Tuesday, 30 June 2009

... and the sound of the summer

... too quick I did forget the soundtrack I had in mind. I really wanted to play with streaming for this... but the clock's ticking... (1:35hrs now), so a youtube clip has to suffice...

... 1:25hrs...

Here is the summer

... yes... it's over a week old now but nonetheless. Here's my summer kit:

A tube for my art work to go hustling with in Berlin.
A phone that is so much more than a phone.
A dress for the summer in Berlin. - Along with a mutual promise that M and I will indeed wear the dresses we keep buying for ourselves.
And my first birthday present. A heart of glass in lime and turquoise. It's for wearing round my neck. It's VERY obvious. I like it - a sweet response to Pandora's Box. Thank you!

... This is short and sweet. In the excitement that was the last weekend I left my adapter in Bath and it's currently only 1:45 hrs until my laptop will temporarily die... until the adapter arrives hopefully soon.

So: anything more verbose is postponed. Just as well... seeing that the next three days will be packing up and preparing for the summer. My two months in the sun... in Berlin... Did I mention this?

But first: birthday celebrations, round 1, today.


Friday, 26 June 2009

Exhibition rewind

Tom Bush, Untitled, Acrylics on Canvas, 20x20cm

Last Wednesday we finally took down the Eldon Group exhibition after four weeks. If you remember - we got a two week extension. Here a few thoughts on past and future...

1. Preparation and logistics.
Second time rounds are so much easier. So we had a good idea of what needed doing and we pretty much kept the division of labour as we had before: S-J organised the flyer and did much of the marketing; I saw to getting postcards, organising communication between all involved and with the gallery. All of this worked pretty well. In particular the communication with the people in charge of the gallery space went a lot smoother. We probably should have had a more concerted effort to get our flyers in key locations. Setting up on the day before rather than the afternoon before was by far the better way of doing this.

2. Opening event, opening times and location
We had a good turnout for the opening event. Interestingly, very few of the people that I thought would come, turned up but others instead. Last year, many of my colleagues came along - it being 4pm on a Friday afternoon made for a convenient end of the week with drinks. The first two weeks of the show were still during term time which gave better access to the gallery space in evenings and Saturday mornings (but not over Bank Holiday). The opening times and the location are still the main weakness of the event though - the space itself works very well (though the hanging system is fiddly and the lighting is a bit sparse).

3. Who visited and who bought
While most of my colleagues didn't make the opening, the people who came actually bought art. We sold 6 or 7 pieces on the first night. And Tom and I sold pieces after that. All the later sales actually happened when I took people I knew (colleagues or friends) along. - I am only realising this now. Interesting. So, I sold around 10 pieces - all of them prints, mixed media or pastel drawings. And the people who bought all knew me personally, some of them had in fact bought some of my stuff beforehand. They knew me either through work or the art classes. Our visitor's book did get a much wider number of comments from people either working in the building or also coming to see the show. In fact, every time I was there during the first two weeks, there were other people there too. - Which I found rather encouraging for the location it's in.

4. And what do I think other than all of the above?
Well - despite the prep and logistic going well, it still took up an enormous amount of time - probably 50hrs or so in the weeks leading up to it. So my evenings and weekends were fully devoted to the preps. It's quite enjoyable but rather overwhelming when doing in addition to other things. That also meant that I wasn't able to make much use of the two-week extension: at that point work was so busy that I didn't even manage a group email to announce it, let alone follow up some earlier expressions of interest or distribute another round of flyers. We had discussed asking some of the galleries nearby to come along also, but again that didn't happen due to lack of time. I only had three paintings framed professionally, which proved the right decision. I framed prints in clip frames, which I like esthetically BUT: that was one of the most time-consuming jobs, they look easy but clearly AREN'T!). Everything I sold was sitting in the portfolios on tables rather than hanging on the wall. I do really want to 'lose' some of the framed paintings though - no space for them. But other than that, I'm very pleased with having sold several pieces, and my right decision to include many of the lower priced pieces - in particular the linocuts were popular.

