I have attached some photos of my latest painting commission. I was commissioned by 3 individuals to do a painting for a Senior Partner's retirement gift. His office over looks the Thames and the view is slightly obscured by the structural supports, the central balcony and hundreds of pigeons and their individual markings :) I therefore carried out a photographic study from the balcony and present them with a few compositions to chose from.
I am intrigued by perspective and how in reality architecture can shape and control the spacial awareness. Having studied Urban Design at Nottingham, I have some understanding of how the architects seek to achieve this via tight streets opening up into wide squares or the use of vistas to guide peoples movement/focal points etc.
Like the architect, the artist should also seeks to take you on a journey through his picture. I attempt to draw the viewers eye from the rail track to the left, where it should then be drawn through the centre of the painting by the outline of the Southbank to the main focal point of the painting (the London Eye), finally finishing on the dark silhouette of Westminster Bridge on the right hand side of the canvas.
The finished piece took 50 hrs to complete. It was presented by the head of the firm to Mr Jones at his retirement presentation. It is always an amazing feeling to finish a project but to see it presented in this way was fantastic, it was like having a mini exhibition as people were chatting to me after the presentation about my artwork etc. My dream of holding my first exhibition is now even stronger !!
... The 2nd and 3rd shoot locations were outside and involved a 'totally gnarly dude' of an automobile, fur coats and some de garbed mug shots. I wanted to go for a slightly antiquated feel to these images and after experimenting with a vintage palette, I opted for good old fashioned black & white!
It was a very overcast and this would have been great with an additional strobe as the clouds act like a massive soft box for the natural light. As we didn't have a portable strobe I tryed out my SB900 speedlight for a few of the shots. I managed to get some great shots but if I had the chance again, I would definitely use a portable strobe or two and also try to reduce the background detail which is interfering slightly with the girls and the buggy.
We shot for approx. 3 1/2 hours altogether, although this sounds a lot; with location and clothing changes / makeup etc, time flew by and the opportunitiy to get the shots we wanted was limited.
All in all a great days shooting. Thanks for listening San Diego... it's good bye from me and good by from Tits McGhee!
As I am firing on all 'creative' cylinders today, I decided to post a quick blog covering the SS&M - Shirley & Shirley Photo shoot, which took place last week. The girls are heading to Edinburgh for their third debauched installment and as such required some promotional photographs (for editorial reviews during the Fringe) to accompany their poster and flyers.
The journey began with a long and tumultuous brainstorming session to flesh out the overall composition and location. I have always wanted to do a shoot in the old West Park mental Hospital in Epsom (www.westparkhospital.co.uk) and it would have been an awesome venue, but alas the current owners did not return my calls in time. Due to pressing deadlines and venue costs an alternative game plan was settled on, which meant enlisting on to the team, a neighbour who posses unique skills in the art of Japanese Shibari rope bondage. Joanna volunteered to take one for the team (not literally) and be the one strung from the ceiling (although as Pascal can't use the tube due to claustrophobia, there wasn't much chance of her stepping up to the plate!).
With the help of a fellow photographer Matt Jamie (www.mattjamie.co.uk), who specialises in portraits & head-shots for actors, we setup 3 shoot locations (Due to the limitations of Wordpress I will upload the images in 2 posts). The first of which was the rope scenario below , I have included some initial pre-composition images to add to the story of the setup:
NB - All images shown in this blog copyright cre8iv edge studios!
You can see from the initial images that Joanna was a little apprehensive (to all our entertainment) and took a few minutes to get to grips with the restriction. Especially, when upon questioning the discomfort she was told by Bruce 'hard luck deal with it..'. Both Matt and myself managed to get some great shots, while he used a fish eye lens to get an amazing perspective, I chose to use a 50mm and 85mm (which was a challenge in the space we were using).
End of part 1.....
I recently completed my latest photography project and thought I would write a post to explain the concept/message I am conveying with the images. I am very intrigued to find out what people think about the photographs (below) e.g. if they communicate my feelings in the way I had hoped. As I am developing my photography skills over the next few years, I will be looking for valuable feedback from all of you !! no pressure... but if you have 5 minutes at work to drop me a few lines I would be very grateful.
I have been making a concerted effort over the last 18 months to use my creativity within my current place of work. For those of you whom are aware of my current employers, you will understand why it took a while to embed my ideas! It was initially like being in a rubber dingy trying to push an oil tanker of course! That said, I managed to get some traction on 2 projects and was very surprised at the enthusiasm from the higher echelons. One such project was the one you see now. Although, firstly I will need to explain the difference between the Corporate message (e.g. for the images to be displayed within the London offices) and my own personal project (for my own exhibition).
Corporate = Two of the five 2011 key corporate priority areas for my department are around 'Growth' - 'Capacity for Growth' and 'Personal Growth'. Being aware of these, I decided to put forward a proposition to photograph 20 members of the department throughout the 'Movember' charity moustache growing event. The idea being to capture some strong imagery around growth that could be used for corporate materials and also be showcased (framed on a feature wall etc) within the office.
