Good question

This is a really odd photo, giving rise to some equally odd paintings and collage. A friend looking at the recent work asked, ‘what is it you are trying to say about it?’ – ‘it’ being the fact that the people in my paintings are almost always dead – older relatives, ancestors, mummies. I’m giving this some thought, meantime questioning whether it is necessary that a visual art piece does have something to say?img004

Incidentally, there’s a non-dead person in there – on the right is my mum, currently still with us at 92. The others are my father and a friend (centre) and my uncle (left). I have three recent paintings based on this photo. I think I prefer the third, for its ambiguity.img052

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Keeping it going

Recently visited an exhibition in which there were masses of drawings, small paintings and doodles displayed on all the walls, as if everything that came into the artist’s head had made its way on to a piece of paper. I am trying to work this way, as many ideas are tumbling around in my mind but may not feel ‘cooked’ enough for a major piece. The mixed media pieces I’m posting here are almost random, and still evolutionary. I’m not judging or commenting as I have nothing yet to say about them. Any feedback will be gratefully received.

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Meet the Ancestors

Lately I’ve been reviewing past themes in my work, looking for ways to tie things together visually and conceptually. This has happened to some extent so far in the Brown Paper Drawings, and in individual works at various times. I am looking for an overall theme, similar to the Family Photos, that pulls in a variety of subjects via the elements they have in common.and generates a body of work over an extended period.

It seems I already know broadly what it is, but it’s like having a shoe box full of somewhat random items that form a collection just by being put together. I need to explore this collection more in visual terms before giving it a name. The Ancestors, a group of paintings and drawings from some years ago, will be part of it.Scans0076

The Ancestors arrived through a variety of influences. I was doing some work based on pictures of mummified people; a visit to an exhibition of Aztec sculpture also fed into it; as did a very curious photograph of a protest group of marching men – who were all naked but for their shoes and all wearing identical full-head masks. It also linked to the family photos in that these pictures showed previous generations of my family, most of whom I hadn’t known personally. Some study of death rituals in other cultures also featured, and this gave the idea for the following painting, Family Dance, referring to the Malagasy custom of literally dancing with the dead, the wrapped bones of their relatives.Scans0077

These paintings are relatively small and done in soft Sennelier oil pastel.