From time to time, I wish I was a painter in America, as I think that abstraction is more quickly understood and more easily embraced there.   But I like it here in the UK!  It’s just a whim!

” It is actually impossible to argue with someone who refuses to experience the power of abstract art, because to feel it you have to let yourself go a bit. Perhaps the problem is one of trust. British sceptics cannot bring themselves to trust the mystery of aesthetic experience.”  A quote from  Jonathon Jones

For the whole article, see:  http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2011/jul/07/abstract-art-snobs-puritan

Mmmm.  I like reading things like this.  It helps! It helps with facing the look of confusion and disdain which sometimes (not always!) comes when someone is faced with a mass of colour, layers and light bouncing around, and looks for the sign post of the familiar, which cannot be found.  It is an understandable difficulty, because it does take a certain leap, a leaving behind of the world as we know it.  But it’s not really very far from us… our imaginations need to work internally and externally, and a painting may bring a beautiful arena for fun, fun, fun!   I guess a figure here and there might be helpful sometimes?… Suggesting that personal “way in”.. a kind of door.  A kind of, ” Look, stand, wait… You might be able to locate yourself in here somewhere!” I often think of painting more representationally…But when I look outside and see the extent of the creative achievements of our Creator… it seems wrong to present a shabby replica.  Light is light.  It won’t bounce off even the most radiant impressionist type painting in the same way it does in daily life.  It seems like a good challenge to show light in a painting in that way, but it is not the challenge that I want to rise to.  (Though I admire the work of all artists, whatever their interest).  If I want to capture light, then I use a camera.  Limited use for colour, but good for black and white and light!

Life drawing, however is a different matter.  I am keeping my eyes nice and sharp with regular life drawing… And the human figure is the centre of things, the easily identifiable seat of emotions..The reminder of our common humanity.  Below is a past study.  Not a finished art work, but an exercise, and still very abstracted!

Barry by Jenny Meehan, male figure life drawing charcoal, figuration drawing,representational drawing,semi abstract representational figure life drawing nude, jenny meehan jamartlondon.com

Barry by Jenny Meehan

 

Barry by Jenny Meehan, male figure life drawing charcoal, figuration drawing,representational drawing,semi abstract representational figure life drawing nude, jenny meehan jamartlondon.com

Figure on a Sheet – Jenny Meehan

These two above were done a while ago.  I have found a nice life drawing group in Dulwich, and plan to participate in that as much as possible.  I particularly want to get into painting the human figure, as observed directly from life.  I think this might be good.

Female Painters I like… I am tired of the way that female painters are not represented very well at all in the canon of art history, how it stands.  Yes, it has become much more of the “in thing” to dig up a woman here and there in galleries, but I feel sad when I think about all those wonderful painters and paintings that have been left to float away comparatively unnoticed, because they were not thought so important.  I expect there are many reasons for this, and I haven’t studied the matter in any depth at all.  So I may make a point of searching for paintings from women painters to look at on my blog.     Take heart from your sisters in the art… A female painter I did stumble across at Tate Britain recently was Winifred Knights, and what a joy that was.

“The Deluge”, which is found at Tate Britain.  The Deluge 1920 by Winifred Knights 1899-1947

The Deluge 1920 by Winifred Knights 1899-1947

The image is copyright to the Estate of Winifred Knights. (see link below) I will include several images of paintings by Winifred Knights over the course of this journal for a while, as I like to mull over painters I like, and having the images in my journal makes it easy for me to do so on my phone while I am on the go. For all the Winifred Knights images you see, the following applies:

Winifred Knights: with thanks to Sacha Llewellyn for allowing me to include this image and its accompanying text.  Readers may wish to consult the website http://www.winifredknights.com/

Winifred Knights “The Deluge” is not as fluid and lyrical as I like my own painting, but how marvellously constructed,  and it’s very emotive.  It’s a lesson in greys too!  I find this type of figurative modernism highly attractive, and the way it is rooted in the Italian traditon (specifically Trecento and Quattrocento) is clever and effective.

