The Good Footwoman.

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Happenings in Studio.

‘What I would like to write is a book about nothing, a book without exterior attachments, which would be held together by the innerforce of its style, as the earth without support is held in the air–a book that would have almost no subject or at least in which the subject would be almost invisible’. – Gustave Flaubert.  (1852 to Louise Colet – Correspondance.

Gustave Flaubert believed that an artist should not judge.   He resisted reaching conclusions about the world but allowed himself the freedom to question it.   One of the greatest artists (writers) of all time, Flaubert was adamant that impersonality was vital in his writing and maintained that ‘writing does not comment on itself.  It presents and withdraws, like a good footman’.  He wrote about writing and painting as similar ways of seeing but advocated seeing beyond the obvious.

In my painting process, in those long hours alone in the studio, mixing, grinding, spilling and pouring, I am preparing for the moment which inevitably arrives.  I can no longer hold back.  The paint is let loose.  In this whole performance I am nothing but the body with an arm holding a brush, a hand pouring the cup of paint.   My relevance there is lost, I am insignificant.   The form and colour, the new shape overshadows everything I have thought up along the way.  For me these new forms have an inner force that holds them together by their style.  They move in on the canvas and that is all there is to it.   I am that ‘good foot-woman’ and I am happy to withdraw.   From that point on I  have no business nor desire to attach exterior meaning, importance or value to the work.

On Knitting.

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Vibrations In Time (2015). Oil on Board. 84 x 60 cm.

There  will be an art exhibition in a London Gallery in March called ‘Threads’.   The exhibition is a specially curated show for Women’s History Month.  Works of art from fifty artists from around the world will be brought together in ‘an international exploration of the threads that transcend the divisions of country, culture, language and religion to connect us all through our gender, humanity, experiences, friendship and relationships’ (Theartistspool.co.uk).  It is a great theme  and a percentage of sales will be donated to the Women’s Trust in London.

The idea of invisible threads connecting people across continents, cultures and difference through a common humanity appears at first to be pretty basic, even naïve.  T his is a bottom line, the first and most important consideration about our existence on this planet and it is a nice analogy.   Everything else, culture, religion, language, identity and ideology follows from this line of thread.  It took many thousands of years of development to separate humans into the categories and the countries which we now inhabit.

From a scientific point of view it could be said that the human body is by and large the same moving, breathing, living mass of cells, tissues and bones regardless of where it happens to live.   Naturally physical bodies adapt to different environments, but ‘bodies are bodies’ and variations are not that endless.  I am imagining here – what if those threads that connect us were all rolled up and pulled together so that we could bring everyone back to one starting point. On that metaphorical journey through time and history perhaps we could learn much about how knots of conflict develop or how threads got severed at  specific points along the way.  What an intriguing vision I have of billions of threads criss-crossing the globe, over and over being knitted into one gigantic ball of wool which we call planet earth!  Maybe that’s all we are, one giant big ball of wool spinning around in the cosmos, who knows?

Those complicated knots tie us up and sometimes seem impossible to unravel.   Threads of histories and relationships snap through trauma or are deliberately cut.  Yet, if we all held that simple thought of ‘a basic thread connecting everyone’ in our minds, maybe untying those knots and knitting things back together wouldn’t be so difficult.  Perhaps understanding how we feel connected to places and people across time and place would be darned easier.

Needless to say there are expert explanations to all of the above and great academic and scientific analysis to be had on all of my woolly musings. However, for the moment I feel lots of invisible threads attached to me, some dangerously thinning over time, yet others are strong and fast and enduring and they will keep me rolling along.   These latter threads are those without which I would unravel, and be lost.

This Other Place ….

There is an in-between space, a fleeting, ghostly place in those moments between sleeping and waking. It is a suspended, ecstatic kind of place, neither earthly nor otherworldly.  I am aware of my physical body in an immediate world yet I am detached from it, free of it. I can feel nothing therefore.  My mind feels liberated from its container and is soaring through memories and time, screaming with the exhilaration of enlightenment.  It is such a fleeting moment, a tiny glimpse of a parallel world perhaps, or maybe just a lingering remnant from my sleeping visit to the unconscious realm.

A Lasting Encounter.

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I Live For You.   Oil on Board.  42 x 30 cms.

The long period of dry, bright, crisp weather while I have been here in the Burren has been extraordinary and unexpected.   The colour, forms and sensations of this unique landscape have been intensified by the fine spell of weather.   My wish coming here was to absorb and translate the landscape as I found it into my paintings.   I am coming to the end of my time here and I will leave with memories and experiences to savour and think about when I return home.   It has been a positive and enriching experience.   I am now even more sure of the value and importance of the time and space in order to become immersed in a subject or place.   This precious gift of time away from ordinary routine and the pressures of life made it possible for me to focus on making a new series of paintings, responding to this wonderful place.

The colours and forms inscribed on the surfaces of my paintings will now be lasting forms and they have become new possibilities.   The conversation and prospect of creating new possibilities, whether in painting form or in the way we are recognised as individuals, is what inspires my practice.

Old Form – New Form.

These images were taken early this morning from my studio windows, front and rear .   There had been a dense overnight freezing frost and fog and it was just beginning to lift as I arrived at the studio.   From the front window I could  see the familiar form of the towering Newtown Castle standing guard for the college and the surrounding landscape .   To the rear of the studio you can see the dense fog and frost on the grass.   On the left there appeared a dark form.  At first glance it seemed to be solid and still.   However, it began to move and sway and it really intrigued me.   It was of course an artist, an early artist bird catching an early frosty moment of inspiration.   Such dedication, such simple freedom to get out and do whatever it takes to explore or push a particular concept.   I love this avant-garde mindset but I also love the starkness of the simple dark form rising up out of the mist and fog.   It suggests mystery, intrigue and drama.   I salute this brave artist.