Hew Locke

Hew Locke is a sculptor and contemporary British visual artist, based in London (Brixton).

I have spent a whole day watching and reading interviews on the internet about Hew Lock and his art. What I have learnt is that he was born in Edinburgh and is the son of a Guyanese sculptor and a British painter. I started feeling a connection with his work as I realised that he is like a magpie. He collects all his and others cultural influences and puts them into a blender creating his own very distinctive style. This appealed to me as I have a mixture of cultures in my family history.

Hew Locke is very interested in people’s obsession with going after a price. They seek a better life, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; which is not archivable or is flawed. Hew is influenced by history. In his interviews he talks about chasing the world looking for exotica or the future best thing. Some of his work is influenced by ideas around dictators and others, in contrast, by bag ladies and men. He has an obsession with giants and power which are sick, bloated by their own corruption – a metaphor for the layers upon layers in his work, which in parts ends up collapsing and disintegrating.

I can definitely see Hew Locke’s Caribbean background in his work – it has been described as carnaval-est style. In many of his works he uses mixed media: beads, dolls, toys, plastic guns, etc.

The only things that I have in common with this artist is his love of colour and his fascination of gathering influences from different cultures (I find this enthralling). I enjoy how he makes difficult subjects like Britain’s violent colonial past, into thought-provoking interesting works – sometimes making me feel uncomfortable as he touches on deep subjects like slavery and ‘lazy clichés’ or as he describes in his interview in Tate.org.uk ‘horrific clichés’ in history. The scale of his work varies but it is often exhibited they in big installations.

I enjoy the Cardboard Palace; a reaction of the public saying that they wanted to climb inside his work. Inside cardboard palace there is sings saying ‘protect from all elements’ (imprinted in the boxes he used). This work was a result of 9/11. The scale of cardboard palace is 90 feet long 33 feet high. Below are four of his works that I enjoy for one reason or another.

Above is a commission by Art on the underground called Tunnel vision. It’s a mask with one eye looking at the camera and representing the ‘all seeing’; reminding us that big brother is watching us (constant surveillance). Hew Lock uses black eye shadow to ‘blacken up’ – an action he describes as a ‘messed up tradition’. He uses mixed ideas of discomfort and attraction resulting in a colourful, attractive and scarily surreal at the same time (his description not mine). This piece is a life size mask made from vibrant-coloured cord and string, glued together to mimic the tube lines. I like this piece because it gives everyone an opportunity to access art without having to go to an art gallery. Hew has adapted his work to his audience still keeping true to his style and his voice. I admire him for that! I feel that I can learn from his bravery in touching on so many ‘controversial’ subjects like race, politics and the Royal family; Which leads me on to the next image.

Above: Black queen

Locke made three large Queen’s heads- one in gold (el dorado) one black (black Queen) and one in silver (Koh-i-noor) influenced by Warhol’s series of screen-prints of the Queen.

The black queen is made on ply wood: with toys and screws, undergrowth, animals and insects that create the eco-system fighting for their life – indicating the state of mind of the figure portrayed. He uses cheap toys made in china which is also inspiring for me as often I find myself restricted by media and art supplies. This piece concentrates in ‘the trappings of power’, It touches on events that happened in Britain, India and in Guyana; it makes reference to the horrific history. The Queen becomes a symbol. Hew Locke shares a love of excess. This piece reflects a broken messed up beauty. I find talking about this piece uncomfortable but at the same time I like how the artist is expressing his feelings about slave-trade and power, making the viewer think and reflect not only in art but in history and cultural differences. I find his work very powerful!

I am again reminded that it is not the artist’s  job to make art that is liked, sometimes the viewer might feel offended or uncomfortable but that comes with the field. When doing my work I sometimes  worry about offending people. Hew Locke has inspired me to be true to myself and do what I feel passionate about.

Above; Selene a Greek Godess of the moon and magic; a sculpture representing sleep. Selene is a classical statue with a contemporary twist, a black statue (rare in London). The black statue is informed by Art Nouveau, Victorian fairy paintings and by the sight of a group of tall, glamorous drag queens parading in Soho London at three o’clock in the afternoon. Selene is a powerful Godess reworked for today’s London – a dream weaver and a magical protector she is situated above a hotel in Soho. I love the fusion of Mythology, fantasy and real live events in this piece. I find this sculpture beautiful! I enjoy the meaning as it is magic and love (two of my favourite subjects). I again like that this sculpture can be accessed by anyone walking around the west-end of London. I have fond memories of when I started to discover art as a sixteen- year-old girl walking to and from college in the center of Madrid. I discovered amazing architecture like The Longoria Palace, a work of Gaudí’s in Madrid. I will never forget how exited I was to discovering it for myself! I fell in love immediately! I like seeing interesting art in the streets as it caters for everyone regardless of race, class, age or gender.

