Research

Poole Museum Artist Residency 2017-18

In Partnership with Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund.

The focus of the residency was the stunning Anthony Caro sculpture on Poole Quay entitled ‘Sea Music’. The sculpture is his only site-specific commissioned work in Britain and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary having undergone significant refurbishment. My large-scale oil paintings and framed drawings can be seen in an exhibition at Poole Museum from October 21st 2017 – January 7th 2018 (Private View – 21st Oct 2017). Images of the exhibition can be found on the galleries page.

 

I spent a great deal of time on Poole Quay, taking in the environment, the sculpture and the public interaction. I was drawn to the juxtaposition between the sculpture and the space it occupies. My practice developed through the interrogation of this juxtaposition, focussing on the impact of the sculpture on the Quay and  in turn, the impact of the Quay on the sculpture. My inspirations came from every aspect of Poole Quay from the impactful Caro sculpture through to details on passing boats, shapes formed by ropes on beautiful ships and interestingly shaped cracks in the pavement seen from the viewing platform of the ‘Sea Music’ sculpture. Every aspect of an environment becomes a potential source in my artwork, however small or seemingly inconsequential. It is these details that form an environment and create the unique atmosphere of the place. It was equally difficult for me not to be inspired by the sounds within the scene; the curious sounds coming from the factories on the other side of the Quay, the shouting of the people working on the boats travelling to and from Brownsea Island, the bustling chatter of the tourists taking in the scenery and most importantly for me, the open and joyous sound of seabirds calling overhead. As a lover of the sea, that sound is incredibly emotive, impacting on my mood and in turn, how I respond to the environment.

The paintings were developed through thin layers built up onto the canvas surface. The canvases were primed and painted whilst stretched and stapled to the wall – this allowed me to really push the thin layers into the canvas to encourage the development of a sense of depth to the work. I was also able to display the finished works as free-hanging swathes of canvas, reflecting the freedom and movement of the sails on the boats and ships in the Quay not far from the museum gallery space.

 

I wanted ‘Sea Music 2’ to be colourful and celebratory, having developed the work ‘Sea Music 1’ after experiencing Poole on an impressively stormy and awe inspiring day. As a result, the first painting reflected the power of the sea (in feel, not in a literal way), using darker greens and bold strokes to develop darker areas of depth on the canvas surface during the early stages of production. The celebratory feel of the second work was set out from the very beginning when I was faced with blank canvas and a sudden urge to throw yellow at it – what joy! The painting developed from there, carefully maintaining areas of yellow, whilst obliterating other areas of yellow with pale washes, bold gestures depth and detail. I have showcased varied methods of mark-making and surface development, creating a sense of depth, texture, haziness, sharpness and what I like to call controlled and uncontrolled drippiness! Oil paints are full of possibilities and it is these possibilities that were so important to my creation of this artwork. As with my previous art practice, there are levels present that are removed from both figuration and abstraction, referencing details with some clue as to source, however spurious, alongside areas with no tangible source information. The paintings continue to reference my PhD research, utilising paint to further consider the theory I developed within my thesis. Information on the subject of my PhD research is outlined below (after this residency information).

The ‘Sea Music Drawings’ reference my preliminary work during source collection. I spent time collecting source information, capturing moments, shapes and feelings through photography, writing and most importantly sketching. I translated some of the information captured within my sketchbook (see images taken from the sketchbook below) into 4 framed drawings. These drawings reference elements within the quay environment that informed the development of my practice within my residency. Images of these drawings can also be found on the galleries page.


PhD Thesis Title

Towards a New Way of Thinking in Painting Through the Application of Analogous Notions of Listening and Analysis in Acousmatic Music

PhD Thesis Abstract

This thesis offers an interrogation of specific terms within Acousmatic Music leading to the redefinition and application of analogous notions within listening, viewing, creation and analysis. These analogies between disciplines refer to comparable ideas within creative practices, transferring and adapting terminologies from one discipline to reinforce the creation and analysis of my own painting practice. As such the ideas are similar, comparable or equivalent but the terms introduced from Acousmatic Music theory are placed in the altered painting context. The analogies involve production similarities including comparable application of source collection, gesture making and manipulation of materials in both disciplines. Further analogies include corresponding use of levels of reduction within creative practices and parallels between listening and viewing. The central modes of thinking invoked are adapted from Acousmatic Music, namely Modes of Listening, Spectromorphology and Surrogacy. These core ideas will be interrogated before adaptation and analysis within my painting practice. My central contribution is identified through my own painting practice, with the newly applied theory proving to be useful throughout the advancement of my practical research. The potential for a wider contribution to knowledge will be pursued as a result of the research within this thesis. My focal methodology involves the employment of terminology transferred from its original context. The research developed in stages: identifying and interrogating the relevant terminology, adapting the terminology for transference into my painting practice, testing the newly applied terminologies through my practice and reflecting upon the practical developments in turn informing the written thesis and reinforcing my research project. The newly developing theoretical knowledge informed my evolving practical work, which in turn fed into the understanding of the theory and the contribution to knowledge. This methodology was at the forefront throughout my research, constantly developing my knowledge and advancing my practice. My practice involves painting that incorporates source identification and remoteness, focussing on the identification of a process of reduction within the work. This investigation informs the creation of a redefined understanding of painting with an emphasis on applied energy, gesture and movement. Alongside this part of the thesis and integral to my contribution to knowledge is a body of artwork that stands alone as a self-contained exhibition, but that also responds to my theoretical developments concerning the creation and viewing of paintings. There are three points of focus within my thesis with regard to my painting practice, namely the development of Modes of Viewing, Spectromorphological Thinking and Surrogate Orders. The collated research is employed within a case study of my painting ‘Renouvellement’, demonstrating the integration of my newly defined modes of thinking within the critique of my own practice. The study tested and evaluated the effectiveness of my research showing the practical application of the terminology and reinforcing my contribution to knowledge. A more thorough consideration of my creative methodology is provided through a text included in an Appendix entitled ‘Practice Methodology’. This text outlines the development of my practical work from initial planning stages through to completion. I have set in place an organised methodology for painting discussion and for practical application within the painting process, fulfilling my intention to develop a concise structural foundation for the development of painting knowledge both for the artist and the audience.

Keywords:

Painting, Acousmatic, Listening, Viewing, Spectromorphology, Surrogacy, Analogy.