Posted on Leave a comment

Fluid Landscapes: Responses inspired by the river at Gravesend and the nearby marshes

Visit my gallery
Thank you to everyone who came to my exhibition My 20:20 vision last month at St Andrews Arts Centre in Gravesend. It was really well attended, despite the short notice. It was lovely to see everybody and I sold a bit, which is always nice.

Thanks also to the Iron Pier Brewery https://www.ironpier.beer/ who provided the beer. The Perry Street Pale went down really well.

The exhibition featured quite a bit of new artwork – I’ve started painting again – a lot of it inspired by my experiences growing up in Gravesend. You can see this new artwork, all in one place at the moment, on my website https://duncangrantartist.com/product-category/new-artwork/

Breezy Day: Duncan Grant

 

Among the pieces, there’s one of Rochester Road where I grew up and where my mum still lives. There are the bonfires that used to be built on the communal ground up at Barr Road in the run up to November 5th. And there are a few different treatments of the strange line poplars that I used to walk and cycle past and that still act as wind breaks in the fields between Higham and Cliffe, .

But the biggest influence on my art has always been the Thames. If you live in Gravesend you can’t avoid it: the river is just part of your life. Its cranes and chimneys, and now the wind turbines at Tilbury, are visible from the town centre and from loads of other vantage points. As I was growing up, I could see a ‘slice’ of river between the houses over the road, from our front bedroom.

As a kid I used to go walking on the marshes with my dad and sometimes we went over to Tilbury on the ferry to visit relatives.

Rochester Road: Duncan Grant

Later, as a teenager, I spent loads of time down on the Thames foreshore and in the backwaters, out on my bike, with my mates, fishing and just generally messing about.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you’re from Gravesend, you’ll have your own perceptions and memories of the river. After all, it is the reason the town is here and it was once a major source of employment for Gravesend folk.  It really is an ever present figure, flowing through our lives and shaping the history and geography of the place.

Salt Flats: Duncan Grant

 

I wrote a blog about the Thames in March last year. If you missed it, here is a link which includes some of my older pieces inspired by the river, as part of a soundscape https://www.duncangrantartist.com/2019/03/20/drawing-inspiration-from-the-thames/

Fluid Landscapes
Gravesham Arts’ Fluid Landscapes: Responses inspired by the river at Gravesend and the nearby marshes project is now extending an invitation to local creatives to express their particular relationship with the Thames through their art, writing and poetry.

This project is being led by Heather Haythornthwaite, who was one of the artists selected for the Gravesham Arts Sponsored Artist Programme for 2019-2020. Heather runs the The Hazelnut Press, a fine art printmaking studio in Rochester, Kent, and her own artwork often explores the histories embodied in the local landscape and people’s personal experience of them. She is particularly interested in depicting familiar and overlooked places.

Where the Marsh Meets the Sea: Heather Haythornthwaite


Fluid Landscapes
works like this. A series of concertina ‘sketchbooks’ are shared and circulated between participating artists. Each artist adds an original hand drawn picture, painting or collage, inspired by the Thames at Gravesend, to one of the pages in the sketchbook. Then, within 48 hours, the sketchbook is passed on to the next artist. That artist adds their contribution, and so the process continues until the sketchbook is full.

Although a wide range of different artistic contributions are welcome, there are some restrictions. Artists are asked not to use anything too fragile or thick, and the work must be completely dry before the sketchbook is passed on! There is more information, some guidance notes and some quotes and video to help inspire you, on Heather’s website https://www.hazelnut-press.com/fluid-landscapes

St. Andrew’s Arts Centre

The Fluid Landscapes project will culminate in an exhibition at the St Andrew’s Art Centre in Gravesend – the place where I had my recent exhibition – at the end of  May 2020. At the heart of the show will be the communally produced concertina ‘sketchbooks’, accompanied if there is room, by other freestanding art pieces, writing and poetry, all focused on and inspired by the theme of the Thames at Gravesend and its marshes. Heather hopes that the sketchbooks will find a more permanent home somewhere in Gravesend, after the exhibition is finished.

Heather is already working with the Gravesend Art Group http://www.gravesendartgroup.co.uk/on this project but if you would like to get involved and produce a piece of art that expressses your own particular relationship with the Thames, there is still time.

Fluid Landscapes is not an open access project, you have to have your ‘application’ accepted if you are to take part.  So, if you are interested in taking part, please contact Heather at info@hazelnutpress.com

And if you would like to find out more about The Hazelnut Press and its print-making courses, follow this link https://www.hazelnut-press.com/

 

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Update: Exhibition of new work, Christmas cards, blog and Liberty fabric spotting

 

Visit my gallery

Time for a few more quick updates.

My 20:20 vision – Exhibition of new work

I’ll be exhibiting some new work for 2020- inspired by my childhood, my town and other stuff – next weekend at St Andrew’s Arts Centre in Gravesend. Private view (you are all invited) from 6pm on Friday 24th January. There will be beer https://www.ironpier.beer/ and biscuits.

The exhibition continues on Saturday 25th January and Sunday 26th January from 10am to 4pm. There will also be biscuits and maybe beer then too, depending on how much gets (many get) drunk on Friday night.

Do pop along if you can!

New work will be added to my website in February https://www.duncangrantartist.com/shop/

St. Andrews Arts Centre has an interesting history. As you can see, it used to be a church. The Diocese of Rochester decided to close the church because of the cost of repairs, but it was rescued and bought by Gravesham Borough Council in 1975 and transformed into an Arts Centre.

The original church was built to serve Gravesend’s waterside community. In the middle of the 19th Century, the river Thames was really busy with cargo and passenger vessels preparing to sail to Australia, New Zealand or the Americas. Emigrants often lived on board ship, sometimes in terrible conditions, for weeks before they sailed.

Smaller boats serviced the larger ships and the crews of these boats lived with their families and livestock on barges moored just offshore. The priest of the local Holy Trinity Church, Rev C E R Robinson, considered all these people to be his parishioners and visited them. Records show that he carried out over 600 baptisms for emigrants wanting to be blessed before their departure.

A couple of interesting facts for you about St Andrew’s.
Did you know?

  • Most UK churches are aligned east/west. But St Andrew’s is aligned north/south because that was the land that was available and its parish was the river
  • The ceiling of St Andrew’s is shaped to resemble an upturned boat.

Come along to see for yourself next weekend. Did I mention that there will be Iron Pier beer, and biscuits?

