Out of studio diversion – ‘Snow Line’ alternatives.

It was wet & white & ...

It was wet & white & …

When I’m not in the shop building I’m generally either working on the computer or painting/drawing at home. ‘Snow Lines’ has occupied a good amount of this time in the last few weeks, particularly given that my slightly sprained ankle has meant that I couldn’t run. Running is an excellent way to empty your head.

I’ve thought about the poem on and off for a few years and for some reason it has come to the fore now. I don’t imagine why that might be, I’ll let the work that arises reveal its motivation or not. I imagined the ‘character’ of the poem as the space inside a cave, just on the snow line, injured in some way, perhaps falling into and out of existence as the temperature changes. I know, or think I know, that for Berryman Henry is the wounded creature contemplating his abandonment and feeling sorry for himself. I’d rather think of it as a literal piece for my purposes.

Drawing April 2019 - 28

Drawing April 2019 – 28

I began a drawing before I started to build the large sculpture, and I assembled a scrapbook in which I laid out the poem to play around with found materials. The drawing is based on a curled up creature, protecting itself. In this case a pangolin, I’ve seen a lot of news about pangolins lately. Apparently their scales are made of the same material as rhinoceros horn. I also found a hedgehog in the garden a week or two ago, during the day, curled up and obviously not well. The hedgehog hospital told me to put it under a bush and leave it. I buried it the next day. I’m wondering whether the drawing attracted the hedgehog or vice versa. I’m not really.

If I had to do the whole thing ...

If I had to do the whole thing …

NEW STUDIO Week Eight

This week started with hanging the rest of the collage drawings, cleaning the inside of the windows and putting up a poster or two in the window.

Window View Monday 8th April

Window View Monday 8th April

There are 30 drawings up now and five sculptures counting the Snow Line piece which is very much in progress. I’ve adopted a deliberately temporary aesthetic and named the show as work in progress. The back gate was open again this morning, I’m told the place is used by addicts who must climb the gates to get in at night. So far they haven’t managed to get into the shop although I have been told that they have broken in before. Fingers crossed I don’t lose anything I can’t afford to replace.

Three Collage Drawings by the door

Three Collage Drawings by the door

These three drawings are right inside the door.

The shop does tend to get the sun straight onto the front window through the afternoon which means you can’t see much from outside. The last thing I did today, Monday, was put a coat of paint on Snow Line.

Snow Line white coat

Snow Line white coat

Midweek I tweeted that the ‘shop’ was open for people to come and visit. Needless to say I’ve had no visitors since! never mind. I worked on ‘snow line’ on Wednesday.

snow line clockwise compass points

snow line clockwise compass points

I’m three quarters of the way to being happy with it, it needs something on the underside, I’m thinking blue(?). I’m also unhappy with the top section and the cloth gathering at the top, Not sure why yet. The piece demands to be left alone in its unfinished state until it tells me what to do. That could be anything from tearing the top section out and rebuilding to completely dismantling the piece and starting again. It could also be that this piece is not ‘snow line’ at all, it does seem to be a development of the ‘Ptolemy’s Garden’ set and might decide that it sits there more comfortably.

The best way to leave a piece alone is to work on something else, so I put together the first of the screen pieces that I built maquettes for upstairs. Cleaning, fixing and sanding took the rest of Wednesday and it should be dry enough to paint on Friday.

Screen cleaned and sanded

Screen cleaned and sanded

Friday 12th April – People are reluctant to come into the shop, which is just as well as far as work is concerned and keeping the door locked doesn’t necessarily encourage them. I do have a bell and a helpful sign pointing to it, it’s by the door handle. It does allow me to work uninterrupted though, so that’s a bonus. I ran into another Doncaster artist on Wednesday who has a studio in the corn exchange who told me that it was an OK space but people did keep coming around and disturbing him for no particular reason.

I put two coats of paint on the first screen, it now looks like this.

Screen with two coats of white

Screen with two coats of white

The plastic finish makes the paint difficult to apply, hence the sanding, so it might need another coat. It has an interesting surface as it is though so we’ll see on Monday whether it needs another coat.

