With a four month delay in the next coming posts, I can only apologise for my lack of up to date blogging. I’ll go into why later, but there is so much to write let’s get on! So way back in August, I was hard at work completing the The Great British Caravan series. My tribute to the time I’d spent caravanning in Cumbria. I had completed the series and was excited to be given the opportunity to exhibit in Penrith. I spent a great deal of time curating the layout of the series. Steering the caravan viewpoints towards the central eye line and positioning the sizes symmetrically. I think the photograph of me arranging the paintings is just fantastic- The Great British Caravan, in my humble yet great caravan. It was a novel feeling leaving my works with the café to install, but a really brilliant feeling to walk in the following week and see them displayed for all to see. I felt extremely proud of the work I’d produced. The red walls looked fantastic and although they didn’t all sell, I loved the experience and it was amazing to have a cup of tea, see my work on the walls and watch from a distance people admiring them.
The exhibition ran from 2nd August- 12th September 2016
So here’s my latest set of works! I’ve been thinking about this idea for a little while now. During the exhibition at Greystoke the signpost suited it’s surroundings- being the place where my great-grandparents got married. However it always felt a bit restricted. A signpost should be outside, directing the way. Although I know it’s a metaphorical sign, I wanted to play around with it a bit and take it out on the fells and see how it photographed. If it looked silly at least I’d had a go! But I have to say I really enjoy the photographs! Some are stronger than others, some are merely on here to demonstrate my set up. But many are strong individual works. The post stands proud on the hills of Ullswater, looking out at where we live, the spot we plan to marry in and just beyond those hills the church my great parents married in, the great Cumbrian sign post is pointing the way to various mile stones in life. Which actually now I’ve just wrote that sentence, could be a good name for the works. Milestones.
Keeping in theme with C-Art’s Yellowness, The Cycling Tour of Britain wasn’t long after. Everyone kept up their yellow bunting and added their own Yellow bikes everywhere! After a bit of googling, just to be sure, (I had a vague idea but didn’t want to get it wrong) the Yellow colour is all about the winning jersey- Historically the leader of this competition has worn a yellow jersey. It must have been great moral for the cyclists to see everyone decorate their streets in honour of them cycling past on route. The route came through our local village Pooley Bridge, through to Tirril, Yanwath and onto Penrith. There feels something quite important about this event, the way the cyclists came in and out of peoples neighbourhoods, their life and everything they love. I particularly like the image I’ve taken above with the bicycle pointing to Yanwath Inn. It reminded me of the photograph I’d been keen to make some art with of my great grandma and her bike. I also feel like there is something here about the process of painting the old bikes a solid yellow colour. Almost like dipping my grandmas figurines in magnolia paint again- something I still don’t want to give up on.
After all the hype surrounding the exhibition I never did get round to writing about the exciting events that followed. Firstly there was the opening night of the exhibition- which was a huge success. Despite my nerves, there was a crowd of people who came along to enjoy some great art, music, food and wine. I was able to meet the other artists involved- Christine Hurford, Janis Young and Caroline Dalton. It was great to explore the ideas behind their work. We all commented how the works complimented each other enormously. With all of us working in contemporary sculpture we transformed the 16th century church into a modern gallery space. Telling the story of the church in our own way. As well as the open night I also managed to get myself into the local paper! This was a really exciting time for me- I felt the photo really cemented my breakthrough into the Cumbrian art scene. The whole exhibition was a fantastic experience that motivated me to get making, meet new people, make my friends and family proud and exhibit in an extraordinary place.
I’m extremely proud to say that the piece is up! It’s currently in place at Greystoke Church, Penrith, Cumbria. I’m so happy that I’ve been able to hold an exhibition in the very church my great grandparents were married in. It feels very monumental. It’s the first piece I’ve made in the UK since graduation and it’s of great family value to me. It reflects my current life situation, explores place and time and picks up on those memorable moments in life, the repetition of those events and our incessant need to secure ourselves in an area- our corner of the world.
Putting the piece up felt really special, I want to say a huge thank you to Christine Hurford, both for asking me to get involved in the exhibition and for all her help installing. Seeing the piece in the space, the idea coming alive so to speak, it became really real. It was no longer just an idea in my head, something I wasn’t sure I could make- but a real piece in an exhibition. And it looks good, professional yet artistic.
It also feels important that I’ve managed to break through an unwritten rule of the Lake District- the desire to paint the beautiful landscape. It’s so beautiful here it’s hard not to. However I knew I needed to break through that barrier to pursue my practice the way I’ve been doing. This piece explores the area without having to paint a replica of its surroundings.
I’ve had fun over the last few days starting to make the piece! I’ve been foraging for wood on the camp site’s scrap yard, roping in help from Park Foot’s lovely customers- who have fantastic garden sheds by the way. Basically just trying to get the ideas from out of my head and make them into the real deal. It started off a bit hopeless, but with a bit of help and patience I’m finally getting somewhere. Originally I found a square fencing post but I couldn’t rest till I found circular one so had another forage today- with success. I picked up some supplies from Penrith’s answer to Wilkos- The Yorkshire Trading Company and started painting- now just the slow process of waiting for gloss paint to dry!
As well as that exciting news from Rheged I also had a rather exciting meeting with a lady called Christine Hurford that opened up yet another opportunity for me. Whilst volunteering with Jo at C-Art, I was told there was an exhibition on downstairs in the Old Fire Station. (The office space for Eden Arts is located in the Old Fire Station- Penrith.) I went along and was really surprised to find the exhibition displayed eerie photographs of a previous obsession of mine- abandoned buildings. I began talking to one of the Artists- Christine about how she gets into these buildings- from previous experience I know the difficulties you can be faced with. It’s well worth it though. The photographs were fantastic- cleverly mounted onto fencing well recognised as a symbol to keep out. The images Christine Hurford and Jane Peet exhibited in ‘Dereliction’ complimented one another’s investigation into the unknown brilliantly.
As the conversation went on, Christine became interested in my own art practice and later revealed she’s soon to have another exhibition at Greystoke Church- which she wondered if I’d be interested in showing some work. I was, of course, honoured to be asked- having something to work for gives any artist the drive to start making again. So as I set off up the stairs with a spring in my step, I became even more excited when I then remembered something that’s been playing on my mind for a while now. A family member of mine had posted something on Instagram about my Great-grandparents (her grandparents.) It was a newspaper clipping commemorating their 50th Wedding anniversary- and what church where they married in? – None other than Greystoke Church, Penrith. What are the chances? I’m not from Cumbria; I move here for work each summer and it’s only recently that I’ve found out that my ancestors lived here in this area. I’ve been considering making some art about this happy coincidence- and well now I have no excuse.