Yesterday (19/11/18) I had a conversation with David Smith on BBC Radio Glos
It’s been an interesting couple of years. Since I first put charcoal to paper in January 2017 I have been on two journeys – one, the route of returning to practice, the other, driving and walking around in circles, in circles. Realising what has happened makes me feel a little bit dizzy!
From posting the first drawing on Facebook and asking friends what they thought, and getting an amazing response, I have gradually gone full circle myself, to that of being able to say ‘I am an artist’ again. I’ve gone from 180 degrees to 360 degrees, then back to the book which is 180 degrees. Like a breath – breath in, expand, and breath out again.
The 360 degree camera has given me a whole new way of seeing the world, and it’s challenging. I set off to learn about VR but disliked the need for headsets or panning on screen. I did, however, enjoy the making of images that have been distorted by the marble lens.
The book is the peak point of the Severn series of works, the texts flowed along next to them as they evolved. I only had 100 printed, they are all signed and numbered and make great present form those who love rivers, and/or the bore. There’s information about how to order books here.
You will also find some digital prints and an original charcoal drawing on display in the library. Check their Facebook page for opening hours.
Next up is the the Newnham Arts & crafts Fair over 3 days – 7th, 8th & 9th December, various hours, please check their Facebook page too.
And then it’s off to the Wye! I’m showing some works in Brockweir and Hewelsfield Shop/Cafe from the same weekend!! Different work, several new ones about Brockweir and the Wye, and a lovely shop which is a good model for our hopes for The George development (ReNewnham).
Another week begins – I love Monday mornings because I get to plan what comes next!
I’m on the banks of the Severn, just before sunrise. I know it’s coming very soon, as above the Cotswold skyline there is a small row of eight or nine clouds just above the horizon. They look like fragments of torn paper, maybe from a to-do list, all of similar width and height, separated by tiny bits of sky. They are up-lit by the sun below and as it rises it frames them with a subtle, red, glowing edge. Each piece becomes more vividly defined before the power of the sun overcomes my retina’s and the tiny clouds fade away in the glare.
I’m standing precisely opposite this imminent sunrise and the wildlife around the river is responding to it’s arrival too. Crows and gulls spiral above my head, calling, whilst on the watery stage characters enter from both left and right. On my left, a sole duck floats silently towards the centre of the stage, anticipating the arrival of it’s spotlight. It is a little early really, but that’s fine, it will learn.
On my right three ducks slip out from behind the cliff, chattering together.
Above my head, the world of business is approaching another Monday morning. Transatlantic planes fly toward the sun, European ones too, but lower in the sky. None of them are much more than tiny white arrows high above, leaving chalky tails in the pale blue sky. I wonder, when we have gone through Brexit, will this lessen? Will the sky become hauntingly quiet, as it did in 2010 when the volcanic Icelandic dust forced the closure of the UK airspace?
I think about M.C. Escher’s patterns of black and white birds. Today the sky is like that, the white ‘birds’ are planes, the black one’s are crows and gulls. The scale changes, as it does in his drawings, those flying lowest are closer, more vivid, those in the distance more abstract and vague. I recall Norman Ackroyd and Robert McFarlane discussing the white birds in Ackroyd’s paintings, on Radio 4 last week. How the little egret is now the whitest bird we see on our rivers. There are none here today, sadly. They will have flown off with the herons earlier, before the tide rolled in.
As I absorb all these activities, a circle of ripples appears in the water. A number of other concentric rings roll up out of the water, then disappear. They are moving closer to centre stage, they know that, very soon, the sun will rise in full glory. The lone duck is now joined by two other pairs, all moving determinedly towards the golden rippled area that is appearing on the surface of the water. The fish underwater do the same.
The shimmering lines of light come closer to me, creeping over the lapping tidal waves as the sea flows upriver, as it always does, on the Severn.
We reach the crescendo, the great ball of fire rises up and the ducks are silhouetted by its brightness, bobbing about on the highlights of the folds in the water. I stare in wonder at this red mass and take a deep breath – the day has begun. I turn away to walk home and see vibrant acid green sunspots peppering the ground. I watch them as I move back up to the path. As I walk up the street I notice they are now red blurs.
Eyes are amazing, complimentary colours vying for attention, just as the skyborn objects were, the fish in the water, the ducks on the waves.
All mere sunspots in my eyes.
Since starting this both-sides-of-the-Severn project I have become more and more immersed in the subject, and in the arts in the area. There’s a tangible swell of interest in the visual arts happening in the Forest of Dean and farOpen studios is behind a lot of it.
The farOpen team of officers, and many other members, have worked together to make things happen. Uschi Arens-Price (secretary), has worked really hard to get the website up and running and has worked behind the scenes with Chris Waygood (chair) and Dorota Rapacz (treasurer) and others to put together a brilliant spread of events over the next two weeks. The membership has already risen from none to many in only a few months.
The first farOpen: studios event runs from 7 October to 15 October, making a start for Christmas. These 2017 dates are accompanied by exhibitions at Newland Village Hall and a Taster Exhibition at the Secret Gallery, The Shambles, Newent.
The launch is at Newland Village Hall
Friday 6th October 6.30pm-10pm
Whilst I’m not opening my studio, I am participating in a group show with other farOpen members at Newland Village Room – not easy to find, so here are some pictures to help you:
NOTE: I shall be in the hall at the launch on Friday and stewarding on Saturday 7th from 2.30pm and the following Saturday from 11am. We can only accept cash or cheques at the hall.
On Sunday I shall be taking a selection of works along to the Latchen Rooms in Longhope as there’s a talk being given there about the Severn by Dr. Martin Cannop Price, see below:
Intrigued by the term Latchen, I dug around a bit. Apparently in 1880, the most common Latchen occupation in the USA was Carpenter, 100% of latchen’s were Carpenters. However, it would seem in the UK the name may be derived from locksmiths, people who created ‘latches’. If you have any other knowledge about the term latchen I’d love to hear it.
Lot’s of other things coming up too – The Newnham Church Christmas Fair and The George Christmas Fair, as well as a Crowdfunder appeal and prints for sale online – all in progress.