Coming up

Coming Up:
*** Thu 18th Oct: Social Evening. Late start 8.00pm at The Blue Boar ***
*** Thu 1st Nov: Marion Elliot on "The Art of Collage", 7.30pm at The Assembly Rooms ***


Saturday, 6 October 2018

Spotlight: Artistic choices of addition or subtraction. Is everything already there?

This Spotlight outlines a way of thinking about one’s practice, and each stroke decided and made.

If you put an infinite number of monkeys in front of typewriters - or in front of keyboards, or paper and a quill pen - one of them will produce the entire works of Shakespeare.

Billy Shakespeare, probably

This is no idle theory, because one monkey already has. That one was called 'William Shakespeare'. He penned lines on a white-ish background, using ink. That ape descendent created plays and sonnets, which gain life by being enacted or read, or simply by being thought about.
Give the monkeys chisels and white marble, and they will create Michaelangelo's ‘David’. We know this, because it happened.
These miracles of chance have been done. Inky curves and carved shades.
Some of Michaelangelo's 'David' from one angle, in a certain light

This got me wondering. Does blank paper, or the white marble, contain within it the finished object that we admire and cherish? Are the words already in the paper, or perhaps in the ether, waiting to be revealed? Is there always an equivalent of “The Works of Shakespeare” or “The Works of Frida Kahlo” somewhere in a space unseen, waiting to be made into reality by one of us monkeys with our brushes and pens and chisels? How do we summon these exquisite creations?
Frida Kahlo: 'Roots', 1943

What is the act of revealing? Are we adding something, or removing blinkers and barriers to something which was already there? In sculpture, are we removing marble, or are we adding dark shadows, to create form? In literature and sculpture and painting, we think that we are adding words, or removing marble, or adding paint.
But is it really that simple?
Consider music: the canvas of sound, we think, is silence. We believe that notes and voices are added to silence to make music. As if silence is a blank sheet, upon which to add sounds.
But sounds are already there: babbling water, birdsong, and the howls and laughter of monkeys. Volcanoes. Wind on an island... It may be that the infinity of sounds is the canvas from which music is carved. Suppose that a musician is acquainted with the plethora of sounds of nature, cities, instruments, voices, and all that is out there. When they create music are they adding sounds to silence, or are they carving from a cacophony to shape more succinct soundscapes?
When we paint, there are a lot of things that we are not painting. A lot of strokes we do not make. Sometimes it feels like a reductive process, as much as it feels like an additive process: “There are many shapes that this brushstroke could have taken, and I removed the other options in order to keep just this possibility of shapes which I want.”
Like selecting clothes, or choosing a meal from a menu, we add to our selection only by removing from the choices. In love and friendships, when we meet someone and build a relationship, is it adding love to nothing, or revealing an underlying connection that is already there between every living thing? Are we removing barriers and blinkers?
In sculpture this yin and yang notion is quite tangible, in considering where the forms are, and the choices we make of presence and absence in space.
This image is of something which happened by accident. At least, to me it was not consciously deliberate. What do you see?
Do you see a head-like form just slightly north-east of centre, flying towards the left? This is a picture I took of the white plastic board which I used to protect the floor when I was working with black-pigmented polyester resin. The shapes in the image are accidents: a by-product of making something else entirely. This image may be better than what I deliberately constructed that day. If the aspiration is an as-yet unknown “Complete works of something” then it is difficult to tell.
...Her head flies from the cliffs that shatter into the sky. She was made by chance, spills of dark resin, at the hands of this monkey. Or she was always there, and the dark splash is what it takes for us to see her.    We Monkeys... ourselves made by chance, choosing what we add and what goes? Do we start with nothing? Or do we start with everything?
Pablo Picasso: Carnet Dinard, 1928.  Ink on paper.

