How fantastic is this?
I’m working on a set back drop for an Easter themed Alice in Wonderland belly dancing fundraiser for Myton Hospice in Warwickshire, UK.
Here are my prelimary sketches.
On Self Promotion.
I was thinking about a post that I put up on Linkedin yesterday. Re-reading it today, it sounds blunt and lacks any poetry.
So I want to improve how I promote myself. How do you do? I went to a seminar given by Faye Smith at Sheffield Hallam University in Marketing and felt awkward talking about what I’ve accomplished and where my work is now shown. I’ve had similar discussion with Lesley Black. Is it a matter of practise? Or something else?
Yesterday was the closing of the show. Some dear friends came to make the closing of the M.Litt Graduate degree show, Glasgow School of Art, 2016 special. Alice and Allan brought purple plastic Martini glasses and a bottle of bubbly. We toasted the paintings, the friends, the institution, the building and the show as I turned off the lights as we talked out.
Today is results day!
I passed with Merit. MERIT from Glasgow School of Art!
Metaphor as Materials
I have not lost my metaphor
I am just finding it
It’s in my bones
suck the marrow:
spit it out;
Pictures within pictures.
Frames of intimacies.
The ambassadors of our frontiers are not our statesmen
But our prospectors
Dug dynanite dredged
I am the law
Dust to dust
Lindal Moor’s raw ore
Shipped to Bonawe
Slipped into reduction
Not with Quaker Coke’s efficiency
but exhumed trees.
What greater way to supplicate a nation
than through the consumption of its chattel.
Having exhausted his native Lancastrian trees,
Frustrated by their lack of fecundity,
he slipped into that other union with a dowry of trees.
The forest had no escape.
Forced into marital rape.
Consummated in fire, a funeral pyre.
All that green reduced to black
Where should we wear our cross on that Jack?
Men in furnaces need their beer
Highland water tasted too queer
They brought the seeds that remain as Betty’s hops.
No flowers as it’s not too hot.
What was the ballast that those Lancastrian ships took back?
It was the body of Bonawe mountains themselves
Strong evenly fragmented
Perfect for cobbles
Pretender of Tar Macadam
Bellicose Britain’s Bonawe baked canon balls
That Slag burnt to heat to pig iron.
Franc-allies of Jacobites drowned.
A cannibalization of its once allies.
Let us discuss this in the age of reason not treason
Let us define a man’s work, his property as secular not sacred.
Rio Tinto Alcan have the world, they are the world
Australia, China, Canada and Brazil have Alumina.
That river is as dark as an aged port
Whisky ages in port casks
Japanese whisky from Lidl is cheaper
Vassal of water, of captured latency of Treig, Spean and Spey
Captive hope, latent hope
Flowing not free, dialed to fleetingly heat hot air.
Count this point of refraction and reduction
Captivating heat as pressure
Sintered aluminum cinders
Smelted ore frames the shadow of the
old God man mountain to tèarnadh his wife
the wind frame capture rapture
Of course it is the last that is most deadly
Scotland to a T
Forrest comminuted Tennets gold in cycanide
Those triple bonds waiting and wanting to fuse with our flesh.
Bayer Boyles Hall, Heroult Deville, Soderberg,
MacArthur and Forrest are long since dead.
The names of those scientists, the spare heir, the non apparents
Eponymous names of diseases suffered
inflicted on the stratified animals.
Bayer Boyles Bauxite
Alumina Gibbsite Boehmite Diaspore
Aluminium as beautiful as the wooded glens once were.
Soft skin of youthfull irridescent purity
Seduction of surface.
Scientific developments the later part of the 19th century
allowed painters to have
Vivid, light fast colours.
What was once Lapzi is now sodium aluminium silicate
Red iron oxide gives English red, the colour of Argylls rust.
Reassuringly, lamp gas is the soot of petrified trees.
My beloved translucent turquoise cyan cyanide
Hedbridean seas, Lorn and Awe
Let me hex phthalo triplet around the floor
A reel of what name?
The wheel of all our life
Blood’s heam and chlorphyll’s green.
