Back in January 2013 I responded to a call for artists to propose ideas for a mural in the bar area of the Instiute of Education's Student Union in London. Little did I know it would turn into a more than a year long project, grow to 4 murals and inspire the new branding of the Student's Union.
I had many ideas and the brief said that any of walls would be acceptable. But luckily before deciding on the proposal I was going to go for, I dropped by to see the space - and that's a lesson learned right here. If you're going to propose a site specific work, make sure you acquaint yourself with the site first.
One of the walls, the most problematic one and therefore the one where the mural was going to make the biggest difference (so obviously the one I was going to go for), had a 12m2 weird (6x2m), darksh, recessed space, which had replaced a number of windows. It featured 3 fairly low radiators leaving a lot of space for improvement on the rest of the wall, and a few tables were placed in very close proximity.
Now, I love a challenge but painting a mural wasn't really going to cut it for this one. So, I suddenly had my lightbulb moment and realised that the best option for it was a broken tiles mosaic. It was perfect! The pieces of mosaic would reflect some light, the texture would distract from the weirdness of the space, and on a practical level it was going to be easy to wipe clean, the heat from the radiators wasn't going to ruin it, and coffee/coke/ketchup stains weren't going to be a problem (I'm practical like this. I do like to make sure my work last for more than a year of intense usage).
As I didn't have much time left anymore, I made a colour pencil drawing of the central area of the composition, featuring the text IOE (above) with the possibility to include more or different texts and some greenery and birds, which were to be developed further if the proposal was selected, backed up by a mood board, including images of other mosaics, textures and colour combinations and sent the whole package over.
I was thrilled when a month later I heard that my proposal had been chosen and I received an invitation to a meeting to discuss it further. As it turns out, everyone was so excited about the mosaic idea, I was asked to consider developing it as a community project with a team of PhD students from the institute!
More lessons learned? Including elements which make the artwork more personal to the person/organisation commissions it (such as text in this case), and leaving some space for further development to take their feedback into consideration is a good thing.
On 21 July 2013, The Elephant Parade will return to the UK for a 375-day tour in partnership with intu, owner of some of the UK’s best shopping centres.
I'm so pleased that this year I'll be creating the intu elephant and can't wait to start working on it (I haven't decided whether it's a he or a she yet, and I'll keep the name and other details secret for the moment... but I can tell you that it's a 1.5m tall standing elephant, and I'll be making a smaller (20cm) replica to go with it as well).
To find out more about this super exciting event, check out this article by intu: http://www.intugroup.co.uk/media-centre/news/2013/may/elephant-parade-goes-national-with-intu and join the Elephant Parade Facebook page.
In my Dancers and Circus Series I don't paint specific people. The figures symbolise the dancers, clowns and acrobats and the transformation they undergo on stage, the characters they embody. In these paintings I often use theatrical lighting even though I rarely define the stage. Painting with a knife, I use colour rather than line to create three-dimensional spaces and a sense of movement and light.
This technique is essential to all my oil paintings, including the portraits. It allows me to determine directions, achieve complexity of colour and create textures which work with the form, all the while keeping the freedom in the painting and a uniform colour scheme.
"Great bold strokes uncover composite figures, enveloped in the soft light of the stage. The figure here is just a silhouette, without outlines, and the stroke of colour alone creates the form. The soft gentle tones impart an almost physical sense of light, dispersing and contrasting in the ballet costumes."
Sometimes you arrive in a strange city completely by chance and you immediately feel at home… And sometimes you may have lived there all your life, know every block of pavement as the palm of your hand, yet you just can’t shed this uneasy feeling that perhaps you don’t really belong there. Our relationship with urban spaces is long and complex, an integral part of our evolution as species. What defines the character of a city? Is it the architecture, the private memories we share with someone special, the unique light and the smells?
When I paint the cities I’ve lived in and visited, I do so from memory and a few rather vague sketches. I’m not looking for realism but for that spark which inspires me to return to a place, in my mind, again and again. I let my impressions of the streets, buildings and nature take over and turn into abstractions until the picture I see when I close my eyes is clear and distinctly mine.
Then I transfer it to the canvas.
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/southlo2/public_html/templates/ja_wall/html/com_k2/ja_wall_blog/category.php on line 248