contemporary art

RDH: MAY 2019

03/05/19

Painting Peer Critique hosted in CCA Derry.

Artist   John Robinson   with his work on the temporary stage at CCA Derry.

Artist John Robinson with his work on the temporary stage at CCA Derry.

04/05/19

Close up of “ The Lost Woods Study ”

Close up of “The Lost Woods Study

Been a while since using leaves to print on. Needs more layers but for now it solves the issue of the line… breaks the eye.

So after four months and four days I’ve finally finished a painting and broke my 2019 drought.

Detail of “ Rose ” - oil and charcoal on canvas.

Detail of “Rose” - oil and charcoal on canvas.

05/05/19

First time visiting and it was like opening an old wound.

11/05/19

One very creepy window display.

One very creepy window display.

12/05/19

Great Art show: “Goya: Flesh and Blood”

Started “Sack Race” (working title) and stupidly didn’t check material inventory before starting.

17/05/19

Sketching tonight. Past self was clever enough to leave certain works aside for potential events.

Study of an Uncle.

Study of an Uncle.

18/05/19

Really happy with how the studio went today.

19/05/19

Completed “ The Lost Woods Study ”.

Completed “The Lost Woods Study”.

20/05/19

Not to rely on gimmick. It has been an invaluable tool - one that I will continue to utilise - but only when the work demands it. If it is forced (like “Woman With the Dogs” and, more recently, “Ruins”) the work stagnates and imagery drowns in an unnecessarily complicated mess.

21/05/19

Should take own advice from time to time about differing paint properties.

In “Sack Race” - the looser the playing field the better. Almost tempted not to touch it at all.

A sort of closure. A temporary full stop.

22/05/19

Ran out of time. Need to keep RD by side.

23/05/19

Ring-gate.

25/05/19

“I know more. The lack of whats in the current work informs the next.” - Eva Rothschild.

More layers to “The Ferryman”. Because the face of the ferryman is so small it would be easy to fall into the familiar trap of aiming to capture all the detail and likeness of the source image. Focusing instead on light and tone - maybe even a hint of a blur? Like the figure is in the middle of turning to look at the viewer.

Surprise / Confrontation / Acknowledgement

Back and forth with “Sack Race”. Happy with certain elements, like the sky but have consequently fogged up other sections in the process. Eager to not fall into the familiar trap of muddiness and over-painting.

More progress to the sky in “ Sack Race ”.

More progress to the sky in “Sack Race”.

27/25/19

29/05/19

Late night sketchbook work.

Late night sketchbook work.

RDH: APRIL 2019

02/04/19

Derry today.

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CCA - ‘Celebration Factory’ by Filip Markiewicz. Huge drawings and impressive array of work.

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Fragmented’ by Aimee Melaugh in the Gasworks. Such a beautiful space. Can’t think of anyone who paints atmosphere and smoke like she can.

Joseph McWilliams “ Community Door ” 1976 part of the “ Troubles Art ” exhibition in   Nerve Visual  .

Joseph McWilliams “Community Door” 1976 part of the “Troubles Art” exhibition in Nerve Visual.

06/04/19

Work submitted to the   RHA   open call.

Work submitted to the RHA open call.

Detail of a piece by   Cecilia Danell   - part of her solo show “ In a Landscape ” in the RHA.

Detail of a piece by Cecilia Danell - part of her solo show “In a Landscape” in the RHA.

08/04/19

Royal Academy - Renaissance Nude exhibition was great. Highlights were Pontormo’s “Study of a Nude Boy”, Dürer’s etchings, creepy little paintings by Hans Memling and, of course, Titian’s Venus.

National Gallery - “Rokeby Venus” by Velazquez is just an unbelievable painting! Real surprise was being moved by Caravaggio’s “Boy bitten by a lizard”. Came out of nowhere. Loved how the two Rembrandt portraits faced each other in their room. A conversation? “The Ambassadors” by Hans Holbein the Younger. Great to see it in the flesh finally. So many great works - probably could have stayed in there all week.

09/04/19

“Brighton Pierrots” by Walter Richard Sickert.

“Brighton Pierrots” by Walter Richard Sickert.

Went to Tate Britain and was annoyed that many of the works I had been looking forward to seeing were out of view for refurbishment. However it was great to see some other great pieces, including Sickert’s “Brighton Pierrots”.

View from   Tate Modern  .

View from Tate Modern.

Bonnard show was incredible. Wish it wasn’t as crowded to spend more time with the work. The self portraits were anxious and sinister. Preferred Franz West ’s collages to the sculptures.

10/04/19

11/04/19

Just shy of forty miles walked.

Sean Scully documentary.

13/04/19

Horrible day in the studio. What’s done can be rectified thankfully but I’m not sure what brought it about.

  • Not enough looking?

  • Charging in?

  • Carelessness?

  • Fatigue?

  • All of the above?

Note for “Rose”: Less is more.

14/04/19

Rehearsal.

16/04/19

Still no word - need to not get hopes up.

18/04/19

“Ruins” detail.

“Ruins” detail.

Office wall.

Office wall.

Tried and failed at sketching.

19/04/19

Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.

20/04/19

Eventually in the studio… “ Ruins ” is still an exciting composition so not sure why it’s stagnated.

Eventually in the studio… “Ruins” is still an exciting composition so not sure why it’s stagnated.

“The Lost Woods Study” close up.

