Archives for posts with tag: recycling

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I need to write on these canvases earlier on than I usually do and this presents a problem…. what to write? Usually the paintings have formed and developed before I commit words to them. Obviously I have a sense of what they’re about but this usually becomes clearer, more in focus, the more I paint. Committing to words right now is an interesting one.

I know it has to be about the sense of place. Dartmouth is such an incredible space not just physically but for me mentally. My thought processes seem different; I can dream bigger and see clearer; problems seem like challenges and spur me on; I take time to stop and to ponder and to dig deeper than normal – and the irony is that I’m not writing this there 😦

Oooooo. Past diary extracts! Bingo! There’s one on 4th August this year, part of which would suit….. but the pieces are about more than that. The whole thing is a symbol, stitched, constructed, formed. What fabric am I made from? I love this quote from Daniel Christian Bradley in his book ‘Tailored Dreams’: “taking the fabric of our past, tracing out the frame of our purpose, cutting away the excess material, and then stitching it all together”, such a beautiful description of what I want to achieve. We sometimes pick, pick, pick at the things about ourselves that we dislike, or moments we have struggled through, almost to the point that we unravel. If only we could see the full picture and understand that even though some past events hurt like hell, they have shaped us, help form us, made us who we are today, and often they can produce beauty: that strength you find when you least expect it, that sensitivity to someone else, the walking alongside others who have gone through the same, resilience, determination, unwavering desire to live life in all its fullness. Beauty from scraps of material, off cuts, seams, joins.

I think I can start to write now…

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Two things have happened over the last few weeks that has made me awaken. The fabulous and beautiful emporium gallery in Lichfield is closing down, and I had a phone call out of the blue. The first made me incredibly sad. Jannette and Amanda have become much more than excellent gallery curators – they have become friends and their advice to me over the years has been invaluable. They have always been welcoming, encouraging and positive about my work and I am so sad that their dream might be temporarily put on hold. I have absolutely no doubt that they will be back and stronger than before, but it has made me think – this was the only venue that supplied my work, now there is no other and that made me get of my backside and look around. I’ve no idea why I haven’t approached another gallery, probably because I was only producing enough to supply to one. But time to look around and see if there are opportunities I’ve not thought of.

The second was a conversation out of the blue with a complete stranger who had bought my work in the past. I think when you create you sometimes forget where pieces end up. These ended up in north London and it was such a thrill to talk to this woman and see the pieces again en situ, like being reunited with an old friend. Ironically I may have made a new one in the process and it has made me value myself and what I do again.

So, armed with ideas and an ounce of self belief I went to the shed! SO pleased with what I’ve done today. The start of three paintings that will eventually be coastal pieces. I’m so in love with Dartmouth, and it will be brilliant to create some work in which I can celebrate that.

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Brought the pieces inside to give them half a chance to dry before I gesso them tonight. Excited again 🙂

 

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The last few days have been really beautiful. As a family we have spent a lot of time together and it shows. All of a sudden we are listening more and understanding more, kinder even. Yesterday the kids and I copied an idea from a New Wine artist, making a cross from barbed wire. Fitted with gloves and armed with paint brushes I was not only humbled by their concentration and focus but also by their conversation. Both of them know Jesus and love Him. Their matter of fact statements, their faith unfaltering, speaks deeply to me. They trust. They have faith in Him.

I am currently rereading ‘A Beautiful Mess’ by Danielle Strickland and in it she makes this observation….. “The trapeze artists are really only free to take the risks they take if they know the catcher is reliable enough to catch them. It’s the trust in the catcher that enables them to be truly free.” This has resonated with me as it links perfectly with the work I’m doing about stepping out, stepping into. And it has occurred to me today, and it is so blindingly obvious, that the more time you spend with someone, the more you know them and the more you know if you can trust them. Blindingly obvious. It’s the same with so many things: family, marriage, church, friends, Jesus. I’ve been challenged today to look at what I invest my time in. In a moment of solitude on this beautiful day I am once again throwing myself into the arms of the Catcher and listening to His reassuring voice as He nudges me in the right direction.

Anna Crook - found things collection

Oh my word. I’ve gone back through my posts and realised I didn’t post any of the pieces that resulted from my experimental play with plasticine and kitchen foil!! Ironically the final pieces didn’t include any of these experiments but instead led to something completely different. Don’t you sometimes find that…. that playing with one material actually enables you to make progress elsewhere in your practice?

I love the ‘Thursday Next’ series by Jasper Fforde in which the main character Thursday Next goes in and out of novels to solve literary crimes. I wanted to take this concept a little further and imagine I could step inside a book myself and select an everyday object or garment which features in the book.  Accompanying the item is a piece of prose which is supposedly written by the character who came by it. Parallel to this narrative is my own story as to how I came across these items.

I loved doing these pieces, it was so completely different from anything I’d ever done before and yet it felt so familiar. I suppose they drew on the elements of my practice but came out in a different format. The finished pieces and explanations are below:

Anna Crook - found things i

Found items i – burnt nightdress

Down came the great staircase. There was a great crash as all fell. I, Richard Mason, came upon the said place where she fell and found, amidst the ruins, this piece of sad, torn cloth that came free as her body was taken and lain aside.’  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (written by Richard Mason, Bertha’s brother)

I could just imagine Richard Mason visiting the place where his sister fell, lamenting on her whole sorry life and, as standing there deep in thought, the fragment of material catching his eye. I imagine him picking it up and gazing at it with recognition and sadness before placing it in his breast pocket.

