I was delighted to see my two Donegal paintings “Up Bloody Foreland, Donegal” and “The through Road, Donegal” on the walls of the London Irish Centre (Camden, London).
These two oil paintings form part of a “real room” of an Irish family in 1950s Britain installation. The exhibition, which is on during August through to October, pulls together a dynamic collection of prints, photographs, paintings, and writings that weave together the different threads of ‘Home’ for Irish Immigrants to London. This has been organised Tara Griffin, who is Education and Heritage Officer at the London Irish Centre, in conjunction with the Museum of the Home. It looks fascinating and I hope my paintings bought happy reminders of home to visitors to the centre. My work has been described as nostalgic by by some and I am interested in capturing a vanishing Ireland of the not too distant past. I just wish I could have visited in person!
The Opening night of an “Open” exhibition is an affair full of nervous energy! This is because 90% of people in the room are artists who are all relieved/happy to have their work included in the exhbition in the first place and secondly have come to see where their painting/s have ended up? Are they in a corner? Can they be seen?
Open Exhibition is where the organisers invite or “call” for artists to submit their work (for a small fee). The best works are then selected to be included in the exhibition. There are massive national exhibitions (like the BP Portrait Prize) that are so massive that they have a preliminary round where digital photos are first sent for consideration. The Glynn Vivian, does it the old fashioned way by requiring artists to bring their paintings to gallery for submission. You can submit up to two works each. As, it’s only open to artists living in the Swansea area, it’s not too onerous to drop in the paintings.
All artists fear rejection. We are sensitive souls. So to have to face the prospect of being rejected (one or two paintings) isn’t pleasant. Inclusion isn’t automatic, even if your work has been included before (I was in 2017), especially as the people doing the choosing (or “curating”) change every year. This year’s curators were Richard Billingham and Durre Shahwar. Richard is a photographer and filmer maker who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001. Shahwar is a writer, editor, and creative facilitator. Thankfully they chose both of the works I submitted.
I had deliberately decided to arrive an hour into the Opening party as I remember it being very crowded to last time I came in 2017. It was still very crowded at 3pm and the numbers only really thinned out after 4pm. There were 245 pieces in the exhibition. The two rooms in the gallery were filled to the brim with paintings (and artists). were overwhelmingly 2D art. Paintings, sketches and prints, but there were films and sculptures too.
Of course, the first thing I did was try and find my paintings. They were in the second room. I was initially surprised to see that they were not together but had been arranged separately as part of themed groups of colours. I thought that the arrangement worked well. It’s a funny feeling seeing your paintings in amongst lots of other paintings. It’s like a familiar face amongst a crowd of strangers.
There’s no way I can get a photo of both paintings, I thought. Actually, for a long time, I could not get a photo of each painting as the gallery was so crowded.
For some reason, people stood in front of my second painting, Autumn in the Rosses for the longest time. Different groups of people too. So I had to wait quite a while to get a photo of it and even then I had a person’s shadow on it!
It wasn’t just me trying to get a photo of my work. These artists were very excited about being in the exhibition. Their joy was a delight to see.
There was so much to look at in the exhibition. There was such a variety of work too. Here are just a few that caught my eye. The most affecting work were the two bird sculptures by Mike Hill. One was made of fishing tackle detritus and the other was in the shape of a cormorant smothered in tar. In fact, the tar-bird was so affecting that I had to fight back the tears. There were quite a few works that touched up the climate emergency and waste but these two, in my opinion, were the most powerful ones.
I particularly liked the animal/nature themed wall.
I also really liked Myles Lawrence Mansfield ” Rejections/Acceptance Machine”. I liked it even more when it was explained to me that it moved when you turned to handle! I always like things that do something. Thinking about it now, it may well have been a comment on the life of an artist!
I had to pleasure of meeting fellow artist Wendy Sheridan in real life (after many online interactions via social media). She very kindly took my photo!
I would highly recommend visiting the Glynn Vivian to see all the works in the Open Exhibition. It’s on until 23rd February (closed on Mondays) and is free!
International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality. Its roots can be traced to 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours. The first time there was an a “Women’s Day” it was a year later, on February 28, 1909 in New York. March 8 was suggested by the 1910 International Woman’s Conference (attended by more than 100 women from 17 countries) to become an “International Woman’s Day.” In 1911, it was celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19. In 1913, it was decided to transfer IWD to March 8, and it has been celebrated on that day ever since.
After women gained the vote in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. It was also celebrated by the communists in China from 1922, and after founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Mao Zedong declared that ‘women hold up half the sky’ and March 8 was made an official holiday and women were given a half-day off. One can help but wonder that if it had been a international Men’s Day they’d have been given a whole day off! IWD was finally adopted by the United Nations in 1975.
The original aim – to achieve full gender equality for women the world – has still not been realised. A gender pay gap persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men.
In Swansea there will be an exhibition of Swansea-based female artists’ work at Cinema & Co. It is meant to show case the work of female artists, myself included. My painting “Former Cricketers” (above) is included. It is from my “Hollowed Community” project which focused on theme of declining community and the lack of sustainability (that means families with children) in areas such as Brynmill in Swansea due to (pretty much) unchecked studentification. The exhibitions will run from March 8th to 20th. There is an opening event on Thursday March 8th 6 pm to 8.30 pm. There will be performances, paintings, films and some “extra surprises”.
If you want to read more about the “Hollowed Community” project click here.
I love the National Museum in Cardiff. It has a fantastic collection of Impressionist and early twentieth century Art. I used to visit it a lot when I was a student there in the 1980s. We visited it yesterday afternoon.
