As Sam Pepys probably never said. And so starts another belated blog entry, why do I always seem to start with an apology? This time I have an excuse, well several actually as I've been trying to get this written for the past week but have, thus far, been thwarted at every turn. Firstly by the router going 'phut' (although not in so many words, it was more sort of, 'nah, I can't be arsed') so a big thanks to Thompson and BT, possibly the worse proprietary hardware & ISP combination in the country. That's the second of their much vaunted 'home hubs' that have gone down on me (and not in a good way) in four years (both just as they're out of warranty). And yet another thank you to BT whose broadband service has been somewhat intermittent all summer (and don't tell me every teenager in the village is using all the bandwidth to download porn all day, they can do that in term time too you know!). Other circumstances beyond my control include a cat needing an operation, visiting in-laws and an innate talent for procrastination that I don't seem to be able to do much about (I keep meaning to, but you know how it is?).
So Tavistock Artists Market was fun (which I somehow wasn't expecting, don't know why), there were plenty of visitors in spite of the morning rain and I made a number of new contacts and met several people I'd only spoken to on the phone. Did I sell anything? erm, no, not a sausage but I did a roaring trade in business cards so next time who knows? I was fortunate to be on a stall next to Nikki Harwood aka The Cow Lady http://www.thecowlady.co.uk/ who has a wealth of experience at these kind of events and who had a good selling day, which was enough encouragement in itself for me to book a pitch for the next market on September 17th. Just across the way was Ian Heard who owns and runs Faraway Island http://www.farawayislands.com/ a bespoke scanning and giclee printing service and who is one the few marine and maritime artists whose work I actually like (no, I'm just saying that). So, lessons learned for next time, there will be lights, there will be bigger, more obvious labels, there will be a bloody great sign saying 'ORIGINAL PAINTINGS' for all those people who walked right up close and asked 'are these photographs?' and I will come out of my shell earlier and make an effort to talk to even more people. See you then.
And finally, another reminder that British Art Show 7 opens in Plymouth in less than three weeks http://www.britishartshow.co.uk/ and here's the site for Fringe events http://fringe.gotanyrice.com/ and the public Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/plymouthfringe. There's also still time to get involved in the BAS 7/Americas Cup Art Boot fair http://artsmatrix.plymouthart.ac.uk/index.php?q=node/449 deadline for submissions has been extended to Sept 5th. Think that'll do for now, picture of thepicturepalace emporium below.
Don't worry folks, I haven't suddenly discovered the joys of Tommy Trinder (although 'The Bells go Down' http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0035671/ and 'Fiddlers Three' http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0036820/ are on my list of possible future victims). I refer of course to the forthcoming splendour that will be Tavistock Artists Market this Saturday 20th August 9.00am - 4.00pm an event that is so important that it now has its own Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=110746439024790. Bank Square (for those that don't know) is on Market Street, just behind West Street next to the textile shop and is normally used as a car park during the week (hint, if you use Google maps to find it search for Market St, Tavistock rather than Bank Square).
Which brings me to the revelation that should you choose to visit on Saturday there will be bargains! I'll be selling all the work that I bring with me (pretty much every thing that's currently up on the 'Gallery' page plus one two more) at a 30% Discount that means you could pick up a 'Demi Paradise' painting for only £315.00 (as opposed to the normal web advertised £450.00) or take home a Will Hay for only £245.00. There will also be framed 7" x 5" prints for a miserly £4.00 and framed and mounted 8" x 6" prints for a mere £9.00. Something for everybody!
