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12 February 2012

Can I have some more?

This last week has been topical, highly topical. When matters of art and life meet up and collide ever so nicely. Whilst I do write the occasional book review on this blog, I very often get the opportunity to make art that celebrates my interest in books and working in a bookshop (although undoubtedly it fuels and motivates aspects of my life anyway); so with the 200 years since Dickens's birth milestone rapidly approaching I wanted to acknowledge it in some way. That 'some way' is the way that I always celebrate or commemorate a special person, place, occasion or thing, in the form of art of course. So now was the opportunity to create 'art for art's sake' and art that is pure and simple in its intentions. As I mentioned in a post around two weeks ago I really liked the idea of a piece of street art created on the wall of Urban Outfitters in Exeter in which layers of plaster had been chipped off to reveal a portrait in the wall. I wanted to copy this process, but with a medium that is more pertinent and ready-to-hand. Surprisingly I don't have a spare wall and chisel going that I can just start hacking into. Hence I used pages from books that I stained different tones and then layered onto a board. The next step was to rip, pick and tear through the layers to create the face (easier said than done, believe me!). Arguably I should have used pages from Dickens's books but I couldn't bring myself to tearing one up so I used several book proofs that were lying in the staff room at work. In hindsight Dickens's books would have been a better choice, but its too late to go back now and whilst the work may lack the authenticity that real books would have provided the idea of books to create a portrait of an author is still the overriding idea.
Once I had finished by sheer and blissful coincidence it coincided with Dickens's real birthday, the 7th of February. Even more fortunate, the fact that the bookshop where I work were taking copies of Dickens's books to sell at The Brewhouse that very evening and took my portrait along with them! And if all these events leading up to the 7th weren't so coincidentally Dickensian enough then to top the list I was invited to go see the performance by Pip Utton playing Charles Dickens (of course, who else!) by my friend also that same evening. It was a good day and indeed it was a great show. The show was a one man performance, with Pip Utton playing Charles Dickens as he recalled the last 12 years of his life, recreating some of the readings from 'The Pickwick papers', 'A Christmas Carol' and 'Oliver Twist'. Imbedded in the show was plenty of biographical content, wit and humour which meant I learnt a lot of new things whilst being entertained at the same time, good stuff! Whilst at first all of this might seem slightly redundant for a SAW blog, I'd like to think that if anything it offers a brief insight into how art and art practice on a daily basis work by taking in the curiosities and day-to-day trivialities that sometimes pass us by. In the end all these experiences seem to mix and cook together to make up the bigger picture in defining what it is that 'makes ones art practice'. In true Dickensian fashion it left me hungry for more!

(above) My ticket from the evenings show

(above) Work in progress - The making of Charles Dickens, ripped through layers of collaged books on MDF

Those of you who may have visit regularly to the blog may have noticed the new 'In the studio' image on the right hand side of the blog. This is a new idea I thought I'd test out in which I upload a new image everyday/every other day that documents the progress of the current piece of work I'm making at the time. The first piece to be documented in this way was the portrait of Charles Dickens (shown here).

So, I will be posting some more works in progress from my work space at home, please visit regularly to check out and see what appears! I'm not really sure if the side bar on a blog is the 'best place' for this sort of thing, but I want to experiment with the idea for a while and see how it pans out. The opportunity (and slight trepidation) of posting unfinished work online is something I have never done before, bare in mind some of the pieces I start to make might not actually 'work' or turn out badly so I'm thinking I will have to be quite brave to try and fully resolve my work to the best of my abilities. It should be fun to see what happens!

(above) The finished portrait

If all this talk of Dickens has got you hungry for more then why not check out Simon Callow reading Charles Dickens at The Brewhouse this Wednesday 15th Feb.

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