Saturday, 28 December 2013

Getting my brain back in gear

Groan!  I have a surfeit of food in the house and am planning the new year's eve family gathering.  I am going to have to vastly increase my exercise in the new year to work the over consumption off!  We are all having a very nice family Christmas up here in North Yorkshire; we managed to clean all the builders dust away just in time.  It has been a relaxing gathering, with more family arriving tomorrow and on New Year's eve itself.

I hope that everyone reading this blog of mine is having a very happy Christmas and I wish you all a successful and fulfilling 2014.

I am now beginning to think about  my work again; I already have two deadlines looming for mid January.  One for the Sketchbook Project, , which I have not even begun and needs to be registered and posted by 14th January, and another for the International Postcard show at the Surface Gallery in Nottingham; again, not started yet.  For both though, I have some ideas, so I am looking forward to doing the work.

The cheque to North Yorkshire Open Studios must be posted in January, so I must not forget. NYOS also want some photos of me working in my studio; I hate having photos taken of me, I am much better if they are taken with me unaware as I get very self concious.  On January 16th we have our trip to MIMA with Ryedale ArtWorks, where William Tillyer is going to show us round his retrospective exhibition.

I need to decide if I will submit to the Ferens Open in Hull as well.

Meanwhile I have to plan how I am going to get my large painting across to Manchester for the W0budong exhbition.

I see asemic text everywhere:

The bright white light reflections in this textured glass really look like magical text that somehow expresses something that is intangible.

I am determined to be in the studio as much as possible next year in order to make lots of new works, both large and small as well as some research into suitable galleries for my work.  There is a huge amount of work to be done alongside my responsibilities as Chair of Ryedale ArtWorks.  

Oh, and I don't think I have mentioned this before because my daughter-in-law has been understandably cautious:  I am going to be a grandmother in the summer!  (Fortunately due after the NYOS in June!)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

North Yorkshire Open Studios 2014

After a particularly awful day as far as our refurbishment project at home is concerned, I was feeling very low this evening.

When I finally opened my emails I was delighted to read that my first ever application to participate in NYOS 14 in June next year has been successful.


The selectors were:

Gary Power, Head of MA Fine Art: University of Sunderland
Denise Fahmy, Visual Arts Relationship Manager, Arts Council England
Yvonne Hardman, Gallery Officer, Touchstones Rochdale

This is just the incentive I need to get back in the studio after Christmas and concentrate on my work.  I will finally get those prints and artists books made.  I want to complete the quartet of large paintings begun last year too, so that will be two more big canvases to paint.  Oh, and I have some small boards that I scavenged from the left over timber that I will make small paintings on too.

 I am really looking forward to getting back to work after having such a long absence because of all the building work going on at our house.  

I know that there are quite a few artists from Ryedale ArtWorks who regularly participate in NYOS and that I will be able to rely on their extensive experience for some good advice and tips on how to make this first time as good as I can.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Opening of RAW's first exhibition in York

Our first exhibition beyond Ryedale's boundary opened last night.  Sue Slack and David Stephenson were selected from the Ryedale ArtWorks Directory by the gallery owner Issy and her colleagues.  It is interesting that they selected Sue and David, not knowing they are partners!  Their art really does work well together.

Congratulations to Sue and David for pulling all the work together at what was really short notice, two weeks, if my memory serves me correctly.  It all looks good in what is a small and perfectly formed space. The hanging system is simple and effective and the lighting is excellent; not something you can say about many venues.

Priestleys really understand the importance of presentation too; the banners designed in collaboration between Rob Oldfield for Priestleys and Andy Dalton for RAW, work very well, signposting visitors from the outside of the shop right through to the downstairs space.  They look very good:

I think that this collaboration between RAW and The White Gallery @ Priestleys No. 36 is going to be a happy one.  And I bought the mirror; I know Pete will love its Art Nouveau influenced styling.

Sue and David finishing off the labelling, the mirror 's Art Nouveau styling (left) is enhanced by copper rivets, which I think really enhances the piece.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Ryedale ArtWorks goes beyond the Ryedale boundary

I am excited to be able to announce that Ryedale ArtWorks, in collaboration with The White Room Gallery,@ Priestleys No. 36, in York, is going to stage a series of exhibitions starting this week for the Christmas period and bi monthly during 2014.

