Wednesday 26 November 2014

Archive drawings

Within that box I recently found, were a couple of works on paper that I didn't expect to see again! These are from a series I had been working on from 1983-1986. Some of the series were exhibited at York University, Toronto, towards the end of the 1985-86 school year along with my large dream paintings (a diptych & a triptych where each individual panel was 3' x 4'). The exhibition was a 3 person show in the large gallery of Winters College. The hand pieces from that show were exhibited that summer in Charyk Gallery, Downsview (a suburb of Toronto).

These works are mixed media on paper, 55 cm x 37  cm. While at York University, I took a few creative writing courses and remember that I was inspired by discussions of metonymy and thought it would be great to create visual metonyms: I started using the hand and its gestures to signify aspects of humanity and emotions.

In the above collage I used some of the silver paper sheets I found (dumpsters in the factory areas of Toronto were always great for unexpected art supplies -- I actually still have some of this paper 30 some years later!). After gluing pink tissue to some areas of the drawing I had a hey day with my graphite, watercolour pencils and a brush loaded with water.

I think the above piece was one of the earlier ones from the series (the fragility of paraffin on paper being a telltale sign) and I am positive it was not exhibited. I know I painted on the paper first, before applying the hands and then covering the two sides with wax hiding the lustre of the silver paper. I think the black lines are China marker. I did some more work with encaustic painting in the 1980s, but properly using beeswax, turpentine, oil paint and canvas or board NOT paraffin and NOT paper!

The above piece was not in the box but is from the hand series of the 1980s. It was included in the York and Charyk Gallery shows and had been again exhibited in 2005 during my "Coming of Age" exhibition in Wicklow. A few years ago there was a competition call for providing artwork to Europol's new building in The Hague. The criteria for the competition had very specific criteria that the artists had to meet (as well as not being involved in criminal activity!). While I thought this work met their criteria, the size did not fit into any of their specified categories. Happily, on enquiry, they gave me the go ahead to apply in a larger size category, purchased the piece and it now hangs somewhere in The Hague.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Kingswood drawings!

The box I found last week contained drawings related to the house I grew up in, 293 Kingswood Rd. in Toronto. My family moved there in 1964 and my parents sold the house in 1983, when they both took early retirement and returned to Ireland. I pre-empted a trauma by getting "settled" in my own apartment in the spring of 1982. (For the record, I was hardly settled as I moved house very frequently in the 1980s!)

One of my homework assignments in my first year of art school (Central Technical School's Post-Secondary Art Programme) was to produce 4 pencil drawings with an architectural theme. The family home provided the subject; these drawings are in a folder dated April/May 1979. Judging by the angle on this drawing, I was sitting on the roof of the shed looking at the back of my house and the back porch (built by my Dad). 

This is the view from my bedroom window of the house and lane directly opposite ours.

This is the view of our wobbly fence leading to the lane, from the back porch.

Still a view from the back porch, this is looking at the shed in our yard, our neighbour's garage and the backs of the houses on the next street (Bingham Ave).

Another assignment from that class was to use pen & ink and ink washes to draw an architectural interior. This is the view from my bedroom down the hall to the bathroom.

The assignment here was to do a watercolour architectural drawing and once again the family home was my model. I remember sitting on the curb across the road from the house in order to do this watercolour, probably in May/June 1979.

In my second year Design class I was learning about architectural drawings from a more technical point of view but again I used my own house to get dimensions, etc., when producing isometric drawings. This is the bottom floor of the house.

This is the house cut in half!

After art school finished in 1981, I took a year off to do studio work and make some money in a job before going to York University for my Fine Arts Degree. One of the classes I took, I think in my third year (1984-85) was Experimental Directions. The professor for that course was the inspiring performance artist, Toby MacLennan. During her class there was a lot of story-telling as a basis for making work and as students we discovered how to tease out our stories. By this time my parents were in Ireland but my memories of the house where I grew up were becoming epic. I am sure this undated drawing done in crayon and soft pencil on the back of a piece of matte board was from that class and was illustrating a point in one of my stories. Looking at this memory drawing now and comparing it to the curbside watercolour of the house which was in front of me, I am impressed by my visual recall! Although I don't remember saving them, I obviously rescued all these drawings from purging oblivion simply because they were depictions of the house where I grew up.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Archive artworks - surprise find!

I was looking for something in the attic studio yesterday, when I decided to look in a large flat box. I found what I was looking for, but also found a number of early artworks that I didn't think survived my two Great Purges of the 1980s! The image below is a drawing I did of my sister, Tallie, with her new guitar and another sister's boyfriend, Ernie, with his guitar. I remember drawing this: it was xmas of 1972 or 1973 and I was using new art supplies (charcoal & large sketch pad) which was a present from one or both of my oldest sisters. I remember at the time being amazed at capturing a good likeness of Ernie. That is still the way I remember him!

When I was in grade 11 (1976/77) I did my first silk screen print in art class. We used the simplest of processes, cardboard stencils, for printing  and only had 4 colours available. I used a picture of my toddler nephew, David, in his xmas sailor suit to create my image.

Still a high school drawing, I know this portrait of my younger sister, Dee Dee (awake!) was from grade 12 (1977/78) because it has the initials of my art teacher from that year and a check mark in the bottom right corner of the pencil drawing.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Canvas Panels

As well as the enjoyment I get from looking at works of art when visiting art galleries and museums, I am always mindful of the way things are presented. It is interesting to examine the relationship between a piece of artwork and the architecture it is within, how it is hung on the wall, if it is framed or unframed and what might be the reasons for the way in which it is presented. It is liberating to me when I see artworks hung in atypical ways and sometimes that inspires me to come out of my usual way of working (i.e., painting on stretched canvas).

I think it was in the spring of this year that I decided to make use of leftover strips of canvas by sewing them together with loops at the top to facilitate future hanging. Here is the composite canvas hanging out to dry after I washed it, I had plans for it, a Fever Afterimages painting, but I wanted to do some monoprints and small paintings first (which I did -- images on previous posts!).

Yesterday I did an ironing job on the composite canvas and (with the assistance of my husband) hung it up on the studio wall. I am still not ready to start painting, as I want to put some texture on it, and also may have a few tiny works to do, but soon, soon...