Above a mixed-media piece (mixing photography and drawing) working on the idea of: if Hew Locke were king this would be how London would look. I like the idea of taking works of art around us and changing them in order to send  a message (a different message). The message Hew Locke is portraying in this piece is one of “ megalomaniac” as he puts it in an interview in you-tube. He is interested in power and the history in power. I enjoy the way Hew has built on past history but visually; I like how he has created a paisley effect on the drapes of the statue. I also like the mixture of graffiti style drawings on the stone (base of the statue) It is almost a protest against power. This is a photograph 189x 127 cm. A statue of Victoria outside the law courts in Georgetown, Guyana.

Michael Brennand Wood

Michael Brennand-wood is a visual artist, curator and lecturer. He is known to be one of the most innovative and inspiring artist working in textiles. Michael is interested in the exploration of three dimensional line, structure and pattern, using a mix media like: Embroidery, pattern, lace and floral imagery. He explores and develops new techniques inventing many new and imaginative ways of integrating textiles with other media. He talks (video on line) about challenging “pretty tradicional textiles” by forming patterns in coated language. He is very picky about  the fabrics he introduces to his work -some fabrics are from Africa or india and have been collected through the years.

Above – I enjoy this piece and the reasons are many: I enjoy the colours and the symmetric repetitive patterns; these are qualities that I seem to be interested in for my own work. It is no secret that I enjoy colour and seem to seek it in my everyday life (I cant get enough of it!). I enjoy the way Michael Brennand- wood works with grids and builds them up, allowing the work to inform him about his next steps. I get the impression that sometimes his work is not planned, it evolves and that is a way that I enjoy working (some of my best works have been a result of this method).

In this piece I like the way he has arranged the flowers, through and around them he has woven what looks like paper with the addition of marbles and beads. I think the contrast of the hues of the flowers and the background are very attractive.

I really like the grid above. It reminds me of a rug a made years ago as a teenager. I used a similar concept. As a young girl I barely had any materials so I had to improvised. I used a sack of potatoes for my basegrid and I weaved and tied strips of fabric and bags. Michael does this piece with paper and fabric . This is a structure that progresses, like a puzzle, building a surface. I enjoy the idea that he uses pieces of fabric to inform the viewer of the history and culture by using fabric as a reference. I also enjoy the simplicity of the shape as what is important is the texture. He builds and enriches an idea; he says about his work ‘my work recognises no hierarchy in approach or discipline; my visual language is a synthesis of craft, painterly, design and sculptural traditions. I like that.

I am often confused about what I am, I have done sculpture, painting, made jewellery, fashion and I have felt that I need to narrow down and specialise in one media but when I see artist like Michael Brennand-wood, Louise Bourgeois and Hew Locke it gives me comfort as they are able to express themselves in all sorts of media. I like that Michael’s works are decorative although he adds titles to reveal references to conflict and words.

I enjoy the piece above because he has simplified and reduced his colour palette to yellow, pink,reds and blues. I enjoy how he has alined blue thread and red together giving the eye an ilusión of purple.

This piece above is very similar to the first one. I love this one more. He has added stars to this one and has played with different shapes. I find this piece pleasing to the eye; I enjoy the rhythm of the pattern and colour. I would love to see these works in real life as I get the feeling they are much more interesting than the photos reveal. I think part of the charm of Michael Brennand -Wood’s work is the ability to show  the layers in it; the construction, the texture and the different media he uses.

Polly Binn

Polly Binn is a maverick in the embroidery community. Polly grew up in a house of artists. She is inspired by place, adsorbing her surroundings and translating it into cloth. Her work is about observation and memory of place. Before doing any work Polly does the same walk everyday. She records mud, sand, water, bird marks and light, these are observed and felt with all of her senses. I admire and feel inspired by her ability to reduce the pictorial elements of her memory landscape. Polly works her cloth both sides. Her work is post-minimalist. Visually I am not overwhelmed by Polly’s work; I am not exited by it, maybe because it’s plain and there is no colour. I respect and admire the way she has has been able to translate her environment on to cloth and can learn from her thecnique and way of working, but apart from that I am not connecting to this artist as much.

Study 1 1996 27 x 28 cm

Inspired by the landscape around her (north of Norfolk) Polly works with canvas, painting and stitching. The piece above is of modernist Aesthetic. I find this piece a bit boring if I am honest. I suppose it is very wabi sabi, natural tones, very minimal, two toned, apart from that I haven’t much more to add about this piece.

Untitled 1982 black cotton with coloured thread. 50 x 45 x 5cm

I like this piece above as it is a clever fabric manipulation. I enjoy the different earthy coloured threads. I think Polly has used a smocking technique.