“The Lost Woods Study” close up.

21/04/19

So - “Ruins” has ground things to a halt. Can’t say it is entirely the painting’s fault but it has eaten a lot of time where I’d be working on multiple pieces simultaneously.

I’m not abandoning it completely. Just setting it out of sight and out of mind until I’m in a better position to complete it to the best of my ability.

“The continuous practice of painting is a process against forgetting.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist

24/04/19

Night shot.

Night shot.

25/04/19

Some good drawing tonight.

Some good drawing tonight.

26/04/19

Studio work. “ Rose ” face is all but there.

Studio work. “Rose” face is all but there.

27/04/19

Dublin bound.

IMMA Freud Project: Gaze was stunning. “Relfection: Self Portrait” - have wanted to see this piece in the flesh for a long long time. Interesting mix of artists alongside Freud including a Hopper sketch, a Rembrandt etching, Abramovic, Dúrer, Dorothy Cross and others. The Doris Salcedo show “Acts of Mourning” was intense. Moved by “Plegoria Muda” and “Tabula Rasa” pieces the most. For the past week that has been in NI, we all need little blades of hope. Group show “A Vague Anxiety” was great, particularly the work of Saidhbhín Gibson (sculptures) and Susanne Wawra’s incredible paintings.

29/04/19

Scam emails- beware!

RDH: FEBRUARY 2019

01/02/19

Slight change of tact…

02/02/19

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03/02/19

Some tonal work on “Bereft Clown”

Some tonal work on “Bereft Clown”

05/02/19

Lagging behind.

06/02/19

Applications submitted.

09/02/19

DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to … etc etc.

How do you combat this?

“Discipline is key" - JG

Break the cycle by physically setting time aside for practice. Depending on the day of the week and other commitments, the type of productive work will differ.

10/02/19

Cleaning the palette

Cleaning the palette

12/02/19

One good sketch is better than not drawing at all.

One good sketch is better than not drawing at all.

16/02/19

“What’s for you won’t go past you.”

Reworked pattern and colours on clown today.

17/02/19

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Great to get painting today albeit a little later than I would have liked.

Counting works - didn’t realise there were so many!

23/02/19

Belfast. Great to see the last day of ‘The Question of Feeling at Home’ in PS² - curated by Moran Been-Noon. Bonus to get a run down from Moran about the show and to see Cecilia Bullo’s work in the flesh! Been excited to see it since her talk in the DLR LexIcon last year. Next was a visit to Belfast Exposed for the ACNI collection show with a solo show by Linda Conroy in the upstairs space. Conroy’s work is disturbing and utterly absorbing at the same time. Removing notions of the individual from religious ritual resonated with me personally. Then it was on to ‘Porous Plane’ by Lennon in the Golden Thread Gallery. The sheer scale and vibrancy of the work was immense. In the information leaflet it says that “no knowledge is required to enjoy the beauty of these paintings” and that Lennon “invites each of us to find ourselves and arrive at our own inclusions”. Leaving room for the viewer is something I’m particularly keen on.

Lastly onto the wonderful ‘Alternate Perspective’ in Platform featuring work by Aimee MeLaugh and Karl Hagan. Both reflect on ‘memory, people, places and trauma’. The grandeur of history painting coupled with highly personal and intimate narratives. Wonderful painting exhibition.

25/02/19

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Project profile submitted.

27/02/19

It’s the journey not the destination.

28/02/19

Nearly into third month and nothing really to show for it. Plenty of works in progress but not enough progress being made.

RDH: JANUARY 2019

01/01/19

Mountain walk with Jan and Rogue.

Mountain walk with Jan and Rogue.

“I think of drawing as a way of getting information and really learning to understand imagery.” - Cecily Brown

Anna Bjerger has a corner filled with ten years of old books / magazines. There’s usually nothing new but it’s about looking at imagery time and again to see if anything jumps out.

OLD IMAGERY RECEIVING NEW CONTEXT.

You need to have a genuine feeling for an image.

02/01/19

Two large canvases. Diptych idea?

03/01/19

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05/01/19

Found in a car park.

Found in a car park.

Nothing done is also nothing ruined.

06/01/19

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10/01/19

If it is to be it will come again.

London is happening in April. Can’t wait!

11/01/19

Idea for a painting: “The To and Fro of Indecision”.

Sketchbook work tonight. Looking at old paintings from second year in University.

Sketchbook work tonight. Looking at old paintings from second year in University.

12/01/19

Boiler suit

Boiler suit

If you look a little longer you will see things that have always been there but not in the same context as before. I’ve started looking a little closer at drawings that have been transferred onto acetate and pairing them off with others that I normally wouldn’t have previously.

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13/01/19

Christening + St Lurach’s ruins. This is the biggest canvas I’ve tackled in a long time.

Christening + St Lurach’s ruins. This is the biggest canvas I’ve tackled in a long time.

“Organised Forgetting”

Paint went well today - generally just blocking so it’s not too tasking. Colours - light v dark. Which elements of the image come to the fore and what fights to be heard.

15/01/19

Meaningless vote.

Chris Ofili’s “No Woman No Cry” - canvas rested on 2 heaps of elephant dung covered in a transparent resin.

Sculpture ideas - photos stacked like a house of cards. On panels?

Pyramid.

17/01/19

Trip to Newtownards and Belfast today.

