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Sometimes I have to get away…

I looked at the chatter about the event on facebook and thought “oh I wish I lived closer then I’d go!” But then it occurred to me that I could get on a train and actually go. So I very cheekily added a comment to the chatter and basically got myself invited. I found a cheap ticket into London and out the other side and currently find myself in Kent!
The Sevenoaks Visual Arts Forum is presided over by Franny Swann, Rosalind Barker and Sue Evans since its creation in 2009… I am told it began as a studio based crit group and has now grown to over fifty members. The event I attended was a group open exhibition, the evening given over to a selection of the artists talking briefly about the work presented. About a dozen artists speaking for about five minutes each. It was fast paced, up close and personal. Five minutes meant there was no bullshit: This is what it is, I made it like this, this is how it sits within the body of my work, two minutes for questions then onto the next. Great format. Very exciting.
I have come away enthused and having made connections with other people’s work, and insights into the ways I express my own ideas. It’s great how one sentence from one artist pushes into your own consciousness. David Minton (actually another a-n blogger) presented his work… Two large framed pieces about the same height as himself. Monolithic tablets of graphite, painstakingly applied, beautifully textured representations of mother and child-now-adult… Balanced proportions providing a real tension between the blocks of grey that looked like skin. The narrow line between the panels narrow enough to hold them together as if magnetised, yet strong enough to be as wide as an ocean. The marks made into this stunning surface were violent but sparing.
David spoke of the eyes touching and the hands seeing. I can’t tell you what a profound effect this work and his words has had on me, and how I am thinking about the chairs I want to work on. I need to pull back. My thoughts of what I might do to these chairs at the moment are clumsy and immature… Not yet cooked.
If I talk of the touch that doesn’t touch, then my touch needs to be very light….

The other artists spoke with eloquence, humour and honesty. I loved it all, but David was my star, because he made me think of my own touches… And how one small well considered mark might say everything I need it to say.

Sevenoaks is fortunate to have this group. It lives now, having outgrown its humble beginnings, in a gallery space housed in a modern building between library and museum. The group itself is a fantastic resource- a bank of professional artists under one ┬átitle. I sensed no clique, I sensed mutual admiration, support and a real sense of how important the arts are in this area and of the value placed upon them. The variety of style, media, and philosophy represented wide and deep. Many other areas could benefit from following this model. It works really well. I don’t know to what extent this is because of the hard work and commitment of its founder member (actually I do, their contribution is huge, and basically free…) but it should be nurtured and appreciated by everyone who benefits from it. Franny Ros and Sue set the culture of this group. It works really well.

I might invite myself to the next exhibition too….