up in the battery: part two

The toy theatre was made by Pollock’s, although I decorated the proscenium arch myself with lions and a representation of the house. It has a ‘grave-trap’ with sliding doors in the stage, so that pantomime Demon Kings and  vengeful apparitions can appear as though from the bowels of Hell! (Click to zoom.)

Palette and brushes standing ready for work. The lens is a clever aid. When I view a large work through it the glass reduces the image so I can see how the painting will look from a greater distance than that available to me in the studio. It’s especially useful for envisioning hanging arrangements when I’m  exhibiting  in large galleries.

The small, framed looking-glass is very early. It gives up a soft, freckled reflection.  I use it to view my hands when working at the easel. (Although I use models when available, a mirror is an ideal studio aid for working out how I want a bird’s nest to rest in the palm of a hand, or to figure how the fingers of an angel might close on a wand of Mountain Ash.)

A jar of sea-shells and a ‘Mari Lwyd’ made of porcelain, another piece by Meri Wells. The ‘Mari Lwyd’ is a Welsh mummers’ tradition that both Meri and I have explored in our work.

A maquette of a dragon’s head used for the painting Green George. (Click to Zoom.) The head of a boy at the top is a print proof made by Nicolas McDowall of the Old Stile Press when we were experimenting with techniques for the illustrated edition of Equus. To the right of that is a drawing of  the God Hermes that I later used to make a three dimensional portrait.

My mother when a teenager.

Drawings and maquettes taped to the door to  the ‘Stack’, behind which are stored framed works. Every surface in the Battery gets covered in this way, at which point I take everything down, file the lot and start again. For nearly two years the walls were covered in hundreds of Equus studies and drawings.

I love this wistful photograph of Peter when he was a boy. Just visible bottom right is a photograph of me taken when I was at primary school. (Click to Zoom)

I enjoy being surrounded in the studio by photographs of family and people I love. In this last one I’m on my father Trevor’s lap while my sister Jacqueline smiles shyly for the camera. My mother Dorothy sits profile to the camera. Everyone looks so happy. The man behind the camera was my Uncle Len, and his wife Doll can be seen just to the left of my mother. It was a Whitsun Bank Holiday garden party. I don’t know where. I’m spellbound by the image of this family group gathered on a formal lawn. The way only Jacqui looks directly at the camera. My father’s downward glance to me as I reach out to my mother. And she with her beautiful posture, self contained and enigmatic within the composition. Like the best paintings, it seems to be full of unanswered questions.

2 thoughts on “up in the battery: part two

  1. A great response on Dave Bonta’s Via Negativa to my ‘Battery’ posts. (Click here to see it.) Dave is my friend and blog-mentor, and so it’s enormously gratifying that the photographs of my attic workspace have encouraged him to post images of his writing-room because I’ve long wondered what it looked like. Go take a look for yourselves and read some of Dave’s beautiful poetry while you’re at it. He’s a marvellous man. The right stuff!

  2. Pingback: Workspace | Via Negativa

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