Another view and some text here, at Tate Britain: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/knights-the-deluge-t05532 Winifred Knights “The Deluge”

 

 

Deluge by Jenny Meehan. abstract painting process led

Deluge by Jenny Meehan

Well, as you know, my own painting painted a while back, I also called “Deluge” and though I was not thinking of the Biblical narrative in particular, certainly a large amount of overcoming water was the main thrust in my painting. There is a little bit of a house (or maybe ark!) type form, which I did develop with a sense of there being a secure, but also, vulnerable place.  (bottom centre)   Water is regularly occurring in a large number of my paintings.. it must be the psychotherapy or something!  A result of all this deep level thinking!  The feeling, the feeling of being overcome and  overwhelmed  is a common one.  Even more so, with the pace of life, as it is set in our culture right now.

Reflecting on the flood story in the Old Testament,  I have sometimes  told my children that the flood was possibly caused by the Creator’s tears… so overwhelmed by sorrow, that it was uncontrollable and the Creator could not hold the grief in any longer.  I like this imaginative and creative  way of  reading and understanding it, and have made it clear of the creative nature of my interpretation, of course!  I do believe the flood was a real historical and geographically rooted event, (though its exact extent I guess we will never know.  Seems sensible that it was partial). As a metaphor, it is very rich and significant.   For me, it is pointing to a compassionate and emotionally rich Creator.   One who understands, hates destruction,  and has a plan for salvation.  This, which I have taken from the BioLogos Foundation is a very helpful take:

“Lessons of the Flood

Regardless of the details surrounding the event, there are significant theological lessons to be learned from the Flood narrative.28 In the early church, Tertullian, Jerome, Ambrose, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Augustine understood the story of the flood to encourage moral conduct.29 For example, Noah can also be used as an example of Christian perseverance, since he had great faith to build the Ark that God commanded (see James 5:11).  Origen, Jerome, Augustine and others also employed other allegorical methods to illustrate Christian principles. 30  Being conversant with other flood stories from ancient Mesopotamia as well as the general theology of Genesis will also help us understand the point of this story.  The biblical flood is a response by God to the corruption of humanity, save Noah.  The flood waters are not a random punishment, however, but an undoing of creation –– a return to the state of chaos that existed before God gave order (this is described in Genesis 1).  The waters of chaos had been kept at bay by the firmament, the raqia, which is a solid dome above, and by the earth below.  That is how Earth became habitable.  When we read in Genesis 7:11 that the “fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened”, it means that God is letting the barriers give way so that the waters of chaos can crash back down upon the Earth, thus making it uninhabitable again.  In other words, God’s intention in this story is to bring Earth back to its state of chaos and start over again, with a new “Adam” (Noah).  We will read throughout scripture that God’s plan of “starting over” will culminate in Jesus, the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45).”

The above text has been taken from http://biologos.org/   It is  reprinted with permission of The BioLogos Foundation. All rights reserved.

The link to the section of the biologos website is under the “Common Questions” section, as follows:  http://biologos.org/questions/genesis-flood

The biologos.org website is worth taking a good look at.  I have found it very useful in my own thinking.

Art within the psychiatric healthcare setting 

http://www.wellcomecollection.org/explore/mind–body/topics/the-adamson-collection/beyond-art-therapy.aspx

This is a very interesting find on the internet regarding The Adamson Collection.  I have been researching recently about art making within psychiatric hospital/rehabilitation settings.  This research has ranged from Narrative Therapy, which looks also very interesting, to practical considerations regarding techniques and materials within a psychiatric hospital.    One of the things which strikes me in reading the article from the wellcomecollection.org website is the mention of ACTION.  What strikes me most from my own visit a while back to an art room in a psychiatric rehabilitation setting (part of a process of applying for a post as an Art Teacher) is that SPACE is paramount.  I was disappointed not to get the position, but on reflection, the space was very, very, small and questions would have needed to have been asked about the possibility of using additional areas in the hospital to do the art working in, which may or may not have been possible.    Bearing in mind the very physical nature of art making… and in this, I do not have in mind people sitting at little tables with their noses pressed against the paper, but rather, a person standing in front of an easel, pacing this way and that, standing back, walking away, and utilizing the physical space around them, in order to see properly, think clearly, and engage fully with their own art working,  it may be that in the designing of art rooms and art working areas in psychiatric hospitals not enough consideration is given to the necessity for ample space.   I have seem many times, in adult education settings which have nothing to do with mental health service users specific needs, many a person grow extremely irritated and agitated due to a lack of physical space, or their personal creative “area”  (something which seems to grow around a person when involved in anything creative, I find!) being impinged upon, or disrespected unwittingly by someone else.  In a psychiatric hospital or rehabilitation centre I would have thought lack of space could have potentially negative consequences in terms of aggressive behaviours.   If it does for people in a comparatively well state of mind and thinking,  it certainly must be when people are more vulnerable or have less behaviour regulating powers in their possession.

