Tuesday 28 March 2017


On 24 March a the House of St Barnabas, seven of the artists in ‘Show Us Your Process’ and ‘The Other Side’ spoke for five minutes each on a variety of topics related to the work in the shows Here’s a summary of their contributions on what proved a fascinating evening. See
for full details of the artists' works.
Tony Charles - Industrial Steel Benches
Tony recalled how – as soon as he went into the steel industry in Middlesbrough, where he now runs Platform A gallery – he realised he had sooner he’d gone to art college. He worked in the industry for 13 years, and was always fascinated by the marks which were the contingent result of the industrial processes which were carried out on steel benches, such as clamping steel sheets in place with a dog, and dressing them with angle grinder. In his early years, he would take whatever opportunities he could to look down on these benches from above in order to get an overview of the pattern of marks, despite his supervisors suggesting that there was work to be done! Now, those same processes feed directly into how he makes his art.
Tom Hackney - Duchamp's Chess Career

Marcel Duchamp: Pocket Chess Set, 1943

Tom has to date made 96 paintings which plot the action of the moves in recorded games by Marcel Duchamp. He was a serious player when he prioritised chess over art: among the top 25 amateurs in the US, representing France in four Olympiads. His play was solid, at times brilliant, but showed a tendency for endgame errors. Tom drew attention to the way in which chess strategy had evolved in the 1920’s with ‘hypermodern’ play, which eschewed the classical approach of occupying the central squares, instead pressurising them from peripheral positions. A parallel strategy operates in Duchamp’s art, which itself often featured chess in line with his interest in the game: as in the family scene The Chess Game, 1910, and Portrait of Chess Players, 1911, the cubistic precursor to the conceptual motion of Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912.

Marcel Duchamp: Portrait of Chess Players, 1912
Neil Zakiewicz - How Much Control Is Too Much?
Neil pondered the question ‘how much control is too much?’ in the context of his practice, in which he has often delegated the image production to a car spray paint workshop. In fact, he said, he is keen to maintain as much control as possible, and in that case his instructions were very precise even though he liked the thought that the car workshop staff were disinterested in the aesthetic outcome. Moreover, in his most recent series, which involves graduated spraying, he found it too difficult to give the precision of instruction he felt necessary, and has done the spray painting himself. All the same, he finds and happily accepts that it is the boundaries of the process still beyond his control which are often most fruitful: at the House of St Barnabas, the effects of the wall colour, the cord hanging system, and the shadows.
Emma Cousin - Standing Your Ground
Since starting to explore legs in her paintings, said Emma, she’s revelled in the puns of our physical agency and the formal concerns of making a painting. Thus ‘we stand on the ground, are grounded in history, and paint on a ground’. She imagined all the things that might happen in the Silk Room: dancing, meeting, talking, eating… and made paintings which reflect the room’s elements, using the patterned textures of the walls as a stand-in for the skin that's missing in her cartoonishly painted legs – legs which become a meal in Dinner Table; fit like a puzzle round the mirrored floor patterns of Cutting a Rug; or get painted from the viewpoint of the table at the middle of Bees Knees. That empty centre is the white primer of the painting’s ground. It things not said, not painted. But also the pond of potential paintings, of possible next moves. The ground of absence proves pivotal to how Emma and her work stand their ground.

Michael Stubbs - My Favourite Painters

Paolo Veronese: The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565-7

Michael talked about the inspiration he has gained from Paolo Veronese (as exemplified by the National Gallery’s The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565-7, and from the tondi of the contemporary Swiss painter Olivier Mosset (born 1944). The former is his favourite painter from the period during which perspective with a central vanishing point became the accepted language. The latter is a monochrome abstractionist who makes his work in ironic response to Clement Greenberg’s requirement that paintings should emphasise their nature as paint on a flat surface. Such a contrast in perspectives ties into Michael’s aim of setting up collisions of different traditions which arrive at a third place: colour field abstraction (Morris Louis in particular) meets graphic pop (aspects of Warhol) in his own work, but there is also a combination of layered depth with a non-perspectival lack of it. That suggests advertising and screens – and also brings together the not-so-obviously compatible Veronese and Mosset.

Olivier Mosset :  O2, 2015  

Shane Bradford - Painting and Geology

In what could have been a motto for the ‘Show Us Your Process’ room, Shane said that he saw painting as a matter of embodiment, not representation. His work in the show embodies decidedly geological processes. First, because he repeatedly dips his canvases in tanks of paint, building up layers of colour and stalactite formations along their edges. Second, because in the series from which Blueschist is taken, he also dips old clothes from friends and family into paint and presses them against the surface, so adding the strata of the personal histories of the clothing as worn – here pants, vest, T-shirt and bra. Third, because the resulting black and white patterning looks somewhat like marble. Life, he concluded with the flourish of removing his hat to reveal a freshly-shaved head – is, like geology, essentially about change, as illustrated to those in the audience who remembered his hair!
Martine Poppe - The Politics in My Work
Martine talked quite emotionally about how she had been unable to represent the issues she felt strongly about post-Brexit, and was driven into abstraction. Travelling widely in America just prior to Trump’s election, she had then been struck by the extent of the difficulties suffered by the underclass in the US, by the segregation of populations by colour still being the norm in the south, and by the police assumption that as a young white woman she needed protection in black-populated areas - in which she’d actually encountered nothing but friendliness. None of that had felt paintable to her either, but when she talked to and photographed young voters ahead of the poll, she saw a way to represent events– leading to her use of an image silkscreened in printer’s ink. Blue and Brown are half printed, half painted; half representational, half abstract.

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About Me

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Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.