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

final-artnap-acrylic-em

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

merikitchen1

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.

jack-patterns

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

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Alphabet Soup: Whole alphabets – Liz King-Sangster, Chloë Redfern and Natalie d’Arbeloff.

Some people, rather than restricting themselves to individual letters, produced whole alphabets.  Among these, Liz King-Sangster has made this remarkable alphabet of animal forms, each creature forming its own initial letter:

abcdef-blu500 ghijkl-blu500 mnopqr-bl500 stuvwx-blu500 yz-blu500

As it says on her website:

Liz lives in South West France, and mainly works in oils and watercolour. She paints various subjects : interiors, landscapes, still life and portraits, and also paints frescoes, murals and trompe l’oeil to commission.

and she is clearly very busy doing so, as well as running a bed-and-breakfast and a holiday appartment, which looks heavenly.  Quite late in the day, Liz feared that she wouldn’t after all have time to participate, but then came up with her alphabet, from ideas to execution, in a very short time indeed. ‘Once I started,’ she wrote ‘ of course, I got hooked…’

I’m very glad she did.

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Chloë Redfern also feared she wouldn’t have time to produce an alphabet, then did the lot.  Chloë, who often, though not exclusively, works in painted and stitched textiles, blogs at Slightly Triangle, from where you can go to her on-line shop to see her decorations and small works available there.  The months leading up to Christmas are very busy for her, but then she started playing with an idea she had earlier in the year, when she cut some paper letters out and was then taken with the matrix from which they were cut.  She said:

I cut the alphabet out and had planned to collage it on top of something but decided it was more interesting to keep it as it was so that it could be placed over various things then photographed. This also creates shadows and depth and lots of possibility for exploration.

realphabets

Then, like many, Chloë was unable to resist playing about with the photos and going wild with colour.  Not to worry.

Alphabet Soup

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Natalie d’Arbeloff had already produced one whole alphabet by the time the call to submissions went out.  In full colour, it looked like this:

nataliesalphabet-colour.pdf - Adobe Reader

To fulfil the monochrome+1  brief, with admirable restraint, she retained just one vivid flash of colour:

natalies-alphabet-black.pdf - Adobe Reader

We will also be featuring a video piece by Natalie based on this alphabet later in the exhibition.

She went on to produce a charming and humorous downward-scrolling alphabet story.

digitalphabet-natalie

(Natalie very carefull rendered this in black and white with just the yellow flower too, but it works better in its original, which is very restrained in colour anyway!)

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