Monday, November 7, 2011

Feathered fantasy birds 2

Feathers and fluff fill my studio once again. After the successful sell out of the last flock this summer and having been told that feathers are in, I decided to open up the bottom drawer of my desk that houses my old bank statements but more importantly feathers. Neighbours who have seen my work bring me sealed envelopes but country walks and road kill still provide the bulk while my time in Australia often adds a spark of colour.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

For the last week in August I am opening my studio to the public and have decided to reopen the gallery next door. This gives me the opportuity to display my many and varied creations. The gallery Ar C'haou Dall was first opened in 2001 and each summer I held a show there until 2003. It was then transformed into a holiday let but after two years I' had enough. So now after a repaint it once again displays within local landscapes and illustrations from my book on vernacular architecture as well as sculptures and shell work. This exhibition will run until the end of the month when I then open a very different exhibition at the Tourist Office in Carhaix entitled L'Oiseau est mort.

Monday, June 20, 2011

L'Oiseau est mort.

L'Oiseau est mort. (an attempt to produce unsalable art)

It is now twenty two years since I gave up antique dealing and started to take myself seriously as an artist. Those tentative first steps were taken with much fear but also a certain sense of pride that I had the courage to take the plunge and hold an exhibition of my work. I emptied out the two front rooms of my house in Frome to display paintings and sculpture and was heartened by the support I received. Moving to Brittany meant I was free from any money worries and in Central Finistere I found myself to be one of just a handful of artist. I accepted that isolation would inevitably be part of my working pattern. It was relatively easy to become known and after a few years I opened a gallery alongside my house and studio. A decade on and in the depths of a financial crisis there are very few people locally with any form of disposable income that enables them to even contemplate buying art. Having now had sevral exhibitions where there have been no sales I have been forced to look at my pricing, promotion and subject matter. Reducing my prices is simply not an option since they are in many cases only half of what I charged two decades ago. Promotion via a new website is underway and I will be looking to holding exhibitions further afield, however if I am to continue to show locally I have decided that I must attempt to produce unsalable art so as not to be disappointed with the outcome.

A few years ago a friend brought round a small bag containing a desiccated blackbird she had found in a drawer. Quite how the bird had ended its days stuck there nobody was even prepared to guess. The bird joined my collection of bazar objects and there I had found my unsalable subject for surely no one would wish to hang such an image in their home. Since the images were made specifially to be unsalable it followed that they should either be destroyed or given away after being exibited. So I showed them to a few friends and was somewhat surprised to find they loved them and although none came out with their cheque book. I felt I had as yet not succeeded in my goal to produce unsalable art and the bird, even though well and truly desiccated had taken on a new life finding within the images movement, and once again the dead bird flies.

Interest in death came as a natural consequence of living on a farm where at lambing time birth and death were accepted as an integral part of life. None the less there was a child's fascination that meant when one of the farm cats died our shepherd Neil Tyson would not let my brother and I see just where he had buried it being sure that we would only go and dig it up again. Aged four and five we had not yet learnt about respect of earthly remains and the rotting process but now all these years later I handle bones wth a certain reverence for their structural beauty. I imagine that in a former life I could have been a sun-baked Egyptian archaeologist armed with a soft brush dusting away the sands of time rather than that grave robbing child who would scan the midden for any recent signs of burial.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vive la differance"

All beauty has a strangeness within and an element of the "forbidden". If an artist is unable to portray the real beauty before him, what ever the sex shape colour or age of the model, then he performs the art of the voyeur. The inability to accept and appriciate the beauty of all our differences if left unquestioned becomes the root of racial hatred. The pornographic industry and concentration camps alike proclaim the cheapness of human flesh. An artist's job must be to see that priceless jewel of induvdality that lies within each of us. If the world remains unable to see the beauty in all human forms then the case for cloning of humans can only become stronger, "Vive la differance!"
Life drawing is perhaps the most important part of being an artist and yet I hear they no longer teach drawing in many art schools, no matter what form your art takes it is essential I find every couple of years to touch base and look again at the human form. The self portrait is yet a another almost theraputic tool which in my case allows me to remain connected to the human race reminding me that I too even in my solitary monastic existance am part of something much bigger.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Now you see it, now you don't.

Everything is in a constant state of change on our planet often so small we hardly notice the difference but then just occasionally there's a big one. Towards the end of last summer while up on the Isle of Lewis I took a stroll along the length of Traigh Mhor beach and up along the cliff edge to Tolsta Head where during the nesting season Skewers fly in low threatening to vomit or shit on any intruders. I spent some time sketching the dramatically weathered cliffs and magnificent pinical forms and later did an oil painting from one of the sketches.

This spring I returned to Lewis to continue building work on the barn adjoining my house at 17 New Tolsta. One day while in Stornoway I bumped into a neighbour who was eager to inform me that the great stone stack at Sgeirean Thealair had fallen. I struggled to remember just where this was and then realised that it was that which I had painted the previous year. So what you see in the picture is not what you get as hundreds of tons of rock have crashed into the sea leaving a considerably blunter form.

Friday, January 21, 2011

There is something immensely theraputic about staring out to sea. Julius Olsson the St Ives school artist did this for practically all of his painting life with some remarkably well observed images of light on water.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Flooded track to field.

This winter promised to be long and some forcast it to have six periods of intense cold. True there has been bitter frost and unusually deep snow but the New Year started with a wet and relatively warm spell which has meant its been possible to roam. In doing so I came across this old farm track with the late morning sun streaming down through skelital branched trees with glistening ivy covered banks and an almost perfect mirror reflection. It is an image that sums up for me this time of year in Central Brittany when it is possible to see deeper into the heart of this landscape uncluttered by summer boccage and fields crammed tall with maize. Winter sunlight has a special quality that simply by its rarity lifts the spirit and in the protected shelter of the farm lanes spring seems so close you can smell it. Gone are the fungal decaying months of autumn along with the fettered house bound mid winter hibernation and hope returns anew with a fettling shaft of sunlight. Contre jour the silhouetted trunks partition the light over faultlesss waters that demand of the child within to hurl a twig and ripple that mercury surface with little outward curling waves.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter reflections in Brittany.

L'hiver cet année est plutôt une question de survivre est je sais il y a des autre qui a plus de mal que moi mais peut être eu il vis pas dans une grand maison du 1692 et qui n'est pas facile a chauffer. C'est pourquoi j'ai déménager pour vivre dans mon étalier avec mon travail, mais l'instant que il y a le moindre du soleil je sort pour couper le bois sur les talus et ramasser les paner pour faire un bon soupe.

The work is now all signed, something I often forget to do. I have decided to leave the bulk of them unframed as they are easier to transport plus there being limitted exhibition space. While I accept gallery commission on work I do object to paying commission on a frame which I have paid for and may very well be discarded as not suitable for the customers decor. I have so enjoyed these paintings of Scotland that it is only now I realise there are other exhibitions here in Brittany later in the year and they also demand new work. Since I will be in Scotland from March to May it is now that I must paint. We are in the heart of winter so low reflective light, skelital trees and their shadows will be my subjet matter. There is as usual at this time of year significant amounts of water standing in the meadows alongside the river and it is here that I can continue the across the water theme with reflections as well as shadows able to indicate what lies outside the limits of the picture.