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I’ve had a couple of days away in York. Much needed I have to say.

It’s refreshing being somewhere else, away from the domestic and away from the studio for a while. But not too long.

I’m now itching to get back to it. The exhibition was a break in making, and so was the mini holiday with family, and an unexpected trip to York Art Gallery to see Sounds Like Her… an exhibition of women artists using sound in a variety of ways. Opinion was mixed, and it was discussed… I’m still filtering much and while some pieces were appreciated, liked, others were not. But it always takes me a while to articulate these things.

So… recharged by the change… I return in time for the PV of the new General Office exhibition Face to Face. I’ve seen photos on facebook, but I need to get there to have a good nose…

And then back into the studio.

I have that large drawing waiting for me, and I am wondering if I will look at it differently after the break. I do feel on the cusp of something… showing my work always does that. It’s those conversations that you have… the thoughts they provoke. Some of them confirm your thoughts and others question. Both are good. I’m considering the text again… and the lines, and the forms they delineate…

I feel in need of a good old-fashioned meaty crit!


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Here we are then…

My exhibition Cause and Effect is down. Sold works are packed ready to be delivered or collected. The large drawings are rolled up again in the corner of the studio. I feel it was a successful outing for new work. I have learned much about it, and where it sits in amongst the other cogs of my practice.

I have already started another large drawing and it sits draped across and over the edge of my large table.

I started it before the end of the show on purpose, to stop me moping about. I think it worked. Mostly. Although I do think a degree of moping about is natural after a show.

There are also those thoughts of “What next?” I would like to show this elsewhere, a little further afield maybe… pondering where…

As Sarah Goudie said during the talk on Sunday, the show is a moment of pause, a pinnacle from which to look around and figure out what it all is.

I have a few workshops planned over the autumn:

…and quite a lot of gigs with The Sitting Room.

The vibe around General Office at the moment is very exciting! It really feels like we are making our presence felt here. We have had Big Draw events and the studio artists hold all sorts of workshops. Exhibitions and talks are planned well into 2020 now, and this week our grand front stairwell has been turned into a real gallery space, with the help of a load of scaffolding and a huge amount of paint, grey to match the main gallery, and the most intense orange on the huge wall! I can’t wait to see some art on it! Its going to be very striking! The floors still need attention, but we are getting there, and much faster than I had expected. We even have proper signage outside now so it is easier for people to find us!

It is a real boost to be part of a dynamic organisation dedicated to raising the profile of fine art and contemporary artists in the Black Country. I feel very fortunate!

The gallery space is great – light and calm – and it’s for hire if you think your work would look good here, get in touch through the facebook page link above.


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I’ve just got a few days left of my solo exhibition “Cause and Effect”. Over the last couple of days there has been a couple of reviews… it’s so gratifying to hear what people say… that they “get” the work… that they appreciate it, and most of all that they are moved by it.

It’s been a great experience to put up this new work and have the opportunity to talk about it with visitors to the gallery. I was full of trepidation… my first show without textiles…

But actually what I have found is that people who knew my textiles work have looked at this and said “Yes, that makes sense…” It fits. I know that I should know that, that I should be confident in it… but it is new and exploratory still. It’s good to know that what I’m trying to do is being understood.

And I must confess, reading these two reviews, as well as comments in the Visitors Book, and on social media… I have been a bit overwhelmed and emotional.

The path ahead is clear for a while. I feel I know what I am doing… for a while…

Catherine Jones, a relatively new friend and fellow artist, a writer, and musician (and other things) wrote on Facebook:

Went to see Elena Thomas’s fabulous exhibition today at General Office in Stourbridge.

What a wonderful selection of, on the surface, calm and mainly pastel toned watercolour and pencil works with collaged words, but look more carefully and see the visceral, twisted angst and pain, read the fragments of phrases and sentences and hear the suffering, the loss, the undoing.

The works remind me of skeletons and stretched muscles and tendons, underwater worlds where fish eat fish and plankton swallow plankton… Strangled seaweeds and broken bones. Wonderful.

Elena, you should be very proud of this body of work. It’s a privilege to see how these have developed, and know you as a friend and fellow artist. I am so inspired!

There is a General Office review also on the a-n Reviews page, written by Sarah Goudie:

https://www.a-n.co.uk/reviews/cause-and-effect-by-elena-thomas-5th-18th-august-2019/

This Sunday 18th August from 3-4pm Sarah will also be interviewing me and chairing a sort of Q&A session in the gallery. Please let me know or book through Eventbrite (it’s free) if you’d like to come, so I know how much cake to make!


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Cause and Effect is at the half way point… and I am feeling relaxed… I’ve actually had a normal amount of sleep the last couple of nights!

When I look around the gallery now, I do see a clean and simple hang. There is space to see these large drawings, and enough small detail to draw in the viewer. I’m satisfied.

There’s so much hard work involved in getting this to look easy, and I am so lucky to have the General Office team to support… Shouting out to Simon Meddings, Exhibition Design Superstar and Sarah Goudie Art Mentor and All-Round Guru particularly.

I have had conversations throughout the week with people about what constitutes a drawing, and why I don’t consider these works paintings, or myself a painter. Pushing boundaries and definitions is interesting…

Having a large solo exhibition does help you look at the work differently. Having the best works from the last year up on the walls together gives insight into how the themes bend and stretch and what is solid, and what needs work. Even if nobody else sees it you get that… but when other people do see it, somehow you see things through their eyes. It becomes possible to see where and how they are accessing the work… what strikes a chord. It’s also interesting that the small amounts of collaged text draw people in close, they read, then step back and look again. Then some look again at the works from earlier that don’t have any text. Interesting.

The PV evening was lovely… Lots of people I hadn’t seen for ages, some familiar regulars and a sprinkling of people I didn’t know – perfect combo! The band (The Sitting Room) played a set in the middle of the evening and that felt just right too. The band were astonished that the art audience were so well behaved, and attentive listeners… we don’t get that often and it is lovely! It’s great when someone comments on the lyrics, because they have listened carefully… it’s brilliant when they compliment the vocal harmonies that we have worked hard on. I introduced the set as an opportunity to listen to some more drawings… there was a strange “hmmm/ooh?” Sort of response. Nice.

So this week I will be sat in the gallery space to receive visitors, and chat if they want to. I’ll have my note book with me, and my small sketch book. The experience has already sparked ideas in my head what I want to do when this comes down. One thing being that I’d like it to go into a different space… Any ideas?

EDITED TO ADD: I’m doing an Artist Talk Q&A thing at the end of the run on Sunday 18th August 3-4 at General Office… if you’d like to come please book through Eventbrite. It’s free, but I’d like to know how much cake to bake!


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Sat having my breakfast, looking out at the garden… that middle distance staring thing… (it’s probably the new varifocals?)

I’m having one of those self imposed pauses… I know that from about 12 today till the 19th, I will be permanently “on”… so a couple of hours of the staring is ok.

The work is prepared, the walls are clean and tidy… all we need is a few hours with spirit level, step ladder and bad language and it will be up! I’m hoping I have planned for all eventualities, but there is usually something untoward that happens isn’t there?

But as long as I have tea bags and the kettle doesn’t fail me, I’ll be fine!


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