We’re sponsoring Black Swan Arts Open this year, and as part of that we gave away a £100 framing voucher to go towards the cost of a bespoke frame. We were invited to a sneak preview of the exhibition ahead of the opening last week, and we got to choose our favourite piece. This was one of the hardest choices we’ve ever had to make! We loved everything, and found it really hard to select even ten favourites, let alone one. But with the pressure of time, we had to make a decision, and went for Kate Walter’s amazing painting, My dog Keeps watch as I Pray.
I had some very lovely and generous feedback from people who attended the talk I gave at ICE in York. I began my talk by reading from Ursula LeGuin’s poem ‘The Artist’ – about going to the ‘gap’, the space between…. which is what I feel I do when I make work. I called my Powerpoint ‘The Body as Sensing Organ’ which refers to what I discovered about my body during my residency on Iona last Winter. I also spoke about the poetry of Mallarme and Rilke, both of which help me to understand my work as an artist.
I’m hoping I will be able to give another talk and perhaps a workshop/’hollow bone’ work at Dean Clough at the end of my show’s run there around January 22nd. Here are details of the exhibition:
‘Bird Making Womb for my Consciousness’
Kate Walters: Punctum and Plume
October 15th 2016 to January 22nd 2017The Guardian’s review of Kate Walter’s 2012 exhibition at Newlyn Art Gallery opened with the line: “It’s not every day you find an artist who claims their home is in the body of a deer…” and went on to refer to her ‘fusion of cave art, classical mythology and a rainbow-tinted hippy sensibility’. In the exhibition catalogue, Richard Davey was more consanguineous: “Reflecting the ancient tradition of the Sacred Feminine, Walters’ paintings are spaces of nurture, birthing pools in which her insights are embodied”. Among Kate’s many art qualifications she has also received formal training in ‘classical shamanism’. Her packed CV would flatter any ONE soul involved in either international art, mysticism or animal husbandry. She is as likely to be talking on ‘expanding consciousness through the act of drawing’ as she is to be discussing her residency in a bothy on Iona; as liable to be quoting Goethe, Griselda Pollock or (as in the title of this exhibition) Barthes. What you get in the gallery is a pictorial blend of animal, human and natural forms in oils, watercolours and monotypes that look to address a sensibility beyond the eye. Chagall is invariably invoked, but Kate Walters is more accurately part of a tradition locally represented by Ted Hughes or the late Derek Hyatt.
On October 1st I braved the weather and donning waterproofs, rucksack and easel, I made my way into the Gardens at Tremenheere. (Nr Gulval, Penzance TR20 8YL)
Here are a few images from their website:
and here are a few of my photos:
I spent some time sitting quietly tuning into the feeling of the place. I needed to settle, be still, and wait. I could sense the hands of the people who have worked that land over centuries. They were gnarly, old, bright and light also, weaving their fingers in amongst the plants. They shone through the damp morning.
I had bought a postcard book, I thought I’d walk and draw, making a little document of my afternoon. The rain and mud I wanted to work with changed the scale. I made notes, further drawings.
My insights/thoughts/impulses went a bit like this…
…sensing the hands of the gardeners, the people who have worked with the place, over generations;
drawing with grass, soil, leaf mould, seeing the rabbit traces, imagining them taking back ownership when night falls;
spending time with Tim’s Blind Minotaur, having a sense that the sucked – in eyes were like navels, at the point of vortices between worlds;
then returning to the light place where I sat and drawing, having a sense of the sky providing navels and energetic umbilici to the earth below
sensing the garden as a sleeping creature, nourished and protected by a kind my mythic large-bellied bird (something like a swan) flying and yet motionless above
Here are some drawings I made in the garden. Most were unfinished, the beginnings of something more…(I hope to return to Tremenheere after its’ Winter rest, to work in residence for some months during next spring and early summer…)
“Bird-Woman is now available, folks! Here is a link to the Shearsman site. Also available at Wordery or The Book Depository. Many thanks again to Kate Walters for the wonderful cover image. I’ll be launching at The Bakehouse in Gatehouse of Fleet, The Radical Book Fair in Edinburgh and hopefully The Project Cafe in Glasgow…Also, somewhere in Dumfries soonish! Will post dates in due course. :-)” Em Strang
Published 2016. Paperback, 80pp, 8.5×5.5ins, £8.95 / $16 [Download a PDF sampler from this book here.] “Em Strang’s poetry reminds us that right dwelling is not just a theoretical or ideological concern; it must also be rooted in the gravity that structures everything, rich in the old pagan know…
“Em Strang’s poetry reminds us that right dwelling is not just a theoretical or ideological concern; it must also be rooted in the gravity that structures everything, rich in the old pagan knowledge and unafraid to find a home for what we do not fully understand. Bird-Woman is a delicious collection, a book to be savoured in the fullest sense.” —John Burnside
“Em Strang’s poems are shamanic, in that they restore to us abandoned mythologies. Nothing is stable in this very real world, where houses can become birds, where the animal lies shallowly below the surface of the human, where poems are haunted with what is unsaid. An ‘old throat from the other side’, full of bewilderment, concern, passion and beauty.” —Jen Hadfield
Artist Kate Walters is based in Cornwall, where she finds great beauty in wild places that fire themes in her work, which employs watercolour in an unorthodox way.
