STATEMENT

SPENT 6

I have been a contemporary artist/printmaker for over twenty years with a studio in Tring, Hertfordshire. My work is driven by political and cultural concerns covering issues from Maternal/Female Subjectivity, Eating Dysmorphia and Memory to the Civil War in Syria; it is therefore conceptual and photographic in influence.

An interest in and knowledge of the Polymer Print process is the transformative tool which enables me to create visually strong imagery. Non toxic polymer printmaking is perfect for layering the documentary authenticity of photography with the versatility of Relief and Intaglio processes and its use of line, sumptuous texture and colour.

My Blog https://cyberslog.wordpress.com/ permits comment on recent exhibitions and other artist’s work and Art Theory, and this Blog is where I share some insights and images of my own practice and enjoy the feedback and support.

I have written about Art theory especially Feminism & Psychoanalysis in Art and have been published in the peer reviewed Journal of Visual Arts Practice. I have had technical essays published in Printmaking Today and I devised, found funding for and organised a Community Arts project called ‘A Day in the Life of Grovehill’ in Hemel Hempstead and would like to do more community work.

I open my studio to the public annually and this year I am opening in June as part of the Bucks Open Studios.  I enjoy sharing my knowledge and teach Non Toxic Polymer Printmaking in schools and colleges and in my studio.   I constantly look for new opportunities and collaborations to generate artworks and to find a new audience.  I am interested in new ideas and technologies and welcome exciting challenges.

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Coming over all Colourful

Random feather - cobalt & burnt umber

 

I have never been all that bothered with colour.  As a printmaker I have been obsessed with achieving good, opaque and solid blacks – get two printmakers together and they’ll spend most of their time discussing the relative values of the black parts of their works.

 

Flite I

But recently a funny thing has happened to me, I’ve been getting really excited about COLOUR!  I have no explanation for this, am I trying to cheer myself up,  or am I expressing some kind of inner harmony?  Who knows, but I’m enjoying the fun of discovering pleasing and unusual colour combinations.

goose - rose pink & terra cotta 2

I have posted a few here for you to see, I hope you find them pleasing.

peacock x 4 cobalt & raw umber

EGG HEAD

Egg Head 9

 

Cast Crystal Sculpture

15cms x 19cms

Influenced by the Easter Island heads, this rather more domestic scaled piece exploits the ability of glass to trap elements and free them within the illusion of space made solid.

Glass is transparent, you can see through it, it almost isn’t there.  However this negative quality is juxtaposed by its actual materiality – you can feel it, it can be incredibly strong, it prevents access and it represents a barrier. Because you can see the surface, the interior and what lies beyond, glass has the potential to represent the discrepancy between the verifyable shell of our bodies and the private reality of the person we really are.

If we could see inside our heads, what would we see?  I would like to think that our ideas and personalities would float like these little bubbles of air, swirling in good intentions and good will towards the similar well-meaning minds that surround it.

 

RECOLLECTING AND FORGETTING 2

Recollecting and Forgetting 2

“Every photograph is a certificate of presence.  This certificate is the new embarrassment which its invention has introduced into the family of images.

…..The important thing is that the photograph possesses an evidential force, and that it testimony bears not on the object but on time.  From a phenomenological viewpoint, in the Photograph, the power of authentication exceeds the power of representation.”                                                                        Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, pp87 – 89

This work explores the photograph’s connection to time and to memory; and it seeks to show how this aspect of the medium makes it both fascinating and potentially uncanny.

A photograph authenticates a person’s existence, because, as Roland Barthes says, it is “the certificate of presence.”  But it also denotes absence. We have our memories but back them up with the evidential force of the photograph portrait.  We value the images of our departed relatives; they are the evidence that once that person existed, and like our memory even photographs fade. They fade slowly, and infuriatingly sometimes, only the general outline of that person, like a shadow, like a ghost, like a faulty memory is all we have left.

These twelve Polymer Etchings are derived from one photograph of my grandmother taken in the 1930’s when she was my age; I was not there when they were taken and she is not here now.  They describe through sequentially diminishing imagery, the process of time on memory loss or dementia.

THE OPERATOR. THE SPECTATOR. THE SPECTRUM.

Monotone Obscure.reveal - no border

OBSCURE / REVEAL I

Double-Plate Polymer Etching

280 x 385 mm

August 2015

“Whatever Photography grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible:  it is not it that we see.”

