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.

Drawing

This week I have been particularly struck by the work of Alison Carlier. She has just won the Jerwood Drawing Prize with a sound piece called Adjectives, lines and marks. You can hear it here. (I can’t show you a picture as it is aural not visual). The piece is 1 minute 15 seconds long and is a spoken description of a Roman pot. On her blog she says ‘the text describes the object in a way akin to  someone making an observational drawing; the voice tracks the thing just as the eye might tracing the image on paper’. This has got me thinking about what a drawing can be.

Alison Carlier quotes Sol Lewitt.

‘since no form is intrinsically superior to another, the artist may use any form, from an expression of
 
words (written or spoken) to physical reality, equally.’

Sentences on conceptual art, 1969

So a drawing can take any form?

The English language is wonderful as often one word can have many meanings. I’ve just looked up ‘draw’ in the dictionary and the first definition of the word is to ‘pull out, to extract’  and only after that comes ‘to make a picture or a plan with a pencil, pen, ink, charcoal’.

I draw most days. Mostly they are scribbles in my sketchbook…..

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…. and very often these scribbles are workings out. How could a piece look? What is its form size, colour or shape? The scribbles help me to pull an idea out of my mind or imagination – to work it out. Drawing is a way of thinking. So if a drawing is ‘thinking’ or ‘working out’ and can take any form – this is a drawing ….

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…. and this….

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….and this….

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….and this!

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They are all experiments – I was drawing out an idea.

However the time when I extract or draw the most ideas from my head is not when I am sitting with a bit of paper or making something it is when I’m walking – alone. The fresh air and the regularity of my step as I stretch out my legs seem to feed my brain. So I wonder if a drawing can take any form can a drawing be a walk?

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Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that one!

Collage

I should have started making these collages months ago but somehow other things have been occupying my mind – my heart wasn’t really in it. However, the Landmark Art Fair, Teddington is coming up very soon and so out of necessity I have locked myself away this week to make a start on them. Luckily I’ve made fair progress and have really enjoyed the process.

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The collages are created intuitively. They are images of Norfolk that come from my memory: the shape of a bend in the creek, the rocking of moored boats or the outline of the saltmarsh. They are all about shape and colour and the negative space is important. I make them from bits pulled out of my big bag of odds and ends (mainly unfinished work, discarded work and left-overs) and specially painted paper and cloth. It is rather like doing a puzzle. I move shapes and colours around until they suddenly jump into the right place – what Sandra Blow calls that ‘startling rightness’.

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There are still quite a few to go as I have a biggish stand to fill … I’ll let you know how I get on!

Review

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I’ve started this post and I’m not really sure what I’m going to say! I’m back in Surrey now after eight fantastic weeks on the North Norfolk coast and I suppose I’m thinking over what I’ve achieved or not achieved during that time. Time away gives me the opportunity to really immerse myself in the landscape – to notice, feel and experience. I often draw, walk, think and make …. ideas flow.

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This year has been a bit different. I thought I would have a lot of time to myself – but no such chance! The summer has been about juggling family, friends and work. It has been about snatching moments to think, make and photograph, about finding the odd moment to try and do what I want to do. My making and recording has taken place alongside family life. On walks I’m often found walking 100m behind everyone else as I stop to look or do a quick sketch. My family are all very used to being asked to ‘hold this’ while I take a photograph and to ‘stand still’, ‘don’t get in the way’ and ‘don’t move’!  They are all useful extra hands and I was very pleased when my husband commented, ‘this is fun’ on one occasion when I had finally managed to get the Aeolian Pipes to sing out clearly. It was exciting, and yes, it was fun!

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I thought I hadn’t done much work with so little concentrated time – but it’s amazing what can be done. Packing the car to come home I was glad that I had a roof box and no passengers. Materials that were packed flat on the way up were now 3-D objects and took up a lot more space!

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Most of what I succeeded in making had already been thought through –  and I am really pleased that the main objective of the summer, to get the Aeolian Pipes to sing, was achieved. As for new ideas … I’m not sure. It takes time for things to go through your mind and to develop into something new. Mostly I find that new work is just an extension of what has gone before –  a gradual pushing forward. These incremental steps don’t aim towards a final goal but meander around a set of ideas, pulling in and discarding what is or isn’t needed. As I always say, ‘everything I do is about everything I do’. I’ll just have to wait and see how the past 8 weeks affects my work.

 

Secret water

I have been re-reading the Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons books over the past few weeks. They are stories that I have loved since I was a child and I have really enjoyed revisiting them. I read them in quick succession – one after the other.

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My favourite book has always been Secret Water. It is a wonderful exploring adventure but on this re-reading, it is the setting that attracted me. The book is set in Hamford Water, a marshy environment in Essex. Ransome’s descriptions of the place remind me so much of the saltmarshes on the North Norfolk coast and it is these places that I have in my imagination and visit as I read.

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‘The saltings below the dyke grew narrower, and were now no more than a fringe to the wide expanse of mud that stretched across from the island to the mainland instead of the bright, shimmering sea that they had seen from the deck of the Goblin when they had sailed into the creek. A ribbon of water was spreading in the middle of the mud. Tide was coming up. Soon the mud would be a sea once more.’

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‘They went floundering along the saltings …  the island that had been divided from the big one by a wide channel was an island no longer. The channel had narrowed and broken up, into little streams trickling down both sides of a mudbank.’

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‘Almost at the same moment, everybody saw a break in the line of sand away to the south, and a thread of water going in there, and one or two tall masts showing above sand dunes. And, as they came nearer to that round buoy with the cross they saw a much wider channel was opening before them with smooth shining water stretching to the west and low banks on either side.

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the land seemed hardly above the level of the sea, just a long low line above the water, with higher ground far away behind it. But that low line of coast seemed to have no gaps in it. It looked as if it stretched the whole way round across the head of the bay.’

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These photos were taken at Burnham Overy Staithe …. wonderful.