I submitted five paintings into a public completion ran by Ardent Gallery in Brecon, out of which these two were chosen by the gallery to be displayed.
The statement I sent off about my artistic practice: “I am in my second year of studying Fine Art at Cardiff Metropolitan University. My current artistic practice seeks to convey the beauty and mystical qualities of contemporary industrial landscapes, inspired by Prunella Clough and the surreal landscapes of Paul Nash. Rather than beginning with a specific subject matter in mind, my working methods involve walking a route and making observations while on foot, I then work from these sketches I have made in the studio. I like to use a variety of materials, as a result the canvas becomes a collage of found materials and various mediums, tending to avoid paint as much as possible. Some of the paintings I have submitted are more representational, however I also enjoy emphasising the abstract qualities that naturally occur in the landscape. “
My current artistic practice seeks to convey the abstract qualities of contemporary landscape through paint and collage materials. Rather than beginning with a specific subject matter in mind, my working methods involve walking and making observations through sketching. The paintings have elements of the surreal similar to that of Paul Nash. The second strand of my work looks at the relation between traditional landscape painting and satellite imagery; the landscapes in the first triptych are depicted from an aerial viewpoint. I view my paintings both as part of the tradition of landscape painting and as functioning maps.
After the West Wharf exhibition I assessed what had been the successful aspects of my work and decided that I want to further develop the abstract elements in the paintings and continue using found forms. I used oil bars and soft pastel to create this painting of an elevated viewpoint of an industrial complex.
The other two slightly smaller paintings are of satellite images taken from a route I walked on the outskirts of Merthyr Tydfil. While the paintings are all of images taken from the internet, it is still important that I have visited the site before I use it as subject matter because I want these paintings to be perceived as part of the tradition of landscape painting. I am interested in abstract shapes occurring naturally in the landscape and how the viewer differentiates between a map and the landscape. Next year I would like to experiment with larger canvases, but at present I like the intimacy offered by the small scale of the paintings.
Paintings that have not developed from the 100 drawings would have instead developed from sketchbook work. I used my sketchbook on the walk from Nant-Ddu to Garwnant in Brecon to record abstract shapes. I also took sketches from the map on my phone of the area
Seeing Eileen Agar’s Surrealist sculpture at the Tate Britain inspired me to create my own response in clay and fabric. Agar stated that she wanted to create something that is “powerful…more malign.” Agar’s work can be seen as a statement about women’s place in male dominated surrealism and gender identity. The sculpture is modelled in plaster with found materials attached to the surface; the fabrics are decorative and also suggestive of facial features. The artist was inspired by the African Mask collection in the British Museum, London which she visited regularly with Henry Moore.
I think my clay mask could be developed further by introducing colour and a wider range of found materials, it feels decorative to paint colour over the top of the fabric so in this case I have left colour out. I would like any elements of colour to be within the found material already. I like the reflectiveness of the gloss paint because it is an unusual texture. The mask I have created is fairly androgynous when I set out to create something specifically feminine with the use of hand made textiles, which is traditionally associated with women.
The Pembrokeshire trip in the first term was the inspiration for my interest in maps and navigation. Working from memory I made a series of large scale drypoint prints from memory that functioned as maps of the area. The high vantage points I experienced within the landscapes led me to focus on lines of vision and alternate ways of viewing a landscape. I was also looking at Peter Lanyon’s glider paintings which are landscapes but from an aerial perspective; again an alternative way of viewing a traditional landscape scene.
Whilst creating the drypoint plates I became aware that whilst they were intended as landscapes they functioned as a map that was personal to my experiences. As I had been working from memory each time I created a plate the outcome was slightly different depending on which parts of the trip I recalled. At the same time as i was working on the prints I made paintings and line drawings depicting journeys i made regularly around Cardiff.
The work i created during field has influenced my studio practice because it has continued my interest in maps and psychogeography, more recently I have changed subject matter to ones i was more familiar with such as from home and around Cardiff because the landscape in Pembrokeshire was starting to feel irrelevant to my present life. The change in subject matter to urban landscapes has led my paintings to have a more limited colour palate, something I initially struggled with as I enjoy working in colour. However I’ve found a restricted colour palate has benefitted my work because it has forced me to simplify my mark making and compositions. After simplifying down my work, in the last few weeks I have begun to re-introduce colour but in a different way. Making these changes to my practice and the work i made during field has helped me to realise my goal of creating a series of contemporary landscape paintings.
I have experimenting with working on ripped cardboard because I find my mark making becomes less expressive and restricted by the conventions of a canvas, however I have been limited to working on small canvases because i have had to transport my work on the train. Now that I have access to studio space again I would like to work on a larger scales an experiment, but for now I am happy with 9 x 12″ canvas as working on a smaller scale makes the painting more intimate. I also set myself a challenge to create an art work without using any conventional paint because initially I was working in oil paints which I found limiting. I enjoy using mixed media and find it difficult to concentrate upon one medium, instead I used a combination of emulsion and coffee, collage materials and oil bars. I have continued to use the 100 drawings method from Pwll Deri as I found it an effective way to gather lots of information and they also function as a body of work in their own right.
02/05/17 was the opening night of the West Wharf Gallery exhibition after spending Monday morning installing our work. The triptych of paintings were hung at eye level using command strips with roughly 3/4 of a metre of wall space either side, it was important that the paintings had wall space because they are all 24cm x 30cm and wouldn’t have had space to breath if they were directly next to two larger paintings. I altered the order and spacing between the triptych several times but settled on having the most abstract work in the middle and using the bridge and engine testing paintings as a ‘frame’ on either side. Ideally I would have hung the paintings using a nail but settled with Command strips because the exhibition was open for one day only and because layering two Command strips over each other allowed me to negate the problem of one of the canvases being marginally thinner than the other two. I think the paintings either side of mine helped my work to be more successful as Jon Wall had also used Oil Bars in the same tonal range as in my paintings, which created a link between the work.