Personal = The British Journal of Photography is a great read for anyone interested in photography, many articles explain how professional photographers across the globe develop their own personal work. A central theme is to use your own experiences to portray personal messages that will resonate with others. As I began the corporate project, it became clear there was a way I could frame my personal experiences 'to-date' of the corporate world!. In short, through years of development and coaching (both consciously and unconsciously) certain corporate machines will mould and promote a specific type of individual. This factory line approach is obviously very successful for the companies bottom line and I am genuinely amazed by how it was developed and how it continues to grind results.
This model of people management (I use the term loosely and with an air of irony) is successful for individuals who are very task orientated and open for developing inline with corporate wishes. However, there are instances where an individual may have been caught up in the machine and may have been fighting 'the vampires blood as it coursed through his veins' for many years, as the business has tried to squash their square peg through a round hole!
These and many other thoughts gave birth to my personal project 'Growth Conformity'! By lighting the subjects in the studio and enforcing a universal pose, stance and visual focus point, I was able to create controlled images. As did the fact they had all chosen to conform to growing a moustache for charity. This was enhanced further in post-shoot editing by my choice of a uniform dark colour palette. The overall message I am portraying is 6 'individuals' ultimately conforming, consciously or not!
I am thinking about eventually adding a final image to the project to create another personal dimension, so watch this space....
Thanks for reading. Adios Amigos
I am re-awaking my blog and realigning/creating a better WWW footprint for my photography and art. I chose to focus primarily on my photography as a business and have secured a new studio in Camberwell.
I have taken / am taking some time to finish updating my photography, my blog and my art websites; currently the art website is a little all over the shop. If you combine this activity with trying to get my head around the plethora of social media websites out there, it is all getting a little chaotic. I am embracing this chaos and making progress, Hootsuite helps management of content, but having just signed up to Pinterest, I foresee there is still a way to go!
So, in the mean time I am looking to start using my blog as the cathartic outlet is was supposed to be, be it through pen/camera/paint brush/video camera.
Below are some black & white photographs I have been editing in the studio tonight. I thought I would post them on my blog, as I need to decided whether to capture such images on my photography website or maintain it for client project work. Thoughts on a post card please.... Thanks for taking the time to peruse... Edge
Well Ladies and Gentleman,
We are now safely two months into the year that is 2013! The Myan's did not actually predict the end of the world, as Hollywood had us believe, they did however suggest the earth and its inhabitants would experience a significant change/shift at this juncture in the cosmos. My yoga teacher (yes, I have indeed started yoga specifically for mind relaxation and also as I am still playing competitive football in my 30’s for Alleyn Old Boys) explained that our galaxy has spent 2000 years below the equator of the universe (I am not sure how they know this) and has now moved above it and in doing so ventured out of the 'Age of Pisces' into the 'Age of Aquarius' where it will stay for the next 2000 years!! Which is a bonus for this Aquarian !!!!
Wikipedia - Astrological ages occur because of a phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes. There are two broad approaches about the effects upon the world due to the astrological ages. Some astrologers believe the changes upon Earth are caused and marked by the influences of the given astrological sign, associated with the Age, while other astrologers do not follow the causative model and believe it is a matter of synchronicity.
You may or may not buy into the idea that the planets and their cosmic alignment can affect our planet; our spiritual destiny; our decisions; and fundamentally our lives, but what you have to concede is that the moon controls the tides. TANGENT ALERT - > Which the Yeehawww gang still claim to have stepped on (one leap for man blah blah in your dreams Neil) as if it isn’t made of cheese – haven’t you seen Wallace and Gromit! Now that’s definitely more realistic than their attempt.
So if the moon has the ability to control masses of water on earth and we are 70% water, then there is a significant possibility that the said little ball of cheese and the other galaxies could have unseen impacts on our bodies of water - agreed!?
Well whether you’re with me or not, there has been a significant shift in my life over the last few months that has coincided with the 2600 BC prophesy – I must stress here, I am not suggesting that the mystical Myan predictions were entirely written to predict the coming of the new Lee Edge! I will leave this for you to decide…. but the evidence is convincing no?!
After 12 years, I made the decision in October to leave the 9-5 corporate world in order to follow my dreams…. About time I hear a few of you say! … There are too many superlatives to describe how I am feeling at present, so I will chose just one. You know when you lose yourself in the moment, when nothing else matters; you’re focused in the present on something that just feels right for you and time and space doesn’t exist?! Well that’s the feeling I get when I am being creative. We all know breaking out of a habitual routine is extremely difficult and many of us in the present chaos can easily get lost and hanker for a new journey. Some individuals find contentment early in their lives, others remain unaware of the potential within them and live in an almost ignorant bliss (I am not including the benefits scroungers and teenage chav couple with 4 kids in this category – but that said they are a creation of modern society and not themselves completely to blame).
