Hello Human Beans,
Yeesssss! It’s still just about January so I can still wish you a very belated Happy New Year.
You probably weren’t wondering why I haven’t posted in a while but I’m going to tell you anyway.
There have been a series of rather distracting events which have caused me to down brushes and focus elsewhere.
First I closed my Whitley Bay gallery because it was keeping me too far away from the easel. Then, since I was on a roll, I decided it was time to move from my silly old house and into something more manageable. I’ve always enjoyed moving and change is good for an artist…but very suddenly, finding a new home dropped down my list of priorities when life, or should I say death, put the boot in.
Taking my young, funny and hardworking brother first, it knocked the wind from me to lose another sibling and, although we didn't see each other often (how frequent this lament must be when it is too late) I have nothing but good memories of him. I was still trying to process this loss when, also snatched away, was a gentle, charming friend who I will always remember as still supporting, from his hospice bed, the almost unsupportable Darlington FC. Rest peacefully dear boys: no more pain.
Finally, I lost my darling Mammy at the beginning of 2020.
For anyone who might have been following my artistic endeavours over the years, you may also know that alongside the painting, I’ve been closely involved in steering my mother through a long and difficult dementia. It started with care at home and eventually progressed to a residential nursing facility.
a painting of mother and daughter, 2008
Dementia starts out insidiously: losing car keys, repetition in conversation, until it picks up speed and eventually rages through the life of its victim until it has consumed all cognitive and physical function. It is devastating.
I could go on at length about the failures of the healthcare system for people with this vile disease and the way nursing homes are increasingly replacing compassion with corporate policy - but this isn’t the time or place, so I’ll just say that my Mammy (Piglet) was lucky to have some dedicated carers doing what I consider to be one of the most undervalued and underpaid jobs there is. I will always be grateful for their humanity.
By the end and, after an unexpectedly long sentence, I am so grateful that Piglet has finally been set free.
Mammy doing what she always did: holding me up and helping me to reach the good things that life can offer.
We all have to lose our parents and, so I’m told, it is only then that we finally become an adult in this world.
So what will I do as a grown up? For now, it’s back to the house move, I’m up to my scalp in packing boxes and wondering if I reeeeally need to keep the life-size pink sheep that lives in the kitchen.…?
Probably I do, so not a fully fledged adult yet then.
While I wrestle with these momentous decisions, I will continue to live somewhere near the sea (possibly in my car) but I have primed some canvasses because after an unsettling 8 months of not painting, I have an awful lot to download.
If you are reading this, thank you and I really do hope your year is off to a good start but if the rosy apples don’t easily drop into your lap, get on your tiptoes, stretch and you will reach them.
Always an Inspiration x
Are you battening down the autumnal hatches and clambering back into your woolly tights and waders?
What a busy old summer it has been. Working for most of it, I haven’t had an actual holiday but living close to the sea does offer some compensation.
Tyneside managed a decent share of sunbeams and I did steal a little time for warm strolls, bubbles on the beach with the ladies...and blatantly lying flat on my back in the grass with strawberry stained lips.
Among the odd little excursions out of my studio, back in very early summer, I found myself aboard a restored vintage lifeboat. Somehow I was given the task of piloting the heavy old thing from the Mouth of the Tyne, along the coast and into Blythe Harbour a few miles away. If I say so myself, I did quite well and kept her in a straight line, didn't run over any seals or sink to the seabed.
move over Captain Pugwash - SJ on the high seas.
Apparently lifeboats cannot capsize and I imagine this is why I was allowed my time at the helm. Still, I might try flying an airplane next.
In August there was a visit to the Rocky Horror Picture Show (it is now 45 years old!) you can be grateful that I am not sharing the photographs of that particular occasion, however, whenever I do ‘dressy up’ events, I always have it in mind that it would be nice to get a painting from it, so brace yourself for stockings and sauce.
In my previous ramble, I mentioned a portrait exhibiton by celebrated pitman painter, Norman Cornish (1919 – 2014) and in September I also went to see further works currently on display alongside his studio which has been carefully recreated for the Bob Abley Gallery in Spennymoor; a hidden gem in a quiet corner of County Durham.
