Sunday, 24 November 2013

Visit to the Saatchi Gallery

 On Wednesday I went to the private view of "Body Language" at Saatchi Gallery, and really enjoyed it. I always enjoy the shows at the Saatchi, but this one was of particular interest to me, as my own work deals with the human form. I always like the fact that there is so much variety within the show, and there's always a number of pieces that I really love. I particularly enjoyed the gallery with the installation on the left, the images on the wall were of engraved headstones, and the wooden headstone sculptures in the centre of the room really made an impact as soon as I walked into the room. I loved a lot of the work, but I found this installation particularly impressive. Definitely worth a visit, and I think I'll probably go back to see the show for a second time.
I really enjoyed seeing the human form described in so many different ways, and I came away with a few things to think about in relation to my own work.
In regards to my own work and shows, I'm in the final stages of a new piece for the exhibition in Camden, and I'm quite excited       about it. I'm planning to show this piece alongside the two smaller pieces that were made in Iceland, and I'm looking forward to
getting my work into the gallery on Friday. This week marks the start of a very busy period for me, but I'm pleased that there will be so much going on.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Vibe Gallery exhibition and other shows



The exhibition at Vibe Gallery was, I understand, a great success. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend as I was in Edinburgh, but I'm told that the private view was very busy, and there was a lot of good feedback about the show. My friend Alison curated it, and from what I can tell she did an amazing job. I really wish I could have been there, but nonetheless I'm really pleased that I was able to be involved. The space is great, and this was my first opportunity to exhibit the two canvasses I brought back from Iceland.
I have a couple of other exhibitions in the pipeline that I'm really excited about. From 7th - 17th December there will be the first ever exhibition at Camden Image Gallery, a brand new gallery opening in Camden Town, owned by one of my friends. I went to see the space for the first time on Wednesday evening, and I'm so impressed. My friend Elena has worked really hard to get this together, and I'm so proud of everything she's done. I'm really looking forward to exhibiting in this show, alongside a really varied selection of artists, I think it's going to be really successful, and encourage everyone to come along and see the gallery and show. I'm also acting as Promotions Manager for her, so I'm hoping that lots of people come along to see the gallery for the first time. More details will follow soon.
I'm very proud to announce that in January I will be having my very first solo exhibition, a pop-up show in my local area. I'm still in the planning stages as present, but I can confirm that this will be happening on 18th and 19th January. Again, this is a great opportunity that I'm really happy about.
I feel that things have been really exciting, and moving very quickly, since I came back from my residency at the end of September. The residency gave me a lot of time to reflect on my work and how things are going, and I definitely came back feeling extremely motivated. To a certain extent actually making work has taken a back seat for the time being, as I have a lot of work to do in terms of setting up shows, but from January onward I'm planning to get back to focusing on this, as well as continuing to exhibit as frequently as possible. Things are going really well at the moment with my work, and I feel that a lot of excellent opportunities are coming up. My renewed motivation has probably helped to actually bring up these opportunities; yet another benefit of my residency experience!
More details will follow about both of the upcoming exhibitions. At the moment I feel quite snowed under with work, but I have no doubt that it'll be very much worthwhile!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Current Works in Progress

 I'm really happy with how the fibre piece is developing. It's been outside for about a week now and is quickly becoming stained. I really wasn't sure what to expect from this piece, as it's brand new for me, but I'm liking the progress so far. I wasn't expecting the pigment from the thread to bleed onto the fabric in some places, as the embroidery has always come after the weathering process, so this is really interesting.
The fabric has become stained quickly, and as this piece has so  much negative space I really want to push this as far as possible, and make the surface as discoloured as it can be. I think this piece could
potentially be really impressive, so although I initially hoped that this piece would be finished quite quickly, I'm happy to wait to make sure this piece really makes an impact.
Today I've also completed a new shredded piece. I was really happy with the small scale experiment I made in this way before going to Iceland, so I've been keen to re purpose larger canvasses that I was unhappy with. This piece had already been embroidered, and the loose embroidery threads look great with the shredded strips on canvas, it makes the work much more intense. I have another canvas I want to alter in this way, and I love reworking something I was unhappy with into something I'm pleased to show.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Weathered Fibre Work and an Upcoming Show

I'm finally back in London, and back to working away. I'm now working on my first ever weathered fibre piece, this is brand new for me and I can't wait to see how it turns out.
The embroidery part of the piece was completed much more quickly than I expected, and the work has been outside for a few days now. I'm very interested to see how the material is affected by becoming wet and drying out repeatedly.
The material is already becoming stained, so I'm hoping the impact will be great. I didn't tidy the edges of the fabric prior to placing it outside, as I'm hoping this might lead to some fraying and damage on the edges. If the weathering process goes as speedily as the initial sewing I will hopefully be in a position to exhibit the work quite soon.
On the subject of exhibitions, I'm happy to say that I'll be showing some work at Vibe Gallery in London next week. One of my friends is curating the show and has worked really hard, I think the show is going to turn out really well, definitely worth seeing if you're in London! Unfortunately I won't be able to make the private view, but I'm really pleased to be involved.
There are a few other shows coming up for me soon, in London and New York. Details to follow in due course...