Between coats I worked on the big drawing.

drawing early Friday

drawing early Friday

Initially adding the branches and foliage to the left, then filling in some of the background.

drawing later Friday

drawing later Friday

I don’t know if it’s finished, it may end up as the base for several smaller drawings or another big one. The additions were made with charcoal, oilstick and grey pastel.

The last thing I did this week was add the blue I talked about on the underside of snow line.

I like the look of the gallery space at the moment, some shots below.

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

 

NEW STUDIO Week Seven

Spent Monday preparing the plinths. I decided that I wanted to keep them very basic as it’s all work in progress so I only painted a section at the top. Installed some of them on Wednesday…

Shop April 3rd

Shop April 3rd

Shop April 3rd

Shop April 3rd

here are the three from the Wheatley Hall Road studio and the two maquettes for the screens that will be built from the shelves here. The new one at the back, or the mostly new one, is called ‘snow line’ based on Dream Song 28 which is one of the saddest things I’ve ever read.

The piece is being built around the armature I built at the last studio and is clad in the flooring the last tenant ripped out of the first floor of this studio.

Snow Line

Snow Line

On Friday I took the forty one Garden Collage drawings from the Ptolemy’s Garden series to the shop.

Shop April 5th

Shop April 5th

The idea is to display as many as possible alongside the sculptures I’m building in the space. I think I can get 30 of them around the room and up the stairs without too much fuss. Everything takes longer than you think it will. I’d originally decided to use a steel wire along the wall and hang the drawings from it using bulldog clips. I want to keep the ‘in progress’ aesthetic, implying a constant state of flux. That’s why I’m building in the space as well.

Shop April 5th

Shop April 5th

You can some work on ‘snow line’ at the back but a better view is provided on the video

I also revisited an old film piece and ripped the sound to add to a track for the installation. The film now runs through the interlaced Burnt Norton/Tithonus poem, into a piece called stations which uses some overheard comments and a few half memories to suggest something of a reverie and then into the short poem paraphrasing the first piece. I will post sections when I’ve edited it to be small enough to upload.

NEW STUDIO Week Five (with a break!)

After my last studio post I went to the Future Now conference – posted here  – and then for a walking holiday in Derbyshire. So this is officially week 5, and week 6 if we’re counting days.

My first day back was a bit of a farce, I put the installation back together and then decided to put a door on the shop wall so that I could close the whole back of the space off. I then got an email telling me that the agent was bringing a prospective purchaser around so I had to take the installation apart again. When they had gone and I had finished the door I put the installation back together again.

Shop Floor 21/03/19

Shop Floor 21/03/19

The door is the lighter hardboard on the left of this picture. The main consideration was that it closes off the painted section of the wall so that it looks better.

I have been working on the sound and been diverted into text, based on the TS Eliot – Burnt Norton stanzas I used on the walls, I looked to emphasise the nostalgic aspects of the verse by combining it with Tennyson’s ‘Tithonus’ . I decided to interleave lines of the verses, playing around with them a little, to break up the meaning of the poems.

The video has a section of this recording overlaid onto birdsong. The recording is not as good as I want, because of my nasal midlands accent that I can only hear on recordings and the quality of sound on my camera. The lighting is also not correct, I had to brighten the video after recording so the quality suffers.

I also worked on a distillation of the texts into something shorter and more individual. My idea is to create something of my own that I can use instead of the ‘found’ text.

The same caveats apply to the recording.

I have also begun to work on new sculptures and rescued the ripped up flooring of the first floor studio to make some new work with.

NEW STUDIO Week Three (and Four)

Recap:

First saw the shop on January 25th and picked up keys the same day. Heard from Axisweb on Monday 28th that I couldn’t go in yet as the landlord hadn’t given permission. By the Wednesday 1st February the agent was saying I should just move in as the contract was a formality, so I started to tidy up. On Wednesday the 6th February I moved out of the Unit at Wheatley Hall Road and into 13 Scot Lane and began to reassemble the environment. I finished that and wrote about it in the last blog post. Since then I’ve spent most of my time cleaning. I’ve hoovered for at least two hours of three different days, spent a day washing the walls of dry food and fat and mould, and then hoovered again, and finally, yesterday February 25th, hoovered the upstairs. In an ideal world I’d have been in a position to try out different soundtracks and videos for the installation but I heard yesterday that the landlord was sending someone to do a valuation survey which meant removing the back of the installation to allow access to the upstairs that I’d blocked off. It also means that I might well be moving again if this is a valuation for a buyer. The valuer turned up at 1:00 pm today and spent half an hour measuring and taking notes. I’ve no idea whether there is a buyer or not. At the same time the landlord has offered to remove all the rubbish left by the last tenant with the proviso that anything I decide to use I move when I go.

