have painted power. The work is permeated by a violence. And after seeing the whole show I sat in the garden for a coffee and was delighted to have been reminded of his dove works by the birds that were flying around there, it created a welcome counter point.

The physical manifestations of power and violence run through out the galleries and architecture I visited in Malaga, (that recurring bull for one) and got me thinking about the role of culture as a mediator for violence and power, an interpreter, a subliminater, an exposer, a critic?


And that got me thinking, so that when I went to the Museo Carmen Thyssen in the general collection the curation and the exhibition notes seemed to suggest that most of the art work in the 19th century galleries had been painted to suit the tastes of foreigners:

That they were either painted for visitors to the region or to suite the notion of Spanishness that was in favour in the Paris galleries where they might be sold. So that there is an “exoticism” in these works, based around many images of flamenco dancers and other stereo typical “Spanish” themes. I have to say that on the whole they left me fairly cold. Then I went in to the film about the other exhibition that was on, Realism. Here it was claimed that the true Spanish tradition was realism in the twentieth and early twenty first century. They explored what Realism meant, but what I was a bit confounded by was that there was no mention of the Franco (1939-1965) regime or the role of fascism in the demand for that particular aesthetic, which seemed a bit peculiar to me. In addition in this film about the exhibition which included a number of artists there was only one woman and her work was of still lives of fruit, which fitted with the very domestic role of women. And I was wondering if it was simply that to a Spanish audience it would have been to obvious to say or whether something else was going on….

So then on to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Here there was a stark contrast in the two initial one person shows. There was the rather violent and misogynistic work of …. which left me feeling rather hated, and the counter point of the very beautiful painterly photographic work of Dutch artist……..Her work referenced Northern Renaissance Dutch paintings using lovely light and simple props that created links with the contemporary photographs that they were. Of course this is also an aesthetic of women in interiors but there was a subversion here of those values and a link to the humanity of the subjects that was touching and beautiful in both the images of the girls and boys men and women portrayed. This is however probably the first contemporary art gallery I have been in that contained two Adam and Eve works (both photographic) by different artists. The Gallery is not enormous the foot print of the gallery a triangle which makes it hard to judge, but I would guess the whole place is probably no bigger than the Whitechapel in London. And I guess that when you have religiosity as a theme, and were under a pro-religious dictator at the time when the rest of Europe was questioning fidelity to a religious way of life, the fact that contemporary art seems so preoccupied by open displays of power is not that surprising.


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When you visit a place for the first time in the sunshine there is a sense that you feel like a tourist, especially when that place is pretty and rural. While walking around Corby Glen prompted memories of my childhood summers spent grubbing around in fields wood and ditches, this is not the place of my childhood : the New Forest, this is not even the place of my birth, it is a neighbour in the same county, and I am a visitor here, aware that I am at the surface of things, just getting acquainted. This is the start of a project that will be about two years to completion involving preparing work for the Willoughby Gallery for a solo show in 2019. The project includes a narrative element collecting stories from the community, memories of place and trade.

The Gallery is far more beautiful than I imagined, and is

currently housing an exhibition of work by two Lincolnshire artists: Lyn Lovitt and Mike Lovitt. Lyn’s Pregnant Pots are really beautiful, and her print line is echoed in Mikes simplicity of line in his relief carvings.

The building was originally a school funded by Charles Read in the 1660s who made his fortune importing through Hull. Hull was a major importer of wood and I will be interested in finding out whether this is where his fortune was from.

The school was converted into a Gallery and library in 1965 to commemorate the life of local aristocrat and art collector Timothy Willoughby de Eresby, who died when lost at sea. Within this small village in almost the centre of England, there are these links with the international, the sea and the local.Corby is a name with nordic origins meaning small woodland. The “Glen” was added in the 50s to distinguish it from the other more industrial Corby and is named for the river. This area would have been covered by the Danelaw.

The gallery itself is really quite beautiful, with views of farms and the bowls green from the windows. I am delighted to be showing here.


As I walked round Corby Glen most people were either at work or hiding from the heat, the streets were almost empty. Wherever you are in Corby Glen you are close to the edges, close to the fields which surround it. I have a sense of a place leading onto another, of a rich history which has probably be more well documented than you would expect for a community of its size.

 

The landscape in this part of Lincolnshire is not the flat lands of my personal stereo type or babyhood, but soft limestone hills. The presence of limestone and the colour of the soil in places makes me wonder whether there might be ochres in this soil.


The other materials which seem relevant are wool, wood, straw, charcoal…


There is a friendly talkativeness in the people I have met so far, I am really looking forward to collecting stories here. I have already heard about firefighters pulling horses out of ditches, of girls driving through the village as children jealous of the Corby Glen children freed from school for the day for the Sheep Fair, of the appeal of watching the automatic sprinkler on the bowls green………….

