BA Hon Painting
This painting started with a photograph of a building in the middle of being renovated, a very large tarpaulin covering it. I wonder where on earth one could find such a huge swathe of material? It covers like a shroud. What is it about this I find so sad, I wonder? The idea of covering up, like a dead body being enshrined within folds of material, the obvious religious connotations. I can’t help but think of teardrops, melancholy, the feeling of falling
One wonders what is underneath, a skeleton of a building, hidden rooms, doorways and windows maybe. Is it derelict, or is it something being reborn?
I took various photographs of other buildings similarly covered up. I wanted to convey an idea of a conglomerate of falling shrouds. I set them amongst a tangle of trees – simply because the branches looked messy and complicated, representing the complexity and all-embracing structure of human life.
Within the folds of material I have included a few obscured doors and windows and created a sense of movement amongst the wafts of material. It reminded me of a world amongst the trees – an Eco warrior city. My painting within the image was subtle, to highlight and deepen and to add an extra veil that glides over the top in parts.
I think of Franz Ackermann’s work, his extremely large and colourful paintings, suggestive of vibrant and sprawling urban and city environments. My work is much quieter, subdued in colour and size, more closeted in its depictions.
Drapes, folds, covers, shrouds, layers upon layers where we can only glimpse what may lie behind. Responsibility, social expectation, habit, shyness, self-consciousness, humility, necessity, mask our own faces. It is often hard to see the sadness that dwells within people – we can only glimpse it through the cracks or under the covers.
There is no doubt that I like to have a bit of fun in my paintings and this one is no exception. In ‘Bad Boy’ I have played with images of a vacuum cleaner (yes, again), a duvet and a metal bed head.
When I was manipulating my original photographs in Photoshop, I selected bits of the pattern within the duvet and produced a kind of virtual stencil which I carried over on to other parts of the image. I found it amusing that to create this, I have to delete bits. Erasure becomes a key part of the composition. I played around with the bed head to emulate the same directional pattern.
The colours are dark with diagonal scatterings of pink. ‘That’s a bit sexual looking’ says one of my friends. Hey ho, so be it. I did say I liked to play. The duvet is exploding across the canvas and yes, the hose of the vacuum cleaner is dominating. Bits of the black within the painting are very black, so impenetrable that it is cruel – there is no getting through it. There are elements of design to it with the way the pattern cuts across the piece.
There is always some decision making to be had when I am choosing which elements to paint and which elements to leave as purely photographic and digital. I spend an inordinate amount of time just looking at the piece. To be honest, perhaps I should be called the lazy painter, as I probably do more time looking than doing anything else.
Within this looking I begin to see things. Movement, pulses, rhythms, patterns, caves within caves, levels within levels. It is these I play with close up with paint, a dot here, a squiggle there. I step back and go back to looking all over again. It takes me ages.
I have worked out that whilst it is important to think about what I am doing in my painting, to interrogate my practice and the processes that I use, it is equally important for me just to get lost within doing it. Perhaps it is about letting the unconscious just come out or to let chance make its magic. Whatever it is, I am not afraid of this process, I like it – a mixture of control and absolving myself from that control. It allows room for other possibilities to reveal themselves to me. If it all goes belly-up, then there is always another day to let my imagination see something else.
‘Bad Boy’ is a playful intervention between images, space, colour and paint.
Albert Oehlen, the Futurists and the poet Ted Hughes were on my mind when I was making the Painting ‘Crazy Bitch’. That domestic machine the vacuum cleaner was my muse.
It sits in the corner, brooding, making me feel guilty that it should really be put to more use. When I do use it, I frequently battle with the thing, bits fall off constantly, I get tangled up in the hose and it no doubt needs to be emptied so lies in wait with full dust explosion potential. It doesn’t help that this make has a face on it which smiles at me. ‘Naff off’ says I, feeling pretty stupid that I am having discussions with a machine. But such is the solitary life of an artist. We get to have these conversations with all and sundry. Doesn’t have to be alive.
So clickity click with my camera, it becomes the subject for my latest work. The real transformation is within Photoshop where I play with repeating the form and emphasising the menacing nature of the hose – the idea of the trappings of everyday objects taking over. I have fun imitating pen lines with my mouse, creating virtual detritus upon the surface. I also fragment and distort both form and direction, some bits become like collaged inserts or small windows into something else. The vacuum cleaner becomes both threatening and dynamic – imbued with the power and savage cruelty of the animals in Ted Hughes poems.
I transfer the resultant digital image onto canvas and further transform it with paint, playing with arcs of the hose, the different shades of greys, the smouldering heat of the brown/black cleaner body, the glowing pinks and purples, trying to find that tentative balance between paint and digital image. I try to experiment with these ideas in a suggestive way so that the final painting crosses somewhere between the real and the imaginary. I am influenced by Albert Oehlen’s work – where it somehow plays with ‘that space between’ as well as grittily referencing technology, representation and abstraction.
As it shakes and shudders like some sort of Futurist painting, I cannot help but think – ‘this is where I am!’ Just a few weeks to go until my degree show, and I am all over the place in my head and in my actions. What to do….?
This piece began in a similar way to my previous painting ‘Concrete Glass’. It started with an ordinary walk through an urban environment, but in this case, by the side of a small river close to where I live – a piece of wild London.
It is a diptych of a river bank, trees and weeds along the side, reflections within the water. It began with a photograph of the scene. I liked the fact that the actual trees and their reflections framed the image delicately and in equal balance.
Using Photoshop I merged an image of some material I had photographed. Originally this material had covered a building and hung in great swathes like some sort of shroud (something else that always seems to catch my attention.) I wanted to include it as it seemed to mirror and echo the movement within the water. I tried to emphasise how it dances and swirls and give a feeling of layers and depth within the river.
I printed my digital montage onto canvas and then using oil paint, I played with the colours, the light and the dark. Introducing small rough squares of pastel coloured paint I tried to emulate the sparkle and feeling of magic that occurs when the sun dapples upon the surface of the water.
I wanted to capture the sense of half-conscious thoughts that dreamily play with this ordinary but alive scene. A maelstrom of rhythms and patterns, suggestions of the baroque inner world, the idea of your subconscious looking back at you.
Somewhere in the shadows
This painting originated from a random photo I took as I was walking somewhere round London. I can’t recall what day it was and where I was going or even the time of day. It must have been sunny or else there would not have been any shadows. In fact I think it was the shadows that attracted me – the environment was very ordinary – a pathway in an urban street, weeds and grass growing against a ramshackle fence. All completely forgettable. However the shadows had a life of their own which I wanted to explore.
I created a triptych, deliberately repeating elements within the image, as if walking step by step. The contrast of the light and dark attracted me. That which is ethereal and only an illusion looks real and menacing; that which exists is washed out by the sun. I experiment with reversing the imagery and mirroring it against each other. I play with the space and movement within the image – the directional pull of the shadow against the pathway. To act as an interruption against this I insert another version of the image, focusing on a contrasting pattern against that of the pavement stones.
The colour palette is kept quiet and soft. The sparse plantation against the fence suggests to me the delicacy of Oriental gardens and courtyards. I am trying to evoke the idea of an area one passes through every day without really looking, but is there in the background, soaking into the subconscious, and triggering half formed thoughts and dreams.