5. And next?
Two proposals to be done: one for in three years, one for in two years. And next year the St Andrews Gallery again. I'm surprised what 'continuity' emerged with a second time round - people kept referring to last year's show. The Eldon Group does have a nice wee space of existence and that spaces feels rather comfortable and friendly. That's one of the best outcomes from this year's show. It's also nice that my friends and colleagues are rather taken with Tom's paintings - as am I.

Like with the one above. - It also acquired a new title (but don't tell Tom): Pandora's Box. Just like this one of Tom's is now The One who Got Away.

Tom Bush, Untitled, Acrylics on Canvas, 20x20cm

PS: the blog is having its own mind at the moment
(as it in fact had most of the week so far;
i.e. I'm generally neither here nor there
and now on way to Bristol and Bath for the weekend)
... not that you think I am ignoring your many comments :)
Have a very good weekend.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Saturday's Seashores

... in a shy June sun. Things to find, things to see, things to pick up.

I'm intrigued by detail. Small forms and patterns on the shoreline, in the sand or on stones. And now with my computer increasingly doing what I'd like it to, I can easily tag and organise my many beachfinds from years past. Or indeed from Saturday.

Like this,


or this,


or indeed this.

Glass and others

It doesn't mean I stopped looking for landscapey, or waterscapey vistas. Well... any excuse for a bit of colour really:

Seashore Whiting Bay_1
Seashore Whiting Bay 1
neo ii in A4 Moleskine

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Away with the swans

While I'm at it, I can just throw in a few more random thoughts on The Swan.

There's this song, for example:

... I think my clear favourite on the album.

M. told me about the imagery of the swan. Since then it hasn't left me. I think we must have talked about it after my discovery of Mallarme's swan. Or was it before?

The swan as it glides all gracefully over the still water. Neck held high, all silent, all calm.

And, yet, underneath the water the feet are moving fast and faster and faster still. Helplessly, in panic so as to keep moving still and gracefully above the water, the neck held high.

Along with the snake fights, I've seen so many swans of late. It's clearly gendered. Some men fight snakes and some women glide swan-like across the lake.

Well... that's what you get when ponds are still and deep and surfaces so still. Never knowing what's underneath, heh?!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Let's dance...

Thank you, Guy, for this one.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The swan and I

The Swan.

... could be the start of a fantastic short story. But it isnae (at least for today).

It's much more prosaic. Encountered when trying to sketch the grassy, watery, boggy inbetween land that is the bay of Lochranza on the Northern tip of Arran. This was at high tide and the swan was toddling about, munching a bit of grass here, flapping its wings there. Well... until it discovered me and my pastels.

After a standoff (yes, I know... I wouldn't have won) I got saved by a hoard of sheep moving in fast and - probably joyfully oblivious to the mighty swan - made it retreat back to the river bank.


Did I say it was about to rain? This is what I did anyway:

Lochranza Bay_3
Lochranza Bay, 3
Graphite and neo ii in A4 Moleskine

Lochranza Bay_4
Lochranza Bay, 4
Soft Pastel in A4 Moleskine

Lochranza Bay_5
Lochranza Bay, 5
Soft Pastel in A4 Moleskine

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Busy with


while you may keep talking amongst yourself, here's Carol Ann Duffy's first gem while at Her Majesty's Service:

How it makes of your face a stone
that aches to weep, of your heart a fist,
clenched or thumping, sweating blood,
of your tongue
an iron latch with no door. How it makes
of your right hand
a gauntlet, a glove-puppet of the left, of
your laugh
a dry leaf blowing in the wind, of your
desert island discs
hiss, hiss, hiss, makes of the words on
your lips dice
that can throw no six. How it takes
the breath
away, the piss, makes of your kiss a
dropped pound coin,
makes of your promises latin, gibberish,
feedback static,
of your hair a wig, of your gait a plank-
walk. How it says this-
politics-to your education education
education; shouts this-
Politics!-to your health and wealth; how
it roars, to your
conscience moral compass truth,

Carol Ann Duffy, Politics

More to read? Try this Guardian article.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

... and onto Munch's prints

Edvard Munch, Melancholy i, 1896
[click on the image to get to the exhibition site to see a larger image]

I went to the preview tonight of the Hunterian Art Gallery's show of Edvard Munch's Prints. It was busy with important people and I was far too tired to pay too much attention other than a quick glance.

