Tag Archives: painting

Metro-Botanic

Metropolitanical and detail

My new art practice utilises biofilms to create sculptural paintings. I’ve been developing this since 2014. I grow microbial cellulose surfaces from probiotic good bacteria and yeasts.

These intricate surfaces, resembling skin, are translucent and beautiful. I aim to make artworks that draw the viewer into the surface yet show a sense of decay and the visceral, intrigued by the slightly uncomfortable.

Mushroom Cave

Drawn to the Japanese ‘wabi-sabi’ aesthetic of beauty in the transient and imperfect, and how we react to the abject, I feel that these artworks can subtly convey themes of sustainability. Life-cycles, decay, ruin, and human relationships with nature are intertwined. I incorporate my interest in survival, bush-craft, and making-from-scratch into my practice, creating works which reference the past, and the now by using this alien yet seemingly familiar material with established art conventions like stretcher bars.

'Mother and Daughter' (2015) symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts, each 60x150cm

I consider my ‘Metro-Botanic’ works to be paintings in the ‘expanded field’ since they don’t use paint, brush, or canvas. They have a painterly sensibility and are very much about surface, colour, and allowing the glitches within the material to help drive my compositional decisions.

Beetroot dye on biofilm details

I’ve been investigating the utilisation and display of these intriguing films and have a wealth of ideas I still want to explore. I’m discovering ways to sculpt & collage the material and colour it with pigments which cling in a marbled fashion or natural dyes which impart intense translucent colour. I love exploring materials, testing them to their limits and using their unique properties.

Elbow Room

I learnt about these biofilms from my brother, who did vast amounts of research into kombucha, a health drink made from fermented tea, rich in probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. He used this knowledge to launch his skincare company Biomic, and here is its Facebook page. I used it to explore the culture which ferments the liquid, and grows as a by-product of the process, and how I could harness its properties to make art.

Turps Goes West

I’m taking part in a group show entitled: ‘ Turps Goes West’, curated by Marcus Harvey and Phil Allen at Edel Assanti Gallery.

The exhibiton runs from the 25 August – 1 September 2015 with the closing party on the 1st September.

This is the final show of the Turps Banana Studio programme I have participated in over the last twelve months.

Please note that the gallery is closed on bank holiday Monday.

Turps Goes West

Adam Fenton’s Painting Club

Adam Fenton's Painting Club image

Adam Fenton’s Painting Club brings together a diverse range of 13 contemporary painters, artists who perhaps wouldn’t normally meet or exhibit together. The artists presented share an interest in a figurative painterly language and the exhibition aims to emphasize the breadth of different approaches it encompasses. The exhibition has been curated to create a dialogue between works and to form the basis for a discussion.

MOMA curator Laura Hoptman recently claimed that contemporary painting is in a state of atemporality, reflecting our current cultural moment. At a time where “all eras seem to exist at once”, any historical genre, stylistic language or motif can be adopted by the contemporary painter.

Adam Fenton’s Painting Club posits the idea that ‘contemporary painting’ as it is often presented is indeed nothing but a genre in itself, recognizable by very distinct formal elements. And often it is determined in so many ways by the intermediary segment of the art world – curators, collectors, gallerists – rather than by the artists themselves.

Thus, the exhibition wishes to address the notion of painting in terms of ‘personality’, as opposed to ‘contemporary’. Each artist in the exhibition demonstrates a personal passion for a unique subject matter, process or style that goes far deeper than just illustrating the current critical discourse. Hopefully, the exhibition will thereby contribute to pointing to the very rich breadth of painting today and a discussion of the diverse and interlapping elements of it.