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

This is the first of a new body of work that aims to explore the power of the partially obscured, or inadequately seen, photographic portrait.  In this print a powerful abstract swathe of ink threatens the image with invisibility and doing so adds potency to the impassive face.

We live in a world in which the art of memory seems almost obsolete, having been outsourced to communications technology, through which perfect, high-resolution images and information are endlessly uploaded and reproduced. These contemporary methods of digital record-keeping let me to wonder what impact this would have on our perception of ourselves, and the loss of meaning on our sensibilities. And what affect the proliferation of so many perfect representations of the human face would have on the appreciation of old and unclear photographic souvenirs, and whether their very fragility by contrast would confer some mystery and power on these fragments.

This triggered a new direction in my practice and an exploration into the impact of partly obscured portraits.  Francis Bacon stated that his portraiture sought to “Deform into the Truth” and in a similar way these prints aim to reveal by obscuring the unique nature and moment when this image was fixed for all time.

SILENT EPIDEMIC

I read this week that eating disorders are on the rise again among girls. They are starving themselves in a tragic, tormented attempt to achieve perfection.  It’s been dubbed the ‘silent epidemic’, and is a disease that creeps silently through the country’s schools, colleges, universities and is devastating families.

It is difficult to know how to halt its progress once the illness has taken hold.  It affects boys, too, albeit half as often as girls, and no one can predict where it will strike deepest.  A slew of figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre his week shows the number of teenagers being treated for eating disorders has doubled in just three years to almost 1,700 last year.

That we should resist the temptation to pressurise our offspring to achieve, is self evident.  How to do this is the question; the answer surely must to let light onto the subject.  We must talk about this.  Educate those vulnerable, impressionable minds not to fall prey to their obsession – drip-feed by advertising, fashion and the media – to be the thinnest.

We must use everything we have to counteract this pressure by meeting each ‘perfect’ image with another ‘real’ image of what bodies should look like.  As an artist, images are my stock-in-trade, and I have created a new artwork  called Dis Miss in an effort to throw light onto the relationship we have with our bodies, and the impossibility, for some, to see their own body as others see them.

This line of thought also led me to think about the use of the prefix ‘dis’ when used to express a negative, like ….

distort                                                         dishonest

dislike                                                         disrespect

disengage                                                   disbelieve

disappear                                                    dismember

disable                                                        disappear

distinguish                                                 disperse

disbar                                                         distrait

– and ‘to diss’ it has become a colloquial term meaning to treat someone with disrespect, or ….

to                                   dis miss                              them.

Dis Miss 1A DISS MISS 6

DISS MISS 2 DISS MISS 9 DISS MISS 16

The six ‘doors’ are photopolymer relief prints of ‘normal’ body parts being clutched by anxious, evaluating hands; and these open onto a charcoal drawing of an anorexic woman’s body.  The inside of these doors cast a fluorescent glow onto the wasted body beneath, that, coupled with the words written on them, are my attempt to counteract negative perceptions towards our bodies.

Tum 2 Bum 1 Boob 1

But is it art? It depends where you look!

A reply to Bryan Appleyard. The Sunday Times Culture Supplement

Far be it for me, a humble yet art-world weary arts practitioner, to point out the bleeding’ obvious to Bryan Appleyard and Waldemar Jauszczak, (Sunday Times. June 2015), who have both bemoaned the state of Arts exhibitions as fun-packed, curator-led ‘Entertainment’ and no longer places of enlightenment, knowledge and solitude.  And it is exciting that they have noticed, (should I say, at last?  Possibly not – that would be rude).  But it occurs to me that they are looking in the wrong places, and may have been distracted by the marketing glitz of the arts establishment into visiting their high-profile events at popular, well-funded galleries in central London.

Here’s a revolutionary suggestion.  What if they tried averting their eyes from the glamorous PV invitations that regularly drop onto their doormat (or inbox) and take themselves out to the sticks, where they will find struggling arts practitioners displaying thoughtful and enlightening collections of work, displayed quietly and spaciously on the walls of their Business Park, Wildlife Reserve, Barn and sometimes, backgarden open studios.

Of course, the wheat will not have been separated from the chaff and they might have to cast their gimlet eyes over many miles of walls covered in ‘hobby’ artists’ work of varying quality.  But occasionally they mind find something to reward their effort, they can certainly be assured of a very warm welcome.  You never know if you if you don’t look beyond the obvious.

100_4348 Open studio 1. 2012  100_4354

From a Bucks Open Studios participant.