Jun 29

Residency at the National Trust Bucks Mills Artists Cabin

The eastern limekiln dating from 1769.

The eastern limekiln dating from 1769. The Cabin is upper right.

Two weeks of intense heat (>30oC on some days - which was marvellous) and intensive focus on Art at this majestic venue has now finished leaving me tired but with a body of work which ultimately feels worthwhile. "Majestic"? This is the location, not the actual cabin, which is anything but majestic: dilapidated inside with little of the spirit of those two lady artists, Mary Stella Edwards and Judith Ackland, remaining despite their artefacts being everywhere. Nevertheless, I feel very privileged to have been given this chance of residency at what the National Trust calls an "Artists Retreat". I should have liked it to have been both a residency and a retreat. It was neither really, one couldn't reside there (sleeping was not allowed) and the footfall of visitors past the door made "retreat" impossible, at least for me.

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Jun 8

Bucks Mills Artists' Cabin, North Devon

 Bucks Mills Artists' Cabin, North Devon

Judith Ackland, a Bideford girl, and Mary Stella Edwards formed a great artistic partnership after meeting as students. They travelled from London and spent months every year in The Cabin, Bucks Mills, hanging on the spectacular North Devon coast south of Clovelly. In 1948 they eventually managed to buy it, for £625.

Judith Ackland (L) and Mary Stella Edwards at Bucks Mills.

The National Trust gained ownership of The Cabin in 2008 and began a series inviting artists to take up residency for a short period of time. This to include ‘Open Days’ in which the public can gain access to The Cabin’s interior. I feel very honoured to be selected as ‘Artist in Residence’ this year, and from June 12 to the 23rd and most days will be there or in the surrounding countryside, depending on the weather. Please come on the Open Days if you can and feel free to disturb me at any other time (if you are able to find me!).

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Oct 24

Reflections on a Lost Exhibition

I’ve always believed – when younger, without really understanding why – that paintings breathe. Sculpture too. They are the only art forms where there is a tangible link between maker and beholder. Believe me, paintings talk to you! There is nothing in between: no translator, no intermediary, no signer, in short, no interpreter.


Bottles and brushes

Bottles and brushes, Oil on plywood 49 x 73.5cm

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Mar 23

Toying with a duff idea

Aware of a looming exhibition in September, devoted to still-lifes, I was in my usual New Year blues - devoid of ideas. My 'Starts' had deserted me. These began as a devotion to St. Art, and became my 'Starts' – an idea bank where anything lurks that either grabs my attention visually, or is interesting intellectually. This might be literary or scientific – the latter increasingly less so these days.

The visual Starts have never let me down before, and normally Nature provides all the stimulation I need. Well, it would, wouldn't it, because nature is everything. I rather believe that there is no such thing as a purely 'abstract' painting, in the sense that it has no reference to human experience. Even a work that might loosely be said to be from the “Explosion in a paint factory” school of art obeys certain natural laws. Not understanding laws doesn't mean they don't exist, just that we don't understand them.

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Nov 23

That loving feeling.

Here's a pretty fundamental question: why do we do what we do - if it's not a job I mean – and Bill Roseberry (Smithsonian Institute) says, “Art is either a career or a vocation, it cannot be both.” I agree, so what drives passion? Naïve? Maybe, but I challenge you for an answer and, sorry, “Because I enjoy it.” is not good enough!

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