Blog 9 - The talk and the Cathedral


The snow went and so I went to UCA! I arrived in time for a quick chat about cutting paper and a cup of hot chocolate. Before the talk, a meeting with Kate in the cafe where we discussed our expectations for the talks and how nervous we were! I find talking about my work difficult, because I want the work to talk for itself and because I find it somewhat nerve-racking to stand in front of an audience and reveal myself and my work to them (are they the same?) leaving myself wide open for criticism and awkward questions! You can see that a touch of nerves makes me pessimistic!


Sadly Kate's talk was hampered by her Powerpoint not working, it would not load up on the computer so she had to improvise her talk based on picking out photos from her folders. She showed photographs of cliffs, landscapes and buildings with parts vertically reflected, sometimes many times, to make them look like intricate carpet patterns or snake skins and some even have accidental 'eyes' within them. 


My talk was a carefully prepared typed document along with a simple slide show of my work. My problem was that the digital projector changed all the colours and made some paintings look rather garish, that and not being able to read my typing in the dark (and I had even thought to bring a torch with me but it was not bright enough). The contrast between our talks was unequivocal; I think mine was probably too well defined, too precise and not as informal as it should have been. Perhaps that explains why there was not as many questions or comments as I had hoped?


I suppose the difficulty I have in talking about my work is because of its importance to me. Let me explain. Sometimes people ask me if I have music on while I am painting (a lot of painters I know do this) but I don't for two reasons: first, because I need to concentrate on what I am painting and second, because to me, music is very important and I never want to use it as audio-wallpaper or the all too common muzak of shops, shopping centres and lifts! It is like someone buying a painting because they like the frame or because the colours match their sofa, what they are buying is 'framed wallpaper' and the painting doesn't matter! 


So you see, for me, music is too important to use that way and my painting is too important to be discussed without a lot of preparation to describe its theoretical basis and methodology. And so, when giving a talk about my work I try to balance precision with informality, usually without success! I probably sound like a pretentious chump but there it is, that's how I am! This all reminds me of a comment years ago in the time of Soviet Albania when there was a national conference on comedy, a state official said 'comedy is a very serious matter'! 


Also present at the talks was Nicola, an archivist at Canterbury Cathedral and so when all was finished we had lunch and went to the cathedral. Everyone knew her so every member of staff we came across wanted to chat and they were all so welcoming and excited too that I might somehow be able to develop a project based on the cathedral archives. We wandered around everywhere that was possible to wander, it is certainly a fascinating building with some architectural quirks that I was not aware of before. Looking up the nave I noticed that the end pillars were leaning outwards and in other places some of the windows also leaned outwards. I wonder if this was deliberate or the ravages of time?  


All over the cathedral there were vistas through windows, arches, doorways and from one part to another. We also had a look inside one of the Norman rooms that Becket would have known, with decoration painted on the ceiling and walls. It's amazing to think that he would have walked into the same room! As for looking at the perspective, there is certainly scope for some useful photographs and sketches that could be used to test the ideas of curved perspective; lots of strong verticals ripe for bending! We also went to the archive room and I got my ticket for further visits, I hope we can find some plans of the buildings and other archives that will inspire creativity…


Next week I hope to look at peripheral vision and draw on a curved drawing board!


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