Last word on Christmas cards
A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the Christmas card project, either by contributing a design or by buying the cards.  We raised £900, enough to fund Christmas lunch at Cafe No. 84 https://www.no84.co.uk/ this year, and with money left over either to fund a similar event next year if the cafe owners decide to do it again, or to donate to Crisis at Christmas if not. If you’re not sure what I’m taking about, more info here: https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/04/07/only-261-more-days-until-christmas-time-to-think-about-lunch/

Liberty fabric scraps of news
I think my Liberty fabrics have sold out now. The last remnants were in the recent Liberty sale.

The Faber & Faber edition of the Booker Prize winning Milkman was in the shops at Christmas. Did you see this interview with Anna Burns, the author, and me?
https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/features/design-and-living/faber-interview-anna-burns-duncan-grant.html

 

 

 

Now a new hobby for me is watching products made from my fabric springing up in different places, especially in Japan, where you can buy pencil cases and other small gifty type bits in a Small Town design. I saw this one on Instagram and contacted them to ask if I could buy a pencil case. A woman replied. She said she liked my art and would send me one as a gift. As the parcel weighed less than the 2kg allowed, she has filled it up with Japanese sweets. Nice. Looking forward to receiving it soon.

Here is another one.

Top blog!
This blog has been going for just under a year now and you may have noticed that it has changed a bit. I ran out of things to say about myself and started featuring other talented and interesting artists of my acquaintance – check the archive. Well, imagine my surprise when I found I’d been included in Feedspots Top 100 Art Blogs and websites to follow in 2020.  I’m currently in at number 81 pop-pickers https://blog.feedspot.com/art_blogs/

I’m not really sure what this means or whether it will do me any good but I’d like to stay on the list.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already following the blog. But I would like to attract more followers if possible – aiming to get 200 maybe by the end of this year – have 159 at present. So if you know anyone who you think might be interested, just ask them to pop their email in the box at the top of this page AND THEN really important, click to confirm on the link that is sent out (it might go to spam, so check). They’ll get an email alert when each blog comes out – about once a fortnight – no spam, no ads, I promise. Thank you.

Well that’s it. I’ll be back with another really interesting artist for you in a week or two.  Hope to see some of you at the exhibition. Did I say there would be biscuits and beer…..?

 

Posted on Leave a comment

John Bulley: The ‘mediocre’ painter who created an icon

Visit my gallery
If you’ve ever been to Camden Lock in North London, you’ve almost certainly seen John Bulley’s most famous painting. There’s a good chance that you may even have a picture of yourself standing in front of it. It’s the signage painted on Camden Lock Railway Bridge, which towers over the market.

In the late ’80s, after being thrown out of art college, John was living in Peterborough, working as a designer for Bike magazine. Fed up with that, he decided to move down to London to join some friends who were painting signs for Oddbins wine shops.

‘I started working as a signwriter, painting signs and hoardings all around London, and it was brilliant,’ John remembers. ‘Anyway, someone from Camden must have seen my work because a bloke called Eric Reynolds contacted me and said, I like what you’re doing. Can you do some signs for us?’

John Bulley: London Zoo
John Bulley: London Zoo

The Camden Market redevelopment was surrounded by hoardings at that time, so John painted those, including a massive piece for London Zoo. He also worked on Dingwalls, a music venue, and painted a satirical mural for the Jongleurs comedy club.

‘That was good fun – no holds barred,’ says John. ‘Basically, I took the piss out of royalty, every government bigwig at the time, and the rich and famous. It was pretty radical and they loved it!’

 

John Bulley: mural Jongleurs
John Bulley: Jongleurs mural

One day, among all the other jobs that he was doing around the market, Eric Reynolds asked John if he could come up with an idea for a design for the railway bridge, which was about to be refurbished and repainted by British Rail.

‘It was that simple,’ John recalls. ‘No biggie. British Rail had their scaffolding up. It was just a job on a bridge that needed doing, so I did it.’

After a couple of days, John came up with a design.

‘I wanted to do something a bit different, with a bit of humour in it, that would stand out from a distance,’ he explains. ‘I invented a big fat typeface and chose colours that I thought suited the Camden feel and that would look good against the green background. And I came up with the idea of making it look as if there were two blokes up there painting it, like it would never be finished, and those blokes would always be up there painting away.’

The painters immortalised on the bridge were modelled by John’s mates, Tim and Frankie.

‘I got them to hang off bits of string in the art department where we worked, so I could pose them,’ John remembers. ‘Neither of them was athletic and they were horrified at having to hang around on bits of string. But there they are, up there forever.’

 

And the rest is history. John’s painting has become one of the most photographed in London.

‘It’s become bloody iconic, it’s weird!’ he says. ‘But I suppose it makes sense. If you’re a tourist and you want to show everybody that you’ve been to Camden Lock, you take a photograph of yourself in front of a big fuck off bridge that says Camden Lock on it. And every time they do a bit of promo on Camden Lock, there it is again’.

Over the years, Camden has been approached by advertisers offering huge sums of money to advertise on the bridge but all their advances have been rejected.

‘The bridge is the bridge and it stays that way,’ says John.

Camden Lock Bridge has been repainted once since John’s original job in 1989.

‘A few years ago Camden got in touch with me wanting to know the spec for the colours I’d used,’ he explains. ‘They were going to repaint the bridge exactly as it was. It needed it. It was looking very sad.’

John’s first reaction was indignation.

‘I said, fuck off, it’s my bridge, I’ll paint it,’ he laughs. ‘But they wanted to do it themselves, so in the end I gave them the colours they needed and they repainted it. And they did a pretty good job, I have to admit.’

‘I like to pretend the bridge is no big deal, just another bit of work I did ages ago but in reality I love it to death,’ John admits. ‘I love walking under there knowing it’s all my own work. And I love the kudos it brings me with street artists when I casually drop into conversation “Oh yeah, Camden Lock Bridge, I did that”‘.

John’s creative relationship with Camden has continued over the years. He’s painted other exteriors, and in 2017 he painted murals for Cuban restaurant Gabeto https://www.gabeto.co.uk/. Recently, he was contacted by Camden Town Brewery. They wanted him recreate his original design, to ‘bring a bit of Camden’ into their new brewery in Enfield. John, who owns the copyright for the bridge design, agreed.

‘I used the Brewery’s colours, but kept the Camden Lock lettering and the pictures of the two mates who I’d originally put up there,’ he explains. ‘It looks really nice.’

