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Seven at Four - Group Show

Seven At Four - Group Show

Four Communications, 20 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9BF

 27th April- 3rd June 2016

I’ve spent the past year taking part in the post graduate program at The Art Academy.  It’s been a very interesting and beneficial process which culminated in this group show.

The show is on at Four Communications, which is a huge open plan working office space.  It’s very different from anywhere I’ve exhibited before as it’s obviously not a dedicated art space and the viewers are going about their normal day.  

My fellow collaborators are:

Rebecca Kunzi

Emerald Mosely

Meg Wroe

Meng Ni Beh

Patrick O’Donnell

Kathleen Madigan (Unfortunately Kathleen was not able to take part in the final show but she was an invaluable member of the team and fantastic artist).

Thank you to Rob Pepper who made the year what is was and who was a star in helping us get this show together.  We love ya Rob!

Here are a few shots taken on opening night.  Four communications put on quite an event for us I must say! 

Photos by the awesome Lissy Tomlinson 

A fella looking at my Smithfield Market painting

A fella looking at my Smithfield Market painting

Mama and me in front of a rather large heart 

Mama and me in front of a rather large heart 

Emerald with her performance installation piece

Emerald with her performance installation piece

Rob indulging in some of the amazing canapes, oh and one of my portraits

Rob indulging in some of the amazing canapes, oh and one of my portraits

Yours Truly being held up by mother (there was a heck of a lot of very nice wine)

Yours Truly being held up by mother (there was a heck of a lot of very nice wine)

Portrait Book

his gloomy Friday morning I had a lovely surprise from Mr Postman.  A Little Book of Portraits arrived, in which I am pleased to say my self portrait, The Birds, has been published.

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I’m yet to read through it, but it is a lovely little book and there are some fab pieces in there, mostly self portraits, from the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of The Year 2014, together with commentary from the 3 judges, Tai Shan Shierenberg, Kathleen Soriano, and Kate Bryan.

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Going Back to My Roots

I came to this place as a child almost every year and then life took over and it's been a while. There's a very strong family connection, and heavy history that could fill volumes.

For years I've wanted to come and paint here and spend some proper time.  I got 2 weeks, which is not nearly enough time to unravel anything, especially considering it takes at least one week to lose London. I got here and was at a complete block until the very last few days. I beat the resistance and started sploshing some paint around.

What I managed to produce was nowhere near what I expected from myself, and I still haven't properly thought through what I painted.  I see these as beginnings and 'notes' of ideas or maybe actually more like reflex responses, as to be honest nothing was thought through.

This place for me is steeped in a special kind of magic. It's in my blood. I can't cut it out. difficult to put into words.  In this place I feel I can find myself somehow yet I'm lost here.  Somehow, a piece of something is here and I cannot escape it.  Not in any sentimental way.  It really does haunt me, in a good way.  Even during my years in South Africa, this is the place that continually draws me, even in my long absence. I'm trying to figure it out.

The weather is stormy and rainy, atmospheric, wonderful. I've been sketching and taking things in and whatever is coming out on the canvas is not what I'd expected from myself, yet for me it's more interesting.  It’s definitely about the process at the moment.  Maybe it'll all go into the bin, who knows.  They are landscapes but they're from my gathered observations, not the direct plein-air paintings I'd intended on.

One major observation is that my palette has totally changed (thought the red paint appeared at the very end).  I wanted to paint plain air landscapes but the idea simply didn't appeal to me when it came time.

Here are a few snaps of my time so far, my wonderful 'studio' and beginnings of the paintings that are in no way finished pieces, more ideas, or responses rather.

Prior to entering my studio I had the privilege of spending time with some incredible people which involved lengthy debates and discussions about many things.  The gathering was initiated by an exceptional member of my family who has greatly influenced both my thought process and my approach and has definitely stretched me in man ways.  I am now challenging everything that I do and intend to do in a different way.  

I've posted some snaps of the work below, the mini watercolour sketches were very quick and impulsive but maybe the best work I did, I'm not sure.  The paintings are mainly done on unstretched canvas and in my opinion are rather terrible but most definitely to be continued next year.  Beginnings.  

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View from my studio window

Cork Street Open Exhibition

I'm thrilled to have had some works from my Blue Collection selected to be shown at the Cork Street Open coming up this month.

A bit exciting! Even more exciting as I'll be showing alongside my good friends and talented fellow artists Rhiannon Salisbury and Gary Scott plus a whole bunch of other talents. The exhibition is hosted by The United Society of Artists and will include works by members as well as from open submissions.

The show opens on Monday the 16th June and runs until the 21st.

Really looking forward to showing with this group and I'm in the process of getting prints made of the works. If you miss out on the originals, drop me a line to get a limited edition print.