We started in a contemporary exhibition called “Who Decides?” . It didn’t particularly engage me although there were some excellent etchings by Paula Rego. But my attention wandered. I think it tells you a lot when I decided that I was more interested in the Assistants who spend all day here, than the work in this particular gallery. Perhaps, it because I have recently done at stint as an exam invigilator that I paid them more attention than I usually do. I was intrigued. So I started taking photos…
I got caught up in the idea of looking at the people that were meant to be invisible. I looked at these “invisible people” even in the galleries where I was interested in the work on the walls. They are not really invisible as they are certainly a presence in the gallery. Especially when they tell off the visitors for touching the sculptures. One man was caressing a Henry Moore piece, in the way the rest of us long to, and got a swift reprimand. Another was clearly drunk, he was humoured by the assistants, but asked to be quieter. He did a lot of pantomime hissing in response to that and veered out of the gallery! I pretended not to see.
The colour that I seem to looking for yesterday was red. The assistants had red ties. My favourite paintings had red in them. I think its this long winter – looking for visual and psychological warmth.
Armand Seguin, Christopher Williams and the wondeful Peter Blake.
In October 2011 the gallery was closed temporarily for a £6 million refurbishment and recladding of the 1974 extension. It wasn’t opened again until 2017. That’s almost 6 years closed.
Then this summer it reopened.
So when the gallery announced that it was going to hold an Open Exhibition this December there was a lot of interest from Swansea-based artists. The opening event on Saturday was super packed. We had to queue to get in.
My two paintings were “Round the bend” and “Glamour Glamour”
Seamas, my husband (James Henry Johnston) also had a self portrait in the exhibition. I thought his painting looked really good!
There was lots of really interesting work there. I really enjoyed the fact that there was a lot of variety and the walls were packed with work. The standard was very high. I intend to return when it’s not so packed to have a another look.
[wpecpp name=”Round the Bend ” price=”370″]
“Round The Bend” Oil on Linen Canvas 55 x 46 cm unframed
A few of my paintings with be showing at the #BrynmillCoffeeHouse over the festive period. The people at the Coffee House have weathered a bit of misfortune recently, their very large beautiful plate window at the front was broken by a thief who made off with two small charity boxes. They stayed open and cheerful throughout the disruption and a new window is in place. You will notice from the photos that I was able to return and add a third painting in (hence the change of clothes).
My exhibition of Gower seascapes and scenes from life in Brynmill, Swansea.
There were some last minute discussions about what should be included. A late addition quickly had “D'” hooks and string attached this morning. The bubble wrap was rolled out and the paintings were carefully rolled into several parcels for the very brief car journey to the venue, Brynmill Coffee House, Langland Terrace, Swansea. When we arrived, the paintings were swiftly arranged around the room. One painting was almost left out, but some rearrangement of paintings and the arrival of an extra hook meant everyone made onto the walls. No one was carried back home. Photos were taken of my husband, Seamas, putting up the paintings, the final arrangement of pictures and then me with the paintings.
It’s great to see my work up on some else’s walls. The dark blue on the cafe walls really complements the paintings well. I can reflect on the themes I have followed over the course of the last 6 months. Whether its a determined shopper at the once-monthly Uplands Market, families outside Singleton Park or the waves on Gower beaches, it’s always about colour and light for me. I can see similar tones of blues and greens that I favour; royal blue, and yellow ochres in particular. It’s satisfying to think these paintings “belong” together. I think cafes and restaurants are a great place to exhibit paintings. White-walled galleries can be so intimidating. They really should have lots of sofas for people to sit on too. In a cafe or restaurant, people can take their time to look at the artwork on the walls in a relaxed environment. I hope that my art will bring people pleasure. I hope that by recognising places they know well, like the cafe they are sitting, in an oil painting, it will give them a small thrill. A shock of recognition. I think oil paintings have the power “elevate” quite ordinary things.
So now my exhibition is up and ready to be visited during the month of August. Pop by and enter the draw for the print of Brynmill Coffee House, worth £45, all proceeds will go the Swansea charity supported by Brynmill Coffee House.
“Emma Cownie’s paintings have tremendous visual impact…painted on both larger and smaller canvases, and each piece is as vibrant as the next. Her choice of colours represent mother earth in all her glory. She tends to go for more exaggerated hues..; it is what makes these paintings memorable. She also did a seasonal series with a viewpoint from Symond’s Yat, a place of natural beauty. The paintings that stood out to me were ‘The Mossy Beach’, ‘Down by Killy Willy’ and ‘Pennard Pill’ on the larger canvases. I pictured her sitting amongst all that beauty painting away in her unique sense of reality. I would be surprised if she didn’t sell one of her pieces at this exhibit. They are quite grand.”
Hi everyone, it’s been a while, a long while since I last blogged, some 4 months or so. I have been very busy. I will bring you up to date with what has been happening with my art and art business in the next few blogs.
Here I just want to mentioned that I am currently exhibiting in GalleryOMP which is at the Old Mayors Parlour, Hereford. I will exhibiting with some other great artists until the 24th April 2016.
Here are some images from the exhibition “Seeds of Change”!
I have been suffering from writer’s block. I started this post in March this year. I keep writing, rewriting it and then not publishing it. The problem isn’t that I don’t have any thing to say. It is more that I have too much to say and I didn’t know where to start or how […]
You have may well have seen images of County Sligo, Ireland, without necessarily knowing that’s where it is. It’s home to one of the most poplar views on Social Media. Here’s an example: And many more… It’s quite disconcerting to come across a view that you are very familar with but have never visited […]