I happened to hand one of our Directories to Rob Oldfield, who is associated with Priestleys and with whom I worked alongside Andrew Dalton,  supporting a re-hang of paintings in The Green Howards Museum's temporary space in Richmond.  It turned out that Priestleys were looking for artists suitable for their tiny but perfectly formed space.  The Directory is a powerful marketing tool for Ryedale ArtWorks artists.

Thanks to the dedication of Andrew Dalton, who has been working on the funded exhibitions project, Priestleys have selected artists Sue Slack and David Stephenson for the inauguration of our collaborative relationship and I am sure it will be the beginning of exciting things.  We are really looking forward to working with Priestleys and hope that this will lead to other events for Ryedale ArtWorks artists and makers beyond the Ryedale boundary.

Meanwhile, leading on from the training day led by Anamaria Wills of Cidaco a few weeks ago, during which Ryedale Artworks members had training on the subject of mentoring, I am busily devising training workshops and sessions for our members.  This is another strand of the work we are doing that is funded through Ryedale District Council's Creative Commissioning process.

The third strand of our funded provision is improved professional development meetings for members and I am now also working on recruiting speakers for future meetings.

It is a very busy time; the quality of what RAW is able to deliver to members is improving all the time through this work. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

First Mail Chimp Newsletter and W0budong

I have taken hours to get to grip with the Mail Chimp thingy, and still, the newsletter does not appear in my own inbox!  Why is that, I wonder, does anyone have the answer to this?  If you do, please post me a comment or email me, I would be very grateful.

So, here is the link to my first ever newsletter:

Let me know what you think!

I have put the notification about the upcoming show in Manchester in the newsletter, but I shall repeat it here because I am so excited about it!  is the link to a website featuring the participants, artists Jayne Lloyd, Catherine Wynne-Patton, Claire Smith, Julie Brixey-Williams and Sue Gough.  During the next few months we shall be blogging/discussing ideas relating to the work and the exhibition on the site, the culmination of which will be the exhibition in Piccadilly Place, Manchester.  (details below)

The title, W0budong, is a phonetic translation of ‘I don’t understand’ in Mandarin, which I just love.  It reminds me of the title of the artists group I was part of, " Ennoia", meaning  "a thought before it is fully formed", taken from a Greek word if my memory serves me correctly.

The show is being held at:

Three Piccadilly Place, Manchester M1 3BN on 10th - 16th March 2014
The work by the other artists looks amazing from the photos on the web site; I am really looking forward to seeing it all properly and meeting them in the real world rather than the virtual one. Happy days!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Hull: City of culture 2017

I was really pleased to hear the  news that Hull is going to be our city of culture in 2017.  Since moving up to North Yorkshire eight years ago we have not done a lot of exploring around the region and beyond. (This sorry state of affairs is going to change next year; we have some serious exploring planned).  I have only visited Hull 3 times in my life; once as a child, en-route to the highlands of Scotland for a family holiday, this time last year, when I entered a piece of work for the Ferens Open, successfully, I might add, and during the summer when we went to the Freedom Festival, and visited Gallery 11 in the Fruit Market District.

I was really impressed with the vibrant visual arts scene as well as the music being played on that lovely sunny day.  I already know of the Hull Truck Company but am not familiar with their work really, finding a lot of performance art a bit too much to take.  Sorry, performance arts people.  I think the art collection at the Ferens is very good, and enjoyed the time I spent looking at it last February.

I have been enjoying a WEA course at Woodend, Scarborough for the past nine weeks called Ten Twentieth Century Poets, taught by the wondrous Jonathan Brown, it is, sadly our last session next Monday.  Phillip Larkin is one of the poets we studied; he lived in Hull for about thirty years, I think, and he is one of the stars of the city that will be featured in the celebrations, I am sure.  I am looking forward to learning what events Hull will feature in the twelve months; I know that their community involvement was an influential part of their bid and will be a strong part of anything they do.  I heartily approve of this.