The Ards Art Centre’s Georgian gallery space is stunning! So much light! Really interesting work by   Katrina Cobain   on show.

The Ards Art Centre’s Georgian gallery space is stunning! So much light! Really interesting work by Katrina Cobain on show.

Stunning work by   Alana Barton   in the Black Box.

Stunning work by Alana Barton in the Black Box.

Pauline Rowan  ’s photography was the stand out work for me in the latest instalment of   Golden Thread’s “Dissolving Histories” series.

Pauline Rowan’s photography was the stand out work for me in the latest instalment of Golden Thread’s “Dissolving Histories” series.

19/01/19

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20/01/19

Really struggling to get motivated.

The act of drawing has stagnated. If you cut off the source how do you expect the river to flow?

Even working on other imagery (drawings) when painting something else is bound to have positive repercussions?

27/01/19

Took a while to get going. Not really focusing on one task but I think that’s good sometimes.

A little experiment

A little experiment

28/01/19

Been thinking a lot about potential sculptural ideas recently. Give it a whirl?

29/01/19

Sketchbook work

Sketchbook work

30/01/19

“Shooting the Darkness” documentary on RTÉ was fascinating insight from photojournalists who were front line witnesses to some of the most horrific atrocities during the Troubles.

RDH: 01/12/18 - 31/12/18

01/12/18

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Blocked out “Bereft Clown”.

02/12/18

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Found an ogham poster on North Street with an interesting translation.

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Vault studios is amazing - especially EMIC’s studio space!

04/12/18

…text to coincide with next solo show…

08/12/18

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Studio work today. Thought I was close to finishing ‘confessional’ but it might be further away than I imagined.

09/12/18

“You make a mistake when you explain the paintings through the war.”

Mark Stevens - on Bacon’s “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion”

Several shooting stars.

15/12/18

Probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Childhood hero reduced. It's a real jolt to the system.

Trauma doesn’t discriminate. It’s so subjective that it can defy explanation or description. Nightmarish.

16/12/18

Materials courtesy of the  University of Atypical ’s iDA award arrived to the studio today.

Materials courtesy of the University of Atypical’s iDA award arrived to the studio today.

Need to learn to keep some things to yourself.

See it through. Stay strong and keep head up.

17/12/18

Panic attack today.

21/12/18

You never fully appreciate someone until its too late. A true legend that has shaped so many. Time with family is so important.

Resolutions < Revolutions

22/12/18

Moon-rise over Glenshane.

Moon-rise over Glenshane.

Thought I had a good night’s sleep but my body is telling me different. Need to draw more again.

26/12/18

Getting lost in thought about art is a joy. It’s like taking a mini vacation.

27/12/18

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Some sketchbook work. Not much but it’s a start.

Look more before putting pen to paper. This is not to say to lose the immediacy during the act of drawing but to take a breath to absorb and examine what an image has to offer.

29/12/18

Finished “Confessional”. Maybe when the mind is distracted slightly it makes studio work more of an automated response? Decisions were made and action was taken.

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Not saying having a completely distracted head-space works. Far from it. I’ve been there plenty of times and it’s disastrous. No. It’s more a case of - you’re in the studio and you have a clear(ish) idea of where the work will go so you follow that. The decision making dilemma is lessened due to the preoccupation of other matters going on upstairs.

30/12/18

A bit of work done to “Bereft Clown before clearing the palette and studio up for another year.

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2018 in Photos

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

Exhibition Highlights 2018

These five exhibitions are in chronological order and are only my favourites of the shows I was able to attend in person. There were many that I was dying to see but in the end, couldn’t make.


WHITE

Curated by Colin Darke

QSS Gallery, Belfast

02/02/18 - 22/02/18

This was the fourth group show curated by Colin Darke that was based upon the four titles of Barnett Newman paintings (“Whose Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue”). According to the text accompanying the exhibition, linking works in accordance with colour “allows for a level of visual cohesion, while retaining the conceptual and aesthetic diversity that defines Queen Street Studios”. Ordinarily white, in a gallery context, inhabits the space between works. In this show however you become strangely aware of the normally silent walls. In Craig Donald’s installation “Ozymandias” sections of the gallery wall are set centre stage; framed by colours that correlate in other drawings and paintings within the installation. You become aware of the void.


Nightfall - amplissium terrarum tractum

David Godbold

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

03/02/18 - 10/03/18

This group exhibition by David Godbold in the Golden Thread Gallery really was a stunner. In gallery one, the works that give the name of the show, “Nightfall - Amplissium terrarum tractum” takes up an entire wall. Consisting of 116 framed drawings and a wall drawing in neon, I found myself getting drawn into the gorgeous and witty drawings usually accompanied with text loaded with humour and a certain political sting. Then all of a sudden I would walk backwards, trying to take in the sheer audacious scale of the work as a whole. I was especially taken by the drawing with the text "Infamy, infamy, everybody’s got it in for me” - a one liner from “Carry on Cleo” which my dad regularly cries aloud. Gallery two sees landscapes, beautifully painted and paired off with one in daylight and the other at night. Showing these romantic locations at different times of the day means you can never fully see the region in its entirety.


