At the start of lockdown I found myself contemplating the word calamity. The claxon clanging noise and chaos of it, internal alarm system shouting ’emergency’ in red tumbling flashes. It is describes that feeling of being ‘like a cat in a washing machine’: disorientated, tumbling, as though my limbs were disconnected from the ground and the world askew. Everything felt LOUD. This sense of emergency changes over time and we acclimatise. A new continuum exists without the pressure of exhibitions or external deadlines. Some days I forget and the world is entirely normal, the fields luminous in spring sunshine. On others my fibres seem to sag with a nameless sorrow – a missing of family and friends. On these days I breathe, leaning into the embrace of fields and hedgerows.
In the studio I am trying to translate these thoughts into paint, marks, colour. I have been thinking about the importance of noticing our feet on the ground, held by the landscape and its’ emerging signs of spring. I have finished paintings I have been working on for two years/three springs, begun a series of smaller paintings and am playing with collages using drawings made on ‘drawing walks’. I began An insistence on hope, (then Light meditation I) in 2018 and have been working on it, stripping it back, revisiting it ever since. One morning I rose at 5.30am to walk with the dawn chorus and the painting finished itself that day.
Navigating uncertainty, a series of three paintings produced during lockdown mostly removes the ground beneath our feet, throwing us up into changing skies, hot-blue hope, white and lemon light and offerings of movement and rain. There is a wildness in these.
Outside the studio, I have been bathing in poetry. Phrases from poems thrum under the surface of paintings. I am a few essays into reading Jonathan Davidson’s ‘On Poetry’. I was struck by his words in the introduction and am carrying them with me in connection to painting: ‘privately poems take our concentration and consideration and turn this into energy. Poems find themselves in the firmament. They glow when they are of beautiful use, when they are heard and shared, when they are part of the Poetry Commonwealth. And as we’ve always understood of stars, they are worth gazing at, and sometimes worth following. ‘ (p8, On Poetry, Jonathan Davidson Smith|Doorstop Books, 2018)
And I have been cycling – travelling for miles on two-wheeled freedom. On one ride a lark flew level with my head. I have seen hares at close quarters – gasping at the gift of the encounters. And this morning the wind, green scented, sounded against my ears transporting me to Cornish moors and family holidays. Afterall, every storm will eventually run out of rain (referencing Maya Angelou originally quoting an unnamed country song).
Images from top:
An insistence on hope, 2020, 20 x 40 x 3.2cm, Sold, private collection UK.
Navigating Uncertainty I, II, III, 2020 each painting 30 x 40 x 2cm, ink and gesso on artist panel. £495 / painting or £1200 all three.
You must know green from green, 2020, 40 x 60 x 3.2cm ink and gesso on birch, £860 unframed / £960 framed in white lime waxed wood.