21 September 2012

copper colours

a quick lunch time rummage through a table of coins at a carboot sale. the man selling them (obviously a coin collector) was a little bewildered at my choice. "you've gone for all the mouldy ones! had i known i would 'ave brought a whole box of mouldy ones. got one at home....... was gonna chuck 'em out. my wife likes the shiny ones". and she nods in agreement by his side.

18 September 2012

photographing my work

i've told many many people that photos of the 100 birds would be appearing on my blog. that's still my intention.... and although i've been very busy it's not because i've been lying on the beach soaking in the autumn rays (though that is very tempting)....... it's more that the photos are terrible and don't do the work justice and i can't quite bring myself to put them up. i've tried a bit of tweaking on photoshop- just to try and bring them back to as close to the original as possible. it sort of works but i do like them to be on a white background and just to do that to the one above took well over an hour. as the colours and textures are very subtle i think they are probably tricky to photograph accurately. i will take some of the ones yet to fly the nest to a professional photographer, compare my attempts and give you an update. i've always been happy with my own photographs and like to do things myself but spending hours fiddling around with photoshop feels like a massive waste of time.... especially when i could be on the beach!

11 September 2012

art action: living with ptsd

i'm jumping around a bit in time here as i'm trying to catch up with thoughts and posts i really wanted to write during the exhibition but didn't have time to start, let alone finish. but new and exciting things are happening daily and so this is an immediate response to a private view i've just been to a few hours ago.

on august 30th (a few posts ago) i wrote about meeting and chatting to a young soldier due back in afghanistan. tonight i went to the opening of 'art action: living with ptsd' at the poly, falmouth. it's an exhibition of artwork by combat veterans who are experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and there's also work by their wives and friends.

what was great about this private view was that there were brief talks by jayne howard, the director of 'arts for health cornwall', rich emerson from 'surf action' and one of the founding artists, steve woods who manages their art studio at heartlands. these two charities have worked together to facilitate this exhibition and it was really interesting to hear a little of the background story. the aim is to raise awareness of ptsd and to highlight the work of 'surf action' in supporting people with this condition.

it was inspiring to hear how the art group gradually evolved from getting veterans together to go surfing. steve woods also explained that images within the pieces had not been painted in order to shock but to help the sufferer expel them from their mind. 

i couldn't help thinking about the young soldier i met on the train...... and what his fate will be.

'escape' by ian wilkes, combat veteran- concrete and slate
and a poem by "a wife of a soldier with ptsd".

I Have Never Been to War........

I have never been to war

I have never held a gun
But I feel the repercussions

I have never smelt the burning 
But I can see the fear

I have never heard machine gun fire
But I can see the shake it causes

I have never been to war.

I have never fought for my country
But I can see the scars it leaves

I have never been a soldier
But I hear the marching of his dreams

I have never been on a battlefield
But I feel like I am on enemy lines

I have never been to war
But I live through it every day.

10 September 2012

the funkin' art radio show

the weekend before my exhibition i was invited to be interviewed on source fm's 'the funkin' art radio show'. every saturday sarah-jane marsden has a chat with a local artist about their life, work and favourite things. there's a round up of the week's art events and exhibitions in cornwall and roving reporter, lizzie waddling is out interviewing from a mystery location! all in all it's a great show.

i was very nervous and never having been on radio before i wasn't sure if i'd go all quiet and monosyllabic or be quite chatty. fortunately it turned out to be the latter.... and the show actually over ran by half an hour. but this was ok as the following programme was pre-recorded music so luckily it didn't mess up the schedule for the day.....phew!

having found the portacabin that houses source fm tucked away outside the local adult education centre i ventured inside and made a cup of tea. the recording room with it's egg box style decor is home to an alarming array of buttons and switches. it was a huge relief to find that i didn't have to wear any of the big head phones or be wired up to any switch boards! 

sarah-jane is a great interviewer which made things easy from the outset. very soon i relaxed into it and there was no stopping me. i'd been asked to choose two tracks (exciting- a bit like desert island discs....) and i think i was really concerned about trying to provide enough background information to put these music choices into context. so much so that i nearly forgot to mention my exhibition dates!

