Going Big- A New Direction for Me

Yes, I’ve been pulled in by the lure of ‘going big’ as most artists do at some point. Having been essentially a printmaker, working on paper, for most of my career, I’ve recently been straining at the leash. I want to make immersive art, gestural and bold- and the feeling won’t go away.

The downside of ‘going big’ is the initial investment in materials (as well as the space issue…more on that below)

So, without quite knowing what I was doing, in December 2022 I applied for a bursary from The West of England Visual Arts Alliance (WEVAA) for materials. I was surprised and delighted to get the money – I found it meant more to me than just the cash, it was a confidence boost, a vote of confidence. And it felt good.

But how, and more importantly, where, was I to make the work? As some of you may know my ‘shed studio’ is a mere 8ft by 8ft, certainly not big enough to have all the pieces out together, or to step back to look properly.

I could at least set to work preparing the boards, painting under layers in my garden on good weather days and making some lovely monoprint textures and colours to collage, which is how I wanted to make the pieces, whilst I tried to find a suitable space. You can see all my preparations in the video below.

After several failed attempts to secure a space in Bristol, I was finally given a residency to work in a Vestibule in Bristol’s City Hall (the very grand building which houses the Council and Mayor). It would be 3 weeks in an enormous space. Slightly more intensive working than I’m used to, but it would give me intention and purpose. And hopefully I would get over the ‘difficult’ bits during those 3 weeks.

I’m writing this towards the end of the residency, having got over at least one of those difficult periods and heading , I hope, for the home straight. The video below, shows where and how I’ve been working over the 3 weeks.

It’s certainly been intensive- learning to work in a completely new way- not only in a new size, but problem solving with different materials and not relying on printed line to do some of the work for me. When pivoting into new ways of working, it really brings into relief how much we lean on the old, trusted ways of doing things, usually without thinking. It takes energy to make decisions in a new way. And all day!

Things I’ve learnt: Get scale and composition settled before diving in, keep it simple, allow for line and colour towards the end of making, and don’t be afraid of larger gestures (still working on that one!)

You can see where I’ve got to in the video below, with a tour of the pieces as they are now. I have managed to find another, smaller space, for the month of June, which allows me to finish up and contemplate for another month. Watch this space.