It was a poignant moment to behold the engine room of a fellow artist and I was moved to see the rickety, hardworked easel and the familiar boxes of charcoal that I recall from my student days – It was a privilege to see this private piece of his world. Cornish has been shamelessly imitated by contemporary artists (I bang on about this quite often) but if you want authenticity, real-deal-bees-knees, pay this place a visit (link at bottom of this update).
Through August and September, I held an exhibition for my friend Anthony Marshall - it was a huge success and I was very pleased to be a part of it.
a handful of Anthony's colourful paintings, all now in their new homes.
Anthony in my studio, teaching 9 year old Freya, how to apply impasto acrylic to canvas using a palette knife, (she picked it up like a pro).
The exhibition was a really special way to spend the summer but it is now time I turned my attention back to the waiting canvas on my own easel.
You might have gathered by now, that I get itchy feet quite often and change studios regularly (probably a little too often) Running a gallery has been valuable insight into how much work goes on behind the scenes in both retail and curating exhibitions. Frankly, *wipes brow, I’m a bit worn out.
So, along with a house move (I do nothing in small measures) I’m closing the gallery and with it, another chapter. Pastures new are calling.
My publishing programme is also on pause while I focus on creating original art for my next show. I’ll be back in both print and paint next year with some foxy new images for you.
In the meantime, while I am beavering away, no matter where I am physically, this website is a guaranteed constant and you can always find and contact me here. You will also find a small number of my original paintings available for sale at www.trinityhousepaintings.com
So ta-ta for now, let’s all make a big pot of tea, toast some crumpets and watch the orange leaves flutter down. Have yourselves a cosy autumn and I’ll be back to update you again soon.
As I sit at my desk tapping away, it is a lovely day. The sun has opened the roses and brought an abundant crop of raspberries. There is also, inexplicably, the sound of bagpipes in the street (?) if I didn’t have these words to type, by jove, I’d go out and do a Highland Fling.
However, when I first started jotting my little update a few days back, it was dark as night, pouring down and windy to boot. The café next door to my studio had suffered a flash flood and, because the drains adjoin our properties in a certain way, so did my studio. Hello British Summer.
It’s as well we are used to this sort of weather carry on. It doesn’t stop us from grabbing a cagoule and making for a festival or National Trust site. Come hell or high water I still go in the sea for a paddle; in fact I think it’s the best time to do it. There is something magical about being in a body of water on a moody day or in the rain.
I’m sure it relates to the memory of being a slip of a lass and wallowing in an outdoor thermal pool somewhere in Hungary. The heavens opened for a warm thunderstorm and I clearly recall glimpses of brilliant colour from gaudy bathing caps through the thick, warm fog. I also clearly remember storks standing to attention in their nests atop nearby telegraph poles and adding to the surreal quality of the moment.
Having said all that, I have not yet been brave enough to immerse myself fully in the North Sea. I’m not as brave as the gaggle of giggling older ladies I’ve seen on my local beaches. One day I will join them – especially since I learned we currently have dolphins here – ACTUAL DOLPHINS.
I painted the hefty lasses (above) 21 years ago and looking at their thighs, it surprises me how much the figures of my paintings have changed shape in the intervening years.
Speaking of bodies: following stern medical advice, I’ve had to make a few life changes. Unfortunately, a long love affair with the grape has had to be significantly cooled down and I’ve started riding a bicycle.
my bike: Nigel
Never good at exercise for the sake of it - I’d rather fall in a bed of nettles than join a gym – I have found that I don’t mind exercise so much if it is useful. So, at least a couple of times a week I’ve taken to pedalling along the coastline to my studio. Commuting this way stretches out the arthritic body parts, gets oxygen and blood through what passes for my brain and overall delivers a certain delicious smugness for the whole day.
There are downsides: motorists aren’t always very considerate, pot holes and poorly maintained roads can make for an uncomfortable passage. Worst of all is the ‘look’. Wearing a cycle helmet and fluorescent items teamed with a padded bum under a summer dress is unlikely to win me the ‘Best dressed artist on a bike in Whitley Bay’ award but I guess it’s a small price to pay for being a little healthier.
My own private beach (Longsands, Tynemouth) on a perfect paddle-day.
Just a very brief mention about a small exhibition I happened upon while in Durham recently. If you are reasonably local and a fan of Norman Cornish – you could do a lot worse than have a stroll through this lovely city and catch the small exhibition featuring his superb portraiture.
