Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Boyle Family

The Hayward Gallery in London showed "Beyond Image: Boyle Family" in 1986. I vividly remember going with my son. It was a formative exhibition in terms of my development as an artist … and it seems to be still bearing fruit today … perhaps more than ever.

(As an aside, I don't think I was developing as an artist in those days. But the seeds were sown then and are now coming to fruition. 22 years later. I'm a bit freaked out by that.)

“Their aim was to duplicate 1,000 randomly selected portions of the earth's surface. Darts were thrown blindfold into a map of the world to select the sites. Then they would travel to each location and throw a T-square into the air and make an exact duplicate - usually a six-foot by six-foot square - of the spot where it had landed; the process of making these simulacra, which involved materials such as sand, mud and ice, remained a closely guarded secret.”

Whether the selected patch of the earth’s surface was the desert, a field or an urban street, they would produce an exact replica of that space and hang it on the wall. How they reproduced it is a secret but involved making a resin cast of some sort. It was simply awesome to see these patches of the planet. I remember, too, that while Steve and I were there, one of the artists came over and starting chatting to him and pointing out things in the picture. The level of detail and realism was extraordinary.

Now, I wouldn’t claim to be in anything like the same league. But I am trying to capture something of the earth … what some call ‘the land’. I go to a place, take photos, make drawings and grab handfuls of whatever I find there to bring back to the studio and make up into some kind of a picture. My process isn’t to reproduce it exactly … I’m a bit more
abstract expressionist than that … but to capture something of that emotion that sometimes hits us when we are in a particular place and time. And to attach value to the land that we walk on and often take for granted. And not just the glamorous stuff ... often the common-place will do. I quite fancy the idea of exploring the urban environment too.

A project I am planning for the near future is to take this process into North Wales. I don't know the area and have only been there once or twice, so it would be interesting to see whether and how I connect with it. I would like to spend some prolonged time there, drawing, taking photos, collecting materials with a view to holding exhibitions up there after I have produced the pictures. The project will be called "Siaradwch i'r Wlad" ("Speak to the Land").

Later, I'll have another go at Mid Wales (a painful place for me), then maybe mosey along down to Spain and see what kicks off there.

Sounds like a plan, eh?

I'd say so!

You have a couple of willing translators/tapas buddies waiting for the Spain part... :)
Depending on it Jo!!!
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