Monday, 28 December 2009
Monday, 7 December 2009
On yet another deeply dreary, wet, and dark winter's day, I'm missing the vibrancy, sparkle and sunshine of Nicosia. At this moment I'd love to be reclining on this rooftop, listening to intermittent church bells from four Greek Orthodox churches tucked between golden slabs of concrete, and closing my eyes to follow the eerie but melodic prayers from the large mosque in the Turkish side. The blue mountains change colour like a kaleidoscope as the sun moves across the sky, while shadows flicker across the city like the uncertain brush of a painter. If I imagine really hard, I'm there, drinking my coffee on that roof and simply enjoying the fragrant, colour-infused atmosphere. A glance across the city takes in thousands of unknown lives, shielded behind curtains, shouting on the narrow streets, or watering plants on rooftops and watching me.
(Painting: 'Fiona Leaving Nicosia,' Oil on canvas)
Monday, 23 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
At the time I lived in Nicosia, from 1984 to 1998, the memories of the Turkish Invasion of 1974 were still fresh in people's minds. We were always aware of scuffles and tensions along the Green Line, the line that divided the Turkish-Cypriot northern third of the island from the Greek Cypriot southern two-thirds. I lived not far from the Green Line that ran through Nicosia, and I was inspired to write a novel about life in an unstable country from an artist's perspective. Here is an excerpt from my novel:
'At four in the morning we heard a man chanting a Turkish prayer from one of the mosques in the other side of Nicosia. The hauntingly beautiful melody sent a delicious shudder through my warm, naked body as I lay next to Tom. Drowsily, I thought about the Green Line, and the many people hidden from us beyond it. Hearing the same prayers, breathing the same fragrant night air.
From the Guest House you could see the flags that marked the Green Line. It was only since I moved there that I had become truly aware of its presence. The long street ended abruptly, cut by blue and white striped barricades and an unyielding check-point. I lingered nearby, squinted to try to see the derelict yellow villas and walls of broken windows trapped in the buffer zone beyond the check-point. I glanced in disbelief at the young soldiers standing there with their guns tucked casually under their arms............ Is this real? It looks like a scene from a film! Surely these angry young men were partying at some nightclub last night?
Sometimes, when I wandered along the section of old Nicosia that lined the partition, I looked at houses on the other side and imagined figures moving behind the curtains. Were they also looking at me, wondering about life on this side of the wall?
Deserted houses merged seamlessly and silently into the partition. Then it continued its determined path behind and between crumbling buildings, and meandered along the top of ancient, stone walls, mutating into barbed wire and sandbags. Its uncompromising form glared at me, taunting: 'On my other side, not very far away from where you stand, you could see...'"
Now the Greek Cypriot side of Cyprus is in the EU, and attitudes have changed along with the interest in MTV, and the internet. I often wonder what changes another 10 years will bring. In my opinion artists have a lot more freedom than they did when I lived there. I used to paint on the streets and get chided by Tom's friends!
Monday, 19 October 2009
Monday, 21 September 2009
The next one is called 'Blue Baths.' (66cm by 46cm.)
Friday, 18 September 2009
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Monday, 6 July 2009
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
I'm sure I'm not the only artist to feel that it's an uneven playing field. It always will be, when there are established artists all fighting to retain their spaces, or people using their connections and networks. When I go to see the show in June, there'll be work to admire, paintings to wonder, 'How the hell did that get in?' and perhaps one or two surprises. Then next March, the process starts up all over again. I would love to know are there any other artists out there feeling as frustrated?
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Monday, 20 April 2009
I waited at least an hour. I spent it listening to painters discussing the abnormal length of the queue, whilst trying to ignore my heaving intestines. There was a man who had travelled all the way up from a Museum in Plymouth to deliver a large, bubblewrapped canvas. He chatted away amicably with another artist who was selling paintings in a London gallery. This interesting fact prompted me to turn and try to view his unwrapped large painting, to see if it was any good. But it was wedged in the queue in such a way that I only had a glimpse of yellow and black.
I tried to work out how many artists were in front of me. If there were 80, and each took 5 minutes to drop off his or her work, how many hours would it take me to get there? In the meantime, as I neared the entrance point - which was much further along than one we previously used - I noticed a huge red canvas with a woman playing a guitar painted across it. It was quite impressive, but the voices behind me echoed my own sentiments, namely that large paintings don't stand a chance when space is so limited. Unless of course, you have a name!
Finally, I followed the now single line down a very narrow alleway, with brick walls that were black and smelled of soot. At the end was a doorway and we were allowed in 3 at a time. There were 3 tables and I hurriedly unwrapped my small canvas and a young woman disappeared with it.
My hopes are not high but it's one of those things you feel you have to take a chance on. It's my 8th or 9th attempt, and inevitably my fingers will be shaking as I tear open the envelope at the end of May. The only thing I can say this time with certainty is that my painting was good and deserved to get in - but that's not always enough!
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Today I received notification that a painting I submitted for an Open Exhibition at the Mall Galleries was not accepted. (The painting submitted is the one in the previous entry, and is entitled 'Autumn, Late Afternoon.') It's strange but no matter how many times I submit work, and brace myself for the reply, the rejection slips always leave me feeling wobbly for a while! I spend a good hour or more thinking: 'Was my work no good?' or 'Did it just not fit their criteria, was it too colourful, not colourful enough, not figurative enough, not abstract enough....?' The list goes on and on, and each time new doubts emerge. But at the same time, I'm realistic enough to realise that one's work doesn't always fit the general tone of the exhibition, that often the personal tastes of the selection committee affect the final decision, or the sheer volume of work passing in front of their eyes makes it impossible to see or choose everything. I've learned that you should never slant your work towards what you think the committee might want - in the end you have to be yourself and follow your vision. The main thing is to keep on trying!
(With this entry are two paintings: 'Nicosia and Washing,' and 'Pool of Bluebells.)
Thursday, 5 March 2009
Friday, 27 February 2009
Thursday, 26 February 2009
(Some negative events were the original trigger for this blog and I am leaving them intact because my feelings were a true reflection at the time....)
I have just been thrown out by my London gallery. I waited many years to find one that would accept and understand my very colourful, verging on abstract work, and though initially they were very enthusiastic about the paintings, and sold one in the first week, now I have been vaguely told to go by email. Though really devastated by this, (and in the early stages of my shock I even began to see all my 100's of joyful canvases as being part of a delusional idea that I am an artist), I bounced back today by stretching canvases ready for the next 9 paintings I have in mind.
It really felled my trust in many things art, and art market related. At one point I had a very well known celebrity interested in 2 of my works. Subsequently he came to view my works and we agreed that he could take one of my largest works (a large Baths painting) - on the understanding that my work would be included in a huge show of his Art Collection at possibly (his words), The Tate or Kensington Palace. I found out later that he only wanted my bright colourful canvas to put into his glass pyramid in his garden, where I believed it might become mouldy and be damaged by sunshine! I'm still waiting to hear about the exhibition at the Tate!
This blog will follow my changing fortunes, the highs and lows that all artists go through as they seek that ever elusive perfection in their work. It will also include some excerpts from my as yet unpublished novel, 'Living on the Edge,' about my life in Cyprus, where I was a practising artist for 14 years. I'm always positive and believe that if I push onwards with my work, at some point I will get the rhythm and opportunities I had in Cyprus.