There were times when I was jealous of these two predicaments but I wouldn’t change the way my journey has panned out. I learnt a lot of invaluable lessons in my twelve years in the corporate world, which will stand me in great stead for the future. I have known since a was a young whipper-snapper that my calling was creativity, ideas, innovation. Be it destiny or fate:
Conduct me, Zeus, and thou, O Destiny,
wherever thy decree has fixed my lot.
I follow willingly; and, did I not,
Wicked and wretched would I follow still.
(Diogenes Laertius quoting Cleanthes; quoted also by Seneca, Epistle 107.)
Whoe'er yields properly to Fate is deemed
Wise among men, and knows the laws of Heaven.
(From Euripides' Fragments, 965)
O Crito, if it thus pleases the gods, thus let it be.
(From Plato's Crito)
While doing some flat administration over the Christmas break, I unearthed a sky diving dvd which was filmed in Mission Beach, Australia in 2003. This was taken during a holiday that came to be known as the 'Midas Touch Tour'. It is a widely known Edge FACT that unplanned events tend to be the most memorable! It is with that in mind that I start this short tale...... It was while weaving my way through the self-obsessed furore of the Clapham Junction masses, (after 12 years of London your peripheral vision becomes honed like an Olympic athlete, you're able to anticipate erratic movements / gaps and synchronise, but miss-time and you will receive the wrath of the locals... it is a little like Frogger when you get run over by a truck) on a cold March morn. That I bumped into the legendary ‘Acapello Vanilla Ice-man’ that is Colin Brett.
Having not seen the Colin Brett-meister for a couple of years, it was by pure chance (or was it destiny, fate or that ball of cheese?) that we walked into each other in Clapham Junction. Due to Colin deciding to make a career change, into the world of law, and myself a little unsure about my career choice, we decided literally on the spot to do a 6-week tour of Australia.
2 weeks later Colin had an itinerary drawn up and I had a well-stocked rucksack ready for action. We landed in Perth and after one night headed up to Port Headland for 4 days in the Karinjini National Park. After 3 amazing nights sleeping under the stars and having our ears well and truly chewed off by pleasant but persistent English girl we headed down south on the Greyhound bus to Exmouth!
Exmouth is a picturesque town on the West Coast of Oz, which was at the time largely untouched by tourism. Diving and swimming with the whale sharks was out of this world, my dive under the pier where the American’s used to anchor there fleet was amazing. Never again will being surrounded by reef sharks and gorgeous fish, while inadvertently failing to control you buoyancy, floating away from the group and bashing my head on a barnacle ridden girder seem like bliss!!. We also met some awesome people in the hostel and Colin enjoyed a 5-person Birthday tent pile-on (no childish giggles here – no innuendo intended
After forcing ourselves to leave Exmouth we headed back to Perth for what turned out to be a very interesting / bizarre / fantastic night in a local Jazz club. After recovering we took an internal flight into the heart of Australia, Alice Springs. It was here we saw Uluru at sun rise before the iconic photo below was taken, it was only a 30 minutes after dodging old chinese tourists, who for some reason kept passing out, that myself and Keets (Colin) became fully fledged Aborigini Men. Granted the elders usually expect the youngster of the tribe to climb unaided but we bribed them with Manchester United shirts. This accolade now entitles us to free membership of the Rolf Harris supporters club; a complementary wobble board and the ability to carry a didgeridoo and a can of VB at all times!! – on a serious note we need to take a look at how their society and country was taken from them ! Give me the dream world and its connections to nature, over our hunger for possession driven existence any day!!
After a quality night getting to know a mental Japanese friend, we took a flight to Cairns with a couple of girls we had met in the hostel. Following more scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and a mini bus trip to Cape Tribulation (on which me and Colin dually enforced a 3 hours non-stop Oasis tribute, including vocal accompaniment), we arrived in Mission Beach.
The message I wanted to convey (although it has turned into another Dostoyevsky novel) with the post is encapsulated within the sky dive video above. The adrenalin before the jump was exhilarating, this could have been due to me being last into the plane and having my leg hanging out all the way up to 14,000 feet. The experience was AMAZING , falling through and inhaling cloud vapour while shouting lines from Point Break … I am taking you to the edge Jonny…. Was an experience I will never forget! But the freedom and happiness I felt during and after the jump don’t have to be exclusive to such events. We create our world with our thoughts and taking time to step back and re-evaluate our lives should allow us to access these feelings more readily.
On a lighter note, I must confess that Colin and myself were seen doing Sky Dives off and into anything we could for the next 2 weeks (Colin even Sky Dived a snake!!). The mad party at the instructor’s house, with people jumping 3 stories into a pool, 5ft snakes crossing the road, and the most lethal cocktails just topped it off. We also managed to acquire some Gallagher Brother hats and I pulled off the funniest joke ever invented FACT !!! .. If you look closely I am ‘A-Salting’ Colin in the photo above top right!!!
