Jake Lever - New Paintings
If we were surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.
Rainer Maria Rilke from How Surely Gravity’s Law
In this new series of small paintings on paper I wanted simply to play with materials, to experiment freely and respond intuitively to my surroundings. They were all made outside in the heat of last summer, under the shade of bushes, in a field in the depths of rural Wales. The tangled web of undergrowth was a frequent starting point, the wax crayon darting around the paper, resisting the subsequent layers of watery gouache. Silver leaf applied in squares provided a geometric counterpoint to this random mark making, setting up a dialogue and providing ‘quieter’ spaces amidst the busy tangle of web-like marks. The titles (below each image) reflect my joy at reconnection with the land and sea, the latter providing a welcome sanctuary from the intense afternoon heat. All the paintings are available for sale in the shop.
‘Pigeon’ Cyanotype Collaboration
Inspired by origami, Pigeon, is a beautifully crafted combination of letter and envelope designed by John Morse-Brown, a graphic designer with an engineering background. This year I have been delighted to work with John to create a new Pigeon design using cyanotypes. Pigeon is a carbon-negative company planting trees to neutralise carbon emissions via the John Muir Trust in Scotland. John is also going to great lengths to keep all traces of plastic out of Pigeon products and packaging. (The plastic looking sticker on the Pigeon packages are compostable and biodegradable, made from cellulose, in the UK). They are for sale directly from the Pigeon Shop.
My Pigeon collaboration with John is called ‘Apothecary Pigeon’. For a while I have been making cyanotypes, a very satisfying 150-year-old process where objects are placed on paper that has been coated with a special light-sensitive chemical and then exposed to sunlight. After the paper has been washed in water, the area underneath the object retains the colour of the paper, while the area around it becomes a deep, rich blue. For ‘Apothecary Pigeon’ John and I decided to use healing plants from my garden in Birmingham as the ‘objects’ in a series of cyanotype designs.
I included honesty, fern, witch hazel and oak. Sage, tomato, nasturtium, hop and fennel. Spring onion, lovage, geranium and lemon balm. All these plants have unique healing and medicinal properties - from Vitamin C to the treatment of indigestion and anxiety, reducing inflammation and bringing down fevers, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels. They were widely used for medicinal purposes in the past, and many of todays drugs and medicines are either derived from or inspired by natural substances found in plants. In a world that often seems unhealthy and unsteady ‘Apothecary Pigeon’ has felt to be a very welcome and grounding project. I have loved producing artwork and discovering more about plants that grow a mere stone’s throw from my backdoor.
Commissions and Christmas Exhibition
In recent weeks I have been enjoying meeting with several people who commissioned oil canvases earlier in 2022. I enjoy hearing people’s reactions to the work and finding out about how the paintings ‘settle’ into their new homes. Please contact me if you are interested in commissioning a painting.
From Monday 28 November - Saturday 3 December Art First, London will be exhibiting some of my small paintings and mixed media works as part of a six day gallery artists Christmas Show at The Forge, 15 St Mary’s Walk, Lambeth, SE11 4UA. The exhibition will be open every day from Noon - 7.30pm. Call in or email Art First: email@example.com to arrange a visit. Free parking after 6.30pm.
”It is salutary that in a world rocked by greed, misunderstanding and fear, with the imminence of collapse into unbelievable horrors, it is still possible and justifiable to find important the exact placing of two pebbles.”
Jim Ede (1895-1990)
Jim Ede, a collector and former curator at Tate Britain, converted four cottages in Cambridge as a place to live and display his art collection. He often held ‘open house’ and gave tours to students from Cambridge University. In 1966 he have the house and collection to the University, establishing Kettle’s Yard Gallery. Jake and I were extremely fortunate to meet Jim before he died in 1990 and his vision has shaped our work ever since.
This Autumn I have been making small mixed media collages. Jim’s intuitive approach to placing objects was playful and experimental, whilst at the same time being deeply contemplative. I hope that my collaged ‘assemblies’ made during our own times of upheaval achieve something of the spacious reflectiveness of his meditative placing of objects.
Buckminster Fuller Trimtab Blog
This November The Buckminster Fuller Institute is featuring Do the Little Things on its Trimtab Blog. This is a hub for Buckminster Fuller inspired insights, innovations and best practices.
A trim tab is a miniature rudder on the edge of a ship’s main rudder. Just moving that little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. It takes almost no effort at all. Buckminster Fuller believed that the individual can be a trim tab.
”So I’m positive that what you do with yourself, just the little things you do yourself, these are the things that count. To be a real trim tab, you’ve got to start with yourself, and soon you’ll feel that low pressure, and suddenly things begin to work in a beautiful way.”
This philosophy fits very naturally with the Do the Little Things project. On November 18th at 10:00AM Pacific time (18:00 GMT) I will be talking about my use of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map as part of Do the Little Things at an online event hosted by the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Tickets here.