BA (Hons) Fine Art: FA303 Documentation

Work on Paper


Visual Silence

Barnett Newman realised that a simple horizontal line automatically indicated a horizon and, as an extension, the landscape. He actively fought against this, with many of his abstract paintings only containing vertical lines. In a similar way I feel that five horizontal lines grouped together indicate music. This is perhaps less universal, with not everyone being able to read music, but I think it is interesting that we try to place meaning on everything, even just a line. In my sound works where I improvised from elemental paintings, I added five-line staves to some of them in order to shift the meaning from an abstract composition to a sound work or music score. Here I have used a similar idea, but this time have kept just the repeated lines. Drawing out the lines on such large paper, it became a mindfulness exercise, making calm, repeated patterns using my whole body. But it became more than that, by simply choosing to use five lines in groups. To me it has become a visual representation of silence. The sheet music to John Cage's 4'33" perhaps.

Silence, oil pastel on paper, 100 x 140 cm.



Abstract Watercolours

Based on my slow films and abstract photos I decided to make some loose, expressive watercolour paintings, hoping to create a similar feeling of stillness. The videos capture the sense of stillness and slowing down well due to the long takes and sustained focus, but somehow these paintings are not as calming and still as I had hoped. I think they are quite successful as abstract paintings, but don't express the silence I am craving in my work. Chance however came into these paintings as well, but by complete accident. I displayed these four paintings in a window as part of out Street View Exhibition (see Exhibitions page) but over the course of the week the tape became unstuck and they fell down and were put back up again. When I took them down after the exhibition and examined them, I found some of the paper had been worn away and I assumed it was condensation on the window. But when I looked closer I also noticed multiple snail trails winding over my paintings! So once again I am embracing the collaboration between myself and nature (in particular this snail).

Click on any picture to see a slide show of the complete set.



Haikus

To encourage people to slow down through my art, I have often brought attention to something small or insignificant that might usually be bypassed. This is an idea often used in traditional Japanese culture, in Wabi Sabi but also in Haikus – three lines long and 17 syllables in total. I have been writing haikus and exploring the presentation of them, whether they should be audible, written minimally or combined with abstract watercolours. Here are a selection of haikus combined with abstract watercolour paintings. I find they echo the uncontrolled, elemental quality of my rain and wind paintings.

Click on any picture to see a slide show of the complete set. See the caption on each image for complete text.



Self-portrait

This is a self portrait I made specifically for the Street View Exhibition. It is a contemporary take on Raphael's 'Sistine Madonna'. I have depicted myself staring out the window, my head literally in the clouds, in a time when being outside seemed like a distant memory, already in our third lockdown. The painting is presented through the bars of a window, playing with the idea of looking out and looking in, with windows reflected in the eyes.

Head in the Clouds, Watercolour on paper, 42 x 59 cm, 2021

Click on any picture to see a slide show of the complete set plus the last picture via YouTube.



Small oil paintings and watercolours

Alongside my project work I have been painting to keep myself focused and calm, a way to improve my mental health. I find elements of silence and stillness come into much of what I do, even if there is not that aim in mind.

Click on any picture to see a slide show of the complete set.