A Week of Arty Stuff

Mary River, Queensland

Good morning everyone. Well, the title says it all – a week of arty stuff! For example, today I went to two galleries in Wakefield where some of my work is on display. And I was particularly pleased to see this one – Mary River, Queensland, on show with two other Australian landscapes. Actually, we took them down from a pop-up exhibition at another gallery. And now they are on show in our Northern Fringe Gallery artists display space in the Ridings Shopping Centre.

In Our Gallery

Then we went to the lovely volunteer led Urban Commune Gallery in another part of town, to help out a bit and show support. Actually, I have two mini displays on show at the moment , see this post here. And it’s a real pleasure to be part of a group of artists, dedicated to the promotion of art in the community.

My Story Pictures
The Boy and the Bird

Finally, I’ll just say that tomorrow I’ll be going to the launch of the Rotherham Roar exhibition in the indoor market. And I’m really looking forward to meeting my fellow artists and chatting to interested members of the public. More arty stuff. After all, that’s what it is all about!

A Castle in Portugal

Progress of Mankind – New Show

The Progress of Mankind

Good morning everyone. This is my new show. And I was delighted to see my five part series ‘ The Progress of Mankind’ displayed at Urban Commune gallery in Wakefield. In fact, I had dreamed of seeing it like this all through the pandemic when I painted it. Of course, I didn’t see it as a story when I painted the first piece ‘Paradise’.

Paradise

As I painted this intuitive abstract, I realised it was an attempt to portray an idyllic world, completely unspoiled by man. If you look closely, you can spot hints of a bird, an insect, foliage and flowers.

Hell on Earth

Maybe this piece needs no explanation, it’s a scene of pollution and destruction on an overheated planet. Perhaps you can feel the heat from the monstrous red sun and smell the toxic smoke.

Flying Away in my New Show

Free Spirit

Actually, I created this acrylic painting ‘Free Spirit’ out of my subconscious. Because I finished it completely and then afterwards understood its significance. If I can explain, I painted my dream of floating away from all the worry and trouble, just like a kite in the sky.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Now this one is the only one of the series that was partly planned. Really a bit later on when we were aware of vaccines being developed. So I thought of a painting trying to show the feeling of seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. And I decided to use the figure of a young man to represent the human race, naked and vulnerable.

Connections

Finally, the last part of my story of my new show – Connections and it’s all about family and friends. Because, this is what I learned during the pandemic, the importance of connections with people. In effect, I painted this without a plan. And, I see here an abstract portrait of me and my nearest and dearest. So, that’s how this work came about and what it means to me. If you like, you could see more of my Story Pictures here.

Looking at Free Spirit

Two Paintings of Women’s Stories

The Woman at the Window

Good morning everyone. Here are two more of my paintings from our exhibition ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’, on now at Mirfield. And these two in particular are all about women’s stories. For example, in the one above, I wanted to explore the reality behind living a secluded life. As I painted I thought of the women living where the culture requires them to stay indoors most of the time. Hopefully, you can see the loneliness this woman feels, peering at the outside world through the window. While she always must remain indoors.

Coffee for One

Next I chose to exhibit this painting which highlights another one of my women’s stories. And the story here is rooted very firmly in time – a period of respite in the recent pandemic. In fact, here in the UK, restrictions had been lifted, only to be reimposed shortly after. During that time, people seemed to sit quite nervously in cafes, socially distanced. However, they didn’t stay long and soon hurried out, with a sigh of relief. Just like this woman, with her coffee and cake. You could see more stories about women’s lives here and here.

Coffee and Cake

New Narrative Paintings for Mirfield

Paradise

Good morning everyone. This is a quick post today, I’m insanely busy right now. Why is it that you wait two years for an exhibition and then five come along at once! Anyway, I wanted to show you another two of my narrative paintings. And, as we speak, this should be hanging on the wall at Creative Arts Hub Gallery, Mirfield. Well, I hope so, it’s the launch of our art society show ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ in the morning!

Actually, you may have seen this on this blog before, along with the next part of the story, in this post here and here. In fact, I did paint five pieces to tell the tale of ‘ The Progress of Mankind ‘. As illustrated by me! Simply put, this first chapter shows the unspoilt paradise that the earth once was. Perhaps you can see the suggestions of an insect, a bird, a butterfly and a flower.