Looking into shop 25/02/19

Looking into shop 25/02/19

So the shop floor looks like this after Monday – from the window, and like the below looking from the back.

Looking to window 25/02/19

Looking to window 25/02/19

There is still no contract and I’ve got the only keys apparently!

As I was waiting I started work on a new sculpture today, making use sets of shelves that have been left. There are four sets of four shelves each supported by welded steel frames. I made scale models this morning to begin to explore possible uses of sixteen slabs measuring 1700 mm x 210 mm x 25 mm.

Two maquettes 26/02/19

Two maquettes 26/02/19

They will be landscape based drawings I think.

John Berger says that ‘it is the actual act of drawing that forces the artist to look at the object in front of him, to dissect it in his mind’s eye and put it together again; or, if he is drawing from memory, that forces him to dredge his own mind, to discover the content of his own store of past observations’ 1 Deciding a direction for work functions in precisely this way for me, the repository of past observations is composed of times, places, drawings, conversations that form a series of stepping stones that carry me across to the finished work, if you’ll forgive my theft of Berger’s metaphor immediately after this quote. This points to both the reason the environment is not finished and the state it will be in at that point that most closely matches its finish. Essentially it is pursuing something in the manner of T.S.Eliot in Burnt Norton.

‘Go said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,

Hidden excitedly, containing laughter,

Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind

Cannot bear very much reality’

Albeit inadequately, this is as close as I can get to the meaning of the installation, perhaps I might get a little closer if this is crossed with lethologica2 or onomatomania3.

Purely by chance my last day in the studio this week is the last day of the month. The aim for today was to receive delivery of the materials for the downstairs dividing wall and build it. The delivery was late so I worked in the sketchbooks, I’m still trying to resolve a look for the garden images – the environment in its current state is somehow too literal. The drawings are developments of earlier sketches.

Rag paper sketch 28/02/19

Rag paper sketch 28/02/19

cartridge sketch 28/02/19

cartridge sketch 28/02/19

Once the materials were delivered It took the rest of the day to build the wall, about two and a half hours.

Looking into Shop 28/02/19

Looking into Shop 28/02/19

The wall is moveable, supported by braces at the rear.

Its main function is to contain the workshop and the sawdust etc., generated by making.

back of the wall with brace 28/02

back of the wall with brace 28/02

workshop area

workshop area

The wall, not including time, cost £76.00 and £18.00 of that was delivery.

1Berger, J. 2016. The Basis of All Painting and Sculpture is Drawing. In: Overton, T ed. LANDSCAPES John Berger on Art. England: Verso, pp. 27

2 The inability to remember a particular word or name. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/lethologica

3 An abnormal concentration on certain words and their supposed significance or on the effort to recall a particular word. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/onomatomania

Painting Diversion January 2019

On Friday (26th January) I went to view a potential new studio through Axisweb. It’s a town centre shop with four floors that would be ideal for a studio/gallery. The last occupant was a charity, the Doncaster branch of The Real Junk Food Project, and the place is a bit of a mess. Lot’s of tidying up to do and rubbish to dispose of, but I was so taken with it that I asked when I could move in and was given the keys.

Subsequently Axisweb contacted me and told me the Landlord had not yet given permission for the shop to be rented to them so I’m holding keys for a place I can’t access. Fingers crossed that agreements are reached as I envisage some really interesting projects coming through the space.

As I have no reason to go to the sculpture studio until I shift my gear I’ve been finishing off some paintings I’ve been working on in my attic on the days I’m not at the studio. My working practice has been to spend some time painting on each day I’m not building and I have nothing else to do.

