I first came across this painting years ago.  It was on the front cover of a book of short fiction stories; stories which inspired me so much I ended up doing a degree in Literature a few years later.  Starting to read fiction led to a lot more than I had ever imagined it would!   This painting was the reason I picked up the book initially, and how lovely to see it in the flesh at the Tate Britain recently.  What a masterpiece it is!  It was painted at the height of the First World War by Gertler who was a conscientious objector.  To transform a merry go round into a military machine is a masterstroke in itself.  He explained, ‘Lately the whole horror of war has come freshly upon me’.

 

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Indulging in a little memory today, a wonderful trip to Tate Britain last month with two delightful artist friends.  We laughed and chatted so much we very nearly got thrown out…It’s so hard to be quiet and funeral like when there is work to discuss, responses to paintings and other creations, good company, and the extra bonus of having a wheelchair for one friend, which I have never driven before, and of course I took great delight in various maneovers and variations in speed. 

 What is this dowdy silence, sobre hush;  is this a funeral parlour or an art gallery?  Yes, some moderation is always a good thing, but I just don’t get the lack of discussion…Apart from those official talkers, why is there so little talking going on?  Are people afraid to make themselves look uninformed?  What is this cerebal matter, this dominance of educated discourse? 

At least the text which accompanies the work at the Tate Britain is clear and straightforward.  I am still reeling with a recent traumatic reading experience endured when hoping to find out about an artist’s work to be exhibited in a local University’s gallery.  The text was a creation in itself, for sure, but a completely seperate creation from that of the work, because it was so dense in concept that it didn’t really need the work, and the work seemed much better without it too.  Sometimes it’s interesting to know what a piece means to the artist, but do I really need to know?  It seems to me that we are infected by a scientific approach to visual expressions which murder the eye before it has opened. 

Like that….”Words Which Murder The Eye Before It Has Opened” 

LOVE this painting “Casement To Infinity” by Leon Underwood.  I have not come across him before.  The use of colour is excellent, and as I toy with the idea of trying out some more figurative painting myself I read about the artist:

“…he felt, and would feel increasingly, that a neglect of subject matter was to the detriment of art, and that the embrace of abstraction for its own sake simply led to greater and greater differentiation between art and artists and an ordinary life as lived by the majority.”

 

Back from West Dean, and other holiday trips here and there, to find the publicity information for “Muybridge In Kingston” on my doorstep.  Very glad to see it too, as I had no knowledge of the “John Lewis Art Prize Photography Competition” which is one of many events going on as part of this focus on one of Kingston’s most innovative people.  Events at the Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston Museum and the Tate Britain, look very interesting and varied, and I will certainly be going to some of them. 

I also just had to enter the “John Lewis Art Prize Photography Competition”.  Though I am focusing on my painting, I do periodically return to my camera and computer, and as the John Lewis competition has its focus around the John Lewis building in Kingston, how could I resist?  My “John Lewis Partnership Foundations 1987  inkjet artwork (which was displayed at the Stanley Picker Gallery “Kingston Contemporary Open” Exhibition in 2007) beckoned me once more.  But to use something I have worked on in the past in a new way is much more exciting, and it’s one of the joys of being an artist…taking something old and making it new in some way. 

But time!  It’s so tight!  A bit like last time around…inspiration comes fast and thick…sometimes pressure can help things along a bit.  I started working today at around 12 noon and now the print is delivered to the Gift List Department at John Lewis, Kingston.  I am very grateful for the fact that I invested in a printer recently, and also that I had some inkjet paper to hand.  It’s hard financially, and always a struggle to work out what is a worthwhile investment…one which will be useful…but looks like past purchases have come into their own this time around, as I would not have had time to get the image printed elsewhere…not exactly as I required it.

The image is called “Years Go By – John Lewis Partnership Foundations 2010” and gets its title from one of many thoughts I had while creating the piece.  Because it contains parts of the previous “John Lewis Partnership Foundations” image  (in the picture frame and the screen) I felt I had to include this in the title.  My awareness of the rapid passing of time as I worked on it, especially with the deadline date being tommorrow, was something I wanted to include, and the passing of  time is also referenced in the image through the text in the store about beds! 

Because the events going on focus on the work of Muybridge, a figure from the past, and a creator of images (both still and moving) with the camera,  and the competition has its focus on the John Lewis Kingston Store,  to use my own past photographic work by bringing it forward in time and setting it within the John Lewis Furniture Department seemed like an interesting way to set up lots of new visual and conceptual  relationships.  I was thinking about people planning the interior of their homes, thinking about the planning involved right from the outset of creating  a new building, (even so far back as the first lines drawn by an architect), thinking about a blank piece of paper…the problems we all have with dimensions….(mine was the my image looked great square, but I wanted it to work on A3, as that was the format for the competition).  People choosing furniture also have to think about how objects fit into physical spaces.  I gave the figure from the 1987 image of the building’s foundations a prominent place in the image…I quite like the relationship between him and the lady at the top right who is looking at a selection of pictures and wondering no doubt which to choose.  I guess I am also hoping that my image will be chosen as part of the John Lewis Art Prize Exhibition which runs from the 8th September at “The Place To Eat” in John Lewis Kingston.  Only time will tell!!!

More information on Events which are part of the “Muybridge In Kingston” 2010 http://www.muybridgeinkingston.com/event.php

Here is my entry…

Entry by Jenny Meehan for the "John Lewis Art Prize" 2010, part of the Muybridge In Kingston events

This is another chapter in the story started by my first image of the foundations of the John Lewis building in Kingston. First image 1987, this one created in 2010. Interior of furniture department was taken last year I think from memory.

And here was the image which was shown at the Stanley Picker Gallery in 2007 as part of the Kingston Contemporary Open Exhibition…

Image of 2007 artwork "John Lewis Foundations Partnership" Jenny Meehan

 The problem with painting is its possibilities.  Limitless. Powerful. This scares me.  But as long as it doesn’t scare me enough to stop me stepping over the cliff every time I pick up a paintbrush then it does not have to be a problem.  As for the ideas…that’s another issue.  I have too many, I can’t realise them all.     

I went to the Tate Britain on Friday.  Loved watching a Henry Moore video….and glad a of comfortable chair to watch it in.  Spent most time looking at a painting by Peter Lanyon and also another by Sandra Blow.  I have not come across their work up until now, so I enjoyed this, and did a little research looking at more of their work and life afterwards.

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