John Bulley: Oh Piss Off!
John Bulley: Oh piss off!

John now lives in Southend-On-Sea, in Essex, where he pursues his own art. He also accepts commissions and takes other paid jobs. Among other things, he worked on two of the Harry Potter films and the movie Memphis Belle.

Memphis Belle was a dream job for me cos I’m an aeroplane freak,’ John says.

After the film came out, Biggin Hill contacted John to ask if he would repaint the nose art on the Sally B, the original B17 Flying Fortress used in the film.

‘So she’s flying around right now with my artwork on her, which is pretty cool!’ he enthuses. http://www.sallyb.org.uk/ 

Despite his success and his portfolio of work, which often features characters from film or television, John insists that he is not an artist.

‘I hate everything about the art game,’ he says. ‘I loathe the way galleries are like cathedrals with their white walls and there’s all this sacred stuff in them, which you’re not allowed to touch because it is so precious. And I hate arty people standing around clutching their Prosecco pretending to read the art bollocks while sneakily eyeing each other up. Pretentious tossers.’

John Bulley Begbie Trainspotting still
John Bulley: Begbie from Trainspotting

‘I’m the opposite of that. I’m a painter, I mess about with paints,’ he continues. ‘I paint pictures. I copy photographs and I paint bridges. I’m an artisan, not a fine artist.’

John’s disdain of the commercial art world has prompted him to take his art into the community and his paintings are now a familiar sight around Southend.

‘Southend council funds an “official” arts organisation called Metal Culture which controls who can be artists, which leaves nothing for those of us that don’t fit in with their agenda,’ says John. ‘The people at Metal got fed up with me banging on about them getting all the money and called me “mediocre” so I got a tee shirt made with it on and I wear it with pride!’

John Bulley wears his 'mediocre' tee shirt with prideJohn has some sympathy for their opinion of his work.

‘Some of what I do is pretty mediocre,’ he reflects. ‘I’m not making any great claims for it. I paint what I like.’

‘Anyway, I got really fed up with the Arts situation in Southend, so I found an old derelict building and I thought I’d paint that and see if I could get away with it,’ he continues. ‘First, I painted Michael Caine from the film Get Carter and people really liked that, so I though I’d do a gangster theme. I painted the Kray twins, but I did them in their mum’s house set against pink wallpaper having a cup of tea from dainty teacups, and I did Bob Hoskins in Lassiter.’

John Bulley: Derelict gallery
John Bulley: Derelict Gallery

The ‘derelict gallery’ has been knocked down now, but for John that’s just an natural part of the process. ‘Nothing lasts forever and I love the fact that it is temporary’, he says. ‘It gives the work the kind of respect it deserves. And anyway, once you’ve taken a photograph and shared it on Facebook and Instagram and all that, you’ve reached as many people as you’re going to reach. If things get pulled down or painted over don’t be precious about it, do another one.’

‘One day the bridge will come down too,’ he reflects, ‘but for now I’m happy still to be able to wander up the road from the tube station and see it gradually appear over the canal.’

John Bulley: Italian job
John paints on large hoardings around Southend

Now John paints large (8ft x10ft) works and pastes them up on hoardings around Southend.

His work is topical and subtly subversive. ‘I did one of Megan and Harry called One day my prince will come – playing on the idea that a woman needs a handsome prince to be happy – and another one of the Royal Family called Land of Hope and Glory, which of course it isn’t,’ he comments.

John Bulley: One day my prince will come
One day my prince will come

‘I’m quite careful about what I put up around the town. I try to make sure it doesn’t offend. Although I did put up a picture of a homeless person just before Christmas and it was taken down the same day. It’s ironic that people were offended by a picture of a homeless person but not so much by homelessness itself.’

John is a champion of community art. Ten years ago he was one of the founders of  the annual Estuary Fringe Festival https://www.facebook.com/estuaryfringe/ an initiative aimed at giving art back to the community.

 

 

‘Me and my mate were in this cafe one day and I was moaning on as usual about the state of the arts in Southend,’ he recalls. ‘And he said, stop moaning John, and do something about it. So we set up the Festival. The first one was organised in just seven weeks and with no money, which just proves you don’t need hundreds of thousands of pounds to put on a good festival.’

The Festival features musicians, poets and artists. ‘Basically, we just want to be as anarchic as possible,’ John explains, ‘which we can be of course, because we’re not beholden to anybody.’

And what is John planning for the future?  Well he has some ideas but he’s keeping them under his hat.

‘For now, I’m just chipping away. Trying my best to be a thorn in the side of the powers that be,’ he says. ‘And my bridge is looking a bit sad again now. That could probably do with another coat.’

You can see more of John’s paintings or contact him here: http://www.johnbulley.com/ or on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/theartistjohnbulley/

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on 2 Comments

Luna Zsigo: Capturing emotional landscapes

Visit my gallery

Those of you that know me or who have been following me here or on social media, know that my day job (or more often my night job) is in construction on the roads. This involves a lot of time sitting in my van waiting for things to happen, and during that time, I doodle. I also doodle when I’m watching TV or listening to music. My Small Towns , for example start from a horizon line and I build out from that. In other ink drawings I’ll start with a ‘object’, say a mushroom or a shell, and expand the picture from there, never really knowing how the picture will turn out until it is finished.

Chatham-based artist Luna Zsigo describes doodling as a kind of ‘automatic drawing’. This is an approach to art that she, and many other artists before her have used as a starting point or creative stimulus for their art.

The key principle of automatic art is that the artist starts work with no preconceived idea of what the finished product will look like. Rather, the final artwork is inspired by dreams or emerges from the subconscious. The surrealists famously borrowed Sigmund Freud’s automatic drawing and writing techniques, which he used as psychoanalytic tools, to stimulate their art. They believed that creativity from deep within the subconscious was more powerful and authentic than that arising from conscious thought. They were also interested in dreams as expressions of unconscious feelings and desires.

Andre Masson automatic drawing
MoMA Andre Masson: Automatic drawing

MoMa (New York)  cites the work of French artist of Andre Masson (1896-1987) as examples of this approach to art.

[Masson] began automatic drawings with no preconceived subject or composition in mind. Like a medium channelling a spirit, he let his pen travel rapidly across the paper without conscious control. He soon found hints of images—fragmented bodies and objects—emerging from the abstract, lacelike web of pen marks. At times Masson elaborated on these with conscious changes or additions, but he left the traces of the rapidly drawn ink mostly intact.

