Week 9 – Creative Writing


My daughter’s friend works for Heatherwick, so I like to keep up with what his practice are creating.  I love the idea of a garden bridge, not sure why it hasnt been considered before.Thomas Heatherwick’s proposed Thames bridge.http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/jun/24/garden-bridge-london-thomas-heatherwick-joanna-lumley

Not content with that, Heatherwick is proposing a island in New YorkThomas Heatherwick island New York


Good architecture doesn’t have to be about tallest, brashest or most expensive.

just found out that there are going to be restrictions on the garden bridge and there may be a charge.  Nothing is ever what it seems.

Creative Writing

I was really moved by Sharon’s ability to convey her emotional response to a work by Mark Rothko.  I realised that when I comment on an artwork I answer the questions, where, what, how, when, left brain, and I do not seem to have developed the language to describe my emotional response, right brain.  This could be for a number of reasons.  Maybe I haven’t learnt the language of critique yet, maybe I just don’t ‘see’,  maybe my spectrum of emotion is limited for physical or psychological reasons or maybe I am not allowing access to my unconscious mind, relying on the easier cerebral response.

Pallant Gallery, Chichester

Conscious of this issue, I visited the Conscience and Conflict exhibition at the Pallant.  This particular conflict, (1936-39), building up to the second world war touched many artists around the world.

Three works stood out for me.

Picasso’s Weeping Woman

I could really feel her pain.  I think it was the angular core in contrast to the softly flowing hair, but I decided to seek out an expert opinion, with a view to better understanding what I am failing to see.

I found this review by the reliable Jonathan Jones in the Guardian, May 2000.  http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2000/may/13/art

‘Let your eyes wander over the sharp surface and you are led by the jagged black lines to the picture’s centre, her mouth and chin, where the flesh seems to have been peeled away by corrosive tears to reveal hard white bone. The handkerchief she stuffs in her mouth is like a shard of glass. Her eyes are black apertures. When you are inside this picture you are inside pain; it hits you like a punch in the stomach.’

The Watcher 1937, Edward Burra

Again, was it angularity that conveyed pain, the semi monochrome treatment, or the threatening nature of the piece?

I am more familiar with Burra’s softer images of life, but I suspect if I research further, the impact of the Spanish Civil War sharpened the edges of his work.

The Snack Bar 1930

I note from this excellent blog that Burra was born in Rye, just 8 miles from me and a watercolourist.  I will be looking at him more closely.


‘In 1969 the critic Pierre Rouve observed of Burra’s work: ‘The power of his larger compositions is unique and uniquely disconcerting in the eyes of those convinced that watercolours can only water down all colours. To ask them to convey emotional intensity and cerebral strength would seem absurd… And yet this miracle occurs time and time again in Burra’s work’.’

As an aside I checked a number of ‘gerryco23’s blogs


South Downs by Eric Ravilious, who grew up in Eastbourne, 20 miles from Hastings

I will return.  Too much to learn, so easy to be side-tracked.

Wyndham Lewis ‘The Surrender of Barcelona’, 1934–7<br /><br /><br />
© Wyndham Lewis and the estate of Mrs G A Wyndham Lewis by kind permission of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust (a registered charity)

The Surrender of Barcelona 1934-7 Percy Wyndham Lewis

The power of this painting is the contrast between the dark, military foreground and the colourful, almost cartoon like body of the work.

The main reason I went to the Pallant was to see the Terry Frost works based on the Eleven Poems by Federico Garcia Lorca.  Lorca was a significant influence on Leonard Cohen, whose work I admire, so much so that he named his daughter after him.  I wanted to see the power of these poems in action


Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías

The Tate, owners of the 4th Artist Copy, describe the work,

‘Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias is based on a four-part elegy to a young bullfighter and friend of Lorca’s who was fatally gored in the Manzanares arena in Madrid on 11 August 1934. In Frost’s print, the artist’s characteristic abstracted forms of solid colour suggest an illustration of the poem’s subject. A large black semi-circular wedge suggestive of a bull’s horn intrudes into the image from the left side. At its point is a splattering of bright red denoting the spilled blood of the matador. Above and to the right is a bright yellow circle, a simplified image of the blazing sun. An off-white arc is embossed below the circle, shadowing or cradling the yellow form. The slightly glossy texture of the arc is dampened where it overlaid with smudges of red. Linda Saunders has commented on how the simplicity of the composition echoes the starkness of the poem. She has written, ‘Frost takes the primary force of his image from the bold colour of three of Lorca’s lines: “Oh, white wall of Spain! / Oh, black bull of sorrow! / Oh, hard blood of Ignacio!”’ (Saunders, ‘Frost and the Duende’, Terry Frost, p.222).’


This image works well for me.

021 023


The Moon Rising 1989

For me, this image, whilst pleasing, does not seem to bear much relationship to the poem.  The choice of colour, the reference to just the title rather than the content or feel of the poem, do not make for a cohesive interpretation.

Again from the Tate review, ‘The Moon Rising is one of the simplest and starkest images in the Lorca portfolio. In the top left corner of the print is a smudged black shape, roughly circular in form. Below it and to the right is a downward facing red crescent with curved ends. A black crescent whose pointed ends face upwards lies nestled between the red crescent and a larger smudged red form at the bottom of the print. The bold blocks of colour and simplified curvilinear forms recall the abstract paintingsand prints of Joan Miró (1893-1983; see Untitled, 1964, Tate P05474) and the late cut-outs of Henri Matisse (1869-1954; see The Dancer, 1949, Tate P01713).

The poem on which this print is based is an impressionistic description of the silence and mystery of a moonlit night. Frost discussed the use of black and red in relation to the Lorca portfolio, saying, ‘Black and Red become a symbol for death and life, lust, passion, tenderness, fear, love’ (quoted in Terry Frost, p.216). ‘


Disappointingly only two of the works were displayed beside the associated poem.  The remaining works did not necessarily have the same title as a one of the 11 poems photocopied in a folder.  Not the best effort from the Pallant.

Anselm Kiefer

the Imagine programme on BBC1 gave a great insight into the life of a leading artist.  Studio space the size of a supermarket, an army of assistants and the freedom to create whatever you fancy. A lot to aspire to.  I am looking forward to seeing his exhibition at the RA.  Just a little disappointed at the indulgence.

Chapman Brothers

i love the BBC4 series What Do Artists Do All Day?  The Chapman brothers Jake and Dinos, didn’t disappoint.  We saw the brothers preparing for their current exhibition at the Jerwood, laced with images of Hastings.  Again a squad of assistants painstakingly preparing the 1000s of figures for the centrepiece of the exhibition and a glimpse of Jake watercolouring the Goya etchings, but no real insight into their creative process.  It just seems to be about enjoying themselves.

Gerhard Richter

A YouTube interview with Nicholas Serota during Richter’s preparation for his exhibition at the Tate Modern.  A quiet, unassuming man, still working hard in his 80s.  How he managed to work on large canvases in a white shirt and remain spotless, was either a lesson to us all or demonstrated great self control.  His thought process was tangible.  A great insight into his working practice.



Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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