Evolution of a Collage
Updated: Oct 27, 2019
A few years back Mark Hix, the famous restaurateur/ contemporary art collector, challenged art students to submit pieces of work for his new restaurant that in some way honoured the sharing of food and drink as a form of social interaction and celebration. My tutor encouraged me to come up with something large and I decided to create a panel of six box canvases, each 33" square, and to devote the month after our final show to my preparations.
In the event it proved too large for the restaurant but to my delight another piece, 40" x 30", aptly called 'Left Overs', was the painting selected instead. I felt very honoured.
In the spirit of the brief, I started by organising a series of meals and then making a collection of drawings and notes, (See below, and also my blog on drawings.) Then I loosely painted my six canvases all at the same time and incorporating some of the sepia drawings that I had made by way of preparation.
If you have read my earlier blogs you will have seen strange references to boiled eggs, barbequed fish, a tea party, and Pimms jelly. The 12 meals I created for the project in weird and wonderful places around our garden included children's breakfast round the swing, ploughman's lunch in the potting shed, a romantic dinner a deux in the greenhouse, summer lunch in a flower bed, 'Edwardian' tea in front of the garage, and a 'Glyndebourne' picnic dinner down by our stream.
Guests were carefully chosen to be appropriate for the occasion and a lot of the background planning revolved around researching the best local food at various food fairs and farm shops.
References to these crazy undertakings were then built into the ensuing work using drawings, rubbings, natural materials, and some writing.
Looking back I was sad that little of all this was clearly visible in the end piece, especially as I felt the drawings had a freshness that really pleased me. However, to me the end result was completely impregnated with these experiences. What fun my friends shared and how I cherish the record, both in the paintings, drawings and the notebooks that I filled.
Later I decided to develop each of the six pieces individually. The drawing of the jelly itself belongs on a different canvas, but the colouring certainly influenced the final outcome. In this piece only slight signs of the original drawings are visible, the sepia ones having been hidden, but the title, 'Cup of Plenty' seems a fitting description of the whole experience.
This was the most complex project I have ever undertaken. It provided a huge amount of fun at the time and, several years on, I have only just completed the last of the six canvases, three of which have been sold. The sale that gave me most pleasure was to a retired surgeon who bought it to hang on the wall in front of his bath so that he could contemplate it at leisure every morning! I love to think of the 'journey' of that particular piece to its present home, and all the diverse people that it involved along the way.