Various forms of automatic art were also developed by other artists, e.g. Max Ernst  (surrealist collage, frottagegrattage) and Joan Miro. Later automatism played some part in the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and others. Today it continues to inspire artists and over the past year has been a major influence for the artwork of Luna Zsigo.

After many years travelling and raising her family, Luna trained, as a mature student, in Art and Design at University for the Creative Arts in Rochester (whose alumni include Zandra Rhodes, Tracy Emin and Karen Millen). After graduating, Luna worked for eight years supporting students with disabilities to complete their creative studies. She now works as a freelance artist and has been re-employed by the university’s outreach department as a creative workshop tutor.

After leaving Art School, Luna’s early work focused on traditional portraiture, layering oil paint and glazes. ‘I’d always seen myself as a portrait painter and after college I went back to my comfort zone,’ she remembers. ‘I felt that I needed to prove to myself that I could still paint.’

While studying at University, Luna was inspired the glass work of Daniela Schoenbaechler. https://danielaschoenbaechler.com/work  She began painting quick acrylic portraits on acetate, fixing them to windows and photographing them against the dark skies. ‘Through this experimentation I found, interesting things beginning to happen in the negative space, where there was no paint,’ she explains. ‘Things would emerge, images I wasn’t expecting. It was as if I was looking beyond the physical self and into the emotional being, between the two worlds – it fascinated me then, and still does today.’

Luna Zsigo self-expression
Luna Zsigo: Self-expression through art

For a while after her studies, Luna continued painting portraits using traditional methods, but she felt constrained. She found she was painting the kind of art that people might want to display on their walls, rather than using her art to express herself. However, through discussions with a fellow artist, that changed. Luna realised that she could work differently, putting all of herself into her art. ‘These conversations gave me permission to express myself fully through making a mark – just putting my pencil on the paper and letting it move and having no idea where it was going to go or what it was doing,’ she explains. ‘My partner, showed me a video about automatic drawing, featuring a comic book artist called Moebius. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Giraud Moebius used it as a discipline in his work. I hadn’t heard of automatic drawing until then, but I realised that that was what I was doing.’

Years previously, Luna had been fascinated by an artist and mystic called Hilma af Klint https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilma_af_Klint whose bold, colourful abstract paintings (1906-1915, but not exhibited until 1985, 50 years after her death) were generated through a process of automatic painting as part of her spiritual practice, and represented direct communication with the ‘divine’.

The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings, and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brush stroke – Hilma af Klint

Luna Zsigo: Primal Scream
Luna Zsigo: Primal Scream

‘Klint’s work stayed with me and I was really inspired by it,’ Luna recalls. ‘Throughout my life, I think I’ve learned to bury my difficult emotions – anger, hatred, jealousy, anxiety – but today if I am experiencing a difficult emotion and I don’t know what to do with it, I will just let the pencil move and as it moves I will just, very intuitively, go to the paints or the medium that I want to use and then all of a sudden, in front of me, I see things in the piece, the work starts to communicate with me, to tell a story.’

‘I believe that we all come from creation, therefore we must be creative and it is only the intellectual mind that gets in the way of that,’ she continues. ‘So if I allow the drawing just to form, with no expectation of what I’m going to draw, it’s a real freedom and I’m able to understand my own journey and express myself.’

Recently, Luna has tried to let go of everything she was taught about artistic technique to move completely into this new way of painting. ‘I wasn’t sure how it would be received by the public,’ she says. ‘But I was delighted to sell 20 paintings at a recent exhibition, so it seems that people connect to the work and it has some value.’

Luna Zsigo: Grandad portrait automatic drawing
Luna Zsigo: Grandad

Luna’s automatic drawings have different starting points. She still paints portraits but rather than focusing on a subject in front of her, or a photograph, she works from a remembered image, memories of the person, and the emotions associated with those memories. She draws a continuous line, with her eyes shut, to ‘bring the person through’. She also sometimes paints to music, allowing her hand to respond to the sounds she hears to form the final piece.

Luna Zsigo: Collaboration with Terry Lane 'The closer we are to death'
Luna Zsigo; Collaboration with Terry Lane

Luna recently collaborated with musician Terry Lane on his soundscape The closer we are to dying. ‘Some of Terry’s soundscapes were to do with war and through my automatic drawings I found myself going to a very dark places, not only visually but inside myself,’ Luna remembers. ‘I wondered what would happen if I repeated the same process with other types of music.’

Luna Zsigo: Painting to classical music
Luna Zsigo: Painting to classical music

Inspired by the synesthesia artists, Wassily Kandinsky https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/wassily-kandinsky-1382, Roy De Maistre https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/roy-de-maistre-1556, and Melissa McCracken https://mymodernmet.com/melissa-mccracken-synethesia-paintings/ who paints the ‘shape’ of music, Luna has produced pieces inspired by local musicians. ‘I went to see the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra and I produced 4 or 5 drawings from that,’ she recalls. ‘They became paintings, and I couldn’t believe the imagery I got from that music.’

Luna Zsigo selfscape emotional journey
Luna Zsigo: Selfscape

 

Where automatic art tells a story of an emotional journey, Luna has coined the name ‘selfscape’. ‘It is a selfscape because it is a painting of my emotional landscape,’ she explains. ‘There was an initial thought behind the image on the left. When you are really frightened of doing something, there is a door. But then you push through that door and five other doors open. I feel that has been my journey, pushing through anxiety and self-doubt. As I do that, I move from dark to light, from anxiety to bliss and freedom. I push one door open and new doors appear, new opportunities arise, and so it goes on.’

Looking at the final painting, I said to Luna, ‘The journey from dark to light is powerful – but where are the doors?’
‘It was supposed to be doors but it ended up looking like a bridge!’ Luna laughs. ‘It doesn’t matter though, because it is a journey of self-discovery and you can name the artwork afterwards.’

Luna Zsigo: Explore and draw
Explore and draw

In 2017, Luna founded Explore and Draw https://www.lunazsigo.com/explore-and-draw/ an art group that  welcomes artists of all abilities to come together to create art. By collaborating with local businesses and heritage sites, Luna has facilitated workshops in stunning and interesting locations around Kent. Regular venues include Rochester Cathedral https://www.rochestercathedral.org/, Fort Luton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Luton The Copper Rivet Distillery https://www.copperrivetdistillery.com/ The Cheese Room https://www.thecheeseroomrochester.co.uk/ As part of a Meet the artist events, where the group collaborates with and learns from other artists across artistic disciplines and boundaries, I led a workshop earlier this year on LV21, on the Thames, in Gravesend. https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/03/20/drawing-inspiration-from-the-thames/.

