Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Begin Again

'Journey's End', oil on canvas, 120 x 200cms
After twenty years of public exhibitions, projects, commissions, and grant awards I'm pleased to say that I've finally managed to achieve some decent gallery representation. Following a really hot and sweaty trip to Sheffield with a van full of paintings last Friday, followed by a great meeting with gallery director Karen Sherwood, I'm pleased to say that the city's excellent Cupola Gallery want to represent my paintings. They have taken several large pieces and drawings for now, and want to stage a bigger show of my work next year. Hurrah! My practice just seems like a long and forever ongoing apprenticeship of things tried and lessons learned...
'Canal', oil on canvas, 120 x 150cms
This is something I’ve been trying to rather faltering strive for for a long time, but have never felt like I had the work to approach many places- largely because of the large scale of so many of my paintings, but also the subject matter. I’ve since realized that I have been misguided with this, as my meeting at Cupola demonstrated, and the level of interest I’ve had in my motorway paintings since embarking on them with the help of the Arts Council. Karen and Graham, the manager, at Cupola praised their originality, and it was interesting discussing other paintings of mine such as my tree paintings, which form part of the same series, as being less original and therefore less appealing. As for the scale, Karen quite rightly pointed out how I worked much better on a larger scale, with smaller pieces looking more ‘compromised’. They ended up keeping ‘Journey’s End’ as one of their selection (top), which is one of my biggest paintings.  They were also encouraging about some of my new paintings such as ‘Canal’ above. 
 I really enjoyed my time at the gallery with Karen and Graham, who were both full of advice and enthusiasm, and I saw some great work there. I was particularly struck by the paintings of Mandy Payne (below), who apparently was personally selected by Sir Norman Ackroyd for this year’s RA summer show, and is also a prizewinner in this year’s John Moore’s Painting Prize in Liverpool. 
Mandy Payne, 'Brutal', aerosol on concrete
I’m really excited to think that for once someone else now has a vested interest in selling my work and getting it more widely seen than me.  It’s also interesting to think that my work is now getting promoted outside of the Midlands. I’ve found there are very few decent commercial opportunities in and around Birmingham, hence casting my net much wider.  So, for now, I’ve signed a six month contract with the gallery until January 2015, which we will review in November. This feels like the beginning of a welcome new chapter..

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