I am glad that Hull is not too far away; I shall look forward to visiting many times both before and during their fantastic year of celebrations in 2017.

Images from last year's Freedom Festival in Hull

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Art Party Conference, Scarborough

The Spa, Scarborough, a glorious venue, I'd never been there before.

I nearly didn't go - I was feeling very tired after a busy week with the builders and re-painting furniture.

But I did go, along with Pete, (I've not seen him much over the past month or so, I bought him a ticket; how could he refuse?)  We were accompanied by Yvette Turnbull, Creative Economies Officer, RDC and made a merry trio.

I am glad I did go: it was really fab!  Apart from missing the talk with Jeremy Deller and Cornelia Parker, we were running very late for making this and then we got stuck in the lift.  How many men does it take to find the key to a lift?  Answers via the comments box please!  

Opening the conference; the Mayor of Scarborough, left; Bob and Roberta Smith, centre and Stewart of Crescent Arts, right.

Bob and Roberta's opening, the reading of his letter to Michael Gove set the political tone for the afternoon; Art must not be marginalised or excluded from our education curricula; it is as important as any other subject and sidelining/deleting it will lead to a decline of creative individuals and industries in this country.  

For details of the progamme, speakers etc use this link:  and for a brief report on the conference:

Aside from being stuck in the lift, another cause for excitement and slightly overawed giggling happened when Cornelia Parker suddenly sat next to Yvette during the talk we attended about the importance of Art! Our favourite speaker on the panel for this talk was Sam West, actor; he put into words with passion the importance of the subject so succinctly that he has become one of my new favourite people in the world.

I have amassed a goodly collection of posters, fliers and info regarding arts groups, projects etc.  There was cake too!  The stands were manned by people eager to impart information about their projects/organisations, there were many, many regular short speeches about the importance of Art in education, in society, in life.  In fact there was so much to see, listen to, contribute to, it was all a bit of a blur!  

One of my favourite stalls was the one run by Nailwraps: Influences, an Artsadmin commission for the Art Party Conference.  This project is the work of Phoebe Davies, who, working in collaboration with groups of women, has been exploring current attitudes to geder equality, feminism, female expectations and aspirations.  Working with nail wraps and young women, they are making a real difference to their lives. The nail wraps available on the stand were all women working in some form of the arts or youth projects.  I chose Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre, b. 1969, a Uraguayan artist, activist lecturer and writer. (See pic above).   Ana's practice is community based and concerned with collaboration, exchange, self directed learning and pooling knowledge.  From 1995 - 2012 she worked continually on the long term project the artist as a neighbour, working locally as an artist and as a community organiser around her home in South London.  (Info taken from their leaflet at the stand).

Congratulations to Crescent Arts and Bob and Roberta Smith for organising this conference, which I believe is the first of its kind.  I hope there will be more.  After all, if artists do not agitate for their subject and careers, who will?

Bob and Roberta Smith's web site contains his letter to Michael Gove:

For information about Crescent Arts:

And here, Susan Jones argues that new measures are needed to support artists financially:

Friday, 8 November 2013

Art Connections web site, an old pine cupboard and a new opportunity

My page on the Art Connections web site has finally gone live.

I think they are still working on the site though as Andy Black's work is being used as the thumbnails for the drawing and illustration categories, but his page is not there.   It is beginning to look very good though and I am pleased to have been accepted and placed amongst the other artists represented there.

Art Connections is part of Chrysalis Arts, an organisation that supports artists in Yorkshire, although they rarely seem to reach to the Eastern region of Yorkshire, which is something I think they are working on at the moment.  Their work at the moment seems mainly focused on the western areas of the county.

