Caravan Painting Process

Once I’d collected a whole host of images from the holiday park, I started to think about the colours, shapes, composition and style my paintings were going to strive for. The sky became increasing more important to the outlook of the image- perfecting my watercolour skills, even in the reflection of the windows! Getting the perspective right was another key element to the success of the painting, teaming that with the light and shadowing of the detail was crucial. I played around more confidently as I developed the series; with trees, fencing, walls and mountain ranges. I used my artistic license to throw in some extras and cut out any unnecessary detail. I really enjoyed the challenge of these paintings. I’ve never made a series before, always preferring to do one piece and move on to the next. But I’ve noticed the real value in a series, there’s always more to be achieved and the skill involved can be enhanced each time. Plus they look absolutely amazing altogether! I’ve posted a few of the many images I took to show the progression of each painting. All my paintings are now on sale at Café Oswald’s, Penrith, Cumbria.

Small- £120, Medium- £170, Large- £220.

#cumbriaarts

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With Ornamental Figure

I really enjoy the plinth with torn wallpaper on its own, but with the figure on top it loses its appeal. The figure gets lost and is no longer the central focal point. If I am going to leave the section at the bottom it’s going to be have to be very subtle and it could be criticised that I’m trying to replicate reality again however it could compliment the figures.

The Lights are on but Nobody’s Home- Progress

I began painting the lamp last week but wasn’t sure how well it was going to turn out. Now that the bottom half of the lamp has been painted, and the paint on the shade has fully dried I’m pretty pleased with the results! I particularly like that you can see the detail of the cracked paint.  The plinth I feel may be a little bit too tall for this piece now? I was very unsure about the light and how that functions for the look of the piece along with it’s role within the concept but the more I see it the more I’m liking it!

Having a Wander about Town.

So who says watching breaking bad can’t be research? Love the screen shots I took of the scene of the newly married couple, expecting child, looking around their potential new home. I loved the emptiness ready for potential. Knowing all I know that has gone on in that house too. A whole life. Their whole life under that roof. Also just a few photos of my studio space, feeling at home there. Really like the table I have this year. I also have a lot of wall space which I really need to make use of. And just a couple of notes from old note books- a bit of previous knowledge/encouragement. The other images are photographs I took having a wander round town to get some inspiration. I went into the Heart Foundation furniture and electrical store. There were a lot of potential cheap furniture items that I could use for making which I photographed. I really liked that old wardrobe I could see it all stripped back and sanded down to its bare state. And I also sneaked into the back room while no one was looking to get these photographs, which I find kind of sad, all those unwanted items, those slumped up mattresses with no home. I really like these images, they express what I’m trying to say about those unwanted items, the possessions we leave behind.

Show and Listen

During a show and listen a piece is exhibited in a exhibition environment and unlike in a public exhibition where I would generally get next to no feedback, here I am allowed to take a step back from the discussion and listen intently to what my course mates think about the piece; receiving an in depth critic of the work. It is so useful when moving forward with a piece and allows you to see what others think about the work without them having any prior knowledge of what your practice is about.

For this show and listen I wanted to show a more resolved piece and as I said in my previous blog post I wanted to re-work the piece I had exhibited in The Classroom Gallery- My 34 Lillieshall Road. Having already set up the piece before this gave me a chance to re-work the piece with more confidence. In the show and listen I changed the setup to a contemporary home setting. Someone remarked that it was “like a scene from IKEA.” I enjoy the modern reference made here to the furnishings chosen. During the classroom show the furnishings had been a mix of eras which I think suited that space however the contemporary feel here established the correct era I had had my experience with house. One of the tutors posed the most intriguing question for me as she wondered; Why not more? Why not wallpaper etc? This was something I myself had questioned in the setup; whether or not it needed more. She reflected that my choice of furnishings was just enough to help trigger the imagination but not too much so that the viewer’s imagination was controlled. The home setup triggered the imagination but the text itself was where the audience created their story.

One main point that was mentioned during the show and listen that I really kicked myself for not thinking of was tuning the light off in the room and only displaying the work at lamp light! The piece could have been more intimate to the viewer this way! It could have created a cosy atmosphere and even played on the idea that when I visited the house it was dark outside. In the photos you can see that I have experimented with this afterwards. Whether or not this then becomes a little too creepy is another thing.

Something which was a huge concern for the audience was their torment in whether this was fact or fiction. This was something I hadn’t even considered. To me the piece was obviously completely real. I had been to the house; this was my experience there. There was no doubt in my mind. They however kept coming back to the question “Do you think she actually went to the house?” This was something I thought of as a negative, as though I hadn’t quite convinced them, however perhaps this just adds to the mystery, adds to the notion of the private v public. Why would someone want to know so much about one house? In terms of proceeding with the work, people suggested visiting other peoples homes, my experience there, other writers, artists etc. One person commented saying the work could benefit by the work being more personal to me; so visiting homes of my past. To me though there is no interest in either of the two. No one would care about my history in a house more than a history of a famous person’s house. This piece to me was more concerned with the layering of lives in a house, any house; this just being the example of one. This finalized the piece for me. I don’t want to carry on creating similar versions. I want to carry on making work that carries with it the sense of a past of a layering of lives in a home.

There’s No Place Like Home.

