|'Chinese-Journey,' acrylic on board|
|'China-Poem,' ink on rice paper, 35 x 61 cm|
|'Memory,' (2) acrylic on canvas, 29 x 19 cm|
|'Memory,' acrylic on canvas, 10 x 12 ins|
|'The Land of My Eternal Memories,' acrylic on board, 40 x 30 cm|
|'China-Poem,' Chinese ink on rice paper, 35 x 33 cm|
|'China-Poem,' gouache and Chinese watercolour on rice paper, 35 x 65 cm|
|'China-Poem,' (2) Chinese watercolour and gouache on rice paper, 35 x 33 cm|
|'Where My Dreams Go,' Chinese ink on rice paper|
|'Chinese Journey,' Chinese ink on rice paper|
|'Elemental,' Chinese ink on rice paper|
|'Onward and Upward,' Chinese ink on rice paper|
I have had so little time to write recently, with new work being made and the exciting explorations of the Chinese ink on rice paper, so I am just going to post a few of the new ink paintings. And mention that I am in the process of applying for a painting residency in China!
|'Where Thoughts Go,' ink on rice paper|
|'Chinese Journey,' ink on rice paper|
|'Where Thoughts Go,' (2) ink on rice paper|
|'Chinese Journey,' ink on rice paper|
In between my writing I began to use the Chinese art materials I bought in Beijing. Working on rice paper has been a journey because it is quite different to watercolour paper. It absorbs liquid paint quite greedily and is quite thin, so it requires a different approach. I have been playing with combining the structural elements of my previous artwork with fluid brushstrokes - also a component I value highly. As a child I copied Chinese paintings from library books and in particular admired the economical brushstrokes that captured animals, landscapes and people. In these new works I am hoping to extend my work and how I approach oil on canvas. I have always been interested in the directness of brushstrokes and their inner life.
So far I've painted 12 ink paintings. Each time my brush touches the paper, I learn something new about ways to force space and mood onto the paper with different kinds of lines, wet-in-wet shapes, pools of dark ink and intuitive mark-making. It has opened up a new world!
I didn't want to look at any other art until I was well into my series of ink paintings. I didn't want to taint my response to the freshness of my accumulated memories of China - I wanted them to flow out of the end of the brushes. What surprised me was that it was the landscape seen on the trip to the Great Wall of China that forced its elements into the paintings. I'd expected the city to find its way in but the landscape and its configurations have pushed new ways of rendering land forms into my work.
I have still to sort through 1,450 photos and then I will post them on here and write more about the amazing experience of being in China.
|Me outside the National Art Museum of China, 24th September|
|Me outside the National Art Museum of China, 24th September - for the Opening Ceremony|
It is almost a week since I arrived back from China! I've been struggling with jet lag but finally feel I have adjusted, and now I'm sorting through my photos and thinking about the new work that this trip will have inspired in many ways. It still all feels as if it was a dream that I went to China.
To actually be INVITED to go there was such an honour! It was such a last minute rush to get my Chinese visa and then I left Tunbridge Wells train station on the morning of 22nd September, full of excitement and nerves (nerves for the long flights!) I was in a daze because I could not believe I was actually going. When I made my application for the Biennale last December I never thought it would result in this trip.
I flew to Charles De Gaulle airport - an incredibly large and modern airport - and had about 4 hours to wait there. I boarded the Air France aircraft at around 10.40pm (L.T) and we took off at 11.20pm. It is the longest flight I have ever done, being around 10 hours. But as dawn streaked the sky in the early morning, I found a vast tundra below, and it gradually became even wider and flatter. I followed the flight tracker with much interest, and then Beijing came onto view. I took many photos as we came in to land.
There is nothing to match the feelings of amazement that flood through you on realising you are now in a place that is very far from home and somewhere that you have never laid eyes on before! I went into the arrivals hall full of happiness and anticipation. Soon I saw at the far end there were people holding large pink BIAB signs, and one of them came forward to greet me. A group of artists had already gathered and I learned that there had been several collections of artists from the airport, and I also saw a 3 page list of artists - and it struck me that there must be around 200 invited artists, much more than I had expected. Artists wanted to take photos with me but the organisers wanted us to go out to the bus.
On the bus we were given our schedules for the next 4 days and also much needed bottles of water. My husband called me and it was strange to realise that it was only 9.am in the UK! As we wound our way through the increasingly tall and modern buildings of Beijing, I felt more relaxed. I had not really known what to expect but it was clear that we were going to be very well looked after.
Taking part in the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale was an experience that artists can only dream of. It felt as if 2 weeks were crammed into the 5 days I was there. I will write much more very soon because this event deserves a huge report!
(Above photo - a selfie during the Opening ceremony and speeches, at the National Art Museum of China)
|'Excursion,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 45 cm|
As I mentioned back in June, I had a painting accepted for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale, which opens at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing on September 24th - this week! The exhibition has work by artists from 100 countries and I feel very honoured to be included. I am one of five artists representing the UK. As far as I know, none of the others are going.
I received an invitation to go to Beijing from 23rd to 27th September, to be present at the Opening ceremony and also to be present during their symposium. Just today I collected my visa from the Chinese Visa Application Centre and tomorrow I will be flying to Beijing in the afternoon. I still can't believe it. Nerves for the flight - I hate flying - are mingled with excitement at seeing Beijing and seeing the marvellous artworks that will be on show. I also hope to meet up with some of the other artists, and the symposium should be very interesting. Possibly this will influence my painting in a very big way. Certainly it is going to widen my ideas about art in general. I'm taking a small book to make some quick paintings of my impressions, in case anything resonates with me for future paintings. Though I may not have time to do this!