Cornish – self portrait
Forget the current crop of ‘nostalgia’ artists and their untimely efforts to capture a long-gone era of pit toil and flat caps, Cornish was the genuine article, painting his own life of hard graft and community. It also marks the 100th year of his birth.
The exhibition is open until September 1, 2019.
Artist turns Gallerist
As you may be aware, I have a small public space (not that it’s very public since I only open it on a Saturday) but I am still there most days, slowly covering the canvasses. I’m setting aside paintings for my own exhibition in 2020, however, I will pause the brushes for a handful of weeks this summer to host a summer show for my friend and talented artist Anthony Marshall.
I’ve collected Anthony’s work for a long time and although he needs no help from me to find homes for the beautiful art he makes, I’m delighted to have his paintings on the wall of my own gallery. If you should fancy popping along to view the exhibition, the details are just here:
Before I go I’ll leave this here:
Sometimes I receive images of drawings, sculptures and cakes made by others, (often school children) and which are inspired by my own art. You can’t imagine how chuffed this makes me. it’s a lovely compliment. Recently, I received my first ever LEGO tribute (Thank you, Gail). Who knew such things were possible?!
I’ll be back soon but in the meantime, enjoy the summer sun, rain...or snow...
Whatever it does, wear the cagoule and your best smile.
Dear flightless bipeds,
If you are in my mailing list, you'll know that I released a couple of very low edition number prints yesterday, (30th May).
The winged one fluttered straight out within a couple of hours - Many Thanks to all you big hearted butterfly collectors.
If you missed that one, there are still a couple of greyhounds looking for a forever home...
Thank you again,
This is a notice to let you know my website is now healthy and safe again following horrid activity by internet rascals.
You may have recently experienced difficulty in using the site. It has also come to my attention in an entirely unrelated problem, that any comments or replies made by visitors to my blog (words) page have not been getting through but rudely disappearing into the the ether! And all the while I’ve been wondering: was it something I said?
Everything should now be back to normal now. Thank you for your patience.
Dear spring lambs,
It is my favourite season again and I am triumphant.
I have survived another cold winter in the studio. There is none of your new-fangled central heating in my place. Oh no...
you don’t need such luxury when you are a hardy Northern battle-axe. Using a strategic triple layer of cardigan, microwaveable hot things to shove up the cardigans and re-chargeable electric socks (yes, really) I simply chipped the ice off my paint and got down to it.
But now it’s getting better every day, new lambs are gambolling about their pastures and we can’t move for daffodils.
Here, where I live in North Tyneside, the snowdrops which were rescued from a neighbour’s front garden before a brutal refurbishment, not only survived the uprooting but blossomed happily and right on time in my own garden. I’m now waiting for the tulip bulbs I planted two years ago to come back again. Not naturally green fingered, I am grateful for the smallest blot of colour in what is an otherwise weedy, green-grey backdrop.
Flowers offer us cheerful and simple comfort: a lovely gift from nature. I find myself wondering how it is I’ve painted so few: after all, it’s impossible to look at Van Gogh’s sunflowers or Monet’s waterlilies and feel stress…
and in these strange times of climate changes, Trumps, backstops, fake news and borderline political meltdown, we really should take a breather sometimes.
(it's no Vincent, but it's the only floral one I could find by me)
So, while fending off hypothermia in the studio, I have painted some rudey-nudey naked ladies, a party of human cakes and some winged women in various flights of fancy…
These canvasses are the start of a collection for my next exhibition. As far as a theme goes, it’s looking girly - not pink and frilly - but more shaping up to be about the female condition and the way society at large expects women to be - a subject matter I always return to.
Recently I braved a cinema (their munching and rustling patrons normally keep me the hell away) to watch ‘The Favourite’. An impressively female centred film - it’s star, Olivia Coleman, turned up again this month in the new TV series of ‘Fleabag’ alongside the brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who (in case you’ve been living on the moon) not only wrote this but also last year’s outstanding TV drama ‘Killing Eve’.
It seems that the girls are enjoying a fairer share of the spotlight just now and we are all the better for it. I grew up being led to believe that women can’t be funny, never mind funny AND clever. But just as others have done before them, these talented women blow that notion sky high - that’s as good an inspiration as any.