Future Perfect - Contemporary Art from Germany

Curated by Angelika Stepken and Philipp Ziegler

The Model, Sligo

06/05/18 - 01/07/18

During a summer break down to Sligo it would have been rude not to visit some of the galleries. This travelling group show did not disappoint. Sixteen artists envision and speculate about the future and reflect on the promises it could bring. The installation of Nora Schultz called “Discovery of the Primitive” reminded me of a transportable monolith like the one in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Schultz gathers found objects from around her Berlin studio to assemble these delicate structures that also double as printmaking stations. It dominated the room and sticks in the memory. Antje Majewski’s paintings were impressive in scale and in detail. The lengthy title “Decorative element that once adorned a passage leading to a shrine” was a large circular painting consisting of smaller overlapped orbs of differing gold and green. The same ‘decorative element’ makes a cameo in the even larger painting - more akin to history painting of old. “The Donation” sees a large group of people witnessing an exchange in what looks like a gallery with warped dimensions and off kilter paintings on the wall.


At the gates of the Music Palace

Alex Cecchetti

Curated by Mary Cremin

VOID Gallery, Derry-Londonderry

04/08/18 - 22/09/18

I was lucky enough to see this show on the opening night where the artist Alex Cecchetti was giving a guided tour of the works. A serial collaborator almost all of the works came to fruition as a result of Cecchetti working with musicians, dancers and singers. The first gallery was bathed in a pink light with two large copper cones suspended at the far end. If you move across the sensors musical notes are played and according to different gestures you can actually play music. Cecchetti and a dancer then played a piece of music they composed by dancing in front of the “Music Hall” installation. Gallery 2 held a sound installation entitled “Cetaceans” where a human choir sang like whales. This room was in darkness and you were encouraged to lay down and let the sounds wash over you. The third room had my favourite piece of collaborative work by Cecchetti. Oil paintings on crystal and rise paper hangs from a structure surrounding a piano meaning when people from the tour poured in and no matter where they stood they could see the works on the paper - even from the back where I stood. A synesthetic musician then sat at the piano and read the works like a sheet of music. Even by just watching the paintings you could follow the musician as they played and I found it totally engrossing. Probably the best show featuring audience participation I’ve seen.


Not Half Right

Jane McCormick

Atypical Gallery, Belfast

12/11/18 - 21/12/18

I stumbled into the Atypical gallery on my way to see the MAC international exhibition (which had incredible works by Ali Cherri, Aisling O’Beirn and the winner Nikolaus Gansterer) and hadn’t any preconceived notions what “Not Half Right” by Jane McCormick contained. What I came across was an incredibly strong practice that explores deeply personal and intimate issues in a scarily wide range of media. Medicine bottles with text and images of children replaced the label. A heart shaped box with tablets instead of chocolates resonated with me. It was humorous and darkly menacing at the same time. Is it a comment on today’s ‘there’s a pill for that’ culture, a love note to how medication has helped the artist or something else? You can’t help but bring your own experience to the work here. The self portrait drawings on what McCormick calls “useless articles and medically-related tat” are visceral, bold and expresses the frustrating and tiring nature of the “never ending search for ‘the cure’”.

RDH: 01/11/18 - 30/11/18

02/11/18

… all but done…

03/11/18

Do I need a foreign colour? “Afore the Stoop” went in a slightly different direction than first thought. I think I had that quote by Helen Johnson still ringing in my ears about imagery possessing different surface qualities and being on different registers on the same picture plane.

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The buzzard is still; hovering overhead while the still-life is in flux. Melting in on itself. To not just merge separate imagery on the one canvas but to treat them differently via technique. I’ve done this regularly in the past but never to this extent before and definitely not on this scale. There’s loads going on: blocked areas, melting, washes and burning/corroding of the surface for texture.

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Confessional” is a different beast altogether. It’s going to be a slower process - building up washes of colour, drawing elements back in followed by more washes until it comes to an end or a crossroads. So far so good. It’s not really a colliding of images. It’s the notion of what a negative of a pattern could do to another image.

Refreshing to see organisations opening doors. The model is being altered.

04/11/18

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Kept hearing the shrieking of a buzzard every time I went to work on “Afore the Stoop”. When I looked it was perched on top of the tallest tree at the end of the lane and then glided off.

06/11/18

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Some sketchbook work. Not a lot of time but that’s my fault.

09/11/18

HELP!

10/11/18

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For studio work: cautious steps or daring leaps? Annoyingly close to finishing “ATS”.

Submission writing hurts my head.

11/11/18

Films to watch:

‘Deer Hunter’

‘Inland Empire’

‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’

’Kill List’

‘Enemy’

‘Fruitvale Station’

‘Green Room’

‘Silence’

Finished “ATS”. Still bits that annoy but for the sake of not destroying it entirely, I don’t mind the imperfections.

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Help has been indispensable.

12/11/18

Still waiting on magazine.

13/11/18

Egon Shiele Documentary - transcending the idea of the body as beauty.

15/11/18

Nothing.

16/11/18

Belfast bound for curator talks but looking forward to visiting some galleries first.

Jane McCormick’s “Not Half Right” at the University of Atypical  was absolutely amazing. Insanely strong drawing and sculptural elements.

Jane McCormick’s “Not Half Right” at the University of Atypical was absolutely amazing. Insanely strong drawing and sculptural elements.

Ali Cherri  in the MAC International 2018. His work was the stand out work for me.

Ali Cherri in the MAC International 2018. His work was the stand out work for me.

