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CONV ERSA TIONS IN PA I N T ING:


Fiesta MK2


Legacy Exhibition Preview, The Auxiliary Warehouse Artwork by Richard Forster. Photo credit Cal Carey


C O N V E R S AT I O N S I N PA I N T I N G : F I E S TA M K 2 Conversations in Painting: Fiesta MK2 is a multi-venue painting festival that connects artists from Tees Valley to a broader UK and international network. It celebrates why painting continues to fascinate and engage audiences whilst looking at historical and contemporary contexts. Fiesta MK2 features large scale group exhibitions exploring painting from the Tees Valley, surveys of Contemporary British Painting, a solo show, networking and social events along with talks, seminars and workshops. The event is organised by Conversations in Painting, an artist led group which aims to open up a conversation between artists and the public around contemporary painting practice. The group serves as a hub and network for supporting Tees Valley based painting practitioners that also has a national/international remit. The project seeks to highlight the strength of the painting community evolving from Tees Valley and establish the area as a place that supports painting practice. Conversations in Painting promotes contemporary painting through exhibitions, publications, talks, workshops and regular studio visits.

Artwork by William Tillyer. Photo credit Cal Carey


T I E S T H AT B I N D, ANNIE O’DONNELL When things meet, occurrences entwine, as each becomes bound up in the other’s story. Each such binding is a place or topic. It is in this binding that knowledge is generated. To know someone or something is to know their story, and to be able to join that story to one’s own.1 (Tim Ingold) As late as last month, life went on largely as it had done in living memory. In the UK, the long-term effects of Brexit were predicted to be simultaneously far-reaching and largely unknowable, and yet it was not anticipated that the basic status-quo would change anytime soon. Internationally, artists balanced busy lives while making work alone and collaboratively, often but not always, in studios. Existence was precarious for most of us on the periphery of authorised power and privilege, and artists became known for negotiating circuitous paths through economic crises, of both small and epic scales, while also attempting to maintain their practices. We struggled through the tangles of self-employment, worried about changes to creative contacts, and took second or third jobs in fields that bore no relation to our training. Those of us based in places rocked by waves of industrial decline, like Teesside/Tees Valley, were also aware that our position was not so different from that of our friends and families: we were part of a greater struggling whole. We also clearly saw the need to support one another. It was within this set of circumstances that the artistled project ‘Conversations in Painting’ began, and in which its latest iteration - the exhibition, Legacy - 50 Years of Painting in the Tees Valley, and its related events, took place.

Ingold, T. (2011) Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description, London: Routledge Artwork by Sarah Cooney. Photo Credit Cal Carey

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The wider multi-venue project was given impetus by debates on Teesside about whether art needed to be useful, or whether the playful ‘potentials of pointlessness’ were important, as its largest art institution, MIMA, transitioned into an organisation leading communities through ‘current urgencies’. What could this mean for those who paint? It was felt that individual practice-led research needed to link to that of others via certain consistencies – not through a single aesthetic approach - but through the very act of thrashing out through painting how and why it can be seen to be relevant today. This gave coherence to the ‘Conversations in Painting’ artists, whose work ranges from the figurative to the abstract, and from the objective to the mythological. This rhizomic group is not generational, indeed one of its greatest strengths has been the free exchange of ideas between painters of different ages, connecting the recent past to the present and future. Some of these influential, layered relationships were built initially within the pedagogical departments of local art institutions, Northern School of Art and Teesside University, which themselves share complicated joint histories. The relationships have developed and shifted through more recent exhibitions, studio visits, talks and workshops that explored painting and more general artistic agency in places like Teesside. Sometimes the artists spoke and sometimes the art did. Bringing together the work of thirty painters, Legacy - 50 Years of Painting in the Tees Valley, aimed to build a family tree of painting for Teesside and the wider region, and served to demonstrate how artists support each other in an area often viewed as marginal, in both artistic and social senses. This was the first time there had been such a comprehensive attempt to draw together the work of painters with a shared connection to this place, and was in no small way made possible by the open-minded attitude and physical size of the relatively new venue, The Auxiliary, a former warehouse, in Middlesbrough.

