So this Autumn I went full tilt at promoting my work and getting it out there. I made the possibly crazy decision to do 3 fairs in 2 coutries in 1 month. I started off with The Other Art Fair London. At this fantastic show I met a great range of professional contacts including Artist agents, I have a formal meeting with them next week, and the curator of an amazing museum project which is still in development (more about this next year). I also had the opportunity to net-work with some fabulous artists, and sold the largest work on my stand, my star piece which had so much love through the show I could have sold it several times over! Unusually for a fair I sold it through the fair director rather than face to face, so thank you Ryan for facilitating that.
The next fair I did was in Oxo Tower Wharf, and standing around in that South London setting in April had been the inspiration for the starting point of the Cobalt Collection. So as I stood in the cold in April, something was tickling the back of my mind about the South London Potters in Southwark (which I had arrived through) and Vauxhall which was near to where I would be leaving from. I had had this connection between the Thames and Cobalt floating in the back of my mind for ages. The colours of the Thames are reflected in the range of blues and greens and turquoises that can be found, the changeability and at the same time permanence of the river are similar to the chemical nature of cobalt, but there was something else, I was sure of it. So after the show I started to research into the history of the South London potters and this is what I found. They were originally a group of refugees from religious persecution in the low countries and France. They had been obliged to live outside the city, as only people born in the city could live in the city at the time, and they had brought with them the techniques for glazing pottery that included amongst other colours the prized cobalt blue of Deltware. They were the originators of blue and white pottery in England. Before that English pottery was brown or green. These potteries were also at the foundations of some of the most famous potteries for example Royal Doulton started out here.
So here I was this Autumn with the Cobalt Collection that had started as a germ of a thought the last time I did this same fair in this same place, with cobalt blue skies outside as well as in and a beautiful golden sunshine falling across my work. A week later I was in New York!
So to get to New York I had sent my work ahead to my gorgeous friend Rachel’s house, which while not in New York city is in New York state, I knew it had arrived safe and sound as she’d sent me the pictures, and despite two hiccoughs in customs leaving the UK and then entering the USA with the help of UPS they had arrived before I even set off.
The pieces I took to America were the ones which explored cobalts bigger story, the research I did into the collection at the British Museum. I had looked into the archives and found how cobalt pigmented objects had left in their physicality these traces of human interconnectedness since the iron age, how they had been traded in the form of glass, by Phoenicians across the meditteranean, how they had spread through the Islamic world into the Iberian peninsular and how even in the iron age cobalt blue glass had made its way to the shore of England. The work in the US referenced the names of places this evidence came from. traces of classical silk route trade and more. And one of the things tht really happens when you spend three weekends in close proximity explaining what you do to so many thousands of people, is that you get a bit clearer about why you do it yourself. Which in itself is a little gift to the artist.
Back at home in between all these fairs the commission that Rebecca Wilson of saatchiart and I had been talking about since Bristol came through. So in between this I was making a very large painting that will be gracing the wall of a boutique cruise ship that runs its route between the Galapagos and Europe carrying passengers in luxury. The making of the piece is probably for the next post, when I may even have photos of it in place. I have used Andean Indigo and European ochres to make it.
. Tomorrow I fly to New York for the Other Art Fair Brroklyn. My work already arrived already . You can find me at Stand 133 near the Saatchi Lounge. Really exciting!
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.