23 Feb 2015

Mary Fedden

Yes, I am back in blogger land.......
and I will try to be back more often. Yes, I know you have heard that before!
(Facebook has stolen too much of my time, lately.....and let`s not even talk about Pinterest....)

Since I post most of my artwork on Facebook now, I thought I would try to do more blogs here about artists who inspire me, art products and materials, techniques and so on...

My interest in other artists and admiration of their work, past and present, spans a wide genre. But one who I discovered a few years ago, by way of APV films, was Mary Fedden, who has since sadly passed away.  While I watched the film with interest then, my curiosity in her work has really only been aroused lately. Perhaps partly because I am more interested in still lifes now than I was then - one of the subject matters she is best known for.

Many people pigeon hole her work as Naive. There is something about that word in the artworld that troubles me slightly, or better said, something about labelling art as Naive.  I myself, have no trouble with the term nor the art itself, per se, and know some fine artists who call themselves Naive, whose work I love. But many people will dismiss Naive art as something childish, immature and distinctly not Fine Art enough.  I feel it can be misunderstood..... I `d be interested to hear your thoughts.
Personally, I think this is a huge mistake. Surely art can just be for art`s sake? Something just to make a viewer smile, escapism from our sorry, sad world. Does it have to be political, symbolic, thought-provoking?  Quite a bit of my own art is symbolic, but probably in the most part known only to me. There is always the danger that critics read far too much into a painting and come up with a raison d`etre that was never the artist`s intention.

Anyway, if you like Fedden`s work, then I recommend this book by Christopher Andreae.  One of the best art books I have ever bought, as much for the beautifully reproduced artworks as for the honest, unpretentious text that accompanies it. For me, a breath of fresh air.

Her still lifes especially intrigue me.  It is not a common genre for me, but little by little I am starting to incorportate more personal objects into my own work, and am beginning to accumulate a somewhat Magpie`s nest of cups, feathers, fabrics, etc which have caught my eye, in a corner of my studio. I particularly love how some objects in Fedden`s work crop up again and again in many different paintings, sometimes, changed quite dramatically, other times, instantly recognisable as a Fedden "prop". I have always loved old objects, quirky objects, pattern, all things vintage and retro, and have always esteemed sentimental attachment over financial value, so it kind of makes sense that this becomes a part of my artwork.

 As homage to the little jug which appears in the painting on the book cover and in the one above, I was inspired to do a little linocut, (well actually this is not lino, more akin to Speedball speedycarve, but not that either!) I have been doing a series of relief prints, which I hope to include in my forthcoming 1st solo show in April in Gallery 1608 in a little tourist village in Northern Ireland`s beautiful North Coast. (Bushmills, as the town is called, is famous for being home to the oldest whisky distillery in the world! But more on that another time.) But this is very different to the subject matter of my series.

I think I`ll call it Mary Fedden`s Jug. This is not my best lino cut, by any stretch.  I certainly wouldn`t include it in an exhibition.  Unfortunately, as is the case with relief carving, it is hard, nigh impossible, to rectify any mistakes, and after a slip of the blade, I carved away too much here, especially underneath the jug, but still, a lesson has been learned, and that is always valuable. So, hopefully, the next attempt will be better. I am adding it here, since the subject of this post inspired me to try it, and I haven`t gotten around yet to doing a second one. Still very much a novice printmaker, the discipline is something which really excites me as an artist, and offers a different dimension to my paintings. I often include my handmade stamps in them, so it seems a natural progression for me to consider printmaking more as an art form in its own right.

Some of my handmade stamps, and pattern plates, as I call them, which I use, often again and again, in my paintings in several different media.  Inspired by the handmade stamp guru, Gennine Zlatkis, (Hope she doesn`t take offence to me calling her that!) to start storing them flat in a drawer.

My trial and error, off-the-cuff relief plate and print inspired by Mary Fedden`s work. Sometimes I just go in for the kill, (it was late, and I was feeling lazy and spontaneous) and on this occasion it didn`t work.  But the seed has been sown, and I will draft the next one more carefully now.

While watching the APV film,  I discovered that she used her late-husband`s  (Julian Trevelyan ) discarded etchings as collages in her mixed media work and I especially like how she lets parts overlap the edge or frame of the painting, as can be seen above in Two Lemons. It adds another interest to the piece as a whole.

If you are a Fedden fan, or indeed would like to recommend I research another artist whose work is best known for still lifes, I`d love you to leave a comment, thanks!

1 comment:

  1. I have always loved Mary Feddon's work which I discovered from a postcard years ago. Thanks for a really interesting post... I'll have to look out that book.