Lifeblood - New Series (Work in progress)

I thought it might be a good idea to post a few pictures of some of the paintings I'm currently working on. I don't normally like to show work in progress for the obvious reason that it is not finished.   My painting process is pretty unpredictable, so the works often change drastically before I decide to call them 'finished' (nothing is ever finished).  On this occasion I've had a very mixed response to what I'm doing.  People's reactions have been varied and interesting, and have provoked some interesting thoughts and discussions.

I'll be writing a bit more about this series at a later stage but I invite you to please leave a comment below if you feel any sort of response to these images or have any personal thoughts.

London Exhibition - Portraits

All a bit last minute, but I have had the pleasure of being asked to exhibit some portraits with The Stables in Exile, curated by Stuart Gould, at The Queen's Parade in Willesden Green, and supported by Brent Arts Council.  My work is up alongside some smashing work from Martine Charalambou, a fellow Londoner and superb portrait painter. Please pop along if you can this Thursday evening.

Stables In Exhile Exhibition Poster
Stables In Exhile Exhibition Poster

Sky TV pandemonium!

Final paintings of Robert Lindsay
Final paintings of Robert Lindsay

In the run up to this years Sky Arts Portrait of The Year show, I thought I'd let you all know a bit about my experience from taking part last year.

I almost didn't enter and 'chucked in' an entry last minute as it was free and I already had a decent self portrait which was selected for the SELF exhibition at The Mall Galleries which finished just days before (that's a whole other story which you can find here).

A couple of weeks later I got a phone call out of the blue to let me know I had been selected to participate in the London episode……then major panic set in.  I thought about pulling out every single day in the run up.  Being a bit of an erratic painter with a spontansous process, quite private, and prone to regular painterly eff-ups, I was absolutely terrified.  I hate cameras, hate being watched working, and in my opinion I'm not great at talking about my work, especially when on the spot. Would it be possibly to just embrace all this and throw myself in the deep end like this?  Could I really afford to make a complete arse of myself on national TV?  I decided that yes I could.  Worst outcome would be that I would create a complete monstrosity and end up a laughing stock for 5 minutes and then be forgotten.  I was in!  On the day I chose the biggest canvas available, idea being I am most likely to make a hash of it all, so I might as well go down with the biggest bang possible, and if luck was on my side and it worked out, then it would mean something potentially great and impactful.  Either way I was going for it.

On the day I managed to bring the wrong bag of materials (don't even ask) so I didn't have my large brushes or even the right colour paint.  Resume PANIC.  I was so nervous about everything and it took a while for me to actually stop shaking.  There were 3 celebrity sitters, the great Juliet Stevenson, Alison Steadman and Robert Lindsay.  I had the good fortune to be in the group painting British actor Robert Lindsay who I've long been a fan of and who was a brilliant sitter in every way.  Great to paint and fab personality with a wicked sense of humour, which helped immensely.  My group was being judged/overseen by Tai Shan Shierenberg, I could not have asked for a better start!

My painting process was a little bit like a chameleon on a roller coaster.  Every 5 seconds my piece looked totally different.  Fun indeed for the spectator but quite stressful for artiste. Did I mention that this was in the middle of Trafalgar Square with a million billion tourists, friends and family, and passers by watching the process behind my back?  No pressure at all.  The film people managed to edit the whole thing wonderfully and watching you'd never guess how much sweat, brush throwing, canvas abuse and swearing was involved on my part.  Poor Robert, who determinedly didn't look at any of the works until the end, admitted afterwards that he expected something monstrous was being created on my canvas the way I was carrying on.  I guess I was being a bit of a drama queen.

Here's a little image that Sky Arts put together using my painting:

Robert Lindsay
Robert Lindsay

The whole day was without a doubt one of the most intense experiences of my art life so far.  I cannot put into words the immense stress and exhileration I experienced on the day.  To tell you it took me about 3 days to recover emotionally from it would not be an exaggeration, although I don't think this comes out so much in the actual TV episode.  How celebrities and people constantly under the spotlight manage I have no idea. On the other hand it pushed me to paint in a different way and since then my approach to my work has changed and I feel I have definitely jumped forward as a result.  My decisions are bolder.  The triptych of my father was painted shortly after and I feel reflects what I 'learned'.  It was completed very quickly and I think it manages to capture that something that I have struggled to capture in painting him up until then.  My brushstrokes are loser but more concise and somehow I think this all makes my work better, although it takes conscious effort to maintain this approach.  I am also prepared to take more risks now and generally care less about what other people may think, about anything.

At the end of the day I was very pleased with my painting.  Nothing is ever perfect or turns out exactly how planned, which certainly holds true for my portrait of Robert Lindsay.  Of course I wanted to win, but I got into the final 3.  I was up against such talented artists that I had to pinch myself to make sure it really happened.  By the time I was up on stage waiting for the final results of the London round to be called, I was so over saturated with high emotion from the day that I was not even that much in suspense as I was so physically shattered.

