In retrospect 2013 was a busy year, with exhibitions and building a portfolio of work, using techniques learned from my MA. Those experimental and extremely large-scale gestural paintings had opened up a new way of working and last year I was able to transfer this practice onto a more domestic scale. My Blog posts document most of the exhibitions that I was involved in. Last year there were several other artists’ exhibitions that I did not do a specific Blog post for that deserve a mention, Ana Mendieta’s ‘Traces’ at The Hayward, Sarah Lucas’s Situation Absolute Beach Man Rubble at The Whitechapel and out of town, Gillian Ayres at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. The three inspired me respectively, to: connect with the world; remember less is more; and find an excuse to paint thickly.
But, I have put away my paints until April (well I am supposed to) as I am writing a book, the subject of which, comes from my 2012 exhibition for The National Trust, ‘Taming the Tentacles’, about Ferguson’s Gang, a group of five eccentric women from the 1930’s. For the exhibition I had commissioned artists working in film, performance, installation and sound to create contemporary art pieces related to the Gang and their conservation work. I curated the show, including a film I had made, inside the 18th century watermill, Shalford Mill, near Guildford, Surrey. I included much of the archive material that I had uncovered in my research and the BBC filmed the exhibition and the Private View for its second programme of the series: ‘Heritage! the Battle for Britain’s Past’ broadcast a oupld of times last year. Following the success of the exhibition I was commissioned by Anova to write a book on Ferguson’s Gang. I am co-writing it with journalist Sally Beck and am deep in archival research, following the leads that I had uncovered two years ago. My grandfather knew the Gang’s members in their heyday: Bill Stickers, Sister Agatha, Red Biddy, The Bludy Bishop and Kate O’Brien. He was their conservation architect, named by them as The Artichoke. The book is well under way and our deadline for submission is 31st March 2014 with publication due in early Autumn. So Blog posts might be a bit thin on the ground, but work is definitely on-going.
As usual I will be showing my work at Dulwich Open House in May 2014 and have a couple of shows in the pipeline.
TAMING THE TENTACLES EXHIBITION- Shalford Mill, Surrey.
Ferguson’s Gang – their original meeting room and having fun.