Border Country at the National Eisteddfod

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It’s a sadness not to have been with Peter in Abergavenny for the opening of his exhibition Border Country at the National Eisteddfod. But with time ticking on my forthcoming Gawain exhibition at the Martin Tinney Gallery in September, I had to stay home to work. I’ll see Border Country later this year, when it’s on tour.

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Of the four artists in the exhibition, John Elwyn (whose painting is on the cover of the catalogue above) and Bert Isaac are dead. Joan Baker will be attending the exhibition this week, but Charles Burton and his wife Rosemary, herself a painter, were able to be present for the opening, brought from Cardiff by Dave and Philippa Robbins who live just around the corner from them.

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Rosemary and Charles Burton in front of his painting of a steam train in the south Wales Valleys. (Croeso is the Welsh word for Welcome.)

Peter and I knew John Elwyn, having visited his Winchester home and studio in his latter years. Bert Isaac and his wife Joan were friends, and we visited them frequently in Abergavenny, where they held regular exhibitions of local artists in the ‘orangery’ of their beautiful Georgian house.

We are especially close with Charlie and Rosemary, and when Peter and I lived in Cardiff we saw a lot of them. (We had gallery-visiting holidays together in Paris and Venice, and in Venice we were joined by Liz Sangster, another painter and close friend from my days in the theatre.) That little painting of a steam train usually hangs in the kitchen at Ty Isaf. We purchased it, along with another piece the same size, from a Cardiff antique dealer before we knew the Burtons. In fact it was the acquisition of the paintings that stirred Peter’s interest to trace and then contact Charlie, who had retired from teaching. He was still painting, though not for the most part exhibiting. These days both he and Rosemary show regularly at the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff.

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I love the colour red chosen by Peter as a background to the paintings. Beautiful.

Jonny Hannah’s Songs from the Mermaid Café Jukebox

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Songs from the Mermaid Café Jukebox (2nd edition) is a treat that grew from a suggestion made by Mr Simon Lewin of St Jude’s to artist Mr Jonny Hannah. Mr Hannah thereafter not only curated/compiled the collection, but  went the whole hog by writing and illustrating the booklet of notes that accompanies the disc, together with… not as though they were needed… producing some tasty value-added extras.

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The result is a little package the size of which belies the treats crammed therein. Quite the ‘Lucky-bag’ packed with delights! For your money, you get:

i) the sleeve with Mr Hannah’s artwork, as seductive and more-ish as a bag of old-fashioned mixed boiled sweets

ii) a double-sided title card

iii) a signed-by-Jonny Mon Oncle print, produced by the artist’s shed-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden-Cakes & Ale Press

iv) a densely decorated sixteen page booklet with track notes by the artist

v) the disc itself, slathered with more Hannah artwork and made up of a generous twenty tracks

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Credit is given in the notes to Jonny Trunk of Trunk Records, from whose archive the selection of recordings has been made.

Mr Hannah has a way with the words, as befits the progenitor of the continuing creative adventure that is ‘Darktown’, the artist’s compellingly believable community-of-the-imagination that reeks of brine and liquor, vintage clothing and chandlery bitumen. Sometimes salty and occasionally rhapsodic, I enjoyed his notes quite as much as I enjoyed the tracks! This is he on a mash-up of Ogden Nash, Noel Coward and Saint-Saëns.”

“Quintessential Englishness mixes with a French composer and American words. Dreamlike otherworldly sounds, way down below. A symphony for all fish and drowned lost souls.”

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There’s a crazed and eclectic bunch of musicians and performers gathered at Mr Hannah’s party, and I play the disc in the studio while working on my own St Jude’s project, which is a picture-book of Hansel & Gretel. I think my plucky German protagonists would not be out of place at a gathering that included Mel Torme, Robert Mitchum (yes, the actor), Miles Davies, Art Blakey and the charmingly named Pinky Winters.

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Kudos to Mr Lewin for setting this caravan in motion. It is a pleasure in all its parts!

Available from the St Jude’s website. (But I’m sure not for long. This will be sold out in no time.)

 

Clive Hick-Jenkins

May 2016

Read my review of Jonny Hannah Greetings from Darktown: an illustrator’s miscellany,  HERE

Liz, Zoe and Clive

Sometimes the best things at the Artlog are in the comment boxes. I love the dialogues that emerge there. Some of the names of those who leave messages are close to me in the real world, while others are those with whom close and lasting friendships have developed entirely from the digital world.

