John Virtue-The Sea

Yesterday I popped into the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne for two events. The first, a John Virtue exhibition and the second, a 90-minute talk given by the fine art photographer Ori Gersh.

John Virtue’s exhibition is a site-specific project, The Sea. The work extensively features the North Sea. As I entered the large show room, I was immediately engulfed by the huge black and white canvases. Scale and space, I thought, for this kind of work is key for the viewer to feel the full impact. Some of the canvases spanned four metres in size! Also, the non-use of colour (he considers a distraction) gives his subject matter a menacing feel. The moving waves felt strong, bold unflinching, uncompromising and dramatic. The vibrant and violent brush strokes had strong similarities to Jackson Pollock’s splatters.

His sketch books were also on view at the exhibition. As many as 70 sketch books largely documenting Virtue’s time on the coast line at Blakeney Point in Norfolk. It was amazing to see and understand how such a vast area of nothingness could be scrutinized and analysed with such intent.  After the exhibition, before going off to Gersht’s talk, I considered my next project and my time living and working in Tokyo. I had just witnessed how an artist communicates his large canvases through his location. What can I do? How can I do it effectively? What should I be observing and taking in?- Always questions, forever questions.

No 10 (2011-2013)
No 8 (2011-2013)




Old Sketchpads

In the early 90s I took an Art Foundation course at Westcliffe College in Weston-Super-Mare. The college was a Grade II listed Victorian building idyllically positioned in the Knightstone  area, overlooking the Severn Estuary. Looking back, it was such a pleasurable learning environment. The teachers were all very experienced, supportive and totally chilled. The 2-year course was very structured and like most typical Art Foundation courses, it went right through the art spectrum covering areas such as drawing, painting, ceramics, graphic design, 3D design, art history, printmaking and photography. The tutors always encouraged the students to keep a journal and sketchbooks for creative development throughout the duration of the course. This is an area that I still adhere to today (old habits die hard!). There were a number of mature students on the course so the group was very diverse in attitudes towards art and design. The course definitely broadened my way of thinking. I was able to identify skills, strengths and the areas of design I was engaged in and hoped to develop. As a result, I felt much more accomplished in my practice and better equipped for university.


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