Frazer Island, the Whitsundays, awesome crown green bowling and pool performances from Brett followed and the ACTUAL Midas Touch can been seen below, as can Team Defender and Team Frazer!
If you made it this far, I thank you for staying with me as I realise this is yet another lengthy prose. Aren’t blogs supposed to be short ???
In summary though, the Midas Touch tour of 2003 was an amazing Goonie-esk jaunt through the out-back; a time of freedom; booby traps and pirates; creation; contentment and happiness!! Which is why this story is so poignant, as this is how I feel in the present moment and will increasingly feel by embracing all opportunities and challenges that come my way in the future.
On that bomb shell, I once again bid you adieu
Mr Baz Luhrmann: Summers almost here! wake up, smell the napalm in the morning...and wear sunscreen !!
Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99...... please let me welcome to the stage ....MR ...... B...... A...... Z ..... Luhrmann!!!!
Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you
imagine. Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you Sing Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours. Floss Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with
yourself. Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t. Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever
Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for
good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel. Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out. Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will
look 85. Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth. But trust me on the sunscreen…
Take heed !!! Shammoooonnnnn muffa feckersssss
Well hello ladies, gentleman and others that are either in between or both (no not Nicole Kidman surely...),
As you’re all aware the London 2012 Olympics arrived and the atmosphere in the big smoke was absolutely electric! If you had listened to the news and media (neither of which I give the light of day) for the last 2 years, this was going to be the biggest embarrassment this country had seen since Peter Crouch put on an England shirt!
It seems for once this ‘Great’ Britain of ours dropped the over the top negativity that has seeped into every pore of society for the last 20 years (apart from the financial world who have been having a ball at our expense until recently). But even they have been put through the mill in recent times... well that’s if being put through the mill is a Senior PwC partner’s wife writing a blog about having to let go of the nanny!
This is GREAT Britain and I’m loved every minute of the Olympics! The opening ceremony was amazing and exceeded all expectations. Ok… rant over…. actually one more thing … BORIS for Prime Minister!!!!! Now back to the main programme.
The Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Festival came round again in August and it is one of the most amazing experiences you can ever have. You can pretty well immerse yourself in 24 hours of comedy non-stop for a month; supplementing sleep for copious amounts of alcohol, deep-fried mars bars and pizza. I was lucky enough to be introduced by my very talented friends SHIRLEY & SHIRLEY who are doing there 4th year this year (see a link to their site opposite and go and see them as they are sweet as a nut in a bag of sweet nuts and my Cantona shirt from the 1992 season makes an appearance! Not to be missed).
I have made my way up to the Fringe, imposing myself on the Shirley’s, for the last 3 years and I have had some very memorable moments… nothing can beat randomly ending up on the razzle with Hunter the Gladiator, him trying to set you up with his co-star Abi Titmus! He wasn’t able to find her, got smashed and then he was thrown out of the bar = AWESOME night!
It was through these visits that my latest commission came about (yes.. your deductions are correct Sherlock… I have only just managed to get to the point of this blog post!). During my time in Edinburgh I am lucky enough to meet and be surrounded by people doing what they love every day for an entire month – working hard every day to fill their venues and perform day in day out and party like beeeaaatches every night. I was and still am in awe as the buzz is better than any drug ….. a friend told me about the comparison obviously!
In 2009 and 2010 ‘Comedy Bitch’ went up to Edinburgh festival. With their surreal mix of dark, yet oddly naturalistic humour they had some fantastic reviews and I was lucky enough to get to know all 6 of them. I was approached in early 2010 by the troop to put together some concept sketches for their 2010 show
Unfortunately, their management team vetoed the gang’s idea and went with a photographic montage (L…Hooooooo…Ssssss…Heeeeerrrrss).
This year though Mr Tom Cottle (one of the Comedy Bitch performers and writers) decided to go out on his own and take a little jaunt into the world of one-man shows. He created his own unique mix of oddball characters, with an array of human insecurities and was in need of a poster to convey this dark League of Gentleman-esk world.
The initial brief was indeed that, brief, as our interaction was through a few emails. Tom sent through some example imagery, something I always request, so I can start to understand the type of picture a client has in their head. It is my job throughout the project to continually draw out what the client has in their conscious and subconscious, as only then will I succeed (like a parrot without a beak) to exceed their expectations. He also sent through the working script for the show and the fact he would like some homage to Quentin Blake, Tim Burton and the poem from funny bones, ‘On a dark dark street, there was a dark dark house, in the dark dark house…’. Do any of you remember this children’s program?
The main character of Tom’s spectacular show was born with baby girls hands, has extremely long appendages (see images below), was disowned by his parents and went to live in a circus as a toddler tight ropewalker, had an affair with the ring masters wife, became an airline pilot, is now 82 wheel chair bound and lives in a block of flats below a family of blind glass blowers and to the right of 3 heads (that’s right just heads)…. It has similarities to a plot straight out of an East Enders Christmas special no?