There is also the matter of the need for space to see properly if drawing from observation:  The need for ample distance and stepping back from one’s drawing.  With abstraction too,  it is needful to have a lot of room to stand back.  Part of the pleasure and therapeutic value of working physically with materials is that it is indeed and ACTION and PHYSICAL engagement with materials.  Perceptions of art working seem to be afflicted with an image of it being a sedentary and passive process which necessitates someone sitting down at a table.  I do not blame anyone for this, for there is no one to blame.  It is just another example of lack of depth in planning spaces for specific uses I should think.  But it did strike me, and has been an education in itself, for I had not thought about the matter before.  And, I am most aware, that I see things through my eyes as a professional artist as well as a teacher.  There are no doubt many situations where the objectives of art within a psychiatric setting are not that the service users have ample opportunity to actually learn and develop the skills and techniques used by artists on a regular basis, but maybe just an opportunity to explore some narrative through imagery, or art therapy in a mostly psychological understanding of the term, rather than the actual physical and material  practices in the wider sense.   I come with my own background and experiences, and my own assumptions of what an art therapy opportunity should ideally offer someone.  There are many different approaches!  I am not trained in art therapy, but in art and literature. I am most grateful for the experience of exploring the opportunity for working with art within a psychiatric setting.  There are many potentially exciting and positive possibilities I am sure, though I will have to put my vision for that aside for the time being it seems!  And the limited space was a very significant problem.  If successful, I am sure I would have found some creative solutions to it but  I feel that many positive outcomes and explorations would have been adversely affected by the small size of the art room.  It was little room at all.  Two people maximum, ideally.

If I had more time I would do some research into the matter, but will of course leave for now, as I have more pressing matters to attend to!!  The main thing for me, is that the whole experience was a very positive one, and I know will prove useful in some way.  I have thought through even further many interests and defined further what matters to me in life.  This is a great blessing. Another inspiring find from the Depression Alliance: http://www.depressionalliance.org/PDF/creativity-and-mental-health.pdf

“Sacred Spaces”  Art Exhibition at  Leatherhead Theatre during May 2014

The lighting had not been adjusted for the exhibition when these images of “Sacred Spaces” at Leatherhead Theatre were taken, but it gives you an idea of the exhibition.  I am most grateful to The Leatherhead Theatre for hosting this exhibition, which all the participating artists hope will bring a lot of interest and pleasure to all those who view it.  Take some time out and come and make a  visit..

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey,art spirituality creativity faith contemplation, jenny meehan KAOS kingston artists open studios surrey,sacred art zone creative, jamartlondon.com jenny meehan curator,

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey,art spirituality creativity faith contemplation, jenny meehan KAOS kingston artists open studios surrey,sacred art zone creative, jamartlondon.com jenny meehan curator,

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey,art spirituality creativity faith contemplation, jenny meehan KAOS kingston artists open studios surrey,sacred art zone creative, jamartlondon.com jenny meehan curator,

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey,art spirituality creativity faith contemplation, jenny meehan KAOS kingston artists open studios surrey,sacred art zone creative, jamartlondon.com jenny meehan curator,

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey,art spirituality creativity faith contemplation, jenny meehan KAOS kingston artists open studios surrey,sacred art zone creative, jamartlondon.com jenny meehan curator,