Legacy installation shot. Artwork by Phil Gatenby. Photo Credit Cal Carey


Legacy formed a ‘loaded canon’ of practice, ranging from artists with established international reputations; to those whose mature work urgently warrants more attention; to artists still studying while running collaborative ventures, and those better known for other aspects of their practice. Clear links could be seen between artists – how could it be otherwise in a geographical area with such a peculiar postindustrial ‘hyperlocal’ landscape? Yet it was also an exhibition that provided welcome shocks – with dislocations, ruptures and splinters. We played games of ‘Is it? Isn’t it?’ and ‘Just whose work was that on the far wall?’. In retrospect, some of my favourite works from Basil Beattie’s Janus series, first seen by me during his artist talk at Newcastle University, act as a distillation of the exhibition’s invitation to us to look back and look forward, resembling as they do, rear view mirrors and windscreens. They are also prescient objects, emphasising our current inability, whilst in Covid 19 ‘lock-down’, to physically travel except in certain circumstances. The exhibition happened in conjunction with other exhibitions and events over a month, including Paint Lounge: Supernature, in The Auxiliary’s Side Gallery. Here artists explored the reciprocal relationship between humans and nature – again something which communities are currently re-evaluating, as accepted norms dissolve and reform. Visitors were invited to join in relaxed discussions about contemporary painting and environmental concerns with exhibiting artists, during a lounge event in a more domestic-scaled setting – something which had happened with a series of artists in different places, and which now seems like a precious opportunity. There was also a call for the public to join staff at MIMA for conversations about the history of painting on Teesside. This was to tease out perhaps pre-internet information held in personal collections that might have been lost to communities but which could be discovered again in artefacts, written publications and oral memories, and documented for future generations. This event was particularly pertinent for Tees Valley (Top) Legacy installation shot. Artwork by Basil Beattie, Phil Gatenby, Martin Smith, Rachel Lancaster. (Bottom) Supernature exhibition. Artwork by Paul Smith, Susan Absolon. Photo Credit Cal Carey


painters represented in the Middlesbrough Collection held at MIMA, whose works are always popular with visitors. Mountain Size: Contemporary British Painting another large-scale group exhibition at Pineapple Black, another relatively new gallery with a growing reputation, a short walk away from The Auxiliary, acted as a foil for Legacy. The ‘Contemporary British Painting’ organisation is essentially an artist-led exemplar for groups of painters in sub-regions like Teesside, focusing as they do on current painting trends and their attachment/detachment to/from tradition. It also felt important that artists and visitors (from Teesside and beyond) could see the strength of the painting produced here when viewed ‘en masse’, and with art from the wider UK. The exhibition title applied the trope of the monumental mountain with its sediments, explosive geological events, crevasses and summit, to the hard work and exhilaration of painting. Each of the works took landscape as some form of trigger for its improvisation, planning and making. A small and beautiful painting, Church Tower and Field by Matthew Krishanu, hung quietly on a side wall. Its high horizon line and indistinct building hovered above a thin wash of colour, a field that reminded me of sitting in the local landscape looking at tall industrial structures in the distance: this local was not my local but his. When we used to speak as artists of changes to cultural contexts, we thought we had already experienced most likely outcomes, and these were rarely improvements to the current position. However, we actually had no idea of how drastic the speed and extent of change might be. We, and our communities, are now beginning to have more idea. How did we survive this far in such a fragile system? How can we move forward or even sideways from this? Separated physically from our peers and perhaps from our studios, some of us will feel bombarded by the sheer amount of information and ‘help’ hitting our screens every day. Some of us will struggle even to afford to pay the phone

Church Tower and Field by Matthew Krishanu. Mountain Size Exhibtion, Pineapple Black. Photo Credit Vicky Holbrough


Legacy Exhibition, The Auxiliary Warehouse. Artwork by Jeremy Diggle, Jonny Green x2, Joe Cole. Photo Credit Cal Carey


and broadband bills for the technology that keeps us connected, when eating and keeping a roof over our heads is foremost in our minds. My worry is that many may become lost in this way. We must guard against this – and while artists can’t solve all the world’s problems, we can hold to account those who can. Essentially this is why a project like ‘Conversations in Painting’ is vital, whether temporarily as an online resource or in a future transformation of its face to face activities. For its true legacy lies in this meeting of things and stories, described earlier by Ingold, that weave us into multiple communities and places – bound together by shared obsessions, activities, political leanings or geographical landscapes.