At the last meeting of Ryedale ArtWorks, a member asked me what I was working on at the moment.  I said "a cupboard", which startled them, to say the least and made us both giggle.  While all the building work is going on at home, it is proving extremely difficult to make work, so at least I am making good use of my time.  I am indeed working on a huge old pine cupboard, which I bought earlier in the year.  It is heavily and badly shellacked, and I had been dreading painting it until I discovered chalk paint by Annie Sloan.  I know, I am sounding like one of those crafting moms on YouTube now!  This paint is making the transformation of my cupboard so easy that I cannot begin to tell anyone who reads this how thoroughly excited and absorbed I am.  I am painting it with two colours, which then have to be sealed with clear wax to protect and seal the paint over which I am altering the colour with dark wax.  I am a painter, so the blending of colours has come quite naturally to me and I am really enjoying the process of bringing the cupboard back to life.  And, if I decide I am not happy with the colours after all, I can just repaint it!  Here are a couple of photos showing the stages of painting and waxing I am undertaking:

This is what the whole of the cupboard is like, with its heavy dark brown varnish.  I removed the knobs on 2 sets of drawers as they were ugly, mismatched ones.  I need to source some replacements now.

Showing the three stages of paint and wax application.  The inside of the cupboard and drawers in Scandinavian Pink, I mixed Old White and Duck Egg Blue to make a blue grey which goes over the pink and when the surface is distressed a little, the pink shows through, and yes, I did also paint the drawer sides on the outside!  The drawer on the top shows how the colour is altered with the dark wax.

The reason I have digressed with this happy tale is because I am trying to set the scene of me, working away on the cupboard in my kitchen singing along to Minster radio with the builders, who are just through the new opening, working away, or upstairs sorting out plumbing, with brief stops for tea and lunch.  After a long day of painting and waxing, (the waxing part is really hard work, but it has kept me warm), I sat down on Tuesday evening to check my emails.  One, from Jayne Lloyd caught my eye as it had "exhibition" and "participate" in the title, although I could not at that moment place Jayne.

Imagine my delight when, on reading it, I realised it was the Jayne Lloyd with whom I had conversed via our a-n Artists Talking web site, and she was offering me the opportunity to participate in an exhibition that she is curating as part of her Chinese project, to be held in Manchester!  I felt a bit sick, but in a good way!  The exhibition is taking place in an emtpy office building, close to the railway station and is in effect, a "pop up".  I am looking forward to meeting the other artists involved.  Jane has requested one of my large paintings, so I shall have to make sure I sort out the transport.  The exhibition takes place in Feb/March.  It is such a good feeling to have another show on the way.  We have been discussing how we can present the work because we are not allowed to drill holes in the walls.  At the moment, the plan is to paint breeze blocks white and rest the painting on those, leaning it against the wall, which will look fine and I happen to have a supply of said blocks in my garden at the moment.

The theme of the exhibition is artists who have visited and or been influenced by Chinese script.  I cannot wait!  It proves that social networking is a valuable tool in the development of an artists' career; if I had not started my a-n blog, read Jayne's own blog and contacted her, which led to her looking at my paintings on my facebook page, this opportunity would never have arisen.  I like the Artists Talking site; it is a fantastic community to belong to, with access to the insights of hundreds of artists.

All rights reserved

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Jennifer Tetlow: The Museum as Muse

Jennifer has spent a year exploring the Harrison Collection, now housed in the museum, as the inspiration for new work.  Having previously visited her workshop during an open studios event, I am familiar with her soft, lyrical carving.  Jennifer’s sculpture is honed from close observation of her rural surroundings and the creatures within it.  The stone she usually selects is local Yorkshire sandstone for its ability to withstand the elements because most of her work is designed to be displayed outdoors.

I was intrigued, then, to see that this exhibition consists of sculptures carved from a variety of different types of stone, displaying tactility of surface and reflecting the light in different ways.  The white walls and ceiling of the gallery, combined with the whites and neutral shades of the stone punctuated by an occasional black piece creates a satisfyingly unified exhibition.

Only one major sculpture, Glow Worm, (male), is carved from the local Yorkshire sandstone that Jennifer usually employs; it is a satisfying slab of a piece and contrasts beautifully with its more curvaceous female counterpart, Glow Worm, (female), placed diagonally across the gallery from it and carved in a beautiful white Bath stone.  The quality of the Bath stone pieces set on the white painted plinths were rather bleached out by the harsh lighting, which is a shame because this made it difficult to see the more subtle aspects of the carving.  (On my second visit, this had been rectified to a certain extent by turning off the overhead flood lighting).  “Vessel” is a piece, carved in Bath stone and inspired by a whale’s blow hole, satisfyingly solid, with beautiful curves and subtle folds carved into it, that would have benefited from more sensitive lighting.  I did like the contrast between the quality of the stone and the painted plinths and it set me to wondering what the pieces may look like if they were placed on natural wood or other types of supports; it may be something that Jennifer will consider as she develops this line of enquiry in her work.