Luna Zsigo: Guilt 3
Luna Zsigo: Guilt 3

Explore and Draw has well over one hundred participants and Luna is taking the group with her on a journey of self-discovery to explore their creativity through experimentation with materials and processes, such as automatic drawing. ‘I will continue to use still life at some events as it is a fantastic tool to show people  technique, such as mapping and measuring, colour theory and composition,’ she explains. ‘It is also a mindful activity. It helps people to relax, to learn to draw what is in front of them, to have fun and make friends. But I’m also interested in giving people the freedom to explore and to begin to put the whole of themselves into their art.’

I am always really conscious of the power of these emotions though, because working in this way has been such a painful process for me,’ she reflects. ‘So I’m always careful  to make these days fun and to create a safe space. And people are enjoying the process and find it fascinating.’

They group started their foray into the unconscious by painting with materials where they had less control than they would normally have with traditional brushwork. ‘We used Brusho crystal watercolour paints which explode on the paper like fireworks and you can find images in those marks,’ Luna explains. They then went on to paint with music, as Luna had done – she hired a string quartet to play while the group drew. Next year she is planning an automatic drawing workshop around vibration and sound, featuring a gong.’

Luna Zsigo: Thoughts
Thoughts

‘Life isn’t easy,’ Luna concludes. ‘Everyone has light and darkness in them and we all go through trauma at some point in our lives, so these paintings talk to people on lots of different levels. I can look at a painting and appreciate the artist’s technical ability but if I see a picture that stirs my emotion, that’s the picture I will remember. That’s the picture I want to buy.’

If you would like to hear from Luna herself, she is giving a public talk entitled Selfscapes for the Rochester and West Kent Art Society at Sun Pier House in Medway on 15th January 2020 from 7-9.30pm.

Tickets are also now available for the next Explore and draw – Lunar event at Rochester Cathedral in February 2020. The workshop will explore the ‘Museum of the Moon’ installation https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/rochester/rochester-cathedral/explore/2020-02-19/10:30/t-jpzxgd And there are lots of other exciting events planned for 2020. More details will be announced on Luna’s website and Facebook page soon:
https://www.lunazsigo.com
https://www.facebook.com/exploreanddrawmedway/

You can also follow Luna on Instagram: artist.luna

Posted on Leave a comment

Eric MacLennan: The Open Air Drawing Room

Visit my gallery

Did I ever tell you that I’m currently exhibiting in the Turner Contemporary in Margate? No, seriously, I am.  Sort of. My watercolour painting of a stone is one among 500 others produced by members of the public as part of Eric MacLennan’s participatory art project The Open Air Drawing Room. https://turnercontemporary.org/whats-on/the-open-air-drawing-room/

I first met Eric in July this year when he brought The Open Air Drawing Room to the Riverside Fringe Festival in Fort Gardens in Gravesend. At the time, I was helping out with another community project where festival goers collaborated to produce a large mural of Gravesend.

I noticed that something very intriguing was going on on the pitch opposite us. At first it looked like a piece of performance art. Two slightly eccentric looking people used a karabina and rope arrangement to draw a perfect circle of sand on the ground. As people stopped to watch, they were invited to stand on the edge of the circle. The performers then handed round small plastic stools, which participants put on their heads. Strange, I thought.

When I looked over again, the group were sitting on their stools, busily drawing something on a small card. Well, I had to find out what was going on, so I popped over, got involved and met Eric.

Eric MacLennan trained in movement in Paris and worked for a while in the theatre, television and film. But over the last ten years he has fulfilled several small commissions that combine performance art with other experiences. ‘I’m interested in things that cross over, that don’t fit neatly into some of the boxes or labels that we use to describe styles of artistic practice,’ he says.

His piece in 2017, called A Voyage Around My Bedroom, which combined philosophy, performance art and one-to-one performance, toured small festivals and fetes. ‘Events that probably couldn’t afford to commission art,’ Eric explains.

Funded by Applause Outdoors  https://applause.org.uk/outdoors/ the production was inspired by the experiences of Xavier de Maistre who, towards the end of the 18th century, was confined to his house in Turin, following a duel. To keep himself from going mad, he made journeys in his mind, describing ordinary, everyday objects in his bedroom as if they were extraordinary and new. ‘I made this big glass box and put a bed inside it and invited individual members of the public to come into the box with me,’ Eric recalls. ‘I’d ask them about their bedroom, drawing their attention to things they probably go past every day and take for granted. The performance offered a way for people to look at the world differently for a moment, slowing down and enjoying what is there.’ http://www.avoyagearoundmybedroom.com/about/

This year Eric has been touring small events around Kent with another commission from Applause Outdoors and Turner Contemporary.  ‘To celebrate Turner Prize 2019, Turner Contemporary were looking for something that would bring people into the gallery to see the Turner Prize finalists who were being exhibited there,’ Eric explains. ‘I suggested that the best way to get people to visit a gallery is if their work is displayed there. And that was the birth of The Open Air Drawing Room.

He calls it ‘socially engaged art’ because the public are not passive viewers but an active and essential part of the experience. The Open Air Drawing Room has several elements. As I described above, each performance starts as a piece of street theatre with passers by watching actors create a sand circle.  But as people join the circle, they are gently drawn into the performance, eventually becoming performers themselves.

Throughout the production are references to the innovative techniques of JMW Turner and John Ruskin, starting with those stool masks. Ruskin is said to have made a card with a hole in it so that he could really look at something closely, without distraction. By wearing the stools as masks, participants have a viewfinder through which they can view the world differently.

After a focus on close observation using the stools and later the thumb grip hole on an artist’s palette, the production changes very subtly from performance to workshop. The artist-facilitators (Eric and his partner) produce a collection of 31 stones, which Eric has collected from around the UK. Each represents and is named after one of the 31 sea areas around the British Isles…Tyne, Dogger, Fisher etc.

Participants now sit on their stools and after choosing a stone, are asked to draw round it before make their own close observational drawing of that stone inside the outline. ‘They use watercolour pencils, smudging the colours as JWM Turner would have done and they produce a painting,’ Eric observes. ‘People find that very liberating and realise, actually, we can all paint.’