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Mountains meet the sky

Here I have been writing a lot more than usual, I think this is because I've had so much time to think and reflect on various parts of my life, and writing is a useful way to get the thoughts out of my head. Before I came to Iceland I was working on a series of cut ups about various moments from a particular day in July, these are now completed, and I'm planning to turn them into some artist's books when I get home.
I've also been writing on other subjects, and feel that I've refined my cut-up technique. I used cut-ups in my work during the last year of my degree, but the current ones are longer and more detailed. I find that I prefer writing in cut-ups, because they are so reflective of thoughts and feelings, and the way the clauses combine can be revealing. Sometimes the results can be more truthful than what is written in the first place.
The initial texts I write are not structured into paragraphs, and are usually a stream of consciousness on a particular subject or theme. Writing a narrative doesn't really work for this type of writing, as the meaning and chronology can so easily be distorted, and I do not want the real feelings of the text to become lost.
I break the text into lines and sentences, and then reassemble these. Putting clauses back together at random can sometimes lead to very long, drawn out sentences, which I punctuate if necessary. Sometimes the combination of clauses can form a sentence that I do not feel is appropriate to the theme of the text, in which case I will add a comma to break it up and restore the desired meaning. I also insert paragraph breaks where I feel appropriate. Aside from this editing, I allow the text to be randomly reassembled, and I am not at all selective about the order in which the text is put together. To ensure that the reassembly is random I keep each piece of paper face down, only revealing what is written once I've already selected the next line.
Currently the titles for the texts come from phrases or clauses within the work that stand out for me, or which I feel are particularly representative of the theme or mood I am aiming for.

The following is a text I wrote yesterday, entitled "Mountains Meet The Sky". This is about a walk I took yesterday afternoon in the Icelandic countryside, in a bid to clear my head after receiving some bad news recently. I have written a number of cut ups about my experience in Iceland, and am considering how these could be presented, in the form of another artist's book, or in exhibition alongside the canvasses I have made here.

I climbed a, no one else could be seen. When the path became a puddle I decided to move the occasional wanted until this point. Everything. Harder than all of the times I have seen the mountains in the world. The strangest feeling. Was strange. Uneven where the mountains meet the sky. I through puddles, and really didn’t care if I looked, how did I ever come this far?
            Me there was some comfort in the silence of the for me. Only nature. Slight crackles as the grass and weeds settled around, I have stayed by the sea. I saw the whole village, and and as my time some perspective. For just a little while. Atmosphere. I could have been the only one left all of these autumnal, the many colours that form it.
            The simple act of sitting out there alone, it was today. Angle, and appreciated it all over again. Saw something new. Nothing matters, as long as you are free. But I decided to wander to the mountains. But I had reached my own, been no sound at all. Complete privacy. But I know it is not. Trying to understand.
            Here nears its conclusion, I wanted to reassure pure silence. One. In a week, which seems so hard to believe. Car passed in the distance, but nothing and no one and for I had space. I considered where I’ll be being closer made it hit me, it’s so the ground, absolutely no noise.
            Rocky peak, excited for what may lie behind. It wasn’t even cold, I was the sea, and the mountains in the distance, topped I was the mountains over there seem ice blue before. Blue sky and the plants surrounding me. I wanted some I was truly isolated, and that was ok. Ready for home, I wasn’t ready to give up. Just nothingness. Maybe I should have done this the concentration of life in the village, a few lonely there was colours in a winter land. Think that was exactly what was needed today.
            Maybe I just needed time to myself, with no risk at all, I saw this place from another perhaps it was a need to escape. And maybe that was what I needed. Landscape, which felt so alien to all that I know. Here is not flat at all. The sea is what I like best.
            I waded through marshy grasses, and odd. I tried to understand a lot of things very far. The skyline is jagged and here only myself and the cloudless hit me. The nature of my thoughts is fairly of being interrupted. To come in, it suddenly seemed like a hub of activity.
            Content to sit on that small peak and watch over it was I was from further away. Alone. This afternoon in the sunshine. Belonged to me. With snow. At it felt both refreshing and unnerving, no one would see. Break from civilisation and reality. I am breathless here. As I am not at peace yet, but I became calmer in this wide open, exposed space, I had the concept of being outside and obvious at the present time. Maybe the space gave me think any place has ever hit me harder than I wasn’t how big the world is.
            Myself that I had really taken advantage of this it is peaceful here, but I needed more. Out of place, and really didn’t care at all. I could see everything. The sun did enough to keep me comfortable. I could never stay here, but I don’t colours everywhere. I probably looked completely a stony path that sometimes turned to mud, and I thought about how small I am, and blue sky.
            A home, but it is somewhere I have come to know, and am high above the village. All of the space had not planned this walk, but had been hit I was awestruck as the mountain a was near me. Free. And white, peeping through the clouds and the situation.
            By the time I returned to the village, tiredness starting at I could be completely alone time alone, truly alone. Far from the sea as I could be here, which is still not far removed from this place, which I cannot really say is through the tall grasses, past the stunted trees. Came closer towards me, and I could clearly see houses dotted on the outskirts, horses grazing far below. Little peak and could see clearly in every direction.