Yesterday’s post has generated interesting observations from Liz and Zoe. And so rather than leave them down where they may not be seen or read, here’s a new post, with our conversation foregrounded.

Below: painting by Zoe Blue

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Zoe Blue lives in the USA, and has been a commentor at the Artlog almost since it began. She once asked me for advice in the matter of making maquettes, and thereafter began using the technique as a practice in her work as an artist. I have to say that the student outstripped the teacher, because she got rather better at making and using them than me. Though I consider us to be close friends, we have never met in person.

Zoe Blue on April 2, 2016 at 4:04 pm said:
Even back then, such gorgeous colors. I love these images. Your landscape styles really move me — I wonder, when you see the slides after so much time, does it give you an “instant” feeling of that time period? Once I heard a forgotten recording of a Rachmaninoff concerto I had played, and I actually started crying uncontrollably. It was bizarre. But I wonder if you see the painting and become that person again, temporarily. The feeling of that whole being, I mean. Does that make sense?

Clive Hicks-Jenkins on April 3, 2016 at 7:16 am said: 
At this distance much of my work from back then looks a tad overwrought to me. I seem to have been discovering that painting could reflect my emotional state, and my emotional state was… well, let’s just say, wobbly. I was emerging from a dark place.

I like the three paintings I posted. I can see that there’s a lot of bravura brushwork going on in the first two images, and I like the atmosphere in that last, sombre, slate-blue and ochre Carn Euny night-scape.

For me too, emotion is readily accessed through the medium of music. The other night I watched a documentary about the late Peter Maxwell Davies, whose music I’ve always loved, and particularly ‘An Orkney Wedding’, which had once been the doorway for me to his less accessible work. My late friend Catriona, loved it too, and it was played at her funeral. In the documentary they showed a performance of it at the Proms, with Maxwell Davies conducting. Barely had the first strains of music begun, when the tears started rolling. By half-way through I was sobbing and laughing in equal measure, aware of the ludicrousness of the situation. It wasn’t just re-ignited grief for the loss of Catriona… all these years on I miss her still… or even grief for PMD, but rather that ‘An Orkney Wedding’ immediately opens the sluice-gate behind which deep waters are usually contained.

What do I feel when I look at these early paintings? Mostly I feel surprise that I was able to make these works embody what I was feeling back then, though I don’t think I realised that at the time. And I certainly didn’t realise that many were as good as I now know them to be. I admire the fluency of brushwork. It’s blazingly apparent there’s a kind of dance going on. I can tell from them that in my DNA I was a dancer, and the paintings were dancing for me. I know now I was mourning what I’d lost, but in some fabulous act of alchemy, what flowed from me were not tears, but paint.

Liz King-Sangster and I met in the early 1980s, when she was head of the scenic department at Welsh National Opera and supervised the creation of a set that I’d designed. It was my first job as a designer, and Liz made good the deficiencies that were the result of my lack of experience. Her sound advice so gently offered back then, stayed with me and helped me build the foundations of my subsequent design work in the theatre. She lives in France, where she works as a painter and muralist.

Below: interior by Liz King-Sangster

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Liz King-Sangster on April 3, 2016 at 7:29 am said: 
I love the sheer joy of painting in the first and second images, beautiful gestural brushwork, and the colours in them all. I love the moods you’ve captured. And aren’t we lucky to be living in this age where cataloguing is so simple? It’s great that Peter insisted, because now you have a diary of your own development. I’m afraid I’ve not been so assiduous in keeping track of my earlier paintings. I’m leaving it to future archivists to sort that out, if they are interested enough that is! On the subject of photography, now I have tens of thousands of photos to every one I had in those days. It’s almost too easy now! Love to you both xxxL

Clive Hicks-Jenkins on April 3, 2016 at 7:54 am said: 
Dear Liz, I and many others love your painting. I’ve always admired your fluency, and back when we worked together during your Welsh National Opera days, long before I became an artist, I learned from you that when paint flowed, it could be a vector for energy. Good lesson, that.

None of us can know whether after we’ve departed the room, anyone who cares enough will still be around to sort through our ‘stuff’ and order it. At any given time the fates and reputations of artists hang by the slenderest of threads. There’s serendipity in what survives, what’s seen, what hangs in private and what hangs in public. Some of those trumpeted during their times as ‘great’, fade into obscurity with the passing decades, while occasionally an artist unknown in life, gains the admiration of many after his or her death. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stood dumbfounded in front of some medieval masterpiece of an altarpiece, bearing the label ‘anonymous’, or ‘unknown’. I’d be happy if something of mine survived even unattributed where people could see it and look. The work is the dialogue between the artist and the viewer. Names don’t really matter.

