Returning from the Norfolk Coast on the Southery Road there is an isolated, abandoned farmhouse. It is beautiful in its simplicity and architectural understatement.
Saint Bartholomew (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14, Acts 1:13) never set foot in Milan but his statue has been the talk of the town for the past four and a half centuries. Just ask Mark Twain. Then again, the tradition of Bartholomew, which purports that he was skinned alive and beheaded in Albanopolis, Armenia (modern-day Turkey), is the stuff of legends. Bartholomew, now the patron saint of tanners, is usually depicted with a large knife and holding his own skin.
In many ways this image reveals the power of compact modern digital cameras to capture detail. When I took this shot of the famous statue of St Bartholomew in the Milan Duomo I was aware of the father and daughter figures to the right of the frame. However, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of their body language until I edited the image later.
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.
My 2 week residency here in the New Forest is in a studio above a blacksmiths workshop and I work every day to the accompaniment of the sounds of steel being heated, beaten and methodically shaped. Lee, pictured here, is a highly skilled craftsmen and he produces a range of very fine architectural pieces. I will show you some of his work in later posts.
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 have just started a 2 week artists residency in the New Forest in Hampshire and I feel energised by the possibilities. I will be posting a series of images based on my day to day experience of being here, in this ‘place’. My main intention is to produce a series of paintings that say something about the New Forest; not a new ambition by any means….but I will also be using photography to document my thoughts and ideas. I just need to allow myself to be absorbed by what I see and feel, to literally just be here… Let’s see what happens.
Painting: Oil Cold Wax and Mixed Media on Canvas
Size: 80 x 80 x 2cm
This is a cold wax mixed media painting on a high quality canvas frame. It is based on my experience of the Fenland landscape. It is not a visual record of a specific place, or a celebration of a well known structure or familiar location. 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.
“Bones are patient. Bones never tire nor do they run away. When you come upon a man who has been dead many years, his bones will still be lying there, in place, content, patiently waiting, but his flesh will have gotten up and left him. Water is like flesh. Water will not stand still. It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative, and curious. Even water in a covered jar will disappear in time. Flesh is water. Stones are like bones. Satisfied. Patient. Dependable. Tell me, then, Alobar, in order to achieve immortality, should you emulate water or stone? Should you trust your flesh or your bones?”
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
Close up detail of the painting surfaces
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’.