Curator talks as part of Belfast Open Studios from  Visual Artists Ireland  offices. Speaking at the event: Nora Hickey from  CCI in Paris , Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka from  CCA Warsaw , Dean Brierley from  Caustic Coastel  in Manchester and Anna Ciabach - formally of  Monopol Gallery  in Warsaw.

Curator talks as part of Belfast Open Studios from Visual Artists Ireland offices. Speaking at the event: Nora Hickey from CCI in Paris, Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka from CCA Warsaw, Dean Brierley from Caustic Coastel in Manchester and Anna Ciabach - formally of Monopol Gallery in Warsaw.

17/11/18

Work is being used as an example to show other artists about finding your own voice. Chuffed.

…someone has been keeping an eye on my progress and that is something!

Another trip to Belfast for more galleries and then a Speed Curating event.

Gerard Carson ’s “Submersible Extractions” in  Platform .

Gerard Carson’s “Submersible Extractions” in Platform.

Still of  Barbara Hammer ’s work at the Golden Thread Gallery exhibition.

Still of Barbara Hammer’s work at the Golden Thread Gallery exhibition.

Layout of the ‘Speed Curating’ event by VAI held in  Belfast Exposed .

Layout of the ‘Speed Curating’ event by VAI held in Belfast Exposed.

18/11/18

It has been a hectic but brilliant few days. Yesterday I called into Platform to see Gerard Carson’s “Submersible Extractions” and a solo show by Dryden Wilson. I followed this up by a quick look at the Barbara Hammer exhibition and Patrick Colhoun’s project space work in the Golden Thread Gallery. Then it was time for the speed curating event at Belfast Exposed.


… do research. What artists i admire….

…Strange. Nothing negative. Just nothing.

A lot of information. A real painter?

19/11/18

“In Defence of Representation” essay by Tristan Garcia.
In western philosophy the representational object is either a copy, a sign or a duplex.

“… according to the semiotic model, there is no representation without signification, that is to say without interpretation.” - Tristan Garcia

20/11/18

“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” - Screen (1973)

“The Victim” - Saul Bellow

21/11/18

Tried sketchbook work - failed miserably.

23/11/18

Projection onto fog screen.

24/11/18

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Thunderchild?

Line of connection between viewer and work - GO’H

Ask the question: what do you see?

25/11/18

Yesterday I eventually got painting around lunchtime - back and forth with ‘Confessional’ but progress made.  Great talk with GO’H about ‘the gaze’.

Leaf blowing.

27/11/18

Need to select paintings for Framewerk Christmas show.

28/11/18

“The Trouble with Painting” - ICA (YouTube)

“What you’re interested in in the world will feed back into what you are interested in as an artist.” - Alison Pilkington

…speaking about dreams, a quote from Alison Pilkington’s drawing seminar from the RHA really stuck out.  I’m paraphrasing here but the guts of it is this:  talking to people about why you make the work you do (or about your inspirations for that matter) is like talking to people about your dreams.  People aren’t overly interested when someone else describes a dream.  It’s subjective and personal and it’s all but impossible to get the experience across properly.

Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.

29/11/18

A difficult few weeks to come.

VAI Speed Curating: Nov 2018

On Saturday 17th November, Visual Artists Ireland held a Speed Curating event in Belfast Exposed Gallery as part of their Belfast Open Studios 2018 programme. It was great to get a chance to speak to curators both from here and also based further afield: Manchester, Paris, Warsaw and Rome.

For artists, I can’t recommend taking part in events like this highly enough. Thanks to Rob, Chris and Siobhán from VAI and to all the curators for their time and feedback!

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Show and Tell: Dún Laoghaire

I was delighted to take part in VAI’s Show and Tell talks held at the stunning DLR Lexicon building in Dún Laoghaire.

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I spoke about my practice and working methods along with other artists who gave insights to their work.

Speakers:

Eileen Malaniff, Des Kenny, Sheena Meagher, Melissa Ellis, Sarah Boyle, Jane Murtagh, Cecilia Bullo and Katherine Halford Greene.

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Many thanks to Siobhán Mooney from VAI and DLR County Council for organising the event.

RDH: 01/09/18 - 30/09/18

01/09/18

Detail work to “AMATGS” today.

Detail work to “AMATGS” today.

02/09/18

Lifting unselected works from Belfast.

Lifting unselected works from Belfast.

03/09/18

No point in worrying about things out of your control. Took a while but made good progress in the studio. Gently does it.

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Sculpture on my mind.

04/09/18

…mad to think I have two solo shows coming…

Tinker + Research + Ideas = …

What box?

05/09/18

Detail of sketchbook work.

Detail of sketchbook work.

NB: Sketch from objects?

08/09/18

ideas: …soft pink highlights… hints of sandals… bruised colour…

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Steps in the right direction. Had a notion to put trees in the background - the nothingness was annoying me. After that attempt and then a further attempt to incorporate reflective lines, i think blank is good. There is plenty going on in and amongst the three figures so to try and confuse it with more ammo may be a mistake.

Gathered objects for perusal. Baby steps.

Gathered objects for perusal. Baby steps.

09/09/18

Seneca on anger documentary. Nero’s tutor. People get angry because they are too hopeful - be more pessimistic and less surprised for misfortune.

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Be psychologically prepared from when things go wrong. Dark Symbol - Rudder

“What need is there to weep over parts of life, the whole of it calls for tears.” - Seneca

10/09/18

Playing about with mirror effects.

