Two months into 2021 has given me a little space to think about and review my work from last year, so … 2020 started well enough, with two of my paintings having been accepted to be in the Open 30 exhibition at the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester (which ran from 14 Dec 2019 to 24 Jan 2020). This was followed by two further pieces making it into the Royal Cambrian Academy open exhibition from 11 Jan to 8 Feb.Visiting Conwy to be part of the RCA exhibition opening on 11 Jan proved to be one of the last physical events I was able to take part in.
On 23 March, Lockdown turned everything outside in, and with pipelined projects looking increasingly unlikely I took solace, like many others, in nature and my own back garden, which fortunately included gently aging outbuildings and an orchard. In addition, our home was repopulated by our daughters who for one reason or another, had come home to (from youngest to oldest) … work / study / give birth! – making excellent models when required. Not only that but aided by their various expertise I was able to create some film of myself and my work in progress.
Such that by late May I had plenty of imagery and footage to include in a virtual Open Studios Notts trail. I’ve been involved in this opening up of artists studios since its inception in 2012 and really enjoy taking part and meeting people. Whilst saddened at not being able to do a physical event, it was a really interesting experience to create the virtual event, which included this short animated trail guide created for us by Beth Adams.
When lockdown eased over the summer, I was able to take part in some socially distanced live events. The first of these was a judged painting competition – ‘Paint Out Norfolk‘ from 16-23 July. Over the course of the week participants were tasked with painting plein air at various locations along the Norfolk Coast, in the Norfolk Broads and in Norwich. On the last day I was very pleased when my daily efforts brought me the award of first prize in the competition.
The following month I found myself taking part in Sky Arts ‘Landscape of the Year’. Filming for my heat took place at West Wycombe – in a beautiful estate landscape, now belonging to the National Trust, where I was 1 of 50 Wildcards competing and occasionally being interviewed for an episode that would be broadcast in January 2021. At the end of a very hot and exhausting day I was slightly stunned to find myself the Wildcard winner.
Meanwhile back in Nottinghamshire I had submitted work to a number of open exhibition/competitions and was successful in having one of my paintings selected for the Harley Open Exhibition (from 1 August to 1 November) and another shortlisted for the Sir John Hurt Art Prize (that was due to be exhibited 26-27 September). The latter event had survived the lock down only to succumb to hurricane conditions, which destroyed the Marquees it was to have been held in.
Then in October, a piece of my sculpture was accepted into the Wales Contemporary 2020 exhibition at the Waterfront Gallery in Milford Haven. This required me to travel across Wales, just ahead of a lockdown. The exhibition was delayed but opened on 12 Nov. Due to run to the end of December, it was cut short although their virtual version continued. Its scheduled transfer to the Oxo tower in London on 25 Feb sadly has been cancelled – but a little bit of good news is that the gallery is planning a 10-day extension, entitled ‘Wales Contemporary Re-awakening’, at a time when they are able to be open again.
Meanwhile, in the background I had been preparing for a solo exhibition of my work at Gallery 6 in Newark. This space was very kindly offered to me by gallerist Melanie before Covid came to dominate our lives and the exhibition date was put back several times before we eventually settled on December with the title ‘Between Times‘, showing the series of paintings that charted my dream-like life during the spring and summer of this unique year. The exhibition opened on 9 December and although again cut short by further lockdown, continued virtually through January 2021. In spite of the severe limits on visitor numbers, I’m glad to say several painting sold from the exhibition.
And so we entered the new Year – in another lockdown – and I am continuing to be inspired by surrounding farmlands, exploring and extending my techniques. I am also continuing to work with galleries as they find ways to keep going and supporting their artists. My website, on which this art blog sits, has also been the subject of some redeveloping and extending and I have looked to furthering my social media interactions on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well as developing an Etsy shop for my print and card reproductions.
Finally I am continuing the round of submitting work to professional organisations – and once again have recently had 2 works accepted by Royal Cambrian Academy annual exhibition 2021. Initially this is an on line exhibition, that opened on 13 February, with the postponed gallery exhibition opening at a date to be decided in late spring/early summer (when the announcement of prize winners will be made). I also have two works in The Old Lock Up Gallery‘s OPEN iso 2021 virtual exhibition from 7 – 21 March. and several pieces are in a curated Auction of Contemporary Investment Art with Chalkwells on Tuesday 9 March at 6:30pm.