24 May 2011

So that’s  it.  Five years of study are now over.  I have completed the B.A.Hons degree course in Fine Art.  All that is left to do is to remove all extraenous work from my exhibition space on Friday, once the assessments have all been done, and take part in the Degree Show in the evening.

I’ve learnt so much since I started.  But in a way that has only served to give me a greater desire to keep on learning and developing.  No bad thing, I realise.  I started off with real interest but very little in the way of knowledge or practical skills.  Thanks to the patience of tutors and support at home, my knowledge has grown considerably and my skills at least have a starting point now.  As an article I read recently said, the artist is one of the few creative people who actually has to excel in all departments of their work to be judged successful.  For example someone who makes music, rather than visual images, is not expected to be a top class musician as well.  The composer creates for someone else to play.  The artist has to do it all herself.  So I’m starting my post-degree days determined to develop my painting and drawing abilities to a much higher standard.   Only time and practice can help here.

I’m also going to keep reading, and I’ve just re-read ‘Barbara Hepworth’ by A.M.Hammacher.  Appropriate, I felt, to finish the degree thinking about her work when it was in her studio and garden in St Ives that I first thought about making fine art myself. 

This is a drawing she made in 1963 called ‘Marble Form’.  She made relatively few drawings, but many of her earlier ones involve circles and parabolic curves in an elegant style of drawing that is both delicate and strong at the same time.

‘Pelagos’ shows the same type of lines and planes, and is a beautiful thing.  When I saw it at the Royal Academy earlier this year, I was struck by the richness of the colour and the sheer tactile quality of the piece.  There was a large notice nearby saying ‘Don’t touch’ which was quite difficult to obey.  But what balance, what a sense of completeness and yet mystery at one and the same time.  Instead of the hole penetrating through the material, linking the space inside with the space outside as in earlier pieces, the material is now wrapping itself around the space she wants to describe.

Reading the monograph has reminded me of a quote of Hepworth’s which I used as the basis for a virtual gallery project two years ago:

‘Landscape is strong – it has bones and flesh and skin and hair.  It has age and history and a principle behind its evolution.’ (Hammacher p97)

These words conjure up a striking image.  I’m taking these words with me as I continue to make abstract art connected to the landscape in all its archaeological wonder.  She has thrown down the gauntlet.  I’m going to respond to the challenge.


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