Artists at home  

Sunday, 21 October 2007

We are currently in the middle of the Canterbury Festival - a two week annual arts festival spanning just about every kind of artistic endeavour you could imagine. Canterbury is one of those cities that seems to have more than its fair share of artists, so one of the more interesting regular events is the annual "Artist's Open House" trail, where local artists open their houses to the public on weekends to exhibit their work.

We visited two places yesterday. The first was an absolutely amazing place, that I can only describe as an artist's commune; a rambling Edwardian house filled with the most beautiful and sometimes bizzare sculptures, paintings and ceramics. For some reason I forgot to take any pictures (see previous post). But it was quite an experience.

After that we visited a really nice and very talented family - the Barnes's. The father is into etching and watercolours, his wife is a potter and their daughter makes colourful jewellery. They were absolutely wonderful hosts, making us coffee and answering questions about their work with real openness. The ceramics were absolutely wonderful, and I particularly loved this design - really deep blue and reds set against a perfect gold glaze on the rim.

I was also really impressed with the watercolour sketches of Mr. Barnes. He is clearly someone who has had an interesting and widely travelled life. His sketch books record vignettes of his experiences in Africa, Marrakech and Malaysia amongst others. I said that I was really jealous of his ability to produce these annotated drawings, but he said that he really thought that anyone could do the same, and that he himself had only started a few years ago.His point was that the artistic merit of the sketches really didn't matter that much - the idea is to record your individual perceptions of a moment and a place in your life. At that moment, I really felt inspired to have a go myself. A camera can record an objective impression of something, but I guess a sketch is almost like taking a snapshot of your brain, encompassing not just the physicality of the scene before you, but also your engagement with the moment - what it means to you. I'm enormously attracted to that idea. Not because I feel I have anything interesting to impart to others, but because I have a burning need for some form of creative expression. I used to find this through music, but not so much now. Maybe this would be good for me.

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