Thursday, 29 December 2011

Progress December 2011

I have now added two more rows of poetry to the painting. So I have made a photograph to show how it is coming along. Now I have added some of the broken trees of 'No mans land' the scene seems to be coming together as i wanted it.

Close up of 'Warhorse' painting showing destroyed landscape.
Painting in December 29th 2011
Detail of the Warhorse

Warrior - 'The Horse the Germans could not kill'

I have recently started to read a fantastic book called 'The Amazing Sotry of a Real Warhorse' General Jack Seely. It gives a fantastic insight into the important and close relationship between a horse and its owner.

There is also a website:

The book describes the life and adventures of 'Warrior' the horse that took part in the First World War and survived. What I have found particularly insightful is how the book describes the personality of the horse and the close bonds they form with each other and people.

General Jack Seely and Warrior, painted by Sir Alfred Munnings in 1918

Add caption

Saturday, 17 December 2011

In Times of Peace
by John Agard
That finger - index to be exact -
so used to a trigger's warmth
how will it begin to deal with skin
that threatens only to embrace?
Those feet, so at home in heavy boots
and stepping over bodies -
how will they cope with a bubble bath
when foam is all there is for ambush?
And what of hearts in times of peace?
Will war-worn hearts grow sluggish
like Valentine roses wilting
without the adrenalin of a bullet's blood-rush?
When the dust of peace has settled on a nation,
how will human arms handle the death of weapons?
And what of ears, are ears so tuned to sirens
that the closing of wings causes a tremor?
As for eyes, are eyes ready for the soft dance
of a butterfly's bootless invasion?

One of the poems included in the painting on the top half of the painting.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Now working on the top of the paintnig.

Back again! The bottom half of the painting has now been done using world war one poems and I have moved to the top half where I am using words from contemporary poets. The very bottom row took an especailly long time because I have made that row both part of the overall picture and a 'read-able' text. So from one side of the painting to the other the viewer will be able to read a poem.

The Painting - showing the bottom half painted using World War One Poetry.

Here you can see the very bottom row and a hint of how the text can be 'read' across the painting.

The top half of the painting as I mentioned will use contemporary poems about today's conflicts. Once again these are written by the people who have experienced war and have been affected by war. It is interesting to see the similarities and differences in the poetry. These poems include -

Listen by Gillian Clarke, War on Terror by Fred D'Aguiar, Untidiness by Amanda Dalton, Big Ask by Carol Ann Duffy (In memory of Adrian Mitchell), The Grassington Mandala by Ian Duhig,  Landlock by Matthew Hollis, Descent by Alan Jenkins, Inquiry by Carola Luther, After the Stealth Bomber by Robert Minhinnick (Umm Ghada at the Amiriya Bunker), Afghanistan by Paul Muldoon, Have I Got Old News For You by Daljit Nagra, Of Course If I Can Help in Any Way by Sean O'Brien, Battle Lines by Carole Satyamurti, St Brides by Jo Shapcott, It could have been by Clare Shaw, Poppies by Jane Weir.  

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Bottom Line.

Hooray! I am now working on the bottom line of 'Warhorse'!!! Yes, the bottom line of squares in the artwork will be the row where viewer will be able to actually read extracts or whole poems. The text will go from one side of the artwork to the other and enable people to look back at the image and capture the mood of the painting through the poets words as well as the text painting itself!
The bottom line! Read the poetry

Monday, 14 November 2011

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Two Minutes Of Silence.

This friday silence fell as Britain paused to remember the war dead. I was asking my daughter Joselina about what they did at her school. They did what the rest of nation does and stopped to reflect on the sacrifice of those brave men and women who fought for our freedom. Jose is just 5 years old and last weekend I talked to her about her great great grandfather Wilfred Barrs who died in Ypres in October 1914. She told me she was thinking of him.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Well, I had a fantastic week. On Tuesday I visited my Uncle David who I havn't seen since I was a child. He told me about my family history (on my mums side) which has been traced back to 1791-2 on my Mum's side!! I discovered that one of my relatives - my Great Grandfather Wilfred Barrs was a soldier in the First World war. He apparently joined up in August 1914 and by October was unfortunately killed in Ypres. His name is on the town memorial on Broad Green in Wellingborough and is written on the Menin Gate in Yypres. Whilst being extremely proud of my family background it also brings history alive this to me gives extra meaning to the work I am doing on "WarHorse".
Great Grandfather Wilfred Barrs

Sunday, 30 October 2011

I have been thinking further about the back of the "Warhorse" painting recently. When I made my previous painting of "Sophie" I made the picture out of her favourite poems. On the back of the support I also added her postcards of paintings she that she admires or has personal interest in. These postcards, although hidden when mounted on the wall give insight into who "Sophie" is and can help to tell a story about her. One of her passions is for the Pre-Raphaelite artists story and their work.
The Back of "Sophie" painting.
As part of my project for "Warhorse" I have begun to research my own family history. Through doing this I want tell the story of how so many people were effected by War and had relatives who were in the conflict. The stories and connections that we still have and feel today, nearly a hundred years later,are still strong. The way World War One was recorded and is remembered through photographs, film, poetry, art, letters strenghtens this connection.

