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Artists and Illustrators No.10 | Aug 2010

Artists and Illustrators No.10 | Aug 2010

In attempting to do the impossible the dreamer enriches our lives.

In the plethora of my current disparate creative activity, the ploughing of straight furrows is problematic. Over the hill of my brow, crazed furrows are etched and wild thoughts flock in their wake.

In all this busy-ness how come I still miss out on so much?
But then, how nice to be continually making new discoveries?

With the aid of those wonderful internet search engines, I have belatedly discovered the Australian artist Fred Williams (1927-82). He is a link, along with American abstract expressionists, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline, between the painting of place and the calligraphic mark making of Chinese ink painting. A link which I consider still contains great mileage.

Fred Williams tackled new ways of portraying the vast featureless parts of the
Australian landscape in paint and print. Through recent Royal Watercolour Society exchanges with the Australian Watercolour Institute, and president David Van Nunen, my eyes are being opened to the breadth of Australian painting.

The R.W.S. Autumn exhibition features the work of five painters from the A.W. I. I look forward to finding out how much their paintings are concerned with the the largeness of the landscape and the bright clear light for this is only one aspect of a continent with a global presence in the world of art and literature. This exhibition then tours to Truro.

Historically, there is an ongoing link between Cornwall, which had a flourishing tin mining industry in the 19th century, and Australia to where in 1870 many Cornish miners emigrated and relocated their skills.

With a mid-morning coffee, I am watching the long shadows of autumn make pictures on the white walls of the garage at the bottom of my garden. Clear at the source, blurring in their extension as they mix and overlap- shifting in the breeze.

The shadows become theatrical when they fall across the remains of some casually constructed stone and wood, still-lifish objects decomposing patiently in my garden. The drama created by the juxtaposition of unrelated objects is an element of some of my work. Those blurred edges between painting, sculpture, mechanical invention and architecture are where invention stirs. In attempting to do the impossible the dreamer enriches our lives. The hinterland of creative invention is the birthplace of innovative art, science and engineering.

In Shanghai last month I was moved by an exhibition of the work of ‘Peasant Da Vincis” with dreams of flying. Machines, suspended from the roof, reminded me of childhood visits to The Imperial War Museum. Wu Shuzai, a peasant farmer, inspired by helicopters, which he saw as flying stools, ‘squandered’ his impoverished resources on building a flying machine out of old water pumps, wood and plastic. The resulting invention, which looked like a chicken coop with wings, never flew and his wife died before he was invited to transport his machine to Shanghai for exhibition during the Expo. Photos show the whole village carrying the machine,, like some godly creature, in a procession across the paddy fields and Mr Wu is eventually left to tell the story of his plane flight to the big city to a photograph of his deceased wife!

I can’t help making an Australian connection with this touching image and the dishevelled glasshouse, drifting up the river, in Peter Carey’s book ‘Oscar and Lucinda.’

The first RWS Autumn Lectures, with David Boyd Haycock talking about Symbolism
in Paul Nash’s art, will be held at Bankside Gallery 6th Nov.

Artists and Illustrators | “A Splash of Colour” No. 10 | August 2010