Ben Clarke, David Dellagi, Mark Edmonds, Adam Fenton, Callum Green, Fiona Long, Paula MacArthur, Benjamin Prosser, Matthew Randle, Mark Sheeky, Hideatsu Shiba, Dovilė Šimonytė, Eleanor Watson

Private View: Friday 21st August 6-9pm
Open: Saturday 22nd August 1-5pm
Discussion: Sunday 23rd August 1-5pm

No Format Gallery
Second Floor Studios & Arts,
Harrington Way,
Woolwich,
London
SE18 5NR

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015

I’m proud to announce that my quirky painting ‘Norman’ has been selected for this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

Norman hides in plain sight. People walk past him and don’t realise who he is or what he’s been through. But when people see him, he reveals his secrets. He shows the fragility trapped behind his hard, masculine, weathered exterior. Is he just a workhorse, a utilitarian object or do his battered ribs show the life he’s led and survived? A badge of honour. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Once discovered, Norman has stories to tell from all that he has learnt, all that he has seen as a fly on the wall whilst the world acts out oblivious….

It was selected by art heroes Bill Woodrow and Alison Wilding for the Sculpture Room located in the Royal Academy’s Lecture Room, the first gallery on the right as you enter.

Varnishing Day, Royal Acedemy Summer Exhibition 2015

This year’s theme of colour devised by Michael Craig Martin gives the exhibition a joyful atmosphere. Perhaps some of the works compete against their colourful backgrounds but I like the invigorated atmosphere of the show.

I like how my almost monochromatic painting sits rather surreally against the sky blue walls of the Lecture Room. When I showed it in Turps Gallery for our interim show, I displayed it incredibly subtly, near the toilet door, and very low. It was tucked way below one of the ventilation grilles that inspired it. Many people didn’t notice it as a work on display but I was playing with observation and realisation.

'Norman' at Turps Gallery

I’m thrilled that it’s been placed so prominently in the Royal Academy and given such space in a generally jam packed salon hang! That the audacious humour of the piece was appreciated and for it to be hung with such prominence in such an establishment is an honour and a delight.

Just to the right of me are further art heroes Cornelia Parker and Richard Wilson!
The Summer Exhibition opens tomorrow until August 16th. If you go, please keep an eye out for Norman #1029

Varnishing Day, Royal Acedemy Summer Exhibition 2015

If you can’t make it along to the exhibition, then you can see everything in the exhibition on the new browsing feature on the RA website. You can find my work by it’s catalogue number 1029.

Turps Interim Show 2015

Our Interim Show for the Turps Studio Painting Program 2015 opens on Thursday 19 March 6.30-9.30pm. Each of the 16 painters will be showing selected work from our year on the Programme so far.

The Turps Studio Programme, affiliated with the wonderful Turps Banana Magazine, provides a dynamic structure of: mentoring, peer-led learning, talks and visitors within an open studio environment.

This intensive and supported one year programme stimulates conversation and debate, through discourse and practice, advancing individual development.

– See more at: http://turpsbanana.com/art-school#sthash.UaHdKNkd.dpuf

Surface Views

I suppose that with my interests in art and psychology, it’s natural that I’d be fascinated by how people move around an art gallery and how they engage with the artworks. I love noticing things that hide in plain sight and noticing how people react to things they’d usually ignore in the context of an art gallery where one it attuned to observe and contemplate.

Estate of Serenity, Oil on hinged board, 2014, 70x60x20cm

I decided to make a body of artwork encouraging the viewer not just to look but to see.

The scale and nature of the paintings encourages a private, voyeuristic experience of the erotically banal. Rather than hitting the viewer’s peripheral vision with a large painting I wanted to create structures that encourage the viewer to come closer and engage with the painting one at a time.

Invitation, oil on hinged board, 2014, 60x20x20cm

These “Surface Views” explore surface through form, inviting the viewer into a personal space in order to contemplate memento mori through urban decay. Where nature attacks the city, we are reminded of the transient beauty and the poetic beauty of imperfection.

Opening, Oil on board in found frame, 2014, 50x60cm

They create a paradox of entropic layers of paint depicting old paint affected by time and nature through trompe l’oeil. The depth of these layers is further distorted by the three dimensional form.

The implied use value of the visible hooks and hinges deepens the paradox.

Pipewerk, 2014, Oil on hinged board, 70x60x20cm

I investigate the way in which the banal and everyday can be humorously elevated through laborious scrutiny. My paintings playfully challenge our expectations of the urban environment and investigate the psychology of space. With attention, the most ordinary details can become magical or disturbing observations.