            Times this place has seemed bleak and grey, but not with my thoughts, which was never what I really, the contradictions in this village continue to I gained a new perspective on the place, and one time I decided to lie down, all I could see was me, but no people, no cars, no sources of noise. With a sudden desperate urge to just do something. Not seeing any other people is still strange to me, but I maybe the only time in my whole life when there has.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The last week

I can't believe it's the last week of my residency, and this time next Monday I'll be back in England. The week hasn't had the best start, as I've found that my final canvas was blown away during the night, meaning that only 2 canvasses have actually survived.
I'm not quite sure how I feel, as it is a bit disappointing, but it is a risk I have to accept when it comes to working here. At least I can say that I'm really pleased with the two canvasses I do still have, and I'm keen to exhibit them once I got home. It would have been nice to have come away from this with a larger body of work, and I didn't plan for this happening because I honestly didn't know that the conditions here would be strong enough to make this happen. I'm satisfied with what I have, but it would have been good to have more work.
This week will mainly be spent planning and preparing for future work, in particular the weathered fibre piece I hope to work on. I think I'll also try a couple of works of paper or wood whilst I still have the chance. I've put an experiment on wood out in place on the canvas piece, and hopefully this will last as it's a bit heavier than the canvas.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Final piece is in progress

My final canvas here is now outside, I can't believe I am going back to England in a week! On this occasion I've tied the canvas with a longer rope, so it can be carried around by the wind and moved a bit more than the other pieces. I'm hoping that this will lead to it being bashed around a bit more than the others, and will produce a new result.
The canvas has already been outside for a couple of days, which should give it plenty of time to become weathered, and then finished off before I go back to Reykjavik and then home. It does feel like a shame to be leaving, as having experienced the conditions here I feel that there is much more potential for this type of work to be made here, and unfortunately I don't have time to explore many more ideas.
However, I've had time here to experiment with using other materials and surfaces that I hadn't previously considered, and this has definitely been helpful. I was already planning to work on an exclusively fibre based piece, and then weather this naturally when
I got home, and I now feel really excited to get onto this. I don't know why it never previously occurred to me to bring together the weathering process with a fibre piece, and I'm sure this will be interesting as I have no idea what to expect from that. I've been doing a lot of embroidery recently, in sketchbooks as well as on canvas, so I'm really into that at the moment.
I feel that this experience has been hugely beneficial for me, as I am coming away with a lot of ideas and plans, as well as a body of work. I've gained exactly what I wanted to from this residency, and I'm keen to take part in further residencies in the future. Perhaps I will even find myself returning to Nes at some stage!
When I initially applied for a few residencies I was mainly interesting in visiting a completely different environment, any environment, in order to develop the weathering work. But I really think things worked out excellently, as not only is the Icelandic coast completely different to anything I'm used to, but it has been so extreme and unpredictable, and greatly benefited my work. I think this really was the perfect place to bring the work and develop in further. I'm unsure whether I will carry on working with natural weathering once I get home, aside from the planned fibre piece, as the results will definitely not compare to what has happened here. However, if I do decide to do that I have some clear ideas now on how to make the process more effective.
I've absolutely loved having a period of time to concentrate purely on my work without other distractions, in particular having a day job that takes away so much of my time and energy. It obviously will not be the same once I am back in London, but I have some ideas on how to use my time more effectively when it comes to art. This has been a very significant experience for me and my career, and I'm so grateful that I was given this opportunity, I think it was exactly what I needed. I'm sad that the experience is nearly over and that I'll soon be home and back to reality, but I am looking forward to the future.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Two more finished pieces and an exhibition!

 I'm pleased to say that yesterday was a really productive day for me, and I completed two pieces. The first is a new experiment on paper, which was placed outside whilst the paint was still wet, and I love how gravel has stuck onto the paper as a result. This piece weathered quickly, and needed to be fixed up with embroidery, and I'm very pleased with the outcome.
The director of my residency has invited residents to participate in an exchange exhibition with some artists in New York, the theme being the idea of a faraway place, and the work being a letter to the viewer. I think this piece would be ideal, as it literally contains a small part of Skagastrond, so I plan to leave it with her before I go back to London on 29th September. This particular exhibition is still a work in progress, so more details to follow.
Yesterday I also finished the second canvas I was working on, the same one I needed to retrieve from the cliffs in the morning. When I looked at it more closely it had become scratched from being dragged along the rocks, and the paint also has some fine cracks
in it. The weathering in this particular piece is more subtle than in the first canvas I completed, but I'm still happy with it. I wanted to the outcomes to be different for each canvas, and I think the subtle effects in this piece contrast well with the bolder first canvas.
This means that I have one canvas left to work on, and I hope to work on that tomorrow. At least by now I'm much more aware of the problems that working in this manner can bring, and I'm more prepared. I feel optimistic.
I'm also still working on some small experiments on paper, wood and foam board, to see if and how the results differ from my work on canvas.
I'm also happy to confirm an upcoming exhibition at Vibe Gallery in London from 25th - 29th October. Details can be found here:
http://www.facebook.com/events/1416556288571477/?fref=ts

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

First finished piece!