However, I will not dwell on this; the exhibition is testament to Jennifer’s engagement with the Harrison Collection.  The small black carved “Magpie” smoothed and curved yet still capturing the essence of the bird in its pose is a piece that forms a link between Jennifer’s usual way of working and the new, vibrant and tactile pieces in this exhibition.  There is a variety of scale; down the wall on the left a series of shelves displays small maquettes to which I was drawn time and again, their carving intriguing, satisfying.  Jennifer talked about the carving of the spoons of various sizes being comfortable and warm in her hand and how she relished the connection between these responses to the spoons she studied in the Harrison Collection, the ones she has carved and the silver spoon found in the thatch of the Manor House on site in the museum.  In fact, she talked with great passion about different connections that unfolded as her study of the collection developed, things such as the beautiful and rare Alabaster stone she decided to use because it catches the light becoming a metaphorical reaction to bringing the objects within the collection from the dark of storage boxes into the light.  She learned with delight that Alabaster is traditionally finished with whale oil, creating yet another connection with the scrimshaw pieces in the collection.


Along the right hand wall there is a series of three boxes containing small pieces that are really anthropomorphic reminding me of ancient works made by our early ancestors; tiny as they are, they have a really strong presence.  A group of tiles depicting simple silhouettes of domestic items create interesting still lifes and illustrate Jennifer’s eye for composition and tone.
One of the small pieces that I found very appealing and satisfying features in the publicity photographs; it is a smooth polished piece of alabaster held within a coronet of Bath stone inspired by a pipe lighter in the collection.  The contrast between the two types of stone and the way they have been finished is utterly beautiful.

The large butterfly piece with its accompanying inscribed tablet, both placed on the end wall of the gallery lacks the animation of the other pieces in the show and tends to dominate the space; I think they would have been better placed on one of the side walls. 

All artists bring to their work their eclectic life experiences; the touch of their hand is what makes a piece of work their own.  I was fascinated when Jennifer talked about “the ease of the curve”, meaning how her own body naturally makes a curve in one direction much more easily than in another.  Jennifer discussed during her talk how collecting is a natural instinct in all of us, (again, the magpie surfaced in her consciousness), the Noah’s ark in the Harrison Collection held resonances with her own childhood and memories of fables and moralistic tales; we all crave objects of desire.

Jennifer has responded to the pieces within the Harrison collection with the eye and touch of a real craftsman; she admires and relates to the craftsmanship of the individual items, enjoying the connection of hands that make and hands that use.  Things such as jelly moulds, pipes, sticks, traps and vessels of all kinds provided her with a rich source of enquiry.  Her sculptures have provided us with an incredibly thoughtful link between old objects, craftsmanship and contemporary art practice.

Sue Gough, October 2013

Jennifer's exhibition is in The Gallery, Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton le Hole, North Yorkshire and runs until November 3rd

Content copyright Sue Gough all rights reserved  
My images of Jennifer's work used with permission of Jennifer Tetlow

This review will appear in December's edition of Valley News.  Thank you to Jennifer Tetlow for her time and to Nicola Chalton of Valley News for the opportunity to be published.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

a-n Artists Talking Blog and a Very Old Drawing

I have been very caught up in domestic issues of late; building work at home is about to resume, family members are sick and a dear friend has been re-hospitalised.  Add to this the glut of apples and pears awaiting conversion to various chutneys and recipes and you will have a good idea of what I'm on about.  

Since my solo show at Easter there has not been much time to make new work and I talk about this in my a-n Artists Talking blog:
If you read it please feel free to leave a comment either here or on the a-n site, it is always nice to receive feedback.

Meanwhile I found this drawing, done in 1970 when I was fifteen!

