Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Talking about Garwnant ... as we were ...

‘Garwnant’ is a picture I produced earlier in the year. It’s 9ins. by 9 ins. (unframed) and is made of paper, acrylic paint, photograph, collage and found elements (sticks, leaves, grass, moss, a Cherry Cola label and a Lego brick) on MDF. It’s framed in a 1.5 inch oak box frame. In material terms, the frame is worth more than the picture. Much more.

Them’s the facts.

Garwnant (the place) is a picnic area run by the Forestry Commission in the Brecon Beacons in Mid Wales. The Beacons are astonishingly beautiful, in a bleak kind of way. Garwnant, on the other hand, is non-descript … you could be any where. Picnic tables, a few walks, a cafe and toilets. And a car park. You stop there to go somewhere else.

I went there many times earlier in the year, initially because it was convenient to stop there, but also because it had many of the elements I like … sticks, leaves, grass, moss and water (there’s a small river running through it).

The water became the focal point for me. I’ve got a ‘thing’ about water and have had for some time. I took lots of photos of the water and made lots of sketches. I also fell in a few times. I was not the only one (nods at Jo). Back in the studio I’ve worked up those photos and sketches into a portfolio of drawings, which I’m particularly pleased with.

The photo at the centre of ‘Garwnant’ (the picture … do try to keep up!) has been cropped so that it’s almost an abstract of water. It’s not meant to be a scene. You can’t point at it and say “Ooh, I’ve been there”. It’s an image of the element taken out of its context. (OK, that sounded geeky).

The photo is surrounded by the detritus of nature and people’s interaction with it. Again, I haven’t attempted to depict a scene (I’m not a landscape artist, in that sense) but to pick up (literally) some of the bits and pieces that nature is made up of. (I prefer to think of it as ‘creation’ … which is a pretty massive clue as to what this is really all about). I love trees – and I draw them a lot – but I also love sticks, pieces of bark, moss, clumps of grass and handfuls of dirt. And they’re easier to bring home in the boot of the car. I love to take all these ‘found elements’ cover them in paint and glue, gold leaf, beads, whatever, and stick them into a picture. They are the odds and ends of nature that are often overlooked because everyone is looking at ‘the magnificent view’ (a bit like you and me, really … oops! another clue!).

The Coke label and the Lego brick? Both are plastic and not biodegradable. They won’t grow or change or have seasons. They are incongruous and say something about our worst kind of interaction with nature and the evidence we leave of our being here. It would have been ‘nice’ to edit them out rather than include them, but by being there they have something to add to the conversation … and the meaning.

Frankly, though, this picture is a bit of a mess. Bordering on chaos. The edges are not straight. The shapes, the textures, the colours, the composition don’t harmonise well. It’s not idyllic, but it’s what is really there. And how it really is.

‘Garwnant’ is part of my series “Images of Earth and Spirit” … all of which are in a similar style. This one stands out, though, because it’s bigger, it’s got a posher frame, and it brings many of my ideas together in one place. (It may be a little over-worked as a result.)

But it is a milestone in my artist’s journey.

Garwnant – both the picture and the place – have established themselves in my mind as a focus of what I’m working with at the moment and what I’m about as an artist.

It’s also my highest priced picture to date at £750 in the gallery (considerably cheaper if sold privately).

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I love it - even more so now that I understand it a little better. I love finding out the inspiration behind pictures and the meaning in them.
Great post.

P.S. I miss ya! x
Thanks, Jo! I'm feeling the need to explain more so that people can appreciate more ... and support more. Miss you too babe xxxx
Hi Pete,Still drop in on your blog for a read every so often.Found this one real interesting. Would love one of your promopacks if you have one to spare.Love from the crazy potters in the hills,Karen&Duncan
Great to hear from you, you crazy potters! I miss you guys! I'll send you a pack.
This really helps and makes the picture more appealing to me - you should do it more
Can you send me a pack
Hi Maddy! I agree ... I'm going to try to do more in terms of telling the stories behind the pictures. I'll send you a pack!
Hey Peter! I really like your picture and even more the inspiration behind it, really makes us think. I'm looking forward to see you again, take care.
Hi Placido! Good to hear from you and thanks for the encouragement. Looking forward to seeing you in December.
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