My biggest regret of the day was that I came away with no pictures at all, not even of the final painting.  No pictures of Robert, the other artists, the other works, nothing!  I also did not really get to speak or get a picture with Joan Bakewell or Frank Skinner.  Really gutted about that.

So, if you're debating whether or not to enter just do it!

Birds, Self Portrait at SELF, Royal Society Portrait Painters 2013

I am over the moon that my self portrait has been selected from almost 1,000 entries for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters new Self-Portraiture competition; SELF.

The artist with the winning work will receive a cheque for £20,000.

The work will appear in a special exhibition alongside paintings by some of Britain’s leading portrait artists in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual exhibition in Central London.

The new prize and special section of the exhibition aims to explore self-representation in painting and drawing. Free from the constraints of commissioned portraiture, the self-portrait does not seek to flatter the sitter, pay a model, play slave to time and is free to explore character and medium; the artist is at liberty to push the boundaries and experiment.

The exhibition will be on display at the Mall Galleries near Trafalgar Square between 9 and 24 May 2013.

I'll be sending out some invites / reminders closer the time.

Exciting Artistic Happenings in North West London

Electric House
Electric House

It's been a very eventful and busy couple if months for me.  So many exciting things have been happening.  I made some rather scary decisions, against the 'sensible' judgement of well meaning friends and acquaintances.  I can honestly say that although it has been totally terrifying, my bravery/stupidity has more than paid off.  Sometimes chucking yourself into the dark unknown is the only way forward.  At least one thing is for certain, life won’t be boring!  Life is too short for boring.

Here's the lowdown:

I decided to throw in the towel and let somebody else take over my office job. . . freedom!  That was very scary and I know a lot of people still think I’m dumb/naïve in doing that, but I honestly don’t care.  I have never felt better not having to spend the majority of my time doing something that was in effect slowly destroying me.  It has freed up so much creative energy etc, and 2 months on . . . . I am broke that's for sure, but guess what. . . . I'm still alive people!

Since I made that decision, a lot of great things have swung my way (apart from that much needed lotto win).  Firstly I am working on a series of small paintings for a solo show in January, my first one.  Blog post to come about that shortly.

I am also fortunate enough to have been accepted as artist in residence at the Electric House, a new project run by Meanwhile Space.  I saw an ad for The Electric House project via BAR (Brent Artists Resource) which I am a member of, and submitted my proposal straight away.  Luckily they liked my proposal and I moved in 2 weeks ago.  Please check out the Meanwhile Space to see what they are about here.  What a super company run by a very motivated and passionate bunch of people who seem to go the extra mile to make things happen.  Diana Grisales is running and managing the space and is a real pleasure to work with.  She makes Electric House!  It is very refreshing to work alongside something where the focus is not self centered (not unusual in this egocentric business), but all about making things happen for a better cause.  This is not merely a good idea as the team have recently won a national regeneration award for the work they have done in Willesden with the Queens Parade and the New Windows on Willesden Green Project.  Very happy to be part of all this and hope I can make some sort of meaningful contribution myself!

Studio
Studio

Next Saturday I will be running a public drawing event in the front of the Electric House, possibly outside, weather permitting of course.  I will be drawing portraits and sketching passers by and those waiting at the bus stop outside the front windows.  There will be lots going on in the area that afternoon so hopefully a lot of people will be around to get involved and maybe stop for a quick portrait.  Please come along if you can.  The event will coincide with the Lantern Parade in Willesden Green as well as the private view of fellow artist in residence, Jane Clarke, who will be showcasing one of her large interactive sculptural pieces.  If you are around, I highly recommend you come by and check it out.

The idea of the drawing event is to engage members of the public, especially those who would not normally take an interest in art, and make them aware of what is going on in the area and introduce some new creative possibilities.  My personal interest is to try and take art outside of the usual places of galleries and exhibition spaces to places more accessible, and possibly surprising.  Why should art be confined to a gallery after all.  Not a new concept by any means, but one that still has so very many possibilities.  Watch this space as I have a new such project in the pipeline.  I’ve already had a few chuckles about it so I'd better not say anymore until it is all finalized. . . . fingers crossed.

A huge thank you to Brent Council who are so supportive of the arts and have enabled so many opportunities for locals and beyond.  You totally rock!

It's truley fantastic and inspirational to be participating in this project and I have certainly already realised a thing or two about what possibilities can be achieved just by being involved.

Please let me know what you think, any ideas about possible community project ideas etc are welcome.  Also please sign up to my mailing list for first info about future events and goings on.