Extruded from Aluminium.
Extruded from metal
Mixed poured brushed dropped cajoled
Sits vulnerable in its refined state
the hidden material latent memory.
Slow thought stops
Revealed slope intent and sag
Slipped silently sideways
Like all good oil redundant to perfection
Dust sticks to the apparent slick surface
brighter and more saturated
Revealed by great transparency
the action of light
The sun keeps giving.
The monoculture that is the forestry plantation drowns the land
burns in its acid sterility.
Decorative deciduous borders do to not fool animals.
Funded by feudal centuries.
The same people that drew down that asset,
profited from that original sin that union
the devalued fettered thistle
Hunts shoots balls reels wait as their assets grow.
Trusts pays less dues to their Crown.
This slip still stays distilled.
Are we enlightened now?
Futures never restore hope but apparent empires
Domains never return satiated sanity
But meters and packing
Desire is fire
And so we return to trees.
I have been many things to many people.
What do they call me now?
In Part I of ‘Metaphor as Material. Material as Metaphor’ I’ve talked about choosing the material of the painting to be the metaphor of the subject matter. In Part I was using watercolour, ink and gouache on paper with hand made native wood frames to explore the temporally of trees. Not only in the seasons, but within the geopolitics of Scotland and the early formation of the United Kingdom.
Here, in Part II of ”Metaphor as Material. Material as Metaphor’ I’ve taken that same idea that the materials and the process of making the paintings are in keeping with topic. The topic here is still landscape and Scotland, but on a bigger scale. The large employers in Argyll, Scotland are now the multi-national giants. The land is owned by Trusts and the Hedge funds. Such is the result that no one individual is responsible for the land or for the people who have lived on the land for centuries. As I write this, I am aware of the seduction that making money has, of the challenges that it presents to ones authenticity and being in the world. I pay into a UK Civil Service pension but have no idea what they money is invested in and how they in turn treat landscapes. I am minded of the anthropologist Michael Taussig essay ‘ The Sun gives without receiving’ in his book
Walter Benjamin’s Grave. (Chicago Press, 2006.) In this essay the tale of awesomely scaled consumeristic enterprise is endowed with the ability to destroy life as well as bestow riches. Taussig reminds us that it is a materialist knowledge that offers a crucial alternative to the increasingly abstract, globalized, homogenized, and digitized world we inhabit.
For these painting I’ve worked on a larger scale and with oil paint on aluminium. What better way to express the notions of the multinational than with oil. I used the same process of making the paintings that is analogous to the formation of landscapes. The paintings are one metre squared. The aluminium has a beautiful fine grain and a subtle iridescence. They are seductive and sit somewhere between abstract and expressionist landscape, but take the form of figurative painting.
I have used the same pigments as in Part I ‘Metaphor as Material. Material as Metaphor’ on paper and translated the idea into oil paint. These are turquoise, ultramarine, London red, lemon yellow. I have substituted the watercolour lamp black for oil Madder. Oil paint uses the same chemical pigments to watercolour but oil uses different resin and mediums to suspend the colours. The colours and mediums form sedimentary layers and interact with each other and the aluminium to become something other than what they started as.
It is by being in the landscape; by being in that place that I am brought into dialogue with the complexes of identity; as artist, insider, outsider tourist and landscape’s own mythology.
It is this unstable and uncomfortable discourse of place, knowledge, cultural geographies, physical landscapes, codification, consumption and colonization that is both an instrument and an effect of power, but also a hindrance, a stumbling block, a point of resistance and a starting point for an opposing strategy.
For my M.Litt Graduate 2016 show I have worked with the idea of material as the metaphor, and the metaphor as the material. It is process as well as the materials used must be congruent with the subject matter. For example, a paintings process of formation is analogous to the formation of landscapes. Watercolours natural action on paper can become landscape. A watermark blur of colour on paper become the shape of a specific tree in full summer foliage. I then draw a winter oak tree in side the blur. The frame around the watercolour is made by me from native oak sourced in Scotland.
Thank you to everyone who can last night.
Detail. Oil on Aluminium.