Hell on Earth

And here is part two – my interpretation of the way our world is almost destroyed by the exploitation of all our resources. Perhaps you think it’s pretty bleak. But by Chapter Five of my narrative paintings, things are a little bit more hopeful.

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the other stories on the wall tomorrow morning.

New Exhibition of Story Paintings

New Exhibition Poster

Good morning everyone. This is the fantastic poster for our new story paintings exhibition at Creative Arts Hub, Mirfield in West Yorkshire, UK. Actually Mark Milnes, the curator put this poster together back in 2018 when I arranged the exhibition. And when Covid intervened, the show was postponed until now! So, we are really looking forward to seeing the work up on the wall. It’s all about story pictures. And we would like to invite you to the launch on Saturday morning 18th June, 1.30 till 3pm. If you are in the area, of course!

The Boy and the Bird

This is one of my paintings for the show and I decided to put the explanation all in the title. Then, people can look and make up their own story, there is plenty of inspiration there, I think. In addition to this one, I have entered a few more without any further text. But, I have added a short explanation for some of my work. Because I feel that they will be better appreciated that way. For example, you may know this story, or you may not. Let’s see!

The Silk Princess, one of my Story Paintings

The Silk Princess

Perhaps you know this legend about the princess in China a long time ago? When she travelled to another country to marry the ruler there, she hid silkworms in her large headdress. And smuggled them out of China, effectively taking the secret of silk making with her. Because you see, until then it was known only to her people. Anyway, it’s a good story. And, using artistic licence, I added to it here by showing the ‘silk’ road leading to Bradford, Yorkshire UK. Where there still stands the Manningham Mills building, once the largest silk mill in Europe.

Manningham Mills

Incidentally, can you spot the silk worm, the silk moth and the white roses of Yorkshire in these two paintings?

Maybe you would like to read more about this painting here.

Northern Fringe Exhibition Now Open

Good morning everyone. Well, as I write this, it’s not quite true because we are opening the show tomorrow, see poster above for dates. Anyway, we have waited a long time to put on our Northern Fringe exhibition. Obviously, due to lockdowns and so on, so I’m really looking forward to going tomorrow to see everyone’s work.

As I have mentioned before, the theme is a really meaty one that you can get your teeth into! In my opinion, at least, ‘Inspired by Yorkshire Writers’. Perhaps you have seen my first entry already. But, here’s another chance.

The Green Knight, Waiting for Sir Gawain at the Doorway of his Church

And, I felt inspired to paint this by the poem ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ‘ by Simon Armitage. In fact, he reworked the medieval poem about King Arthur and his knights. And it’s a really good read too.

The House on the Moor

Secondly, I painted this view of the ruined farm house on the moors near Howarth, probably the setting Emily Bronte chose for her novel, Wuthering Heights. But, I was also inspired by the poem by Ted Hughes about the day he and his wife, Sylvia Plath walked up to Top Withens.

Top Withens

Now, after having painted both of these, I was tidying my stash, and I found my Egyptian Temple painting. Actually, I did it a year ago, when I did a series of gouache paintings about Egypt. And, I had forgotten that my imagination was fired up by the exhibitions put on by Joann Fletcher in our town. Joann, born locally, is a well-known Egyptologist – her exhibitions were very good, as were the documentaries on tv. In particular, I remember her striding around the sites in baking heat, with the sun striking off the white stone.

I explain all about this painting here, it has just come back from an exhibition.

Two More Paintings for our Northern Fringe Exhibition

Egyptian Temple

Finally, just before I had to take the paintings to the gallery, I had an idea about one of Ebenezer Elliott’s poems, Trees at Brimham , in North Yorkshire. You see, this Victorian poet lived all his life in my area. And I especially like his poem about this area of rocky outcrops. As he says, the rocks and trees are shaped by each other, and live in ‘union strange’.

Brimham Rocks

Literally, I painted this acrylic painting on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and then delivered it on Tuesday! As our exhibition themes are usually ongoing, I’ve got time to paint more! Watch this space….