Playing about with mirror effects.

Change to background. Neutral this time and I think it will work. There was a muck up when I went to put the blood moon back in and I tried to rectify the warmer tones on the upper right or the neutral colour but was then reminded of a quote by Rose Wylie: “I think you’re a lot happier if you don’t mind a bit of imperfection.” It feeds into the Seneca documentary from last night.

11/09/18

Another day filled with distractions.

12/09/18

Eventually got round to doing some sketchbook development.

Eventually got round to doing some sketchbook development.

An afternoon of application submissions and sketchbook studies.

15/09/18

Detail of recently finished painting.

Detail of recently finished painting.

Finished “A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife.”

16/09/18

A lazy day.

17/09/18

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Some interest. Started triptych.

23/09/18

Amazing weekend at the Loughlin wedding!

Amazing weekend at the Loughlin wedding!

24/09/18

Jan mentioned something that I think is important. Doing a little something everyday - even if you think there is no point - is better than doing nothing at all.

25/09/18

A weird impromptu visit. Well-intentioned but very sceptical.

26/09/18

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The only absolute constant is change.

29/09/18

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Painting Peer Critique Session went really well in the Golden Thread Gallery. Hoping it grows and develops.

30/09/18

Studio work. “Pioneer Studies” - good start. Haven’t done a triptych in a few years. Third canvas is all but there.

Close up of one of the “Pioneer Studies” - work in progress.

Close up of one of the “Pioneer Studies” - work in progress.

"Procession Study"

The image from Procession study takes inspiration from a still of the 1964 film “The Masque of the Red Death” which is based on a short story by Edgar Allen Poe of the same name. The film is dated and garish but does have some interesting visuals.

Still from “The Masque of the Red Death” 1964 film.

Still from “The Masque of the Red Death” 1964 film.

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I first explored this image in 2017. In my sketchbook (above) I pared the image down to the three component parts; land, sky and figures and ignored nearly all detail. It was then projected up onto a large canvas. Below is the reveal of the figures once the background was applied.

Sadly the painting didn’t go any further and I set the image aside until recently. I decided to do the opposite of last year’s attempt and work on a small study with the figures facing the other way. The sky soon became convoluted so it was then pulled back to neutral tones.

“Procession Study”  Oil and Charcoal on Canvas  ©2018

“Procession Study”

Oil and Charcoal on Canvas

©2018

RDH: 01/08/18 - 31/08/18

01/08/18

Blog generally.

03/08/18

Work wrapped and ready.

Work wrapped and ready.

Confessional - portrait through mesh?

installational idea - structural notes on seat.  Guidelines for penance.

"The Ash Wednesday Supper" by Giordano Bruno - 1584

Michael Simpson - think of your 'style' as developing a language; coherent and your own without being stylised.

04/08/18

'Real Artists Don't Starve' by Jeff Goins

Agendas in the work?  Activism? Does it need to have a message?

CNIP Meeting in CCA Derry went really well.

CNIP Meeting in CCA Derry went really well.

At the Gates of the Music Palace by Alex Cecchetti.  Curated by Mary Cremin - VOID Derry

05/08/18

RUA works dropped off.

"As a painter you constantly want to overcome your virtuosity, but at the same time you strive for virtuosity" - Per Kirkeby

06/08/18

Bits that work and bits that don't.

Bits that work and bits that don't.

08/08/18

Been offered to show work in New York City!!!

09/08/18

Stiffen the Sinews, Summon up the blood. - King Henry in William Shakespeare's 'Henry V'

The above is written on the studio wall of Maggi Hambling (Tateshots).  Some sketching done.

11/08/18

Average Buzzard wingspan = 110 - 140cm.  Overlap red silhouette of bird with rabbit skull.  Any black in the skull should remain the red of the buzzard.  Don't overwhelm foundation of composition.

No where fast with this. Not happy with tones at the minute but it can be pulled back.

No where fast with this. Not happy with tones at the minute but it can be pulled back.

Will get a good push in the studio tomorrow.  At the same time if I rush at it, that's when it is more likely to fall apart.  If it happens, it happens..

12/08/18

On the ropes. Really badly on the ropes.

On the ropes. Really badly on the ropes.

Life-sized buzzard started.

Life-sized buzzard started.

Triggers: words, memories, looks, objects?

13/08/18

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"Happiness is like an orgasm - it doesn't really last." - Raqib Shaw

14/08/18

Reading 'Oedipus at Colonus' to get a better grip.  "...further into darkness with every step".

15/08/18

Just realised how I went about the 'Oedipus' painting in the first place ... shading down on charcoal and fix + light transparent wash to unify all the tones.  Once dry, pop in colours and detail accordingly,  How did I forget?!

16/08/18

...waiting on submission is tortuous.

17/08/18

A strange seed.

A strange seed.

Trying very hard not to get ahead of myself.

Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.

18/08/18

Studio shot. "A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife" (left) brought back from the brink.

Studio shot. "A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife" (left) brought back from the brink.

20/08/18

Roasted Crane = culinary symbol of Irish submission.  Breaking of legs before being thrown into the sea.  The Pale - area above Dublin. (beyond the pale saying). Notes from episode 2 of "Story of Ireland"

OH DEAR.  Painful.  What a difference a day makes.  Twenty four little hours.  Three things looking good and they all come crashing down.