At the time Tom approached me with the commission, I was just finishing Dante’s Inferno and there were some strong ecclesiastical symbolism from this classic text that I felt might work in the composition. Although in hindsight I may have made the classic error of trying to shoe horn current influences into a new project. You can see from the initial sketches below how I worked in hell and purgatory (as I presumed from the initial information that this was what the show might but subtly referencing), burning souls (yes a little to deep me thinks) and the journey to paradise (ah…that’s better).
Following our first meeting, I was able to gain a clearer understanding of what Tom was looking for. He took me through the play in more detail and I imbibed the dark comedy vision he had and developed further concepts sketches:
a. Working with silhouettes’ to play with Mr Twist’s body position;
b. Bringing in the elements that will have been described above (e.g. baby girls hands and the wheel chair);
c. Developing my idea of the twisted sperm as a subtle reference to his twisted birth/past and how the hill he is positioned on could be the egg;
During our second face-to-face meeting we discussed the draft concepts in more detail and on reflection we felt they were to close to a Tim Burton moive poster. This was mainly due to the twisted tree on the left of the poster but also the main character himself (Mr Michael Twist) resembling the characters body from ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’. Although we wanted to keep some reference to this style, so further thought development and greenhousing was carried out (no negative closing of ideas were allowed) and we were able to shape and mould the concept over some Sunday Guinness’s in a bar opposite Mornington Crescent tube station.
The circus big top was an element Tom felt we needed to bring out and I was intrigued to use the toddler tight ropewalker to lead the eye to the central characters face. The composition was now coming together; I felt all the elements were in place e.g. they all framed the specific focal points and ultimately led/drew the viewer subtly to the centre of the poster. For example the twisted swirl of the moon/sperm, the smoke and tail, the twisted path to the two supporting characters in the show played by Dan Lee and Marny Godden (bottom left and bottom right of the composition). With the top signage also reflecting the colour of the Underbelly banner, something I wanted to do to balance up the composition as I haven’t seen this on other posters over the years in Edinburgh (perhaps for good graphical and illustration reasons but I am a rebel!!).
Now this is where the course of the project took an unexpected detour outside of my comfort zone! While discussing the commission with my friend and Mr Miyagi of the animation world, Mr Andrew ‘I will demonstrate how to deep fry a Mars bar on youtube’ Morgan. He encouraged me to use the Wacom Cintiq graphics pad I had bought 10 months previously and had only used to-date for touching up the images for my ‘Growth’ photography project.
The transition from the comfort of my pencil, ink, paper, and acrylic to a completely digital media was not easy. I had to absorb skills and tricks like a sponge as Andy kindly did some initial demonstrations. Luckily I am reasonable up to speed on Photoshop and although I hadn’t used it extensively since the Growth project, I was able to pick it up quickly. Once I was able to grasp the under drawing elements needed in order to build up the illustration I was hooked. Unlike completing the illustration on paper you are able to correct elements easily and experiment with colour schemes and positions throughout.
Due to the somewhat high expectations of myself in everything I do, this was a steep learning curve, as I wanted the final piece to stand out in Edinburgh. After many late nights, incorrectly saved files, lost layers, lost scruples and many journeys from A to D to C to Z to eventually get to B, I had a final composition I was reasonable pleased with.
Although the project was not yet complete as there were still a few final additions that needed to be made. I made some final colour amendments and we also had to build in the Comedy Bitch ratings, as well as produce a back for the show flyer. During the Sunday Lunch and Guinness meeting mentioned earlier, we hit on the idea of using the flyer as an invitation to the party Mr Michael Twist was hosting every night throughout the Fringe. I felt this would allow Tom and his fellow flyerers to add something more personal to the street interactions (writing the individuals names on the invitation etc) that would hopefully improve the attendance to flyering rate. We also had to include some information about the show and more quotes from the Comedy Bitch shows.
Following a few minor technical issues in getting the final images to the printers, the posters and flyers arrived in Edinburgh in good time. I made my planned pilgrimage to my beloved Fringe on the 16 August! Mr Cottle himself kindly allowed me to crash on his sofa, for which I am very grateful. I can only apologise for the smell of vodka redbulls and half eaten chicken kebabs. My 2012 adventure was too short, 3 nights just isn't enough to see all my friends shows, party it up in the Loft Bar/Abbatoir/Brooke's bar, see the 'Peat Bog Faeries' Live (see video below), etc, etc..... that said it goes down in the Edge history files, as yet another amazing comedy extravaganza !!