Of course, this philosophising misses the point. The existence of Shakespeare’s plays is not on the page. It is in the theatre, and in hearts and minds. They exist through being experienced. If never seen or read, their wonder would not be manifest. Similarly a painting is only really active if it is seen and experienced. Michaelangelo’s ‘David’ would not be ‘David’ if it had remained in a crate in a warehouse somewhere near Rome, gathering dust and spiders.
Warehouse scene still from 'Citizen Kane'

Indeed the piece is not really the word “‘David’“, or the marble shape. It is also very much the experience, and perhaps the context. So, whether or not we are adding or removing, our works will thrive through being shared.
In which case I’d best get on with building things and getting them out there. Personally, I have some pieces out there in the world at the moment this month, but I have, as yet, built nothing. There is a yin and yang to be balanced.
'The Great Divide' opening at OVADA, Oxford, September 2018

How is your practice going, and does any of this ring true for you?
Happy painting and drawing, and making, and singing and sharing, everyone.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Spotlight : Who is Lucky?

Who is Lucky?
  Plenty of us are talented, clever, and we make some amazing things. Sometimes we get lucky, and people notice our stuff, and we do well out of it, and reach a big audience.
'The Other Art Fair', London, Brick Lane
Success needs luck, we think, as well as talent and hard work and brains, and often charm too.
  Imagine your own lucky thing happening, where someone in a gallery or a book company notices what you do, and gives you a chance, and then a magazine does an article on you, and you end up really popular and selling loads of paintings or book illustrations.
  All because of that lucky moment when someone noticed that what you do is worth being given an opportunity.

Helen A Pritchard wins £10k Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize
Haha! That is one way of looking at the notion of luck and success. It is the typical way.
  We so often think the story is about us. We feel from our own perspective. 
  The story above might instead be about the gallery owner, whose gallery becomes successful.  It may be about how they were lucky enough to see your work and give you a chance, and then have an article written about it all in a big magazine. Since that lucky day their gallery is doing great.
Hahahaa... Perspectives…. We always think it is about people, and how they feel.
  Supposing we are not the important thing.
    Supposing what matters is the Idea.
There are thousand of ideas, millions, all whizzing about, and hardly any of them get realised. Those ideas are all zipping about, worrying and wondering whether they will ever get noticed.
'Kora', 2018, by Riley Aubrienne Polek-Davis
One day, one of the people who carries a version of one particular idea (about how to paint light on roses, using bold coloured curves based on a way they painted some hair on a life figure), talks to another person, who has an idea about a show. The idea about doing a show about bold bright curves was in someone else's head. Now those two ideas have met.
  And then another idea meets them both. This idea is bouncing around in the head of a magazine writer. It is an idea about how ideas themselves can travel, through music, or through paintings, to join more ideas (which are in lots of other heads - the audience). To us this is an idea for a magazine article about how people understand painted light in a gallery context – but to the other ideas, it is not an abstract concept. It is as real as paintings, and galleries, and people and skin, and just as alive.
  Later, the magazine idea looks back to how lucky it was to have met that nice idea about a gallery show. And the gallery idea thinks “You know, I’m lucky to have met that idea about how to paint roses. Between us we made the roses accessible to a whole lot of thoughts who came along and met the roses idea.” They met the roses idea through that image of roses in light, which was painted by another one of those fleshy-bony things that ideas often have - called 'humans'. And the ideas could each think "You know, maybe I was even lucky to have landed in that particular human's brain in the first place."
  Maybe what is important is the ideas, not who has them, or who gets known for them.
     Maybe we don't have ideas. Ideas have us.

'Family reading', by Alex Grey
I think it's both ways.
  We are all Lucky.

Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged according to the Laws of Chance), 1917. 
Torn-and-pasted paper and coloured paper on coloured paper, 
19 1/8 x 13 5/8" (48.5 x 34.6 cm)

Friday, 7 September 2018

We've grown to 100 members!

Ludlow Art Society is delighted that membership has now reached 100. This is a significant increase which strengthens the society as we build a sustainable future. We will continue to press towards a wider variety of artistic styles and formats, and be totally inclusive of all who want to regard themselves as artists. We still have much work to do on attracting the younger generation. Nonetheless, we have reached a milestone which we should all be proud to celebrate! Cheers to Ludlow Art Society!