Wandering In Imagination

We have a garden. I’ve never been a keen gardener and right now, I’ve never more thankful for immediate access to outdoor space. As well as sitting in the garden, I’ve been contemplating outdoor space artistically too. My new role as Artist In Residence with GameShift, has yielded an opportunity to consider the importance and significance of being outside, and the results of a small garden project will become visible soon. For now, here’s a preamble, in the form of an imaginary path.

I based this drawing on a recollection of a magazine cover. I forget the title of the magazine, but it was something to do with wellbeing and contained an article about being outside. I recalled the image and sketched a version from memory. The work symbolises gratitude. I’m going to offer this A4 pen and watercolour sketch as the next online free art drop. If you are interested in taking part – head over to my Facebook page, where some clues will need to be solved.

As well as thinking about gardens for the GameShift project, I’m also taking time to think about how I chronicle my work in this time of lockdown. The heritage department of our local authority has a project underway called ‘The Locals: Diaries’. It’s an invitation for residents in the borough to keep notes in whatever form they want, and submit copies of the documentation for the borough archives. I’m looking forward to supporting this project, both directly through my own contributions, and as a member of Arts Network Sutton too. More to follow…

Howlin’ At The Moon : The Offcut Project

As the lockdown went live here in the UK, I was fortunate to learn about something called The Offcut Project. It’s a great idea being run by Suki at The Print Block.

Suki has invited artists to send designs to her, and she prints off a limited edition of just 14 prints. The edition is returned to the artist for signing and numbering, then it goes back to The Print Block for sales and distribution.

An image of the artist's hand signing a few limited edition prints. The print design is a silhouette wolf howling at the moon against a backdrop of musical notes.
Signing and numbering the limited edition.

1 copy is retained by the artist, 1 stays with the studio. 2 copies go into a pool of prints to be sent out to each contributing artist at the end of the project, and 10 are made available to purchase at a cost of £30. £10 of each print sale will go to the artist, at least £10 of each print sale will go to food banks through The Trussell Trust. The remaining amount will go to covering costs at the studio. What a lovely idea.

I chose to submit my ‘Howlin’ At The Moon’ design. The term Howling At The Moon is often used to describe the sense of wanting something we cannot have. In these times of social distancing, that feels apt, whether it be a lack of each other’s company, toilet rolls, or something else! The artwork is inspired by a song by Hank Williams, who wrote the song ‘Howlin’ At The Moon’ in 1951 to describe the giddiness of true love. I don’t know about you – but I am fortunate to be experiencing a lot of love too. I’m seeing lots of people doing lots of good, loving things. One of those people is Suki at The Print Block. Thanks for including me Suki.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of ‘Howlin’ At The Moon’ or any of the other prints on offer, you can do so here.

The Thing I Want To Live For

My submission to the 2020 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

The die is cast. I’ve just submitted my chosen work to the Royal Academy for their 2020 Summer Exhibition. This is my fourth attempt, the previous three all having been rejected at the first hurdle. I’d love to make further progress this year, and I am comfortable that I’m submitting a piece of work I’m really pleased with – its acceptance or rejection by the committee won’t change how I feel about it, or its importance to me.

I made this piece of art at a fund raising event for Sutton Women’s Centre, organised by my friend Sue. I had offered to live paint on the day – and I made this and one other piece, inspired by the atmosphere of inclusion I experienced on the day. The central guardian figure in the work represents our inner self – the version of me that looks out for me, the one with the confidence to speak truth to power. I initially conceived this device back at the start of 2018, and it’s grown and developed to become a key part of my artistic practice.

At 122cm x 61 cm, this painting is one of my biggest pieces to date. It’s made using spray paints, a couple of stencils, and some acrylic paint, applied using an old Royal Academy membership card.

Shortly after I completed the work, I was pretty sure I wanted to submit it to the show, and I’ve since shared space with it in the studio – slowly moving from pretty sure, to certain. For several months – the work has been untitled, and may have remained so had I not seen a quote by Thomas Merton, shared on social media by Julian Summerhayes. It reads:

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for’.

Thomas Merton

I’ll find out on March 12th if the work progresses from the online stage to being delivered to the Royal Academy for an ‘in real life’ viewing. As I looked through the window today immediately after the submission was complete, I was greeted by a rainbow. I’ll take that as a good omen, or a thank you for my work, at least.

Foot note: I nearly went with this piece, titled ‘Flight of The Valkyrie’. I understand that some of this year’s judging panel has a background in film, so this piece, with a nod to Apocalypse Now, might have resonated with the judges? In the end I went with how I felt, rather then trying to second guess how someone else feels.