Over the course of the project 501 paintings have been produced. You can see them displayed together as ‘one giant beach’ at Turner Contemporary until 12th January 2020. That’s me pointing at mine in the photo at the top of this piece.

And there is one last touch. To acknowledge JWM Turner’s interest in photography, which was in its infancy when he was painting, Eric has taken a photograph of the hand that drew each stone. A Show of Hands, featuring life-size images of the hands of artists aged from two to 86, is displayed outside the gallery. The order of the photographs corresponds to the order of the paintings inside the gallery, so visitors can match the hand to the painting if they wish. Eric has been moved by the emotional response that these hands have evoked. ‘’I is really excited to see young children stop to press their hands against the images, as if to say hello,’ he says. ‘It’s another example of people noticing the small detail that we often rush past because of the busy lives we lead.’

Those of you who know me know I’m a big fan of community art projects (Hand of Cards (2015), Christmas Cards this year https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/04/07/only-261-more-days-until-christmas-time-to-think-about-lunch/ and some of the big Small Towns that I’ve done in schools and elsewhere) and I really enjoyed being involved in Eric’s project. It did feel a little odd at first but working with others in that circle means you’re never exposed and the whole experience really made me think….which is good. If you are inspired to take part too, there is still a chance, with six more performances in the Foyle Room of Turner Contemporary on 21st and 22nd December 2019 at 12 noon, 2pm and 4pm.

Eric is now looking for funding and a gallery partner so that he can continue touring The Open Air Drawing Room over the next two years.  He hopes the final artwork will set a new world record for a painting created by the largest number of artists.

If you want to find out more about Eric MacLennan’s work or if you have questions for him, please visit his website https://www.ericmaclennan.com/

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Updates: Christmas cards, postcards, podcast and pants

 

Visit my gallery

Time for a few more updates

Christmas cards
Christmas is still coming. It’s November, so it is OK to start thinking about it. Are you ready? Have you got your Christmas cards yet? No. Well, I can help you with that.

These boxed sets of 42 beautiful charity Christmas cards and envelopes, each card designed by a different (mostly local) artist, have been on sale for a while now. They are raising money for Christmas dinner, this year, at No. 84 Tearoom and Eatery at Echo Square in Gravesend https://www.no84.co.uk/ Cafe owners Adrian and Andrea offer a free Christmas dinner to people in the local community who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day.

I’m delighted to say that over half of the boxes I got printed have been sold now. In fact, I’ve only got 38 boxes left so don’t miss out.  Boxes are available on this website https://duncangrantartist.com/product-category/charity-christmas-cards/ and in various venues around Gravesend, including https://www.no84.co.uk/ or you can get them from me directly, if you know where to find me.

Each box costs £20 (£24 including postage and packing if you order them from the website) with all profits going to help those less fortunate than ourselves this Christmas. You can find out more about the 2019 Christmas card project here https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/04/07/only-261-more-days-until-christmas-time-to-think-about-lunch/ Apologies to anyone from overseas who tried to order online but found that they needed to take out a bank loan to pay the postage. That has now been put right. Postage to Europe is £10, elsewhere in the world £15.

Art on a postcard
Once again I was honoured to be invited to donate 4 postcard-sized artworks to the 6th Art on a Postcard charity auction to raise money for the Hepatitis C Trust. If you are interested, you can find out more about the charity in my blog from June this year https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/06/26/art-on-a-postcard-urban-contemporary-vs-street-photography/

As well as me, this year’s line up includes anonymous contributions from famous names from the artworld such as Norman Ackroyd RA, Jock McFadyen RA, Carolina Caycedo, Vanessa Jackson RA, Dan Baldwin, Louise Lawler, Florine Démosthène, Joan Snyder, Timothy Hyman RA,  Jeremy Deller, Miya Ando, and Helen Beard. All cards start at £50 so if you think that you can spot a famous artist just from looking at their work, you could snap up a real bargain.  I was really pleased to see that all mine have now had bids so I won’t be consigned to the box of shame and will be raising some money for this good cause. Off to the private view on Tuesday. The auction is online https://paddle8.com/auction/hep-c-trust and runs until 14th November, so there’s still time.

Podcast
Last Wednesday, I met Nathalie Banaigs – Founder and Director of Kent Creative http://kentcreativearts.co.uk/ to record a podcast along with author, Frances Beaumont https://francesbeaumont.co.uk/.  If you haven’t had enough of me already, you can listen in here https://soundcloud.com/user-365282206/2019-11-05-artist-duncan-grant-and-author-frances-beaumont You may need to install Soundcloud to listen. There you’ll find all kinds of interesting chats with local creatives from all branches of the Arts – well worth a browse.

Walking the walk. 
Liberty fabric 'Duncan Grant' shirtIn September, Faversham seamstress Jane Potter https://www.facebook.com/jane.a.potter.textiles posted this on Facebook. Those of you who have been following me this year will recognise the fabric as one of the colourways of a design taken from my 2018 winning #LibertyOpenCall entry. https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/duncan-grant-tana-lawn-cotton-000620140.html?listsrc=Search%20Recommendation If  you don’t know what I’m talking about this blog from explains all. https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/01/30/liberty-open-call/

As part of my prize, I received five metres of green Tana Lawn Duncan Grant from Liberty – was going to post a link but looks like it has sold out – and Jane made this from it for me. Thank you, Jane.

I am going to pursue the fabric design thing. This week, I attended my first ever art-based since school, at the Fashion and Textile Museum, up in that there London, trying to get some Photoshop skills for my design stuff.  https://www.ftmlondon.org/ftm_courses/photoshop-for-textile-designers-3/ Had to walk through the Zandra Rhodes 50 Years of Fabulous exhibition to get to my class., which was kind of ironic because it is one year since I met her in person at the Liberty fabric launch. It was a small group – just four of us – and I’ve learnt a lot, like changing colourways, cropping images, collaging bits of designs and making repeats. Also managed to reset my phone to factory settings and nearly lost my wallet. But more on all that another time maybe 

When I entered the #LibertyOpenCall my mate Richard Marshall said, ‘If you win, I want a pair of pants made out of that’.  Well, Jane can also make boxers, Richard – and here they are! Now just your part of the bargain to fulfil – looking forward to the photoshoot. watch this space, readers.