 I'm so happy to say that I've now finished one canvas, and I am so pleased with how it has turned out. It has been titled "Mud", for obvious reasons!
Embroidering the canvas last night was a messy job, due to the amount of dirt of the surface, but it was absolutely worthwhile. The weathering is so clear here, and I'm still amazed by how quickly it happened. This is exactly the kind of result I wanted all along, so I'm very satisfied with this piece. In Iceland I've been working on a smaller scale than usual, due to time constraints, and I think this has also helped to speed up the process.
I love that there is balance between areas that are built up and intense, and areas such as the forehead that are less blemished, I think that really works in this piece. I also love that the dampness of the environment has caused to chalk to spread and drip in some places, that wasn't a result I was expecting but I think it works in contrast with the bolder aspects of the work.
 This piece has really confirmed for me that bringing my practice out here for a time was the best decision, I've accomplished what was not possible in London. When I originally conceived this idea, about a year ago, this was the kind of effect I was imagining and hoping for. I had to go a lot further than I expected to manage this, but I'm really satisfied now.
However, unfortunately yesterday I found that the piece in the rockpool has been washed away. This really doesn't surprise me, as in the past few days the sea has been very choppy, the waves have been even more violent than they were last week. with the waves being so big I would probably have drowned if I'd gone down to check the painting over the weekend.
It's a shame, but an occupational hazard if I choose to work in this way. I'm glad that I was at least able to document the weathering process with images and film, even though there is no work at the end of it. It has highlighted that I perhaps need to be even more
careful when it comes to securing the works, so  I'm keeping a very close eye on the piece that is still outside.
I am considering bringing it inside today, as it is already scratched, and this morning I had to climb along the rocks to retrieve it, as the winds last night had blown it further down the cliffs, along with the rock it is tied to. I obviously knew that the weather conditions would be more dramatic here, but I didn't understand just how extreme it could be. It's completely unpredictable, and whilst that it great for the weathering process I'm having to work a lot harder just to make sure that I do actually have some pieces left!
Even if the remaining works don't go to plan I'm so happy with this painting, and will be exhibiting it in London next month for sure. Yesterday I also placed a couple more paper experiments outside, and I'm also planning to try out a piece on wood, to see if and how this differs from weathering canvas. I'm so excited about the possibilities here!

Monday, 16 September 2013

One piece is back inside!

 I've just brought a painting inside, ironically this was the last one I placed outside, only yesterday! I suppose that's what happens when you put something in a pile of dirt whilst it's hailing. It still needs to be embroidered, but I am so excited about the outcome. I cannot stress enough what a brilliant decision it was to work here, the results are so much quicker and more effective than they were in London. I'm really happy, and I'm just waiting for the canvas to dry before finishing it off.
I'm so fortunate in that this opportunity has also allowed me a lot of time to reassess my work and career, and I feel that I have a really clear direction to go in when I get home in two weeks. I'm halfway through my residency now, and I've already benefited so much. I know what I want to work on when I get back home, and I have a clear idea of how to facilitate that as well.
I also have a few exhibitions coming up. One will be at Vibe Gallery in London between 25th and 29th October, and a couple of others are tbc. I'm expecting to show some of the work made
in Iceland at Vibe, and probably some older work too.
This period of time has been really productive for me, and I'm also so full of plans and ideas for the future, I feel so fortunate to be having this experience. It's really sad to think that this residency will come to an end soon, but I'm sure that the next two weeks will also be a very beneficial time for me, especially as some works are nearing completion. Soon it'll be time to worry about getting it all back to London!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Short Film of Waves


I'm not a filmmaker by any standards, but as I'm taking so much pleasure in watching the waves hit the second canvas I placed outside, I thought it might be a good idea to record some of this, for others to see exactly how the canvas is being weathered and affected. This is a very short film I made this afternoon, but one of the other artists at the residency has kindly offered to help me using a waterproof camera she has, so hopefully soon I'll have more images and some film that is a bit more intense than this.
However, I do feel that this illustrates well exactly how the canvas is working. The other piece that is outside is also progressing well, and I'm very happy with how things are going.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Amazing Experience

 Yesterday I placed a second canvas outside, amongst the rocks on the shoreline. This afternoon I walked down there to see how it was progressing. The sea has been very choppy today, and some of the waves have been huge. Every wave was splashing or submerging the canvas!
I couldn't get too close because I would have got absolutely soaked, but I sat for ages on a rock watching the waves roll in and splash the painting. It was so peaceful, and so beautiful. I grew up by the sea and feel a great affinity with it, so this was a wonderful experience for me. In these images you can just see the canvas in the bottom right hand
corner.
I really can't wait for the sea to calm down so that I can get a good look at the painting's progress. The studio has an open house event on Saturday evening, and it would be great if I had a final piece ready for that time. I'm certain that this piece in particular will be a great success. I expected my work to weather more quickly in this environment, but I'm actually surprised by just how quickly this is happening.
Sitting there by the sea gave me a chance to think and reflect on my experience over the past week. I'm so pleased with how my work is developing, and I know that bringing my work out here was an excellent decision, allowing me to achieve the results I really want. I feel that this is a really important period of time for me as an artist, and I am really reaping the benefits.
As well as successfully producing so much, I've also had plenty of time and space to think and reflect, and so I have a couple of strong ideas to work with when I get back home. I feel that this is only the beginning. I can't even explain how happy and excited I am now!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Excellent results!

 Unfortunately half of the paper pieces I left outside on Wednesday have disappeared, I suspect this is due to strong winds. The weather was particularly bad last night, and I assume this accounts for the most recent disappearance. Using paper was a good idea as an experiment, but the material is just too weak to survive here. Only one paper piece is still outside now, I've taken one in this afternoon and I am so pleased with the results. The elements have had a big impact in the space of just four days, compared to months of leaving paper outside in London and having much milder results. This piece is so obviously weathered, and this is exactly the sort of result I've been hoping for all along. This makes me even more confident that bringing my work to Iceland was a good decision, and that the canvas pieces will work well.
The strong winds last night left me quite paranoid that the canvas I placed outside yesterday would have been blown away too. However, it is tied to a rock, and the rock is wedged in between others, so this anchors it, and the piece was thankfully still there this morning. The wind and rain was extremely heavy last night, so the chalk has almost completely washed off the surface. I'm looking forward to seeing how it continues to develop, and feel sure that the results will be more pleasing than they have been in England.
I'm planning to explore the area a bit further and find some new places where I can gain varied and dramatic results. I was going to do this today, but for much of the day the wind has been too strong, and walking in some places I was planning to go to could potentially be quite dangerous. I hope that I can do this in the next couple of days. Yesterday we walked up a mountain in order to see a sculpture/performance, and this really inspired me to look a bit further than my immediate surroundings at home and in the studio for places to leave the canvasses.