Intimacy and space in the intensity of the landscape. I think the knots are her body in relation to the landscape.

Even though this piece above is beige I enjoy the texture. Again is a smocking technique with buttons sandwiched in between the folds of the fabric. The cloth is a natural fibre and the buttons look like they could be made of shell, evoking sea and patterns in the sand. I wonder if the line in the cloth is connected to the colour of the sea.

Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois was an artist who was inspired by her personal experience as a child. Her art was a result of her trauma and memories. Louise suffered from anxiety and depression as she felt betrayed by her father and her nannie through their ten year affair.

Loise Bourgeois describes her work as transforming nasty into nice, hate into Love by putting her personal state into her materials. Chipping away at her material to express what she was feeling she adresses her sadness in her life through art. I dont really enjoy or like some of her art (if I am honest) although I do understand it, respect and admire her work. I think the reason I dont enjoy it is because I can feel so much anger! It makes me feel that even in her old age she was in turmoil. Maybe I don’t like it because I can feel her anxiety through her work and I think that is precisely why she is was a great artist. I see the whole body of her work as a self portrait – emotional records; her art became her form of therapy, even  she described how art saved her life.

What she believed in, what she felt, what she was and what she produced where all unified.

Maman; Louise likened her mother to a spider, describing the similarities between mother’s and spiders as both being ;weavers. Protectors, and fighters. She was inspired by the strenght and the weakness, goodness versus evil and the safety and danger. The fact that the spider could build an architecture, a home like a mother was her inspiration for this statue. I enjoy the enormous scale of this 3d installation. Being underneath this spider must be so humbling.

The pieces above are called ‘10 am’

I was touched by the tenderness and love of this collection. I get the feeling that these paintings are about Louise Bourgeois relationship with her assistant Jerrry Gorovay. Jerry Gorrovay worked with Louise thirty years. He had a calming effect on her as she often struggled with relationships because of her anxiety, often lashed out and smashed objects. Jerry gained her trust and helped her negotiate with exhibitions etc. When I look at these images I see the hands of Jerry as calming, helpful and almost invaluable. I see a relationship of give and take as she draws the darker hands together which help one lighter hand and then she reverses the sequence. In some of the paintings she draws two hands holding the lighter one down – I read this as controlling, managing or stopping  the other person from being self destructive. I enjoy the simplicity and clear message that Louise is conveying. I read these images as a message of love and partnership, beautiful!

Above is a drawing that struck a cord in me. I don’t enjoy the drawing visually as it is not pretty an looks very strange. My first reacción was… what the hell! But after my initial responce, I got it!. Well this is my interpretation any way!

On you-tube there is a video of Louise Bourgeois peeling an orange, a table trick that her father had often displayed when there were visitors for dinner. In this video she playfully teaches us how her father had taught her this trick, as she cuts the shape of a girl on the orange and then peels the shape away from the orange, it created a stencil of a girl but in the reverse of the stencil in the part which should be a vagina you get the part of the orange skin that pops out and could be interpreted as a penis. In this playful demonstration of her fathers ‘dinner table trick’ you can feel Louise constant feeling of embarrassment and failure. It is almost cringe wordy, she explained how with this “joke” her father used to remind her of his disappointment of her not being a boy. I think the image above is Louise expressing  that emotion and in so doing she comes up with this made up body drawing. I find the whole image disturbing and sad; I appreciate how Louise used her art as therapy but I still wonder if she ever found peace in her soul.

The sculpture above is called give and take; it is modeled on jerry Gorovay’s hands. I like this piece as it is all about friendships and relationships in general; the idea that relationships are or should be about a balanve of giving and taking. If you do one more than the other it can tip the fragile balance. I enjoy the concept of the two things coexisting together.

Mathew Harris and Howard Skempton

This was a collaboration between a textiles artist and a musician called Field notes. Mathew Harris uses old maps of Shropshire and graphic scores as a common starting point. In this work Mathew Harris uses layering, construction, piercing, patching, dyeing , cutting and hand-stitching cloth and paper – Howard Skemptom’s collaborates with his joyous, enigmatic music.

Howard Skempton and Mathew Harris share a passion for contemporary music: their creative processes and approach to composition are closely aligned. The base of this collaboration was a visit to the Shropshire Archives to see the ancient maps of of the local area ( Birmingham Contempory Music group).

With this piece I appreciate the process of the making – how Mathew Harris took elements of his primary research and took this on a creative journey. He experimented with different fabrics and dyes – that is the part I enjoy in this piece. The outcome doesn’t ‘wow’ me but the journey does. Visually it doesn’t excite me, but that is because my style is more glossy and may I say more comercial?.

Tracey Emin

I have researched Tracey Emin in part two.