I had forgotten the monogram I used to use (my maiden name is Walden); nice comment from my teacher, Val Tierney:

I remember the brief was to draw our face, exploring the spatial difference between our features using different qualities of line.  I took it seriously and did this drawing, no mean feat in our house of 5 kids and no where to work;  I think I had to hold the mirror in one hand, hence the low viewpoint and draw with the other.  It caused quite a titter from some of the other class members, who brought in pretty pictures of themselves but I was always an artist and genuinely fascinated by the brief and the outcome!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Underpass Mural in Basingstoke 2003/4

When I was in Basingstoke recently for the opening of SKETCH 2013, I took the time to visit Pallant House Gallery in Chichester (see previous blogs) and on the way back, being on the right side of the town, I took a detour to the underpass in Cliddesden Road, close to the entrance to Queen Mary's College, where I used to work so that I could take some photographs of the mural that students and staff worked on together.  I am pleased to say that the mural has withstood the test of time really well; it has lost some of its finer details due to the constant cleaning by the council to remove the regular graffiti but on the whole, it still looks good.

It's a shame the council forget to keep the plaque clean!

The brief was to use colour and shape relating to the theme of the seasons to produce a design that flowed along the walls of the underpass.  There was a lot of prep work done during three tutor's teaching sessions, this work was then simplified and reduced to the final design. Looking at these photos, it seems that we produced one design that was painted onto both walls but obviously, because the walls were opposite one another the design reversed, keeping the overall effect lively.

The design work was also shown to residents so that their feedback could be taken into consideration.  We used a combination of collage, painting, print making and drawing combined with colour studies to explore the theme.  I seemed to be walking around college with several very long pieces of artwork that constitued the final designs under my arm for weeks running up to the completion of the project, because I was terrified of losing them!

I did take quite a lot of photos at the time, of students painting the underpass, but I have no idea what happened to them.  As we gradually sort out all the stuff that's been in store for years, they may turn up.  I remember it was a specialist paint used that is fairly resistant to graffiti.  I also remember the great fun the students all had producing the final piece.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

AN Artists Talking

My blog on AN's Artists Talking web site is about my development as a re-emerging artist and what I am doing in that role and as Chair of Ryedale ArtWorks:

Monday, 30 September 2013

Tiredness Kills: Take a Break!

I am too tired to write my usual full blog since returning from down South.  The builders are back on site and a potential major problem has already been identified and sorted out (I hope).  The title of this post comes from the motorway warnings I seem to have been seeing constantly just lately, and it is a reminder to myself to not push too hard.

However,I had a day in London on Friday and  I can report that the following exhibitions are very good:

  • Mira Schendel, Tate Modern.  Absolutely fascinating and absorbing as well as beautiful.
  • Richard Rogers; Inside Out, Royal Academy (Burlington Gardens): inspiring.  I feel full of hope when I read Rogers' words and see his models for human, urban living.
  • Li Songsong; We Have Betrayed The Revolution, Pace Gallery, Burlington Gardens. Great slabs of gutsy paint.  Loved them.  
I also saw Mexico at RA, but was too distracted by my lack of time to look at it carefully- I was not that impressed by the show but there is a good early Guston.  I didn't have time to see William Tillyer's work in Cork Street and I was sad about that.  

The reason I went down South again was to attend the seminar for SKETCH 2013 on Saturday. It was very interesting to hear the speakers talk about their own approach to keeping sketchbooks.  The discussion afterwards was thoughtful, although at present I cannot really recall much of it.  I am sure it will come back once I have some calm, quiet time.

I arrived home on Sunday afternoon with a little time to clear the kitchen of most of its contents in readiness for the great opening up of the new doorway and resulting dust and was up at the crack of dawn to finish the job before the builders came on site.  Then this afternoon, I was off to Scarborough for the second session of the short WEA course I have enrolled on entitled Ten Twentieth Century Poets.  Jonathan Brown our remarkable teacher enlightens and truly informs;  I always leave feeling completely uplifted.  I look forward to next week.  

Tomorrow, once I have checked the builders are OK, I'm off to Thirsk and from there Andrew Dalton and I are going to Leeds to discuss possibilities for the RAW flagship exhibition.

