of this eARTh: childish inspiration and other stories

new paintings from 2016

Since the birth of our daughter Agnes in July last year, and our son Noah nearly 3 years ago, it has been rather slow getting the painty wheels turning but work has been done and exhibited and new artistic thoughts and inspiration are gradually emerging from the baby-addled-brain. Most recently I have been really enjoying Noah’s freestyle scribbling as he explores manipulation of simple mark-making tools, finding a similarity between that and my own evolving physically energetic relationship and understanding of the primitive materials that are earth pigments.

In January I was invited to give a presentation and workshop at THE ART STUDENTS CONVENTION 2107[i] at Plymouth College of Art, part of a TATE initiative[ii] to look at creative education in the UK, providing a most enjoyable personal (and paid) opportunity to look back over my development as an artist and painter, its highs and lows, and to share some thoughts with others – always a worthwhile exercise and bringing a sense of confidence and satisfaction at what I have achieved over the years.

Anyway, here is a selection of new small paintings from the last year and a quote that offers renewed meaning to my work with rocks and geology…

drawing-on-obscurity-32x35cm-earth-pigments-on-board-p-ward-2016drawing on obscurity (32x35cm; earth pigments on board) © p ward 2016

“Those who suspected Hawkes of solipsism were guilty of misreading: she in fact offers an account of selfhood in which, molecularly and emotionally, ‘every being is united both inwardly and outwardly with the beginning of life in time and with the simplest forms of contemporary life’. The ‘individual’ (from the Latin individuus, meaning ‘indivisible’) is not unique but soluble, particulate, fluid. Her book is dedicated to proving that ‘inside this the whole history of life’; she is merely one of the outcrops or features of the ‘land’. ‘Consciousness must surely be traced back to the rocks,’ she argues. A Land should be read, she suggests at its close, as ‘the simple reaction of a consciousness exposed at a particular point in time and space. I display its arguments, its posturings, as imprints of a moment of being as specific and as limited as the imprint of its body left by a herring in Cretaceous slime’. Her book is itself a geological formation, no more or less extraordinary than a fossil or a pebble.

To Hawkes, stone did not only prompt thought – it constituted it. Our ‘affinity with rock’ was so profound that she understood us to be mineral-memoried, stone sensed. Often in A Land she writes geologically of the mind’s structures: thoughts are ‘rocks . . . silently forming’, memory is ‘the Blue Lias’ of fossil-filled strata around Lyme Regis. She admires Henry Moore because while ‘Rodin pursued the idea of conscious, spiritual man emerging from the rock’, ‘Moore sees him rather as always part of it’…”

Robert Macfarlane writing in Landmarks (2015) of Jacquetta Hawkes’s book A Land (1951).

inward-boundless-i-ii-ii-iv-20x20cm-earth-pigments-on-canvas-p-ward-2016inward boundless I, II, II, IV (20x20cm; earth pigments on canvas) © p ward 2016

childish-inspiration-i-ii-iii-20x20cm-earth-pigments-on-canvas-p-ward-2016childish inspiration I, II, III (20x20cm; earth pigments on canvas) © p ward 2016

sequential-40x40cm-earth-pigments-on-canvas-p-ward-2016sequential (40x40cm; earth pigments on canvas) © p ward 2016

© P Ward 2017

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[i] http://tasc2017.co.uk

[ii] http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/workshop/tate-exchange/making-learning

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2 Comments on “of this eARTh: childish inspiration and other stories”

  1. Celia Wilson says:

    I can remember being excited by Hawke’s book, but not really understanding it. I must find a copy and have another read. Nice to see you back posting more earth colours!

    • pw130524 says:

      Thanks Celia. Hope your work is going well too. Yes, I’m tempted to get a copy of Hawkes book (I’ve only read about it) although Macfarlane’s appraisal does make it out to be pretty random and a little dated in places. Macfarlane’s ‘Landmarks’ on the other hand is an excellent read…


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