28th February- 14th March 2013

The Classroom Gallery is an up and coming art space in Nottingham. A newly established gallery on the 1st floor of Hopkinson. There was an open submission for a response to the exhibition title No Place Like Home. When I saw the exhibition title, I thought- perfect! This exhibition is right up my street! – excuse the pun. My current practice revolves around the home; I ask what it is that makes a house a home? I explore the layering of lives within a home, the lives that have touched those walls and the repetition of memorable moments that have taken place there. I found it hard to chose a piece to select for this exhibition however my newest work My Lilleshall Road lent itself well to the notions of home, in particular the layering of lives within one house.

The piece is something I have blogged about before here; https://rachelfenwick.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/34-lillieshall-road/

My Lillieshall Road is a response to a book I read by Julie Myerson, who herself is from Nottingham; the text of the work explains the book briefly- She tells the stories of all the people who ever lived in the 130 year old house she lives in, in Clapham, London, She re-tells the personal stories which went on there and her voyage to find them. The piece is my experience and my impact on the house, my very short history I now have there. The frames I have used are widely used in most modern homes which emphasizes the time I have had my experience with house and also plays with the notions of home, the use of home furnishings which we use to frame our memories.

When it came to installing the piece into the space it became something more than just the idea in my head. I had been wanting to display this work in an exhibition environment for a while. I wanted to create a home atmosphere/setup around it, I had thought about adding a lamp to highlight the text, as well as play with idea of the home. It was very easy to add extras to the piece surrounded by the vintage furnishings at Hopkinson. I used a vintage corner table to hold the frame of the text, brought a touch lamp from home, then to contrast with the modern lamp, I used a 70’s style lamp shade for it. I had intended the entire piece to reflect the era in which my short history of the house had occurred, however playing around with these furnishings I began to like that the furnishings reflected an array of eras that the house had undergone; a sort of mish mash of fashionable furnishings. I also felt that because the idea had developed from it’s original contemporary plans to a much more quirky intention, that the piece could benefit from including the book itself. Invite the viewer to look at the book, flick through the pages, look at the photographs and see my underlining of notes.

The next move for this piece is to exhibit at Uni in a Show and Listen this Thursday. I am going to see how displaying the piece using modern furnishings affects the audiences perception of the piece.

 

Enter Rachel’s Mind

Really wanted to write because for the first time in ages I’m feeling positive! Mostly because of an uplifting conversation I had with a lady I’d never met before today! Get to that in a minute though. Over the last few days, I’ve been in Bristol with a lot of time to myself. I’ve been watching lots of home programs- one in particular Home Stories- I’ve learnt a lot about gentrification in London (Up and coming areas and the impact this has on house prices) and the consequences this has on the poor. I’ve been thinking a lot about the home and developing ideas that have been sprouting over the last month. Before Bristol I began my get up and go attitude by starting the wallpaper piece I had been going on about doing for months! I found an old piece of wood in the studio, hammered that into the wall in my studio space and began to make that studio space mine. I have brought in my table from home, placed my little ornamental house on it as a mascot and began to feel a bit more settled.

I’ve started the piece, only painted a tester tub of magnolia on there, put started it none the less. I am slightly worried about using this thin mdf wood because for this piece I intend to layer, layer upon layer of wallpaper over one another. I know from past experience that the wood will probably curve under the pressure. Ideally a plaster board would be my best bet- something to improve on. Layering the layers of wallpaper I hope to narrate the past histories of a fictional home. I want to make this piece as authentic as possible, having done a similar thing before I know the mistakes of not thinking everything through. https://rachelfenwick.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/layered-paintings-2/ (Strange to see how similar my wording is a year on from the previous post and I’m still having the same thoughts!)  I want the fake wall to be based on a living room- so only living room styles and the layers need to be in era order. So the fashions of the 70’s for example need to be before the fashion wallpaper of this era. Once the wallpapers have been layered up. I then intend to scrape into the piece to reveal “a hole in the wall” so to speak, revealing the layers of lives that have gone on in this fictional home. This piece is going to be very much an “on going” project. I have placed an ad on free cycle and already collected one free roll and then coming back to the lovely lady I met today- Lynn, I bought a real vintage wallpaper roll from her at Hopkinsons today. It is much harder and more expensive than I first anticipated but I think it will all be worth it! To increase authenticity I also have been thinking about the collection of dirt on the walls, smoke collecting and leaving frame marks- all things I’m thinking about! An interesting piece could be creating these forgotten frame marks. I think it would really emphasize the point of “a time gone by”.

Whilst I’m on a roll here about sharing my ideas. Reading George Perec’s- Life as a User’s Manual. One of his short stories quoted; “Soon the old flat will become a charming pied-a-terre, two recpt. + bedr., all mod. cons., open outlook, quiet. Gaspard Winckler is dead.” Although that might not make a lot of sense not read the whole story however the point here is that this man Gaspard Winckler died and he’d lived in that a house, had memories in that house. Then those memories are striped and the home becomes a sale, just a bunch of words that make the house sell-able. This notion was brought back to me as I spoke to someone really close to me about a relative who has passed away recently. The family have now began to remove his possessions and redecorate the house. It seems so sad to come in a gloss over those memories; wipe them away with a thick layer of magnolia. Just as when someone new moves into a home they want to put their stamp on the place eradicate the previous owners. I want to do a piece in response to this create a room setup only of magnolia furnishings, walls and coverings.