SJ having a lovely Spring walk.
In a recent update, I was whingeing about my skeleton. I’ve now been through the noisy MRI scanner which confirmed an arthritic cervical spine along with other ramshackle bits and pieces. This all nicely compliments my lopsided eyes and is what you get for sitting on your bum at an easel for nearly three decades. I’m trying to stand up more now and I’m also wearing a Fitbit which reminds me to get up and walk 250 steps an hour. I march around the studio at full pelt, sometimes waving my arms around. It gives the nice Indian waiters in the restaurant opposite something to be confused by.
Speaking of which, it’s time for my constitutional. So until we meet again, drink in the longer days; maybe go lamb spotting! Buy yourself (or someone you like) a bunch of flowers. Better still, grow your own, watch and smell the blooms. Let’s get ourselves a nose full of something pure - a fragrant and welcome change from the unavoidable, whiffy manure heaps we find scattered around this life.
ps I will be placing a handful of prints onto the website for Easter, don't ask me what - I'm not organised yet x
Happy New Year!
It's early days but I hope your annual blank canvas is showing the promise of a future masterpiece.
Forget resolutions: those are all about unrealistic, goody two-shoes behaviour and inevitably doomed to failure. I strongly urge that you tear up your new gym membership immediately and save yourself an 11.5 month guilt trip. Any one of these next 365 days could be our last, so walk with a friend instead, sing loud, open the wine, bake a big fat pie, smile at a stranger, read for hours in the bath, tango across your kitchen, LOVE.
Whatever you get up to, thank you very much for being here and supporting my artwork. I wish you all the very best for a happy year ahead.
Dearest hibernating honey bears,
New! Here is a link to two new wobblin' hissin' stocking fillin' arty art prints, just in time for Christmas:
and in other news...
Every autumn, I dread the darkness, damp and the leaves turning orange. Not even toffee apples help in my least favourite season.
I found this sweet poem which reminds me of why I prefer the winter and its promises.
Outrageous weather in late October didn’t stop me from attending the Whitby Steam/ Goth weekend again. It was a short visit but I enjoyed the spectacle and applaud the effort made by the faithful. I very nearly lost my wig a few times in the wind.
SJ (left) and fellow steamloon Becky in search of authentic Gothic cod and chips
Getting into my 'making the best of autumn' stride, on bonfire night I found myself in an outdoor hot-tub for the very first time. This particular tub is positioned high in the Pennines, so it was in rain and strong winds that old friends and I watched the fireworks in our bathing costumes praying that we wouldn’t be the end target of a stray rocket. As it turned out I was a casualty of something else and I now know that you shouldn’t overdo the bubbly in the bubbles. Something about the fizz, too much oxygen and the vigorous pummelling of internal organs transformed me into a lightly chlorinated, catastrophic mess - from which it took nearly 4 days to recover.
Fangs very much!
Far more important than my daft weekends, I need to say a big thank you to all those who gave a home to an artwork at any point over this year or if you have taken time out to visit my studio gallery.
*all serious now*
If you don’t mind I’d like to deliver a small sermon on the matter of collecting art prints.
I’ve been publishing art for more years than I dare calculate. It’s been a truly heart-warming experience to find so many people willing to give up their wall space to my work. Back at the beginning in the early 90’s, my then publisher took the risk of printing runs of 500+ copies. Mostly it worked well, so they did their thing and I did mine, never much thinking about the numbers.
Experience taught me that the art industry, like so many others, was placing profits above integrity and over ten years ago I decided to become an independent publisher. I immediately reduced the number size of my limited editions. There were assorted reasons for this but mainly I wanted the prints to be genuinely restricted, no improbably high numbers of artist proofs, United States editions, remarque’s or spare ‘insurance’ copies. I always keep in mind that ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’ so if the certificate says 10 copies, then it’s 10 copies, world-wide. I can set this number as low as 2 although usually it is between 20 – 50 copies and certainly never more than 100.
The downside of slashing print numbers is the risk of becoming Miss unpopular. In the case of the recent ‘Love Bite’ and ‘Deeds, Not Words’ images, they sold out on the day of release; lovely from the artist’s point of view but frustrating for collectors who failed to get a copy. I do try my best to be fair and make it up where I can but it's not easy. Luckily most collectors are very understanding, so thank you.