Posted on Leave a comment

Alison Stirling: You got the Power

Alison Stirling exhibiting at the Royal Academy of Arts 2019

Visit my gallery

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is the largest open call for Artists, with over 16,000 entries each year. https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/

I’ve never found the courage to enter the show but always known it was there. It combines showing Royal Academians, who are selected automatically, with ‘other’ Artists who go through the brutal roller coaster stages of the selection process. Every year there is an exhibition coordinator. Last year, for the 250th anniversary, it was Grayson Perry https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/name/grayson-perry-ra who put on a Graysontastic barn stormer.

At the start of this year I decided that I needed to face the prospect of brutal rejection and embrace it like a flea riddled animal. To stand on the precipice and see where the wind takes me. With so many entries you know that the odds are stacked against you, but still getting an ‘it’s a no from me’ can still take the skin off the heel.

I saw that Jock McFadyen https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/name/jock-mcfadyen-ra was coordinating this year with the theme of art that describes the world. I’ve admired his work for years, he’s a painters’ painter. And there’s the added fact that he has painted the road I live on, not to mention scenes from the Scottish Isles which inspire me greatly. So it seemed right to try this year. It was clear that this year’s show would be one which I would find interesting regardless of the outcome. I spent a few seconds fighting back that faithful hound of doubt and entered two paintings: PYLON and E1. The submission went into cyber space and I returned to planning my next series of work.

You’ll know from my previous blog https://wp.me/pat44M-1iX that I love pylons. Another confession: I am a power station tourist. To be specific coal fired cooling towers. More of a groupie really. They are the crown jewels of the modern British landscape, or ‘the lads’ as they are affectionately known to me.

I’ve often tried to photograph them during my many trips up north visiting family. Most train journeys are spent with my camera pressed against the murky glass with the hope of at least capturing a decent line up of pylons. But when a gang of towers hove into view, that’s when the frenzy of trying to capture the right image begins. On my regular route to Liverpool I know exactly where they hang out, but on a diversion, or unfamiliar turf they can take you by surprise. On a fast train to the East coast of Scotland you can find yourself surrounded by concrete castles, flanked by forts of modernity. Their sudden incongruous presence can take your breath away when you are least expecting it. Then it’s a do or die situation with the camera.

I realised that I had never actually been up close and personal with them so on one dismal Monday morning as commuters flooded into Kings Cross I boarded an empty train to Ratcliffe-on-Soar. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratcliffe-on-Soar_power_station Where? Here lies a beautiful monster. Built in the sixties it used to burn 5.5 million tonnes of coal a year. In the nineties it ran for a record 250,000 hours. Attempts have been made to tame it. One activist Mark Kennedy… that’s another story. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Kennedy_%28police_officer%29

With no idea of what I was to expect I arrived at East Midlands Parkway station, right at the foot of the sleeping towers. I asked a café worker if I could get close, right into the belly of the beast. She looked at me suspiciously and said, ‘if you do security will be all over you’. Only slightly phased, I began to take photographs from the station platform. Security warning announcements competed with the sonorous sounds of the rapids – water falling at the base of the towers. After moving on to the edge of the motorway bridge for some obligatory pylon photographs, I took a lonely path which led me to an open field. Sheep stood grazing, blackened by the shadow of the towers. Boats lay abandoned on the soft ground, from a time when the river soar flooded. The towers broad and tall dominated the arena. The sky turned blue and the mid-day sun began to beat. The surreal conditions were perfect: the chance meeting of a sheep, a concrete tower and an abandoned boat. Ankle deep in mud I took my photographs and unpacked my sandwiches.

The Gods of modern industrial structures were kind.

Back in the studio I reflected on the heat of the sun and the obvious cooling process of the towers. I produced a series of pieces which involved heating  and cooling materials.

Meanwhile, I checked my emails. Notifications were appearing on social media about getting through to the second round of the RA Summer Exhibition. And YES! PYLON had gone through to the ‘hanging committee’, a term which made the next round feel even more brutal. Another wait.

On the final notification day for applicants I checked my email and had a brief, ‘god this is stressful’ cry before reading it…. YEP. F%&KING YES! I was on my way to the royal Academy Varnishing Day!

Varnishing Day is a wonderful preview for exhibiting Artists – or commonly known as that bit in the Turner film where Timothy Spall adjusts his painting with red paint to attract attention and piss off Constable. It suddenly struck me that PYLON would be hanging out (literally) with Paula Rego https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/name/paula-rego-ra and Keifer https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/anselm-kiefer and too many others to mention.

On the day itself a steel band led us to a nearby church. I’m normally strictly weddings and funeral only but this was a service to bless the Artists, so I couldn’t miss it. I walked back to the RA somewhat awestruck by the recognisable Artists around me and the prospect of seeing my pylon painting along side their work.

Jock McFadyen created a splendid menagerie in the entrance to the exhibition hall. I had three thoughts, ‘this is incredible, where’s my work and my god that buffet looks good’.

I nervously sought my painting out and couldn’t be happier that it was placed in a room curated by Scottish painter Barbara Rae https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/name/barbara-rae-ra. The room was relatively sparse, works linked together beautifully with a clear nod to the environmental issues of today.

Former president of the Royal Academy, Christopher Le Brun https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/name/christopher-le-brun-pra gave a speech to the Artists against a backdrop of David Hepher’s monumental Hey Wayne on the Meath Estate https://se.royalacademy.org.uk/2019/artworks/david-hepher/272. A nervous ripple went around the room when he pointed out that our work is hanging on the same walls as Constable and Turner. He assured us that we should and must be proud.

It was great to take family friends and students to the subsequent private views and an added compliment that PYLON was bought on the first day.

I am grateful for all those who supported me and I am grateful for the beauty in the brutal.

If you’d like to see more of Alison’s work, including more stunning cooling towers, or if you’d like to know where she is exhibiting, visit her website https://alisonstirlingfineart.com/ or follow her on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/stirling.alison/ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/StirlingAlison/ or Twitter https://twitter.com/StirlingAlison

You can also contact Alison directly about commissions or exhibitions at alisonstirling@hotmail.com

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Vigo RFC

Visit my gallery

When I was a lad, before I went to college, and again during the 80s, I used to play rugby for Vigo RFC https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/vigorfc. I started out playing on the wing and then moved forward as I got older and slower.

Vigo RFC 50th anniversary book
Lineout at Sunset

Well, this year marks the Club’s 50th anniversary and to celebrate that they’ve brought out a limited edition book, charting the history of the club, edited by Trevor Newnham. I was delighted to be asked if I’d do some artwork for the book, based on old photographs. You can see one drawing on the cover, and three others inside.

