I had brought some papers with me and decided next that I would create a series of collages using, for the most part, genuinely “found” papers. So often the term “found” is used to describe items which are actually “bought” from second hand shops, car boot sales, online auctions etc. I try to work, as exclusively as possible, with items that I have found along the Chichester Harbour coastline, adding to them when necessary but always using them as the starting point for my work. The papers used in the pieces below are:
disposable plate; take away coffee cup; take away sandwich wrapper; take away cookie bag; sandpaper; cider cardboard packaging; miscellaneous plastic; paper from an oil filter; and, most importantly, a tide table.
Disposable food service products made from paper, paperboard, and corrugated fibreboard, including cups, plates, bowls, napkins, take away bags, trays, egg cartons, doilies and tray liners, can also include or be coated with plastic to improve wet strength or grease resistance.
So, my collage collection includes hidden plastic and the title “Turning the Tide” refers not only to the use of a local tide table in the work, but also to the fact that I hope that we are now turning the tide in the fight against plastics and other rubbish in our seas. This is and will remain the core inspiration behind the work that I produce.
Collins Dictionary – “Turn the tide” – to change the general course of events.
The word “abstract” is generally thought of having several meanings. The most well known might be:
“relating to or denoting art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, colours, and textures.” but, used as a verb rather than an adjective, another is:
“to extract or remove (something).
Both uses of the word cropped up for me yesterday at a day’s workshop with the excellent Ronnie Ireland. A couple of weeks ago Ronnie visited Chichester Art Society and gave a talk “Catching The Image” – Where do ideas come from – how can we develop them?” It was a very interesting evening – Ronnie was obviously hugely knowledgeable about the history of art and passionate about his subject. The workshop encouraged us to consider working in a new way by selecting two or three images (maybe photographs or text, our own or from magazines) that meant something to us or spoke to us in some way.
The first task was to draw a series of thumbnail sketches to compare and contrast different ideas for composition. As I always seem to find my work ends up as landscape or seascape I decided to make a concerted effort to be “abstract”. I had chosen three images to work with: seaweed swirling in a circular motion in the sea; a black and white image of an abacus and a black and white photocopy of some textile work that I had done on a workshop with Cas Holmes. Here are the six thumbnails:
I chose the last image to recreate larger and in colour:
I didn’t like it …. and nor did Ronnie! He then asked if this was how I normally worked. It isn’t – I like to work spontaneously, working with the paint or paper and letting the work evolve as I go. He told me to carry on as I normally did! I had brought a collection of papers with me – leftovers from past workshops and “play days” as I had decided to work with collage during this day (typical me – of course everyone else worked in paint)!
Here are my outcomes:
I was pleased to have managed to keep away from horizons! Ronnie felt that the first had most promise but that the others were too busy. He asked me to take away and take away until I thought I had gone too far and then to put one thing back. This made me simplify the work. I then went back and cropped the images to simplify them still further – the word “abstract” occurred again:
so my next step is to consider what I have learned and take the work further. I may work in collage or I may work on paper to create the whole image in paint. Either way what I have here expresses my love of texture and mark making and I shall enjoy creating new surfaces. Next time, instead of using whatever paper I have to hand, I will create surfaces which directly relate to my running theme of found objects and re-create the distressed surfaces of the metal, wood, fibreglass and so on that I collect. Ronnie was keep to impress the importance of making work that matters to you and that you are passionate about. I can also see how this would translate to fabric with the exciting option of adding stitch to create thin lines which would relate back to my initial thumbnail sketches (Cas Holmes will be pleased!). To be continued …
N.B. In case you hadn’t gathered I would highly recommend spending time with Ronnie – he is based in Farnham, Surrey and runs workshops and classes, gives talks and offers one-to-one to tuition. I have a feeling I will be seeing him again!
Last year we had our first ever three week holiday spending two weeks on the marvellous Isle of Mull (one in the North and one in the South of the island) and the final week in the highlands near Sheildaig and Lochcarron in Wester Ross. It was my first visit that far North and I defy anyone not to be impressed by the sheet majesty of the mountains and beauty of the lochs.
Here are some of the photographs that I took and my interpretation of the views in the form of collage. The bottom two images form part of what will be shown in our home as part of the Chichester Art Trail.
Next year we hope to return to beautiful Scotland and venture even further North.
One day last year I found an intriguing piece of rubber on the beach at Seatown, Dorset. I can’t be sure what it started out as but it had obviously been patched numerous times and the sea had distressed the surface beautifully.
My initial thought was to keep it intact as I loved it so much, but, on reflection I felt that there was so much going, it would be better to view it in bite sized chunks. So I tore it into five pieces. This was a brave decision because, unlike with art that you have made, you will never be able to replicate a found object – once you’ve alterered it, it stays altered!
Next, I considered how I could add to the surface without distracting from the wonderful texture that the sea had created. I chose some found pieces of paper and a little more rubber from another find and added them with stitch. The original piece of found rubber was quite contorted and I considered laying the pieces under a heavy weight to flatten them before mounting – I have rejected that option because I think the twists and turns add interest to the piece but I will see what my framer has to say about it!
It is always a case of being careful to add just the right amount of stitch – too little or too much makes a deal of difference. The aspect is also important and I will play with some variations in due course.
Here they are before I visit him:
Once they are framed, I will update you with how they look!
We’ve done it!! Alan and I have registered to be part of the Chichester Art Trail in 2018! We have visited exhibitions many times in the past but this will be the first time either of us have been involved so please put the dates in your diaries (the first two weekends in May – 5th/6th/7th and 12th/13th and see if you can come along!
I have decided to focus on my mixed media/collage pieces on paper and on my contemporary three dimensional work using found materials. These are the three images submitted as part of the application process:
Alan will be displaying some of his Fine Art photographs – his work can be seen on
Alan is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and works in monochrome taking inspiration from the local area and further afield within Great Britain.
So the game is on: first step is to have existing work mounted. I will then live with these for a while before deciding which to frame. Meantime, I want to devote my time to completing more work using my vast stock of found materials – I have many ideas to follow through … watch this space!