Understanding personal imagery and the origins of CT6.
I started this blog because someone wrote in a local Facebook post about the lack of empathy in society It prompted me to think about the importance of imagination in both empathy and in art. Because I have been an art teacher all my life I think a great deal about the role of visual and tactile art in society. All sorts of things that I see and hear start me off!
Yesterday I visited an exhibition of water colours, there were lots of them representing hours of dedication and all beautifully framed. I like to talk to people about their work, I know how encouraging it is if anyone shows the slightest interest in what you have been doing. I said which one I liked best and why I liked it and then I asked which one he was most pleased with and why.
Of course it soon came out what I already could see, they were all meticulously copied from photographs. Why? Why wouldn’t you just have the beautiful photograph in the first place? I recently saw an ad in the local Herne Bay Chatters Facebook page, it showed a rather good photo of a dog with an exact hand painted copy next to it. ‘Get a beautiful painting of your dog’ as though there was something holy about the hand rendered image.
There is no doubt that the water-colourist had a wonderful technique, but what a terrible waste. We only pass through our present life once, no one is ever going to see or experience the world exactly as we do, can we not show something of the world as we see it or think about it. Young children can do it so why can’t we as adults?
The rot sets in when someone says ‘She’s good at art’ as they did when I learnt how to copy Mickey Mouse. The temptation is to keep copying because that is obviously what brings public praise and admiration. If I hadn’t gone to art school gained a deeper understanding plus a vivid imagination, I would have been seduced into thinking that was where it was at.
Having said that, the huge popularity of the major art galleries show that there is a fsacination and interest in a wider understanding. There are only going to be a few ‘cutting edge’ artists in every age, the rest of us should produce something more personal My most common question for my students was ‘What do you want to say?’ later ‘How can I help you to express it?’ ‘How can you use materials in an exciting and experimental way?’
Back to the main story line (but there is a relevance.
I was on my own now (except for the support of Ken’s family) but it did give me time to pursue my own work for the first time for years. All I could do before was to draw in my sketch book, whatever has been happening in my life I have always drawn.
One day I was walking past the library when I bumped into one of my ex mature students. We had a long chat. He said how lonely it can be to carry on making art when you have left college. At college everyone in your group is interested in what you are doing. There is a buzz and a collective excitement about ideas coming to fruition or a support when things get hard. Unless you happen to be surrounded by ‘arty’ people when you leave, you have lost that interest and encouragement.
He wanted me to meet a sculptor friend of his who had been kicked out of art school because his work didn’t chime with the accepted style.
Most towns have a local art society but they often have limited ideas with a vast sprinkling of the dreaded copying from photographs or hackneyed subject matter. We met in my house, gathered some other interested artists and started a new group, which we called CT6. It was decided only to include art graduates, though we did have to relax that rule later.
In the mean time I now had started to produce my own work and concentrated mainly on textiles. Passing the museum one day I saw a postcard it said ‘Is there anyone out there making textiles? I am a textiles student and I have just graduated from Manchester College of Art. I’m looking for other makers with a view to have an exhibition.’ Her name was Janice Lewis, we met up and had an exhibition together in the museum gallery.
The CT6 group agreed to have collective exhibitions once or twice a year. There was only one possible space and that was in the library. Given it’s limitations we managed quite well, bringing in screens and plinths. The useful thing about exhibiting in the library was that you had a captive audience. The people coming in to borrow books were interested as can be shown in our book of comments which I still have. To make it cohesive we usually decided on a theme. We were there for about three years until they took over the space to house their public computers.
Some of our posters in the first years
Our first exhibition in 2001.
My first poster.Nick Godsell designed our logoMy first Open House Exhibition with the group. The red hanging is mine.
In the meantime Ron had opened his small gallery BAG in William St. we then had our exhibitions there and in the Fish Slab Gallery in Whitstable, the Horsebridge and twice by invitation in the Herne Bay Gallery. Having different themes added a bit of excitement but it did mean that there was no real thread of development in my work.
In the term that I retired from Christchurch they had just brought in a computer with graphic design software for students to use. I didn’t have a computer at that stage but I was longing to learn. I went on a residential absolute beginners course at a college in Worcestershire. I loved it, when I got home I set myself up, bought Photoshop Elements and taught myself to use it. It has been so useful to me, I can’t imagine what I would do without it now.
First time playing with Photo Shop Elements.