I first came across the paintings of Emily Carr in Vancouver Art Gallery when I visited Vancouver for the 16th World Orchid Conference in 1999 ( I also went to a quilt show on the outskirts and discovered the delights of the Maiwa Handprint Studio, buying a couple of linen jackets I still wear ).
I was bowled over then with the strength of feeling and engagement with her surroundings, particularly the greens of the forest. They have not lost their power transplanted to another continent and the layout of the exhibition and the interpretation, emphasising themes as well as leaps in development worked very well. Having a selection of artifacts there was also intriguing. Having reread my battered copy of ' The Forest Lover' by Susan Vreeland, with the basket maker Sophie playing an important role, seeing the finely woven baskets made of things like spruce root added another dimension.
A lot of the paintings had quotes from Emily alongside them - these were a couple of my favourites about the process of looking ( please forgive me if they're not quite correct, I always have difficulty reading my own handwriting !)
" Sketching in the big woods is wonderful. Everything is green. Everything is waiting and still. Slowly things begin to move , to slip into their piles, groups and masses and lines tie themselves together . Colours that you had not noticed come out timidly or boldly"
"The first thing is to seize upon the direction of your main movement, the sweep of the whole thing as a unit. One must be careful about the transition of one curve of direction with the next - keep it going, a pathway for the eye and mind to travel through and into the thoughts".
A short bus ride way to see the paintings ( and sketchbooks) of Kurt Jackson at the Horniman Museum ( above) an inspirational exhibition based around the theme of rivers . I have a couple of books of his works but there's nothing to beat seeing them in the flesh , the combination of semi-abstraction and repertoire of marks including unusual sparks of colour. Most of all a sense of place - it got me thinking of the theme for the new Cwilt Cmyru exhibition in 2016 'Cynefin'.
There was a couple of videos (1 from 'Thames Revisited' exhibition at the Redfern Gallery) showing Kurt in action, reminding me of Katherine Holmes demonstrating techniques outside and also of my attempts on 'Painting Promentary' in Weymouth. Lots of ideas about how he got some of his marks: dripping ink/liquid paint onto surface and moving it around with painting knife ( with a strip of fabric at the side to wipe excess paint off , interesting in its own right!). Dipping into that paint with a pencil and then using the pencil to make marks. Using the plastic mixing palette to scrape paint. Using a square format sketchbook.
One of the aspects of his work that resonates with me is that it reflects his commitment to the environment and the natural world . Also got me thinking of paths not travelled. He's the same age as me and studied zoology at University, painting while he was there and then becoming an artist. At 18 I very nearly went to art college but studied botany instead and have made my career in that field while painting/ stitching in my spare time. Now I have the opportunity to thinks about taking up art again seriously .