And in the initial bits of research that I have been doing of a Motte without a Bailey, viking hieritage, a village doubling in size between the 1979 (when David Steel wrote a history of the place) and now.

So while this is a place of long history, mentioned in the Doomsday book, it is also a place of change.

 

I have taken a load of photos but will need to take more. My current feeling is of peering into something new, where there is more beyond, and perhaps more beyond that too.

Pregnant Pots, Lyn Lovitt

 

Oh and just two quick reminders Small experiments in colour is on until 28/6/17 at Queens Wood Cafe and I will be at Art Fair Malaga 30/6-2/7/17


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The show is up, thank you Barbara Beyer for your help, and the posters are delivered and now laminated so I’m off for a walk around the locality to cable tie them on to railings, and visit local places I can ask to display them: So how did it get there…well Barbara had had a show in this space and when I went to her private view she asked me if I’d like to show there too, and introduced me to Marianne who is the art coordinator, so first of all it was a personal contact….

Then I got into discussions about when with Marianne, so I sent her a link to my website which she liked. And because I had a body of small works ready to go I was able to go from first proposal to putting it up in about two weeks, she initially had suggested when I was away in Malaga which I couldn’t do and then someone else dropped out….so then it has been very busy. First step: choose the works which will go together in a coherent collection and fit with the space: Well I have been experimenting with these pigments and had a group of work which did that job because I have been working on them for about a year, and only a few have been shown before at the Talented Art Fair. So then I wrote the artist statement….

Artist’s Statement- Small Experiments in Colour

The work in this show represents the exploratory process I went through from 2016-2017  developing  three series of works using raw pigments.  The origins of these works came from a series I did for St Katharine Docks exploring the history of the docks as a trading centre, and I started using indigo as a pigment in oil based media.  I became fascinated by the way in which the pigment interacted with the media not just in terms of glossiness or matt effect but also in terms of luminosity and even perception of colour.

Towards the end of 2016, I branched out into other evocative pigments, pigments that had a relevant place in the history of people and trade, ochres the oldest pigment known to have been used for pure mark making purposes; which can be found in cave paintings across the globe:  Chromium oxide a pigment developed during the industrial revolution for use in the ceramics industry and first used as a painting pigment by Turner; its special quality being opacity: Viridian a less opaque darker relative of chromium oxide famed for its lack of toxicity which can be contrasted in every sense with cadmium famed for the opposite, and a very few others.   In these works, I use a very limited palette to create a sense of three dimensional space on a small 2 dimensional surface using the minimum of suggestive marks.

The intention is to draw you in, to create spaces for lost memories, both personal and those related to trade.  These works form part of the practical research that makes the backbone to several series of larger works entitled: The Lost Girl series centred around the experience of dementia within the context of a cultural diaspora; the Wine Dark Sea series which create links between contemporary economic-political events and the classical Aegean; the Space in Between series which are an invitation to get a bit lost and remember.

 

And then there was the process of selecting exactly which pieces, it was fantastic to have another eye to look over with me, Barbara again…

Then it was a question of grouping them and framing them to form groups, which involved a trip down to town to pick up some frames, and a dig in some cupboard to use some frames I already had…


and a trip to the woods and the cafe to remind myself of the lay out and take measurements to be sure that they will fit, and make a plan of the wall hang

and take some random tree photos


Then pack up the ones I am planning to take plus the all important tool box
Once the work was in place change the hang plan of course, and regroup work to fit the space and the fittings that were meant to have been removed by the last person, but haven’t been. Design the poster


With lots of help from Barbara who is very skilled in tying knots in fishing wire amongst other things hang the work.

Now that the actual work is hung and definitive create a price list

and
Get the posters delivered a second time because I was at the set up when they tried to deliver them the first time.


Then send out invites, post on instagram and twitter, realise I have not changed my twitter settings only when someone messages me to say they can’t be retweeted, struggle with resetting them, get my car broken into in the middle of this and have to spend time talking to the Police. Finally get my twitter setting public again.

Realise that the laminator I ordered has not been delivered, check the order and realise Amazon has not sent it because in the order there is something for which the price has changed by 1p and down, so I have to reconfirm the order.

Put up posters in the dryness of the cafe. Wait til Monday for the Laminator, and now that the posters are laminated and the weather is beautiful it is time for a walk with some tags and I’ll get those posters up.

The private view is Friday 16th, and by invitation only… if you’d like to come please email [email protected] by the 14th so that I have time to get enough glasses together for the wine!


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