The club, originally based at the Vigo Inn, near Fairseat in Kent, on the top of the North Downs, has an interesting history. This brief account is based on information from the 50th anniversary book and from Trevor’s article for the Stansted and Fairseat History Society https://stanstedhistory.org/groups-vigo-rfc/ Both contain some fascinating old images.

Rugby wasn’t always the game of choice at The Vigo Inn, formerly called The Upper Drover. Once upon a time, punters used to play ‘daddlums’ a form of table skittles. But everything changed one Sunday lunchtime in 1968 when a group of well-oiled local rugby players – regulars at the pub – came up with the idea that the field at the back of the pub would make a pretty good rugby pitch, and as such would offer ‘an ideal opportunity to combine beer and fitness’. Despite the field in question being ‘none too flat’ and more than somewhat muddy, their beer fuelled vision gradually turned into a plan. There were meetings, a committee and, in 1969, with telegraph poles as goalposts and a disused chicken shed to change in, Vigo RFC was founded. Lillian Ashwell, the pub’s landlady was elected as President – probably the first woman President of a rugby club in England.

Vigo RFC 50th anniversary
Tackle

A couple of players from nearby Gravesend RFC were persuaded to provide some coaching – a necessary first step as many of the prospective players had never touched a rugby ball before. But the team was enthusiastic and willing to learn and most players were soon judged to have ‘mastered basic rugby techniques’ and despite being ‘a little raw in one or two specialist positions, such as hooker’ were ready for fixtures with B teams from other clubs. In their first serious match, away to Deal in 1969, Vigo RFC recorded a ‘resounding’ 3-1 victory.

As the rugby became more serious, the club moved several times. Ten years on, it settled in current home at Swanswood in Harvel, not far fromthe original Vigo Inn.  A club member who was also a builder, supervised the construction of a clubhouse, with the players acting as labourers. And, over the years, through a number of fundraising initiatives, the clubhouse was improved and floodlights were installed.

Since then, the club has gone from strength to strength. It now fields four adult teams, a juniors team, and two junior mini-rugby teams.

Vigo RFC 50th anniversary
Try

As Trevor Newnham writes:
From the grassiest (and muddiest) of grassroots, the Club – Vigo RFC – came into being.  A pub side at heart, a determination to be independent of any brewer, professionalism, and a club that would offer a warm home to anyone who loves this great game.’

The 50th Anniversary Book: Vigo Rugby Football Club 1969-2019 is available now from the club at a cost of £10.

The originals of my drawings for the book and digital prints are available on my website. Just follow the links below:

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Alison Stirling: Pylonlove

Visit my gallery

Hello! It is an honour to be featured Artist on Duncan Grant’s website. I am a great admirer of his work. I have several pieces on my walls, as you may know, they are as addictive to buy as I am sure they are to make. His industrial landscapes are something I can connect with in my own Art work.

My name is Alison Stirling and I paint pylons. My interest stems back to childhood holidays when my dad quit his job and bought a van to drive us around Europe on the cheap. We spent hours and days on motorways. He wanted us to see the Colosseum, Pompeii, the Sistine chapel, but I’d be as fascinated by the journey as the destination – to me, the pylons, the ring roads, the concrete service stations were Disneyland!

Not much has changed in that respect. This year following an exhibition, I went trekking in Peru to research a new series of paintings, ‘Pylons of Peru’.Alison Stirling, artist, on the Inca Trail in Peru

I had wanted to walk the Inca trail for some time and I am interested in how human intervention shapes a landscape. After three days of climbing and descending passes at altitude (one unnervingly named ‘The Dead Woman’s Pass’) through awe-inspiring but unavoidably knackering landscape I found that my legs were reluctant to move. The guide, realising that my pace had slowed down came back. He clearly thought about creative ways to get the part-time hikers moving. ‘If you keep going for half an hour we reach an amazing Inca trail site…..and there’s a pylon,” he said. Pylons and mountains and stairs, oh my! Not even the snake, spectacled bear and poisonous frog shifted me that fast!

Alison Stirling, artist, 'The Pylons of Peru'I get various people taking an interest in my work, not only Art lovers and buyers but as I discovered there’s a whole world of pylon enthusiasts out there, some seriously knowledgeable hardcore spotters – knowing your L2 from your L12 doesn’t even scratch the surface. I started following various groups on social media such as the pylon appreciation society https://www.pylons.org/ headed by the fabulous Flash Bristow. She brings together all kinds of people, whatever the angle (ahem), spotters, line workers, pylon painters, model makers.

There are other group too pylonspostsandlines https://www.instagram.com/pylonspostsandlines/, justpylonthings https://www.instagram.com/justpylonthings/, and my favourite, the Japanese group steeltower_artistic https://www.instagram.com/STEELTOWER_Artistic/. I get some unexpected interest. I’m equally likely to get a ‘like’ or a comment from Bill the lines man in Wyoming as I am from someone interested in painting.

Alison Stirling, artist, paints pylonsI have often wondered what it would be like to be an actual pylon painter. (I once read about an Artist who compared himself to a shepherd because of the solitary nature of the process.) When I am painting, after I’ve had my fun putting down the loose brushstrokes for the sky or a wild landscape, I get down to the long painstaking task of creating tiny geometric lines, constructing the pylon. I tend to work for six hours at a time. If my eyes feel raw, like they are on stalks, by the end of it then it has probably been successful. Alisin Stirling, artist, paints pylonsHowever, the reality is that my work takes place indoors (much of the time) with a strong cup of tea to hand, I’m not dangling 165 feet in the air, inches away from 400,00 volt electricity cables in icy weather. Mind you, if Turner supposedly strapped himself to a mast in a storm …..watch this space!

If you’d like to see more of Alison’s work, including her stunning cooling towers, or if you’d like to know where she is exhibiting, visit her website https://alisonstirlingfineart.com/ or follow her on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/stirling.alison/ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/StirlingAlison/ or Twitter https://twitter.com/StirlingAlison

You can also contact Alison directly about commissions or exhibitions at alisonstirling@hotmail.com

Coming soon….In part two of her guest blog – coming soon – Alison describes how her love of pylons took her all the way to exhibiting  at the 2019 Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition. If you’d like to receive a notification when Alison posts again, please subscribe to this website by putting your email in the box above and clicking on the link you receive in reply.