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Building on what came before

In April this year I visited a brilliant retrospective of the work of local artist Ruth Osborn, which her family had organised in the Physics Garden in Petersfield.

Even though Ruth and I were both in the Petersfield Arts and Crafts Society our paths sadly never crossed. When I looked at Ruth's work, she felt like a kindred spirit, with her love for experimentation and innovation. In later years, she had created some textured abstracts that incorporated natural and man-made materials.

I also loved Ruth’s lifelong spirit of learning and adventure - Ruth apparently did a part-time degree in Fine Arts at Farnham Art College in her 60s and travelled the world into her early 80s...

Looking around the exhibition, which could only cover a selection of the artwork Ruth had produced since the 1970s, I was also reminded that we artists often leave a large physical footprint: There are the finished pieces that have not found a home yet or maybe were originally not for sale and then the art materials we accumulate over the years - especially when we work in various media and like to continue to try out new things.

The exhibition included some framing materials. I was particularly drawn to some well-used solid wooden frames. I hated the thought that they might end up in a skip. I took some home, hoping for a successful "match-making" between my work and the frames Ruth left behind.

I am really pleased that one of the frames is indeed a good fit for my painting "Tidal play" (you can read about the history of the painting in last week's blogpost. )

I could have gone back to the professional framer I used last year and got another “perfect” made-to-measure frame, but I really enjoyed the challenge of upcycling a frame. There were a lot of tacks to remove from the back and some chisel marks on the front of the frame, hinting that this wood had a rich history.

I decided to leave the chisel marks as they add character and fit the theme of the painting. Nature is ever-changing, and beauty can be found in the imperfect and transient.

I still have not decided which way around to hang the painting though many people seem to prefer the calmer light section at the bottom – you will have to visit the exhibition in Portsmouth Cathedral to find out what I have decided in the end. Not long now...

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