Whilst I painted the floor of my new studio today, my mind wandered. It may have been a combination of the fumes radiating upward from the industrial floor paint and focusing upon trying not to paint myself into a corner; regardless, my mind was wandering and it found its way towards the question ‘where does it come from?’
I guess I really should be a little less vague and excuse me as I may still be slightly under the influence of paint fumes!
You may already be aware that I’m currently working all hours creating both textile sculptures and paintings for a couple of high-volume exhibitions due to launch early next year. The sculptures are animal based and the paintings, landscapes.
The concept behind my next solo exhibition (March 2020) is to create another multi-sensory experience whereby the viewer is able to observe the animal (sculpture) within its natural landscape (painting); hearing gentle sounds of the countryside and smells of grass and woodland earth… catching a moment in time with the animal unaware of your presence and the land takes a breath whilst the days shadows lengthen.
I enjoy creating multi-sensory experiences because that’s the way my inspiration works… I hear the rush of wind and distant calls of the woodpigeon; I smell the rich damp woodland floor or wild garlic as I brush past; textures present themselves to me and I feel what it is I wish to create. Sometimes it’s a painting, sometimes textile or sculpture; in every case, I always have a complex sense of the mood and experience.
So, if you ever get chance to visit my solo exhibitions, be prepared for all your senses to be involved! Of course, I cannot achieve this within a group exhibition as I don’t think the fellow artists would necessarily share my vision!!
My 2018 solo exhibition focused on the life hidden within deep forests and undergrowth. It took each visitor on an exploration of hidden beauty found within fungi and other natural flora, then onto the environment with all its rich textures; discovering the ribbon of folklore that weaves throughout them all. Uncovering a history and superstition that still resonates to this day. Earthy scents wafted amongst the artworks whilst sounds of forest life buzzed and sang, giving way to the rumblings of an approaching storm, ready to unleash life-giving rain with bellows of thunder.
This is all very exciting but doesn’t really answer the question ‘Where did it come from’; this complex, intricate concept and what makes it work?
I truly believe that if anyone were to try and replicate my own unique style and approach, the result would likely be a creation of a disjointed ideas with no soul. That magical essence that comes from the true designer would not exist; it would be nothing more than a hollow experience. Not a very attractive prospect for the viewers but perhaps even more fruitless for the carbon copy artist. The series of works would fail to show the true nature of the artist, there would be an absence or authenticity and believe me…viewers may not be able to describe it, but they feel when something isn’t quite ‘there’ for them.
The entire series of works and presentation needs to evolve within the mind of the one who had connected so completely with the initial deal concept; the art grew from that internal space…not through observing someone else’s work. Inspiration can come from other’s, but that inspiration must take seed and grow into something new and unique.
Let me try and describe for you the initial idea and its evolutionary stages for my next solo exhibition…
This next exhibition began from a simple idea…to push outwards. To open spaces and room to breathe.
Initially I imagined minimal number of pieces; sculptures positioned in front of paintings of their imagined habitat. As I commenced the first pieces, I realised that I wanted to express movement in several of the pieces and so I formed my sculptured forms inside my head, rotating them 360º to understand how I wanted to proceed.
Next came about the recognition that my sculptures were not going to be necessarily fully representational.
I was more drawn to the feel of the animals being created from the earth they travel. Colours began to emerge which, for me, captured the essence of their surroundings.
There were several further moments where the initial concept evolved. The number of artworks varied; the curation of the space shifted.
The paintings which were initially a backdrop, began to evolve too.
For some pieces, their size increased dramatically and then for other areas, a grouping emerged. Landscapes became much more than a backdrop or pleasant painting; they began their own journey of discovering the emotions I felt about those places or how I felt about the brush strokes or colour.
Over time, these paintings led into around three main emotional states and I realised I would no longer be able to create one continuous panorama around the gallery. I needed to resolve the issues this raised and I’m still working with those now.
Can you see, understand how ‘it’ is such a wondrous complex element that requires time, nurture, exploration, space, air, testing, challenging…. Without all these things (and more), the initial idea cannot evolve into something unique, fully formed and intricate.
Art requires depth in order to ‘feel good’.
I hope to see some of you in March 2020, where we can together experience the culmination of this intriguing, challenging path I’m on….