Kate will talk about her artistic influences; her interest in the way hidden phenomena may be revealed through the creative process; and how the rhythms of Nature provide further insights for her practice. Her talk will be of interest to both artistic practitioners and the general public.
Kate has exhibited at the School House Gallery, Newlyn Gallery and Millenium Gallery St Ives. Her solo exhibition Punctum & Plume opens at Dean Clough Halifax on 15 October.
I’m delighted that this work My Dog keeps watch when I pray has been selected for The Black Swan Open in Frome, this autumn…
It was inspired by relationships I’ve had with the dogs in my life, and visits to Norcia in Italy, where I’ve spent time in churches , where Benedictine monks pray and sing bending from the waist in supplication and humility.
and I’m currently writing my blog about my trip; it’ll be published soon I hope!
Here are a few photos which bring back memories of my wonderful trip :
Two sheep, North Uist
At The Pier Arts Centre, Stromness
On the beach, with a seal bottling,near Skara Brae, Orkney
Beside The ring Of Brodgar, Orkney
I’ve just finished co-writing – with Professor Penny Florence – a chapter of the book which has developed from the Fallen Animals conference at Aberdeen University in March 2015. Here are the details:
Full title: Fallen Animals
Editor: Zohar Hadromi-Allouche
Publishers: Lexington Books
…but to whet the appetite, here is an extract by Professor Penny Florence, which she wrote in response to my work Spirit Horse…
The culmination of this wonderful re-creation of bodies into the humanimal, for me, is embodied in Spirit Horse (Fig. 14). Space in the painting is not representational, but it’s not abstract, either. The dramatic band of sanguine that constitutes about a third of the picture, together with the indeterminate boundaries of the bodies, brings alive the idea of ‘becoming animal’[i], which can be understood in many complementary ways. These include the expression of soul, which is invoked in the position of the horse’s head outside the darker area, and shadowed or echoed in the lines and shapes above and around it. The acceptance of how much more like than unlike animals we are leads to re-locating humanity in a cosmos that is both more mobile and more connected. In Rilke’s terms, by passing through the horse’s head, its face in the sense of its being, we might stop looking at ourselves, and so stand a chance of glimpsing what exists, beyond.
[i] Rather than pointing specifically to one of the many references to the concept of ‘becoming-animal’ in Deleuze & Guattari’s writings, this refers more closely to Elizabeth Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art, NY, Columbia, 2008. Her comment that, “art after painting, can be seen as the action of leaving the frame, of moving beyond, and pressing against the frame, the frame exploding through the movement it can no longer contain” (p.18) is a good example of how she brings Deleuzian thought to bear on art that initiates “harmonious vibration” (p.19).
And I’m very excited about my solo show at Dean Clough, in the Mosaic and Upstairs Galleries, opening October 15th, early afternoon. On the 14th October I’ll be giving a talk on building a career as an artist at the New Schoolhouse Gallery, at lunchtime… I’ll have works to show and catalogues to view…all welcome!
Here is the Vimeo link to a film (recorded by my son, and generously edited by my friend Karen Lorenz) about my solo show at Newlyn Art Gallery December 2012. It includes fragments of the talk I gave about my work, and James Green’s introduction. It also includes footage of my two lovely dogs, Frankie and Missis Darling, both now sadly passed away. https://vimeo.com/73134126
In the film fragments of me in the garden with the dogs I think you can see the nature of the bond which I try to realise in my paintings.