i admitted to liking to sniff my old singer sewing machine live on air!! (my favourite smell). and whilst trying to describe my porcupine quill (my favourite object) i amused myself by holding it up to the microphone to 'show' it to the listeners! 

it was a really fun experience- next stop tv. well, i am going to the antiques roadshow in falmouth this week so you never know......

you can follow this link and listen to the show HERE

09 September 2012

the poly members show

going back in time to mid july i was busy painting away in my studio. all members of 'the royal cornwall polytechnic society' (locally referred to as 'the poly') were invited to exhibit up to four pieces in the annual members show. i'd painted my first twenty or so pictures which i really wasn't happy with. i had started '100 birds' intending to work my way through 100 different species of sea and coastal birds spotted and recorded in cornwall since the 1950s. i painted 19 different species of gull! here they are for the record......

1- sabine's gull, 2- kittiwake, 3- bonaparte's gull, 4- black-headed gull, 5- little gull, 6- laughing gull, 7- franklin's gull, 8- mediterranean gull, 9- audouin's gull, 10- common gull, 11- ring-billed gull, 12- lesser black backed gull, 13- herring gull, 14- yellow-legged gull, 15- caspian gull, 16- american herring gull, 17- iceland gull, 18- glaucous gull, 19- great black-backed gull.

that's a lot of gulls! although i thought my paintings were terrible i definitely learnt a lot about gulls. i also looked up their eggs and included those in the pieces. i moved on to an oyster catcher and a chough. i'm not really sure if you can count the chough as a seabird but it seemed crazy not to include the national symbol of cornwall in the 100.

it's strange how things turn out. i would never really have considered painting a chough as pictures of them are found frequently down here and i think i felt that it would be a bit obvious, something for tourists, not quite as bad as pasties and piskies but edging towards that terrain. they are however stunning birds and in painting the chough i made a bit of a break through.

i really didn't consciously think of the title '100 birds' or know how the exhibition would evolve. every time i thought about what to do i came up with many ideas which all seemed ok. every time i went out walking, not thinking about the exhibition at all, the phrase '100 birds' kept repeatedly coming into my mind. i have no idea where it came from but each time it grew louder and louder until finally i listened, and adopted it as my title. my instinct was just to start painting birds and see where it went. but i guess i thought about it a little too much and came up with the idea of the 100 different cornish seabirds. that seemed like a good idea and so i set about my research. however, things weren't going well and i couldn't tell if it was because i hadn't painted properly for about 15 years or something else. i persevered and moved on to the chough. finally things started falling into place. the poly show came round and the only piece i felt happy with showing was the chough . i hastily dropped it off and walking past the building the following evening i was both surprised and happy to see it in the window. almost immediately i was getting inquiries from people wanting to buy it. this was encouraging. after much thought i realised what had happened differently with this painting. i had a strong image of a chough in my mind so didn't have to refer to photographs as with the previous gulls. this gave the painting a spontaneity, an immediacy and it was all coming through me, from me. i felt a huge sense of relief as i scrapped all the lists, all the photos and all the research and returned to my original instinct to paint birds- any birds, just birds.

08 September 2012

a personal pasty!

well, the good news is that i finally seem to be able to upload photos again. we've not done anything to the internet, it has just started to mysteriously work again of its own accord - probably because i am not so desperate for it now (a bit like a cat- i find when i really want one to come and sit on my knee they won't stay yet when i'm trying to work they become all purry and affectionate and try to rub themselves on the pencil i'm trying to draw with!).

it's a bit daunting trying to decide where to begin with writing about the exhibition- there's so much to say. so i thought i'd start with something totally irrelevant and procrastinate a little longer!

on friday i was helping some friends with some painting and decorating. about mid morning they asked me if i'd like to put my pasty order in. so i went a long with it and said i'd go for a vegetarian one. at lunch time cousin glyn turned up with a baking tray fresh from the oven with an array of steaming pasties. i've met glyn before- a mechanic in his sixties, also a gardener.... and as i'd just discovered, a very accomplished pasty maker too! and what's more, all the pasties had our initials on them!