Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Abstract Landscape Painter.  Rural Dweller.  Lover of Modernist Art and Design.

Boundaries and Edges

I have finished two small, square paintings and a long, narrow landscape, during these last two weeks.  I've been experimenting with a warmer palette, in response to the climate.  Colours that remind me somewhat of the Bloomsbury painters - particularly Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.  I love the vibrancy of their work.  I've also felt that I want to leave some areas undefined.  Painting is always such a balancing act - the dark and the light, the bright and the muted, the large and the small, the defined and the undefined.  A successful painting must balance all these factors, and more besides.  Every aspect needs it's opposite in just the right measure.

I went on two very enjoyable visits last week-end.  Friday evening (19 July) saw the opening of "Aquatopia" at Nottingham Contemporary.  It's an exhibition in collaboration with Tate St.Ives.  All three floors of the gallery seemed to be packed with people.  There was a great atmosphere and a wealth of sensory experiences to be had.  One of my favourites (apart from the one with the people wearing giant fish masks and dancing to a DJ playing in a darkened, crowded room lit by projected images of the sea!) was the huge, white abstract paintings in a cavernous room, with slightly low lighting.  The sound of waves roaring onto shingle, was being played through speakers in this space. The combined effects made it difficult to say where the surface of the paintings actually began.  I really felt as if I was looking at them through sea mist!  It was intriguing.

Outside the cool, contained space of the gallery, was a complete contrast.  The cobbled streets of the Lace Market area were packed with people sitting outside bars and restaurants on this sizzling July evening.  We retreated to a nearby Tapas bar and spent the rest of a very sociable evening, feeling as if we were on holiday in a Spanish city!

On Sunday afternoon we were invited to visit a friend's allotment, for afternoon tea.  It was not quite as any of our little group had expected.  We were met at the gates by our host, and guided along walkways, bounded by high hedges on either side and containing a series of wooden doors at regular intervals.  On both sides of this walkway, each allotment was enclosed by its own hedges, like a series of outdoor rooms. It felt like we were passing "The Secret Garden" over and over again!

Our friend has two of these spaces and we were amazed to open the first door to find a small orchard inside, complete with four Buff Orpington hens clucking and scratching beneath the trees.  It also contained a flower-lined greenhouse and a wooden hut, complete with wood-burning stove and 60's kitchen cabinet.  We sat in the greenhouse and drank tea and coffee before visiting the second allotment - a wonderful mixture of fruit, vegetables and flowers, with a potting shed at the far end. My favourite things were a cloud of gypsophila which was growing in the middle of the space, together with the shed.  A good shed is a work of art in itself!  Then it was back to the greenhouse for more tea and homemade cake.

As one of my friends said, "I spent Friday evening in Seville and Sunday afternoon in Provence".  It did feel like that!

As I sit writing this today, the thunderstorm that was lightening and crashing overhead seems to have moved on to be replaced by patches of blue sky and a fresh breeze.

I've been to visit my Mum this afternoon.  It's the first time that she's not been entirely sure who I am.  It seems to be the outlines or boundaries around things that are going.  She's not really clear about where she ends and I begin.  People get all jumbled up in her head and seem to change from one to another without her noticing - a bit like they sometimes do in a dream.

Time is something else that's lost all it's containers.  Events seem to move around - like liquid on a tray - backwards and forwards as the angle changes slightly - nothing is fixed any more.  She whispers now - through lack of strength rather than mystery - "I went to see Mum and Dad last night".  "How were they?", I ask.  She smiles a toothy grin and shrugs her shoulders slowly.  "Oh, you know", she whispers, "getting older like the rest of us".  About a minute later she asks me, "Are you going to see Mum and Dad?".  "You're my Mum", I say, and grin.  She looks at me with eyes as big as a kitten's.  She is very still.  She looks somewhat confused.  "Do you know who I am?", I ask gently.  She nods slowly, but I am not convinced.  I know that she is searching for a memory to identify me.  Something that will bring complete clarity, but she can't find it.

The person that is what is left of my Mum, sits in the chair.  She is leaving bit by bit, drifting slowly away, as if into a mist, and now only a fragment of her is left -  but I am glad that this woman, once so full of anguish and activity, is calm at last.

All text and images ©2013 Carol Saunderson

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Abstract Landscape Painter.  Rural Dweller.  Lover of Modernist Art and Design.


Well….. the good news is that they did find a brain AND I don't have a "dissected" artery in the back of my neck, for which I am very grateful.  The scans were interesting to look at and the consultant was very witty, so I did have a laugh with him, but it could have been a bit of a nightmare…

In the meantime, I've sent off my work to the Sea Pictures Gallery in Clare for their new show which opens this coming Friday.  It looks like Sarah may actually get some sunshine to go with the title of her exhibition.  I've been loving this spell of hot weather - summer at last - and been spending as much time outdoors as possible.  Last week-end we bought a chimenea and have taken great delight in sitting out in the garden these last few evenings, watching the sun go down, while keeping warm by the succession of small fires that we must light in it in order to season the clay.  The sunsets have been pretty impressive affairs - a full crimson globe descending to the horizon each night.

I have finished my poetry book from Much Wenlock.  I had been trying to ration out the poems in order to make it last a bit longer.  The last one was an extract from "Little Gidding" by T.S.Eliot, which is the final one of the "Four Quartets".  This series of poems is one that I have often heard mentioned, but never read.  My first thought after reading it was "helluva poem!" - not exactly the height of literary criticism I know, but my gut reaction nonetheless.  I don't claim to fully understand it, but it seems to contain some really powerful ideas and beautiful imagery and makes me want to read the whole series.  I've also ordered another book…..

It made me think about the energy of human creativity.  It's so amazing that these little creatures can suddenly produce something so powerful - like a fuel cell unlocked - a kind of creative nuclear fission!  We seem to have the potential for world-changing inventions, beautiful literature, art and music to explode out of us.  Something sparks it and it ignites, develops, and becomes something so much bigger than the tiny individual that formed it.  A kind of "tardis" effect in reverse.  Suddenly, something is born into the world out of the human spirit and takes on a life of it's own, going on to affect the lives of many others.  It's pretty incredible!

In terms of inspiration……a few years ago the fashion designer Paul Smith wrote a book entitled "You Can Find Inspiration in Everything*: *and if you can't, look again".  In our rather random garden I have let some leeks "bolt", just to see what they look like.  As it happens, they look quite amazing and slightly like a Derek Jarman sculpture…or possibly the CN Tower in Toronto.…….I wonder………?

All text and images ©2013 Carol Saunderson