I will be adding the  research into my family to the back of the painting to illustrate this. It will be a way of bringing me closer to my family history.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

When working out how to create this painting and the portrait of 'Sophie' I looked at the work of Chuck Close. He uses a grid to create his large super realist portraits. Each of the squares in his grid is treated as a small painting which is a part of the whole portrait. I first came across his work when teaching my students at Northampton School For Girls.

 I try to treat each square of my works as small painting and use a photograph as a guide when applying the tones. I cut out each line of text and layer it into the grid until I have achieved a very close likeness to the square. I also need to consider the style or look I want to create as well as the form of the object being depicted. This means the type needs to be applied in the direction which is most appropriate to the form.

Detail of a Self Portrait by Artist Chuck Close
Each strip of text is glued in to create the painting on the grid.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A short film which shows the detail of the painting so far and the text that makes up the picture.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The poetry of Wilfred Owen has been a strong influence to the work I am doing. His words as in many other poems speaks directly of the experience of  war and its horrors. As I listened to this tonight whilst painting it made me think of my own relatives who were lost. My grandmother lost two brothers. I think this is why World War One is so important to all of us - so many people know of relatives who were sent into the misery of this conflict. Even today the impact of this time has a profound effect on people.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

I have just seen the trailer for the film by Steven Spielberg. I was really pleased by the opening sequence of the trailer showing the horse running through the exploding shells and gun fire of "no mans land". 

Link to the trailer:

It is just as I imagined the scene when I read it in the book. Great stuff! I hope the film really lives up to the book when I go and see it.

There is something very special about the relationship humans have with horses. Horses seem to have a great strength and free spirit as well as a sensitive nature that commands respect....

The idea that actors operate the actions of the horses in the play rienforces the close bonds and relationships that people have with these magnificent animals. It also emphasises the responsibility that people have for the horses wellbeing and lives.

An image from the stage production.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Thanks again for the positive responses to my latest posts about "Warhorse". The photograph which I am working from was created by collecting a series of images. Firstly the landscape or "no-mans land" was created using a collection of original photographs taken during the conflict. The horse was a contemporary photograph which I have distorted and added expression too. These were then montaged together on Photoshop. The whole image was then enlarged and printed full size to provide a tonal map of the whole painting.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

This painting and style of work has inspired the work I am currently doing. I am particularly interested in the harsh contrast and almost metallic, angular machined look of the painting. The harsh, heavy Futurist work of the time representing the development of technology and changes in the way war was waged.

Nevinson, C.R.W. (1889-1946) - 1916 French Troops Resting (Imperial War Museum, London)

Thankyou to everybody who has visited my blog recently and told me how much they like what I am doing. Please don't be forget you can join and recieve update when I blog via email.

I was asked how big the "Warhorse" painting is recently. It is made up of 4cm squares of which there are 35 across on each row and 28 on each column. So in all it measures 142.5cm x 114cm. (with a bit extra on both dimensions included)

Below is a quick photograph I took of the painting so far, on Sunday night!

Another row of text completed!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tonight I am to continue applying poems to my Warhorse artwork. I am currently using a selection of World War One poems to paint the whole of the image. Soon however I will be using more contemporary poems from recent conflicts to do the same thing. Anyway below is a picture of the  painting as it was last week. Generally I get on single row of 4cm squares completed every week across the image, I am working my way down from the centre to the bottom then up from the centre to the top later.

Alot of people say 'You must have alot of patience' and I suppose I must have some. But its actually really relaxing. I listen to music and am currently into audio books - so its more an escape and gives me a great a sense of well being. I love it! Everyone should have a shed to go in and 'just be'.

Here is a link to a film which shows my last painting of my girlfriend 'Sophie' which i completed early this year. It was painted using her favourite poems:

Thursday, 29 September 2011

I have been inspired by the poets of World War One when creating the idea for this artwork. Poet and poems include Wilfred Owen - Spring Offensive, John McCrae - In Flanders Fields, Siegfried Sassoon - Aftermath. The words from these poems all form part of the painting and glimpses of them can be read when viewing my work. Apart from this it is my intention that the verses can be read fully on the top and bottom rows of squares on the support.

Wilfred Owen


Monday, 26 September 2011

Well I am about to go out to the studio to work on the 10th row of text squares for the Warhorse Painting. I was thinking about my research earlier this summer and remembered how much the Picasso painting Guernica inspired me. Firstly the horse in the painting and its distorted wild and pained form as the harlequin of a bull pierces its body. Secondly the idea that the painting was done in black and white to symbolise the fact that Picasso first heard about the disaster in the newspapers.
I wanted the Warhorse painting to create links to conflict and the horror of war through time or the 20th century. When creating the composition I deliberately distorted the horse's form with reference to this image.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Here is photograph of the image as it will look as finished.
Hello and welcome to my blog! I have decided to write this blog as a way of sharing my thoughts and ideas regarding my artwork using text or poems to create paintings. I create what I call paintings which are actually large and intricate collages or mosiacs made of text from poems.

I am currently creating a painting based on the book by Micheal Morpurgo. To create this artwork I chosen a selection of poems by different first world war poets. I also wanted to connect with current conflicts in the world through contemporary war poetry which will also be a part of the final painting I am making. The work will also mark the 100 year aniversary of the beginning of the conflict 1914 when its finished.

Here is a close up of the work done so far...