Busy August

Skye from Gairloch

Skye from Gairloch

Only half way through the month and I have so much on. Got back from the Scottich Highlands at the end of July, after a week of fanastic sunshine while it rained in most of the rest of the UK 🙂 This painting of the North-Eastern coast of Skye was done from a plein air paint sketch I did standing outside our tent at Big Sands in Gairloch, a lovely place, and one we hope to move too.

Sadly, I got back to discover that we have lost our gallery, Gage. This has been an integral part of our studio collective for 5 years, but now the landlord has taken it back for redevelopment – the harsh reality of cheap rents in an emerging area 😦  I am searching for a suitable replacement for the gallery, and attached arts education space, but there is a shortage of run down industrial property in the area, so we may have to move.

My recent show, For Those In Peril.. was a success, and I am looking for another venue to house it. I’ve got some interest, so I hope to be able to share some more good news with you soon (fingers crossed). Meanwhile I’m busy producing work to fill my stall in our marquee at Sheffeld’s Art In The Gardens event. This takes place over the 1st – 3rd September in the Botanical Gardens, and is always a fun event. This year I will be doing a series of landscapes, and Skye from Gairloch is the first of these. In addition I’m organising a pop-up art show to help promote a local club, to coincide with Nether Edge Farmers Market on the 17th September, and then helping put together the KIAC stall at Kelham Island Industrial Museums ‘Down By The River’ event on September 24th. And I think August is busy 🙂

 

 

 

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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 🙂

 

 

Now available online

Icons

Icons

It’s been a busy fortnight since my last Chemo session ended, and a positive one, in the main. I spent the first week down in Dorset, enjoying the company of my brother-in-law (who also has cancer, sadly), several friends, and his and our children. It was good to recuperate from the heavy chemo regime I’ve been on, and good to party, but I was able to get some sketching done, as we covered a fair area of the County whilst we were there. There’s some impressive places in Dorset, and the photo (below) shows the view from the iron age hillfort of Maiden Castle; I love the contrast between the regimented shapes of the hay and the wild knoll in the middle of the image. It underlines my belief that raw nature (as opposed to a manipulated landscape) is a rare occurrence these days, and the beauty of the random scattering of bales in almost precision  inspires me. Also inspiring was the honesty farm shop. This relies on customers working out what they’ve spent themselves, and placing the money for it in cashboxes. I presume it must work well enough, maybe people really are more honest if you behave like they are?

Maiden Castle

I was also able to use the time to write a proposal to exhibit a large scale new work in a political art exhibition in Sheffield in September. The work is the thus far unfinished triptych inspired by the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity that sometimes are suggested to underpin the tricoloure. Two of the paintings (Blue – liberty; Red; Fraternity) are complete, and the third I reached the halfway point on this afternoon. I am looking forward to seeing the completed work myself, as I have been visualising it for two years, and finally have a strong enough image for ‘equality’. I look forward to showing you it.

I am also very very pleased to be able to announce that some of my work is now available through an online art gallery. The gallery, Seat214, launched today, and I have 6 paintings listed there. The gallery has an unusual and very positive approach, as it believes in fostering and encouraging a relationship between buyers and artists. The owner is very committed to this, setting up a fund to enable artists to finance shows and projects, promoting site artists by supporting, sharing and even putting on exhibitions. A refreshing approach, and i’m glad to be a part of it 🙂 I urge you all to take a look.

 

The following pieces are now only available through Seat214.com :

Icons; Out of the Smoke; Keep calm and keep shopping; We are not in the least afraid of ruins; Watching the forge fires fade; The price of coal.

 

Cheers all and keep smiling.

 

John