C-Art ran from 10th September- 25th September 2016. After all the years seeing these yellow signs about at that time these ones were finally pointing towards my art work. What an amazing feeling. I had some great responses to the work, families sending me photographs with them in it etc but my favourite one of all was from a complete stranger. A lady called Norma. She found my contact details from the catalogue and emailed me this wonderful email-
Whilst on one of our favorite walks, the Ullswater shoreline at Pooley Bridge we came across some puzzling signs and realised they were the C-Art signposted at the beginning of the walk. Being in our middle to late 70s we are not really “into” modern or conceptual art but on reading your text all became clear. Having been born in 1942 and spending 6 years in the sixties in Australia we found your installation not only moving but very thought provoking. Like any example of good art I felt better after viewing it. Well done you. We wish you much happiness and success in your future signpost 2017. Grab everything in life that comes your way and make every day count (but I feel you already do.)
Yours most sincerely
Thank you so much Norma! We shared emails back and forth where she later said she told her book club about me. I was overwhelmed with happiness reading this email the first time and even more so now. Such kind words, so inspirational-thank you Norma, and thank you to all those who wandered down to see it when it was up!
Looking for a Sign?, Rachel Fenwick, 2016
“The first year I came to work at Ullswater I saw an installation by the lake by an artist called Robyn Woolston. It feels incredibly humbling knowing that during those five years I have now graduated in Fine Art and can say I have had my very own installation by lake. A very proud moment for me.”
C-Art Artist- Rachel Fenwick
This post is all about thanking two amazing people- my grandma and granddad! I honestly couldn’t have done it without them. They came up from Lancashire to the lakes just to help me install. We really had a brilliant day and although we faced some challenges, got a few funny looks and at times my granddad wasn’t too sure what on earth we were doing with these strange signposts, it really was great! The paint had only just dried I was cutting it so fine, and installing on the busiest weekend of the summer, (August Bank Holiday) we definitely set ourselves a challenge. We did have to change location slightly for softer ground and there was a lot of discussion on the positioning of the posts, mostly me changing my mind- I’m sorry! But grandma and granddad were so patient with me- thank you. I’m still in awe of both your fencing skills. Look at that power in Granddads swing!
Thank you again, it meant everything to me that you were there to help.
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…
So now onto the next big thing! I’m throwing myself into all these opportunities this year, (even though I am starting a new job in September!) Another thing I had up my sleeve was being part of C-Art this year. After volunteering with the organisation last year, I wanted to get involved myself. C-Art is Cumbria’s largest visual arts project; it began as an Open Studios event, whereby artist’s open their studios across the whole of Cumbria to the general public. Obviously I don’t have a studio though. So how am I involved? Well the project now coordinates ‘C-Art in Extraordinary Places’ as part of the trail. So I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be involved in the project as an Installation on the ‘Ullswater Shores’ titled ‘Looking for a Sign’. I am in the catalogue! I best get making! #edenarts #C-Art #ExtraOrdinaryPlaces
After reflecting upon the images I’d taken out on the fells, I was reminded of a series of works I’d seen years ago by Robyn Woolston. The first summer I moved up to the lakes I can remember walking down by Ullswater and being pleasantly surprised to see some contemporary art right on my door step. This series of work has a distinct likeness to mine, as it features a similar use of signs. I admire that Woolston’s signs emerge right from the trees themselves, making incredible photographs; this is something I could play around with myself in the future perhaps? The artist here is interested in the use of language displayed on the signs. Written in Old English, she points out the surrounding nature. I have to say I was slightly disappointed by the works when I originally saw them, the Old English didn’t engage, it puzzled it’s audience who in turn dismissed it and spent little time with the work. However if Woolston had instead opted to write Modern English this wouldn’t have achieved much either? These are the types of things I need to be considering with my use of dates. Are they too personal or can I achieving just enough mystery in the work?
To check out Robyn Woolston’s Canopy Project check out these links:
The Canopy Suite, Watchtree and The Canopy Suite, Archive
Getting back into blogging spurred me on to do a bit of painting last week. Moving on from sketches by the lake, I’ve returned to the idea of expanding from a photograph. By expanding the viewpoint I can let my imagination run wild and get creative with the colourful sunset. I was surprised to find I really enjoyed painting again. I didn’t spend too long on it, just a couple of hours, and enjoyed relaxing, mixing the colours together. Being a bit low on acrylics, I improvised using some household paints- some emulsion and not one of my better ideas- white gloss. It was interesting to see how the paint reacted against each other. The white gloss; with its sticky texture, didn’t want to mix with other paint, I persevered with it, forcing it to blend and add light to the image. In a way, in regards to my practice, I’m expanding the use of home paints in contemporary art. Contrary to my plinths instead of using wallpaper in a contemporary setting, I use household paints to create traditional landscape images. I’m flipping the role of traditional landscapes by using domestic paints to create a contemporary image.
It’s impossible while you’re in the Lake District not to succumb to the beautiful landscape that surrounds you. Every trip to the lake puts a smile on my face, I couldn’t help but do a little painting (I have to admit this was a while back now), it’s nothing special but that’s how all ideas start. I really like the shadows from the tree above- each time I moved the shadows changed, changing the outlook of the painting. I enjoying playing about with watercolour it’s quick and the colours run into each other so easily. Looking back at this, I enjoyed it but I need to push it further, I still keep meaning to re-work with the idea of expanding from a photograph. The image above could be a beautiful expansion.
I’m going to have to jump ahead a few blog posts because I can’t wait to write about last night’s adventures up on the hills of Ullswater. Me and few friends decided to take a trek up a fell just behind the village of Glenriding in the late hours of last night. Walking up there in the darkness, but for the little light coming from the torch on my iPhone, was needless to say pretty scary! On the way back down, as promised by the friend who’d done the walk before, was an abandoned cottage named Close Cottage. It literally looked like we’d just walked into our very own horror film and we hadn’t even gone inside yet! The house was perfectly creepy. A small symmetrical house, the door in the middle, four windows either side and one above. In the darkness, I was certain that from behind those curtains someone was going to peer their little ghostly eyes from behind them. We were fulfilling all the stupid character roles you see in films, you know when you shout at the screen asking why on earth would they go inside there?! But it was so intriguing! Especially to me, my inner art was ready to go inside and explore the abandonment.
Entering through the front door with a little force we all bustled in scarily awaiting the fate of the house. I was so excited though! It was amazing; looked like I’d just walked into a Rachel Whiteread piece, especially with the fireplace. It was just so eerie! We walked around screaming and jumping at any new sight. We even managed to muster up the courage to go upstairs. The windows looked so creepy and it felt as though something or someone was going to touch me at any point!
It was a crazy experience! Really got me thinking whilst I was in there though; Why was I so scared? Someone had once lived there; people had had memories, memorable moments there surely? Without people, without furniture, without light it became an empty shell- a really creepy one at that! A big pile of post was scattered at the door, I rummaged around to try and find a name, a previous occupant. I found a name of Geoff Taylor, Mr and Mrs Taylor. Where had they gone though? Why had they left? How long has the house been empty? Whilst trespassing in the house, it felt scary; it didn’t possess any qualities of home. It just provided a shell of shelter.