Below: wonderfully vibrant i-pad sketch by Liz of Jack, made when she was at Ty Isaf last year.

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Zoe’s ‘Blue Cat’ maquette stands sentinel opposite a Welsh dragon on our mantlepiece.

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Clive and Aleksy in conversation

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While I’m eager to share new work here, I agree with Dan at Penfold Press that we need to hold back from full disclosure of preparatory images for the Gawain series until the prints are ready to launch. So here, by way of a compromise, are some details of the paint and pencil study for The Green Knight Takes Gawain’s Blow, shown in black and white rather than in colour. They’re by way of accompaniments to a conversation between me and my friend Aleksy Cichoń in Poland, who has seen this colour study in full, and today has written to me about it

Aleksy: The radiance of colour in this piece is amazing. But I have a question – who is character in base of column? Samson or Atlas?

Clive: He’s a Green Man. Look closely and you’ll see the foliate patterning on his robe. Here, carved in stone, is an early personification of the ancient magic embodied in the Green Knight. And the sepulchre crowned with a winged-lion (above) is also foliate patterned, as though there have been other Green Knights before this one, and the ancient tomb is always waiting for a new occupant. In addition the stone man and lion act as witnesses to the event, as I didn’t want the visual distraction of the King, Queen and courtiers looking on.

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Aleksy: When I’m reading your words about this picture… I’m pretty sure that you’re representative of timeless generation of artists, true artists. What true artists do? They create artificial world based on philosophical rules. Furthermore, the image must be like philosophical treatise – multi-leveled, subtle model of petite universe. Well, you can do it. Gawain and Green Knight as universal figures of eternal drama – I’m shivering when I think about it. It’s good sign.

I’m in love with Green Knight’s melancholic acquiescence of his beheading.

Clive: I’m glad you like the Green Knight’s acquiescence. I find it rather sexy, this mighty presence bowing to the blade.

Aleksy: I’m aware of Knight’s load of sensuality, but melancholy side is the most attractive hue of character. Or maybe I’ve read too many books like ‘The Confusions of Young Törless’ and my outlook is distorted. Might be.

Clive: I agree with you about the ‘melancholy hue’. It is the abiding mood of this drawing.

Gawain is crimson, steeped in the blood of all victims who’ve been slaughtered in the name of faith or their masters’ causes. I wanted him to have a whiff of the Inquisition. He’s presented as flawed/tainted in the poem, though he’s definitely heroic in the terms of the times. But things are not so simple now, and we have better insights into what all these fabulous warriors actually did… the Templars, the Crusaders and the Samurai and their ilk, the Alexanders and Lawrences of history, and the Gawains, Lancelots and Lochinvars of fable. No matter how nobly they may be presented, they’re harbingers of death, albeit wrapped up in the ‘honour’ of whichever variety they subscribe to. I wanted this Gawain to be complicated!

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Clive: I haven’t had time enough to write to you as much as I would like. Up to my eyeballs in work. No doubt you are too.

I really like this spoof by Mallory Ortberg on Gawain and Green Knight . Made me laugh out loud with it’s American youth jargon! It’s pretty brief, yet conveys the story arc remarkably successfully!

Aleksy: The American Green Knight – pretty funny! And it reminded me some Polish experiments made by St. Barańczak – great polish translator of Shakespeare’s. He wants to summarize content of the dramas in short funny rhymes. As I remember, tragedies (like in original) were ending in oceans of blood, so precis was faithful.

Aleksy is responding in drawings to my progress through Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. You can see his first drawing, The Green Knight Arrives, HERE.

My own Green Knight Arrives colour-study for a print can’t yet be revealed, but here’s a detail of the drawing for it.

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Kevin Paulsen’s Desirable Workbook

I have a massive crush on the work of American artist Kevin Paulsen. He’s perhaps best known for his murals and decors for early American houses. But while Paulsen’s schemes reference and honour the work of the naive journeymen painters associated with the period, they simultaneously remain true to his contemporary vision, evidencing the post-modernist’s disposition toward playful reinvention.