I have now completed phase one of my experiment in running a retail gallery. Having the space has enabled me to meet interesting people and collect lovely new local artfans but like so much of provincial Britain, it’s very quiet on the high street these days; often more so in seaside towns and, despite its recent tarting up, canny old Whitley Bay is still rather out on a limb. Worse than that, I’ve discovered that I’m not Superwoman after all: trouble with my wayward, deteriorating eyes and a recent diagnosis of bone growths and arthritis in the upper spine (most likely the result of years in front of the easel in cold studios), I would now prefer to dedicate myself solely to creation. There will be no downing of brushes until I'm forced – so the gallery will close for now and I'll be painting: while I still can.
My masterplan is to open for special events and YOU CAN VISIT THE STUDIO/GALLERY ANYTIME! Please just contact us (with a little notice) to arrange a time. JAM will also be open Saturdays until Christmas 2018.
I will leave you with this new family portrait painting (private commission) 'Christmas Crackers'.
The print release of ‘Deeds not words’ and ‘Love Bite’ are now all reserved. Both prints have been oversubscribed - If you contacted us to register your interest - once we have allocated each edition, we will be in touch very soon.
Thank you very much for another overwhelming and super-fast response!
It seems the holidays are all but over: flowers are throwing down their petals and weak English tans are beginning to fade. Today, I’ve had to put on a pair of socks for the first time in weeks which made me ponder on the imminent end of a bittersweet summer.
There have been no fancy holidays, just the occasional stretch-out on the grass and a couple of days away from Tyneside.
One of these included a visit to the National Railway Museum (I’m not a spotter but I know someone who is). George Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ says hello as you arrive and then you see a poignant new exhibit: a WW1 ambulance train which carried wounded soldiers back from the front.
I am always taken aback by the sheer scale and presence of the magnificent engines. I looked at almost everything except the modern Oriental trains - you can’t get a sooty face and wave your ribbons at those things! I perched on a stool in the café (Blueberry muffin: 7/10) and admired the curves of the magnificent Mallard but one of my favourite finds was this marvellous platform vending machine.
SJ wondering how in the world she can get one of these...
There is simply too much to say about a place like this: I loved every square inch of it. The house and estate have been beautifully maintained and recently renovated: the stone could have been quarried yesterday. And who knew that a Georgian greenhouse at Chatsworth cultivated the 'Cavendish' banana that we all know today? The plants were sent from Chatsworth to various locations in the pacific and grown commercially for the first time around the turn of the 20th century.
This French beauty was sitting in the grounds - a great pity it was closed. If I were posh enough to have a favourite champagne, it would be Pink Laurent Perrier; I even painted some once…
I can’t report on the cake quality at the Duke of Devonshire’s place as I didn’t have any. I’d overdone it the day before as it was my birthday. Instead I bought a ridiculously expensive bar of Chatsworth soap which is still in my car, overpoweringly a reminder that I need to go places more often.
There has also been a good amount of peaceful painting time and I certainly don’t take for granted the evening walks home along the normally chilly coastline in the bizarrely out of character warm breeze.
For those of us inclined towards depression or seasonal affective disorder, the sun is one of the best fixes there is which is why I dread (and have to psyche up to) the coming seasons. However, I am very lucky to see another autumn: a gift which some will be denied.
This week, I experienced the loss of a friend...
Toni was an incredibly talented artist who I met many years ago when we shared the same art publisher. We hit it off immediately; she possessed a wonderful, dark sense of humour. Toni was well known for her striking paintings of animals, executed with such precision that I could never understand where her patience came from. Yet, as technically accurate as her work was, she could never be accused of photorealism. Toni composed her portraits artistically and could give a standard Friesian cow a certain ethereal quality; all of her cows,spring lambs and goats would have names and personality. This magic ingredient and her respect for animals is what elevates her artwork above merely faithful animal painting.
Despite this honed skill, at around 50 years old, Toni changed careers. At this age, how many of us would be brave enough to train for an entirely different occupation, especially while undergoing treatment for double breast cancer? She worked and studied like a demon, passing her final exam this summer (with 100%) to become a hospital pharmacy technician. She had been doing extra revision when she couldn’t sleep because of the pain from an extremely rare form of metastatic cancer, such was her resilience.
