Saturday, 30 March 2019

Todd Jones...Artist in Residence

Todd Jones at New Art Gallery Walsall
I’ve been over to the New Art Gallery Walsall today to visit the Open Studio of the current Artist in Residence, a former student of mine, Todd Jones. I’ve recently made contact with Todd again through Instagram when I saw his name on the Walsall art gallery’s Instagram feed and wondered if it was the same quiet, nicely off-beat Todd I had taught when he was a 16- year old college student 12 years ago, and it was indeed. He came along to my own recent private view in Wolverhampton and it was great to catch up with him. Chris Cowdrill, my illustrator and lecturer friend was also there, and he had worked closely with Todd too ‘back in the day’, so a bit of reminiscing inevitably took place (mainly about aspects of my teaching which had left Todd a bit traumatised at the time…!)
Todd has recently graduated from an MA in Fine Art course at Wolverhampton University, and it was this that had been a springboard for him landing the residency at Walsall, as the gallery has close ties with the course and I believe a few other MA graduates have also recently been resident artists there too. Todd had been using his time to develop what he describes as his ‘ephemeral sculptures’, which are created from the residual paint dust Todd sands labouriously from various surfaces including empty sculpture plinths and, during his time at Walsall, the actual studio walls. This ritualistic sanding has a performative quality to it, which Todd has tried to capture in video. He also takes rather beautiful, ambiguous black and white photographs of the sculptures which, as the sculptures are swept up at the end of his time with them, is an important document of the whole event. It was all really impressive, and very Zen-like, and Todd spoke with such enthusiasm and confidence about it all. It was great to see the journey he has made. I can’t wait to see what’s next…

Monday, 18 March 2019

Finally hitting the mark...

New paintings at 'Quiet Signs', the Asylum Gallery
l-r 'Lock-Up, 'Semi-detached Arrangement', '10.15 Saturday Night
I opened my exhibition, ‘Quiet Signs’ at Wolverhampton’s Asylum Gallery last Friday night to a packed out and enthusiastic audience. It was a great night where I met some wonderful people encountering my work for the first time, and so many seemed to connect with the images in the paintings of nocturnal streets, and seeing how they reflected the contemporary English urban landscape. It was really heartening. After exhibiting many of these paintings in two large exhibitions in 2018 to little response, I felt that they had finally hit their mark in a way I was hoping for.
I had hopefully thought that the small artist-run Asylum Gallery might be a suitable venue for these paintings when I applied there, and was also aware that the gallery has also worked extremely hard to build an arts scene around the venue with the frequent exhibitions, events and opportunities they offer to local artists in the area, that may attract a bigger audience to see my work, and I was right for once.
'Not Coming Home Tonight'
I was also pleased to show some new paintings, some new smaller ones, but also four large canvasses that I have made in the last few weeks in a really busy and enjoyable period of painting with a lot of renewed energy and purpose. I’ve been having a great time in the studio,  and I feel on a creative roll at the moment and am really pleased with these new pieces which re-assert an interest in more formal experiments. They are a lot more abstract and spare, and much more colourful too, than recent work, and were received well, as well as these new books I have collaborated with my artist friend, Chris Cowdrill on.

Anyway, to finish this post, I’ll share a lovely quote left in the comments book that summed things up nicely… it's been great to exhibit in my native Black Country again