Meanwhile, I am considering participating in next year's North Yorkshire Open Studios and have sent off for the info pack.  I am longing to get back into the studio and at this rate, it will be the cold winter before I do, but I am learning to keep the faith and go with the flow, using my sketchbook to make small studies and put my thoughts down.  I am continuing to read, so it is not wasted time.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Chagall and Some Good News

We followed the good weather West to Liverpool yesterday; travelling to Tate Liverpool to see the Chagall exhibition before it closes on 6th October.  Chagall is not a particular favourite of mine and I certainly do not hold with the Picasso quote on the wall towards the end of the exhibition that states that with the death of Matisse, Chagall would be the only artist left who understood colour.  Chagall's colour seems to me, mostly raw primaries or hues used straight from the tube; the use of Viridian green straight from the tube is a pet hate of mine!  His gouache studies are much better with their use of colour and compositions that employed patterns to greater effect than in the large canvases.  I could happily have taken any of the small pieces home. 

I was disappointed that the exhibition did not include any of his more well know "dream" type paintings but this is because the exhibition deals with Chagall's time in Paris before WW1 and in Russia after the outbreak of WW1 and the Russian Revolution, where he became trapped after he had returned to Vitebsk, his home town, after his time in Berlin where he had an exhibition of his work.

What I do like about Chagall's work: 

  • His use of imagery that refers to his Hasidic community and the village of Vitebsk where he came from.
  • The development of personal symbols and use of colour that referred to his life and his belief that his emotions linked to colour.
  • His use of scale within compositions; tiny figures are depicted amongst huge ones.
  • His use of patterning within his compositions often referring to his Jewish roots.

When we returned home I found two nice emails; I am pleased to be able to say that I have been included in the selection of artists for the  Art Connections Artists Directory.  Information and images will be uploaded over the next month as part of the redevelopment of the web site. The selection panel were: Sara Trentham: Freelance Arts Manager & Consultant, formerly Arts Council England Visual Arts Officer; Grace Whowell: Freelance Curator, formerly curator at Platform Gallery, Clitheroe and the Art Connections team.  Art Connections are part of Chrysalis Arts, an organisation dedicated to supporting, connecting and developing arts and artists, and an organisation that I have a better understanding of since Rick Faulkner gave a talk about their work to Ryedale ArtWorks recently.

The second email was from Paula Briggs of Access Art, awarding me one of their stars.  An Access Art Star is awarded to people working at grassroots level who they feel have demonstrated particular commitment, enthusiasm or motivation in inspiring others through visual arts education. You can find out more about the AccessArt Stars here:  Needless to say, I am delighted to receive one.

Friday, 20 September 2013


General installation shot of the exhibition in the gallery space at Rabley Drawing Centre

The Rabley Drawing Centre is nestled in a soft green valley in Marlborough, Wiltshire, situated in a beautifully converted barn. I imagine that to attend courses here would be a real delight; their print making fascilities are pretty good and if I lived in the area would certainly attend some of their workshops.

 I am delighted to be part of this exhibition of fascinating glimpses into the thinking of other artists.  Many thanks to artist director Meryl Ainslie for curating the show, which allows visitors to handle and look through the books, (cotton gloves provided).   It is a refreshing change to the usual glimpse at one or two pages through the glass of a cabinet. 

My book is on the second shelf from top, far left.

I am looking forward to the seminar on 28th September despite the long drive down.  

The fact that the exhibition is touring to other venues in 2014 is a real bonus, especially for me as I work hard to establish myself as a serious artst after moving up to North Yorkshire.

Monday, 16 September 2013


It's been a busy weekend; the opening of SKETCH 13 at the Rabley Drawing Centre, Marlborough, Wilts. was on Saturday afternoon.  It was very well attended and the work is displayed brilliantly.  For more detail, read my blog on AN Artists Talking:

Today, the pages in which I am the featured artist on the Access Art web site go officially live.  I hadn't realised that I am the first artist to be selected for this, again more details on my AN blog.  

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

I Am Access Art!

Emerging Star mixed media drawing. 2012  Private Collection

No, really, I am!

