An Enlightening Talk I Went To This Week....

On Wednesday night I rushed to bath child of three before some zoomy driving to drop off child of fifteen in one end of Norwich to race off to the other side of the city JUST in time for a fascinating insight into the world of artist Ana Maria Pacheco

The very second time I ever visited Norwich was to go to the Degree show of a friend of a friend at NSAD (to which the art school was abbreviated then).
Whilst in Norwich, I went to the Castle Museum and was really moved by a sculpture that was on show there at that time
That was twenty-plus years ago.
The sculpture was entitiled 'Man and his Sheep' and it was by someone I had never heard of before - and a woman artist - Ana Maria Pacheco.

I found the figures at once celebratory and eerie - uncomfortable. They were huge; slightly larger than life hewn from great chunks of wood, then painted, brought eerily to life by the insertion of glass eyes and fiendishly real looking teeth.
I still have such a clear and strong memory of the black clothing looking like charred old oak beams and the white shiny teeth - powerful stuff.
Fascinating to listen to, Pacheco still has a beautiful accent and spoke with such energetic speed that I had to listen extra carefully to hear AND comprehend her lively stories.
From my notes, I can share the following gems Ana Maria Pacheco talked of:
When talking about her upbringing, she explained of the environment - "drawing and drawing to start to understand and love the initially scary landscape"
She said that for some reason art with a figurative narrative can be looked down on as inferior.
Pacheco emphasised that the participation of the onlooker is a big consideration for her sculpture.
She said of her time as head of Fine Art at the art school something to the effect of - I am an advocate for the English art education system.
Her use of printmaking is as investigation or sketchbook and is not prescribing or repeated in the sculpture.
She is interested in the individual and in non conformation.
The nature of the power of women is an important aspect of her work.
She doesn't use brushes in her paintings, preferring cotton buds and 'pads' made from net curtains as there are no brush strokes, resulting in a kind of translucence. Pacheco then sands the paintings and waxes them with beeswax rather than using varnish.
She creates a 'circular narrative where we come back round'
Her work 'The Longest Journey' will be showing at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich in 2013.
Loving the way narratives travel, Pacheco acknowledges our need for a wonderful world of stories that are similar across different cultures - and how her Brazilian heritage had strong oral storytelling traditions.
She admitted she is aware that some aspects of her work are 'not fashionable'

Finally I noted down something Ana Maria Pacheco said that rings so true for me too; this:
"You carry your father - you carry your own history on your back"

This is really good - I did it a few years ago...

AA2A is an organisation that delivers a really good thing.
It stands for Artists Access to Art Colleges, which is sort of a good name because that's what they do - allow artists to access the workshops and facilities of art colleges to explore or develop a particular project.
I went into the intaglio print workshop at the art school in Norwich, which opened a whole set of doors that led to me doing an MA eventually.
Here's the image from the site that shows the colleges that are currently involved:

In order to apply an artist must contact a participating college directly, but hurry! The scheme starts in October...there may be a few places left.
Follow the link - quick-styley - at the start of this post to check out what to do. Good luck!

Off To The Theatre Darling...

Thought I'd post a few of the pieces I have made over the years on the theme of the stage
I enjoy using the theatre as a vehicle for patterns and design; framing a simple concept, dreamlike image or a little story I want to tell...
Below are a drawing, a watercolour, a digital drawing, several collages and painted silk drapes all around the same theme.

Enjoy - and have a great weekend - the blackberries are fabuloso right now....!

Look At Those Chicken Sheds!

Truly charming characters, delicious colour combinations, a great sense of pattern and scale - Mary Blair was an amazingly skilled illustrator. Until recently I did not know the name - nor did I associate the Disney cartoons Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella with Mary Blair.
In this image below, I love the way the logs are placed to draw our eye from the very front of the picture to the dark hair and the concentrating eye of the child, while the upright of the log stack echoes the yellow vertical she is climbing off. The repeats of the flower sprigs delicately pull all the elements together around the composition. The way you have to really look for the ladybird is delightful:


By 1964, Mary Blair had moved away from working on animation at Disney - painting 'It's a Small World' for a pavilion at the 'New York World's Fair'. It is a triumph of graphic pattern and colour, with a healthy nod to the folk traditions of Europe. After the fair, it was moved to Disneyland to become the backdrop for a ride there:

One of my Mary Blair favourites is the sweet book 'I Can Fly' which Blair illustrated once she moved on from Disney - to become a freelance Graphic Artist. She captures the way children mimic those around them to gain an understanding of their world. I bought it for reading (for me and for my son!) and seeking out the details in every page never fails to entertain us:

I put quite a few pages from the book here in order to appreciate how the colours and tones provide continuity throughout - yet the weight of pictures changes to keep our interest:

Look at those fabulous chicken sheds! Look at those really chickeny chickens!

Eggs Is Eggs...And These Are Eggs

Ooooh - just got the latest NCAS (Norfolk Contemporary Art Society) programme through the door... "Cedric Morris - an illustrated discussion" in November.
I have loved the work of Cedric Morris ever since I went to the show at the Tate, way back in 1984 - just before the first year of my degree!
Morris moved to Benton End, a beautiful big old house in Suffolk during the 39-45 war, where he and Arthur Lett-Haines ran an 'alternative' art school.


He tamed a large overgrown garden, becoming a skilled plantsman.


Cedric Morris was known particularly for growing irises and painting them, and the other produce from the garden too - in quiet, gently placed still life compositions; bucolic abundance that show no hint of war.


This eggs painting is my very favourite of Morris's. I love the honesty with which the rustic slip-ware dish is presented to us, the delicate colouring on the egg shells reflected in the background wall and floor colours, with the lilacs complemented by the chalky yellows and blue in simple vertical blocks of the doors behind.

So, I am excited about going to the discussion, which will be fascinating and concurrent with an exhibition coming to the Castle Museum in Norwich called Cedric Morris and Christopher Wood: A Forgotten Friendship, from October to December - lovely!