Further to this, for a while now I've been working on a series of cut-up texts, about moments of a particular day in July. I've nearly finished writing, and I'm so happy with what I've done that I'm planning to produce a number of artist's books of the cut ups once I get home. I've always been quite interested in book art, but it's not something I work with very often, so this will be a new challenge for me. The books will be produced by hand, and I'm planning to produce approximately five books, all with slight variations. This is something I'll explore further when I get back to England, but I'm forming a few ideas now about how to proceed.
I'm really pleased that being here has given me plenty of space to think and formulate new ideas and plans, as I feel I'm going to have quite a lot to work with when I get back to London.

Friday, 6 September 2013

A new idea

I'm really pleased that I've only been here for a couple of days, but already I've had a new idea for the work.
When  working in London, the paintings were only ever left on my own property, meaning that the chances of someone actually stealing the work were negligible. I've walked around the village this morning to check on the progress of the paper pieces, and two have disappeared. Whether they were deliberately taken or were blown away by the wind is anyone's guess, but it got me thinking that, although I can tolerate that with the paper works, I really don't want the canvas paintings to disappear. As I'm due to start working on the first portrait today, this is really something that I need to resolve.
It's obviously essential to securely fasten the canvas wherever I place it to prevent it from being blown away, and that is easily done. Preventing the work being deliberately taken or moved is more of an issue. I could leave the works in the immediate vicinity of my home and studio, but that will limit the results I have. I cannot really stop anyone from taking them, but maybe they'd think twice if they knew why the work was there.
So I've concluded a good way to deal with this may be to attach a note to the back of the painting somehow, explaining who I am, what I'm doing, and inviting people to contact me if they do decide to take the work. If anyone did contact me I could offer to let them keep it if they let me finish the work.
I feel that this idea kind of works, as my practice has often been concerned with relationships, and still is, as I use images of people I know to paint from. Being open and dealing with the issue in this way could potentially form new relationships with people in Skagastrond, and means that my work is influenced by the people who live here, as well as the town and the environment.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

My residency has begun!

I arrived in Iceland on Tuesday, and in Skagastrond yesterday to start my residency! I really am so happy to be here, and just having a proper studio space again after quite some time is inspiring me to get working. As soon as I arrived yesterday afternoon, despite being exhausted, I got started on my work, and already I've manged to get a few things done. This is exactly what I want, as my time here unfortunately is limited, and therefore I don't want to waste a moment.
So far I've done a few sketches in preparation for the first two paintings I'm planning, and have made several abstract pieces on paper, which have been left in various locations in the village to become weathered. Already, after less than 24 hours, I've noticed that most of them are becoming damp, and hopefully this will have an affect on the surface. Working in this manner is also giving me an opportunity to gauge which locations work best for what I want to do.
As I was walking back from the studio last night I unfortunately found that one of the pieces had been torn up! It would appear that this was done intentionally by an unknown person, as the conditions have certainly not been extreme enough to cause this naturally, and none of the other sheets have been affected at all. This morning I gathered the ripped up pieces, and got to work. As I stated in my proposal for this residency, I'd be keen to look into embroidery as a means of repair where necessary, and this was certainly necessary. The paper may not have been weathered naturally, but there was certainly an effect. I suppose that's a risk you take when leaving work in public.
I've spent a good few hours today reassembling the paper - working out which piece went where was surprisingly challenging. I find the result quite interesting, even though it was not what I had initially had in mind. I'm looking forward to seeing the progression of the other five works that are outside, and looking forward to getting canvasses outside too. I'm planning to start the background for one or two pieces this afternoon, meaning that I can complete the portraits soon.
All in all, I've been here a very short time but I'm already so glad to be here. Although I wouldn't choose to live in Skagastrond on a long term basis it really is beautiful, and I'm really enjoying myself. The other artists here are all really nice, and I'm so grateful to have this time to focus on my work, and to think and reflect more generally. I hope that my whole trip is as successful as the past couple of days have been.
For more images of the work I'm making here please visit my Facebook page.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Pre-residency Experiment



Prior to my residency, I've tried out natural weathering on paper, as I hoped that paper might react to the elements more than canvas did. This piece has been on my balcony for quite some time now, and I'm impressed with the result. There was a massive downpour yesterday, and the paper was completely soaked. Over the past couple of months the paper has been rained on and dried out on several occasions, which has affected the shape of the sheet, I'm pleased with this result. As it rained quite soon after I first put the piece outside, some yellow ink has spread slightly.
Unfortunately the results have still not been overwhelming, as the weather conditions in London just art extreme enough. I'm hoping this will be the fundamental difference that will make my work on this theme more successful in Iceland. The first thing I intend to do is to place several abstract pieces on paper, very similar to this one, in various locations around the village I'll be staying in. It's a good starting point, which will allow me to gauge both where the best locations are for weathering the work, and also to ascertain quite quickly how the weather is going to affect my work, and how successful I'm likely to be in my endeavours.
I'm really ready to go now, and can't wait to start working. I've been writing a lot more recently, plus it's difficult to paint when I've sent my paintbrushes to Iceland, so I'm really excited to get back to painting and drawing.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