Hm... many woodcuts, many seashores and many figures... lonely and melancholic ones (but that's no surprise). I need to go back again, and again, and again... seeing that it's only 1 minute away from my office.

Maybe tomorrow at lunch, with my sketchbook. Fabulous marks, textures and colours...

Like this one.

Just a glimpse for tonight, but more of this to follow.

But first: a little bit of disappearing inbetween... to a birthday, over the weekend... After all, this is birthday month! So happy birthday, P. (yesterday), Torben (today!), R. (tomorrow), B., K., A., K., K., paint & pastel, and of course myself right at the end... happily planning the latter with a canoe trip on the Spree... - it doesn't make up for my assorted boat envy of my fellow watermarkers, but it'll be very fabulous all the same...

Monday, 8 June 2009

Let's disappear with Turner

JMW Turner, Venice with the Salute, c1844
Oil on Canvas, Tate Britain

How about into this piece of art?

As the lady next to us said: 'You can't possibly see what's in that'.

Or can you?

And in a blink, he, it and I are gone. Nowhere to be found.


Sunday, 7 June 2009

Let's skive with Turner

JMW Turner, The Val d'Aosta, 1840s
Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

... and so we did. Just as well, seeing that tomorrow would have been too late (and not a day for skiving anyway... facilitating PhD students on how to become effective).

So: there was at points nothing to see and yet the paintings were so full of everything. Talking about Turner... hm, dunno... while happy to take Twombly apart (well, a bit), Turner is something different altogether.

So, while I'm getting over introductory shyness and am sussing out some of the obvious and less obvious links why this has been a phantastic day out in Edinburgh, here's some of my favourites.

JMW Turner, Landscape with River and distant Mountains, c1845
Oil on Canvas, Walker Art Gallery, National Museum, Liverpool

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Answering back... x2

Elqui 1, Detail, oil on canvas, 70x80cm

From the Guardian Magazine's Space Solves, 6 June 2009:

"Re Dear Diary... I need a Fireproof Safe (9 May), I, too have diaries that I try to keep safe. However, I have now produced a 10-word summary of each weekend on an Excel spreadsheet and have backed this up in several places. This is not only safe, but it can easily be searched, so helps to answer all those 'When did we last see Fred?'-type questions."

Hello?! ... I have some questions too... how about:
Am I asking the wrong questions?
Do I not understand the purpose of a diary?
Why do I never see Fred?

But that wasn't it. There's been more talking and answering back that led to some laughter. This time, M. and mine when I showed her one of my recent poetry finds, Carol Ann Duffy's edited collection of poets' responses to other poems, Answering Back.


To women, as far as I am concerned

The feelings I don't have, I don't have.
The feelings I don't have, I won't say I have.
The feelings you say you have, you don't have.
The feelings you would like us both to have, we neither of us have,

The feelings people ought to have, they never have.
If people say they've got feelings, you may be pretty sure they haven't got them.

So, if you want either of us to feel anything at all
you'd better abandon all idea of feelings altogether.
DH Lawrence

Chosen by Jean Sprackland who responds with


He adjusted the chain on my bike, so I let him
leave a few oily marks on my blouse. After that

he'd always be coming round when my parents were out,
asking how did I feel. Had my feelings
grown, altered or faded. Were they dying.

I thought of a tortoise asleep in a box of straw.
In spring you had to reach in and feel for warmth,
carry it onto the grass and try it with dandelions.

It was weeks before I knew that all I wanted
was to be driven at night up to the gravel pit
wearing only his proper coat, then to throw it off
and run into the water feeling nothing at all.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Landscape, fields and abstraction

Hahaha.... I didn't post the two paintings central to the previous post on de Stael, did I?

