It’s been a fantastic week. Sometimes, there are times when all the planets align, and the energy they generate drive you far beyond, to places you never imagined you might go. The last week has been like that both for me, and for farOpen, a group of artists in the Forest of Dean.
Starting with me, the week began with me installing 13 large drawings in The George Café in Newnham. As an artist that has been somewhat dormant for years, and comes from a video installation background, this is a bit of a departure, to say the least.
I have loved every minute of doing these charcoal panoramic images, and I think it shows, too. As a friend said earlier today “I feel the drawings in my heart, because I sense they come from yours. They touch me deeply, through my body, not just my eyes.” She’s very shrewd, is our Pam.
For less than 6 months I have been squirreling away, first at home, and then expanding into a friend’s barn, which I have transformed into a studio. I have battled with materials and scale, constantly wanting to make them bigger, wider, more physical and related to the reach of my body. The one that spans two metres opened up more than my arms, it revealed my desire to recreate the movements of the photographic process, using a panoramic frame. The process of ‘framing’ requires careful choreography. The action of drawing a long line on paper requires an echo of that reach.
Seeing all of them hung in this one space, the café feels transformed into a place for meditating on the vastness of the river, the width mapped out bank to bank, the depth implied by absence. I have been touched by people’s responses to them.
Soon, thanks to Arts Council Funding, I can begin work on the publication, which will be the culmination (or a new beginning?) of this body of work.
Upstairs in The George there is another exhibition, of works by various members of farOpen. The building has resonated with a strong sense of camaraderie while we created these shows in parallel. I’m a member of farOpen and have also been involved a little with developing the organisation as it grows. There’s a real sense of ‘membership’ now, seeing all their artworks being carefully curated into the upstairs room. Sculptures juxtaposed with stained glass, against jewellery and glass cylinders holding magnets and tension wires.
Friday morning a few of us arrived at Lydney Station at 6am to convert the waiting shelters into lounges, complete with tables, chairs, cushions, flowers and of, course textiles and pictures. We hung up bunting and installed a huge sound mirror created by Rob Olins. There were pictures by Monique Oliver and Christine Waygood, as well as cushion covers by Christine. There were flowers and rugs and drapes.
Thanks to the support of Arriva Wales, there was even an early morning cuppa for the commuters. Entertainment came in the form of two brilliant performers from Found in the Forest Youth Theatre and their delightful puppet ‘Dog’. Dog sniffed people unceremoniously, with a glint in his eyes. There were smiles all round.
That evening we opened at Taurus Arts, to celebrate what had been achieved in only a matter of months. This coming Friday, we launch at The George, farOpen upstairs and me down. 6-8pm. Do join us.
I’ve lived here for eleven years – this week has made me feel embedded properly. And farOpen is going places, with a great team of artists and organisers. We’re open for business!