A desolate place

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‘A more desolate region can scarce be conceived, and yet it is not without beauty. In summer, the thrift mantles the marshes with soft satin, passing through all graduations of tint from maiden’s blush to lily white. Thereafter a purple glow steals over the waste, as the sea lavender bursts into flower, and simultaneously every creek and pool is royally fringed with sea aster. A little later the glass wort, that shot up green and transparent as emerald glass in the early spring, turns to every tinge of carmine.

When all vegetation ceases to live, and goes to sleep, the marshes are alive and wakeful with countless wild fowl. At all times they are haunted with sea mews and roysten crows, in winter they team with wild duck and grey geese. The stately heron loves to wade in the pools, occasionally a whopper swan sounds his loud trumpet and flashes a white reflection in the still blue waters of the fleets. The plaintive pipe of the curlew is familiar to those who frequent these marshes, and the barking of the brent geese as they return from their northern breeding places is heard in November’.

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Words frrom Mehalah, A Story of the Salt Marshes by Sabine Baring-Gould – pictures from my sketchbook

Zero

Firstly – thank you for all your kind words (see last post!)

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As you can see I have been to New York. It was my first visit and it was exactly as I imagined it would be from seeing it on the television – only busier, taller, louder and twinklier. I had an awful lot that I wanted to do and I managed to do most of it in a very short space of time. One of the best things was an exhibition at the Guggenheim.

Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950’s-60’s focused on the German artists’ group Zero that aimed to redefine art in the wake of World War II. Although I was aware of some of the artists, I hadn’t heard of the group before. The group made connections with other like-minded artists from Europe, Japan and North and South America to form an International network of more than 40 artists. Their name indicated ‘a zone of silence and of pure possibilities for a new beginning as at the countdown when rockets take off’. It provided a launchpad for a new kind of art – a clean slate.

Zero devised fresh approaches to painting by using a reduced palette, structured lines and grids and by using a wide range of materials. I was particularly interested in these materials and their processes.

There was burning

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Otto Peine, Venus of Willendorf, 1963

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Bernard Aubertin, Large Fire Book, 1961

nailing

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Gunther Uecker, White Mill, 1964

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Gunther Uecker, The Yellow Picture, 1957-8

and cutting.

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Walter Leblanc, Torsion, 1965

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Heinz Mack, Lamellan- Relief, 1950-60

Light

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Adolf Luther, Virtual Picture (Mirror Object), 1966-7

and movement.

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Gunther Uecker, New York Dancer, 1965

Some artists explored using the environment as a site for their work (does this anticipate Landart?) Hans Haacke made works that used air and water. He laid out a manifesto for the way he worked:

… make something, which experiences, reacts, to its environment, changes, is non-stable …

…make something indeterminate, which always looks different, the shape of which cannot be predicted precisely …

…make something, which cannot ‘perform’ without the assistance of its environment …

…make something, which reacts to light and temperature changes, is subject to air-currents and depends, in its functioning, on the forces of gravity…

…make something, which the ‘spectator’ handles, with which he plays and thus animates it…

…make something, which lives in time and makes the ‘spectator’ experience time…

Without seeing this before I find that this is how I have been working for some time now – it’s nice to have it summarised and laid out before me.

All the photos were taken from the Guggenheim Zero catalogue.

News

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Here is a new Green Salt Pot that I have just finished. It is waxed and salted and sits on a wonderfully worn piece of driftwood that I collected at Holkham beach. It is a small piece (under 25cms in all directions) and it will be part of 25x25x25 at Designer Crafts at the Mall 2015 in the New Year. 25x25x25 celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Society of Designer Craftsmen at the Mall Galleries, London. I am also showing a much larger work that consists of many Salt Pots – more on that later!

I also have some very exciting news that I would like to share with you! Last week I heard that I have been accepted as a member of the 62 Group of textile artists and I can’t tell you how delighted I am. I’m really looking forward to being a part of this prestigious group and to the new challenges that it will present.

Walking

Although it was rather a grey day when I went for this walk at Burnham Overy Staithe at the weekend the marsh was an amazing russet/red. It seems that with this fine, late autumn weather we are having it is not only the trees that are a spectacular colour.

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It was a still day – amazingly no wind – but there was the mournful sound of curlews calling to each other. They were in the creek, and camouflaged by the mud …. hidden from view.

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Looking inland the tide was out and I love to see the meandering channels that are cut into the mud by the water.

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Further round, and looking the other way out to sea through the marram grass, is Scolt Head Island  which is a National Nature Reserve. It was late afternoon, the clocks had gone back and beginning to get dark – the brent geese and pink-footed geese were flying in to roost on the marsh for the night.

Cat’s Paws

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I’m in Norfolk whilst some much needed work is done on a leaky conservatory roof. I spent the whole day indoors sewing and making cups of tea for workmen, but early evening I went out for a walk as I needed to stretch my legs and my eyes – to look at something that was further away than just beyond the end of my nose.

This evening there was a strong gusty wind. As I walked the wind seemed to spill over the bank next to the path and snatch at the surface of the water creating fleeting dark marks that bloomed and then dissipated. Again and again the sea’s surface was broken by these shadowy, transient marks –  ‘dark, salt. clear, moving, utterly free’  – they were mesmerising. These ripples on the water are called Cat’s Paws.

I love seeing things that I don’t expect – things to remember, to store in the memory, to use in the future ….

Catalogue

I’ve been very busy over the past few weeks making work for the Landmark Autumn Art Fair on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 October 2014. At last I have finished and everything is packed and ready to go.

Landmark Autumn Art Fair Invite

I have also prepared a catalogue of works. You may be interested in having a look and you can download the PDF here. landmark catalogue 2014

There is also a Private View on Friday 17 October. If you are interested in coming please email me and I’ll send you an invite to print off.

Material love

Last week I called in at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on the way back from dropping my son at Durham University. In the Underground Gallery is an exhibition by the American artist Ursula von Rydingsvard. She is mainly known for huge, weighty sculptures that she constructs and out of cedar posts. She uses an electric saw to shape and mark the wood – these are not delicate objects but bold and masculine …. they have presence.

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They had qualities that I admired, like the way the light caught their multi-faceted surface,

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and the way she marks the wood with paint,

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and I loved this laminated, cedar circle.

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But it was the small, experimental works that I really liked.

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She has uses any material to hand – wire, abaca paper, sheeps wool, wax, mud and hair ….

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…. yummy!

Sorry if the photos are a bit grainy – I only had my phone on me.