It's almost September

It's almost September, meaning that in just over 2 weeks I'll be in Iceland taking part in an artist's residency. It's such a great opportunity, that I've been waiting for for so long, that it feels quite surreal that it'll be happening to me in just over 2 weeks. I've spent a long time preparing, and surprised myself with how efficient I've managed to be, I can't really believe the time is nearly here.
My preparations have gone quite smoothly so far, even though it's felt a bit overwhelming at times. I can't help but feel that something is bound to go wrong! I'm worrying over nothing, I know it'll most likely be a wonderful experience, just as I want it to be. This experience feels like a big step forward for me, and I can't wait for the time to come.
I'm so excited to have a chance, however brief, to concentrate purely on my work, no distractions. That's near impossible when you have a normal office job as well. Ever since I graduated I've realised how fortunate I was to have several years devoted to art and nothing else. I've really missed being in that position, and now I'll be able to do that again, even if it is only for one month. I've got a fairly solid plan of what to do, I know exactly how I want to start off, so I'm ready to dive in as soon as I get there. I don't want to waste any time at all, because I now appreciate how precious the time is.
Everything has gone well so far and I definitely feel ready to go!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

7 weeks to go...

There's only 7 weeks left until I go to Iceland for my residency! I can't explain how excited I am and how much I'm looking forward to it.
I really cannot wait to have some time to focus purely on art, with no distractions. This is something I've really missed since graduating, so it'll be amazing to have that, even if only for a month. I've bought all the materials I'll need now, and have a solid plan of what I want to do and how I want to work. I'm going very prepared so that I waste as little time as possible. I think this residency could be a huge benefit for me and my work, so I want to take advantage.
As well as already having a plan for my studio work whilst I'm there, I've managed to sort out most of the practical things already; I'm actually quite impressed with myself! I've arranged somewhere to stay in Reykjavik, and just need to send some stuff ahead of me, and do a couple of other things before everything is ready to go!
I'm also so excited to be travelling somewhere new, somewhere that I've heard a lot of positive comments about. This is part of the appeal of residency programmes to me, and one of the major reasons that I started looking into residencies in the first place. I'm going to a very remote place, so it'll be a big change for me, and I'm looking forward to seeing what that's like. My trip is going to be a very exciting time.
I'm really so proud that I'm going to do this. Getting accepted in the first place, working and saving so that I could go ahead with it, and being able to do what I really want, even on a temporary basis, makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere with my career. It's a brilliant opportunity, and getting to this point hasn't all been straightforward. I'm sure it's going to be a brilliant experience, and that it will have a real effect on my work and career. Can't wait to go!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Now on Twitter...

Sadly life has been getting in my way a bit recently, so I've decided to really push to get back on with promotion etc. To get going gently, I've set up a professional Twitter account. You can find me here.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

New experimental work


I was really inspired yesterday by some work I saw by Rosy Keyser at Zabludowicz Collection, and was really keen to work as soon as I got back home. This piece is completely different to anything I've done previously, and it was very refreshing to experiment with something new.
I was also inspired by other work I saw in the show, of contemporary, progressive painting, and started off with a small canvas that hadn't quite worked out previously. It's just been sitting around, so it was really good to re-purpose it. I built up a lot of layers of blue, black, and white ink, and once it had dried started with my usual approach of deliberately weathering the canvas.
I wanted the canvas to be really shredded, and my usual method just wasn't harsh enough on the surface, so I took to ripping and splitting the surface in as many places as possible, and then putting it back together in a new way.
Since I started working with the idea of damaging the canvas, I've become more and more interested in affecting the shape and physicality of the canvas. I don't think this particular idea would work for a portrait, as the image would end up completely unreadable, but this was a really fun experiment for an abstract piece, and is something I'd definitely be keen to try again.

Friday, 19 April 2013

New Online Shop!

I'm happy to say I've just set up a new online shop, with items including very new pieces. As much as  I love Etsy, I feel that most shoppers are not there to purchase high price items, so it's not quite the right platform for my work.

Please follow the link below for more information.
http://www.artyfest.com/tamsinspargo32569

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Year in the Real World - Excerpt from my Book