22/08/18

A shitty week but it will be OK.  Shouldn't have let it affect me as much as it did.  Got blindsided and took eye off longer focus and objectives.  Onward.

Trying out new things.

Trying out new things.

23/08/18

Grayson Perry's "Rites of Passage" episode on death really got to me.  A lot of people would give an arm and a leg to have that last conversation with a loved one - what they meant to you and what you mean to them - before they pass.

24/08/18

Prioritise / Lists - allow for flexibility.

25/08/18

A large (and very unfortunate) spider met it's end some time ago.

A large (and very unfortunate) spider met it's end some time ago.

Bit of an overhaul on "Procession Study" today.  Clouds were OK but too noisy.  Back and forth with it today.  Looking more like a study now.  A little looser.

Blocked in rough colours for "Afore the Stoop";

Blocked in rough colours for "Afore the Stoop";

26/08/18

Good progress on this today. Am I getting too caught up on those bloody hands and ignoring the rest of the canvas? Probably.

Good progress on this today. Am I getting too caught up on those bloody hands and ignoring the rest of the canvas? Probably.

27/08/18

'Nemo Malus nisi probetur' roughly translates to 'No one is evil until it is proven'.

28/08/18

Bank Buildings in Belfast city centre completely gutted by fire.

Above:  Some shots of the Golden Thread Gallery's two simultaneous solo exhibitions:  Travis Somerville's "Homeland Insecurity" and Ian Cumberland's "a common fiction".

"Art Practice as fictioning (or myth-science) by Simon O'Sullivan.

29/08/18

A group show in London?  GT meet up yesterday was great.  Hearing what folks have been up to and where they are going.  Some feedback from sculptural ideas from friends was positive.

"Procession Study" finished. Can a study be finished?

"Procession Study" finished. Can a study be finished?

30/08/18

Cat is missing.

31/08/18

An application was successful so there will be two solo shows - one in 2019 and one in 2020!

"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife"

For the past few years I've been interested creating work loosely based on the works of Sophocles and in particular the plays surrounding Oedipus.  Yes there is the obvious notion of trauma involved in realising you have murdered your father and married your mother etc but this isn't really of interest.  I have started a few times to make work using imagery form an 1896 Dutch production of "Oedipus Rex" but all have fell short of what I wanted to achieve.

Louis Bouwmeester as Oedipus in a Dutch production (c.1896)

Louis Bouwmeester as Oedipus in a Dutch production (c.1896)

Failed Study of Oedipus from 2017

Failed Study of Oedipus from 2017

"Oedipus and the Sphinx",   Gustave Moreau, 1864,&nbsp;The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

"Oedipus and the Sphinx", Gustave Moreau, 1864, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The character of Oedipus has appeared in art many times.  Some focused on the character's known genius and skills as a soldier / king to be like Moreau's "Oedipus and the Sphinx".  Renoir's take on the myth looked at the unravelling scene of when Oedipus the king emerges from his palace having blinded himself for realising his deeds.  Filled with light and energy Renoir's work is chaotic and seems to put Oedipus' kingdom of Thebes into a frenzy.

"Oedipus Rex", Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1895, Private Collection

"Oedipus Rex", Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1895, Private Collection

One painting that has a different stance comes earlier than Moreau and Renoir yet looks at later circumstances. "Oedipus Cursing His Son, Polynices" by Fuseli looks at the epic poem 'The Thebaid' where Oedipus curses his sons for disrespecting him by praying to Zeus that they (Polynices and Eteocles) died by each others hand.

"Oedipus Cursing His Son, Polynices", by Henry Fuseli, 1786, oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

"Oedipus Cursing His Son, Polynices", by Henry Fuseli, 1786, oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

Polynices and Eteocles roughly translate as 'Manifold Strife' and 'Truly Glorious' respectively.  I did a small sketch a few years ago of a photo taken in 1911 of past family members from when they were children and hadn't developed it any further until it came to mind as a stand in for the two sons of Oedipus (although one is actually a little girl).  I've decided to merge the Dutch production image of Oedipus and the personal photo.

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A mixing of the translations of Polynices and Eteocles serves as the working title for this painting in progress:

"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife"

A WORK IN PROGRESS

 

RDH: 01/07/18 - 31/07/18

01/07/18

Crunching numbers.

02/07/18

... feels unfinished ... sections fall apart ... a denying of illusionism ...

"The Mountain of the Heights" in progress.

"The Mountain of the Heights" in progress.

03/07/18

TRAUMA PARADOX - CONCEPT

04/07/18

Shocked. Head spirals backwards.  Sketchbook work today.

05/07/18

'Bardo' - (tibetan) a state between life and death

...instead of saying "What's wrong with you?" it should be "What happened to you?"

relaxing with visual artists news sheet from   VAI

relaxing with visual artists news sheet from VAI

1:  Emotional brain basically becomes a 'survival brain' and can hijack the conscious brain.

2:  Alarm system in brain becomes distorted and a person may become hyper vigilant.

3:  Ability to appraise the present and to learn from experience (an imbalance and a resistance to heal).

Developmental trauma takes time to heal and there are no quick fixes.

BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!!!!

07/07/18

Lifting works from the  Townhouse Gallery  in Belfast.

Lifting works from the Townhouse Gallery in Belfast.

rough sketch for an installation idea

rough sketch for an installation idea

08/07/18

A research day.

A research day.