Below are some of her works.

I have written before about me not loving Tracey Emin’s works. I respect her as an artist as I find her ability to express her personal experiences well through her art, but visually I find her art too crude and at times it makes me uncomfortable. The water colour  above was done in collaboration with Louise Bourgeois. The idea of two artist from two very different generations excites me. They are both artist that use art to express their traumas, I get the feeling they both used art as a form of therapy. I enjoy the soft tones  of this water colour. I also like the way Louise drew the shape of the woman and the title and then Tracey was left to add to the drawing. I feel that Tracey and Bourgeois complement each other in this work. I found Tracey’s and Louise’s works sometimes uncomfortable, maybe because I deal with my traumas and personal experiences in a completely different way. I use art to create ‘pretty’, illusion and to escape from the real world. I come from an upbringing where you don’t speak out about “the ugly things of life” I have almost trained myself to create an area in my mind/world where I can escape. The notion of expressing my traumas through my art is a new one. I have still to work out whether spending much time on such matters doesn’t make a person more bitter or wether it is true that Tracey and Louise did get over their traumas and anger through their work. There is no denying that through their works they have helped others. For sure they helped voice and bring awareness of how women have felt, and about oppression and rape. In this case Tracey has broken the silence and is one of a few that has encouraged other women to feel proud of their sexuality and not be embarrassed or scared to speak up about sexual harassment -This makes it very relevant today as we hear so many women speaking up about sexual harassment and rape with the ‘me too’ campaign on social media. For me? I still have a long way to go to be able to be so open about some of my traumas and personal experiences through my art, as I grew up in a Christian household and a different generation where you just got on with things. I understand that like everything in life we all have a different voice and for me at this point  is not mine (this is where my family and friends would be relieved 😅)

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A very explicit line drawing. I think it’s called “those who suffer love”. It is a contemporary. I think it is part of an animation of one hundred and fifty drawings. It is very minimal, and of a woman’s mind and her raw emotions, her fears of losing her libido and her sexual power as she gets older. the materials that Tracey uses are raw and poor but the message is powerful. I enjoy the theme or the subject that Tracey is expressing in this body of work.

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I find the image above so powerful; it takes me back to part two- working with words. I like the simplicity and the power this painting portrays.

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I have been asked to find and artist who inspires me and whom I feel expresses similarities to my way of thinking and creating. There is many an artist who inspire me and I find it difficult to narrow it down to one. All of the artists I have spoken about inspire me for different reasons. If we are talking about similarities in the way we work, I think I would cite Michael Brennand-Wood. I tend to let the work communicate to me; I allow my work to inform me, which results in work that has just evolved, sometimes taking a completely different direction to the one planned. visually, my work is similar too, as I also like symmetry and pattern.

In my research I came up with Vicki Murdoch and her textiles company Silken Favours based in London. Looking at her work I felt that we had a similar style and way of working. Her approach to her subjects are playful and warm-hearted. She confesses in an interview, not to try to be too serious and injects an element of humour to her work. She mainly works with tradicional inks on silk, drawing subjects like unicorns, flying pigs and cats.

I can relate to Vicki’s work as I have a similar ethos. I, like her, don’t take myself too seriously, I like to have fun and play with imagination and fantasy. I use my work to evade day to day problems in my life. I like to make pretty art as a way of escaping from real life. I find we are reminded of the struggles and the ugly side of the world constantly through media. I almost feel it’s my talent to take the ugly and turn it into something pretty and, there for, that’s why I tend to want to polish my work to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Looking at Vicki Murdoch’s works I am encouraged to see how I can develop my drawings and still be able to be my playful self – not too serious but still retaining my voice. Sometimes when looking at other artist like Hew Locke, I feel that my work is not as profound. Looking at Vicki’s work makes me feel more confident, while I see  there is room for the more “profound” works like Hew Lokcke’s- he is able to use history as an inspiration-Louise and Tracey Emin, who use the traumas of their personal experience and people like Vicki Murdoch and myself who like a bit of fun while producing pretty works. There is a lot that I like in Vicki’s works: I love the vivacious and happy colours in her prints. I also enjoy her choise of media, like using natural fabrics such as silks.how she takes elements of nature and translates them into fun and humorous prints. I also enjoy her choice of media, using natural fabrics like silk. I feel that silk always makes me feel better as I adore the feel of it – specially against the body. I think it is one of those fabrics that can be healing as well as can be cashmere; they are two fabrics that when feeling low can give me immediate comfort. What I am trying to say is that the combination of beautiful fabrics and fun motifs can be soothing and healing. My grandma used to say that humour is very important for the soul! So what a lovely combination! Luxury fabrics with fun and pretty prints, for me to achieve this I need to practice more drawing📝

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