Category Archives: Art history

The history of art, artist biography, techniques and more.

Out of the box

Perhaps Pandora was only ever meant to be the counter-impulse to a world that became so fixated upon compartmentalising everything that it was missing the point (or denying) that there is so much more than that which can be defined or pigeon-holed by the mind. Perhaps she was our safety-catch, primed to spring apart at just the right moment to save ourselves from our own self-defeating, self-limiting intellects. Perhaps many of us have experienced the unleashing of our own internal Pandora in recent years or decades and it is the combined effect of all these boxes springing open as one (mimicking many breakdowns and disasters in our lives…but, all of them, evolutionary in their nature) that is manifesting our next biggest evolutionary leap forwards. Who knows what small (or significant) part these archetypes have played, even as depicted in well-timed artworks hung on the walls of places where we spent our formative years; who know what a painting in a college full of women did for over thirty years at a key time in history (one of many drops in an evolutionary ocean). What makes a story such as hers ebb in and out of favour across the annuls of time yet never fully disappearing, even when we have tried to bury it deep in the basement under layers of dust? Yet, not to be set back by that unpromising outcome (much like many of us…) she found her way back into the daylight. Perhaps she has been pushing forwards with her message, with even more vigour than ever; the somewhat inconvenient wake-up call suggesting we might all want to let ourselves out of that mind-box once in a while. Whilst there were always going to be those that weren’t ready to hear her, I take heart from the fact there were others who were prepared to seek her out from her cobwebs and put her back in full view where she was always meant to be….(read more).

The true story of a painting lost and refound and how the way this became woven into my own life-story helped me to appreciate and understand the opening-up of my own personal Pandora’s Box as the evolutionary process that it was.

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Leading me up the garden path

The weather that delivered on the day of our long-planned visit to Charleston turned out to be nothing like what I had painted in my head; the sky was tipping water by the bucket-full. But then, of course, everything glistened; the fruit, especially, glistened as though freshly varnished and the petals hugged droplets of water like glass teardrops perfectly poised. We got to marvel at the way the bees knew how to line up with their backs to the wind and hang upside down beneath the flower heads – one on each bloom – until the rainshower was over. We got that kind of light that is clear and crisp, not washed-out and without subtlety as on a typical summer’s day. The velvet reds “zinged” and the greens looked like freshly squeezed life-zest personified; vibrant and rejuvenating to receive with all the senses. One of the gifts was the unexpected juxtaposition of a dripping-wet female form peeking out through vivid wet leaves and abundantly ripe fruit;her wet face had something to tell me and it was nothing at all about tears…”I sleep; I do not weep” were words that came boomeranging back at me later that same weekend in yet another stunning garden and the journey in between turned out to be a labyrinth of self-discovery through a landscape of universal themes. Continue reading

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A walk in the park: healing the deepest wound of all

So, we chose our own life…but, if so, why would we choose yet another lifetime with the same old trauma “in it” that we’ve been through before, knowing that we are going to experience it all over again? In my opinion, certainly in my case, in order to heal it…to make this the grand finale, the one lifetime where I drew together all of the themes, the layers of understanding, the old gender-based and cultural wounds, the defunct historical context of what we have more recently been through, the fullest recollection of the “lost” aspect of the divine feminine that I could muster across all my multi-lifetime experiences and then a clear understanding of how to resuscitate her as a living reality in this newly awakening world. I chose this life so I could add all of these ingredients into one huge melting pot of experience…and to heal it all by seeing and acknowledging it all and, yes at some level, forgiving it all ready to move on. I did it in order to say at the end of it “I believe we can do better than that, we can work together to create something far different for our world now” – and so we can. Continue reading

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When near meets far

If there is a dimension in which time isn’t linear then one of the ways we gain access to this is, most certainly, through art. When we identify, and play, with solid themes through the various art mediums we have devised, there is a level at which it also feels as though new endings can be written and thrown back ‘in time’, co-collaborating with the artist in all the ways that their work continues to affect our present day reality. I am particularly fascinated by the way that film adaptations of old ‘classics’ (here, ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’, 2015) hold the potential to ripple information back and forth across the time between their creation and reinterpretation. This cross-pollination across time and space is one of many ways I like to regard inspiration as it wafts into my own creative process as both writer and artist. I am also repeatedly attracted to a genre of art photography that involves recolouring and tweaking vintage photographs to alter and capitalise on what they were originally ‘of’ and in a way that utterly transforms the subject, photoshopped to add colour and whimsical touches. This potential to ‘lighten up’ history is something that endlessly fascinates me, allowing the possibility that – at some level far beyond the logical – we are all (not only artists) just as capable of influencing the past in everything we do as we are, surely, creating the future. Continue reading

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Painting backgrounds – a weekend of art films

For two hours, or thereabouts, on Saturday I was held utterly absorbed by a film and, straight afterwards, held interested enough to avidly cross-reference what I had just seen with some reading until bedtime. The film was called ‘Effie Gray’ … Continue reading

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Two exhibitions: a day of unlikely marriages

This week, I visited two art exhibitions in Oxford that have been in my diary for a long time. At the first, I was greeting on entry by the immense William Morris tapestry “The Attainment” with its depiction of the … Continue reading

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Cycling to Giverny

It’s already August and we are well into holiday season, which inevitably turns thoughts to other years, other holidays…not least when the inspiration they provided is only now turning into the fruit of another year’s paintings. Having very recently completed … Continue reading

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Living art

On Friday, my daughter and I set off on a day trip to Cambridge – or should I say pilgrimage since this is about a five-hour round trip from where we live – to visit a place called Kettle’s Yard … Continue reading

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Summer Hours

My summer hours, this year, are mostly filled with painting and walking by day…watching films by night; in fact, I seem to have got into the luxury of choosing a film to watch most evenings and, lately for some reason, … Continue reading

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The making of an artist

For some time now, I’ve had a half-formed post just hovering there without the words having arrived… All I had to build it on were some photos from the galleries taken on my recent visit to Nottingham Castle Museum in … Continue reading

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