And if you'd like to discuss a commission I'll be more than happy to oblige. So come along, you can't miss me, I'll be the one in Black & White. There are three new works just added to the 'Gallery' page which will all be on show, as will the picture below (in its finished form). And if you don't know who Bonar Colleano was, shame on you http://uk.imdb.com/name/nm0171713/
I'm going to start this post with something that I usually save for the end, another artist's death. In this case John Hoyland's. And the quote that titles this post is from Barnett Newman via this Guardian obituary of Hoyland http://bit.ly/oafTU3. I can't say that I was ever a huge fan of Hoyland (or Newman come to that) but inadvertantly he had a profound influence on my development as an artist. The reason for this was a BBC 'Arena' programme called '6 Days in September', it aired in 1979 not long after I started my Foundation course and it was while watching it that I realised I was never going to be the kind of artist Hoyland was. Not that I had any particular beef with him, his work or his working method. I came to the conclusion that what he was doing was not what I wanted to do, that both the process he went through and the outcome he was looking for were of no great relevance to me. In other words I had no desire to be a Painter with a capital P or indeed an Artist with a capital A. I was an image maker, rather than an existential seeker after truth. And, truth be told, I found the whole business of Painterliness rather tiresomely narcissistic. Ironically narcissism was a charge that was frequently levelled at me during my time as a BA student. This was during what you might call my 'Cindy Sherman' phase when I was using myself as a model for photographic work (see the picture at the top of the 'Biography & FAQs' page for a rather obvious example). The 'accusers' were invariably Painters with a capital P, some of whom had obviously also seen the Arena film about Hoyland and had come to the opposite conclusion about the kind of Artist with a capital A that they aspired to be. There was, of course, more than a touch of 'pot and kettle' about the argument and lets face it, whatever kind of work you produce, a Fine Art degree course is absolutely to best place to practise narcissism, in fact it's pretty much a prerequisite for acceptance in the first place!
Which brings me to the second point of this post, the issue of nostalgia, particularly as it affects what I choose to depict and how I choose to depict it. This is something I was intending to write about anyway, the Newman quote appearing in the Hoyland piece just put the serendipitous icing on the cake (and it provides a much better title than 'Nostalgia isn't wasn't it used to be' or some such variation). So, am I an artist that deals in nostalgia, am I a pedlar of cosy visions of a past that never was? To the wider world I honestly don't kow. I can't dictate anyone else's reaction to what I produce, nor would I want to. Like every other artist once the work is made public it becomes something other than what it was conceived as or originally envisaged, part of a wider meta narrative of individual reponses and cultural pigeonholing that I have no control over. Personally, yes nostalgia is a part of the images I produce but perhaps not for the reasons others may assume. I am in no way homesick for the war years, nor do I deplore the fact that 'they don't make them like that anymore'. I'm profoundly grateful to have missed out on the fear, deprivation and sheer grind of those times. I'm a child of the Cold War, when the world might end tomorrow but it was considerably less likely to drop incendiaries on me night after night while I slept.
Any nostalgia I feel for the source material I choose to translate into paint is linked not to the time of its creation but to time I first saw it and the reaction I had at the time. It's prompted by the profound disconnect I experienced when I switched on the TV halfway through 'Tawny Pipit' and watched the 'Internationale' being sung around an English village green. It's the erudition, compassion and playfulness of Leslie Howard as a swashbuckling, Nazi hating archaeologist, the Smith that predated Indiana Jones. They may have been artefacts from a past era but their impact was fresh. It's worth remembering that the films of Powell and Pressburger were only just being rediscovered by a wide audience after years of neglect (for which Martin Scorsese deserves a knighthood). I believe 'I Know Where I'm Going' and ' ... Colonel Blimp' had never been broadcast on British television before the early 80s and neither had 'Tawny Pipit' and 'Went the Day Well'. I'd seen 'First of the Few' several times as a child but never 'Pimpernel Smith', 'In Which We Serve' but never 'Western Approaches'. This was pretty much all new material to me (and to my comtemporaries) and it showed that we didn't know the past nearly as well as we thought we did, it added layers and complications to the simplistic narrative that we'd previously absorbed. It was comparable to the shock of my mum telling me that as a teenager she'd preferred Joe Loss to Glenn Miller because his band 'swung harder'.
So, there you go, I hope that all made sense. Don't forget Tavistock Artists Market on Saturday Aug 20th. I'll be there, pretty much all the stuff you can see on the site will be for sale (at lower than website prices!). And here's a taster of one the new pictures I'll be showing, just a phone snap at the moment, I'll post high res pictures of new work in the next few days.
Work in progress and other stuff that happens.