Legacy installation shot. Artwork by, (left) Emma Bennett, (right) Ben Platt Photo Credit Cal Carey


EXHIBITIONS

Legacy Exhibtiion Preview, The Auxiliary Warehouse. Photo credit Cal Carey


NO IN - BETWEEN Christian Mieves: No in-between Crown Street Art Gallery, Crown Street, Darlington DL1 1ND 22 - 30 October 2019 The everyday processes by which surfaces are worn down, thinned or marked, puts a particular focus on visual materiality. Material in its different conditions and formations has here a particular unstable character, defined as on-going process, shifting, disappearing and distancing. The exhibition explores the idea of erosion, collapse, constant change imposed on everyday objects and environments. The paintings in this exhibition deal with a slippery setting, endless ambiguities and its productive potential. In this instability, bodies seem to dissolve and images to disintegrate, leaving the viewer with a sense of ‘no pauses, no in-between’. Spaces and objects are bound to collapse yet simultaneously something new emerges. The work contests assumptions of agency, control, and in more general terms, visibility. This underlines the nature of painting practice of being in and between processes, of testing and reflecting, and shaping states of change. Christian Mieves is painter based in the North East of England. His paintings have been shown at exhibitions in Germany, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom. He has published articles in academic journals on issues of exoticism, heterotopias and the beach. For further information see: http://mieves.info/

Studio 7, 2016, 140x 140 cm, oil on paper. Christian Mieves. Photo Credit Phil Gatenby


M O U N TA I N S I Z E Mountain Size: Contemporary British Painting Pineapple Black, Hillstreet Centre, Middlesbrough TS1 1SU 1 - 30 November 2019 Amanda Ansell / Karl Bielik / Julian Brown / Simon Carter Andrew Crane / Gordon / Dalton / Pen Dalton / Jeff Dellow Sam Douglas / Natalie Dowse / Matthew Krishanu / Paula MacArthur D J Manley / Cara Nahaul / Paul Newman / Joe Packer / Mandy Payne Barbara Pierson / Alison Pilkington / Narbi Price / Freya Purdu Greg Rook / Stephen Snoddy / Judith Tucker / Sean Williams Mountain Size features artists curated from the Contemporary British Painting membership, selected by CBP board member, Gordon Dalton. Mountain Size features artists whose work has a relationship to landscape, as well as to the history, legacy and traditions of painting itself. This does not mean it is divorced from the wider realities around it or a fruitful critical dialogue with other artforms, but that painting itself is mountain sized, a large, seemingly immovable force yet one that is changeable with time. Contemporary British Painting is an artist led organisation which explores and promotes current trends in British painting through group exhibitions, talks, publications and the donation of paintings to art museums. For further information see: www.contemporarybritishpainting.com

Mountain Size Exhibition, Pineapple Black Gallery Artwork by Mandy Payne. Photo Credit Pineapple Black


S U P E R N AT U R E Supernature curated by PaintLounge The Auxiliary, 31 Station Street, Middlesbrough TS1 1SR 16 November - 12 December 2019 Susan Absolon Rachel Lancaster Paula MacArthur Joe Packer Paul Smith Supernature takes its title from the 1977 disco track by Cerrone; a somewhat camp approach to a discussion of some seriously pressing issues. The lyrics could be straight out of science fiction, but even back in 1977 (and much earlier) there was awareness of a developing environmental crisis... ‘Maybe nature has a plan to control the ways of man’ Supernature brings together painters who explore the personal and political aspects of the impact of man on nature and conversely the impact of the natural environment on us as individuals and on humanity. Once fantastical ideas offered by science fiction have quickly become scientific fact and often seem unimaginative compared to current scientific research and predictions. As painters what is our relationship to all of this and how do we respond? ‘Will there be a happy end, now that all depends on you’ For further information see: www.paintlounge.info

Supernature Exhibition, The Auxiliary Warehouse. Photo Credit Cal Carey


(Above) Artwork by Rachel Lancaster. Photo credit Cal Carey (Right) Supernature installation shot L-R Artwork by Paula MacArthur, Rachel Lancaster x2, Susan Absolon. Photo credit Cal Carey


