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We constantly hear these days of the extraordinary progress of integration of AI into our lives, whether in the form of physically taking over our rather mundane jobs or, which is less apparent, the extraordinary rise and application of algorithms in the operating systems that seem to run our lives to such a great extent. Now we hear that the billionaire entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk is currently developing a way of inserting microchips directly into our brains so we will be able to communicate directly with computer systems instead of tapping a keyboard, and I am quite sure he cannot be the only one doing work of this kind. Musk says humans must merge with machines otherwise they will become an irrelevance in the age of AI.
In Greek Mythology Talos was a giant bronze automaton man created by the god Hephaestus to guard Crete from unwelcome visitors and although a far cry from the sophisticated inventions of today, it is not completely farfetched to suggest he could be called the ﬁrst robot.
In these paintings I have used the metals silver, white gold and 23 ct gold leaf together with verdigris on copper that seem to be insinuating into the very ﬂesh of our bodies, perhaps representing the creeping direction of technology into our very being.
It does strike me as odd that we are looking to computers as a way forward in human evolution when we are only just beginning to discover what our brains are truly capable of without technological interference. I am not against the progress of technology at all but am wary of this new development and wonder where this brave new world will take us with its physical merging of man and machine. Perhaps we should be questioning what it is to be human and perhaps like Talos, ever vigilant on the shores of Crete, we should be constantly on our guard for invaders.
Pieces from the Exhibition
You are here
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
Vincent Van Gogh
“You are Here” is about our connection with nature, at a time when that has never been more important, and follows a long legacy in art of the human form as part of the landscape. Mythology in cultures the world over give examples ancestors, giants and mythical animals who have been turned to mountains, stones, rivers and other natural forms. Back in the landscape we seek solace and peace and wonder at the beauty of it.
When I was a child all I wanted to do was to spend time in nature. I grew up in fields full of wild flowers, knew the name of every flower and bird and spent hours in discovery and delight. It was a place where hedgehog families were plentiful and the air in Summer was busy with insects and butterflies. Snakes were a common sight in the long grass as were hares. I have watched species of all kinds decline down the decades as modern farming practices, pollution and the destruction of habitats has changed the land and my experience of abundance then is not the same for my grandchildren now.
In these paintings I want to convey that feeling of connection, a sense of space and timelessness that being in nature gives us, and which we are in danger of losing. To quote Paul de Zylva of Friends of the Earth: “As we lose Nature, we lose a huge part of what makes us happy and healthy”.
Pieces from the Exhibition
The paintings are graphite, charcoal, pigment and ink with gesso on an acrylic ground on canvas. Some have oil glazes. All are 36” x 36”
Myths which are believed in tend to become true
I first heard about the legend of the crystal skulls many years ago. I can’t remember now why I became so curious to know more about them, but previously I had painted a series of paintings of the human skull so perhaps it was the combination of those together with a long held love of mineral stones, and a more than passing interest in quantum physics (finding it both utterly fascinating and completely incomprehensible in equal parts) that drew me to start researching their story. A friend told me about the legend of the skulls from the Native American Indian perspective and he suggested I read “Legend of the Crystal Skulls” by Chris Morton and Ceri Louis Thomas which is a compelling account of their journey and extensive research into the story.
Over the past two years I have been working on the twelve paintings that form my tribute to the myth of the crystal skulls which I have called “Holy Ice”. Deliberately not doing the 13th as that seemed to dishonour the legend, each painting seemed to be a different experience. I started very cautiously with the first few, often scraping the painting back completely and starting again, and again…..and again, some taking months to resolve.
Often I would sit in front of a painting for what seemed like hours, almost waiting for it to reveal its individual character, and perhaps it’s whimsical to say that each one seemed to take on their own character as I worked on them, but characters they have certainly become.
Pieces from the Exhibition
* The paintings are on linen canvas on robust stretchers and measure 90cm square. Most are gesso and oil, one is acrylic and pastel.
life drawings & paintINGs
The Black Paintings
These drawings are a continuation of my work from the Extreme Poses Life Class with Paul Fowler at Pegasus Arts. They are my immediate response to the extraordinary poses the models can achieve. They seem to have a sense of power and freedom with no boundaries, to be part of space itself.
They are on 90cm square canvas and are mostly charcoal and pastel on an acrylic ground. They are set in ash frames which have been hand painted and placed under museum quality UV resistant glass to avoid fading and reflection. The overall measurement is finally 96 cm square.
Life drawing for me is about a process. It is an essential piece of my 'trade' and is about being fully engaged in an ongoing process of mark making which is always developing. When a life model gives you the gift of a pose, that vulnerability, that fragility is also strength. It is what we all have in common, and which I want to convey in the work.
Other Drawings & Paintings
Some of these drawings come from the Summer Classes held by Paul Fowler at Pegasus Arts. He always manages to create amazing installations of the wild, the wonderful and the weird for his students. This is now an eagerly awaited annual event as you just never know what’s coming!
THE IMAGINARY BODY
This exhibition was held at The Printmakers’ Gallery next door to my studio in Griffin Mill, and the paintings were based on the Extreme Poses Life Class held by Paul Fowler at Pegasus Arts.
I was absolutely delighted with everyone’s response to the work, and as a result I sold nearly every one.
Griffin Mill, Stroud, GL5 2AZ
The Imaginary Body
Author: Susan Stewart
"The body presents the paradox of contained and container at once. Thus our attention continually focused upon the boundaries or limits of the body; known from an exterior, the limits of the body as object, known from an interior, the limits of its physical extension into space."