A key member of the Arte Povera group, Mario Merz produced expansive mixed-media paintings, sculptures, and installations, through which he propagated an egalitarian, human-centered vision. Through art, he counteracted what he saw as the dehumanizing forces of industrialization and consumerism. Together with compatriots including Jannis Kounellis and Michelangelo Pistoletto, Merz eschewed fine art materials in favor of everyday and organic matter, like food, earth, found objects, and neon tubing. In 1968, he presented his first igloo, which became a motif in his work, representing the fundamental human need for shelter, nourishment, and connection to nature. By 1970, the Fibonacci sequence became central to his work, shaping the tables and spiraling forms for which he was known, and incorporated into his igloos and canvases. In these Merz sought limitlessness, against the confines of modern life.
This is a mixed-media landscape painting on a 100 x 75 cm deep edge canvas. Semi abstract and expressionistic in terms of technique and style, it is based on my day to day experience of living in the dramatic Fenland landscape of East Cambridgeshire in England. The heavy texture of the painting combines gesso, sand, plaster, bitumen and iridescent metallic paint. I wanted to create a work that was almost tangible in terms of its physicality and weight, a painting that could be seen as a piece of sculpture or stoneware ceramic. The materials used are applied with a variety of tools including brushes, palette knives, assorted scrapers and cards. The surface impasto is witness to an extended process of accumulation and sedimentation, very much akin to the layering of earth over time. I have been influenced by the contemporary artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter.
Gilded Shore is an abstract painting in terms of technique, style and intention. It is based on the flat, open landscapes of the East Anglian, Cambridgeshire Fenland. Semi transparent glazes give depth and luminosity as light is reflected through the layers of pigment. The variegated surface of the painting is achieved with thickly applied bitumen and cold wax medium. The lustrous quality or sheen is achieved through a combination of burnishing the wax surface and interleaved layers of metallic paint. A variety of tools and implements have been used to create incisions, marks and subtle textures that can be read as earth, sky, and water. The restricted references to three dimensional space is designed to create a subtle counterpoint the pictorial flatness of the deep raw and burnt umbers.
If you are visiting Ely in Cambridgeshire do come along to the Old Fire Engine House to see an exhibition of recent paintings by myself, Paul Janssens and Caroline Foward. The exhibition is called EXPLORE and the preview night is on the 3rd October, 6 – 8pm. We would love to see you there.
I spent a number of days walking amongst the trees and gathering information for a series of paintings through drawing and photography; I absorbed the sights and sounds of the trees in the forest and found a way to recreate something of that experience in paint.
I am interested in surfaces and textures and the way materials can be combined to create tactile qualities. Cold wax can be applied in thin layers or heavy impasto. It can be scored, scoured and burnished like a rich stoneware ceramic glaze; it can left dry, broken, fragmented and uneven. I have included up a number of close up photographs to give some indication of the extremely rich and highly textured surface of the painting; you can also begin to see in the reflections, the depth and lustre contained in the burnished wax.
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
’Til it’s gone…
Joni Mitchell, from “Big Yellow Taxi,” lyrics written circa 1967–68
A traditional portrait of the artist in monochrome. These are the paintings from the first week here in Woodlands, hope you like the ‘moody’ black and white photograph taken by my daughter Louisa….it’s a good option to show the texture of the works.
John Wise, author of The New Forest: Its History and Scenery, first published in 1862, knew a thing or two about the New Forest.
He offered this suggestion: ‘The best advice which I can give to see the New Forest is to follow the course of one of its streams, to make it your friend and companion, and go wherever it goes. It will be sure to take you through the greenest valleys, and past the thickest woods, and under the largest trees. No step along with it is ever lost, for it never goes out of its way but in search of some fresh beauty’.
I followed John’s advice and followed the Ditchend Brook yesterday, which I have to acknowledge doesn’t necessarily sound promising, but ……..what’s in a name? Always look beyond the label
And there are many streams to choose from: Linford Brook, Dockens Water, Latchmore Brook, Ditchend Brook, Mill Lawn Brook, Highland Water, Black Water, Ober Water, Bartley Water, the Lymington River, the Beaulieu River and far, far more. I think I may have some titles for my work.
My residency in the New Forest is in one of the most amazing places, I will be working above a blacksmiths workshop alongside skilled craftsmen who produce some of the most wonderful and beautifully designed metal work. From an artists point of view, the machinery in the workshop is an absolute treasure trove of hard edged shapes , structures and surfaces. Now I have a problem, do I continue to focus on the forest and nature or try to incorporate elements of the machine and the man made?
Below are a few shots I collected on a brief tour early this morning. All images taken on a Canon eos M Mirrorless with 22mm lens….unfortunately my Fuji X100S was dropped on the floor and is away for repair at the moment.
I am now the second Little Van Gogh artist to have been awarded this New Forest residency. Really looking forward to the opportunity!
‘As an artist, I see visual ‘reality’ – the external world – as only a part of our understanding and perception. We see in relation to ourselves, our past, and the events that shape us as individuals. If my paintings have an uncertain quality it is because I feel that the world within us and around us is in a constant state of flux and transformation. During my residency in the New Forest I hope to produce work that reflects aspects of the location and environment but I don’t envisage that it will be a direct visual replica of what I see’.