I often write and reflect on exhibition visits I make. Last weekend took me to such a visit, but one that had a small extra significance. My daughter Nynke and five of her peers, from the art school where they are studying. were presenting work that they had made in the last year or so.
Apart from obviously putting their creative output out into a public environment the purpose was very definitely meant as part of a learning process of familiarizing themselves with all the issues and detail that come with exhibiting their work in a gallery space. Things like the pressures, particularly of the last week of preparation, are only aspects of exhibiting that you can learn about through the experience of going through it all for yourself!
Personally, it was great to see Nynke’s work first hand and close-up. Inevitably we have seen rather too much the last couple of years only in photographic form. And so, on Saturday afternoon we joined a considerable crowd at the opening afternoon at the Omstand gallery in Arnhem.
The exhibition looked good together and the diverse work combined well. But as a parent your eyes are inevitably very much on the work of the family’s next generation and Nynke’s work looked good in the space. It showed ambition to create complex and technically well worked out large-scale statements. A proud parent moment!!
For more than ten years my creative output has broken clearly into two parts. The studio work that has resulted in paintings, constructions, prints and works on paper. All carefully worked out and refined, often in quite extensive series of incremental steps. Alongside this has been an extensive series of small scale, rapidly made, landscape drawings and paintings that have filled hundreds of pages of bound sketchbooks.
These two series of work have, at times, hinted at the possibility of coming together and supporting one another. But up until now, although there have been tentative connections in one way or another, I have never really felt a crossover occurring or a serious engagement between the two branches.
However, that situation may be about to change. It’s early days to shout too loudly about it, but maybe, just maybe, things are on a collision course, time will tell. Here, in the most recent studio work there is a genuine landscape image, reminiscent of one of my sketchbook paintings, stands central….and there are more to follow, possibly making use of images such as this woodland watercolour.
Like many families around the world, the physical contact with all but my immediate family has been greatly interrupted by the pandemic. I see my wife every day and my studying children regularly. But contact with my own English extended family has had to move online. We have regular family get togethers with up to fourteen of us at a time, aged between teenager and 80+ and spread around the world in various places in the UK, the Netherlands, Prague and Kuala Lumper in Malaysia.
The Zoom meetings have been very fun to do and surprisingly satisfying in terms of them being a replacement for the family meals together in any normal year. We also have family app groups and sub-groups, all-in all, contact remains very good.
But after fourteen months apart I felt that it was time for something else. We are, by most standards, a very creative family. Visual artists, musicians/sound remixer, graphic designers and writers. With many of use taking these interests well beyond a hobby having gained degrees in related areas and gone on to work in these fields.
With this background it was time to stage an online exhibition where we share and take a closer look at each other’s creative output. Added to this is also of course the possibility open the work to a broader public.
Use the link below to visit our digital exhibition space and enjoy the work of:
Five visual artists
One film and soundscape artist
One graphic designer
Be patient…..the exhibition can take a moment or two to load!
(The software works best on a laptop or desktop computer, on mobile devices some elements may work less well)
Last year I started the year with a plan to draw more. I have drawn a lot in the last twelve months, but still have the feeling that I should do it more, if only to avoid later dead ends in paintings that haven’t been sufficiently planned out.
So this year we start again and above is the first drawing of 2021.
This summer has been different. Not a completely stay at home holiday, but one that hasn’t seen me cross the Dutch borders. Like most holidays I document the trips we make in a small drawing book. No great aims or ambitions, just quick visual notes of where we go. That has meant images of forests, heathlands, the rivers and the coast.
Click here or on the image below to browse through the book.
I have quite a collection of similar books on the shelf in my studio. This is the first one that I’ve put into digital form. The quality is not too bad, and it is in the end a nice record of the ‘Corona summer’.
There connections to my other paintings that I produce is limited, although maybe there is just starting to be increasing convergence. A long over-due update and documentation of my studio work from 2020 should hopefully follow sometime in the coming weeks.
The fact that I’m sharing the progress of these paintings is an indication that I’m feeling pretty content with the progress. In the photograph it does all look very graphic, a quality that comes over a little less in the actual work. Inevitably the smaller scale works on paper progress at a higher tempo.
The last couple of months I’ve been gradually getting ready for two exhibitions. The first is a group show in the Dutch town of Nijmegen. The second is a solo exhibiton, in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the town that has been drawing all the attention the last few months for its Jheronimus Bosch exhibition.
The exhibition is going to give me the chance to dip back into work influenced by the very Dutch interiors made by Vermeer, that I was making when I first arrived in The Netherlands back in the nineties. This will be hung alongside more recent work that is more orientated towards the Dutch landscape and our relationship with this most manipulated of environments.
Without giving too much away, I can promise a place for both of the painintgs below.
Since early May this year I have been working on a large scale artwork for a research institute in the Dutch town of Nijmegen. I have never had the chance to work on such a large scale piece of work knowing that the location for it has already been decided. The finished work is close to four metres in width (over twelve feet if you prefer!).
The three panels are based directly on earlier completed paintings although the new versions gave the opportunity to refinement and further development in some areas.
Most of my paintings are essentially quite small. So the chance to work on such an expansive scale has been technically interesting although more so in the area of actually seeing how ideas that worked well on a more intimate scale would scale up. The the paintings show a stretch of bleak landscape that reaches across the panels in combination with bending geometry of the coloured walls. The graphic sharpness of the geometry has been increased from the smaller versions, heightening the tension of the edges of the walls where they meet the sky and where the birds appear to disappear ‘behind the sky.
The ‘ordering’ in the landscape isn’t quite what it would’at first seem. Is it actually a landscape that we are looking at? Or is it a sort of ‘décor’, scenery or film set? Is this the tranquil scene that it at first might appear to be? Where are the birds flying too?
I’ve been documenting the process of development over the last months in a series of photographs. I’ve been doing this mostly for myself, but the short film does give an interesting insight into how these paintings come together in a series of steps.