Tuesday, 19 April 2011

On The Road Again...

I had a nice time painting outside at Swan Pool in Sandwell Valley today. My landscape paintings always start with small oil paintings and drawings made on location, and Swan Pool is a place I’m particularly fond of. It’s a bit wild in places, quite flat with the expanse of water and the big sky above, and I like the quite roar of the M5 in the distance. The beautiful sunny weather threw up new visual ideas that might drag my paintings away from the flat, dull light that I’m quite keen on depicting, which for some reason I associate with the Midlands.

Here too are a few images from the studio that may illustrate some of the my current creative activities. It has been a busy time of experimenting over the last six months, which has seen me produce lots of new work, with lots of misses, but a few nice hits.

It’s only now that the dust is beginning to settle that I’m beginning to view things more objectively and think about the direction I want to take next.

Stardust Memories...('Ali' and 'Devjani')

I installed ‘Ali’ and ‘Devjani’ at The Phoenix Collegiate School in West Bromwich last Friday. The school used to be known as Menzies High, and it is where I went to school many years ago. As you can imagine it was a little strange to be back, especially installing my paintings, and I was struck how physically the place had changed so little. It was very difficult installing them as they had to be placed high up, and we had only had a limited choice of walls to choose from as lots of them contained asbestos. They are now in the reception near the Main Hall where we used to meet for Assemblies on Monday mornings.

The school was briefly well known for being featured in ‘Clockwise’, the film starring John Cleese. I remember when I was in my final year the school being descended upon by an enormous film crew and cast for weeks for what transpired to be only a brief five minutes at the opening of the film. You can see lots of my old school friends in this section set in the Main Hall. Sadly, my own appearance ended up on the cutting room floor.

Afterwards, whenever the weather was too wet to be outdoors at lunchtimes, the school always crammed us all into the hall to watch the film again. I’ve never seen it all the way through though. I got bored after that first five minutes.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

'Alfie', 'Tony' and 'Suzan'...

I installed three more of my ‘Seek My Face’ portraits in Sandwell today. I hung ‘Alfie’ and ‘Tony’ in the office of Councillor Simon Hackett at the Council House in Oldbury. Simon is an old friend of mine who I have known most of my life. I also hung ‘Suzan’ in the office of Councillor Anne Shackleton. I’m enjoying seeing them installed in these different locations. It gives a different context and dimension to the work than the usual white gallery walls where I normally exhibit, and they seem to hold their own too in these spaces, which is pleasing.

I also think it is good to see large paintings in quite small rooms and observe how these can work in these spaces, as most people are put off by the scale, and can’t envisage living with such large pieces themselves. I have some of my own very large paintings up in my home and I think they look great (but I suppose I have to say that!). I was ably assisted today by my fourteen year old nephew, Oliver (pictured) who seemed to enjoy himself. I certainly enjoyed having him along. He’s helping me install three more in my old school on Friday, which I think will be much trickier as they are going to be high up. Follow this blog….

Below are some photos of the pantings I recently sold to Great Places Housing Projects in Manchester too. The photos show them in their new home, which is modern Sheltered Housing accommodation. It’s great to see these in their new home, and again the photographs hopefully illustrate how well large paintings can work in these different locations.

This blog reads like a hard sell. It’s not honestly but….you can contact me through the website!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Notes To Self...

I have a pinboard in the studio where I scribble lots of post-it notes to myself. I’m never short of ideas, just short of time and space in my brain to catch and hold them all. The post-its are a tool to help me catch some of the ideas that float in and just as quickly float out of my mind. Her are a few current ones…

‘No More Japanese Landscapes’…I’ve never held onto that thought. That seems to be all I’ve painted lately…

Monday, 4 April 2011

Bernard and Val...

I installed two more paintings in West Bromwich today. ‘Bernard’ and ‘Val’ have found a home in Charlemont Community and Youth Centre, a bleak bunker like building in the shadow of two enormous tower blocks. I know the area very well, as I was born in another (now demolished) 20 storey tower block nearby, went to Charlemont Primary and Junior School, and spent a lot of my teens hanging around the area. More recently, I’ve spent a lot of time drawing and painting the motorway that the community centre faces.

I think I broke every health and safety rule in the book trying to install them in some bizarre and awkward spots. ‘Bernard’ has actually ended up above a serving hatch in the pool hall. At first when I was pointed to the spot I thought ‘oh dear’, but actually I thought it looked quite good after I put it up. In amongst the cluttered walls of photos and film posters it seemed to have a quiet presence. It’s one of my favourite portraits. ‘Val’ also looked interesting in her corner, looking out at the youth playing pool. She’ll keep them on the straight and narrow.

As I was sliding around on chairs on top of tables installing them, I thought back to the idealism of my own youth. When I was a student I wanted my paintings to be in community centres like this, shared amongst the people, like my hero at the time, artist Ken Currie (image above), when he painted those early strident paintings of the working class. Well, mine have ended up there, given away, whilst his soon ended up secreted away in the homes of rich collectors and dealers. No sell out for me! No sale at all….but I’m pretty pleased with today anyway.