Crazy Hair Brained Drawing Project – 24 hours of Self Portraits

A few weeks ago Rhiannon Rebecca Salisbury,Saskia Gall, and myself embarked on a project which at the time seemed a perfectly sane idea. The idea came to us after visiting an exhibition of work by the highly accomplished draughtsman, and clearly inspiring artist, Guy Denning at the Signal Gallery (check out First Thursdays Londoners).

Mr Denning happens to have a large series of excellently executed self portrait drawings under his belt which we are pretty sure we heard him say were completed in 24hours.  If I’m not mistaken there are over 200 of them in total.  Jaw dropping stuff.  Pah! The challenge to have a go ourselves was irresistible.  It was to be an experiment, on many levels.

The ground rules were: no alcohol or any other substance to be consumed, 3 main breaks to eat, plus smaller ones to maintain sanity, and an hourly diary to track our thoughts and feelings as the challenge was after all not about producing any wondrous works of art but rather about the process of engaging in the activity and pushing ourselves beyond some sort of limit.

We managed to commandeer a large room at The Art Academy at half term.  A top secret affair which created an unwanted spiral of curiosity around us, but at this stage nothing was going to phase us.  A good hour was spent setting up the studio with easels, stacks of assorted mirrors which we lugged from the top floor and arranged around the studio, and a selection of materials all laid out and ready go.

Turns out that this little experiment was more than a little bit tougher than we imagined.   I can say from experience that there really is only so much looking at yourself in the mirror that is practicably possible. Sanity was tested.  As a result most of the drawings were done out of some sort of desperate delerium.

I’ve selected some of the drawings to show you below.  Luckily (or maybe unfortunately) they managed to escape incineration through persuasion from the girls.  I finally plucked up the courage to unwrap them yesterday for the first time weeks later and look at them from a recuperated perspective.

In retrospect, it was a totally silly thing to do, but definitely one of those things that would be forever regretted if we hadn’t done it.  Even though there were no life changing realisations or artistic enlightenment, I would not take back the experience for one minute as it did provide us plenty of laughs (mainly frenzied manic ones at ourselves), and also an insight to our limitations as artists, which apparently are there in abundance.  The sky is the limit and all that, but it turns out that even the sky has a limit.

There is something to be said for pushing oneself out of the comfort zone in order to achieve anything of value, but some hair brained ideas are just hair brained ideas.  Thank you Guy Denning for the inspiration but I am finding it difficult to believe that you really did all those in 24hours . . . . . . nobody can be that good damn it!

I'd really love to hear anyone and everyone's thoughts, especially if you have carried out any similar challenge or have something to say about the self portrait in general.  Please leave me your comments!

Drawing at the Victoria and Albert Museum

It always happens to be pouring down with rain when I come to the V and A. A typical London day.Regardless of the weather I'd come here every day if I could. I think it's one of my favourite places in London. You'd need more than a lifetime to tire of this museum! As a painter it's nice to look at work that doesn't involve paint and what better place is there for an endless supply of inspiration.

I feel my drawings were less than successful today, but that's a necessary part of the process. That's what I tell myself anyway.

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RP Annual Exhibition 2012

I am thrilled to have had this drawing of my mother accepted for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition. The exhibition will run from 3-18th May at The Mall Galleries. I was surprised as I wasn't planning to enter this drawing but, being a last minute kind of girl, it was the only drawing I had at hand to photograph for the online entry. I probably wouldn't have considered it otherwise. It just goes to show that often an artist's objectivity towards their own work can be questionable!

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More Drawing at The Hunterian

I couldn't resist another trip to the Hunterian again today. It is so marvellous. I'd be back tomorrow if I had time. I never would have thought I would find a cockroach beautiful. Today I realised that the insect I was so taken with yesterday is in fact some sort of Ozzy cockroach.....oh dear.

Here are today's efforts. I managed to spend a few minutes on the gorgeous tarantula today but must go back to observe her again. Isn't she beautiful?

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Some Things Never Change

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I just dug out my GCSE piece and it has struck me how true it is that the things we are interested in as artists stay with us for life even if they are not always clear to us. Ok, of course we evolve and develop etc. I always thought I was all over the place with no focus but looking back at this work I realise that the stuff I was interested in here still resonates and ties in very closely to what I am currently exploring. Revelation!

Happy New Year!

I started painting my brother today whilst he was working on his laptop this afternoon.  Very sketchy and very quick.  The intention was to start working on a large portrait while I have him here in Blighty, but time seems to fly and I always feel a bit cruel asking someone to sit still for me, especially on New Years Day! I just took the opportunity to at least do something.  Better than nothing. I will try and update my blog and website more this year.  I will, I will.

Ideas

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Here are some sketches for ideas for my Art Academy project.  Any guesses on the project title?  I do apologise for the poor images, as usual.  I do actually have a very nice camera now and I will make more of an effort to get them the right way round at least.  No excuse really.  I am very unimpressed with myself but I will post anyway.

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