December 2017

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This academic year so far has been without source material to some extent, using only gesture and mark making as starting points and although this has allowed me to properly explore the autonomy of paint and traditional composition; it has meant I have lacked a certain relationship to the work I’ve been producing. They have been academically, theoretically and technically challenging however they have lacked the subject matter that usually drives me passionately and have therefore felt a little vacuous. When trying to discuss the work at crit level, I really struggled to articulate what they were about because I wasn’t even sure myself how they were going to be developed and what they were supposed to say.  Reflections of the crit included whether I was essentially trying to make three different brushstrokes or whether I was trying to locate the ‘image’ through simulation of images-trying to find the origin of the painted mark.  When trying to approach any kind of decision making such as colour or composition I have found myself lost and clutching at straws a little, with nothing in my body of research to assist these kind of decisions, no reference point to refer back to and support the practical works execution. Although these works have a loose relationship to my interests such as landscape, marks, observation, walking and mapping I have started this re-group and re- introduction of some of the aspects of my research body back into the practicalities of producing the paintings themselves. I have been exploring this through my photo collages again, using them as a way of thinking through pictures, moments and ideas that I have collected previously. This has fed a series of drawings and small scale paintings. This re group has been about moving my head and hands in sync, looking at stuff again and responding to it in reasonably crude manner. I am interested in ideas of landscape, writing, the relationship between language and what we see, observing, walking, mapping, feeling in awe of nature. These are ideas that I want to re-work into my painting and start to follow through in terms of research into areas such as topography, phenomenology, language and landscape and the sublime. I think it's really easy, especially in art school, to make what you think should be made instead of what fundamentally comes out of you instinctively. I want to make work that is honest and raw and maybe even uncomfortable or too cliche. I don't care, as long as its authentic. 

Practically I have also begun referring back to my process of ‘pouring’ paint that I developed in second year. However, this is being done within the context of all that I have gathered and explored already this year. I have made a rig which will allow the paintings to sit on top and then with a lever-like gear stick I can tip the painting backwards and forwards and side to side.  

The pours initially referenced the meeting of edges found in landscape, the liminal borders and boundaries that exist within the natural world; paint acting as a physical and pictorial demonstration of two ‘edges’ meeting. The pours referenced tide lines and strand lines found when walking and the original poured marks will again be referencing these lines and maps but then be pushed further by being manipulated by external forces on the rig. Conceptually and practically this re-group is changing the visual nature of my current work, but my interest in marks and gesture are still very relevant to this new direction. I do see nature and the act or gesture of painting as two things in relationship and they have so many similarities. I want to make these poured paintings to seek balance in the progression of growth, cycles and systems found in both the act of nature as well as the act of painting. I want to make work driven by the study of features of a specific landscape; it’s not about capturing a scene or vista, I want the focus to be colour, shape, form, composition, words, marks; things that make up an experience of a place. This will translate into the colour combinations used in paintings and the composition of the original pours and taped off areas as well as possibly the exploration of using language to run alongside or even within the paintings. I think things often come full circle in practice, things that I thought were useless and had abandoned end up coming back to you in a more informed and significant manner. I think it is important to push yourself and be ambitious and engage with the critical debates of the contemporary world that your work sits in, but at the end of the day if the work isn't coming from deep down in your gut then what's the point....? 

© 2019 Holly Nicholls