PA I N T L O U N G E PA U L A M A C A R T H U R PaintLounge is a simple idea which comes from a passion for painting and talking about painting… just gather together a bunch of painters with their work, sit them on a sofa, invite an audience, give everyone some refreshments and let the conversation begin. It’s a simple idea but surprisingly different to a ‘panel discussion’ style artist’s talk, everyone always seems much more relaxed, the conversation flows quite naturally between the painters and the audience, it often goes off on unexpected tangents and quickly gets into the nitty-gritty of painting, painters and paint. Supernature is an exhibition of paintings by Susan Absolon, Rachel Lancaster, Paula MacArthur, Joe Packer and Paul Smith which evolved out of the lyrics of Cerrone’s 1977 disco track. The resulting PaintLounge conversation rambled from our experiences of the natural world, to climate change, to migration, to science fiction via some fascinating insights into everyone’s painting practice. For me, the real joy that comes from these events is the new friendships that develop. It is fantastic to be invited to work alongside two such generous painters, Sarah Cooney and Deb Covell of Conversations in Painting, and I’m grateful to now count them both as friends, along with many others too many to mention here - you know who you are. Thank you.

PaintLounge Event. Photo Credit Cal Carey


LEGACY LEGACY - 50 years of Painting in the Tees Valley The Auxiliary, 31 Station Street, Middlesbrough, TS1 1SR 16 November - 12 December 2019 Basil Beattie / Bobby Benjamin / Emma Bennett / Raymond Bentley Hannah Campion / Tony Charles / Rachael Clewlow / Joe Cole Sarah Cooney / Deb Covell / Gordon Dalton / Jeremy Diggle Richard Forster / Phil Gatenby / Jonny Green / Aly Helyer / Peter Hicks Kelly Jayne / Brendan Lancaster / Laura Lancaster / Rachel Lancaster Wendy Okey / John James Perangie / Ben Platt / Theresa Poulton Narbi Price / Gerda Roper / Martin Smith / William Tillyer / Tom Wall This exhibition brings together the work of 30 artists to tell a story of painting in Tees Valley spanning 50 years, tracing a lineage of painters who have influenced and supported each other in various ways. Established and emerging practices sit side by side to acknowledge the impact and importance of painters who have taught, mentored and championed each other marking a continuum of knowledge sharing, generosity and trust across generations.

Legacy installation shot. L-R Artwork by Jeremy Diggle, Jonny Green, Joe Cole, William Tillyer, Bobby Benjamin, Basil Beattie, Laura Lancaster. Photo Credit Cal Carey


Legacy Exhibition Preview. The Auxiliary Warehouse. Photo Credit Cal Carey


LEGACY REFLECTION, BOBBY BENJAMIN The casual gallery goer may well have arrived at an exhibition entitled ‘Legacy – 50 years of painting in the Tees Valley’ expecting the typical odes to the Transporter Bridge or watered-down watercolour paintings of Roseberry Topping. This was not that exhibition. This was an untypical retelling of a story that is often overlooked. In a region regularly reduced to a checklist of things we built and eat, this was an exhibition with more expansive intentions. That is not to say that our area, and its proud history, were not represented here – at every turn I was met with reminders of our region’s heritage. Our industrial past was there to see – angle-ground into the sheet steel of Tony Charles’ ‘Fettled Layers’ or in my own contribution, ‘Hot Off Depressed’, hewn from recycled polymer on Wilton Site. The churned black plastic that formed my work looked as though it had been coughed up and spat out by the Joe Cole painting hanging adjacent. ‘Metallic Girl Image’ assumed a monolithic presence in the room - the 1969 piece seemingly emboldened by its wealth of history. Across the way Narbi Price’s ‘Gutter Painting’ welcomes you to Teesside with a Hartlepool-kiss and a kick in the ribs. The knowingly unnatural composition in this depiction of the site, where the artist received a life changing beating, offers the viewer an unsettling out-of-body experience. Turn a corner and a double act of disfigured busts by Jonny Green continue the air of malaise, offering, perhaps, his take on the warped identity of a post-industrial town.