Pipewerk installed in it's site specific location...

Concrete Poetry

My “Concrete Poetry” series is an exploration of how it feels to live in the city. These chaotic images investigate the fast-paced lives we lead both visually and almost viscerally. An archaeological approach to painting shows the contrasts of the impact that both people and nature have on the manmade structures we are surrounded by. The Eastern aesthetic of the beauty of transience is contemplated to interpret the ever-changing urban landscape. A fascination with material is coupled with areas of representation using personal street photography and collages from free London newspapers as source material.

Formal Paintings of Informal Sculptures

Floral Burial ("Formal Paintings of Informal Sculptures" series)

Some paintings from my latest series. I am often intrigued by the collections of objects I encounter in the street, placed unconsciously or accidentally in what could have been a formal arrangement. If placed in a different context like a gallery, how would they be perceived differently? By painting these banal collections, I hope to highlight the way that people perceive the arrangements of objects that surround them. These collections are painted rather than literally re-displayed in order to humorously elevate them through the sheer laborious attention they’ve already been paid. It also questions the history of still life painting, street art, and the “found object” in sculpture.

Chasm ("Formal Paintings of Informal Sculptures" series)

Blue Ocean ("Formal Paintings of Informal Sculptures" series)

Open Studio at the Chinese Arts Centre

I’m excited to announce my ‘Open Studio’ exhibition at the Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester which opens this Friday! It’s my first proper solo show!

The opening drinks reception is this Friday 24th September from 5-7.30pm. If you can make it then please do come along! The show runs until 29th September

At the same time, the lovely Sonia Kan will be showing her installation/performance ‘The mother and her untamed entity’ which is an exploration of the relationship between a mother and her daughter. So there will be plenty to see at the Chinese Arts Centre that evening!

Here’s their introduction to my work: Fiona Long is a recent graduate from Wimbledon College of Art and has been working with the two artists from our recent Infinite Strokes exhibition to explore hidden shapes and symbols in Chinese calligraphy.

Having graduated in both art and psychology, Fiona is fascinated by the way in which we cognitively interpret images. Using Chinese calligraphy symbols as the starting point for her research Fiona spent the residency investigating Chinese characters and taking part in calligraphy workshops. Her Open Studio work focuses on symbols which resemble one thing, but in translation mean something completely different. Fiona has tried to transform these traditional symbols in the hope that her interpretations alter the meanings of characters whilst also showing how images can transcend language.

In the Open Studio space, Fiona has followed this line of investigation with a number of painting and 3D works. Each piece focuses on this idea of manipulating characters; some taught to her in the calligraphy workshops, some from locally sourced text books and some found by chance encounters whilst walking around the city. On closer inspection, one particular piece in the studio, Pareidolia, depicts an all too familiar patterned gate within Chinese Arts Centre’s building.

It is clear to see from Fiona’s work that there is an intense preoccupation with the linking of symbols to images, and finding new meanings and messages within any given picture. Many of Fiona’s works depict her awareness of symbols resembling faces. She approaches each symbol as if it has its own characteristics, expressions and in a sense personality. For the audience, we can experience our own personal interpretation of what each symbol might resemble in our everyday lives, whether it is a cheeky smile or an animals snarl.

Manchester…the story so far…

I’m having a a great time in Manchester on my residency at the Chinese Arts Centre. I was met from the station by the centre’s lovely exhibition coordinator Elizabeth Wewiora who found and liked my work in the first place. She gave me a little tour of the city. On Saturday, I attended a lovely Chinese painting and calligraphy run by Mary Tang. It’s such a skill and artform. It must take years or decades to master. I had fun trying at least! I was then whisked off to see a brilliant show by the curator, Daniel Staincliffe, called Purveyors at Rogue Artists’ Studios, with works by Rob Dunne, Bryn Lloyd-Evans and Daniel Staincliffe. After that, I got a tour of Rogue Studios and got to see a lot of the work that’s going on there. There’s some great stuff! The studios are in an old textile mill and the atmosphere was fab! I’m now getting on with making some work, inspired by my experiences and research so far….