Today is the fist day of the Bognor Coastal Art Trail and I have been up early getting ready. Almost there!
It can’t be too difficult to hang a few pictures up I hear you say, or at least I imagine it. Nothing could be further from the truth! 2018 was the last time I was able to take part in this event and I am painfully aware that I am not as young as I used to be. There are pictures to be unpacked, edges to be painted on new works and hanging fittings put on, browsers to be mined out from the depth of the garage and filled up. Price list up dated, cards priced, and on top of everything else the house to be cleaned. Emerging from the burrow of lockdowns and coming blinking into the daylight one is suddenly aware of all those jobs left undone over the last couple of years, As well as all this there is the endless job of feeding us, mowing the lawn and tidying the garden and studio ready for visitors. The trail starts on Sat. 30th and is on for the first two weekends in May including bank holiday Monday. Wish me luck!
I feel so frustrated and upset with everything going on at the moment and the fact that we seem to be moving at snail pace tackling the biggest threat to our existence, Climate Change, that I had to express it with art. I didn’t want to be neat but rather rough and immediate. Oil Man is the result. Oil and oil pastels on canvas 80x100cm.
Whilst distressed and angry about current events I decided to work more on an idea I had a couple of years ago. I did a small digital sketch with a view to working it into a painting later, then covid happened and threw a spanner into my creativity. Now with this charcoal rough sketch I have made a start towards turning it into a large painting. It’s called ‘Oil man’ though I may find a better title later, the main thing is that I’m making a start so watch this space for progress.
I started this painting nearly two years ago in the wake of the terrible Australian bush fires but it represents the condition of the world we are living in. I use harlequins to represent humanity in various conditions but in this there is a nod to the sleeping politicians who have many words but continue in their stupor of inaction.
I started this painting at the start of 2020 after the distressing forest fires burning in Australia and other places in the world then covid took off and lock downs happened and somehow my painting dried up in favour of growing vegetables. At last I have started to work on it again though its quite a daunting task as it is a very big canvases big I have to stand on a small stool to reach the top. So far I have had two sessions on it and have made progress but there is a lot more work to do. Watch this space!
There is a value in keeping a painting you think is finished hanging around the studio where you can see it because it will talk to you sometimes screaming until you pickup a brush and correct the offending area. This painting was such a one. It didn’t look right and had a sort of empty space in the middle. I had tried to keep the area with the golden marjoram in the centre clear but just ended up with a hole so I decided to extend the white umbels using oil pastels instead of paint. I won’t work on it again however loud it tries to make itself heard I have had enough it.
Oil on Block canvas 80x80cm
Last year before the lockdowns I started two paintings as a reaction to the terrible fires in Australia then stopped working altogether, I finished them both recently. I was very moved and distressed by the extreme nature of those fires as well as all the other warnings the planet seems to be giving us that we seriously need to change our ways.
This last couple of weeks I have started painting again. It all dried up during the stress of the covid outbreak with all its accompaniments leaving my studio littered with several unfinished works. I have now reduced that to one which is very large. This painting of part of our garden was the first to be attacked and now after several sessions seems to be finished. Summer Garden, oil on cotton box canvas 80x80cm.
Several years ago I set out to do a series of small gouache paintings recording some childhood memories. Tomorrow is 75 years since VE day and one of the paintings depicts a vivid memory of the celebratory bonfire on our street complete with an improptu Bitannia with dustbin lid shield and toasting fork trident. Bonfires were not allowed during the war years so as a just turned five child it was magic.
We lived in an end of terrace house and one of the two communal air raid shelters was againt the end wall so it was literally next door. The shelter had a dog legged entrance to stop any light escaping and making us a target for bombers. When the siren sounded an ARP warden stood by the door with a doward facing dim torch and helped people in. For some reason I was frightened of this man and I vividly remember him shouting to a man running full tilt across the cobbles in the street, “Hurry up! The Jerrys are coming.” I had no idea who ‘the Jerrys’ were and no real concept of the danger we were in but the panicked atmosphere coming off the adults communicated real menace.
The shelter had wooden benches running along both sides and was dimly lit by a single light bulb suspended from the ceiling. We sat by the entrance and our neighbour, Mrs Freeman who lived across the Terrace, sat on the opposite bench with her faithful little companion dog, Judy. I remember my Mum muttering that she was not supposed to bring a dog into the shelter but I as very glad she was there as she held my attention while the antiaircraft gun pounded away from the nearby Park.
We had a small canary finch cross which sat in a cage hung in the window of our kitchen living room. I didn’t know much about the bird except that because it wasn’t a pure canary it didn’t sing, Sadly we returned from the shelter one night to find poor Joey dead in the bottom of his cage. Perhaps all the crashing and banging was too much for him or he was just an old bird. The other possibility was that gas got to him. We all had gas masks and I remember mine having a Mickey Mouse shape.
There was no street lighting because of the blackout but one night I stood in the back yard with my Grandad who pointed out strange lights beaming upwards.To me these were just pretty lights but I now know they were searchlights trying to spot enemy planes in order to shoot them down.