I made a series of paintings on a small scale, a mixture of 10cm square and some 13cm x 10cm or 12cm. I also have some A4 ish canvases and off cuts of MDF that I’m painting on.

The paintings tend to be landscape based, drawing on imagery I’ve been using from the garden series and the views through the window, treated abstractly, working on colour balance and dynamism.

balbylandscape_jan19_003

balbylandscape_jan19_003

I’ve also experimented with coloured backgrounds painted directly onto unprimed, and primed, hardboard.

balbylandscape_jan19_001

balbylandscape_jan19_001

Toying with formats, so the first pairing is presented on a background cut to the golden ratio and the one above is cut square, as is the one below.

balbylandscape_jan19_004

balbylandscape_jan19_004

There is occasionally some pencil work in them as well, to pick up textures implied by the painting and glazing.

balbylandscape_jan19_006

balbylandscape_jan19_006

There are also a series cut to landscape format like the one below.

balbylandscape_jan19_005

balbylandscape_jan19_005

Paintings on MDF off cuts like the one below

balbylandscape_jan19_007

balbylandscape_jan19_007

and paintings on small canvases, about A4, like these two.

balbytreescape_jan19_001

balbytreescape_jan19_001

plantstudy_jan19

plantstudy_jan19

These are some examples from a total of around forty small paintings.

Studio Build NINE

Week Eight in the Studio

A bit of a slow week so far. Found myself contemplating whether the entire process of creating is a progressive obscuring of cliché. The environment is on another cusp and after deliberating I’ve ordered the material for the ceiling – a fingers crossed moment.

Today I tidied and then painted the facing wall and the door wall, there is more to do on the garden wall but I need to see the projection to gauge how much I can do that will be visible.

3 small sculptures

Three small sculptures

have these three small sculptures now, and ideas for a larger one.

splashcover160119

splash cloth 160119

I was also quite taken by the pattern on my splash cloth.

The facing wall when you enter the space now looks like this…

facing wall 16/01/2019

facing wall 16/01/2019

and the wall with the door looks like this…

door wall 16/01/2019

door wall 16/01/2019

It feels as if they are much more coherent now. (16/01/19).

As I’m awaiting the material for the roof I decided to work on the larger sculpture I was planning. (18/01/2019).

View of large sculpture

View of large sculpture

View of large sculpture

View of large sculpture

View of large sculpture

View of large sculpture

I managed to build the frame and prime it on the day – I left at 3:00 pm as the primer needs to dry.

I also got word today that I have 21 days to quit the Unit. So from next week I’ll be packing up and sorting alternative accommodation through Axisweb, even if it’s only storage. I’ll hopefully be able to put the roof on and check the projector before I have to dismantle everything.

I thought I’d include this photograph of working detritus just to show the kind of mess I make, and a shot of the table returned to it’s normal status afterwards.

Equipment and materials during the build

Equipment and materials during the build

Evidence that I do, regardless of any comments, tidy up!

Evidence that I do, regardless of any comments, tidy up!

Studio Build SEVEN

Week Six in the Studio:

Missed a week as we went to Edinburgh for a short break. Then delayed coming back to the studio as I had to be here on a Tuesday to have the door fixed. After much toing and froing the time was set as 8:00 am. They wanted to come at 5:00 pm or later but without lights that was out of the question. I took this video to show how dark it was first thing in the morning.

I’m at the stage where I need to begin the interactive part of the project and I’m sorting the computer for that in my home studio. It’s also nearly Christmas so I’ll be here less frequently until the new year when I can bring the tech down.

I spent some time sorting the mess I’d left before I went away and then worked on sketches and the small sculptures.

Garden Sculpture One

Garden Sculpture One

All of these are based on the sketches I made in the garden in the summer and have been developing in the sketchbooks here.

Garden Sculpture Two

Garden Sculpture Two

Garden Sculpture Three

Garden Sculpture Three

The last of these is only just started and the second may well have a pierced screen suspended in the large gap.

The sketches are below, and the worktable which is becoming the place I spend most of my time.

Today's Large Sketch

Today’s Large Sketch

Today's Small Sketch

Today’s Small Sketch

Studio Worktable

Studio Worktable

Normally I’ve posted a whole week but as it’s nearly Christmas I’m posting when I can.

