2019 has been the year of working with Andy Barret on a transitions project based upon the 1620 House in Hugglescote, Leicestershire. We were a part of a larger project, looking at ways in which this wonderful Medieval House (which was modernised in 1620 with New Windows) can be utilised to enhance children’s learning experience. The great discovery has been of Sir Kenelm Digby (who’s sister lived in the house). Why had I never heard of him before? A Man of his times, a child of one of the Gun Powder conspirators, he grew to become a proto-scientist, diarist, glass technologists, foodie, art collector and privateer. The whole project has b een a delight and the 120 children we have worked with have been great companions on this journey of discovery.
I played the part of a ‘phenomenologist’ looking back at how the structure of experienced might have been perceived at the time. Through the senses, Smell, Taste, Sound, Sight and Touch we relived the 17th century experience and made many experiments and created art works and writings to see how these have impacted upon modern empirical science. Sounds dry but in fact was lots of fun. Sad that part is all over. Next step, to write it all up with recommendations as to how the activities might be used in the future.
Last week I went to the Museum of Anthropology and Archeology in Cambridge.
I went specifically to see the Star Carr exhibition as they are the oldest mask like objects to have been found in the UK.
This has set me off on a new series of drawings.I wanted to share these with you as a part of my own thinking process.
I have been making drawings for the past year or so and spending several months on each series. A series being one large work 150cm square plus a variable number of subsidiary images (A2).
The Star Carr masks (and there are several of them, maybe 20?) are mesolithic objects made of Red Dear Skulls which were adapted to be worn. Possibly on the top of a persons head. What I find most intriguing is that the antlers have been cut down to remove the points and then hollowed out. Literally an attempt to getting inside the animal. Many flint tools were found with them.
The first image is the start of a new large drawing to which I shall be adding layers of images as they occur. Day one of a process that I expect to last for several months.
The second image is the current source material I am playing with right now. The third photo is of a memory of a shamanic ritual concerning fire and larch trees, a portal into another world. The first of who knows how many subsidiary drawings.
This week I have mainly been building a ship.
1620 ‘Caravel’ Merchant Vessel
Struggling to find a title for this. It is inspired by and referencing William Blake, also by Duncan Grant and some of my own paintings from the 1980’s when I was living in France. Still being part of my meditation on this ageing process upon myself as a ‘gay’ person making art.
Maelstrom: Men Dancing
Horse Boat: unfinished Crawling: unfinished
In the last month I have bought two pieces of art.
The first being a ceramic mask from Graham Underhill. The Willoughby Memorial Trust Gallery, Corbyb Glen Lincolnshire
The Second work of textile art from Kashif Nadim Chaudry. Primary: Nottingham Studios.
Looks like it takes me three months to reach an end point to these large drawings, can’t say finished but to arrive at a stage of partial satisfaction. This is now Vitruvian Man at 3 months. Smaller drawing continue to develop the theme.
Once again I am working on a large scale charcoal drawing (1.30 metre sq.) This time being a meditation on the influence upon my artistic life by maleness, Leonardo da Vinci, movement and touch. The ghosts of ancestral giants.
With a side dish of smaller drawings to complement the process.
Even bringing my work as a mask-maker into play:
All to be continued:
New ‘Arlecchino mask (Chestnut Dark Paint Version) meets new clown/quarter masks.
Thank you to the Tuesday Clown Group for modelling so superbly. ‘Twas very much fun.
In collaboration with Nottingham City Council (Libraries and Parks) and ‘Curious’ and a range of artists, yoga, musicians, storytellers and visual arts for children and families. Outdoor activities for the summer holidays in five sites across the city. MI have facilitated masks-making sessions have been in my own local Park at Woodthorpe. It has been most gratifying to witness the diversity of families who have come along. This being the UK, the weather always poses a risk but , so far, only on one day have we had to relocate into a poly-tunnel.
Different stories have been used to lead each week , ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Wild Animals and ‘The Gruffalo ‘have been the themes of the 3 weeks I have been a part of the project. The library service have provided a selection of related books to suit a range of ages, so that there is something that families can access every day, even when there is no artist facilitating activities.
Well done Nottingham, showing imagination and co-ordination between different departments to give services where there is a need.