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!
Earlier this year Andy Vivian very kindly took me up into the bell tower of St. Peter’s Church in Newnham. We were armed with my 360-degree camera which I controlled remotely. Those who know me well are aware that if I stand on a chair I get dizzy and wobbly, so going up into the tower was a feat and looking out of the window almost impossible for me. With support from Andy, I managed to position the camera precariously on a tripod to capture some stunning views.
I was fine on the level of the Carolan bells and took several photos of the view through the windows. But the real bell tower, where the enormous church bells are, is yet another storey up. My knees turned to jelly. No way could I do that. Climbing up the tight spiral staircase to the entry point was one thing, but climbing up through a hole in the floor, and balancing on beams, was unimaginable for me.
Andy kindly did that bit and positioned the camera in various locations with instructions from below, as I directed from my iPhone screen – “left a bit, turn it a bit, yes, perfect, now hide!”.
Viewing on the tiny phone screen, the image was not very clear, but when I uploaded them onto my computer – wow – I was stunned! The views through the windows have a medieval timelessness to them. The river framed by wonderful architectural arches and the lichen and stonework revealed. The images of the big bells were something entirely unexpected.
The surprise was the playschool colour of the steel beams in the upper bell chamber. I was expecting bronze-y, dirty colours but BOOM! Bright red, yellow and green powder coated steel rang out loud and clear!
I’ve been working with the images the last few days, preparing some to put up in the Newnham Community Library. Seeing them together as a set makes me realise what a privilege it was, both to go up there and to have a 360 camera I can experiment with.
Library hours are limited, but if you are in the Armoury Hall for other reasons, do nip in and have a look at them on the wall. They are presented in 18cm square frames, black or white. I’ve a feeling they may be popular, and the exhibition will be up right through to Christmas, so I can take orders. Deadline for orders will be 1st December 2018 and dependant on availability of the frames.
There will be other works in the library, original, large, panoramic drawings and a few smaller prints.
And a show coming up in Brockweir Community Shop.
And my book Severnside: An Artist’s View Of The River Severn will be launched very soon.
Here’s a little preview of the church photographs, not great due to reflections but I never complain about sunshine!
This year has seen me return to art practice, albeit somewhat different to the complex video installations I used to be commissioned to do. After years of producing I’m really enjoying exploring the Severn with charcoal, chalks and paper. I have completed the set of works I planned for the publication I’m writing, so now it is time to say goodbye to the originals. The have to go, I don’t have the space to keep them, and they will feel neglected if I stuff them in a cupboard. Many of the orginals have sold, but there are a few left. And there are prints of most the sold ones too.
So why not come along to The George in Newnham on Severn tomorrow, Friday 8th December. The prices are the lowest they have ever been and I’m even open to offers. I need space to go onto the next body of work which I’m very excited about.
This is the latest work, it’s of New Ground near Slimbridge, opposite the Putcher Racks at Awre. It’s not sold yet, but someone is interested……
Lower George House, High St, Newnham GL14 1BS
10am-3pm Friday 8th December
NEWNHAM CHURCH TO ARLINGHAM – DOES THIS LOOK FAMILIAR TO YOU?
Maybe it’s because you’ve seen the original photo on the Bells Appeal Website. I took it for the appeal a year or so ago. This year, as part of a wider project, I decided to do a 2-metre wide drawing, inspired by the photo, which I am now donating to the appeal for auction. We’re not sure how or when yet, any suggestions are welcome. Maybe we could do an auction of artworks by other Newnham artists? Or an auction of promises?
Limited edition (25) prints are available – 30% of all print sales will also go to the appeal. Talk to me if you have any ideas about how to proceed with the auction, or want to make an offer we can’t refuse – all money raised from the drawing goes to the appeal.
I love Newnham – the River Severn and the Church Bells are integral to life in the village.
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.