Monday, 25 March 2013

Back to Acceptable Flesh or "It's not just pretty lines and colours!"

In my last post I spoke a bit about the themes which drive my work. I realise these have been less explicit of late than when I started out with my blog.

I think it is about time that I revisited them, not least for my own benefit. Over the last couple of years these themes have been no less important to me, but have influenced as a gently embracing undercurrent rather than as a forceful driving energy.

I recognise I lose sight of the bigger picture so often and need to take time to re-evaluate and remember.

When I started writing this blog I was motivated by a passion to communicate the meaning behind my abstract work. "Acceptable Flesh" as a concept was the focus I needed to make a body of work which I planned to exhibit as an immersive experience and as such, an entity in itself. In reality, every piece I make mines the same seam of inspiration.

"Acceptable Flesh" is primarily about my struggle to deal with my socially unacceptable body. I have neither been sublimely delicate and waiflike, nor seen myself as lusciously buxom and desirable. I am, and always have been fat, from babyhood to the post-menopausal present day.

It is really important though that this statement is not seen as an invitation to overweight, middle-aged women to unite and wallow in the injustices of unfair and unkind treatment by society.

Rather what I want is for all of us, irrespective of gender, age, race or size, to question a society that favours the pursuit of artificial, flawless youthfulness, when it is an insidious illusion, which damages, devalues and disables.

In the context of the power and drive of the capitalist market to sell us a vacuous myth, the Feminist declaration of "the personal is political" is no less relevant today.

Feeling "less than" and being regarded as unacceptable is just not good enough.

And these feelings are big and they are overwhelming. Abstraction offers me the means of expressing them in a much more immediate and intuitive way.

Perhaps that notion is itself worthy of a future blog post.

But let me say here - with some force - "it's not just some pretty lines and colours!"


"Parts" by Maggie Ayres

Monday, 18 March 2013

From my gallery: "Bloom"

When I began working on "Bloom", I felt a bit overwhelmed and excited at the same time. This piece is one of the largest I have worked on, measuring 100x150cm.

But I do love to work on larger pieces, allowing more free rein to be bold and expressive. I think it feels a bit like being able to speak out louder and truer and more likely to be heard while the rest of the time in the "real world" it's more like voices lost to the wind.

I suppose that's one of the most important aspects to me of being an artist: the work I make is witness to my feelings of being alive in this body even if my voice is unheard or pointedly ignored. I'll write more about this in my next post.

"Bloom" is about a sense of growing stronger, more vital and vibrant.



I built out from the canvas with wireform mesh stitched and stabbed through the surface to accentuate the idea of expansion and growth, not constrained by the tiny box which is deemed fit for us to inhabit. Those of you who know my work will recognise this striving to step across societal boundaries as a recurrent theme.

Layers of torn calico, scrim and gesso were applied before I introduced acrylic paste and colour. If you look at the detail in the image you will see that there is a lot of texture worked there. Society is a complex entity relying on the infinitely varied abilities of its individuals in order to evolve and survive.

"Bloom" is my unapologetic response to those who favour conformity and would deny individualism and diversity.

To view more of this artwork, see it on my website here:
http://www.maggieayres.co.uk/gallery/bloom.htm

Friday, 15 March 2013

Encaustic Comments (part 3)

For the last couple of weeks I have mixed:

beeswax
damar resin
chalk pastels
India ink
graphite powder
carbon paper
encaustic pigments
silk fibres and yarn
rusty metal shards
torn cotton scrim
paper fragments

with heat from table top stove and blow torch
with assorted natural hair paint brushes
with various scraping, gouging and engraving devices
with manipulative hands

and a HUGE amount of wonder, excitement and fun

This is what I made...






















All original pieces are 15cm x 15cm

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Encaustic Comments (part 2)

I have been experimenting all week with my newest encaustic accoutrements and I have had such a good time!

Melting, stirring, dipping, dripping, brushing, scraping, marking, embedding, rubbing, gouging.

I have spent more time that was reasonably necessary smelling the beeswax and lifting still warm globules to mould with my fingers. Watching the bloom on the surface fade under the smoothing of my hand.

Fusing the layers of wax to each other with my heat gun was fine when I was working on the little boards but when I progressed to the first bigger piece, I realised that I definitely needed something more powerful.



I always knew I wanted a proper blow torch, although I think in my head I was confusing blow torch with flame thrower...

There is a huge array of flaming tools out there! As I wended my confused way through the ranks of blow torches I worried over temperature degrees, weights, burning attachments, safety features and costs. All kinds of wild scenarios flashed before my eyes of out of control fusing where my studio caught fire and I am left like some cartoonish figure with soot blackened face and scorched hair, blow torch still in hand!

Eventually I decided on a quite modest (though suitably hot) version with easily replaced gas canisters. It arrived in the post yesterday.

Tomorrow the burning begins...

Thursday, 7 March 2013

From My Gallery: "Impressions"

With broad palette knife, thick acrylic structure paste was applied in adjoining swathes across my canvas.

Next a well distressed strip of beaten mulberry bark pressed down repeatedly, making its mark and memory.

Then as mirror image, the bark embedded for balance alongside its imprints and left to dry out.

Paint poured and water sprayed and dropped from a height.

Last thoughtful and well placed brush strokes and smudges.

The marks we leave in thought and action as we move through our lives.



To view more of this artwork, see it on my website here:
http://www.maggieayres.co.uk/gallery/impressions.htm

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Encaustic comments (part 1)

I thought encaustic art was all about painting with a little electric iron and brightly coloured wax. That singular notion didn't offer enough for me to explore further with the result that a vast rich seam of gloriously sensual artistic activity passed me by for so long.

I don't quite remember what led to the earth-moving moment when I looked again but I did and it did!

I do remember I was left breathless when I saw work by artists such as Roberta Lee Woods and Alicia Tormey. I was enthralled and immediately set off on new travellings to unexpected and unconsidered places.

There followed several weeks of gathering pieces of required paraphernalia including a little table-top stove, cradled boards, and surface thermometer. To these I added some tools I'd used for ceramics, along with carbon paper, pastels, graphite powder and India ink. My trusty heat gun would take on new fusing dimensions.

I read books, looked at lots of images online and watched YouTube videos to expand my perception and knowledge of what encaustic art could be for me.

This one by Kandy Lozano gives a real flavour of the possible.



While I waited for my wax to arrive I consciensciously prepared my tiny 15x15cm boards ready to begin... and I waited... and sighed.

Then one morning as the sun was loosening its rays like spreading fingers the wax lay waiting for me to melt and slip into a new phase of discovery.

So I did.

(Look out for more to come...)