Not being able to meet very often, we wrote to each other regularly for years. I have reams of correspondence full of Alan Bennett-esque observations from her life and whenever I cleared out my inboxes, I always saved her messages because they were too good to delete. I’m so glad I will always have her words.
On asking Toni how she managed to remember so many clinical references and chemical names:
“When I studied ear/nose/throats, I struggled to remember the difference between ‘Otitis media’ and ‘Otitis external’ as they have very similar symptoms and some related specifically to the ear canal. So for one, I drew a gondola in a canal (ear canal). My victim in the gondola was carrying an ear trumpet (can cause temporary deafness) then I struggled to remember that Clioquinolone is one of the treatments, as we don’t have those type of things in hospital pharmacy, I drew an upturned Renault Clio in the canal that someone had dumped. Did all that and it didn’t come up in the exam.”
Life isn’t fair: a brilliant person has been taken from her life-partner, Wendy and deprived those of us who knew her of a determined, clever and remarkably funny friend. I will miss her.
Toni Hargreaves 1965 - 2018
Dear chocolate kittens,
To everyone who made a short or a long distance trek to Jam gallery for my recent ‘Urban Zoo’ exhibition, it was wonderful to see you, “THANK YOU!” - I cannot say it enough.
It was a real pleasure to see familiar faces and a delight to welcome new ones into the fold.
(Thank you also Guy 'Badger' Callaby, Bev at North Chocolate for your kind sponsorship, Lottie McPhee cakes for your sugary seagull confections, Alison V for the dog-biscuits, Margi Noise-machine for your extra paws and Ian Wright for everything else).
Rats and greyhounds, butterflies and seagulls are winging their way to new homes.
I am always ambivalent about the departure of creations. The canvas and I spend long days alone. It’s a battleground at times but slowly and lovingly, we reach our peaceful destination together. Sometimes, even years later, when I look back at a picture, I can still hear the music I was listening to at the time or recall the season.
When art comes about from significant personal experience or influenced by the people we love, it is never easy to let go. A musician can write a love song and he gets to sing it as many times as he likes - I don’t think about the fact I will never see my original again but I wanted to be an artist and the only way I can do that is to enjoy the creating and keep moving on.
So it’s not without sadness to say goodbye but knowing that the fruit of my labours has touched someone else enough to live with it makes me happy. It also means that I can sometimes buy the work of other artists and they should know that I am a careful guardian - all too aware of the emotional investment they may have made.
Back to school!
I’m busy with all sorts of miscellany for summer and I’ve been to visit OFSTED champions, St Matthew’s Primary School in Prudhoe, to talk art and biscuits.
Photo : Kate Buckingham, Hexham Courant
Not spending much time with kiddies, I forget just how entertaining they can be. On setting the task to create themselves as gingerbread people, one little girl did this:
During August, I’m also going to cast my eye over Tyneside’s ‘Great North Exhibition’ and I’ll report back with a review of the art but, since I know the equal importance of it, I’ll also cover noteworthy cakes I may discover on my visits.
After Christmas I will begin work on my next major exhibition (2021). Before then my mission is to tackle the commission waiting list; if you are STILL patiently waiting, thank you so much - I'm on it!
Love, SJ x
Ps As I get very easily distracted - I’ve decided to close my studio/gallery ‘Jam’ Mon-Fri, but more than happy to make arrangements for mid-week visits by request (still open as usual on Saturdays, special events, exhibitions or on blatant whims).
PPs Urban Zoo is now finished, but if you haven’t seen it, the catalogue and available paintings are right here. http://www.sarah-janeszikora.com/images/pdf/URBAN_ZOO_CATALOGUE.pdf
To see the 'Urban Zoo' digital catalogue, please click here.
Love, SJ x
Here are the details of my coming exhibition:
In an act of rebellion, I decided to skip London this time and exhibit in my own studio, so get your flat caps on, harness your greyhounds and journey to the North of England.
A digital catalogue will be available during the exhibition and further prints from Urban Zoo will be released in late summer/early autumn.
