Monday, 26 November 2012


Mon Nov 26
Mid life?

I had a lie in this morning; the thinking was that there must be some perks to running my own company. In half sleep, after a fantastic weekend of entertaining and 'Bristol time', my life seemed clear in front of me. I could see it, who I was and what I was doing. My life was like a river and I could picture myself in the middle.

A trickle of water gathering momentum, a little babble of youth collects into the fast bumping over stones leaving moorland flow. Fresh, clear, fast and freezing cold. Fierce, purposeful in it's downwards force. Crashing into rocks that would not move, tumbling, foaming, falling, and crashing again and again.

We fall into villages as becks and rolled up trousered children pick out our rock cleaners under tiny arches of stone. The land eases up and alone we slide away through woods, we make small cliffs and run over moss green rocks slithery smoothed by others, into towns. Past the concrete channels we breath out and widen, spread out collecting, reaching out as if for information as our peripheries tinkle bright lightly over pebbles and fish swim deep in our belly.

The momentum towards the sea is strong but we meander, the sky opens up, bees buz in our banks and fattening cows squidge down openings to suck still water with hot mouths.

Like retirement we join with others to form a wide, deep, powerful journey and quietly shift through cities. We can sense the salt and soon we are to feel the sand bottomed estuary. Eventually and inevitably we are lost in the deep blue forever sea.

Others have been partly gene whisked off by the wind to land on the moor, almost recognizable. But my river flows deep and rests with the echoing songs and hovering seathrough fish.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Flight. Bristol.

 I drove down early Friday morning, College Green was full of balloons. Strong but not quite bright light filled the space between the council house, the buildings on park street and the grand cathedral with its complicated stone, intricate behind the bulbous balloons, the heaving masses of colour.

Its funny how you can be somewhere for, in my case over 20 years, you can appreciate something, marvel at it, take photos even but then suddenly you really see it. Really see what has been going on all this time. The incredibleness and beauty of it. The freedom.

Down park street again this morning, about the same time and through the window of the comparably dark buildings, a precession floats past. I stop and draw them as the sculpture in the studio this weekend wasn't quite right. The parade drifts past and I carry on driving, the sky opens up through the center and you can see all of them head towards the nearly now white sun, they are pale against it, more distant. I am navigating the city below, glimpses of them appear through buildings, but as I turn into the studio, they are away, just one straggler can be seen, bleached against the early eastern sky.

Theirs is the sea, the duvets of fields, the tiny sprawling towns, the fresh wind of their altitude. The land heats up for the day but they are cold faced, wide eyed. The first timers scared probably, just a bit of wicker under their feet, trying not to think of the landing which they don't tell you is apparently more of a crash.

Now the burners raw above their heads, they can see Bath, they can see the hills of Wales and now the raw stops, they hang in the comparative silence of freedom.
'Parachute'. This was made last week, my balloon one is till in progress!

'Take Me'
Approx 45cms high Bronze , shown here in progress in clay.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

En Plein Air

Outside, in nature, the surroundings make the decisions, the changing light, the ability to capture or respond to something, the fact that you bum has gone numb from sitting awkwardly for too long.
Ultimately though nature takes hold of you, wraps you up in the comfort of it's magnitude. Everything seems right. Its an intuitive response, its as if your brain is allowed to switch off and you are resting in a duvet of duck down. Yes you curse yourself for your lack of talent and wonder what you are doing but the overwhelming experience is one of love and respect for nature and for light.

Tamar 1, from upper bank

In the studio the work is ideas based, it comes more from the head, often from the gut, always brutally honest, but it's always coming from you, inside. There is no comfort, no support it's just you on your own, all the time. When I am tired I complain about my business, that it's always up to me, the accounts, pr, deliveries etc but it is my business, my work so who else is going to do it for me! But I think this may be the route of my complaint. The work draws it all from me, if nature stepped in it wouldn't all be up to me, I would have the support, the company.

Detail of Tamar 2

I hardly remember anything from being young but I do remember my Grandfather explaining the ecosystem to me beside a lake in Norfolk, starting from the bugs in the mud. He was a farmer and nature came first. I always think that I want to be a farmer but it may be more about a respect for nature.
Tamar 2
It may not look like these watercolors fit with the bulk of my work but I can see that they are coming from the same place. Tidying up the studio today I found lots of leaves I had been trying to incorporate into my work but I think this is a more humble approach. To respect and awe at nature is a more modest way than to create from your head, being by the river it seemed somehow arrogant that you think you could think of something better.

Tamar 3 - drawn first
The sculpture below of the girl holding the Acorn was an attempt at representing a respect for the natural world and human nature, whether they are the same thing I need to do more thinking about. She holds an acorn cup, empty. It is bright gold inside the cup. The empty acorn cup is symbolic for my respect for nature. Literally, the seed of the tree and the caring cup. But also about our overwhelming desire to procreate, to carry on as each species does, above all else, as this surely is the point of life. It is human nature.  I try to express my ideas in this way but many people see things differently, see what they want to see but I don't mind that at all. What I am thinking now is, is it better art?

It's the simplicity of responding directly to nature that I find comforting, restful, inspiring, direct and surprising, in a way that it was as if you were not present. Is that comfort too apparent in the work to make it 'good'. Is painting from life just glorified copying? 

I recently tried not to cry in front of a Rembrandt painting, I felt the same sitting in front of the changing light on the river. The light was just getting better and better, the birds song more clear, more echoey as the evening stillness crept over. The lime green in the distance that had been dotted with white spots of sheep whose voices had earlier carried up the valley was turning pinky orange. Now the sound in the distance was a pigeons lulling call. At 8.45 a green bottomed boat with a red sail that could see the last of the evening sun sailed silently up the opposite bank of the estuary, about turned and went back towards the sea, the beauty of it made me feel insane.

Tamar 4 Central Detail

I could not start another because I was being bitten and I was too hungry and tired but I could not leave either. I took endless photos trying to capture some of it to take home but looking at the images I think it will be difficult to capture that feeling again enough to create a full oil, there is no depth no atmosphere to work from. Its amazing what your eyes see that a camera cant translate, I am hoping though having done the watercolours that some of it will come back when I make the painting.

Tamar 3 Central Detail

I only used watercolours because that's what I grabbed when leaving the studio, not thinking seriously that I would do much apart from draw and take photos but straight away I found I needed the colour to describe it. Drawing was not enough, the trees and the different colours I just could not explain with pencil. I have not used watercolour for, it must be over ten years, so it was frustrating at first because I wanted the oils but using water seemed to make sense there. I thought I was struggling all the time, they are no masterpieces but I was really pleased with the colours, especially the last one.

Tamar 4

I know this is how people work, they sketch and take photos in situe and then work them up in the studio but for me the pleasure is being there, to hear the water moving and then the birds flopping about in low tide and bumble bee floating past or the distant engine pooteling out to its mooring.

Tamar 4 Detail Right panel

Looking out of the window in the morning the river had gone, just white, the dense oak tree was the only suggestion of there being something out there. I went down in the silence for a last look, the river was full. I couldn't sense whether the tide, like the mist was moving silently or the expanse of water was like me, resting, hanging, waiting until the next rush out.

for more sculptures about nature see also