I’m very pleased to have my portrait American Dreamer accepted for the Turner Contemporary Open exhibition, due to open in Margate this Autumn. I’ve been based in Kent for a couple of years now (if you count a year in lockdown), and I haven’t had the opportunity to show my work locally. And it’s very exciting to be involved in a “real world” show again, hopefully with real people milling about looking at the art.
The drawings and photos from this sitting date back to the long hot summer of 2013 ☀️ I remember the day well. It was so oppressively hot, my model felt quite unwell. There was a power cut just as I set up the studio lights, so I had to quickly relocate the sitting to near the window in my lounge. Maybe because of the unplanned nature of the sitting (they weren’t the poses I’d been planning on), I didn’t really bother looking at the material for a very long time. I suppose it was the chaotic end to the Trump presidency that made me think again of that sitting years before, with a young model sporting a stars and stripes top. 2013 had been a period of relative calm and optimism: No cold war, divided nations, Capitol Hill riots, Brexit, Pandemic or Lockdown. Yes, 2013 seems like a different world. I am hoping, after what feels like a much darker and more challenging time, we may be heading towards a calmer, more hopeful future.
Art exhibitions are like London buses. I wait months for an opportunity to show my work, and then I receive two acceptance emails in the same morning. I’ve already mentioned The Discerning Eye in my previous post. I’m very pleased to have been accepted for that one – such a shame that the exhibition is virtual this year. The other exhibition I will be taking part in is The Autumn Salon, from 30th October, hosted by Candid Arts Gallery, Angel, London. That’s a real world exhibition – actual paintings on real walls, with real people walking about (albeit wearing masks, and suitably socially distanced). I’ve had mixed feelings about getting involved in real exhibitions during this epidemic. However, the gallery at Candid Arts is a lovely open space – perfect for social distancing. At the end of the day, there is just no substitute for seeing a painting in the flesh.
I’m very pleased to learn that my painting “I did not ask” has been accepted into this year’s ING Discerning Eye exhibition.
I did not ask
I did not ask my model about the scars on her arms. Despite working with her regularly and being on familiar terms, I never once broached the subject of those scars, and in my paintings of her I never showed them. A couple of years after this sitting I read the book “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara – a difficult and troubling read, but extremely moving. As I read about the main character’s self-harming and how his friends were all quietly aware of it, but never spoke of it, I thought again about my model bearing her scars in silence. That is what compelled me to find the sketches and photos from that sitting, and to produce this.
I think this painting is just as much about my own reaction to those marks on her forearms, and my awkward silence.
The ING Discerning Eye annual exhibition is a show of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. The selectors choose both publicly submitted works and works by personally invited artists. Each selector’s section is hung separately to give each its own distinctive identity. The impression emerges of six small exhibitions within the whole.
The opening night of “Nude or Fully Clothed” at Nude Tin Can Gallery in St Albans went very well. Very pleased to make a sale, which always puts me in a good mood. But also it was such a well organised event (busy, but not overly crowded), that the whole evening shot by, with plenty of interesting conversations. I should add that the journey to St Albans was surprisingly easy – less than 30mins on Thameslink from St Pancras. The exhibition continues until the 29th January, and is well worth a visit.