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The search for a mentor is ongoing, but really what I am needing is astute criticism!

My current fascination with chaos and order (stemming from talking about art and maths) has led to thinking about my work in those terms.  I am deliberately pushing these terms into my work, the last piece I finished  : ‘11by11 grid’ or simply ‘grid’ started off with the very ordered grid format (on canvas) and then I worked into this with my current PaintWrite altercation.

I am now working on the same size (1.7m squared), made up of 3 strips of lining paper masking taped together.  The starting point for this was that it was to be in opposition of the ordered start of the 11by11grid.  I started with the sheet of sprayed newspaper that I couldn’t part with, after priming the surface with grey emulsion I stuck I little piece of newspaper with text on near the centre and started mark making with compressed charcoal (trying not to think too much about what was appearing, rather letting my associations guide me).  This one’s supposed to be ‘free’

It isn’t finished, yet at this stage it shows similarity with the 11by11grid in that there are definite sections, they are just rounded pebble shaped instead.



In February I’d like to continue to increase the amount of time and effort I dedicate to my practice and the research and reflection around it.

My aims for January are getting there.  The most important to me has been to build momentum into my practice (even if it means painting at 6am or 10pm.

I am finding I really need to research and write alongside my freer painting.

The PaperFields exhibition is coming on and I’m working on the overall identity for the series.

I am learning MailChimp with the help of Rebecca Farkas at Meadow Arts and I currently sorting out who’d like to be on my invitation mailing list.





Chaos and order in visual art – synopsis

Aims of writing this:

  • Clarify the context I’m working in.
  • Aim to work more into and out of my practice with reflective journal writing and linking my work with wider culture.
  • Consider what is NOT shown in my art (compared to other artists) i.e. what am I still holding back?
  • Control and influence (being influenced by environment v’s controlling it)

From ‘writing on the wall’ by Simon Morley.

‘The word and image are one.’ Hugo Ball 1915

Looking at the image / word threshold… Are images more pure than words? Marlene Dumas thinks not:

‘I can see why many visual artists dislike words in artworks.  They feel that words dirty the clear water that has reflected the sky.  It disturbs the pleasure of the silent image, the freedom from history, the beauty of nameless form.
I want to name our pains.
I want to keep our names.
I know that neither images nor words can escape the drunkenness and longing caused by the turning world.
Words and images drink the same wine.
There is no purity to protect.’


What I’m looking at is the boundary between chaotic unrestrained art and orderly art, considering its appearance alongside the artists’ way of working and intention.  Art that is strict and planned, and art that is intuitive.  I’m trying to figure out how some artists who are very intuitive produce incredibly neat work.  It’s something I don’t understand.  Alison Neal’s work often stems from the sea, re-examining myths and legends; the Odyssey.  Lexi Strauss produces highly considered pieces, but not necessarily ordered or chaotic.  I am over simplifying.  Lexi’s interest in vulnerability, and recently giving normally mute paintings a voice (something I’ve considered more recently due to describing my interaction in painting and text with as a visual opera).  It is the way I have been describing my painting-writing process and result as being like an opera – with music (abstract) being akin to my intuitive painting) and having words/writing which you may or may not understand.

Regarding combining my visual work and my reflection on it in the form of song – it’s not because I feel my work needs a voice… it’s more that my work is more about how I am describing my work to other artists and my conversations with people about it.  The conversations and debate around my work are as much the work as the physical object.  How I have a story (short) to tell about each work.  My singing of my PaperFields blog entry has revealed a new possibility which I am tempted to follow as I’m interested to put my words about my process of working into song and pair it with the work I’m singing about.  Work on display and headphones available to hear about the piece through my thinking in song form.  Not sure why I’m drawn to the song format, rather than speaking.

In this writing I need to cover which art I consider chaotic and which ordered and then unpick my reasoning and assumptions to reveal whether there is a better way of describing the art making process and results.  For each artist I consider, to what extent do they react to their environment (local or wider) and / or control it?

