General Update

Today I’ve delivered my Beethoven diptych (Composer Decomposed) to Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton to submit it for their bi-annual Open Exhibition (June 2 – August 25). This work was rejected by the RA for their Summer Exhibition so I hope I will have more luck at THG!

I’ve also applied for the TRAIL exhibition at Devon Guild of Craftsmen (November). My two pictures were not selected but they do want to display Shrine (the kennel) Yay!!

I’ve almost finished the portrait commission. (Audrey Hepburn – I realize I mentioned her name in my April 9 Blog). I was really struggling with her – and her cat! (see Blog May 10) Having emailed the client for his opinion, I stripped everything off the board except Audrey’s eyes and started again. The looser stylized look has worked far better and I am now happy with her. Just waiting for some blingy earrings to arrive from ebay! (I’ll post an image once the client has received her.)

Working on Audrey has had me musing on the randomness of my work. Often, after I’ve finished a work, an item that would have been perfect for that work turns up – but it’s too late. If only I’d looked in Box A instead of Box B … the result would have been a different picture. But just as in Life generally, it’s no good thinking ‘what if’ or ‘if only’…

Next work: Two Van Gogh landscapes for a cruise ship. Exciting!

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Who was St Roch?

An lady called Alison (English living in France) has commented on my Blog entry about St Roch. She says My understanding of St Roch is a little bit different from yours. He’s quite a Big Thing in this area of France. She sent a link to her Blog with the French version of the story of St Roch … I found it interesting and hope you will too!

From Alison’s Blog:

OK, so I’ve promised you the story of St Roch. I thought he was a local saint as he features in many of the local chapels/churches around here, but according to Wikipedia (that Fount of all Knowledge) he was born in Montpellier. He is apparently the patron saint of surgeons, apothecaries, road pavers, furriers, second-hand clothes dealers, wool carders and is the Protector of Animals.

Anyway, Saint Roch was a rich young man, who was orphaned at an early age. He was studying to be a Doctor, but, as all good saints do, decided to give it all up and become a pilgrim and give everything to the Poor. He travelled through Italy and when the country was ravaged by the Plague he stayed and helped the sick and dying. When St Roch contracted the plague he heroically separated himself from the local populace and went to live in a forest. Unfortunately the sick and dying (and their relatives) weren’t terribly grateful for his thoughtfulness, and shunned him, so he was slowly dying of both plague and starvation.

But, never fear, Gentle Reader, because there was a dog (let’s call him Spot) who decided to help St Roch, providing him with bread taken daily from the table of his master. Without this, St Roch would surely have died. One day, Spot’s master, intruiged by the disappearing bread, followed him into the forest and found St Roch, still, I assume, plague-ridden. Spot’s master took St Roch into his home, and the saint was miraculously cured of the plague.

Although cured, he was horribly disfigured by the plague, and is now always shown demonstrating a plague scar (on his leg) and usually revealing blue undergarments. Spot stayed with him for the rest of his life, and there is apparently a saying “c’est saint Roch et son chien” (“They’re like St Roch and his dog”) when talking about two inseparable friends.

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The Pretty v Quirky Dilemma

I’m facing the old chestnut of how to use quirky materials in a portrait of a beautiful woman, while retaining both interest and beauty.

Currently, I’m working on a commission (a new subject) which was not going well. I contacted the client to ask whether he preferred the style of Adele (small pieces) or the more stylized Madonna and Child (below). He chose the latter so it’s ‘back to the drawing board’. Deadline looming and I’m feeling mild panic!


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Update on Kennel Auction – Still Smiling!

Well, what can I say about the auction …?

Last week, I had a wonderful 2 days in London and attended the charity auction of kennels – a sumptuous affair at the beautiful St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. I loved seeing all the amazing kennels ‘in the flesh’ and met some lovely other artists. However, the problem was that hardly anyone was there to bid and only about half of the kennels sold. Those that did sell went for far less than the organizers and artists had hoped for, so it was a very disappointing night for the charities.

My kennel didn’t sell (not a surprise as I could see the way things were going) so I bought it back with a donation to the Blue Cross charity. Now I hope to exhibit it elsewhere and feel happy with this arrangement.

While in London, I also went to a fabulous exhibition at the V&A museum: Fashioned from Nature. It explored the use of natural materials (flora and fauna) in costume design through the last 400 years, the impact on the environment and the latest innovations in textile technology.

From the V&A website: This exhibition will present fashionable dress alongside natural history specimens, innovative new fabrics and dyeing processes, inviting visitors to think about the materials of fashion and the sources of their clothes.

Showing until Jan 2019. Well worth a trip.

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Meanwhile, other art projects go on …

Just been packing up a commission to go to Denmark – a tiger which I started before the kennel and finished recently. I’m trying to think of a name for him. The first tiger I made was called Buddy because he contained several Jenga bricks advertising Budweiser…I’m also working (slowly!) on a version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for the TRAIL exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey in November – it’s an ongoing project that I’m gradually adding to as I find appropriate materials.

But most pressing is a commission portrait of Audrey Hepburn – currently not going too well. Problems:

  1. My supply of flesh tones are limited and I’m waiting to find some more natural colours. Wooden beads tend to have more subtlety than plastic and fade to lovely shades.
  2. The client has asked for humour using quirky materials – its a delicate balance to keep Audrey beautiful yet witty
  3. The picture includes Audrey’s hands and the cat – subsequently her actual face is smaller than how I’m used to working so the component materials need to be scaled down accordingly. Difficult to not end up using just beads…(boring)…

I will persevere…

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Kennel in Today’s Sunday Telegraph!

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Kennel Difficulties!

So… my kennel is still in Frome, Somerset. I have no idea what will happen next! Apparently, the project has been fraught with difficulties – lots of red tape.

The original plan was to have the kennel shells made by men in prison to learn a transferable skill for later life. (This was one of the things that attracted me to the project.) This idea had to be shelved due to health and safety.

At the last minute, artists were informed that they had to have block off the entrance to their kennel with board bolted on the front. As most of the kennels are positioned outside within a station complex, the police identified the risk of someone trying plant a bomb inside them. I didn’t want to cover my kennel door as it would ruin the aesthetics – and cause damage, so the organisers have been seeking an indoor London location.                    It was to be in The Town Hall Hotel but they pulled out of the project at the last minute!

What happens now? Your guess is as good as mine!

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