I was very proud to see the poster on the wall in the Underbelly and around the rest of the fringe (as can be seen from the cheesy grin-ster above), I was caught trying to post them all over Edinburgh castle and Arthur’s Seat! My argument of ... 'I still think it belongs to the English' ... didn't go down to well ha-ha. The local fast food outlets also refused to hide them inside their deep fried mars bars/pizzas/chips/sausages/lettuce (you name it it gets fried up there!) like a Wonka golden ticket and the locals would not carry them around in their sporrans!! My gorilla marketing needs some work :
If you made it this far I hope you enjoyed reading about my latest commission. This was one of most rewarding and enjoyable commissions to-date, I look forward to many more in the future. I have opened up the blog for comments so any feedback gratefully received.
… KIRK OUT ……
PS – Check out the Shirley and Shirley’s link to the right of this article and one of their many great reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe ! Four stars baby !!! http://sgfringe.com/2012/08/07/shirley-and-shirley-unleashed/
Hi one and all,
I am back on board the blog-wagon [key rapturous applause ... mmm nothing !? ... hold on ... who ordered the one handed audience members ? You can't blame them .... have you ever tried to clap with one hand? .. OK my appendage-ly challenged chaps & chapettes some creative team work is required here ... on the count of 1-2-3 pair up ... KKrrrrrrrk KKkkk Krrk.... now we've started...] !!!
FYI - the above is coffee induced and may be the reason I don't usually imbibe such stimulants !!!
It has, yet again, been a while since my last post - The concept of my blog is supposed to be; capturing real time thoughts/ideas and my interpretations/views on specific art or photographic work etc. I will eventually get to grips with writing regular insights into the bizarre world that is my head piece!.
With this in mind, on reading this months British Journal of Photography, I thought I would volunteer my opinion on the winner of the British Journal of Photography International Photographic Award (Michelle Sank's - Man Asleep on the Golden Mile, Durban), which received a mixture of muted tones and slightly perturbed/angry responses from on-line readers.
Although the majority of comments by these on-line readers leave a lot to be desired, in the literal sense*, and may point to a lack of artistic intuition (or at best stunted artistic neuro pathways within the cerebral cortex) or the minimal effort by teachers past. I have to, against my better judgement, agree with some of the concerns offered and question the judgements of the panel and the quality of the other 337 entries.
Karen - Is this really a winning entry ? It just looks like a drunk man having a kip with a loaf of bread!'
I would never comment negatively on someone else's work and realise to others it may be a fantastic piece of photography. Although, in my opinion as a reportage piece of photography it doesn't resonate! It seems too ambiguous, a reportage should tell a whole story within it and I feel it offers little direction and leaves a little too much to the viewer to interpret. The untidy, uneasiness of the composition (e.g. cutting off the legs etc) may have been intended but all it does it rankle. I would welcome comments to the contrary and I am more than willing to be persuaded otherwise.
Just a little food for thought, which I hope makes you think creatively for a few minutes and you chose to agree or disagree.
Edge... over and out
* I am not implying here my literal skills are anything to behold, as currently they are not. I am just trying to emphasis that the vast majority of society is losing any grasp over written and probably even spoken word, due to texting, tweeting etc. Sebastian Faulkes embeds this ethos within his current novel 'A week in December' with a character who is a literary reviewer, who ends up reviewing teachers reports on pupils at one of the most respected private schools in London e.g. the teachers are portrayed as lacking in the spelling and grammar skills they are supposed to be teaching. It is a great book and well worth reading now, as it is set in London around the lead up to Christmas and based on the daily routine which many of us are currently slaves too !
By Lee Edge | Published on DPG website 23 Dec 2011
In keeping with the great writer, adventurer, soldier, freethinker, con man, gambler, gourmand, violinist, spy and legendary seducer, that was Casanova; I would like to open this review with a brief synopsis of myself, as only then will you be able to fully appreciate the – what I hope to be, insightful and cathartic – prose that lies before you.
Having had a passion throughout my younger years for art I obviously chose, as any aspiring artist would, to down brushes and enter the London corporate establishment. The lauded draw of the strong career prospects and a reasonable salary outweighing the ‘draw’ of my pencils.
There was always a creative calling inside me fighting against this self-induced tyranny. I eventually realised that art was my true calling and have since been focusing all my energies in this area of my life. The Tao Te Ching (6th Century BC Chinese philosophy) states that if you follow your true destiny, the world will conspire to help you on your way. With this in mind, it was in a day lost in the wonders of Dulwich Picture Gallery, that an opportunity to write this review presented itself…
In the early 1900’s only 7 million people lived in Canada although it was the second largest country in the world geographically. It was during this time a group of artists started to engage with the Canadian wilderness; a landscape previously considered to be too wild and untamed to inspire true art. This Group consisted of Tom Thomson, Lawren Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, A.Y. Jackson, Franklin Carmichael, Fredrick Horseman Varley, Frank Johnston and Arthur Lismer. Most of the Group were professional graphic designers, and had at some point worked at the same firm ‘Gripp Ltd’, after studying in Europe.
