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 Commissions slide talk(unabridged)


In the earlier lecture I mentioned the pattern series in the early 70’s and said I would expand on it.     Here are three more slides of that period


One of two similar ink drawings, one with colour and one in black and white. This is the coloured. Pen and ink 61cm x 61cm


A gouache on paper 1973 40cm x 40cm

And Oil on canvas. Escher, rotation points  images 6 and 4


Another oil on canvas 91cm x 122cm


 Car park Stockton Art in the Enviroment CompetitionIn 1977-78 I responded to a call for proposals for a commission. The site was the huge brick wall of a multi storey car park in Stockton on Tees, overlooking the River.

Looking at the two photographs of the brickwork in perspective, you can see how the eye can travel up the lines of bricks, and for one interested in pattern the temptation to pick out with colour was irresistible.  Think of the two colour brickwork in Carlisle streets.     My first entry was liked but not immediately accepted as I was strongly encouraged by Northern Arts to develop it so that it would cover the whole wall, instead of only part.


Stocton Wall This was the final proposal.   In the first half of the talk I spoke of the idea of pattern referring to its setting.  Here I am using the brickwork as the subject as well as the ground I am painting on, the size of mark given by the size of the bricks.  If the painting had gone ahead I planned a system of reference card for given areas, painting by numbers, and just one brush stroke of the right colour for each brick. ”It was a brave thought young and daft”


 detail mural design (left)Working from left to right three details.    In the centre of each colour group there is an enlarged section as if seen for-shortened.   These areas refer to the photographs of the brickwork which I just showed you. 8_detail_mural_design_MIDDLE.JPG_19032011-0940-25.JPG

9_detail_mural_design_RIGHT.JPG_19032011-0940-40.JPG8 and 9

detail mural design (right) Eventually Stockton Council decided not to proceed with anything on this wall, but Northern arts gave me a grant of £400 by way of recognizing the time spent.

   The idea of art for architecture really appealed to me.   There were other proposal ideas and rejections on the way, but I persisted.   In 1989-1990 came a big commission, again through Northern Arts.  Art in the Metro was offering two sites at Heworth, on the Gateshead to Sunderland metro line.   I was offered one of them on the exterior, the metro-bus interchange, where people wait for their buses.


Heworth preposal sheet This shows photos taken of the situation at Heworth, as it was.    The photo on the right showing the bus waiting area ...and the brown glass panels along this wall, much of it vandalised, which they were going to replace with enamel panels.  Would I like to go and work in an enamelling factory to produce a mural for this long wall, and a section just outside?   Enamel? I had never done any but they seemed to think I could.

After a rejected first proposal, for the second it was agreed that the design might be based on things which had been made in the North East.     I spent a fruitful few days researching the area and museums in Newcastle, Gateshead, Jarrow, South Shields and Sunderland looking at the products of Industry both large and domestic.  From this research I put together the second design, which was accepted.    


Later I put together these sheets to show some of the images I was using.


I was sent with another artist, Mike Clay who was awarded the other commssion inside the station, to visit several enamelling factories in Northamptonshire, Yorkshire and Belgium.  The factories were all keen to get the job of re-panelling the whole station, so the artists who were part of the potential job were treated well.   I learned a lot from these visits and comparing one actor with another.

Eventually I spent 11 weeks working in the enamelling factory in Corby Northamptonshire, together with the other artist, Mike Clay, who was working on his panels.

Fortunately behind where I was working, just near the huge furnace, there was a small lab kiln, and so I was able to make tests at each stage.   Also fortunately for me, there was an artist enameller who was there from time to time,  Pat Johnson, who because of some of the transparent qualities I was wanting, was able to advise about using jewellery enamel in some areas of my mural, for example where I was depicting glass.


Preposal studies


Towards the end of the 11 weeks Raymond came down to photograph the panels. We decided that once installed at Heworth the panels would be too difficult to photograph and so the factory agreed to take the panels outside. A laborious job in 90 degrees.


