December 1st, 2017
Thrilled to have been appointed artist in residence with Ballet Cymru. I can’t imagine a more inspiring and generous group of people for a painter to work with, nor a more supportive organisation. I feel extraordinarily lucky.
Also delighted to have a selection of my pictures hanging in the company’s Newport HQ, including these five pieces featuring Daniel Morrison, Andrea Battaggia, Beth Meadway, Anna Pujol, Miles Carrott and Gwenllian Davies, made in response to rehearsals for Shadow Aspect and The Light Princess earlier this year.
Having worked with the company over their last couple of seasons, I’m very excited at the prospect of building on that experience and producing new work as the dancers and choreographers create next year’s programme of shows – including a revival of their Cinderella, and an original interpretation of Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
Huge thanks to Darius James and Amy Doughty, and to everyone else at the company.
November 28th, 2017
Very much enjoyed teaching a series of life drawing classes with sixth formers from Stanwell and Llantwit Major schools. The course, part of Arts Active’s Criw Celf programme, ran over six evenings during October and November at Turner House, Penarth, and involved a dozen students with particular interests in drawing from the nude.
Most participants set out with little or no experience, though all approached the challenge with enthusiasm, exploring a number of principles and techniques I was able to pass on, critically assessing their work, and producing some great pictures. Students had a very open and mutually-supportive approach to learning, allowing for a lot of experimentation and willingness to try new things, which was ideal for a course of this kind.
On top of the satisfaction of seeing students grow in confidence and ability as their experience develops, one of the things I value most about teaching is that it can give me new insights into my own practice. Describing creative processes and discussing ideas which are usually internalised, or second nature, can help me view my own work from a fresh perspective – as can seeing others sometimes take very different approaches, or make decisions that I wouldn’t have considered myself. This can be very interesting, and often gives me a lot to think about when I get back in the studio.
Many thanks to all the models and students involved – a very thoughtful, lively bunch of people, who were great to work with – and good luck to all as they continue their studies.
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).
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.
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.