Ongoing work with Ballet Cymru

November 11th, 2017

For the past eighteen months Ballet Cymru has given me free rein to come and go at their rehearsal studio near Newport, South Wales – to observe, sketch and film the dancers and choreographers at work as they create new, original pieces, and revive earlier productions for new audiences. Such privileged access has given me some insight into the creative processes, collaborations and extraordinary discipline of everyone in the company, which – together with the beauty and eloquence of the dance itself – has been a great inspiration in my work, and taken it in new directions. I’m very grateful for all their generosity and support.

Over the coming months I’ll continue to work on my Rehearsals series of paintings and drawings, focussing in particular on the company’s preparations for The Light Princess and Shadow Aspect – the latter choreographed by Tim Podesta and featuring guest principle dancer Mara Galeazzi (both of whom also allowed me complete access to their work as it progressed, for which I’m similarly grateful). It was fascinating to see the company dancers respond to an approach to choreography and a style of ballet which, being both darker and more abstract in form, in many ways differed from previous pieces I’d seen them work on.

With many pictures now planned, for the time being I anticipate working mostly on smaller pieces on paper, cardboard and panel, with a view to returning to larger paintings on canvas in the spring.

Ballet Cymru’s tour of The Light Princess and A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues across England and Wales until December 9th. If you have the opportunity, I’d urge you to see them. Details here.

(Still image features Gwenllian Davies and Anna Pujol in costume during a rehearsal of Shadow Aspect).

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Kickstarter - twelve months on

October 16th, 2017

It’s now a year since my Kickstarter project Painting Dance was successfully funded. Since then I’ve made well over a hundred paintings and drawings with Ballet Cymru, shown at Ffin y Parc Gallery and Kooywood Gallery, and become a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy – none of which would have been possible without that initial support.

I’m thrilled to still be working with Ballet Cymru, and in many ways the project remains ongoing. Further exhibitions are planned.

It’s hard to overstate how important this past year has all been to my artistic development and opportunities. Huge thanks again to everyone involved.

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Well Thumbed

June 23rd, 2017

Alongside continuing work with Ballet Cymru, I’m currently painting a series of pictures for Well Thumbed, a theatrical celebration of innuendo and sexual subtext in great literature, created and performed by Terry Victor (whom I painted in 2013 as part of my Performers series).

Terry invited me to produce images to be exhibited alongside performances – portraits of writers who feature in the show, made with reference to historic photographs, paintings, sculptures, etc, or from the imagination. I thought this was an intriguing proposition, involving a very unfamiliar approach to painting, so I’m giving it a go.

Pictures will be shown at a number of performances in Wales and England in July this year, and then during the show’s run at the Edinburgh Festival throughout August.

For further information, please see here.

Thanks to Terry for the opportunity.

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Jackson's interview

June 10th, 2017

I was recently invited to do an interview with Lisa Takahashi of Jackson’s Art Blog, discussing my approach to painting, early influences, and so on. The questions addressed a few things I’d not thought about much before, or at least not for some time, so were interesting to respond to. Many thanks to Lisa and Jackson’s.

Please find link here.

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Comedy festival portraiture workshop

May 3rd, 2017

Some years ago, Emma Butler, one of the directors of the Machynlleth Comedy Festival, had a splendid idea and suggested I run a drawing workshop as part of the festival programme – which I’ve been doing so ever since.

Modelled by comedians, the event began as a life drawing class – with Tom Parry sitting – though since 2014 has focused on portraiture and involved an array of other wonderful sitters, including Mark Olver, Josie Long, Joe Lycett, Henry Widdecombe, Alexis Dubus (as Marcel Lucont), Bec Hill and Holly Burn. This year Ed Aczel and Beth Vyse sat, which, as ever, resulted in some beautiful work.

The workshop is for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners – which always creates a lovely dynamic in the class – and the sitters, who’ve often never sat for a portrait before, always approach it with enthusiasm and do a brilliant job. It’s a highpoint of the festival for me, and represents a few hours of calm in the midst of an otherwise very lively weekend. It also invariably teaches me something new about charcoal drawing and portraiture, or reminds me of something I need to pay more attention to in my own work.

Big thanks to Emma and the wider festival team, the Tabernacle Gallery (whose beautiful studio we use), and to everyone else who’s been involved over the years.

For further information about the Machynlleth Comedy Festival, please see here.

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