I came across this incredible Victorian garment in Second to None in Walsall, in fact they had a variety of near perfect Victorian night dresses. Due to how I was going to treat and distress the garment I asked if they had any already torn or worn pieces I could buy. She had one or two which exactly suited my needs and I progressed without guilt, tearing, burning and smoking the piece until it could realistically be taken for the torn and dirty fragment of Bertha’s dress.

 

Anna Crook - found things ii

Found items ii – locks of hair

‘I told Mr. Lockwood that I enclosed the black lock and the curl of light hair within the locket that hung around Catherine’s neck. Within the locket I’d twisted the two together, but instead I secluded them in my apron and stole away, intending to give them to the child when she was grown.’  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (written by Nelly, Ellen Dean)

Nelly had quite a complicated relationship with Cathy so maybe she could have done this. The scene before as Heathcliff hovers by Cathy’s bedside as Linton arrives, Nelly petrified for all their safety, evokes deep emotions. She may have taken the two locks and kept them, not only for the newly born Catherine, but to protect herself and the part she had played.

I have got into the habit of keeping hair after haircuts, especially when the children were young. I have also kept my own and the variety of colours it has progressed through as I’ve aged. The hair in the piece is my own and my daughters. In researching for this piece I discovered the world of Victorian hair weaving which was incorporated into jewellery pieces. It can be quite intricate, but in reading the book and with the haste in which the hair was removed and replaced within the locket, I cannot see there being time for more than a twist of the two locks, curling them together.

 

Anna Crook - found things iii

Found items iii – burnt veil

‘The great cloth, with its heap of rottenness and all the ugly things that sheltered there, mended with her veil. As it became like patches of tinder a piece separated and fell, floating in the smoky air. Every vestige of her dress was burnt but this.’  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (written by Pip)

Pip could have potentially kept this but I doubt it! However I loved the idea of the once beautiful veil being singed and covered with cobwebs, dust and dead insects. I work in a large shed in the garden and create alongside insects of all shapes and sizes, especially spiders. Every now and then I give the place a good dust, and this time I using some worn and dirty chiffon to collect all the detritus. The result was perfect and only needed burning and smoking slightly for the piece to be complete.

 

Anna Crook - found things iv

Found items iv – soap

‘To speak of such things, I dare not. What’s done cannot be undone, I am sure of that. Troubled with a mind diseased therein, I minister to myself. Hands scoured will no longer ease my brow. Thinks me a purging deed to undertake. I seize sweet oblivion.’   Macbeth by Shakespeare (written by Lady Macbeth)

The thought of someone, after discovering the soap used by Lady Macbeth to wash her bloody hands over and over, hiding it somewhere, intrigued me. This soap was handmade in Cornwall.

 

Anna Crook - found things v

Found items v – feather and horse hair

‘On my Father’s bench amid spanners and wrenches and oily rags was the most perfect pheasant feather. I gently picked it up and twisted the remaining horse hair around its base. I hung it alongside the fire balloon, the boomerang, the kite and the bow and arrow, against a wall in the workshop, for another day.’   Danny the Champion of the world by Roald Dahl (written by Danny)

Danny describes two wonderful events he had with his Father, the fire balloon and the kite, and both hang in the workshop. I thought it would be probable that Danny would select a pheasant feather to remember the most magnificent day of all.

This particular pheasant feather was retrieved from the floor of a large open stable, after I watched a gamekeeper pluck a dead pheasant ready for the evening meal. We were at a manor house and using the sports facilities there. We couldn’t miss the gamekeeper as we walked through the stable area into the sports hall. It was quite surreal watching this man transform a beautiful bird into a main course and a pile of feathers.

 

Anna Crook - found things vi

Found items vi – thimble

‘Called to give prizes, and the comfits handed round one a-piece, the elegant thimble was all that remained. After being gravely presented it went to where it had come and became the companion to mushroom morsels and cake crumbs in her pocket.’  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (anonymous)

There were many and varied memorable items that could have been taken from this book but I think the thimble is one that could be overlooked and makes the viewer work harder to guess the book. Such a non-descript item, it is mentioned and then forgotten almost as quickly. Something about this appeals to me: that even though its function was unnecessary at the time, it had a moment of redefinition and then became itself again.

I trawled through several antique shops to find one that would potentially have been used during the time which Lewis Carroll wrote his Alice book, and this is the oldest one I could find hiding amidst coins and buttons.

 

‘Danny, Champion of the World@ is at Emporium Gallery, Lichfield (see outlets for address)

Commissions taken. If interested please email artannacrook@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

img_5513 Not much to look at this may be but this is the first creative play I’ve carried out since September. I’ve been exploring the fact that I can procrastinate: that I let other things take up my time and that art is seriously being squeezed from my agenda. Everything else’s seems to have more importance, more weight attached to it and I’ve been choosing to do these ‘other’ things when I could have chosen to do art. Needless to say my son would be without birthday cake and my daughter may not have had the cereal boxes school required she needed, but something at some point must give. I cannot keep making excuses. What on earth am I afraid of? So face the music I must, and take a step into the vastness that is creativity I must stand. And I choose initially to do it with said cereal boxes rejected by my daughter for their smallness, plasticine and kitchen foil!! Let the creative play begin….. and continue 🙂

……. and let’s hope I can cook tea in super fast time!!!!!

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Today has been a good day already..in fact yesterday was rather splendid as well, in a ‘I ticked off the list of things I needed to do’ kind of way rather than in a world event way.  I’ve continued playing with rags and the idea that something discarded can become something new and even precious.

I’ve played a lot with wrapping the rags around different types of spheres and am pleased with the results, pleased enough to keep going in this direction for now. By adding the text the pieces are becoming more scroll like, unraveling a secret or a piece of wisdom. I like this, but experimenting with the type, amount and size of text now.

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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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