In my mind, I see these intrepid painters riding across the Canadian frontier like Billy the Kid and his gang – Sheriff Thomson and the Magnificent 7! Paint slinging rather than gun slinging. The Canadian art establishment did not warm to Tom and the Group’s work. A critic once said of one of MacDonald’s paintings it reminded him of the ‘…inside of a drunkards stomach’. Another described the Group as ‘Hot mush school’. So, let’s now go and explore the hot mush of these drunkards’ stomachs!
The first room is dedicated to Tom Thomson who only started painting in his 30’-s and had little or no training. Thomson was as an outdoorsman; he had a reputation as a keen fisherman and a skilled canoeist. He had an inner connection with Algonquin National Park and was drawn to its wild beauty.
‘Exhilarating sense of direct communication with nature…thrill of eternal aspiration in this fondness for great, open spaces, and the magic radiance of the arctic aurora’ (Painting Canada)
The sketch box he used, when hiking, is on show on your left as you enter the room. To me it is a work of art in itself, nothing captures the roller coaster ride of emotions a painter experiences throughout a piece of work than the palette itself. The sketch box for me is an extension of Tom and I spent 10 minutes looking at every visible colour and stroke.
There were 7 of Thomson’s paintings that stood out from the rest of his work. The first – though not my favourite – sums up Tom’s approach to his work, while it also has a dark side as this is the lake he drowned in under suspicious circumstances, in 1917.
Evening, Canoe Lake was completed with strong brush strokes and thick paint. I could almost picture myself stood next to him as he painted the scene, wind whipping around him, an overcast day with a melancholy dampness in the air. It surprises me how much I like it, as like many of the pieces in the exhibition it is more abstract than my usual tastes (although as I am trying to move away from photorealistic work myself, I am starting to appreciate deviations more). This is probably compounded by the fact it isn’t at face value a very attractive scene or composition and there is a purple tone to it, which has not been my favourite colour since I was forced to wear an awful purple shirt as a child! But it reminds me of a quote from The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzatti written in the 1930s:
‘Only the poet or the saint can water an asphalt pavement in the confident anticipation that lilies will reward his labour’ (Dino Buzzati)
(Evening, Canoe Lake, 1915–16, Oil on canvas, 41.3 x 51.5 cm)
The next painting is Burnt Land which was tidied up from the original sketch with Tom removing some of the trees to present a stronger final composition. The scene reminds me of the Tartar Steppe desert within Dino Buzzati’s novel; which was a sparse, desolate, open, isolated, wilderness that drew you in with its mystery and magic. The yellowy sky and dark silhouetted mountains present a strong backdrop only broken by the bare trunks of a few trees.
We now come to my favourite two pieces by Thomson: Northern Lights and Yellow Sunset. There are some painters who deal with the play of light as the most graceful thing that exists. Thomson does this by:
Weaving moonbeams with his fancy (W. Somerset Maugham), Northern Lights has an ethereal beauty due to the dark blues of the landscape shrouded in shadows and the chill of the starry night sky, separated by a spectacular green aurora borealis. Yellow Sunset in contrast fills you with a feeling of warmth, the enticing yellows dominating a third of the composition, with a fantastic silhouetted landscape covering the rest.
The final three pieces (Winter in the Woods, Path Behind Mount Lodge and Winter Thaw in the Woods) from Thomson have a related theme; they are all tight compositions of woodland. They give you an instant feeling of being lost in deep winter within the Canadian woodland. He uses the contrast of light and dark majestically to portray the winter sunlight and the long shadows. Tom Thomson was in the ideal frame of mind for an artist, his objective was not to make art, but to be in the wondrous state that made art inevitable!
(The Group of Seven seated around a table at the Arts & Letters Club, Toronto, c. 1920)MacDonald has a stronger intensity of colour in his sketches and actually steps down the palette for the final canvas of one of his best pieces The Beaver Dam. I actually prefer the colours used and the more haphazardly daubed oil work in the sketch. Maybe he was conscious of not wanting to emulate Thomson too closely. Although I preferred the more abstract Beaver Dam, his painting in Algoma Falls, Montreal River is exquisite with its background detail. It is another skyless image; that prompted me to do a quick re-examination of the Group’s work, which allowed me to notice that the sky is either absent from compositions or forms an elaborate patchwork quilt of colours. At no point is it in frame and plain like in many present day landscapes.
Carmichael in my opinion was more polished than MacDonald, his colour palette was warmer and he used his foreground detail to greater effect. Although the foreground in October Gold contrasts with the Harris-esk abstraction of the background, it is a powerful piece. The depth of the background could have been achieved more successfully had he gradually toned it down but its almost cartoon feeling achieves it in a different way. But by far my favourite piece of Carmichael’s is Grace Lake, with its outstanding composition and use of central detail to hold your gaze.
