Good start to a new year

 

Invite Kelham Island final

It’s been a busy couple of months for me, but they’ve been good ones. I have a major project coming up, of which more in the next blog. First though I have the news that the Arctic Convoys exhibition ‘For Those In Peril..’ will be showing at Sheffield’s Kelham Island Industrial Museum from March 2nd.

First shown at Sheffield’s gage gallery in June 2017 (to mark the 75th anniversary of the sailing of PQ17), it was the strong and positive response to the show from the 216 visitors to gage that encouraged me to look at taking it away from a gallery setting. Visitor feedback highlighted how many of us have or had family members involved in the convoys. Bringing the show to the industrial museum fits in well with my belief that art can help bring a sense of life to heritage sites, and that art needs to move out of the gallery to encourage people who might not normally engage with it to see it’s relevance to them. I’m currently exploring the future of the exhibition, which I’m hoping to take to Liverpool, Loch Ewe, and ultimately Archangelsk, the destination of PQ17 and many other of the arctic convoys.

Working the show out has also been interesting. One element of the show is that it’s designed as a sequential narrative, but the Brearley room is not as large a space as gage, the gallery I usually exhibit in. Ensuring that the narrative element remains, and is coherent, has been a fascinating challenge, one that I feel has sharpened my curatorial skills as well. Good times 🙂

The exhibition will run from March 4th to May 14th, and is open 10am – 4pm Monday to Thursday, and 11am – 4.30pm Sundays.

 

 

 

 

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For Those In Peril.. Book now available

 

They’ve arrived 🙂 Very happy to say that the first print run of the book of my last exhibition has now arrived. A5, 200gsm silk finish paper, hardcover, casebound, 60 pages with 27 pictures. I’m really happy with the result, they look and feel like the quality production I hoped they’d be.

The book includes images of all paintings and sculptures in the show, a gallery shot, and all the text that accompanied the artworks at the show (short ‘excerpts from letters home’ that serve as explanation) plus a short history of convoy PQ17 and the overall background to the arctic convoys operations.

The first 50 will be signed and numbered, and they are available direct from me, at £15.00 plus £2.50 postage and packing (UK only first class untracked). For international orders please contact me for a quote.

You can order copies by email. I accept paypal payments and will email you back a link to follow for payment.

(jlpaw@blueyonder.co.uk)

 

 

Last day of the show

exhibition2

Last day of my exhibition today – For Those In Peril..’ at Gage Gallery, Ball Street, Sheffield S3 8EN 11am – 6pm. 205 visitors to date, which is good for a show in the second floor of a factory complex in Sheffield’s industrial hinterland, and I have really enjoyed watching the way viewers have engaged with the show. The response has been fantastic, with ‘Powerful’ and Moving’ the most common comments in the visitor book, and seeing people taking the time to consider each piece, with an average gallery stay of 30ish minutes has been very gratifying . My most positive memory of this show though will be the two women who spent a good 5 minutes in front of each of the 24 works, talking. Naturally this got my curiosity. When they finished their tour, the younger one came up to me and explained that they were from Russia, and she had been translating the text accompanying the works for her Mother. She went on to say that they had been visiting a local street market and popped in on spec, and how happy they were to stumble across an exhibition about a subject that is well known and still valued in Russia, because it was the last thing they had expected. Made my day 🙂 Just have to find somewhere else to house it now.

 

 

The Troubadour’s tale

Desperate Measures

Desperate Measures

July 4th 1942, and Arctic Convoy PQ17 is under heavy attack by Torpedo Bombers flown from Luftwaffe air bases in Norway and Finland. The Navarino has already been abandoned and wallows ablaze in the water. The convoy is 240 miles east of Bear Island, and 800 miles still to go.

On the Panamanian registered freighter Troubador concern about a shortage of ammunition for the ships US Navy installed (and partially manned) defences has resulted in an inventive solution. On her deck she carries 3 M3 light tanks. These are armed with 37mm quick firing M5 guns, and the Troubadour’s hold contains armour piercing ammunition with tracer rounds, necessary against the well protected Heinkel HE-111 bombers the convoy faced. The decision was taken to break the seals on two tanks and the ammunition crates. 2 two man crews were assigned to man two of the tanks, and in this unusual manner she protected herself effectively enough to be one of the 11 merchant ships (of 36) that managed to get to Murmansk. Indeed, the Royal Navy were impressed enough by the approach as to recommend it to other ships in the convoy.