Outside the factory figuring out the order of the panels.


panals detail 1 These are put together from the photographs he took outside the factory.

From left to right.  Vignettes of the North Sea coast seen through broken glass


panals detail 2 Sand, with particles of coal in the rivulets.    A glass bottle.   A Sunderland splash ware plate; with a handful of sand and pebbles to finish off the sea, sand and beach section.


More glass, Sunderland glass vase, a modern lettered glass dish and two twist stems of wine glasses.  Glass fragments of early glass from Sunderland museum. Behind them are different stone core samples.


A disaster commoration glass for the Victoria Hall disaster where children were killed trying to rush out the hall.  Coal and Thomas Bewick’s vignette Loading coal at the staithes.


Overlay composition of a monk using a lathe to turn these decorative stone pillars; at Monkwearmouth and lettering of names to do with another disaster; this I think was in the church yard at the Church of St Peter and St Paul Heworth.     A little area of Book Illumination, and a section of a modern quilt at the Shipley Art Gallery.  A carved sandstone and above a tomb in Heworth Churcyhard mentioned in Pevsner two children lying under a carved Durham Quilt. Again in the next slide.


A pieced Quilt in the Shipley.  More Illumination Maybe from the Bede Museum in Jarrow.   Not to leave out the humble Rag Rug.


Heworth Metro Interior enamel in situ Photo by Roger Lee.Tyne Bridge. Would it be on Maling Pottery?  A church silver plate. And to finish a Tapestry by Archie Brennan in the Shipley of Brendan Foster ‘I am the greatest long distance runner in Gateshead’  


Outside Heworth in situ Installed.  The mural is 3m high and about 33m long

"Geordie bits and Pieces"

The exterior, which was made up of fragments of the images in the main mural.


Hastings proposal sheet In 1991 came another opportunity, but this time a wall hung textile was wanted for the E.M.I. Unit at Hastings Hospital.  I submitted slides, was short listed and went to visit and take photographs.  The brief, apart from its architectural requirements, required non aggressive colour and subject matter of skies.  A sloping corridor wall, very well lit from windows which look out on a courtyard.  As well as residents there was a constant flow of staff and visitors up and down, so the piece would have to work for moving spectators.  On the train home I sketched out the idea which did form the beginning of the design.  I was thinking of three hangings divided to look like four.

These were the quick first ideas which I submitted together with this sample:


Maquette To show the quality of felt to the panel.    They awarded me the commission and I proceeded.


carding the back to show the depth of wool required for a hanging of that size.


On these white areas would be the skies, some pre- felted.


The first of the three for the lower end of the corridor where the ceiling was highest


The middle felt


third, for the top of the corridor. You will see it is not as high. 


Installed.  I do have a knack of getting commissions which I can’t photograph


You can just see it through the windows of the courtyard.


and another


A Hospital commission proposal again. This time for the Cumberland Infirmary Carlisle.   You may remember Christine Constant’s ceramic mural in the old hospital reception area? It was behind you as you waited at the reception windows.    This was my offering for that commission.  Interesting that we both had similar ideas about using Cumbrian topographical features. Maybe that was part of the brief.  I was using the idea of Cumbrian stone walls as a device to visually hold together disparate images the felt panel in the middle was simply to show the selection panel the material I was proposing.  I later removed this felt and framed the four drawings.


And Carlisle again, but the new hospital.  My proposal for the Atrium entrance. The design was in felt, and was to have been scanned and digitally printed on the vast scale you know of from Phil Morsmans design which was successful, and is successful.  However these framed felts were purchased for the hospital and are now half way down the Atrium on the right.        This, like the Hastings felt, is another example of using studio developed work and re-working the ideas to the brief of a commission.  Again I felt that the unsettling experience of entering a hospital required a calming image.  The horizontal division was to coincide with the first and second levels and the vertical division’s line up with the roof struts.


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