Playing and reality
‘The capacity to still feel wonder is essential to the creative process.’
Donald Woods Winnicott
I have always loved collage. Recently I have been developing my use of the medium, drawing on to collaged compositions with colourful inks. It is a wonderfully loose and playful way to work which takes on a dynamic life of its own. I am currently working with re-cycled paper off cuts and adding free, calligraphic brush work to the pieces. The pieces ‘chop and change’ - random, snippets of collage segueing with hand drawn calligraphic marks. This integrative technique feels fitting for these disorientating times, a way to honestly incorporate breakage and dislocation whilst, at the same time, celebrate flow and regenerative hope.
‘The Blue and The Dim and The Gold’
This year for Holy Week St Andrew’s Church, Shifnal will be hosting ‘The Blue and The Dim and The Gold’, a large scale painting I made in 2012. It shows a lake at sunset, with rippled waters, brooding, forest-clad hillsides, shimmering golden light and a single boat containing a solitary figure, dwarfed by the landscape.
Revd. Preb Chris Thorpe has prepared some beautiful Holy Week resources using the painting as starting point for his reflections.
Chris has written ‘What is it that brings you to tears? Is there a ”cup” of suffering that you wish could pass from you? Do you feel abandoned or betrayed sometimes? Jesus promised that ”the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), encouraging us to face our fears and worries, to give time to let things surface for us. St John said ”perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18) so we can bring our deepest fears and darkness to the Lord, knowing that we are loved completely. The prophet Isaiah said ”those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall rise up on wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). Perhaps this Holy Week can be a time of waiting on the Lord and renewing our strength.’
Chris’s Holy Week resources are available free of charge here.
Over the last 10 years ‘The Blue and the Dim and the Gold’ has toured nationally to a number of venues including the Parabola Arts Centre in Cheltenham, St Luke’s Church in Holloway, All Saints Church in Kings Heath, Birmingham Cathedral, All Saints Church in Warwick, Aston University, Greenbelt Festival and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
British Museum - acquisition of a ‘Do the Little Things’ boat for their collection
Back in May 2021, I was invited to create an installation for Coventry Cathedral’s Chapel of Gethsemane of Do the Little Things boats, this coincided with a spotlight loan from The British Museum called Crossings: community and refuge. The cross is made from the remnants of a boat which carried refugees that was wrecked near the Italian island of Lampedusa, close to the coast of Tunisia in 2013. It symbolises the plight of refugees across the world. This particular cross was one of many made by the island’s carpenter, Francesco Tuccio, prompted by the tragic death of 311 migrants when the boat sank. Jill Cook, Keeper, Department of Britain, Europe & Prehistory at the British Museum received the small cross in the post from Tuccio, and it became the final acquisition by the museum before Neil McGregor retired as Director in 2015. Jill wrote in a blog in 2021 that the crosses “serve as a reminder of all the histories that are lost and of the thousands of people who are not otherwise commemorated, as well as a major moment in world history.”
Jill Cook was in the cathedral to oversee the installation of the Lampesuda Cross when she decided to acquire one of the ‘Do the Little Things’ boats for the permanent collection of the British Museum. The museum have collected objects that reveal how we navigated the Covid-19 pandemic. She felt that the ‘Do the Little Things’ project, involving the posting of tiny vessels to destinations around the globe, told an important story of the human connection in extraordinary times. You can see the boat in their online collection here.
ART FIRST - ‘February’s Feast’
Thursday 2nd February - Friday 3rd March 2023
‘February’s Feast’ is an exhibition of work by a group of gallery artists - Kevin Laycock, Gillian Lever, Simon Lewty, Alex Lowery, Bridget Macdonald, Jack Milroy, Simon Morley, Donald Teskey, Mimei Thompson and Graeme Williams.
Gallery hours: Wednesday - Friday 11am - 6 pm, and by appointment.
ART FIRST, The Forge, 15 St Mary’s Walk, London, SE11 4UA
It is a joyful thing to be part of ‘February’s Feast’, ART FIRST’s new exhibition for 2023 bringing gallery artists together in the new Lambeth gallery space. The new space is well worth discovering - a few minutes walk from the ‘Imperial War Museum’ it is very easy to find. The exhibition will include recent oil paintings on canvas and board.
Seeing the hidden and the overlooked
‘Art does not reproduce what we see; rather it makes us see.’
As an artist I have always loved looking closely at the natural world but since Christmas I have been looking even more closely with the help of a small magnifying glass. Inspired by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and also a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, I have been taking a magnifying glass out on walks. Robin is an expert in moss - a bryologist - she describes mosses as the ‘Coral reefs of the forest’, a beautiful description. Her writing in ‘Braiding Sweetgrass - Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’ and ‘Gathering Moss - a Natural and Cultural History of Mosses’ is transformational. She is a champion for the magnifying glass and has a gift for opening up a sense of wonder and humility for the intelligence in life forms we can so easily dismiss.