broken-pieces-iv

Looking back over my artwork I have noticed that I often use material or stitching within the composition, making or stitching together material scraps and paper to form my own material like the piece above, or using important or significant material within the work, like in the piece below which incorporates pieces of my wedding dress material alongside the Terry’s nappies that my Mum placed me in and kept from when I was a baby. I think sometimes you don’t realise a theme in your work unless you revisit and look again at the work created.

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I was startled to see how often I use material. Each time the reason for use is different and significant. Recently ideas for artwork have started to form around the use of filthy rags.

The Japanese word ‘boro’ means tattered rags, clothes that have been patched and repatched. It is linked with severe poverty and yet the current fashion ironically incorporates a similar method.

4,000 unwanted babies were left at Foundling Hospital between 1741 and 1760. The mother would often leave a piece of material cut from the clothing she was wearing to serve as a form of identity if she ever wanted to reclaim the child and this material was kept with the hospital’s paperwork for the child.

The sense of identity wrapped up in the clothes we wear or keep for sentimental reasons.

All of these thoughts are linked and yet very separate. No idea where this will lead but ideas are starting to form.

Images below are of past work incorporating material spanning work from 1999 through to last year.

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and it makes no sense at all. I cannot visualise the artwork that is to come but i’m seriously excited. been reflecting a lot over the last few weeks and tomorrow is a day of action.

now, my hope is this – that tomorrow, when I drop the kids off and I grab a mug of tea and walk down the garden to my shed, I don’t get distracted by the dust gathering on shelves and the hoovering that needs doing and the dishwasher that will inevitably need unloading and the bulb that needs changing and the clothes that need sorting and the wall that needs painting and all those thousands of excuses and ‘but….’s, BUT that I stride past them all and keep walking to that incredible space that God has so generously provided for me and that I am obedient.

 

Just suddenly realised that I’ve got so caught up in my work that I haven’t blogged for an age and loads has happened.

One of the most wonderful things was that ‘Nana’ and ‘Self’ were shortlisted for the Lichfield Prize, and then ‘Nana’ was selected for exhibition in July. It was just wonderful to be part of this great exhibition, which was housed in both Lichfield Cathedral and Lichfield Garrick, as well as the Emporium gallery itself. The quality of work was simply stunning in some cases. Nana is now back here, wrapped up and ready for her next journey to my Mum who I know will treasure her.

The work for New Wine was completed in time and was even dry! I struggled with one piece more than the others and that needed varnishing the day before. Even so, I was really pleased with the pieces. They are at New Wine right now and so will I next week. So excited to see what God does with them. It never ceases to amaze me how He uses every day things to speak to others. The whole experience in incredibly humbling for they are nothing more than canvas and paint and yet He can use even this small offering to His glory.

 

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Today is a good day. It is a free day, a long day and today I am focused. I started these pieces for New Wine and was only able to get two layers on them previous to today because the weather was so damp the paint refused to dry!! But today it is warmer and I have a wonderful 6 hours still ahead of me. These pieces are created through layers and layers of painted words being painted one on top of the other, the paint being watered down in some cases and left in others. The surface builds and builds and as they do i am just soaking in the words of truth. Quoting Meg Ryan from the film French Kiss, i “feel all pruney!” Love it!! The pieces change so quickly and often I lose them part way through and then find them again later on, but the layering of words of truth is just such a wonderful way to paint and create a textured background.

Some of the pieces were originally failed paintings that I am painting over, and that in itself is interesting as the texture of the painting below is still fighting against the new letters. I find this fascinating. Exactly like me. Recently I’ve been fighting against tiredness that has come out of nowhere and with no real origin…. unfortunately it’s not the result of late nights of wild living, and a real lack of conviction, which is ironic really as I feel a strong sense of direction at the moment. Who knows what’s going on in my mind. But today is good.  Today it is going well. Today I feel I am getting somewhere and so I will take this day and embrace it.

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It’s a most peculiar thing. For a long time I have had a drought creatively but something over the last two weeks is slowly being released. Been looking at the theme ‘Shadow’ for the up coming Lichfield Prize associated with Emporium, Lichfield. I’ve taken the theme literally for both pieces with an additional twist. For my own I’ve tried to explore the two sidedness to my personality: the hiding, dark negative thoughts, withdrawn and often haphazard side contrasted to the much more presentable and confident positive side, the shadow of the darker one always present but often subdued or pushed back by the positive one. Weirdly, part way through this piece I couldn’t get the lip colour correct and this coincided with a random nose bleed….. the exact colour I needed!!

The second piece is of my Nana and will be much more realistic, a pencil drawing on crumpled paper. The thought behind this one is to explore the growing truth that as one becomes older, one can seem to become a shadow of our former selves and yet all that we are is still present and tangeable to those who know and love us. The scariest thing about this piece is that after sketching in the initial outline to ensure composition and accuracy of feature placement it looked a lot like me, which I suppose is predictable but startling all the same.

Enjoying the sunshine and the shed and the pigeons landing and hopping across the roof as I come to terms with my own mortality and try to embrace the whole of my personality.

