As soon as the The Great British Caravan series was complete, it was time to get ready for the next big thing! And the next big thing was something really exciting. I wrote back in August, that I was going to be part of C-Art; Cumbria’s largest visual arts event. The catalogue had been printed and my Installation titled ‘Looking for a Sign?’ was to be featured as an Extraordinary Place on the Ullswater Shores. I was so incredibly excited about this, I received permission from the owners of the campsite, (they own a small part of the lake shore), that I could go ahead and install, and on my morning walks I slowly began to imagine it forming. I began thinking about what I wanted my installation to say. From the title, you can probably guess that this work was to follow on from the contemporary sculpture I’d made for Greystoke Church. I wanted this work to be a reflection of the time I’d spent at Ullswater and the questions I was asking myself at that time. I’d envisioned three signposts to feature in the installation. The two I’d already made, ‘At a Crossroads in Life’, ‘A Place in Time’ and a third sculpture yet to be made. I wanted this last sculpture to use the lake to reflect upon the last five summers I’ve lived at Ullswater and speak about my future moving on. I’d had the image of another sign I’d seen in Australia in mind. Pointing two ways, the sign stretches itself out between two long distances. It was that sign I wanted to replicate, yet using dates rather than places again. <2012-2016>. In some ways the dates may be recognised resembling a gravestone scripture however it doesn’t mark a sad occasion just points towards the past, (2012 marking the summer I came to Ullswater), but also towards the future, what the rest of 2016 and onward will bring…
As my own little project throughout the travelling adventures I lovingly created a scrapbook of memories. Saving each little ticket, receipt, map or boarding pass, I tore out, stuck in, sketched and painted the journeys. I really enjoyed this little task, it got me back into sketching again, I did a bit of water-colouring by the beach, and for the hoarder inside me, meant I got to keep all the tickets!
It’s difficult to know where to start after having a big break from blogging. Having said that, the ideas have not been thin on the ground- they’ve been constantly following me around on my travels. So I’ve got quite a lot to write about. It’s only now I’ve found time to sit down re-think these ideas and get them out of my head.
It was kind of strange for me, because my practice has always had a very key Englishness about it. It’s focus being- British homes, British objects and more recently- our social class system. That’s always been what I’ve been surrounded by I suppose. So how did being on the other side of the world affect my thinking? I think for some they may have felt swayed to delve into these new cultures; Australia, New Zealand and especially Bali’s unique way of life but for me I only saw it as a comparison to our British homes and lifestyle.
The main idea I’ve come away with is one that I touched on in Townsville, when we visited the remote village of Paluma, and that’s this: In truth it’s only our corner of the world that really matters to any individual.
Our sanctuary, our world, the world we know and care about, our family and friends, the place we find shelter and the place we know inside out. It’s the place we call home. Whether that’s in the secluded township of Otira (in the Southern Alps of NZ), or busy Ubud, or Watersedge Motel on The Strand or even in a caravan in Ullswater (the place I call my home)- It’s our corner of the world.
I’m always promising mum that I’ll paint her something- so here it is- My View of Castle Hill. In a response to Sue Smith’s 36 Views of Castle hill here’s mine. My one view taken from one of my early morning walks with mum. The hill truly is a constant in the ever changing lives of Townsville residents. It remains a constant in the backdrop of my mum’s Australian dream.
Yesterday I went along to Perc Tucker’s exhibition opening of Sue Smith’s 36 Views of Castle Hill. In some ways it felt like I was jumping back into the saddle again, back into the world of art, and in Australia none the less. Rather selfishly on my part it seemed like an extremely fitting exhibition reflecting Townville and opening my eyes to see Townsville in a different light. It felt exciting to be part of the crowd, with a glass of wine and listening to Sue Smith explain her paintings. As a visitor to Townsville, not a resident, I didn’t share what many there did, concerning their memories and their knowledge behind the history of the city. But I saw my own journey in the short month I’ve been here, I recognised the places I’ve been and the humour Sue was portraying in her somewhat surreal paintings. Sue revealed to us that this surreal style was indeed referencing Japanese painter Hokusai, her obvious homage to his 36 Views of Mount Fuji. An obvious influence to her series of paintings, although alike in its ideas, Sue Smith personalises her 36 views with the symbol of Castle Hill at the heart of her collection. Castle Hill is at the centre of Townsville, an ever looming figure on the city. Smith narrates the presence of the hill in each scene she paints, whether it be the central image or only just visible through the handle bars of a young girl’s bike, the hill dominates the attention of the viewer. As we search out the hill in each painting we get the sense that Smith is encouraging us to reflect upon our own lives surrounding the hill. Our ever changing lives in flux as the hill remains a constant in the backdrop of our lives.