Legacy installation shot. (top) Artwork by Tony Charles (bottom) L-R Artwork by Basil Beattie, Bobby Benjamin, Phil Gatenby, Martin Smith, Rachel Lancaster, John James Perangie, Ben Platt Photo Credit Cal Carey


Legacy installation shot. L-R Artwork by Deb Covell, Hannah Campion


There was a musicality to the way this collection was hung too. Any instinctive compulsion to present an ordered timeline had been swept aside in favour of a looser, more experimental approach where the onus is on colour and form to drive the narrative. From ominous, lurking, black comes chimes of ochre in a Turner-esque turn from Wendy Okey, ascending through the esoteric landscape of Gordon Dalton and exploding into full symphony in a joyous piece from Tom Wall, harbouring the true beauty of the region – its sense of courage, possibility and ambition. Yes - there is a story here – of artists who have informed or championed each other’s practice. This is an intricate and subtle network of ideas spanning half a century and I saw these detailed layers played out with complete abandon in ‘Bite’, a painting by my own teacher, Phil Gatenby. Beneath a soft surface of playful blues and white, the work shares a glimpse at something deeper, perhaps darker, and as such is emblematic of the wider visual discussion that is taking place here. Co-curator Sarah Cooney’s ‘Evelina’ is equally emotive, serving up a visual Happy Meal of colour and placement that is symbolic of her curatorial approach to the show as a whole. The only bridges in this exhibition are metaphorical. The structure in this collection comes from the geometric forms of Theresa Poulton, the structural studies of Emma Bennett and the meticulous patterns of Rachael Clewlow; fashioned upon wood, slate and canvas respectively. And where there is order, in this exhibition, there is a complementary chaos. Alongside Clewlow’s brilliantly and elaborately titled ‘Man Made Waterways, 91.9 Miles Walked, Rochdale (KEY III)’ hung Ben Platt’s ‘In sequential de formulations’, which could have been the same painting after having been passed through a blender. Hannah Campion’s ‘Fly’ lay on the floor, soft with colour yet jagged and dangerous – a poison butterfly, daring you to refer to it as sculpture.

Legacy installation shot. L-R Artwork by Rachael Clewlow, Emma Bennett, Brendan Lancaster, Aly Helyer, Sarah Cooney, Tom Wall, Hannah Campion, Gordon Dalton. Photo Credit Cal Carey


Legacy installation shot. L-R Artwork by Gerda Roper, Narbi Price, Peter Hicks Photo Credit Cal Carey


John James Perangie toyed further with the boundaries of the genre, with liberated strokes and swirls across a found Victorian bust and down onto a plinth strapped with a rubber ball. His work asks the question ‘what is a painting?’ a sentiment echoed across the room in Richard Forster’s ‘Stack II’, an endless tower formed from dollops of paint that is both challenging and painstakingly naive. Co-curator Deb Covell’s ‘Red Ribbon’, a flattened paint skin finished in racing-car-red nail varnish, defied a comparatively diminutive frame to stand out with a Friday night sass that called to mind the night club down the road. This was coupled with a kitchen table can-do that grounded the work and reminded me of home. Laura Lancaster’s ‘90’, a mass of untamed colour and rhythmic movement, captured the haze of a blurred memory. The jostling colours were the remnants of a dream, collapsing beneath one another before I can find the thread. On the back wall, hung side by side, are works from William Tillyer and Basil Beattie. The last time I saw the work of either artist was on the outstretched white plains of an institution. To see them now, hung alongside my peers and contemporaries, in a former flooring warehouse, down the road from the infamous Club Bongo International, gave them a new relevance. It was the difference between seeing your favourite band at the Town Hall or at the Westgarth Social Club. Commercial success is often a barometer for the misguided, but here in this collection of works, we look past that. This is a conversation about a medium, about technique and about colour. This is a visual dialogue between generations and a reflection upon our region and the artists it produces. This exhibition doesn’t pay lip service, it doesn’t tick boxes, it actively shuns convention. This is a new take on the modern history of painting in the Tees Valley and its intentions are reflected in their bold choices of exhibitors and artwork.

Legacy installation shot. Artwork by John James Perangie. Photo Credit Cal Carey


The success of this display, for me, was in its sensitivity. It understood the area. It looked beyond the usual roll-call of Tees-tastic motifs and buzzwords and celebrated the idiosyncrasies of the region. It explored the dirty underbelly and the hidden beauty, the struggle and the success, without ever bowing. This group of artists were informed by the area, and celebrate it through technique and process. This place isn’t perfect and neither are we, but the respect is mutual. And to close with my personal highlight, amidst the vivid colour, the bold shapes, the movement and the angst, unbound by inhibition and free from conformity, the beautiful ‘Land of Iron’ by Peter Hicks. A masterful composition, a palette simultaneously romantic and earthed, poetic in its beauty and punk rock in its inception, it was a work that embodied the project as a whole.

