I've spent most of today sat in my little 'man-cave', otherwise known as my studio but more fairly described as the garage. This little sanctuary I share with passing moths, squatting spiders and the occasional inquisitive bee or wasp although not so many these days. As I sit in the middle, a small space scraped free; on either side are great piles of priceless stuff that cannot, will not and definitely should not be transported to the netherworld of the council tip. This garage like many others we have had is the modern day equivalent of purgatory, an in-between world or holding station where the fate of all inside is held in the balance. Will the Magical Moving Polly Pocket House one day return to the snug warmth of a beaming child's bedroom, well sadly, it seems unlikely and poor Polly looks like she's heading for the exit but wait maybe not just yet. Mr Trivial Pursuit (Deluxe Family Edition) might see another outing as he sits smugly on his shelf next to the Christmas Lights and a wonky reindeer, once more he might have to claw Christmas back from the jaws of disaster.
As eye and mind wander freely I can't help but listen to the almighty cacophony of wind and rain hammering down on what sounds like a very flimsy roof. So far no leaks but plenty of creaking and squealing timbers punctuated by the unexpected thump of an exhausted and sodden seagull, his great webbed feet plodding wearily across the misty skylight above my head.
It's been a day of unrelenting racket, the sounds of unsettled weather amplified by the boom box of a garage and yet for all that commotion I can concentrate, the noise is a screen behind which fragile thoughts take root and grow. So it is when we work at Redbrick Mill, albeit the soundscape is played on a different scale, subtle, delicate almost fugitive without the fervour or grandeur of lashing rain, it's a comforting, meandering score of gentle coughs, tinkling pencils, gruff charcoal and lift music with intriguing interludes of David down below sealing a sale with rich promises of delivery and aftercare whilst unbeknownst upstairs we languidly peruse the thigh of a naked Stephanie. It all seems so normal and strangely comforting, a naked woman merely a few feet above the heads of earnest bargain hunters, each of us, those in the life room and those down below searching for that unique special thing that will make our lives that little bit better. I like the difference and also the sameness of our two pursuits, that's a nice chest, handy for blankets, one thinks, the other I’ll draw it. I like the way the legs turn outwards means it won't tip over, one says, the other reaching for his ruler thinks, not easy to get the angle right. It's got a good bottom, plenty of storage one thinks whilst the other decides it’s time to break out the big brush, and so it goes. We test and probe, adjust, stand back and peruse, evaluate and measure, finally ascribing value, one is a drawing the other a wardrobe. One if we're lucky will hold its value or maybe even gain a bit, whilst the other will end up in the garage; it’s up to you to decide which is which.
I liked Russell’s drawing on the evening despite a certain severity creeping in but seizing an opportunity and undeterred by our pre-emptive ending, Russell carried on the next day. The drawing is better now with a cheeky little ponytail extension. These architects just can’t stop adding extensions! But probably my favourite is Ivan’s lovely little drawing, a masterpiece of economy and observation. I see myself as the Hare to his Tortoise, whilst I’m furiously lathering on gallons of oil paint; Ivan is serenely making delicate little marks with a sharpened pencil all building almost inevitably to a perfect little drawing. My monstrosity glowers in the background sagging on its own dodgy foundations whilst Ivan's drawing soars. Well done Ivan (through gritted teeth),darn it, the pencil wins again!!
Don't forget to have a look at the impressive display of Sandra's paintings, I'm sure she would enjoy sharing any thoughts or questions you might have about the work.This is the first of what we hope will be a long series of exhbitions and your support would be much appreciated.
Paintings and drawings by Barry, Frank, Hadyn, Ian, Ivan, Paul, Roger H, Roger S, Russell, Sue, Tom and Tony.