Sunday, 29 April 2018

Festival 15 - Jean Davey Winter

Jean Davey Winter: About the work:

A fascination with travel and the concept of the journey provide me with an ongoing source of inspiration. Over the years this has included a microlight flight over the volcanic island of Lanzarote; a road trip through New Mexico, Arizona and Utah and more recently a visit to the island of Cuba, the starting point for this new work.

Cuba has an extraordinary culture, a dense web of associations and contrasts which conjure up words like: seductive, poetic, alchemy and magic. There is a constant awareness that this vibrancy, colour and energy combine and conflict with reminders of a darker past.

Many diverse elements from these experiences are now coming together as the work continues to develop: glimpses of colours and textures and the fragmented memories of travel. It is intentionally ambiguous, hopefully to allow sufficient space for the viewer to bring their own interpretations to it.

Working practice:

Coming from a textile background I enjoy the freedom of working with mixed media. The opportunity to build up surfaces, to combine this with collage plus the fluid qualities and mark making potential of paint; I love the feeling of anticipation – that anything can happen, as a new piece begins.

What I find most difficult is the ‘letting go’, that moment of realisation that some of the bits you have become most attached to have to be sacrificed if there’s any chance of making the painting work – that’s the hard part….

Future hopes for Hastings Arts Forum:

Hastings Arts Forum has been transformed over the ten years since I first exhibited there. There have been major structural improvements to the gallery itself and the whole ethos and ambition of the Forum has become very much more ambitious and professional.

Whilst maintaining it’s commitment to the community I hope it will also continue to thrive and develop with the emphasis on curated shows, both group and solo, and maybe create a series of major annual exhibitions following on from the precedent set by Festival 15.

More about Jean and her work can be seen on her website

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Festival 15 - Matthew Burrows

'Painting is not born out of intelligence but the fine balance between confidence and surrender.' 
Matthew Burrows 

Wall (2017) 
Oil on board 152.5 x 124.5cm 

1. Can you tell us something about your work in this show and something about how your work has developed over the years. 
I am fortunate enough to live and work in the rolling hills of East Sussex, my studio, on the site of an old wind mill, is firmly perched on a ridge between valleys. Despite the beautiful views and clear vistas, my relationship to place is not one of description or nostalgia, but one of dwelling and ritual. It is a process of mythologizing, of drawing meaning from the particularities of the environment, of realising its wilderness and ours.

I’ve always considered myself a painter of people and places, and yet, it's rare to find these fully articulated anywhere in my work. In one sense this is about the problem of metaphor - a picture of a landscape is not the meaning of a landscape and can easily lead to trite illustration. My painting ‘Oasis’, on show at HAF, is a painting of absence, it depicts a structure in a barren landscape that could be an alter or building, a means of display or container of sorts. Beyond the suggestion of a ground and horizon there are few clues to construct a narrative, instead one is left with the density of pigment and colour, the movement of mark and tension across its hard yet porous surface. The title suggests hope in the harshness of the desert, it is the mystic’s landscape of solitude and temptation, a paradise of emptiness and rage, a country of madness and silence.

Single and Divided (2017) 
Oil on board 122 x 94cm

2. What you find most enjoyable and/or difficult about the process of creating art? 
The most enjoyable part of making art is that it asks so much of you, it asks everything, no stone left unturned. Of course, that’s what makes it difficult too. It’s a hard task master, mostly it leaves you frustrated and despondent, months can go by with little or no joy. But there’s something compelling and surprising in its mystery that keeps you moving on.

3. What would you like to see the Hastings Arts Forum do in the future?
HAF plays a significant part in the artistic fabric of Hastings, it gives a sense of place and purpose to artists who live and move to Hastings. Moving forward it would be really exciting to see HAF look again at how it shows work, perhaps taking a more creative approach to the design, layout and structure of the walls etc. It maybe a step too far but an open competition to ask for design solutions to this may create some refreshing and surprising outcomes.

Eclipse II (2016) 
Oil on board 77.5 x 59.5cm

More about Matthew and his work can be seen on his website 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Charlotte Snook - Festival 15, curator and artist

Charlotte Snook has been living and working in St Leonards since 2001. She studied at Hornsey College of Art and the Royal College of Art, where she got her MA in Painting. She taught Foundation courses across the Midlands before working as a Senior Lecturer in Foundation Studies at Central Saint Martins (2002 to 2009). From 2011 to 2014 she was Chair of SoCo Artists and she and Mary Hooper coordinated the Art in Empty Shops project in 2012. This was a collaboration with Hastings Council and Dyer and Hobbis Estate Agents to provide large scale prints of artists’ work in empty shop windows in St Leonards. Her most recent project was at the Jerwood gallery. She talks about her work in a short and lovely video linked here: To be Continued: Artists in Hastings

Q. How did you become involved with Hastings Arts forum and curating Festival 15? 
As an artist living in St Leonards you can hardly avoid being Involved with HAF, through taking part in exhibitions yourself or supporting friends and fellow artists in their shows. Openings are a great way to meet other artists and do some networking. It’s a very welcoming place. I’ve observed the fluctuations in HAF’s fortunes over the years and am delighted at its current success. I offered to help with the curation.

Q. You are one busy artist! Can you balance time working with others and time you need to work for yourself?
I’ve always found it complementary, whether working with students or fellow practitioners on projects and exhibitions but time management skills are often needed!

Q. Why did you become an artist? Were & are there particular artists who inspired you? 
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an artist and go to Art School. Finding Van Gogh at an early age was a revelation. There have been so many artists who have influenced/inspired me at different times over the years but constant companions are Goya, Tiepolo and the English satirists, eg Gillray, Hogarth. 

Q. In the video you talk about how your work has developed. Can you say a little more about your work at the present time?
I have a great studio five minutes from where I live. It’s functional and very cold in winter, but there are no distractions. It’s always a joy to be there even if the work is not going well. The paintings I make are small, although to me the size of the picture plane doesn’t matter; I still grapple with the composition, the colour, the quality of the marks, the fluidity of the painted surface, just as if I were working on a much larger scale. There is often narrative, a sequence of the same subject approached in different ways through both drawing and painting. I shamelessly borrow from other artists, Velasquez, Joseph Wright of Derby, Crivelli and others more obscure and when I do I feel part a continuous fellowship of painters through time.
Q. What would you like to see at the Hastings Arts Forum in the future?
I would like to see Festival 15 become an annual event. So next year Festival 16 might be an exhibition showcasing Sculpture or Photography, for example.