Yorkshire Writers Exhibition in Progress

Top Withens

Good morning everyone. This Saturday I took my big acrylic painting to our gallery at the Ridings centre in Wakefield. Because we are getting our show ready for the 29th September – Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers. Perhaps you remember that we started this project in 2019, but the pandemic stopped it in its tracks, with only half of the artwork in the gallery.

My First Painting for our Yorkshire Writers Exhibition

The Green Man Waiting for Sir Gawain at the Doorway of his Green Church

As you can see, here is my first piece for our current Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition and you can read all about it here. Actually, we do have super themes for our exhibitions – have a look at my Exhibitions page here. And you will see some of the work I did for the Northern Fringe Gallery exhibitions.

Top Withens

Anyway, just a word of explanation about this painting in which I felt inspired by poet Ted Hughes. In fact, I like many of his poems but I really loved the one entitled ‘Wuthering Heights’. And this location, Top Withens, is a ruined farmhouse on the Pennine moors near Haworth in West Yorkshire. Because it is presumed to be the setting for Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, it’s quite a famous spot. Well, Ted Hughes and his wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath lived nearby. And they hired a local guide to take them to the house. Both poets wrote a poem about the moving experience and I chose Ted’s piece. Here he describes the wild, now abandoned spot where the story of Cathy and Heathcliff took place. As well as his wife’s reaction to the experience. You can see both poems here.

Top Withens – a closeup

Finally, here’s a closeup so you can see the ghostly figure in the window, as described in the poem.

We are launching this exhibition 29th September at the Ridings, then it moves on to Mirfield Creative Arts Hub in October. And, I must admit that I just love being involved in art projects!

Story Pictures – Tales of the Silk Road

Local Artist’s Story Pictures at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

I went to see a great exhibition at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield a couple of weeks ago . And it was called Nomadic Tales by Richard Bartle , including lots of story pictures .

Honesty , we were so delighted to be able to walk round with Richard himself . Because he told us the fascinating stories behind his huge paintings . As you can see , they were painted on canvas material , just like banners . I know that Richard took inspiration from the medieval illustrations of a 14th century artist and storyteller Siyah Kalem . Interestingly, the artist used the motifs of men and demons in his paintings . In this way , he could comment on the everyday life of the nomadic tribes .He concentrated mainly on those who lived on the Silk Road in Asia .

A banner , painted with two fierce  demons fighting  - one of Richard's story pictures

Living in Istanbul

Richard lives part of the year in Istanbul , Turkey. And he has put his own interpretation of the life and political turmoil of the area into his story pictures .

Its a really inspiring show – try and catch it if you are in the area . So , I hope you enjoyed my exhibition review !

To tell the truth , I do enjoy painting story pictures myself . And , funnily enough , I painted the story of how the secret of making silk was smuggled out of China . Actually, it was done by a Chinese princess . To explain , she hid the silkworms and cocoons in her huge headdress , according to the legend . ( See more Story Pictures here )

My Story Pictures

A Chinese princess in medieval dress showing us the silkworm she has smuggled out of the country . She's standing on the Silk Road . One of my story pictures
The Silk Princess – Acrylic on Canvas

This is a romantic version of history , of course . But I am also drawn to putting social comment into my pictures . In fact , I have painted a series particularly highlighting the problems of women in our modern world . Just like this one in the image below.

The Caged Bird

This one ‘ Caged Bird ‘ was painted for the exhibition ‘Vote 100 – a Century of Change ‘ for the Cooper Gallery ,Barnsley here .Now , the exhibition was last year and all about the suffragettes and their struggles to get the vote . Incidentally, I was lucky enough to sell this one to a lovely lady at the exhibition !

Women in Modern Society

A semi-abstract acrylic painting in soft , muted pinks and greens . A woman confined at home -  one of my story pictures .
Woman at the Window

As you can see , in this painting , I explored the idea of the restricted lives that some women lead . Subsequently , I followed this theme over quite a few paintings . And I sort of brought it to a conclusion with this last one below ‘ Women in Chaos ‘ . Here I show a woman trying to deal with all the pressures and problems modern life can throw at us .

Woman in Chaos

Perhaps this is pretty heavy stuff – I suppose it is . But I like all kinds of art . And that means including the kind that really makes you think and I particularly enjoy a story picture.

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