My next entry will be on my return next week.
|'Amma,' pencil, acrylic and charcoal on canvas|
|'Who are You?' mixed media on canvas|
|Glyn at one of Vasuhan's exhibitions in Paris - (Glyn on the left, Vasu next to him on the right)|
|'Dances with Rat.'|
|'Sonat,' acrylic on canvas|
|'High Summer,' acrylic on board, 70 x 60 cm|
This year I haven't been away on a summer holiday. Lots of things got in the way, most of all getting my painting ready to go off to Beijing for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale (opens at the end of September). Then painting just took over! There has been a lot of change in my work and re-painting of older work. Several themes have been continued - my 'Inscapes' series, the landscapes - and some new ones, 'Migrants' being one of them.
The above picture shows the most recent 'Migrants' painting (70 x 50cm, oil on canvas). It was an old painting that was reworked quite intensely. I saw it as a metaphor for migration and the paint itself is migrating through shapes and colours which are repeated across the painting. It also reflects my thoughts as they responded to paint, as a kind of parallel for the migration of ideas. It was not painted as a commentary for migration, though that is in the News a lot right now.
This was a theme I started about 2 years ago, with a large painting of tents (inspired by the troubles in Cairo at the time) which I have posted below, called WE ARE ALL NOMADS, (oil on canvas, 120 x 90 cm). I have always had an interest in the passages people follow through life and how random events can throw a life out of balance.
|'Interlude,' acrylic on board, 91 x 61cm|
|'Fiona's-World,' acrylic on board, 60 x 31cm|
I have painted quite a few new works this year - here is a small selection of some of them.
|'Paint-Poem,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30cm|
I will post more tomorrow.
|Fiona with the painting, ready to start packing|
|First, a layer of tissue paper|
It ended up taking nearly 2 hours to pack. My husband, who is very good about these things, did most of it. We put a layer of tissue paper, 2 layers of bubble-wrap, then he made bubble-wrap cushions around the edges so that the painting sat snugly inside the box.
I had to stick labels on each side of the box, then screwed it shut. We did all this the night before the collection! Then the shipping company turned up at around 5pm on the 13th and I watched the man carry this large and heavy box (27 kilos, 108 x 80 cms) out to the large white van. I could see the boxed-up works by the other 4 UK chosen artists sitting in the back of that van. That was the moment it all became real! I went back inside my flat and had a large glass of white wine.
My painting should reach Beijing by around the end of August. I still can't believe that I was selected. There are works from 100 countries and there will be a huge colour catalogue. I still don't know if I can go. I would love to but it depends on whether my thesis (submitted near the end of June) is considered good enough to send me an official invitation as a guest for the symposium, which would mean my expenses in Beijing would be paid. I really enjoyed writing the thesis ('The Chinese Dream and its International Ripples') as I addressed some issues around the cross-pollination of art between countries and between artists, and had a number of points to discuss at the symposium. I would dearly love to attend as it would be so interesting to hear the discussion.
|'Event,' acrylic on board, 60 x 40cm|
These last two weeks I have not had time to paint, only to draw, because I am currently writing a thesis for submission to the Beijing International Art Biennale for their symposium. It has been very enjoyable to write and I am emailing it later today - hoping it is considered suitable! I have also taken my painting for framing, never an easy job for me as I am not especially good at choosing frames - and in this case it has to be a very secure frame for shipping to Beijing. Usually I like my work on canvas to be box-framed so that none of the edges are lost but the painting I have had selected is on board so it was necessary to find a frame that doesn't eat up too much of the edges.
I have also been doing a lot of applications for exhibitions and events, and collating all the materials for the Biennale and sending them. In between that, some gardening for relaxation!
Today at last I am preparing new panels to paint on and plan to start new work tomorrow.
|'Paphos Lighthouse Remembered,' oil and acrylic on board, 91 x 61cm|
|'Tom's Midnight Garden,' (2) acrylic on board, 60 x 40cm|
How does an artist find a doorway into their particular world when painting? Having spoken to many artists and friends, it became obvious that each of us has our own special entrance point. For me, painting is a form of magic and if I work with it passionately and with attention, I can catch some of that magic and give it form on canvas. I love the material quality of paint and like to explore that line between references to the world around and my inner images - the kind of pictures that stories threw into my mind as a child.
|'Tom's Midnight Garden,' oil and acrylic on board, 60 x 50cm|
One of my latest series of paintings is based on images associated with a favourite childhood book, 'Tom's Midnight Garden.' Though I did not seek to illustrate this theme, I have explored elements the title suggested to me as a child and let the paint evolve them into a parallel for my internal visualisations. I like to work in this way. A word or title can be the springboard for a painting and I will do a lot of drawings to get some ideas down, then that language and sets of forms filter through into the paintings. But I always like to be surprised and spontaneous, and to let the painting suggest elements and lead me into a new place.
|'Somewhere Else,' oil and acrylic on board, 40 x 50cm|
With spring in full flow, I am making a lot of paintings on paper, just to respond to the wonderful energies and colours while experimenting with different types of mark-making; brush, crayon, felt-tip, pencil, etc.
|'Rhythms,' wax crayon, felt-tip, watercolour and gouache on paper|
|'Inscape,' watercolour and felt-tip on paper|
It's always a case of layering my inner world with my reactions to the world around me, and finding an image that captures these feelings.
|'Remembered,' watercolour, gouache and felt-tip on paper|
|The Dome, Brighton|
|The Big Heart auction exhibition at the Dome, Brighton|
|'Rising Light,' oil and acrylic on board, 30 x 40cm|
|'An Unveiling,' oil and acrylic on board, 20 x 30cm|
Since then, I have made quite a few new paintings, going in some new directions. I've also sent out more applications for exhibitions and now I'm playing the waiting game! But as Spring leaves its trails across the landscape, I always feel my energies rising, and I find this one of my most creative times of the year.