I took the opportunity during my Fine Art degree course at Manchester Art College to work in the print room. I really loved the process of etching, preparing the copper sheets, drawing into the wax surface, revealing the bare metal and immersing the plate in sulphuric acid. The depth of line being controlled by time and the concentration of the acid solution. It is always a magical process and difficult to predict the outcome. I guess in many ways I have come full circle; that was over 40 years ago and I’m still drawing, scoring into surfaces and creating marks.
This series of paintings use tar, oil paint and cold wax and to some extent they can be manipulated to echo the qualities found in intaglio etching. Many artists say they begin a work without preconceptions and just allow the image to emerge and take form.
One of the assumptions about this technique is that it leaves open the opportunity for the spontaneous and unexpected to arise as the work progresses. This may be the case with particular pieces and you may occasionally ‘get lucky’. I prefer to think that this approach is often quite calculated and measured. It is about generating visual ideas through accident and chance, then looking carefully and reflecting on what has been produced and intervening to strengthen those qualities.
The ‘detail’ images shown below will give you some indication of the nature of the marks and the subtlety of the wax and tar surface. Beeswax is a beautiful medium to work with; selective burnishing enhances reflective qualities and a sense of depth and texture.
The Fenlands are highly productive agricultural land and at this time of year, farmers can be seen ploughing and tilling the earth in readiness for the next year. The tilling blades comb the topsoil, mixing and aerating as they are dragged across the fields. I have used plaster, oil and cold wax medium, alternately scoring and layering the materials to recreate the furrowed surface. The late evening light at this time of year has a warm soft glow that I have tried to capture with gold iridescent paint.
For me, a title is an important element in the creation of a painting. I know that many abstract painters use numerical systems to identify and classify their work. I prefer to title each image and through the invention of the title, try to enhance the life, associations and potential relevance of the work. In this instance, I really wanted a title that would express in a very direct way, the inspiration and the key components of this painting which of course relate to landscape. The title of this painting therefore is relatively straightforward; it refers to the three realms of earth, sky and water. I wasn’t aware until later that ‘The Three Realms’ has other, in many ways more interesting connotations. In Nichiren Buddhism ‘The Three Realms’ are, according to Quora:
(1) the realm of the five components
(2) the realm of living beings
(3) the realm of the environment.
These could be thought of simply as, from the standpoint of a human being, the person, society and the environment.
The materials used in this painting include oil paint, pumice stone and cold wax medium. The heavy impasto creates an almost rough hewn marble like surface pitted and marked with successive layers of cold wax and oil paint.
‘After the Rain’ 80 x 80 cm on canvas by Peter Corr
‘After the Rain’ could be seen as a departure from the tonality and minimalist approach I have been using recently, but even so, this painting remains firmly in the realm of abstraction.
The weather here in England is a a limitless topic of conversation for all of us and we have just experienced one of the hottest Summers on record. However, the wind and rain is never far away and this painting reflects my experience of cycling though the Fenland landscape, experiencing alternate moments of warm sun, showers and gusts of wind. In Cambridgeshire, the wind either carries you along on your cycle or stops you in your tracks. I can travel the same journey in half or double the time depending on the prevailing wind direction. I am increasingly convinced that the weather here in this part of the world is a living entity, a whimsical creature, a chameleon.
Detail from ‘After the Rain’ by Peter Corr
In ‘After the Rain’ I have tried to convey a sense of movement and changing light, using angular shapes, a kaleidoscope of colour and dissolving forms. You may detect the spatial devices of overlap, fragmentation and multiple viewpoints employed by the Cubists and later on, the Italian Futurists.
“……..Nobody would affirm that the tree grows its crown in the image of its root. Between above and below can be no mirrored reflection. It is obvious that different functions expanding in different elements must produce divergences”.
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.
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?”
This work is inspired by the flat,expansive and mysterious landscape of the Cambridgeshire Fenland…a vast area of open skies and distant horizons, criss crossed by a lattice of artificial waterways…straight as an arrow.
