Contagion – Contamination

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Experiments in the darkroom.

I’ve been working with colour for much of 2020, but I finally managed to spend an afternoon isolated in the darkroom before lockdown. I couldn’t take my mind of the pandemic, I found a cup of mouldy coffee lying around, and got inspired to show some contagion on my prints.

This test shows one of my mermaids immersed in contamination. It could be the beginning on a new project on the theme of Contagion – Contamination.

Event coming

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I am indebted to the detailed local history knowledge that has been passed onto me by Maureen Vitner (of St. Nicholas Church), Malcom Cadman (John Evelyn Community Garden), and Richard Katona (Deptford writer). They have helped me with my research for my current commission for the Timberyard building. I have invited them to my Artist’s Talk on 16th Feb 2019 for an informal panel chat about the history of Deptford which I am depicting in some huge collages (example above). They have some fascinating insights so please come along. At the end of the talks there will be chance to paint a log slice and take it home. They make great coasters! Example coming to this page soon.

Also must thank all the people of Deptford I have met over the years, including those I’ve chatted with while making my photo series over a decade on Deptford High Street. Its a unique and inspiring place thanks its people past and present.

New Commission

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I’ve won a commission to produce artworks for 4 lobbies in the new Timberyard buildings on Grove street, Deptford. I am delighted to bring my local knowledge to this project – and I am involving the community in researching Deptford figures past and present.

Working for a large corporation is a world away from doing your own thing as an artist, there are lots of hurdles and demands, sometimes I feel like a very small cog in a big wheel, but I am rising to the challenge. I love the thought that new residents will walk past a slice of Deptford history when they leave the building to head off to work in the City etc.

My proposal included wood collages, paintings, photo collages and huge cyanotypes. So I have my work cut out! Here are some of my activities so far.

How one small postcard can lead to bigger things…

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In 2019 I was asked to decorate a postcard for a charity auction in Dulwich. I painted Edward Alleyn one night (I based it on an old oil painting) with a tiny brush and it sold. A couple of months later, I heard the call out for a local artist to make artworks for a new building in Timberyard reflecting the history of Deptford. Representing figures from the past is hard ! You can’t photograph them! But I really liked the thought that new residents would step out of their modern flats and walk past my pieces, and be reminded of Deptford’s rich past. So I sent a proposal containing portraits of Deptford figures, and photography, and was lucky to be selected. I am now painting more mini portraits onto wood. Moral of the story? Sometimes those charitable deeds reward you later on.

Downham Men

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As part of my project with the Downham Men’s Group I tried to snap some portraits of them during our Photo Walks and Workshops. It was a pleasure to work with these guys. They all share a passion for passing on the history of their area to future generations. This has certainly rubbed off on me. It is important to preserve not only the Natural Environment, but also architectural features and landmarks. The rate of change in London this year is unprecedented, and it is vital that future generations have a record of their heritage – whether it’s a Victorian stone horse trough that became a flower planter and was later stolen, or the species of animals and trees that are disappearing.

Painting with light vs. painting with Paint!

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After painting on top of photos for a number of years, including the Murmillos installation, I did my 1st painting for the Coffee Art Project this year. I was delighted and amazed that it got selected for their exhibition at Truman Brewery. Today I attended my first painting class! I found a skull to paint which will become a theme for the FlimFlam exhibition in September for DeptfordX. I’m exploring the relationship between reality (do photographs represent reality?) and fiction (painting from the imagination, to produce surreality). Here is some work in progress. Just studies at this stage

Downham Photo Project

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Delighted to have been selected to work with the Downham Men’s Group on a big photo project that will culminate in an exhibition in September for the Age Against the Machine Festival.

In session one we’ll be starting with the basics principles of photography, and light, and making “cyanotype” (sunprints). It’s a early photographic process that is so much fun! Lots of prep is involved. I’ve been mixing chemicals and coating paper in darkness, in the middle of the night. I’ve also made some negatives. Ran a few tests on the new batch of paper today, looking good: