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Responses: Painting and Poetry.
In November 2019 I exhibited with Contemporary Mark Makers, a peer group of artists of which
I am a member, in Responses: between painters and poets exhibition at
Birdwood House Gallery in Totnes. Responses is a collaborative project between
some members of Contemporary Mark Makers and Moor Poets, creating poems
and paintings in response to each others’ work.
Some work created during this time was also exhibited at the
South West Academy of Fine and Applied Arts Open Exhibition
at Exeter Castle in November 2019.
Contemporary Mark Makers are a group of local artists who come together to provide a
supportive and energizing environment in which to experiment and develop our practice
through mark making and creative play. We work in a range of media, primarily painting,
drawing and print making, but also collage, sculpture, photography and sound. We work
figuratively, abstractly and everything in between – but our emphasis is always on
representing expression and experience.
Our successful Collaboration exhibition (2017) inspired us to look for collaborators in
other creative forms. This led us to connect with Moor Poets, a community of poets based in
and around the Dartmoor area. Moor Poets aims to support and work with local poets of all
levels of experience, exploring techniques and inspiration, developing their work and
sharing love and enthusiasm for poetry more widely.
Contemporary Mark Makers and Moor Poets came together in a series of workshops and
experiences. Explorations in the studio included responding to words, images and ideas
to find poetic descriptors in language and paint for appearances, sounds, smells, effects,
locations, impacts, moods and memories. Words as marks, and marks as words.
The poets also ventured out with the artists on their summer adventures into the landscape which stimulated imaginations and invited reflection. We visited a wild-flower meadow at Buckland-in-the-Moor, the lunar landscape of Wotterwaste China Clay Works, the lively River Dart at New Bridge, a packed Teignmouth back beach in full summer swing, Combestone Tor and Saddle Tor in wind and weather, Dartington’s Summer School with a glass of fizz, the secret gem of Bovey Heath and finally the atmospheric ruins of Buckfastleigh Church.
These sites and landscapes triggered lively and inspiring interaction between mark makers and poets. Stretching our senses both visually and verbally prompted interplay from all directions. A poem inspired a painting, which inspired another painting, then perhaps a further poem and so on. If you wonder how that worked, then do take a look at our “process wall” documenting the development of our ideas from germination to fruition and some detours along the way.
This collaboration made us think more deeply about how we approach the challenges of collaborative creative processes; it has helped us add value, inspiration and fun, and broaden our perspectives in creating both art and poetry.
In this body of work I continue exploring my process and language of painting in experiencing a subtle relationship to the landscape. I am looking for and open to those momentary occurrences that fleetingly pass by without ceremony and often catch us unawares yet can affect and move us deeply, the 'pulse' and mystery of place. These are liminal moments, perhaps the approach or shifting movement of something felt, yet unknown, in the landscape. These changing qualities range in intensity and atmosphere from strange and unsettling, perhaps uncomfortable, to the most joyous and full of vitality. Although linked to poems and place these images are intentionally left open to interpretation and so viewers responses will also be open to individual experience and memories.
Marion Woodman, Jungian Analyst, explains that not knowing, uncertainty and chaos can cause a mixture of feelings and a myriad of interpretations...
' Without an understanding of myth or religion, an understanding of the relationship between destruction
and creation, death and rebirth, the individual suffers the mysteries of life as meaningless mayhem alone.'
However, understanding these relationships means these odd feelings and moments of mystery, might be accepted as they are and experienced with curiosity as perhaps fascinating, magical and wondrous. In fully letting the subtle feelings in we might perhaps be lifted above the hustle and bustle of daily life, when a sense of self fades away and we feel connected to something larger and outside of understanding. In her book 'Coming Home to Myself' Marion Woodman suggests that "Mystery is the depth of the Sacred." I notice however that these transcendent moments are not something reserved for religion, meditation or such like. These felt experiences are available in the everyday here and now, in the mundane simple experiences and feelings that can easily pass us by. Slowing down, sitting, being, noticing what is arising, living in a spontaneous flow can invite them in and allow the simple to become the sublime as we value what it is to simply be human and alive.
Paintings linked to a poem and place: (this is in development)
A Luminous Tremor
Sky is a spilt page
Light breaks on the river
Mist shift and Rain sweep 1
Mist shift and rain sweep 2
Paintings linked to place:
The moment before
The moment between
Here and now