List artists whose work I consider chaotic and why:

  • Jackson Pollock
  • Cornelia Parker
  • Cy Twombly
  • Paul Klee due to his work flow and his varied subject matter
  • Tracey Emin
  • My own and I’m inflicting order a little with the grid currently

List artists whose work I consider orderly (control) and why:

  • Bridget Riley
  • Pier Mondrian
  • Pablo Picasso as he focussed on one thing > people
  • Alex Weaver (http://alexanderweaverart.tumblr.com/)  for same reason as Picasso
  • JMW Turner as he focussed on one thing > landscapes
  • Damien Hirst due to his forward planning
  • Francesca Woodman due to her consistent format and line of enquiry



I’m keeping my fingers crossed about using certain studio space in Abergavenny that I have found…in a few weeks I should know if it’s a definite maybe!  This is core to building momentum in my practice.  I wrote myself very short instructions in the manner of the ‘How to work better’ poster by Fischli/Weiss, which I’d like to turn into a screen print at The Print Shed:

Practical is needed.

Make it happen.

Be brave (fail).

Screen the screen.

Jill Barnaby at the Print Shed is going to host my solo exhibition in September as a part of h.Art  (Herefordshire Art week.)  The PaperFields 2nd exhibition is a step closer yesterday after a meeting with a great gallery in Hay-on-Wye.  Likely opening in April.

I’ve been working on the Framework time plan and have just made a funding application to support our website development and Magna Carta project.

I am working on my first project at Meadow Arts working on the marketing of the In Another Light exhibition fundraising event at Croft Castle (see http://www.meadowarts.org), taking place in a few months’ time.  I am brushing up my InDesign skills and getting going.

This Saturday I had a long overdue trip to London.  I saw the Late Turner – Painting Set Free at Tate Britain which is now in its last few days.  I felt an overall sense of being able to breathe the air of the landscape he consumed by painting.  The exhibition was very busy, often with people 4 deep in front of each wall and this contrasted with his work.

Next, I went to the Mall and visited the ICA.  I had read about Fig.2 (http://fig2.co.uk/) in the papers in December and find the exhibition concept exciting – 50 events in 50 weeks, curated by Fatoş Üstek.  When I visted (17th Jan) Charles Avery’s work was on display. The projection on the frame and wall was of a loop of circling birds – from fig.2 website:
His project at fig-2 unites different surfaces of reality through the collision of two and three dimensional forms, combining drawings, film and sculpture. Avery’s film uses dihedral figurations in motion that trace a pattern, which points to the constructs of time and space. This piece is a departure from Avery’s established practice, through the use of moving image and installation, which will be shown for the first time in the UK.

Planning another trip in a couple of weeks, so I’ll see what I find next time!  Intriguing.

Next I failed to book ahead for the Rembrandt – The Late Works at the National Gallery – stupid –and so couldn’t get in.  Had a wander through the galleries, then on the National Portrait Gallery where my feet led me (Brains in my feet!) to the Lord Snowdon rooms.  I found myself fascinated with a book featuring Tokio sculpture, 1964, by Eduardo Paolozzi.  (Can’t easily find an image of it online)

My last stop was back to the National Gallery where I found the Peder Balke exhibition – more landscapes but this time Norweigen.  Particularly enjoyed his Tree in Wintry Forest – this photo, as usual, doesn’t go it justice!

Also Sun breaking though clouds at Vardoks , 1860-70’s, which I can’t find an image for, I have a little sketch I did while in front of it.

The overall work was somewhere between these 2 of Balke’s I’ve found online.

I feel revived by what I found in London on Saturday and have booked ahead for a few weeks’ time.  Next time I’ll try not to fit so much in, which is a pitfall of living away from London.  (Other art and culture dense places are also on my wish-to-visit list: Cardiff and Birmingham soon– recommendations welcome!)