It’s the opening of the Canterbury Art Show tomorrow night – and I’ll have 7 works in it. Astonishingly this will be my 8th year!
This was one of the first shows I was even involved in, and it remains close to my heart. So many of the local artists I strongly admired at the time were involved and it was with my heart in my mouth that I delivered my works that first year. What a thrill to have sold some, to have been invited back, to have been invited back each year.
My work has changed so much in those 8 years. My name has changed too. But for me, looking back at past works reveals a journey of joy, discovery and optimism. Some of those works represent difficult times. Some pure wonder at the world and everything in it. Some the marks of a woman drowning. All of it made with love for the medium and the joy of being able to put something down in a concrete form and see it external. I’m lucky. I know not everyone has that privilege. I lost it for a bit. I know how precious it is to have that freedom.
In approaching works for this year I stalled. I stalled for the longest time, because my time for painting has become limited, and in some crazy way the limiting had made every session a bit too precious to be easy.
And it used to be so easy! Fling my arms around with abandon and make marks – throw the canvas, grab another. Angry – put it down. Happy – put it down. Filling in time while a baby sleeps – put lots down. I used to experiment a lot. I used to scratch paint off, layer and layer, and play.
I grabbed the sander and took off the carefully applied landscape that was nicely rendered but uninspiring. Taking back a sliver at a time. UNPAINTING. Brilliant fun.
I played with surface, with tools, with technique, with subject matter.
I abandoned where I felt I was moving as an artist in developing themes and threw it all out the studio door for a time.
It was SO fun. And I stepped back at the end of it. Where one gets to the point end of hanging on D-rings, and wires, and labels, and loading them into the car, and I thought – what a joyful collection! It’s a collection. Not a series, but these are works to make happy corners in homes, and that’s what this show is all about.
And along the way I discovered some old ways of working I had forgotten and some new ones I can’t wait to explore more.