Legacy installation shot. L-R Artwork by Theresa Poulton, Rachel Lancaster, Peter Hicks. Photo credit Cal Carey


EVENTS

Legacy exhibition preview. Artwork by Laura Lancaster. Photo credit Cal Carey


NO IN- BETWEEN Christian Mieves in Conversation with Matthew Hearn Crown Street Art Gallery, Crown Street, Darlington DL1 1ND 24 October 2019 6.30 - 8pm Fiesta MK2 starts out with a solo-show in a gallery where the idea of working otherwise is encouraged. Like any and all solo shows the process of installation is a ‘thing’ in itself, sifting through the sands of taste to fix the exhibition intent in situ. Making a clear choice about the work selected, testing and retesting the location of each piece, musing the exact where and how. What does the space allow? Does this work here? Does it work better alongside the red one? This one needs to be fixed on the gallery wall. Is this piece too high? These three hang free, it’s a must do. Installing a show urges a very particular ‘conversation in painting’ that can be a delight. The In Conversation public event invites visitors and guests to share this conversation through the mirror of their own concerns. Composition 1, 160x 150 cm , oil on unstretched canvas (left) Composition 2, 240 x 150 cm, oil on unstretched canvas (middle) Photo detail Artists Jonny Green and Christian Mieves during ‘No In-Between’ exhibition install, Crown Street Art Gallery. Photo credit Phil Gatenby


PA I N T L O U N G E PaintLounge Middlesborough, The Auxiliary, 31 Station Street, Middlesbrough TS1 1SR Conversation: 15 November 2019 3 - 5pm PaintLounge events have taken place in London and Berlin bringing fine art painters together to discuss contemporary painting in a relaxed ‘lounge’ setting with sofas and refreshments. Each painter shows their work and joins the others on the PaintLounge sofa to take part in a conversation relating to current issues and developments in contemporary painting. Anyone with an interest in contemporary painting and the environmental issues raised in the Supernature exhibition is invited to be part of the audience and join in the conversation.

PaintLounge Event. Photo Credit Cal Carey


PA I N T H A R D Paint Hard - A conversation about painting Northern School of Art, Green Lane, Middlesbrough TS5 7RJ 16 November 2019, 12 - 5pm Hosted by Creative Factory this event includes short presentations about painting and its ongoing legacy, wider appeal and the rise of supportive physical and online networks across the UK, often outside of the gallery system. Contributors include Paula MacArthur, Paint Lounge, Sarah Cooney, Conversations in Painting; Liam O’Connor, LLE; Gordon Dalton, Creative Factory; Judith Tucker, Paint North; Narbi Price, Contemporary British Painting, Chris Shaw, Three Works

Paint Hard event, Northern School of Art. Photo Credit Paula MacArthur


SPEAKERS S arah C ooney Sarah Cooney is a Tees Valley based painter. She received her MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art in 2008. Recent exhibitions include Creekside Open 2019 selected by Brian Griffiths, A.P.T Gallery, London and Beep Painting prize exhibition at Swansea College of Arts, 2018. She is a founding member of the artist led group Conversations in Painting.

G ordon D alton Gordon Dalton is an artist based in Saltburn. He recently completed an URRA residency in Argentina, with recent shows including MIMA, Middlesbrough; Bank Art; Los Angeles; Del Infinito, Buenos Aires; JirSandel, Copenhagen and Arcade, London. He is currently Creative Factory Producer. Creative Factory is Middlesbrough Council’s Great Place Tees Valley project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.

N arbi P rice Narbi Price is a painter. He was the Journal Culture Awards Visual Artist of the year 2018 and was the winner of the Contemporary British Painting Prize 2017. He was featured in Phaidon’s ‘Vitamin P3- New Perspectives in Painting’ and was a prizewinner in the John Moores Painting Prize 2012. He recently completed an AHRC funded PhD at Newcastle University in partnership with Woodhorn Museum.


P aula M ac A rthur Paula MacArthur won First Prize Winner in the John Player Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, London and was also a Prize winner in the John Moores 18, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. She runs PaintLounge, the De La Warr Pavilion Artists Discussion Group and coordinates the exhibition programme at Rye Creative Centre.

L i am O ’ C onnor Liam O’Connor is a painter and co-founder of artist led curatorial project LLE, focussed on creating dialogues between painters in Wales and painters working further afield.

