Here is the recently completed penultimate painting in the 'Trapped Batman' series. The use of polythene is a callback to 'Secret Identity' and other bag-based series but this time it is stretched tightly over the model. With this series I have been trying to extend my vocabulary of devices which can hold a subject to a vertical surface. Each of these new devices - string, parcel tape, masking tape, netting, elastic bands, stretched polythene, could be explored further in future paintings. Working with these new devices has reminded me of the initial impulse to use bags back in 2007: I had a desire to make still life paintings that could work in a contemporary context and not look 'old masterish'. This meant that traditional still life settings such as the shelf and the table were out. For a time the idea of objects seen from above seemed viable but ultimately I wanted to make a space that was continuous with that of the gallery so the idea of a bagged object hanging from a hook (initially on pegboard) turned out to be a good solution. In a way the 'Trapped Batman' series is a range of alternative solutions to the same problem.
Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Thursday, 31 October 2013
I am currently working on a new 'Secret Identity' painting, the eleventh in the series but only the first female hero. The photo above shows the packaging for the model kit which forms the basis of the painting, a reproduction of an Aurora kit from the 1960s. As well as superheroes Aurora also made an excellent series of Universal Monster model kits which I would love to find a way to use in some future paintings. The question of the lack of superheroines in the 'Secret Identity' series has come up several times and my response has been twofold: in practical terms I have simply been unable to find a female figure that works well in a bag until now; in conceptual terms I was reluctant as, in my mind, the primary idea in the series is that of stymied machismo and I feared that may be undermined by the inclusion of superheroines. Of course, I needn't have worried; Wonder Woman looks fantastic in her bag and, for me, has a very different feeling from the other paintings. She is fierce, defiant and strong and I have high hopes for the finished painting.
Thursday, 24 October 2013
Jack Sutherland is a young painter whose work I really love. Over the last few years he has been mainly concerned with modernist architecture and its relationship to abstract painting but recently natural forms have been appearing in his paintings in the form of boulder-type rocks. The piece above, 'Touch' (an atypically sober title for Jack who is a master of the obscurantist appellation: 'Syzygy' or 'Banzare' anybody?) is typical of his new imagery. In its collision of rocky form with overlaid sci-fi geometry it makes me think of Erich Von Daniken's 'Chariots of the Gods' and all that far out 'God was a spaceman' 70s thought. Jack's work is always poised, crisp and delicious - I am a fan. Next month he is in a group show at Bermondsey Project in London entitled 'ALTER//SHIFT//CONTROL' which runs from the 14th to the 30th of November. I urge you to visit.
Tuesday, 22 October 2013
Claire Softley is an artist / illustrator who has recently made her online debut. The image above is derived from one of a set of 35mm slides from the 50s which Claire has in her collection. I am full of admiration and, frankly, envy, for the relaxed freedom with which Claire approaches her images: if a bit of scribbly pencil is needed, out comes the 2B; if a passage of watercolour is called for, on it goes. The elegance and spontaneity of these pieces acts as a reminder of my failure to take heed of that perennial piece of tutorial advice: loosen up!
Thursday, 17 October 2013
Launched today by milliners Sorensen-Grundy comes Machine Stars, a range of eight sewing machine patterns especially for kids. Dan Sorensen and Sara Grundy (here I should declare an interest: I am married to Sara) noticed that despite the widespread availability of sewing machines for children there seemed to be a lack of dedicated kid's patterns on the market. After months of development Machine Stars has arrived to fill that gap. Initially available exclusively through the Machine Stars website expect to see these brilliant pattern packs in the media and the shops in the months to come.
Wednesday, 16 October 2013
I bought these fantastic 'Faithfull' brand scissors a couple of weeks ago from Kynaston's, the brilliant hardware store in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, close to where I live in Southend-on-Sea. The incredibly helpful shopkeeper and his assistant showed me their full range of scissors and guided me towards a lighter weight, stainless steel pair. Although these would have been perfectly adequate for my purposes I was seduced by the black enamel handles and the sheer heft of the pair pictured above, which now have their own dedicated hook on my studio wall. I explained to the chaps in Kynaston's that I was fed up with using cheap and nasty scissors (three pairs for a pound at Wilko) to which the sage assistant replied, "Ah, you have to remember that that type of thing is made to be sold, not used". This is one of those indisputable truths that can be applied to so much of the crap that we end up owning and I shall endeavour to remember it next time I am confronted with a 'bargain'.
Now that I have my new scissors every paper cutting task that I have (and believe me, there are many) becomes a little treat to be anticipated and relished. One of the subtle pleasures of using a tool like this is the satisfaction that comes from knowing that this is something at the terminal point of its design evolution. I know very little about scissor design but I don't suppose that the shears employed by a Victorian haberdasher would differ a great deal from my faithful 'Faithfulls'. This thought is something of an antidote to the incredibly fast pace of design change in our era. Think of the amazingly rapid design development of, say, mobile phones or digital cameras over the last fifteen years, compare it with your silent, unchanging, unnoticed scissors and breathe out.