One of the more unusual tales of the Sea, it struck me in researching the story of the Arctic Convoys for my forthcoming exhibition just how inventive people are in the face of adversity. For merchant seamen and women, on their poorly (if at all) armed, and completely unarmoured ships the psychological impact of the unrelenting attacks of bombers and U-boats must have been huge. Human instinct tends to the fight or flight, and at 8 knots no ship can outrun an aircraft. It is admirable that in such circumstances creativity rather than panic rules, and I have titled the painting Desperate Measures in recognition of this.

Flier

 

 

For those in peril..

Flier

My first solo show in a gallery since 2014, and my most ambitous project yet. For those in peril.. will include 18 paintings, 4 sculptures and an ambient audio backing, and will take the viewer on a journey from Liverpool to Murmansk and back, seeking to evoke a sense of what it was like to sail on the Arctic Convoy runs of 1941-45 as an ordinary merchant seaman on a general cargo vessel.

The Exhibition is timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the sailing of the most famous convoy, PQ17. Central to the exhibition will be a series of paintings presenting the journey through the eyes of an ordinary merchant seaman engaged in the Arctic Convoy runs of 1941-45. The sailor will not be identified in order to avoid over personalising an endeavour that more than 66,000 sailors participated in, with over 3,000 losing their lives as a result. However, the journey depicted will be that of the SS Navarino, a 4,841 tonne general cargo ship typical of the British merchant fleet at the time, and sunk from the middle of PQ17 on the 4th July 1942. Whilst the magnificent efforts of the Royal Navy will not be ignored, the exhibition is intended as an homage to the work of (extra)ordinary civilians who, on unarmoured and largely unarmed merchant ships, ensured that the essential equipment to keep the Russian front supplied kept flowing in one of the most important and least known theatres of the Second World War.

I have planned the exhibition as an installation constructed from discrete forms. In so doing I hope to explore the possibilities of overcoming the limitations of narrative art through the chronological arrangement of journey pieces, and the careful placing of ambient works. The painting I have chosen for the flier is Starshell Nights, which will be placed roughly at the midpoint of the journey, and can be seen without text below.

Starshell Nights

Starshell Nights

All are welcome to the opening event, if you can’t make that day the show will run for three weeks, and it would be lovely to greet you there 🙂

 

 

Prelude

Prelude

Prelude

2 days out of Hvalfjord, weather and visibility worsening. The SS Navarino highlighted by the evening light, struggling against the rising seas. An eerie beauty hides the cold, spray freezing to razor shards of ice, driven by the relentless wind.

Another development piece for my next show, getting close now (7 weeks to go 🙂 ) and I’m really looking forward to it.

Alpha

Alpha

Alpha

Development work on my forthcoming exhibition themed on the Arctic Convoys of 1941-1945 continues. Alpha hints at the threat from German surface raiders to the convoys and references the Tirpitz, who’s short sortie on July 3rd 1942 was enough to cause the admiralty to order the convoy to scatter and the escort to turn back.

Quite pleased with the looser feel to this piece, in developing work for the exhibition I am constantly trying to balance the narrative component (which leans towards representation) and my more expressive style, without doing a Turner 🙂 The exhibition will use paintings, sculpture and audio effects to create an installation comprised of discrete stand alone works that combine to convey a diachronic experience – a tall order as the elements are all synchronous but I’m fascinated by the possibilities, in particular of challenging the traditional concept of an exhibition.

I shall be showing a much larger version of Alpha in the show, where I hope it’s looming presence will contribute a sense of unease to the viewers. The show, titled For Those In Peril, is by way of an homage to the thousands of merchant navy seamen and women who risked and gave their lives to maintain the defence of the USSR, and the members of the Navies of Britain, Russia and America who defended them, in possibly the most important and least regarded action of the fight against fascism. It opens on June 23rd, at Gage Gallery, Sheffield UK, and will run until July 12th, hope you can join me there 🙂