09/07/18

Studio wall

Studio wall

Refined some charcoal marks on the large landscape today.

10/07/18

"Traumatic Memory"

trauma - from the greek meaning 'to wound' or 'to pierce'.

11/07/18

NOTES from Psychology texts:

"...the story of trauma is one of enlightenment and forgetfulness.Knowledge gained and lost over and over. A history categorised by criticism and denial."

A tragic paradox of trauma is that one of it's primary casualties is that of truth itself.

Trauma is considered as - "an event outside the range of usual experience." (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -III - R - 1980)

Trauma shatters the assumptive world - invincibility has gone and the world is seen as darker, chaotic, evil and dangerous.

12/07/18

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Sketchbook work today.  Little steps are better than no steps at all.

13/07/18

Canvas nearly ready to go in the studio

Canvas nearly ready to go in the studio

Stretched a few canvases today.

14/07/18

detail of landscape in progress

detail of landscape in progress

Colours laid out and tightened back of landscape canvas.

15/07/18

;

16/07/18

"The Mountain of the Heights" in the garden.

"The Mountain of the Heights" in the garden.

Finished "The Mountain of the Heights" today.  Could have done more but I'm learning to let go before work is destroyed.

17/07/18

"Second hand images can create first hand emotion" - Marlene Dumas

18/07/18

A delivery of paints came today

A delivery of paints came today

19/07/18

"Lost Illusions" by Balzac

20/07/18

A pretty good start to my week off; I have been offered a solo show!

21/07/18

Justine McDonnell  's "A Composition of She" in the   Golden Thread Gallery  , Belfast

Justine McDonnell's "A Composition of She" in the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

First night out in Belfast in ages and we are evacuated from Laverys due to a 'fire'.

First night out in Belfast in ages and we are evacuated from Laverys due to a 'fire'.

22/07/18

Stunning paintings by   Elizabeth Magill   at the Ulster Museum, Belfast

Stunning paintings by Elizabeth Magill at the Ulster Museum, Belfast

23/07/18

An idea for using flattened paint boxes.

An idea for using flattened paint boxes.

Too many ideas floating around.

NB:  To loosen up before working from chosen imagery, I want to try and do some work from life beforehand.  Can't do any harm.

A five minute self portrait study

A five minute self portrait study

24/07/18

"The Landis Museum" exhibition at the   CCA, Derry

"The Landis Museum" exhibition at the CCA, Derry

A trip to Derry for meetings and gallery visits.

Detail of one of Colin Davidson's remarkable paintings in "Silent Testimony" at the Nerve Visual Gallery, Derry

Detail of one of Colin Davidson's remarkable paintings in "Silent Testimony" at the Nerve Visual Gallery, Derry

I first saw Colin Davidson's 'Silent Testimony' three years ago in the Ulster Museum. Today it was in the Nerve Visual Gallery in Derry.  Still so powerful.  The 'us and them' mentality is nonexistent and removing divisive language and politics reveals the human suffering on all sides.  It is so important.  So glad to have seen it again.

Beginnings of a small canvas experiment

Beginnings of a small canvas experiment

Merging two old drawing works onto a new canvas.

Merging two old drawing works onto a new canvas.

Have multiple little eggs going on at the moment.

Imagine... Rose Wylie on BBC iPlayer

...where presence is evident...

"I think you're a lot happier if you don't mind a bit of imperfection." - Rose Wyllie

25/07/18

The two sons of Oedipus, Polynices and Eteocles translates to "Manifold Strife" and "Truly Glorious" respectively.  Might just be the title of a new painting that's been started.

Good news: I have two works pre-selected for the Royal Ulster Academy 2018.  Fingers crossed!

26/07/18

"What's for you won't go past you."

Progress on a small painting study

Progress on a small painting study

TAL R on Louisiana Channel

"It's strange, but you can't make a painting without content. Content is not like solving a problem in school or university. Content much more means that you've built up enough reason to do it. And content is also shitty because if you begin to identify too much with the content then you can't move. There are too many people shouting out in the chorus. Content starts you up and you leave it behind. It doesn't mean that you remove yourself from the content but it's too cumbersome to carry along. So when I'm working, it's not mechanical at all but it's cool headed because I'm not questioning the content. I've left it behind. It's interesting to say that content is crap, but you can't live without it." - TAL R

27/07/18

Four works in progress in the studio

Four works in progress in the studio

"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife"  - painting in progress

"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife" - painting in progress

Really pleased with how "A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife" is shaping up.

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"You have to create something that lives in a kind of mystery." - TAL R

28/07/18

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Worked on "Rehearsal Study" today.  Played with skin tone and facial features using an air compressor to manipulate the paint. A slightly less controlled appearance.

31/07/18

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So pleased to have been able to attend the iDA reception event at the Atypical Gallery in Belfast.  This website is only possible through the iDA grant from atypical and the Arts Council fo Northern Ireland so I'm extremely grateful for their continued support and guidance.  Congratulations to all the award recipients this year!

Whoever heard of a Black Artist?" on BBC iPlayer.

"Cult" - Work in Progress

"Cult"&nbsp;  WORK IN PROGRESS

"Cult"  WORK IN PROGRESS

This is a paint study of a sketch from seven years ago.  I came across an image of a Holy festival in Seville that dates back to the 16th Century - a long time before the Ku Klux Klan donned regalia which bares a strong resemblance.