As life begins to open up I wanted to reflect on the effect that the past year has had on my practice. 2021 marks the Geometric Abstraction Collections 3 years of progress but only the first year that I have been working on the Memory Shilouette Project. Now separated into its key collection focuses the Memory Silhouette Project that umbrella's those themes began out of a creative need to express the isolation of a global pandemic. I was so lucky to have been supported by my partner's career, to have had a safe place to exist and create work, plus cats for company and a digital world that sustained me. However, there was a loss, almost a massive grief for all the connections and experiences that had to be put on pause for a year. Speaking to others in recent weeks the words that have been cropping up in conversation is the "lethargy" of continued isolation, the feeling of being stuck in a form of "limbo" waiting to restart and move forward again. The feelings of losing time are such a whole-body gap that is so difficult to process, on top of that isolation of "maybe it is only me that is feeling this" because it is such a non-verbal feeling, so hard to translate into a vernacular.
The first of the Memory Silhouettes, West Pier, still sits above my sofa. Each day that I look at it I try to think back to the person that created it. I had just been furloughed and seen my plethora of jobs come to a grinding halt. I had burnt out, and with a thought that always makes me feel immense guilt, I was grateful that I had been thrown into a break, forced to stop. We had enough money to get us through a few months so we budgeted to get some new painting materials and I knew that I wanted to give something new a go. I could have plunged into the Geometric Abstraction Collection but something in me was calling to places that I could see in my mind but I couldn't get to. Often these places were linked to people that I was anxious about and that I missed and couldn't get to. Realistically though it didn't begin as a whole project or collection, West Pier was a piece that I had been internally thinking about for a long time and it was the perfect moment to finally capture the Brighton sunsets and seascape that brings thousands of tourists to the city. When I stepped away from the canvas I knew that I could push the intentions behind it further.
The start of the project focused on Brighton, being the town I was born in and spent all my life in until I moved to university, I had vivid memories of the city. The Pavilion, and later the Museum in the Park painting were both painted with a technique that focused on line work for the silhouette featured in the painting, similar to the West Pier I first felt that was the best way to produce the silhouette paintings. This was achievable for the architectural focused paintings, but when I first painted the Lake Vynwy Tower it didn't feel as strong as West Pier. It was the Angel of Peace, one of the most popular of the Memory Silhouettes so far, that it really clicked into place and I figured out the creative process for the Memory Silhouette project. I would like to talk through why I repainted Lake Vrynwy Tower and not some of the others in a later post but I know that moving forward I had a plan for how each piece could look.
The first few paintings were created quickly, almost in a blur of the first lockdown. It was something to keep focused on and the trial and error kept my brain engaged. Almost inevitably I thought about how this creative process could translate into more themes and so I created a piece that I never thought that I would do, a self-portrait.
I knew that the colour palettes of the architectural paintings were inspired by their environments, light and the people that I shared those spaces with so I wondered how this would translate into portraits and other themes. The self-portrait, and the portraits that I did since have reflected the colour palettes of the people that they represent. When I began this blog I started by saying that I am generally more of a visual communicator and this is a perfect example of the almost emotional form of synesthesia that I experience that inspires the colour palettes of my paintings. One of the conversations that I have with anyone looking for a commission is trying to translate the colour palette that the commissioner expresses when talking about the subject that they are commissioning, of course, if a room has a theme then this can be considered. However, it is the abstract forms and compositions that hold the visual language describing the emotional relationship with their subject.
With each movement forward the Memory Silhouette Project expands into new collections and like the Geometric Abstractions I know this will be a part of my practice for a long time. Also similar to Geometric Abstractions I produce far more painting sketches than finished paintings and so I have created a new portfolio of digital sketches for you to scroll through here. So far the majority of the Memory Silhouettes have been based on my own experiences but if you would like to commission a piece reflecting a moment in your own life please consider getting in contact to discuss options. I also have commissioning information available here.