It’s almost one year since I finished my degree and was sent out into the real world. I feel that I’m still adapting to this, and it doesn’t yet quite feel normal for me. Halfway through my degree I took a year out, but during that time I had the security of knowing that I had my education to go back to, and that was definitely a comfort. The time seems to have flown by, even though I am still in a period of adaptation.
            It makes sense that I’m still adjusting – until this point I’ve spent the majority of my life in education, so it’s no wonder it’s a bit strange to have this missing. In quiet moments at work, I often think of what I was doing at university a year ago, and how happy that made me. It’s quite hard when you’ve had the opportunity to devote yourself to the thing you love, and suddenly that’s not what happens anymore. I really miss being a student, and the freedom I felt with that. Working for a living feels so much more restrictive, especially after taking a degree which allowed me to use my time so flexibly.
            Being released into the world has made me do more to promote myself and my work, even when it’s sometimes a struggle to fit this in between my day job. I think graduating made me suddenly see myself as a professional person, and made me act more like a professional person.
Although I made some efforts whilst I was still studying, the amount I do has undeniably increased. I was more focussed on my education for most of the time whilst I studied. I took some steps to promote and sell my work whilst I took a year out, and I feel that these efforts taught me lessons that have benefitted me more recently. Being forced into a non-creative environment has really enhanced my desire and compulsion to be involved with art and creative practices. It’s like art is a magnet for me. I’m doing things to push my work and my career forward, despite the time constraints that mean I have less time to concentrate on actually producing work.
            As frustrating as recent months have been, in that I no longer have the constant involvement with art I had as a student, it’s reassuring to feel the art world pulling me back. This seems like confirmation that art is what I need to be doing, and that I’m on the right track.
As time goes on, I also become more and more sick of working every day in a non-creative environment. Maybe this has also motivated me to push my career forward as much as I can. Although I feel that I probably could have accomplished more, I do feel proud of the efforts I’ve made since graduating, and the progression I’ve made. This is not just in terms of the exhibitions or publicity I’ve had, it’s also in regards to the work I’ve produced, and the development and progression of my ideas. I feel that in recent months my work has become more conceptual, as well as the other advances I’ve made.
            The novelty of my day job has definitely worn off for me, after 10 long months. My dissatisfaction is compounded by remembering that, one year ago, I was taking part in degree shows and frantically finishing my work, doing the things I really want to do as a career. It sometimes seems plain cruel that I was able to devote several years of my life, whilst studying, to the subject matter I love, and now that’s over with.
            I’m realistic enough to know that at this point there’s no way I can make a living as an artist, but I would absolutely love to work in an art gallery, and to feel more connected to the art world again. When I visit or take part in exhibitions, or talk about art with people who share my passions and ambitions, I feel much more at home, and I feel more comfortable. I’d love to go back to that environment full-time.
            At the time that I graduated and was looking for work, I didn’t see the point in looking for exclusively art-related jobs, as there just isn’t enough for the demand. I’m lucky to have found stable employment so quickly after finishing university, but upon reflection I think this past year might have been easier if I’d had a job related to art. I’d have been in my comfort zone, and I expect I would have enjoyed the past year more.
            I now feel that I want to start looking for work in the art industry much more seriously than I did previously. I really think I’d feel more satisfied if all the work I did was orientated around art, not only the practical work I make. I really think this is one of the easiest and most obvious routes to making myself feel happier. The problem is that I want to do this, whilst at the same time looking to taking part in an artist’s residency in autumn. That certainly hinders the job search.
            The past year has definitely been a time of change, and a time of confusion and turmoil. I don’t think this is exclusive to me, or to people involved in the same things as me. I think this applies to many people of my age, and at a similar stage of their life as I am. Everyone I speak to seems to feel a bit unsettled and lost.
It seems reasonable to feel kind of confused when you’re just starting out in the real world, and trying to find your place, regardless of your interests, job, or ambitions. The state of the economy puts a lot of people in a difficult position, in that they can’t do the work they’d really love to do, plus a lot of people of my age don’t even know what they want to do yet. I’m very fortunate that I do have a clear idea of what I want, and have done for many years. A lot of people seem to feel very mixed up, and have been struggling since they graduated.
            Feeling lost and anxious obviously isn’t pleasant, which is why I’m thinking more of finding employment in the art world, and feeling just as connected as I did a year ago. When I’m not actively producing work, or involved with exhibitions and art, I feel like I’m wasting my time. Being employed in this field would surely ease these feelings. I’d really like a greater sense of fulfilment in my life.
            The past year has certainly not been the easiest in my life, and has been a time of change and upheaval. In comparison to the final year of my degree, and the years before that too, it’s miserable. There have been positive and negative aspects, and I still feel that there’s plenty of room for improvement and progression. I feel that my sense of ambition may have intensified in the past year. This is a positive thing, but makes my current working situation all the most frustrating.
I hope to keep my career moving in the direction I want it to, and I hope that, seeing as a day job is a necessity, I can find something that makes me happier than my current job. I think this will greatly improve my circumstances, and will help me to build connections that will add to the progression of my art career.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

New work

I




I've just finished a new piece this evening, I've changed things up a bit, and really like the end result. This is the first piece, apart from some preliminary work, where I've intentionally damaged my canvas, not allowed it to happen naturally. I'm really pleased with the results of this, as they're much more violent and visible than the natural results. I enjoyed using natural weathering, and I'm certainly not ruling it out as something to use in the future, but for now I think that this method is more suitable for my aims. Added to that, throwing, kicking, and scraping a canvas along the ground is a good stress reliever!

With this piece I've also brought in drips of ink, which started as just a new way of adding layering, but I feel it's also reflective of the hanging threads I always incorporate, so I think it really works with the piece as a whole. the piece has ended up being quite dark due to the use of black ink and grey paint, but I think this won't always be the case when other colours are used. I'd definitely like to continue using ink drips in future work.

Using embroidery as a means of repair, as well as for decorative purposes was also successful. As the idea behind damaging the canvas was as an analogy for being damaged and affected by life experience, I feel that the repair stitching almost acts as a symbol for hope - if things are damaged there are still ways to fix them. As there's more going on in this piece in terms of the physical effect on the canvas, and the use of ink, I decided to keep the embroidery much more simple and low-key than it has been previously. I think using the intricate style I've used previously may overload the canvas.