As if a trip to the coast isn't enough, during the same period that my own little exhibition takes place, there is another event which may persuade you to visit the region. THE GREAT EXHIBITION OF THE NORTH is an arts based itinerary of events that will take place in Newcastle/Gateshead and run for 80 days across summer 2018. Venues include The Sage, Baltic and the Great North Museum and is sure to be worth a visit, here are further details: https://getnorth2018.com/
In Tyneside we are looking forward to seeing you soon,
I'm going to have an exhbition - details to follow shortly. Please keep an eye out for your email invitation. x
Lots of folks reported not receiving their invites for my last exhibition - I have a 'Z' in my name and emails will often go straight to your junk folder, so if you haven't heard from us by May 25th, have a peep in there.
A digital catalogue will also be available online during the exhibition.
In which SJ is feeling under the weather.
It’s been a really cold winter and I’m not tip-top. I’ve had this year’s flu. The usual aches and pains came and went followed by the arrival of a lurid green chest infection. It robbed me of my usual enthusiasm for building a snowman or bracing walks on an ice-crunchy beach.
Nothing much is being achieved either creatively or practically. My house looks likes the council tip and although the snow has melted, I still cannot see my car for seagull splatterings. No matter how we think we can show a virus who is boss, it’s startling how easily the flu takes you down. I spent the best part of February smeared in Vicks Vaporub and eating truckloads of biscuits because in my desperation for energy, green vegetables became redundant and a sugar junkie is now what I am.
I felt ok for approximately 2 minutes and was about to return to my studio but in an almost seamless segue I now have pleurisy. This is a first for me and not a very pleasant one either. The level of pain in the lungs has been literally breath taking and I’m told it can last for weeks - very frustrating since the novelty of Lucozade and egg-in-a-cup has long since evaporated, leaving me half-crazed with cabin fever and moving as gracefully as the hunchback of Notredame.
Consequently, painting has been rather hitty-missy. I managed to create one piece at my kitchen table; an awkward working environment as anyone with 6 cats will tell you......
However, being forced to lie down on the sofa during the day does offer an opportunity for peaceful contemplation (as well as noticing how badly the living room ceiling needs painting) Then came the snow storms and a flapping bonkers pigeon trapped in the chimney. Avalanches of soot for three days did nothing for the lungs or the spirit. The bird was eventually freed by a chimney sweep with a child’s fishing net and an industrial hoover. The pigeon was last seen being transported away to be fed and rested in the vets aviary. Maybe I should have gone with him.
Weirdly, I've discovered that lying on the offending lung offers some relief. So, positioned strategically among the cushions, I’ve been reflecting on the the big stuff of life; love, sickness, loss and death. A number of friends and family have been going through the sort of poor health that knocks pleurisy into a cocked hat. The worry gives rise to all manner of ‘what if’s'. What IF tomorrow, someone we care for is no longer there? Are we appreciating them enough today?
Dr Szikora's prescription for illness or unhappiness is a ready set of ears, tea (gin) and sympathy (really massive cake) and show them we give a damn. This may not fix everything or even anything but it is the time spent that will help. Trust me.
I've been touched by the thoughtfulness shown to me. I especially enjoyed the little ceramic goat who arrived in the post, the burst of multi-coloured tulips and the welcome ’medicinal’ plonk.
In some ways sickness, like all other human experience, is useful to me as an artist; woe, the same way as joy feeds into my work. Mostly what I do comes from a need to understand life better; trying to catch an idea and examine it before it flutters away. Working in the arts is a privilege and never more so than when you are excused a degree of introspection. It is my way of existing in the world. I will always flounder in debates because I can’t recall facts easily; I'll always think of something better to say as I'm walking away and I'll always get tongue tied in certain company. These are just some of the reasons why I prefer visual communication: I get time to think. There is a flood of relief from downloading an idea or a feeling onto canvas and ultimately that someone else might connect with it. At the end of the phsyical process, I clean my brushes, sweep the studio and, for a moment, I have uncontaminated peace in my soul. I live for that.
Despite this wobbly first quarter, I’ve got an almost finished collection of new paintings. The setbacks mean I need to catch up, finish off the works, get the odd numbers even and by late(ish) June, I’ll have them on my studio walls. By then, even if Whitley Bay cannot quite deliver us a honeyed tan, at least we won't get frostbite.