C h ris S haw Chris Shaw is an artist and the owner and organiser of self-funded contemporary art space Three Works and North Yorks Art School in Scarborough.

J u dith T ucker Judith Tucker is an artist and academic, her work explores the meeting of social history, personal memory and geography; it investigates their relationship through drawing, painting and writing. She co-convenes the networks Land2 and Mapping SpectralTraces. She is also Senior Lecturer in the School of Design at the University of Leeds.


C R E AT I V E & R E F L E C T I V E Creative and Reflective Workshop The Auxiliary, 31 Station Street, Middlesbrough TS1 1SR 30 November 2019 4.30pm - 6.30pm As part of ‘Legacy’ - 50 years of Painting in the Tees Valley - this workshop invites participants to a guided tour of the gallery to share their reflexive response to the work on show. The gallery tour is followed by a ‘hands on’ session where participants can work together using the paint materials provided to re-make their own ideas and feelings about the exhibition by making paintings that refer directly to their own identity. The workshop is facilitated by Artist, Art Psychotherapist and PhD Doctorant - Kelly Jayne, and assisted by Helen Welford, assistant curator at MIMA, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

Creative & Reflective Workshop L-R Artworks by Paula MacArthur, Rachel Lancaster Photo Credit Kelly Jayne


MAPPING A HISTORY Mapping a History of Painting MIMA Collection Gallery, MIMA, Middlesbrough TS1 2AZ 4 December 2019 5.30 - 7pm This event invites artists, current and former art students, studio tutors, and arts professionals to map a history of painting in Tees Valley. An opportunity to share stories and experience that help map the interconnected lineage of individuals and groups that have emboldened current practitioners in painting in the Tees Valley. Participants are encouraged to bring along leaflets, articles, posters, postcards, letters and photograph memories that help to tell this story, particularly so if this material is related to Tees Valley painters represented in the Middlesbrough Collection held at MIMA. This ‘mapping’ event is an informal gathering enabling visitors and guests to share detail of their own research work and expertise. The ‘prompt’ questions are offered as a place to begin… 1. Who has influenced your painting practice in the Tees Valley? This could be more than one person? Perhaps a member of your family? A teacher? An artist working independently or a member of an artist group. 2. What exhibitions or projects have you initiated or been a part of in the Tees Valley? Recollections of where, when and the people involved would be really helpful. 3. What support have you received in the Tees Valley for your practice? How do you sustain your practice? Do you work from home or rent a studio? Do any local businesses, organisations or institutions help you out? Mapping a History of Painting Event. Photo Credit Olivia Heron


PA PA II N NT T II N NG G II N N II S SO OL L AT AT II O ON N, G O R D O N D A LT O N For many reasons, it feels strange to be writing this now whilst we are currently in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. My thoughts are erratic, ideas are blurred and I’m not quite sure what I am doing. My anxieties and periods of gloom are heightened. Tomorrow seems a long way away, and yesterday even further. I’m not sure what the future looks like but I know it should be different. To quote Mr Bruce Springsteen, we have ‘no place to be and miles to go.’ This feels oddly familiar though. I am a painter. An artist. I’m used to existing in isolation. Before I make any more glib comparisons, I’m quipping for slight comedic effect as some sort of coping mechanism, knowing that many others are in far worse situations. But the comparison stands. Painters are used to dramatic mood swings, being ignored and having to circle the wagons together to just get by. In the past few days I’ve been grateful for those connections yet drift back into pointlessness. Why the hell do I do this stupid thing, where the very people who make art are the least valued by snooty people in big glass palaces. You know the type. Outside of the studio, I’m pretty embarrassed to be an artist despite attempting to change the scenario of artist livelihoods. Inside the studio, I’m very proud to be a painter but swerve dramatically between periods of calm and moments of fuck this shit. The current lockdown scenario has me reverting to cliché, an artist made up of part Tony Hancock in The Rebel and part psychotic serial killer artist as depicted in Abel Ferrara’s Killer Driller. Life certainly