It’s a rarity for an artist to be able to pull off this sleight-of-hand, in which the past and present come together in ways unexpected yet plausible. In lesser hands such work would be constrained and rendered staid by the historic requirements, but in Paulsen’s, the results are invigorated by his talent for conjuring the past, while remaining uniquely and creatively himself.

I’ve been taken by a series of recent sketches from one of his workbooks. As far as I can tell they’re rendered in black marker-pens, with colour rubbed in with dry pastel and tonal accents worked in pencil. The workbook has gridded pages, and I don’t know whether the artist favours the ‘marked’ paper because it subverts any sense of the precious, therefore enabling him to work more freely, or because it makes drawings easier to scale-up at a later stage, should they be needed for large paintings or murals. For me the paper adds another layer of interest, with its rigid geometries cutting through the artist’s imaginary landscapes.

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The first drawings are squarish in format, and have a rather sentimental, antebellum tone to them. Here, ruined neo-classical architecture is counterpointed with weeping-willow and poplar trees, against a shimmering sun-scape.

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And below, the European Grand Tour is conjured in an erupting volcano, its fiery discharge reflected in the water. These could be stills from a Lotte Reiniger film, or I could see them being snipped as lacy black papercuts laid against foil backgrounds.

The fisherman is a motif that the artist repeatedly returns to examine. He riffs energetically on diverse themes. One day it may be elaborate, tented pavilions with bunting, the next, masted ships in formal, dance-like  arrangements, their rigging a-flutter with flags. Paulsen loves pennants and flags.

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I recognise what’s going on in the images, as I plunder the past myself. First I make the observed studies to get into the zone, and then comes the flow and invention. Paulsen does the same. These meanderings through romantic landscapes are engaging enough, though they feel as though the artist is just flexing and stretching in preparation for a sprint. They’re the equivalent of what a dancer does at the barre!

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And quite suddenly, he’s away. The frame compresses into a wide landscape format. The mark-making becomes swift, the drawing angular and the perspective foreshortens as elements distort and pile up through the compositions. Swagged from above with elaborate drapes, the drawings take on the feel of scenes for toy theatres, or ballet sequences from The Red Shoes. The architectural elements shift, bend and reconfigure. They’re halfway to being something you know, yet remain slippery, easily sidestepping categorisation. I’m reminded of the book decorations of the British neo-romantic artist and illustrator John Craxton. He’d have loved the riot of shapes that form a crazed proscenium arch to this image.

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Back to neo-classicism again, but with subversion. Is the stovepipe-hatted man affectionately cradling his beloved, or is he a killer about to dispose of his prey by dumping her in the sea?

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Paulsen has the knack of making landscapes that I want to walk around. I skirt the church with tiled roof, take a cliff-path to the acropolis and admire the long-shadowed poplars marching across the horizon. The outsized column with a toy-town urn is weirdly space-age in appearance, like London’s Post-Office Tower, with its revolving restaurant perched at the top. And there, like a pelmet above a window, the swags of a stage-curtain, be-tasselled with berries, reminding us that everything is artifice, a gorgeous film-flam of painted canvas and limelight.

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The theatricality prevails as actors on a stage perform, with us the audience witnessing the play. In the distance what in any known culture would be a bridge, its parapets clustered with houses and shops, here has become a promontory/pier leading to nowhere. It’s mad, and inventive and delightful, and I love it.

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Here two men have a tryst…

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… and here, lovers clasp hands, while behind a pillar a man pisses.

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There are compliments aplenty I could lavish on these. Suffice to say that I wish that I had made them. They are shot through with delights. There’s delight in their invention, their execution, and in their promise of adventure. I could write a story for them, and it would be full of exotic locations, unfathomable mysteries, confusing plot devices and heart-lurching melodrama, peopled with identical twins that deceive, duplicitous lawyers, love-letter-carrying duennas and barrel-chested heroes in stove-pipe hats. I’ve already told Kevin that I’m thinking of getting on a plane to the States to stalk him and steal them. He thinks I’m joking!

All photographs by Kevin Paulsen.

Gone Boy

Johann Rohl has returned to his home in Yorkshire, and the studio has reverted to being my solitary realm. For a month we’ve been working here together, conjuring images we were commissioned to make collaboratively. There’s been a lot of hard work going on, but it’s also been loads of fun.

Detail of a collaborative painting of an enclosed garden. Both artists’ hands at work in this image.

He also made progress with some of his own work, including his projects Hercules and Pomona.

