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The power of focus



I am currently struggling with a lack of focus and direction, so the new exhibition in our local museum in Petersfield is very timely. It show-cases the work of two female artists who have decided to specialise. I tend to go broad and explore new avenues on a regular basis whereas the two women show the power of a narrow focus.


Sculptor and furnisher-maker Alison Crowther creates hand-carved oakwood sculptures, often at huge scale. The items exhibited in Petersfield are much more portable, but they show the same intricate geometric patterns and rippling lines as her bigger work. To me, the pieces celebrate the beauty of natural wood. I am sure I am not the only one who wanted to hold one of the sculptures and trace one of the patterns - understandably, they remained out of bounds...


Kate Boucher specialises in charcoal drawings. I already used to admire her large landscape drawings when I was a student at West Dean. Her work has lost nothing of its power, even at a smaller scale.


Kate shares her experience of lockdown in charcoal paintings of the landscape around West Dean, reminding me that drama and emotional depth can be achieved by working with black and white. It gave the images a timeless quality and reminded me of my own explorations of the Hampshire landscape, especially the sunken ways.


The paintings were supplemented by a list of snippets. Kate recorded phrases she had read and overheard over a 12 months' period in 2020. She wrote them down in sequential order but out of context in an attempt to hint at a state of mind.


I thought that some of the lines may make intriguing prompts or painting titles for future work - for example "an excuse to stop moving", "as far as the eye can see", "when you step back from the paper you'll see something new" and "more sensed than seen."


I cannot imagine that I will ever specialise in one medium, but the exhibition has reminded me that less is often more powerful than more (and to go on my own "snippet hunt" when I do not know what to write about.)




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