Legacy installation shot. Artwork by Gordon Dalton


feels like a video nasty right now. I mooch round the studio, like Paul McCarthy’s ‘Painter’, dressed in a smock, with bulbous nose and flailing arms. I’m Charlie Higson’s character Johnny in The Fast Show, the pastoral landscape painter who loses his shit at the mention of the word ‘black’ (or Cerulean Blue in my case). But then I paint and I’m transported. I time travel. I’m in Bonnard’s garden. I’m stood on the mountains of Aix, in Provence with Cezanne. I’m in Diebenkorn’s Los Angeles. I often go to the lakes in Finland with Gallen, or to Trinidad with Peter Doig. I can hang out with Sickert, Pollock and Picasso. It might currently feel like we are in John Martin’s apocalyptic landscapes, but there’s hundreds of destinations. It’s the best travel agent in the world. Those trips are very important to me now but they always have been. Imagining somewhere else, belonging, a rich romantic tradition grounded in painting. Way back when in November 2019, these kind of escapist fantasies, legacies and networks of painters were very much on my mind. Having been ignored, even shunned for such a long time, painters across the UK have been doing it for themselves. In dingy bars (oh to be in a dingy bar now) and dank and damp studios, painters have formed little groups regionally. Paint Lounges, Paint Gangs. Paint Clubs. The first rule of Paint Club is that you do talk about your work. With others. This has always happened of course but this century’s obsession and trend for socially engaged work has become all persuasive, shunning painting to the back of the class. Along with the magazine Turps Banana, where painters interview other painters, and groups like Contemporary British Painting (of which I am a member), this activity has become more visible, perhaps one of the benefits of social media. Regional groups are linked up, networks are shared, and connections are made. We get to time travel together, a rabble of painters providing a supportive, critical friend.


Mountain Size Exhibition, Pineapple Black. Group shot, front artwork by Paula MacArthur. Photo Credit Stephen Irving


Mountain Size, the exhibition I organised for Conversations in Painting: Fiesta MkII at Pineapple Black featured artists from the Contemporary British Painting membership. The landscape was a starting point, a subject matter, before the spontaneity, contradiction and decision making begins and the delicate matter of pushing ‘coloured mud around with a hairy stick.’ Whilst in no way definitive, I was interested in what was a contemporary British landscape in turbulent political times. All the painters involved relate directly to the history, legacy and traditions of painting itself. This does not mean they are divorced from the wider realities around us or a fruitful critical dialogue with other art forms, but that painting itself is important. Both socially engaged and socially distant. These networks of painters were explored in the Paint Hard seminar at The Northern School of Art, where we shared our similarities and differences. That same school also formed the backbone for many of the artists in the Legacy exhibition, a neatly curated overview of 50 years of painting from the Tees Valley. Again, not a definitive list, but it laid down the stepping stones to other people and places. Fiesta MkII celebrated the local and wider picture, both inside and outside the studio. These networks, like Conversations in Painting, are an extension of those studios. They make our places of work full of people when there are none. Friends, peers, critics, family, sworn enemies and the next door neighbour. Living and dead artists. There might even be a curator or two. Philip Guston’s much quoted story feels relevant. He said that as he started work, he felt that one by one these visitors to the studio would get bored and slip away, until he was left alone. Isolated. If it was going well, he would disappear too, and that was when painting could really get going. At this time, when alone, we all could really get going. Mountain Size Exhibition, Pineapple Black. Artwork by Julian Brown Photo Credit S.Irving


A cknowledgements This artist led project appreciates the support of key funders: Arts Council England, Creative Factory and Darlington Borough Council and partner support from: The Auxiliary, Creative Darlington, Pineapple Black, Contemporary British Painting, PaintLounge, MIMA, Northern School of Art and Navigator North. With special thanks to Bobby Benjamin, Anna Byrne, Cal Carey, Gordon Dalton, Nicola Golightly, Jonny Green, Matthew Hearn, Olivia Heron, Vicky Holbrough, Stephen Irving, Kelly Jayne, Paula MacArthur, Christian Mieves, Annie O’Donnell, Martin Raby, Liam Slevin, Gemma Tierney, Helen Welford and Stephen Wiper.


www.conversationsinpainting.co.uk Facebook /conversationsinpainting Twitter @convos_painting Insta @conversationsinpainting


2019/20

Profile for Conversations In Painting

Conversations in Painting: Fiesta MK2 Catalogue (2019 - 2020)  

Conversations in Painting: Fiesta MK2 is a multi-venue painting festival that connects artists from Tees Valley to a broader UK and internat...

Conversations in Painting: Fiesta MK2 Catalogue (2019 - 2020)  

Conversations in Painting: Fiesta MK2 is a multi-venue painting festival that connects artists from Tees Valley to a broader UK and internat...

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