Part of my own discovery and development of works comes about through a variety of conversations with a plethora of different artists. At ZeitgeistArtsProjects.com we have an open plan studio at ASC in New Cross Gate, within that we have ten artists Graham Crowley, Kate Murdoch, Michaela Nettell, Rachel Wilberforce, Charley Peters, Shelley Rae, Henry/Bragg, Katie Sims, Kate Bowen (who has recently left to go to Burma) and of course Annabel Tilley. The open plan nature – we have no doors, allows for a cross fertilisation of ideas, to look at, be involved in smallways, talk about, discover and explore each others works. Interestingly as well within all of our works is some kind of investigation of space and architecture; whether architecture of body, soul, place or identity. I learn from them all the time and feel very lucky that collectively we have created a space of critical thought and generosity.
Graham Crowley, who taught me at RCA (when I was lost in the fashion and textiles dept creating paintings ) has continued to be a mentor ( and friend) and takes great delight into popping into all of our studios to look at our works and his words and directions and questions will appear over these blog posts.
Creating works from the starting point of the riots has been a massive change for me- (especially where I am now with my works) . As I went from the representational and literal buildings such as Reeves Corner, (which felt otherwordly in its depiction with its pink skies and the last wave of using print in my works- ) in many ways, I stepped closer to the buildings.
My lens sharpened to look at more intense intimate spaces, tense spaces; the broken windows of buildings from the riots.
Michaela Nettell gave me a translucent piece of fabric for me, as I started these paintings of glass, it became part of a piece called Alias that grew out of Splinters – a close up.
I wondered how the vulnerability of the fabric and stitch could set off the violence of cracked/ smashed glass somehow and could be used to physicalise and evoke the sensations of violence of the riots and the fragility/ vulnerability in which we as people felt during that time. To also create a “tension between embellishments (embroidery) and depiction (painting). These paintings have an atmosphere that’s both tranquil/still – a sense of absence (after the storm…)- presence vivid in its method of depiction – presence.’ Graham Crowley
In Splinters, a friend likened it to a Hopper painting, a sense of cinematic, stillness, absence. A contemplative landscape of solitude.
There was also this wonderful review of the riot works by Tom Jeffreys of Wild Culture
“These quiet, blue works form a series of personal relics – “a kind of commemoration (the stitch being about reparation)”. There’s a note of the elegiac here – a contemplative sadness for a past and absent moment of violence – but also hope, beauty and a sensitivity to the individual (story/event/rioter/shop-owner). ”
Read more here.
Graham came one day and asked me about the voids in the shattered spaces of the paintings Butterfingers, Unknown & Splinters, he asked a pertinent question
‘ What treasure lays in that space.’ It led me to creating rich layered glazes in the voids, that gleam. Annabel considered this development as a space resonant of ‘Chardin & Bacon, a psychological space’ which they certainly are more and more. The question also led me to consider the following and this is a note from my art diary where I catalogue and order thoughts, words etc.
Windows=possibility of another existence. It literally seals interior and exterior worlds. They are about separations and boundaries. They are the orderly exterior of a building. A space between humans and humanity ( in this context). once broken and fractured, elusive buildings are no longer safe, secure spaces. Glass broken, loses its strength, it fragments and ripples, it cuts and splinters, it becomes a cobweb into which we can become entangled. In those spaces that have been broken we see signs of life.
The intimacy of objects, desired and stolen, a table a chair, important things. Tools of our works. Places to rest and think…
Glass reflects back at you…