It’s been a while since I’ve exhibited; too long in fact. It’s been even longer since I’ve made new artwork specifically tailored for a particular show. But the challenge is always a nice one and there’s no greater incentive for an artist to make work, than a solo exhibition looming large on the horizon. Well looming large for me is a month long exhibition at the National Trust’s Sudbury Hall during May. I’ve sketched quite a few National Trust properties over the years, I may even show a few of these at Sudbury, but I’ve never based a whole series of work on one place/building before. I didn’t have to, but thought it would be an interesting exercise.
I know Sudbury Hall fairly well. I’ve done a lot of work there in the past. Taught children there, delivered art classes there, made props/artwork for the Toy Museum and I’ve even performed outdoor theatre there (mostly in the torrential rain!!!). Like most National Trust properties Sudbury Hall is rather grand to put it mildly. The place is full of ornate chandeliers, sweeping staircases and complex plaster carvings. Imposing family portraits hang from the walls. Windows, beds & chairs are dressed with plush fabrics. Sudbury Hall reeks of grandeur, wealth and opulence. Or rather, it used to. Yes the place is still very grand and enormously impressive, but I’ve always felt National Trust properties to be ‘dead’ buildings. Empty unlived-in time capsules. The people have long since departed and even though the buildings largely remain unchanged over time, something is definitely missing. The buildings, to me, have lost their life source, their soul, their mojo…
This then formed the basis of my thought process to make the artwork. I wanted the work to a) Depict the grandeur of the many features of Sudbury Hall, b) Reflect the age & history of the building, and c) Bring a bit of life and opulence back into Sudbury Hall. A simple challenge 😎 I decided on a very mixed media approach for the work and began by adding ripped/torn old maps + papers onto canvas to create a base for the artwork. Using an acrylic image transfer technique I then added ‘appropriate’ people to the work. The people I used were grand & glamorous, with the transfer technique giving them an almost ghostly appearance. Just the effect I was after. The next process was to add elements of the building. This was done with an ink pen and was drawn directly onto clear tissue paper. The finished drawing is then glued onto the canvas. After a final addition of black & coloured ink the artwork is finished. I’m not too sure exactly how many pieces I’ll complete before 1st May, but the journey’s been hugely productive and enjoyable so far.
So if you do fancy popping along to see the work and say hello… I’ll be down in the Billiard Room at Sudbury Hall during the month of May. I’ll be manning the show most weekends.