Studio Build SIX

Week five in the studio:

Very mild this week but absolutely throwing it down, I arrived wet and my coat was still wet when I left in the afternoon. I’m writing another post on the Doncaster Art Fair that interrupted my building. Today I wanted to treat the leaves so they can retain colour and paint out more of the big drawing.

First I painted in the leaves in the big drawing with Indian ink, then I treated the leaves with PVA and then painted over the big drawing with more white. I only took photographs at the end for reference so these go around the space.

right wall one

right wall one

right wall two

right wall two

garden wall

garden wall

left wall one

left wall one

left wall two

left wall two

projection wall

projection wall

The very light wall taken down further to facilitate projection.

Wednesday started badly, it was chucking it down and the walk to the studio was very unpleasant. I didn’t really know where to start so I set up the light and put the heater on to dry my shoes.

first I turned the leaves which were dry on top but still wet underneath.

Then I dug out the sketch books and did some work on the garden sculptures.

These are sketches towards stand alone sculptures but also inform the look and feel of the space, particularly the right hand wall, opposite the projection wall.

I then cut the wood I prepared last week, or the week before, to build small sculptures exploring the garden in Balby.

The second picture taken with flash to emphasise how dark it was at that point.

I rounded the day off by painting the projection wall out more and resolving to purchase small stepladders.

Friday was a better day weather wise and therefore lighter.

The leaves were dry so I set out to put fishing line across the space and then hang sets of them.

fishing line as ceiling

fishing line as ceiling

Putting the line in and then stringing the leaves took me most of the day and I ended up with this

I did some work on the sketchbooks and thought about the effect I wanted for the leaves in the space, is it getting too busy?

I won’t be here next week so that will give me time to think about what I want from the space and also to work on the projection – in sketchbooks and mentally. I still need stepladders and I need to get the computer and webcams down to the site.

 

 

Studio Build FIVE

Week Four in the Studio:

The start of this week was very cold. This has caused me to think very clearly about the things I want to do and work quickly when I’ve decided. Ten minutes of inactivity can mean my hands are too cold to hold a hammer and a paintbrush has no chance. So there is a cup of tea on the go almost continually. Today my biggest expense will have been boiling the kettle.

back wall with text, charcoal

back wall with text, charcoal

I first wrote out the text I wanted on the piece using charcoal and white conté. The words are from TS Eliot’s ‘Burnt Norton’, where he contemplates time and the loss engendered by presence, this is the closest I have got so far to the ghosts I’m exorcising in the work as a whole. The insistence of the birds drawing you into the garden resonates.

corner outlined lettering

corner outlined lettering

I managed to paint in the letters in black, white and grey, before working over them with the paint thinned down and tearing some of the collaged paper. Then I had to stop to allow the work to dry and the cold drove me home!

Wednesday visit from Axis Web and DMBC rates assessment, they check to see the space is being used for the purpose stated and confirm the rebate/exemption. Apparently councils vary in their interpretations.

I opened the fire door for the first time to look at the back of the unit and so I could collect some leaves.

looking right out the back

looking right out the back

looking left out the back

looking left out the back

The river is a few metres away.

I have an idea for a curtain of leaves towards one of the corners of the space, not enough to create a barrier but enough to provide a visual disturbance. I can’t decide between this and a scattering, in the air, of leaves throughout the space. To facilitate this I set out to stretch some fishing line, I have no idea if this will work, but the straighter it is the more it disappears.

stretching fishing line

stretching fishing line

I also collected some leaves and set them out to dry.

120 birch leaves

120 birch leaves

I’ll paint them with PVA when they’re dry to preserve the colour as much as possible.

After this I mixed some white emulsion down with PVA and water to paint out some areas of the drawing, I feel the text needs to disappear to a large extent, and the space needs to become whiter. I then worked back into some areas with Indian ink thus negating the work I’d done to lighten the space. It’s in that flux state now where it will either coalesce into a convincing whole or collapse into a horrible mess.

corner painted in

corner painted in

end of Wednesday

end of Wednesday

This week has been shortened as I am also preparing for the Doncaster Art Fair on Sunday, so this video shows the work at the end of Wednesday.