I found the opportunity to become featured on the "I am Access Art" pages of the Access Art web site some months ago; I can't remember exactly where, it could have been on Twitter or one of those opportunities for artists web sites.

Anyway, I sent off all the information they asked for and got on with life, as you do. I was delighted to hear back from them that I had been selected!   It wasn't until many weeks later that I suddenly thought about it again and noted that I had not heard from them about when the pages would be produced and published and I assumed they had changed their minds.  However, not one to be too pushy, I decided just to wait and bide my time.  Which was a good decision because towards the end of the summer schools break, they popped up again, apologising profusely for the delay.  Paula required a little more info and some more images for the exercise I have devised for the second part of the publication, which I duly supplied.  I had thought that the pages would not go live until Monday 16th, but I am happy to say they are up already. Once I have been featured for the alloted time, the pages will be strored in their archive.

I am really pleased that the work looks so good on the site and that the exercise to make a layered drawing is up; I hope that people will have a go.  In my experience of teaching, so many students are afraid of drawing until they realise there are different ways of doing it. So good luck to all the teachers and students that give it a go, I hope you will be as absorbed and delighted in the process as I am when I draw.

It was a pleasure to work with Paula Briggs, who edited my words with skill and sensitivity. I wish the Access Art web site continued success.

All rights reserved

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Developments and Stuff

After a few days away in Whitby for a well deserved break to celebrate Pete's birthday it was back to frantic hard work.  

I had a couple of artists over to try and convince them that Facebook and social networking is worth making part of our artistic practice.  I showed them what I do, extolled the use of blogging as a way of making contact with other artists; we ate lunch and shared cake.  I think it was worthwhile - I have yet to check out their fb pages!

I am trying to complete the painting of exterior door and window frames at our house, plus I had an important Ryedale ArtWorks meeting out at my studio to prepare for, and again for Ryedale ArtWorks, we are working very hard to put in place the mentoring programme, plus planning for our showcase, out of district exhibition has begun.  See my blog on Artists Talking for more details:

Which all means of course, that I have not had any real time out at the studio to develop my work.  However it will come. . . 

I spent a couple of days out at the studio, preparing for the meeting, putting some work up for the first time since my major overhaul and reorganisation:

Most of my work is stored on racks at home, so I had to lug some back to the studio; of course this means I now need to re-wrap it all and bring it back home!

It was worth it though as the meeting was a great success.  

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Sudden Flurry of Admin. Work

Drawing, How Many Wondrous Days, seems apt for this post today!

Having been informed I had been selected to appear as a featured artist on a web site some months ago, I excitedly emailed off all the information they asked of me.  I was a bit disappointed not to hear anything for what is, I think, a couple of months but it is not in my nature to hassle people unduly, so I didn't email and enquire if all was well.  I just philosophically assumed that perhaps, after seeing the work, they thought it was not for them!  (Artists' low self confidence kicking in, you note).

Imagine my delight yesterday morning, when I received an email from them apologising for the delay and asking for some more info., with links to the proof pages as they appear so far for me to look at!  The pages are looking good; only a couple of minor mistakes and I am very much looking forward to having them go live.  Once they do, I will post details so you can see for yourselves.

Meanwhile I have also spent considerable hours filling out an application to be considered for an entry in Chrysalis Arts' Directory.  

Chrysalis Arts' Rick Faulkner came over last Wednesday evening to the Dutch House  to give Ryedale ArtWorks  a presentation about the work they do.  I have to admit that I had previously been very confused about all the different aspects of their work but now feel I understand the organisation much better.  I am pondering on some ideas that they might be able to help me with. . .

The next application I am going to make (and I have been prevaricating on this one for over eighteen months or longer), is to AXIS.  This is to me, a very important step; serious artists are here; the site gives artists access to wider recognition and I consider it time for me to join their ranks.  I know I don't have as much experience as many of those represented on this site but I know my work is good enough now, particularly since I was accepted for SKETCH 13.  It is remarkable how a little success boosts my confidence and sense of myself as an artist.

Gouache study, no longer extant, because it got painted over, but which I still refer to with thoughts for a large painting. . . .