I will be launching a new collection of work at the Other Art Fair in London and New York and Roy’s People Art Fair, London this Autumn. This Cobalt Collection started with research into the South London potters and the development of British Delft Ware. This involved the use of cobalt blue in the form of smalt on white porcelain, a style and technique which originated in China. Prior to its introduction British made ceramics were largely coloured using green copper glaze or slip ware which was earth tones. The “new “ 16th century technology was a result of the expertise coming into Holland from China through the Dutch East India Company. Then that expertise coming into Britain as the result of Dutch and French refugees bringin the expertise with them and then settling in what was then the outskirts of London. At the time “foreigners” , and that meant anyone born outside of London were not allowed to settle in the City of London, so the potteries grew up in Southwark, Vauxhall, and other neighbouring areas close to the City and the Thames, and the refugees and migrants brought the expertise and coloured glazes with them.
After a lovely conversation with a potter and British Museum Educator in my friends garden it grew into research into cobalt pigments all together and the colour traces they have left as evidence of trade which goes as far back as the late Bronze Age in the form of glass beads, probably Mediterranean, found in a UK burial pit which may have been as a result of the trade in Cornish tin or copper with the Iberian Peninsular and then in turn with Phoenician traders there or alternatively possibly from French Mediterranean bronze age blue glass makers.
British Museum Collection selected evidence of Production and Trade in Cobalt pigmented objects: glass and ceramics for more information and a sneak preview of some of the collection please follow this link to the gallery page Cobalt Collection, from the Vauxhall Potters to the British Museum
I have produced a series of works which using cobalt painting pigments (and to a limited degree smalt which I have used in acrylic rather than my usual oil as it is fugitive in oil), and red earth pigments in reference to my London ceramics starting point, the titles come from places where cobalt blue pigments were made and found as detailed in the British Museum collection. So there is physical colourful evidence of trade from thousands of years ago, the stories of those people engaged in that trade can only be imagined. But evidence there is of sharing ideas and technologies across boundaries of culture, language and geography. A human exchange of material goods and ideas. A selection will be at the Other Art Fair in London, a further selection in New York and a final selection in Roy’s People Art Fair on the South Bank near where those refugee potters worked.
Each abstract piece is invitation to fall in get a little lost and remember.
If you would like tickets to the Other Art Fair, London please click on the link below and use the code NEEDHAMCOMP for your free ticket
Saxony and London Clay
hand mixed oil on canvas
I was delighted to be interviewed by Gita Joshi for her curators salon at the end of summer, to have a listen follow this link:
This year is so far a year of new ventures for me.
In previous years I have wondered around the East Finchley Open Art Houses: So for the first time ever I took part. The advantage of showing in my own home became clear when I could hang the work as and when I liked in the build up, taking time here and there, plenty of time to change my mind, and rehang. That was ideal, the easiest ever. I wondered about showing in such a mixed group, but that turned out to be just fine. The footfall in the first weekend was very slow, but by the end of the weekend I had a serious buyer who happens to live in the next street, and the sale was confirmed before the next weekend giving me the chance to swop in a new piece. There is something very lovely about that piece just going down the road. And no delivery costs! But more than that was the response of the people who bought it, it really touched them.
There is a tradition in the group of going to each others houses in the evenings of the week in between, that was great because until now I have not really known who was who or who makes what. I couldn’t make all these what were in effect parties, but I did make three including my own, and it was lovely to get to know some of the other people, and make a small ceramics purchase myself.
The second weekend was busier, apart from the period of the football, and there were two couples who seemed serious. One has since come back and bought a piece they found on the website and came to see in the real world here, and which will be delivered tomorrow, and the others have let me know they will be coming back to me.
And so on Sunday I went down to the Whitecross Street Party to have a look at the Wives of Bath hanging in the Curious Duke Gallery....and have some lovely street food and join in the event...
And I am hoping that that new venture and the Other Art Fair Bristol are just as fruitful.
People wander across the neighbourhood slipping into any several of the 17 houses spread across from Finchley through East Finchley to Muswell Hill. Finding moments of beauty, a mix of works which appeal or don’t, intrigues, appalls, little bits of delight fascination or nothing muchness. When the art feels dull the interiors are still interesting.
The heat on the pavement reflects back up, distances are calculated, decided upon and the long walk is given up in favour of an ice cream, a trip to the paddling pool or replaced with a quick hop on the bus.
New conversations are broached, new relationships are made, neighbours from the next road, day trips from Brighton, people come by and sometimes they don’t. Towards the end of the second day, a couple fall in love together with a painting which touches them, a little piece of magic.
During the week, what these visitors don’t know is that the artists turn into visitors themselves, re-walking their steps, taking turns to host.