Well... here they are. The de Stael that is currently on show at the Tate Modern is this one.

Nicolas de Stael, Composition, 1950
oil on canvas, 79x125cm
Tate Modern

There is another one with similar compositional characteristics in a blue colour scheme with stronger saturation:

Nicolas de Stael, Le parc de Sceaux, 1952
Oil on canvas, 162x114cm
Collection Phillips, Washington DC

Both of the image files are so small in size that there isn't much to see other than hue and overall composition.

Where are the marks and the texture?

Now... the final state of Elqui 1 is as this.

Elqui 1, 70x80cm
Oil on canvas

It is signed and ready to be taken to the framers. And, more importantly: it is sold! As you can see, the orientation of the painting moved back to the original - several layers later, the associations with hilltops are rather distant, yet important.

De Stael's method of working on the two paintings in this post is very different to mine: very thickly applied paint, borders that separate geometric shapes and a palette based on very similar hues.

And: still! Something doesn't leave me alone with his paintings and what I want to do with mine. Haven't figured it out yet other than a persistent gut feeling.... let's find out a bit more...

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Due to popular demand:

Our Eldon Group Summer Exhibition Gig will be running for two more weeks - until Wednesday 17 June:

!!! Exhibition Extended until 17 June 2009 !!!

Summer Exhibition 2009


20 May – 17 June 2009

Open Monday to Friday 9 am - 5 pm

St Andrew's Gallery, University of Glasgow

Level 5, St Andrew's Building, 11 Eldon St, Glasgow

So, if you haven't been... go!

See the updated exhibition website

Untitled x 8 by Tom Bush
Tom Bush, Untitled x8, Acrylic on board, 20x20cm*

'Popular demand' sound very cool... in fact, whoever was to follow our show didn't get their act together on time, so we can have their slot too. But... psht...

* Two of these are mine now (momentarily), I think M. knows which ones... can't leave those boxes alone..

Monday, 1 June 2009

From Elqui 1 to more fields via de Stael

Nicolas de Stael, Landscape: the road to Uzes, 1954
Oil on Canvas, 80x53.4 cm, private collection

There's someone I haven't been able to get out of my mind for the past few weeks. - Well, the title already gives it away. De Stael's landscapes are on my mind rather persistently. Quite some time back I enthused about Agrigente when I came across him via Chris's admiration for him. I did a few experiments with his compositions to help me work out the final abstractions from the first fields. And then I stopped.

I need to go back. No: First I really need to see some of his paintings in real life. But hunting for them only ever seems to lead to: 'held in a private collection'. If I ever was to have one single painting, it would be one by him - anyone. I happily take one of his tiny compositions, or the footballers, or a nude but really, really, really: I'd love one of the Agrigente paintings. That heat, that tension, that drama in a minimal composition.

The exhibition catalogue I have is in French, so it's a bit tedious but it's nonetheless delicious. It talks about the drama and danger of how de Stael constructs space across the canvas. They have - albeit from a different angle (or plane?) a similar impact on me as Joan Eardley's seascapes. I wholeheartedly and passionately submit to them, let them take over and be all there is. A canvas to loose yourself in. How delicious.

How did I not know before that art can do something so powerful? But now I do and it will remain. How wonderful.

The thing is - de Stael's landscapes are full of ghosts too. I haven't figured them out, maybe I won't try much further. But I suspect that such impact carries so much 'other' with it that there have to be ghosts. Hm, well, I of course know of his depression and anguish. But that is far too simple for ghosts, I've decided.

Nicolas de Stael, Landscape, 1953
Oil on canvas, 80x65.1cm, private collection

Did I intend to be practical today... I actually did. But not much chance of that. So: more posts on de Stael. And some sketching on my part of Chilean fields as mediation between myself and de Stael. How presumptious and how delicious at the same time.

Oh... and my best chance for seeing one of his paintings seems to be this one at the Tate Modern. So: London, very soon.

And I'm also curious: have you seen one of his paintings? Which one and where?

Now: please, please, please - can I have a de Stael retrospective somewhere nearby and very soon...