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey,art spirituality creativity faith contemplation, jenny meehan KAOS kingston artists open studios surrey,sacred art zone creative, jamartlondon.com jenny meehan curator,

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey,art spirituality creativity faith contemplation, jenny meehan KAOS kingston artists open studios surrey,sacred art zone creative, jamartlondon.com jenny meehan curator,

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey,art spirituality creativity faith contemplation, jenny meehan KAOS kingston artists open studios surrey,sacred art zone creative, jamartlondon.com jenny meehan curator,

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey,art spirituality creativity faith contemplation, jenny meehan KAOS kingston artists open studios surrey,sacred art zone creative, jamartlondon.com jenny meehan curator,

Sacred Spaces Art Exhibition Surrey

 

Leatherhead Theatre – “Sacred Spaces” Exhibition – More Information on the Artists Taking Part

Chris Birch    Christian’s innovative mixed media work combines illustration with original photography and merges together images and textures by using digital technology with traditional drawing and painting techniques. With layered, blended, manipulated, scanned and re-scanned images, today’s technology provides a much more immediate and direct contact between the medium of photography and digital illustration, allowing for a more sensitive, imaginative and contemplative approach to the work. The images retain the crispness you would expect in quality photography, but the mixing of processes produces more than enhanced photographs. This fusion of traditional and digital skills creates captivating images that have a fresh life of their own. Chris Birch graduated in Three Dimensional Design from Kingston Faculty of Art and Design in the late 1970’s, winning a commendation for his work on tactile mapping for the blind.  Influenced by Caravaggio, Fuselli, Bernini, Canova and Cunningham, since moving to Fusion Arts Studios in 2006, his work, which is often based on gothic nightmares, intrigue and dark dreams, has involved mixing photography, illustration, and traditional techniques to produce visually inspiring prints and mixed media originals.

Pick Pocket  Chris Birch

Pick Pocket Chris Birch

Derek Turner “Approaching Stromboli on an Ultramarine Sea” depicts a remembered experience of visiting the island of Stromboli. As you approach the island the sea is ultramarine blue, due to the black volcanic ash on the seabed. Billowing plumes of smoke which have come from the volcano itself hang above the island. The majority of the houses were boarded up as many inhabitants had left to live elsewhere. This gave the island a rather surreal atmosphere. There was a restaurant on the beach for visitors to the island to have lunch. I studied graphics at Beckenham School of Art and worked at a number of London advertising agencies, as an Art Director. I also set up my own photographic studio and worked mainly in the advertising and editorial fields before taking up painting full time. I have exhibited extensively in both the UK and abroad since 1994 PUBLIC COLLECTIONS Hounslow and Spelthorne Trust Hillingdon Hospital West Middlesex Hospital PRIZE WINNER Xerox Painting Competition – 1st Prize EWACC – Contemporary Art online – 1st Prize

Derek Turner "Approaching Stromboli on an Ultramarine Sea"

Derek Turner “Approaching Stromboli on an Ultramarine Sea”

 

 

“Sacred Spaces” runs from 2pm on Saturday 3rd May until Friday 30th May  during normal theatre opening hours which are normally 10am – 4pm Tuesday – Saturdays, (sometimes until 10pm but check with theatre first , phone  01372 365141)

“Sacred Spaces”  is located in the ground floor foyer at Leatherhead Theatre 7 Church Street Leatherhead Surrey KT22 8DN.  Disabled access and toilet facilities.  Coffee shop open 10am – 2pm and at other times subject to the performance schedule.

Contact Jenny Meehan at j.meehan@tesco.net for more info! or see  www.jamartlondon.com and

www.kingstonartistsopenstudios.co.uk

Visiting Information:

 

The Leatherhead Theatre
7, Church Street
LEATHERHEAD
Surrey
KT22 8DN

Tel: 01372 365141
Fax:     01372 365195

Accessible location – 5 mins from M25, Junction 9

5 minutes walk from Leatherhead British Rail Station.
Town centre location, close to local shops and restaurants.
Three car parks within a few minutes walk (free after 6pm)
Disabled places right outside the theatre.

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