It was a busy start to 2012 with the exhibition ‘Luxor: People & Places’ opening at the Petrie Museum UCL during the first week of the new year. The exhibition ran for four months and again it was wonderful to be able to hang my work amongst this amazing collection of art and artefacts, particularly with the inspiring collection of Roman Mummy Portraits from Hawara close by. This was my third exhibition to be hosted by the Petrie and I am very grateful to them for their continued support and enthusiasm for my Egyptian work.
January also brought the publication of Painting Still Life in Oils. My last involvement with the book had been during the previous summer so it seemed strange to once again be involved months on when other projects had been started and work had moved on. Writing continued during the year with ‘Egyptian’ articles for The Artist and a series on Still Life for Artists & Illustrators.
There were a few exhibition opportunities during the year and as well as the Petrie show, I was pleased to have work included in the Surrey Open 2012 at the Lightbox, the Summer Exhibition and Art for All both at Medici Gallery Cork St.
Once established in my new studio I began work on a number of new portraits and nudes, paintings I have had in mind for a while and now having the space to do them. Models have turned up week after week, putting up with aching necks and chilly temperatures and sat patiently, hour after hour. With many thanks to Beth, Helen S, Brian, Susan, John, Helen L, Ralph, Sheila, Sonia and Richard.
Portraits continued during two visits to Luxor, in the spring and autumn. In each visit I continued to explore the potential of drawing with silverpoint. I began using silverpoint about a year ago and it has given me some pleasing results since. It gives a beautiful and delicate mark and it suits the way that I naturally draw. The technique in many ways reminds me of the way I work when making drypoints, so it seemed the natural way to continue and develop my portrait drawings both in Egypt and at home. As well as working with a drawing technique which dates back to Renaissance times I also began to experiment with a much more modern medium and made a series of landscapes with my i-pad which will eventually be used as the starting point for oil paintings.
My work with musicians took some interesting and unexpected turns during 2012. In January I painted during the rehearsals of Don Quixote with the Rehearsal Orchestra and the resulting small canvas focused on the ‘cello soloist Robert Max alongside the conductor Lev Parikian. During the year I’ve played some fabulous repertoire, putting down the paintbrushes and picking up the violin occasionally. One particular course with RO studying pieces inspired by ‘Art’ gave me much food for thought. During the course we played two pieces directly inspired by paintings, the first Martinu’s Frecoes by Piero Della Francesca inspired by the Arezzo Cycle and secondly Rachmaninov’s haunting symphonic poem the Isle of the Dead. Rather than conjuring up images of Charon crossing the River Styx during this wonderfully atmospheric piece the rhythmic movement of the strings instead suggested to me a Pharaonic funeral cortege solemnly crossing the Nile during this musical transcription of Arnold Böcklin’s painting of the same name.
I continued to paint orchestral scenes in Edinburgh in the summer and I also began to focus more on the relationship of players within chamber ensembles and began to work with a quartet locally. This is still very much work in progress. In July I was thrilled to be artist-in-residence with the Chilingirian Quartet during their summer school at West Dean College. This resulted in many drawings and paintings which will be exhibited at West Dean next summer.
During the year there were some fabulous exhibitions to visit, my personal favourite was Grayson Perry The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, an inspiring and fascinating exhibition, the catalogue of which I am still pouring over.
A few ideas and projects are evolving for the forthcoming year, and new models are already lined up. Much of 2013 will be devoted to my next huge task Painting the Nude.
Perhaps 2013 will bring me the courage to approach the sitter of the portrait diptych I’ve had in mind all year…