I'm really excited about this piece, and feel a new wave of motivation. I'm really keen to experiment more with these new ideas, and build up my body of work on this theme. I'd also like to go back to painting portraits of others, as I'm a bit bored of using images of myself now. Really looking forward to choosing some new subjects and getting on with some more work!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Showcase Cities exhibition

The exhibition last night was really enjoyable, and after the disaster with the last exhibition I'm really pleased that this one went so smoothly. I was lucky, as I realised on Tuesday that I had more space than I thought, so I was able to include one additional piece. I'm pleased that the work was seen, and I met some nice people. Nothing was sold but I was more interested in just getting the work out there. Some of the other work being shown was really good as well.

I learned a couple of things from this experience to bear in mind for the future, so I definitely feel that this was successful. I'll certainly carry these things into future exhibitions. The only unfortunate thing is that my arms ache from carrying canvasses around for much of yesterday!

I definitely feel relieved that the work has actually been exhibited now, as the exhibition in January is still in the process of being rescheduled, and hasn't been the easiest process.

 However, I do have some plans at the moment for a solo show, and now that this exhibition is out of the way I'll start arranging that more seriously for some time in the near future. This will be in addition to a show with Yeliz. That one really hasn't gone to plan, but we're constantly thinking of new ideas for it, and really do hope to resolve the problems as soon as possible.

Last night was a good night, and I'm very grateful to my friends who came along to see the work.


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Exhibition next week!


If you're in London on the 20th please do come along, it looks to be really exciting. For more information please see  http://www.showcase-cities.com/whos-exhibiting-next/

Friday, 8 February 2013

Upcoming Exhibition


I'm very pleased to confirm that I'll be exhibiting at the upcoming Showcase Cities exhibition on 20th February at Rich Mix in London.
This is a really exciting one day exhibition, bringing together art, music, fashion, and theatre, and I'm thrilled to be involved. The venue is great too.
Entry is free, and work will be available for sale, so please do come along if you're in London. I'm sure it's going to be a really enjoyable night.

For further information please see http://www.showcase-cities.com/

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Productive Saturday

I've had a productive day, and feel really pleased with what I've got done so far. I've written some more, and feel very happy with how the book is progressing. I also spent some times yesterday reordering the texts I've written, in order to make the writing more cohesive overall.
I've also experimented with throwing and kicking a blank canvas in order to deliberately weather and damage it. This was in preparation for the next piece I'm planning, and I thought the effects were great. The canvas was very obviously damaged, and even the frame was slightly broken in some places. This is in contrast to the pieces that are naturally weathered, as the effects of this are quite subtle. I think this will make a really interesting contrast when the two are shown alongside each other.
I think I'm going to embroider onto this canvas so it's not so plain. I'm interested in using embroidery as a means of repair with the final canvas.
Further to all of this, I've also finally finished the piece I've been weathering. I'm pleased that the snow has actually had an effect, and seems to have weakened the canvas in places. There is a small patch at the bottom of the canvas that has become a bit frayed. I'm quite pleased with this, as with previous pieces they haven't physically been altered, and the surface becoming dirtied is the only effect.
I'm really happy with what I'm doing at the moment, and now we just need to look further into finding a new venue for our exhibition, which really hasn't been a smooth process unfortunately. At least the experiences we've had organising this exhibition have been a big learning experience. We're both looking into alternative options, so I hope that we'll be able to arrange something sooner rather than later.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Progression of current work

London is currently covered in snow, and as much as I dislike snow this is obviously very exciting for the work I'm weathering. From the time this idea was conceived, I've wanted some extreme conditions to come into play, and I'm glad that this has now happened.
I'm really excited to see how the piece is affected by the snow, but unfortunately there isn't any sign of the snow stopping, so I might have to wait a while.
Last night, when I came home at about 2am, the snow was melting, so I was hopeful that the piece could maybe be finished today. However, it was snowing when I woke up, and hasn't stopped all day, so I expect to be waiting a while longer. This piece might give me an idea of what to expect from weathering my work in Iceland. Although I'm a bit impatient I'll be waiting for the snow to fully melt on the canvas, as I don't want to interrupt the process at all.

I have another exciting project going on at the same time as this. I've started writing a book, based on my experiences and feelings as a young emerging artist. The book is in the format of a series of essays on a variety of themes, including art galleries, day jobs, and money, and also incorporates some elements of philosophy and art theory. I have almost 6,000 words so far, and I'm pleased with the progress I'm making. I'm aiming for a minimum of 50,000 words, so there's still a long way to go yer. I've made numerous attempts at writing books in the past, none of which have reached their end, but I do feel that this is an endeavour I can stick with.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Upcoming projects

Lots happening at the moment, both positive and negative.

Sadly our exhibition has been postponed, due to the gallery shutting down. It's really unfortunate but we've found a new location, and are expecting to hold the show in February instead. More details to come.
The much more positive, and exciting, thing is that I've now confirmed my place at Nes Artist Residency in Iceland, starting in September. The more I think about and plan this, the more exciting it becomes. I'm really pleased to be going there, and I hope that it will be very beneficial for my work and career.
In terms of my work, I'm going to experiment with a slightly new direction, and at least pushing back the exhibition gives me a chance to do so immediately. Rather than allowing my work to become weathered naturally I'm planning to experiment with throwing my canvas around and forcibly damaging it. This fits with the theme of being weathered by life experiences, but makes reference more to the effect that other individuals have upon you, and the direct impact of their behaviour and treatment to the self. I'm going to try this with my next piece, which should be exhibited alongside the two naturally weathered canvasses. As I'm planning to work with the natural weathering concept when I'm working in Iceland I think it's a positive to try other ideas out in the meantime, in order to keep this idea fresh and interesting to me.