I’ve framed some work this week for an upcoming small solo exhibition, ‘Beach’ at the RBSA Galleries in Birmingham, and feel suddenly free. It was one of those tasks that sat heavily, and although I am quite good at getting on with things I found myself doing many small diverting tasks to avoid starting the job. The garden was also calling, as there are one or two areas which needed a serious sort out, mainly because our neighbours on both sides have renewed their fencing, which seems to have left us with a wider garden. I don’t want any more garden, truthfully, but there we are. I have also dismantled my vegetable growing area, which was of variable success, and took more time and money than going to Sainsbury’s for the stuff anyway. I shall still grow leaves, like rocket and lettuce and those hot oriental mixes. And the compost bins have been emptied onto the garden and given the heave ho too, and the old kiln, and a lot of strange objects our past neighbours had secreted between our garages.
As big tidy ups go, it has become bigger as we go along, and is still with us. But, it must be tidied away soon, as these things take you away from your work. The dump will be visited, no doubt, but there is a good amount of recycling going on too. It will all be worth it though, as the idea is to simplify the garden a little to make it easier and in my mind more enjoyable to care for.
Back to the framing. I painted the frames first, basically to match the work, as they were orangey pine, you know the colour. I used some rather good chalk paint; apparently it’s tough enough to use on floors, so it should stand up to the treatment frames get. I say this as I have already kicked two of them and touched up the mark quite successfully.
For the exhibition I had decided just to have 10 framed pieces, but with all that boring framing stuff done, and the free feeling previously mentioned settling upon me, I decided that what the show needs is a larger hanging too. There is a good end wall in the gallery space for this sort of thing to be displayed, and I had a title in mind, ‘Beach Thoughts’, which could move me slightly away from the work I have made to include some different elements. So a delve through my fabrics revealed my usual favourites, i.e. black and white painted fabric, over the top metallics, and some fabric I had printed with one of my thermofax screens, featuring swimming turtles. Naturally I concluded that these turtles, who were now female, were having quite strong beach thoughts, needing to lay a few eggs etc. I love turtles and have used them in my work in the past, as you will see below. I decided they needed another outing.
The thermofax screen and a linocut I made some time ago from the turtle drawing. I thought I might use it to make some prints on the new work too, but it’s moved away from that idea now. I did a lot of sketching, noting down various ideas, but, as usual when I am making work, as soon as I start to manipulate and experiment with the materials, the ideas shift, change, and hopefully start to gel.
As you can see they will be mounted on the inevitable Khadi paper. These sheets, I have four to use, are 1000 gsm, and are suitably undulating, as befits a sea theme. They are a little larger than A2, as a size guide.
And some ideas for the other two pieces. I quite often discover a piece of fabric I just must have in the work; in this case it’s the white painted black piece on the right. As you can see I have cut out the turtles, but I think I will only be using where they were, rather than the actual turtles. They can go on another piece, perhaps.
I want to introduce some other elements, something plant based, in the work too, as I want the Beach Thoughts to be mine, as well as the turtles’. I pulled out a selection of prints and other interesting pieces to experiment with, in combination with the turtle theme. I’ll be working with these today.
And to finish off, the first piece so far, no longer white as you can see. I used a grey Derwent graphite block, brushing water on when I had finished drawing,then a white charcoal block, and fixed the whole thing by brushing on acrylic gel, actually a shiny gel which has just produced a nice subtle sheen. It’s almost ready to be machine stitched. I’ll post the other three, and this one, as they evolve.