Art Auction – Italy poppies

I’m not generally a big fan of the “please donate art to our auction” fundraiser. No one asks the accountant, lawyer, or plumber to donate the equivalent. Artists are targeted because they have a physical product and “you can just make another one – right?”. Anyway, that aside…

St John in Hawera are doing an art auction to raise funds towards a new station. Tony was an ambulance officer for about 16 years, and Mum was a very regular ambulance user, so it’s a charity close to my heart. Heck, I’ve used them a couple of times myself šŸ˜‰

My artist’s statement for the exhibition:

In 2010 Tony and I travelled to Italy as I was one of 40 New Zealand artists who had works in the Legato exhibition in Cassino, Italy. I took 4 works over, celebrating 4 men including my father, Patea grocer Mansel Barker, otherwise known as Able Seaman Barker.

The trip had a profound impact on me, and on my art. I have continued to paint the Italian landscape, and works which depict in some way the lives that were touched by WWII. Two of the works which went to Italy have been exhibited here in NZ as well, and newer Italian works have been exhibited in Wellington. In 2016, by invitation of the curator, I exhibited works in Italy for the Legato exhibition which coincided with 70th commemorations.

This series of essentially black and white works is inspired by the poppies, which grow amongst the rubble throughout Italy, bringing colour to the landscape.

Poppies at the railway station Italy 2012Poppies at Sorrento 2012

Starting a new painting

I’m starting a new WWI work, featuring two relatives I never knew – Mum’s birth father and his brother, her birth uncle. If this turns out well, it will travel to Italy for the 2014 Legato exhibition. I’ve aged laser copies of some documents relating to them, collaged them on, and added paint and ink. This is all just an under layer; once it is dry I’ll use a coat of clear gesso over the top and keep working on it. The colours are not as lively as the ones I used for the WWII works. I’ve gone murkier, grayer and duller because that’s how WWI feels for me. It’s probably also a reflection of my feelings about Mum never getting to know her birth parents and having a ‘dim dark’ past.

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It’s time to get sorted

I just posted this on my librarian’s blog, and so much of it applies here, that I am going to re-use it, with a few changes. Here goes:

For a while now, months in fact, I have been mucking around and squandering my time.Ā Enough already!Ā I have things I need to get done:

  • complete my signatures for the 2013 International Signature Exchange
  • create new works to send to Italy for Legato in 2014
  • update my work on my own website, Etsy, Redbubble etc
  • create some new, smaller works, to sell within NZ
  • start marketing my artwork again (it’s been a while)
  • And I have a whole bunch of library-related goals too!

So, enough messing round, enough excuses about grieving for Mum, enough napping in front of tv in the evenings ā€“ justĀ enough already. Today I am writing a list and getting back on track.

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More on the Freezing Works

Last night was one of those nights where all I wanted to do was paint – not sleep, work, or whatever – just create something. Turns out it was the full moon. Along with many other creatives, I suffer from “full-moon-itis”! About 10pm I gave in and opened a packet of A4 size Hahnemuhle watercolour paper. The 300gsm is heavy enough that I can work on it without needing to stretch it; perfect for doing mixed media at my desk, and it’s a lovely surface to work on.

I have done a lot of works inspired by the old Patea Freezing Works over the last few years, and since going to Italy in 2010 I’ve also done a lot of works that involve poppies. Last night I combined the two and depicted the freezing works siteĀ regenerating, with poppies growing where the land has been disturbed, just like in Cassino, Italy. I kept one derelictĀ buildingĀ at the far right, and a few ‘ghost’ buildings along the horizon, where they still exist in my memory. I used Golden airbrush acrylics, a super fine Sharpie pen, Faber Castell aquarelle sticks and Caran D’Ache Neocolors, then added text in Photoshop.