This evening I met the potter who made the little sugar bowl I have, the one whose lid I had broken, and in an act of sweetness I was gifted a replacement.
Tomorrow the other exhibiting artists are invited here.
Next weekend it all starts again and then it will be over.
Alone on a Wine Dark Sea, to be collected tomorrow
South of the River, hand mixed oil on canvas,50x50x4cm 2018
So delighted that this piece has been long listed for the Secret Art Prize. I would be delighted if you voted for it for the people’s choice award, you can vote by following this link, and then scrolling to page 7 of the entries where it is listed under my name and not it’s title because I filled the form in wrong!
Sometimes dreams come true, with a bit of hard work and perseverance! This week I had a great meeting with Eleni Duke, and I am so delighted to be take on by The Curious Duke Gallery. The first thing I will be doing with them is to be exhibiting in their Summer Exhibition which will be launched at the Whitecross Street Party on July 15. I will be on their online platform and we are making plans for a really exciting future project. I can’t quite say how pleased I am. This is a dynamic and well respected gallery which specialises in developing the careers of emerging artists. I will be showing alongside a whole group of artists that I feel proud to share walls with.
The Bristol Presentiment Series have been made using pigments recorded in the Bristol Presentiments 1770 papers, are those that were imported into Bristol by ship during that period.
These papers record the imports and ships in and out of port during the period, a significant one in the development in sea trade both in Bristol and in the transatlantic sea trade and slave trade triangle. Only two years before the only traders able to import were London based and belonged to the King. for more details see the Brsitol Presentiments Collection page on this site.
The painting stage of the Bristol Presentiments collection is complete. The next stage is finishing the edges, varnishing and framing. The summery weather is helping me because the heat speeds up drying times. The edges cannot be finished until the surfaces will not be damaged by gentle handling.
My challenge is my space which is rather small, and while I have a series of work drying I have limited space to make new work. Happily for me, we are planning on building a garden studio which would allow me to use the current studio for storage (it is very small), and allow me work and drying space in the new studio in the garden. Our garden is small so it will not be enormous, but it will be a big improvement on what I have already. I am working with Rachel Dein at her stall in Chelsea Flower show on Friday, so I can seek some inspiration for beautifying a garden building there.
This solution works better for me than renting a space in shared studios as it will be a one off payment, all be it expensive, rather than a rent. In addition my current studio is accessed via our bedroom, so not ideal for bringing visitors to, this will be much better. I am excited and delighted by the prospect of having more space and feel a warm fuzzy glow towards my family for being willing to give up part of our small garden. So up until now my solution to a small home based studio has involved colonising other parts of the house there has been quite a creep in storage into the bedroom, and out into the hall....
And then there is the headspace you need, the headspace you need to face your fears and to stop getting in your own way. This is where a group of supportive fellow travellers are important. There is no singular defined route to take as an artist, no singular model of success which means developing and implementing your own creative goals and then going for it. For me I need deadlines, and someone to check up on me, to make me face fears and do the thing anyway. So for doing just that for me recently I want to mention Paul Anderson Morrow, Sam Peacock and Alex McIntyre, all of whom have given me a bit of a push just when I need it the most.
Another helpful thing that has happened is that one of the agencies I am represented by Why Not Art have offered their artists some storage in the near future. We may just get our bedroom back.....
This summer I have the delight to be showing at the Other Art Fair Bristol, my stall is paid for and I have booked a place to stay. If you want to come along and don’t live near by the fair is in the Passenger Shed building really close to Bristol Temple Meads train station.
I have been researching the history of trade in Bristol and the work produced especially for the Fair only uses pigments that are on the imports lists of ships which docked in Bristol in 1770. This is the beginning of the boom time for Bristol. In 1668 the government monopoly in the form of the Royal African Company of the transatlantic slave trade triangle was broken and Bristol merchants stepped in big time in the form of the Society of Merchant Venturers. This transatlantic sea trade is the context of Jane Austin’s Bath elite. The builders and the elites of Bristol and Bath made their money here in the 17-1800s. And also notable are the non-conformist churches of Bristol which were central to the abolitionist movement in the UK, the Quakers and others who helped provide a platform for voices of resistance. However it is strongly arguable that the reason for abolition in the end came down to the resistance of the enslaved people after a number of uprisings in the Caribbean.
So among the wide range of imported goods to Bristol in the year 1770 is indigo. I have a gorgeous indigo. It is fair trade indigo from south India and it has this amazing red tint within the blue. Sensuous and lovely to mix, grind and apply it makes my heart sing.
Of interest to me in the collection of imports are ochres, red and yellow, madder, vermillion, pitch, tobacco, turps, linseed oil, wood, cotton, linen, lead white, Irish clay, sumac, saffron, pimento, beeswax, and sugar.