The Other Side

Tony Hill

Thoughts on the work of Lynne Davies-Jones and on my own work for the exhibition.

Looking at Lynne’s work again, thinking about it and selecting from the portfolios for this exhibition has been both evocative and inspiring. When Lynne died at the untimely age of 47 years I felt the personal loss of a companion and of a like-minded artist but I also felt the enormity of what she might have gone on to do and give artistically as she began the next stage of her career as a Painter. We had shared so much in life and as artists grew together over more than 25 years. I am still amazed at what she did and how much she did and just how she did it. The paintings in the body of work that she left are wonderful in their imagination and a joy to look at in the freshness of the colour.

Watching Lynne preparing paints to begin new work was always a fascination for me. Her manner implied so much. Her methodical approach and attention to the making of the work was as important as the inspiration that was driving her imagination; the choice of pigments from the jars on the studio shelf, favourites such as Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine and Cadmium Orange, the careful grinding of the pigments, the economy of mixing binders such as Gum Arabic for watercolour or egg yolk for tempera and their careful storage or immediate use, the choice of paper or gesso panels, the setting about making visual and at the same time allowing for the invisible, the connecting with tradition and being absolutely contemporary. Her works were rehearsed and developed in series. Testing leading to the performance of painting that had to feel right and look right. Perfected in the doing and in the moment through the freedom of water and pigment on paper allowing for line and shape to co-exist with the restraint of two or three colours opening a world of colour. Of Earth, of water and of light sums up her painting.

In my wall sculptures I hope that I take on some of the material qualities that I find so satisfying in Lynne’s work. Through the attention to the surface, the simple gesso ground, the limited choice of pigments and their direct application I hope they create something that is satisfying visually and has enough emotional scope to allow for imagination. The original works in this series were a response to a thematic exhibition put forward by Jamshid Mirfendersky at the Fenderesky Gallery, Belfast, when he asked artists to reconsider Sculpture taking the starting point that Paintings reflect light and Sculptures cast shadows. My hollow forms attempted to do both.

With the photograph “Broken Shells” I thought of the simple but poetic action of gathering enough broken shells from the beach to fill both of my hands completely. Coincidently or possibly subconsciously the affinity to Lynne’s sensitivity to the scattered and the formal comes through as a piece that bridges her sense of painting and drawing and my use of photography. That beach, under the skyline of the Mountains of Mourne, was one that we had walked on many times. I know that in my own practice as an artist I am especially fortunate in having shared such a close working relationship with such an artist as Lynne Davies-Jones.

TH April 12, 2009

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