I hope that viewers will be engaged by the layers of colour, texture and surface qualities of this cold wax painting and also that they will respond to the physicality of this work, the numerous marks, striations and incisions in the cold wax material. I hope too, they will enjoy the interaction of disparate surfaces and layers and the sense of time passing through the landscape and through the painting.
This painting reflects a diverse series of influences; from the ‘art povera’ movement, through minimalism, expressionism and colour field painting.
The additional photographs provide a clearer understanding of the translucency, subtlety and rich texture of the surface.
This is a mixed-media landscape painting on a 60cm x 60cm deep edge canvas. It is 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 word ’till’ is interchangeable with ‘until’ and I have tried to reflect both meanings in this piece. Working with the land is about understanding time and intervals of time, it is about rhythms of activity and inactivity, of waiting, of anticipating……until. It can also refer to a vault; a place to hold treasure.
The heavy texture of the painting combines gesso, sand, plaster, marble dust, bitumen and oil paint. The material and paint is applied with a variety of tools including brushes and palette knives. The surface is built up in layers and glazes over a period of time. I have been influenced by the contemporary artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter.
‘Land Fall’ is an idea, not a location. In Winter, when the ground is hard underfoot, the activity of man scores pathways and coordinates on the surface. There is little or no high land in Cambridgeshire, only a gentle rise and fall of the earth, almost subliminal, to be measured in micro centimetres. This painting is a rich, textured mixed media piece on a deep edge canvas; gold and metallic paints have been added to create areas of lustre and iridescence. I have attempted to take a range of photographs, some in raking light to reveal the ever changing surface qualities.
Dimensions: 60cm x 60cm x 4cm on canvas
Materials: Oil and acrylic on canvas, Paper, Graphite, Bitumen, Asphalt.
‘Mercurial’ is a painting I have just completed for the ‘Cambridge Envisaged’ Exhibition; the composition, structure and style closely follows the other images in the series. I have retained the square format, recurring geometric shapes and warm tonality seen in previous works. The influence of American abstract expressionism is visible in the flatness and absence of overt representation; at the same time I have tried to convey a sense of the architectural qualities of the city of Cambridge. The painting is designed as a bridge between two different vantage points, an aerial or plan view of buildings, rivers and parks and a vertical ‘stacking’ of these interconnected and interchangeable motifs. The Cubists kaleidoscopic rendering of physical objects and space has liberated us all to see the world through our own eyes and intuition.
I thought I would tell you something about my working process. My studio is a partially converted garage; I used to work alongside bikes, washing machines, lawnmowers and assorted gardening equipment but since I started to work on a larger scale, this became increasingly problematic. I was also receiving too many complaints about the paint marks on the ‘white goods’. Every painter needs space!
The inspiration for this series – based on the city of Cambridge – came from my many visits to the town. As a photographer, I must have taken literally hundreds of photographs of the streets and college buildings and I believe I know the city extremely well. I have always admired the paintings of German artist Anselm Kiefer and I am aware that he often begins many of his large scale pieces by working over photographs. I began each of these paintings by working over small monochrome prints, using them as a sort of visual trigger or catalyst. I also included a range of collage elements to generate compositional possibilities and ideas. The fact that none of the original photographs are visible in the final painting is immaterial; they played the important role of ‘icebreaker’ and opened the way for new avenues to be explored.
This painting is part of my ‘Cambridge Envisaged’ series. It is a mixed media, abstract work based on the city of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Cambridge is a world renowned university city and the recurring motifs of Gothic arches and ancient doorways provide a visual rhythm, reflecting both the passing of time and continuity. The textures and patina of well worn stone respond to sight and touch. At this time of year, shafts of diffused golden light illuminate walkways, paths and enclosed architectural spaces as you wander through the colleges and grounds. The river Cam flows through and across the city, below the ornate towers and spires, carrying new life and old memories.