I’ve greatly enjoyed Johann’s company, and the space now feels quite empty without him. I’ll take some adjustment getting used to being here by myself again. I could have quite happily continued sharing, but he needs to re-establish himself back in Leeds, having had two month-long placements through the summer, first in Scotland and then in Wales. He’s been living out of a suitcase for rather too long.

Peter, Johann and Jack on a chill Mwnt overlooking Cardigan Bay during a weekend in Aberporth.

River stones (for frottage drawing) and pebbles collected and left on his bedroom windowsill.

Love affair!

Vacated work-table in the studio.

”’

Gone Boy

Johann and the Green Drawing Book

Illustration graduate Johann Rohl is spending a month living here at Ty Isaf, working in the studio on his own projects, and on a commission we’re producing collaboratively. I’m his mentor during his time here, though in reality I find there’s much to be appreciated and learned from the ways he applies himself to problems set. He draws beautifully, and on his desk is a green-bound book filled with pencil images.

Clive: Tell me about the book. It’s not just any old book off an art-supplier’s shelves, is it?

Johann: It’s a hardbound sketchbook I acquired at the end of my time at Cambridge School of Art, made collaboratively with my friend Toby Rampton. Toby is a bookbinder and a very talented illustrator who I went to uni with. His sketchbooks are beautiful objects in their own right. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to look at sketchbooks the same way since seeing his. By ‘collaboratively’ I mean I supplied the paper and linen for the cover and Toby did most of the labour. He even sliced into his middle finger, right into the nail; trimming the block of pages for me. So blood really went into the making of this book, though I’m not sure about sweat and tears. That sketchbook is a sort of testament to Toby’s craft, to teaching me it and to some of my creative breakthroughs done on location in the museums of Cambridge.

Clive: I love the green linen cover. I’ve noticed that you pay a lot of attention to the things around you, to forms and textures, and you’re appreciative of things well made. Have you always had this eye for detail and for good design? Can you account for it?

Johann: I love things well made. In a world of the disposable, there isn’t much importance placed on craftsmanship in our society. I come from a family that has a real appreciation for craftsmanship. I’ve grown up with things like pots and little crooked wooden stools, things you can’t get at Ikea. Witch balls at my aunty’s house. Stuff with character and soul. Things made with attention to detail, built to last a long time and to wear with use, but in a way that enhances and adds depth with age.

My grandparents came from nothing. They never bought things on credit and had to save money when they wanted to buy a piece of furniture or a household appliance. They moved into their first house when they were about my age. They had nothing to sit on, and so my grandma went over the road to the Co-op and asked if she could have the wooden boxes that the oranges came in. She took the boxes home and upholstered them using straw and cloth, and that was that. Furniture!  There was a make-do-and-mend attitude back then which I admire.

Form and function, colour and texture, these are all qualities that I appreciate. They give me pleasure, but they also influence my practice, and so I try to surround myself with things like that.

Clive: Where were the drawings in this sketch-book made? I recognise many of the objects as Mexican clay Dia de los Muertos figurines.

Johann: Most of the drawings were made in the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Cambridge. Most of the Dia de los Muertos stuff is in a small section of the museum that I just about exhausted in drawing terms. It’s a modest collection, but it was enough to inspire me and fuel my desire to go off and look further into folk art and learn more about it. There are also drawings of Inuit art in the green sketchbook, and Greek statues from the Museum of Classical Archaeology.

Clive: Your mark-making in this book is extremely direct. There’s no fucking about with sketchiness, no faint lines trialled on the page and then adjusted and worked over. And theres no erasing. It’s as though there’s a line of unbroken energy going direct from the object to your eye and down through your hand to the pencil and page. Beautiful. Is this the way you’ve always worked, or have you aspired to it and made it so?

Johann: Having the confidence to commit to my lines the way that I do has taken years. Years to realise just how interesting it can be to make marks in ways that are sympathetic to the thing I’m drawing. When I started Art College I was ignorant of mark-making and approached it in a limited way. I’d use a mechanical pencil fitted with HB 00.7mm graphite for all of my drawings, and I’d make pictures with no depth, no difference in tone or texture and no difference in quality of line. Limited in terms of expression.

