So, I hear it is a new year. I thought, seeing as I’m sitting in bed with the flu, I’d use the time to reflect on a few things that happened this last year, and where I’m going next….
This last year that has had me drawing on windows in high rise buildings, sketching at festivals, partaking in several exhibitions and starting new series’ and collaborations…. began, what feels like a long time ago, on a train.
I was traveling the width and breadth of India with the Jagriti Yatra, a charity for young social entrepreneurs. Working with with my colleague and good friend Temujen Gunewardena we captured the two week train ride in a 15 meter long illustration….
and all the while I kept a personal sketchbook of our travels…
In the late spring I made a call out for an author to create written illustrations for this series of over 40 drawings and their myriad cast of eccentric characters.
Since then I have been working in collaboration with the Ines Ferreira a visual artist, maker of art-books and author of humorous, strange and serious, magic-realist worlds. I entrusted Inez with my Mythologies family and have loved reading the stories that have emerged. The concept, of creating a book or exhibition from this combined work, continues to develop in response to the work.
I cannot wait to read more and find the full shape of this series but I am also enjoying the slow pace. The project has a staying power, I so often quickly abandon finished work for the next project, it a great practice to keep returning to pull more threads from the initial fibre.
Portraits At The Ashmolean
I spent a great evening in the spring at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford as ‘The Wandering Portrait Artist’, creating colourful portraits of the guests at the museum’s Andy Warhol inspired Portraits night.
Black and White
My usual palette is fresh, bright and bold, full of citrus, sun and luminous shadows. The Ashmolean project pushed my colours to pop-art saturation… but, in the autumn, I had a brief period of black and white.
This series was twice as unusual because I was not only working predominantly in black and white, I was working from photographs rather than from life, or from my mind. The effect was rather like collage, taking elements from my own photographs and other images and interweaving them to create cryptic narrative scenes. This series was exhibited at the Creative Connections studios in East London in November.
Various Guises EP
November saw the launch of the Tide Take Him EP by the folk duo, Various Guises, myself and Maya McCourt. I was able to bring my art and music together in artwork for the EP and in song illustrations. I curated an exhibition at the launch and exhibited the EP artwork alongside the work of other artists on the theme.
Having clambered onto the social media of Instagram the year before I forged even further into the world of zero’s and ones this year by opening an ETSY shop… currently it is stocked with prints and framed work and I look forward to putting more original work up.
Believe it or not – it seems to be working, I have so far sold prints in the UK, Austria, Australia and the USA !
As December grew darker and greyer, I began a new series of delightfully colourful, naked ladies with extremely strange hair.
The Christmas Market
In December I also returned, almost by surprise, to Christmas Markets for the first time in 3 years, and had a fantastic time. It’s that lovely feeling of selling your work to someone personally, knowing where it is going to and what kind of home it may have…
I sold a lot of original work including two members of the Strange Familiar’s, another series that mixes text and image in a short story, or mysterious narrative, style. The rest of the Strange Familiar family may be found in exhibition in 2017
and last but by no means least…
I had the privilege and pleasure of working with Crisis this year as a volunteer, making portraits of the guests, giving drawing classes and helping in any other (totally unrelated) way I could. There is something in a portrait, that means you have been seen, and recognised. There is also a connection that is made by sitting face to face with someone for ten minutes, completely aware of one another without having to talk, only letting conversation come of its own accord. Many guests kept the portraits, others sent them to family, to their kids or mothers. I don’t think could use ink, paint or graphite in a better way. I’m very grateful for the experience.
On Friday I leave for Barcelona for a period of self-directed study. Very little is decided except that my oil paints are coming with me and I plan to wrestle the caps off the tubes where they have gummed up and become stuck from lack of use. Drawing will continue, of course… and the rest, is all adventure. The main question is if there will be space for clothes in my suitcase, when all the art materials are in there.
And, of course, the eternal question of wether the gods-that-be will allow my banjo on as hand luggage.