On viewing Jackson’s First Snow, Algoma I was struck by how hard the silhouetted trees are to pick out. They are like the figures in an old tapestry; they do not separate themselves from the background, and at a distance seem to lose their pattern, so that you end up with a small but pleasing patch of colour on the overall canvas. Night, Pine Island is a much improved piece of work, although to me it is a little too symmetrical and resembles a melted face viewed from chin up. Some of my favourite paintings in the collection were produced by Jackson 6yrs + after First Snow. Winter, Quebec and Le Calvaire or Wayside Cross, Saint-Urbain are fantastic works and remind me of the paintings by Flemish renaissance painter Bruegel the Elder. His A Quebec Farm held me spellbound by the use of the contours of the field to lead you to the farmhouse and the way the sky holds you there.
(The Fire Ranger, 1921, oil on canvas, 123 x 153.2 cm)
Lismer’s Evening Silhouette is striking and reminds me of the artwork on an animated film. The use of the cloud formation to sweep the eye from top left to the right and into the centre via the tree line is sublime to the senses.
Varley’s Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay is a wind-swept gem transporting the viewer into the tumultuous grasp of nature. He drops this fierce element for his Autumn Prelude, which is softer and calming, and together the two senses tease and tantalise.
(Frederick Horsman Varley, Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay, 1921 Oil on canvas, 132.6 x 162.8 cm)
There is a distinct difference in Harris’s earlier works and his Mountain Mad phase (the final room within the exhibition). His later work seems to have been completed with the directness of a fanatic and the ferocity of an apostle. I imagine Harris to have been an affluent, extroverted, single-minded risk taker. This was illustrated by him following Mondrian in the 1930s by going abstract, stripping down forms to spiritual power (becoming a theosophist). The final room in the exhibition can only be described as magnificent, sublime and infinite to the senses.
Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist seeks to fashion out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his own soul (this is a subject I have been exploring on my blog recently). To fully recognise it, you must repeat the adventure like Julian Beecroft did for his great article on the Guardian website.
(Isolation Peak, 1930, 106.7 x 127 cm)
All the pieces within the final room are outstanding Icebergs, Davis Strait, Untitled Mountain Landscape, Lake Superior, Isolation Peak and Mount Lefroy. All have been broken down to their basic constituent elements through use of strong compartmentalised colours and smooth lines. They are calming, striking and present the viewer with a glimpse of contentment for the time they spend in their company. They remind me of sumptuous scenes from the new wave of computer-animated films, withUntitled Mountain Landscape resembling a face basking in the sun.
In summary the Group effectively taught Canadian’s how to see their country in a new way.
‘Artistic expression is a spirit not a method. A pursuit , not a settled goal, an instinct, not a body of rules.’ (foreword to their catalogue for the second exhibition)
Viewing this collection is like being in a constant circadian cycle – that magical dream state between wakefulness and deep sleep! After imbibing all the wonderful imagery within the exhibition and my subsequent research, I suggest to you that Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven took life as it came; drank liquid elixir from the cup of their collective passion and lost themselves in their al fresco brush strokes. They consciously extricated themselves from the humdrum of society, transporting themselves into the vast unchartered frontiers of the Canadian wilderness, where Mother Nature rules with an iron fist hidden inside a silk glove.
‘Man’s desire for the approval of his fellows is so strong, his dread of their censure so violent, that himself has brought his enemy within his gates; and it keeps watch over him, vigilant always in the interests of it’s master to crush any half formed desire to break away from the herd’ (W. Somerset Maugham)
The Group blazed their own trails and were not driven by the desire for approval from the art establishment. The Tao Te Ching states that you will not attain personal contentment, unless you are happy in the present and desire nothing. Perhaps this is the reason why the group were able to express themselves so vividly as a collective, because they were vibrating at the same frequency as mother nature, which allowed them to connect with the Canadian wilderness like no other before or after. Harris confirms this notion in the following quote:
‘We had commenced our great adventure. We lived in a continuous blaze of enthusiasm…. Above all we loved our country and loved exploring and painting it’
The Rage Against the Machine, Citizen Smith (power to the people), far-side cartoon (where the sheep stands upright and says ‘Wait a minute… we don’t have to be just sheep’), non-conformist in me feels a deep affinity with the Group. The Group are kindred spirits from a bygone era, Canadian rebel brothers from other mothers.
(Tom Thomson, The West Wind, 1917, Oil on canvas, 120.7 x 137.2 cm)
Experts are entrenched within their rivers of thinking and can find it difficult to embrace new innovative thoughts and techniques. This may suggest why the Group’s works received bad press in Canada. Perhaps over exposure to the images also allowed the Canadian Society to ultimately fathom the works of art…
‘A book lives, as long as it is unfathomed. Once it is fathomed, once it is known and it’s meaning established, it is dead’ (D.H Lawrence)
…while in the UK they were, and still are, just paintings embraced for their mystery and magic – the UK is so far removed from this Canadian wilderness we will never fathom out the relationships these painter had with the landscape! Visitors to Dulwich Picture Gallery are applauding the artwork once again, in the UK they will never die.
Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven is at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 8 January 2012.
The cathartic musings of a CRE8IV mind, living at the EDGE of chaos.