I draw very differently now. I put myself in the mindset of exploring something for the first time, like a child. I try and role-play the experience of seeing something as it is, as it really is, without any preconceptions of what I think it should look like. When I’m drawing something that I’m interested in recreating, I bring myself closer to it by condensing the feeling or the texture into a line or mark. I guess it’s like empathy, in a way. I try to channel the ‘feeling’ of the object from my eye to my mind and out through my mark-making, so that I’m connecting with the world around me in a different way. A lot of the time I draw what I think something should look like, and it takes working through it over and over to get to something more honest and interesting. But then sometimes I don’t have to put in quite so much effort, and I nail it in one.

Clive: You work in extremely attractive and mesmerising ways. There are the observational sketchbooks, like the green linen one, but also the project work-books, in which you draw largely in miniature. They’re fascinating to look at.

You make the books and then draw in them, and that undoubtedly invests them with a kind of concentrated energy. Is the making of a book a crucial process to your preparation for what goes inside it?

Johann: I guess it’s having more control of the project, being able to decide which format is most appropriate for it. It probably isn’t a crucial process, though it does invest work-books with a kind of ‘concentrated energy’. I like to be able to show my work in a book made with my own hands.

Clive: The third process in which you produce drawings, is probably the most unique one, and moreover the one that appeals most to me because it has some of the same obsessional aspects of my own liking for drawing and cutting-out.

You make hundreds of meticulously pencil-rendered images that are details of larger ideas… fragments, if you will… and then you cut them out and store them in transparent folders. They look like extraordinary, pale jigsaw puzzles waiting to be assembled. You play with these fragments, assembling them into potential compositions, until you have the material ready to begin a final work. In this way, like my own process of making maquettes, you have a dense methodology before ever you get to a gessoed board, which is the ground you favour most for your finished works. Tell me about how you came to work this way. Did it evolve from small beginnings, or did you see something somewhere that gave you the idea?

Below: cut elements for Johann’s project, Pomona.

Johann: My ‘process’ has been quite a recent development. It started towards the end of my degree. It was a strange time where all my course mates had finished, and a lot of my housemates were moving out. Yet I still had work to do. The work I needed to resubmit didn’t have to be amazing because my marks were going to be capped at 40%, so it really didn’t matter. The pressure was off. Instead of doing a bit of extra work for it I started a new project from scratch which was The Company of Wolves, which you’ve written about previously. (See HERE and HERE.)

I gorged myself on HughesWalking the Dog and started to express myself in a way that was much more liberating, away from the eyes of my peers. I committed myself to sheets of A4 but decided that if something went wrong that I would just glue more paper over the top of the mistake and I would draw over that. I made loads of mistakes. Made loads of cut outs that I could place on to the image as an alternative. I liked the potential this offered so that if I wanted the wolf’s mouth to look more savage and slavery I could exaggerate it and then put it over the top, or if I wanted to see what the wolf’s hand was like underneath his skin I could do that on another piece of paper and overlay that if I felt like it. I never glued the pieces over the top, though. I liked being able to play with the placement of these separate pieces of paper. That was a real breakthrough and the start of a really exciting way of working. I don’t know where it came from, or what or who inspired it, but it’s become a fundamental part of the way I work now, and I love it.

Clive: The project we’re working on requires that both our hands will be evident in some of the completed artworks. This is a first for both of us and has taken some adjustment. That we appreciate each others work clearly paved the way for the project, but it’s nevertheless a leap of faith for two artists to produce images collaboratively. (Sarah Parvin, who commissioned this, was enormously supportive of the notion of you and I working so closely, so all credit to her for her encouragement.) I feel very much at ease in the studio in your company, but frankly I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else. I’ve worked collaboratively with creatives who have skills other than my own; poets, writers, composers and film-makers. But the current project is significantly different, and has been a learning curve for both of us. Do you have any thoughts to offer on this, on the pros and cons? (Please be candid. I can take it!)

Below: elements made by Clive and Johann. Who made which? Hard to tell.

Johann: It’s definitely been a learning curve! I’m not very good at letting people see my work in its early stages, or see me working for that matter. I’m incredibly self conscious and insecure, as much as I hate to admit it. Putting your ideas out there, your rough drawings to be seen by another, can be very exposing and leave you feeling quite vulnerable. But I think because there’s a lot of trust and respect between us, it’s not even an issue. We ‘get’ each other, and we appreciate each others work. We can be supportive when things are going well, and constructive when something isn’t quite working. We each want the same thing for the other, which is to help and push and be where we want to be creatively, and that’s incredibly enriching for both of us.

Clive: Well now you’ve made me well up, which is definitely the right place to stop.