Monday, 21 September 2015


'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.

Friday, 11 September 2015

My Artist friend, VP Vasuhan

'Amma,' pencil, acrylic and charcoal on canvas
I first met Vasuhan in Cyprus in 1997. Our mutual friend, the brilliant abstract artist Glyn Hughes, had arranged a painting project at the Melina Mercouri Hall in Nicosia. It was to be part of the French Cultural Week then taking part in the city, and Glyn picked 6 Nicosia artists to make copies of famous paintings by artists such as Cezanne, Bonnard, Kandinsky, and Leger, to name a few. We were each given 2 huge canvases, roughly 8 foot high by 12 foot long, and we had only a week to paint copies of our chosen paintings onto these. I painted one of my favourite paintings, Cezanne's large 'Bathers,' and one of Bonnard's 'Wife in the  Bath,' series. I remember spending a lot of time at night in the large hall, working on my canvases, with Glyn nearby supervising our efforts and handing out enormous tubes of acrylic paint and big brushes (some of which I kept). We only had a week to complete all 12 enormous canvases, which meant quite a few hours' work day and night. I have many lovely memories of working on my canvases and watching my artist friends working on theirs, and the energies that filled the hall were incredible. It is something I will never forget, and I would love the chance to work that large again.

It was here one evening I met Vasuhan, who had begun work on a large abstract Kandinsky. Glyn suggested we work on it together as time was running out, and it was a great pleasure to paint with Vasuhan and to see how he interpreted Kandinsky's abstracted brushstrokes and colours. We both enjoyed the process of working on a large canvas together, and seeing the different ways we each approached Kandinsky's complicated painting .

Vasuhan also painted 2 large canvases on his own. They were:
Georges Braque, 'Bathing Woman,' (1907-08)
Yves Klein, 'Anthropometry of the Blue Period,' 1960.

I have lovely memories of painting in the hall with all the artists, all of us working in a frenzy with increasing worries that we would not finish on time! There was a well attended opening night for our exhibition, which was opened by the President's wife, and our show looked fantastic. (There is even a photo of Glyn, me, Vasu and Mrs Vassiliou up on the stage at the opening, with my large Cezanne 'Bathers' behind us, in Glyn Hughes' book 'GLYN HUGHES.') It formed the backdrop for a series of lectures.
'Who are You?' mixed media on canvas

Vasuhan was working as an assistant to Glyn Hughes and I would see him often when I went to Glyn's house. Vasu was also painting and I liked his paintings a lot. 

Vasuhan moved to Paris not long after and Glyn often spoke to me about how well he was doing as an artist in Paris. I think that Paris must be one of the best cities in the world to be an artist and we both admired him for moving there to follow his career.
Glyn at one of Vasuhan's exhibitions in Paris - (Glyn on the left, Vasu next to him on the right)
Though I have not met up with Vasu since he left Cyprus, I have kept in touch with him and his career through Glyn Hughes, who sadly died last year. We also connected on Facebook and I have been following his work with much interest. 
'Dances with Rat.'

Vasuhan was born in Sri Lanka and spent part of his childhood in Columbo. He moved to Cyprus years later and finished his studies at the Center of Higher Studies in Nicosia. His website is:

Do check it out! I like the variety of his themes and different styles. His wonderful compositions, whether abstract or figure-based, are very personal and evocative.
'Sonat,' acrylic on canvas

I'm hoping that next year we may both exhibit together in Paris. I think our works would look good together. We have both been influenced by our long association with Glyn Hughes so in a way it would be a tribute to him too. He was such a master painter and we were very lucky to see him work and undoubtedly absorbed many things from him! 

We have since tried to find out what happened to those 12 large canvases, after the exhibition was taken down. They seemed to have disappeared! We both hope that they are somewhere being looked after.