So I'm up and running with my new research painting project - evidence of human industry in the landscape. I've been all over the Coniston copper mines, the Honister slate mines, and the Borrowdale graphite mines. I've carried out some of these site visits with colleagues so that I can also learn from others (including painter Anna Thomas) about the techniques artists use in capturing outdoor sites. It seems that everyone takes a load of equipment with them - canvases, oils, easels, mats and nibbles, among other things.
I am also noticing that we don't use paint to represent the topography, more to record our emotional response to a site. It's not a conscious thing...as we think we are looking to record what we see. However, like a composer would select instruments, pace, tone, volume of different types, at different stages, we select different mediums, hues, levels of opacity, saturation and tone. The result is an end product that not only tells the viewer something about the site, but also works on the emotions to give them a feeling about what it was like to actually be on that site.
With this particular work, I want folk to feel, not only what it is like to be on these sites now, but also give a sense of what it might have been like to be on these sites a 100 or 1000 years ago. Kind of like museum meets re-enactment meets art. I'll have to get practiced at quite a few aspects before this will start to come through in the work, I imagine. In this sense, I have to be good at all the instruments, know them inside out, before I can compose the perfect piece!
I did a 3-hour conversation with Hilary Pezet (awesome woman), head of Arts and Media at Kendal on BBC Radio Cumbria's Arty Show (presented by the awesome Helen Millican). I talked about some of the other aspects to this project I am embarking upon, together with a bit of my biographical detail! Click here to listen
Pursuing an understanding of what we need to exist in the world: how do we connect with others (and the wider world and its objects), what is our language.