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Just call me Jonah. Seriously surprised I am not currently sitting within the belly of a massive fish but maybe I am in a metaphorical way. Let me explain.

I was given a picture or an image in my mind nearly eight years ago at a women’s weekend. It was incredibly clear and I could see it immediately in painterly form, which is rare. Usually an initially image is very blurry and I only have a sense of what it may look like: the scale, the tone, the meaning. But in this case it was clear. I was standing there, it was me, a photograph of me, and this water was sort of falling down….. on top of me, washing, cleansing, restoring. It was incredibly moving and it still is. And the way the image presented itself was like the figure was painted and as the paint was washed away the reality underneath, the photograph, was revealed.

and then I ignored the image….. for eight years. No idea why. It wasn’t a conscious decision. Maybe the timing is right now, but the image has been re-revealed to me again and again over the last week, even last night at the Alpha course when we were spoken to about Holy Spirit. So today it’s time to start and already something within me is becoming unlocked.

I have a good friend, good because she keeps me accountable and listens even when I talk utter drivel, kindly pointing out it is utter drivel when I’m strong enough to listen. Anyway she has know for absolutely ages that this piece of work needs to be done and she has been like water in a cave, slowing hinting, sometimes bellowing, relentlessly reminding me that this piece of work has to be done and although at the beginning it was like a slow steady heartbeat I now see this stalactite built up before me that I simply cannot ignore. So I just wanted to say thank you Westwood x

Back to the shed……

I submitted the small canvases yesterday for the Shrugborough Hall exhibition which starts on Tuesday. Was really pleased with them but something was missing. They didn’t resonate and I found that frustrating. Then something came to me I was thinking about recently and that was to paint blood red on the top and sides of the canvas. The Passover is celebrated just before Easter and it was for the Israelites to remember their deliverance from the Egyptians recorded in Exodus 12 and 13 of The Bible. “When God sees the blood on the lintel and two door posts, God will pass over the doorway, He won’t let the destroyer enter your house to strike you down with ruin.” This powerful image of saving blood, the Old Testament sacrifice of the lamb, is replaced by the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus crucified, but the image of the lintel and door posts being smeared with blood holds power for me. So I painted the sides and top of the canvases with red and this completed the image for me. I think I will use this again in my art work.

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It was a little peculiar leaving the canvases in the dropping off room. I think Greg thought I was a little spaced out because I just hovered for a while. Very strange. Deadlines are such a help to me but to complete the pieces and then to have to relinquish them so quickly was quite peculiar, didn’t quite like it. I didn’t even enter the room with confidence, apologetically almost. I unwrapped them and placed them on the floor ready for him to sort and then waited for nothing in particular, not really even speaking, which I must be careful of!! It’s a strange thing. You make something and live with them sometimes for months, even years, and then you let them go and the next time you see them they are on a wall, in different light, almost not yours any more. It’s a peculiar type of grieving.

This morning I was excited as I was meant to be meeting up with my lovely friend F but we awoke to little one with a high temperature, cough and general restlessness so plans are shelved. But as she rests and loses herself in Narnia I can catch moments to paint.

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Three canvases….. work in progress

Such a painfully slow process but the stain paintings are getting there slowly. Layers and layers of paint are poured onto the canvas and left to dry of their own accord, allowing the paint to spread across or not as gravity and texture allow. They are currently outside, basking in the beautiful sun while I clean the bathroom!! Mmmmm. I’ve got it wrong somewhere! I’ve worked out what I was trying to say some in that I think I am being found again. Lost myself for a while there, which happens to me every now and then, but slowly realising that all is not ‘grim and dark’ as Small feels in Deb Gliori’s marvellous book ‘No matter what’.

The pieces are ironically about stepping out: stepping from that place of safety, of darkness even, of comfort and of complacency and into the nothingness of trust and faith. It’s like the sky…. so incredibly vast and big and more than I can comprehend and yet I feel like we are called, every now and then, to step into it, not quite knowing what is ahead and not quite knowing where it will lead. In between the darkness and the sky is some stitching which has the appearance of a ladder and I think this is where I currently reside, not so white knuckled as I think I was a few days ago but hesitantly sitting on the rung and maybe swinging my legs a little, contemplating my next potential step. I am not yet standing, nor am I letting go of the rungs, but as the work continues I usually find that the whole process is therapeutic and a means to my own courage and learning. Maybe this is why they have taken so long.

So frustrated. I’ve completely lost my thread. I went into the shed today after a week’s absence and I’ve completely forgotten what the point of the pieces were. I just looked at them and couldn’t work it out. I’ve had ideas milling around in my mind but not substantial enough to note down or with enough substance to draw, and somewhere in the mix of all this I’ve lost what I was trying to achieve. So I think, space tonight with a mug of tea or a glass of wine to just sit and think, to sketch and write….. find my thread again.

I’ve just read the previous post about finding who you are and not compromising and not having fear to express who you truly are….. Think it’s more important than I thought to regain the meaning!!