|Posted on August 28, 2015 at 10:45 PM||comments (1)|
They say that you shouldn't need to explain great art but it seems that some people will not be happy unless I explain my thinking about one of my recent excapades - The Montgomery Mermaid (otherwise known as Mr Tweedy and the Terrorist Beard)
When I was a boy I grew up in East Ham in London and we would go on holiday to Sheerness which was a popular destination for many Eastenders on their summer vacation. I always remember it as a vibrant exciting place full of colour. My Granddad was in the Navy during the war and afterwards he worked on the Estuary docks. He was a larger than life character and would tell me many stories about his exploits around the world. Some of the stories stretched the truth sometimes but they always kept me enthralled.
On one of our holiday trips to the island I remember my Granddad telling me all about HMS Montgomery which was an American Liberty ship built during World War II. The ship was wrecked off the Nore sandbank in the Thames Estuary, near Sheerness in 1944 with around 1,400 tonnes of explosives on board which continue to be a hazard to the area today. He told me all about how dangerous it was and went on to tell me a story about a mermaid that swam among the wreck and kept an eye on it. He told me that we mustn't annoy the mermaid by getting too close to the wreck otherwise she will just set off the explosives. It left an impact on me.
I've always had a fondness for the island and I like to get over there from time to time and create a bit of public art to brighten up the place and get people talking about this fantastic little seaside town as it has become quite forgotten in recent years. I wanted to create something this year for Promenade Arts Festival which is held on the island every year and when Chris Reed from Big Fish Arts told me that the theme this year was mermaids there was only one thing on my mind that I wanted to paint - The Montgomery Mermaid!
I went for the saucy postcard look with the colours and I wanted to give her a bit of a scowl as I didn't want her looking all happy that there was this potential man-made disaster dumped in her home. I think if she had a smile on her face that would be even scarier.
It certainly has got people talking! A man wrote a letter to the local newspaper complaining that he didn't like it and thought she looked like a terrorist. This got picked up by the national media and was shared across many platforms. Some of the comments online got really silly and the newspapers blew everything out of proportion but I was absolutely overwhelmed with the support and encouragement that I received from not only friends and family but also almost all that I met.
She may not be everyones cup of tea but she means a lot to me. She wasn't created with malice and I love her. I think my Granddad would certainly be a fan of all the stories people are creating about her. Get yourself down to Sheerness and find that forgotten beauty!
|Posted on May 3, 2015 at 4:25 PM||comments (0)|
Easter has been and gone, much chocolate hath been consumed and as always, we have been gallivanting around the place painting on walls.
We finished the shooting themed bedroom, which included portraits of the client, his son and their dogs. I left these up to dean, and I painted a lot of grass and some tractors! We also got to paint the built in wardrobe in the room to resemble a wooden barn. This meant I had my first go at using a wood graining tool. This was quite fun once I got the hang of it and it looked really effective.
Next we went back to Vigo Village primary school to finish the Vigo Values Tree in their entrance hall. We still had the ceiling to paint and the top of the tree, so it was time to test out the new Scaffold tower! It's really handy having a scaffold tower as it means we don't have to rely on rental companies. When I first started working for Dean, I was really quite petrified of heights. I tried not to ever let it hold me back from things (Like going on the viewing platform at the Eden project when I once went on holiday to Cornwall) but it was still very much a phobia (made evident by my becoming glued to the spot at the top of said viewing platform at the Eden project, bursting into tears, and my ever patient friends coaxing me down one baby step at a time). However, when painting murals, you never know where or at what height you'll be painting! And after lots of forcing myself up ladders and scaffold towers, I am now quite confident at 20ft up in the air! A good job too, as the whole ceiling required painting a lovely shade of sky blue (my arms and neck definitely felt it the next day!). We then finished off painting the top of the tree and added the twenty 'Vigo value' words onto the branches. We then added details, such as the seven birds and animals that made up the school class names and the four types of leaves that symbolised the school houses. Dean also added a silhouette of a boy reading a book at the base of the tree to finish off the image. It's so nice working in schools and getting to hear all of the comments from the pupils. The way they become so curious about the mural is lovely, and they always give some positive comments. I'm always a bit apprehensive of working in front of people, but in schools it's different. Children are just so full of encouragement and they get as much out of watching us paint as we do from painting, it's a great exchange and a lovely process.
Once we had finished at Vigo we started a really fun job in Dartford - a Superhero themed play room! This was a pretty large room, so plenty of space for characters! We had Adele helping us on this job as there was a lot to do. We started by painting in the back ground of blue sky, and cityscape and a dusty floor. Once this was done, we could start adding the superheroes to the foreground. The client wanted a range of Marvel and DC characters in dynamic positions. Dean let me paint Batman (yeeessssss) which was obviously great fun, because he's awesome (I even hold out hope for Bat-Fleck). I then got to paint Black cat, Cat Woman and Bat girl, Iron man, Cap' and Spidey (Dean had done most of the initial black outlines and Adele had helped block in some of the undercoats, then I swooped in and did the finishing coats and details and took all the glory - mwahahahaaaa (villian laugh) ). Dean painted The Hulk and Wolverine, Flash and Superman. After a bit more detail was added to the back ground buildings and some rubble was added to the foreground, we were done! This took us two weeks to complete.
It was then off to Basingstoke. We were painting some more at St Annes Catholic Primary school. We previously had painted a large St Anne mural on the exterior wall of the entrance to the school, but now they were wanting some stained glass painting in the prayer room and an outside mural in the prayer garden. Last time we worked at the school, we stayed in a B&B, but this time we decided to attempt the commute. Five hours driving a day was quite exhausting, but it was (just about) worth it to sleep in my own bed every night, and to see my boyfriend (I know, gross, sorry). On our first day we realised the windows in the prayer room had a film over them. Once we figured out how to remove this we were met with the daunting task of removing the thin layer of glue entirely covering the glass. This took me a whole day to remove, with nothing more than some paint removal wipes and lots of elbow grease! Once this was done however and the windows were all cleaned and sparkly, we could start putting the outlines of the images onto the windows in black glass paint. Whilst dean was doing this, I started blocking in the colour on the exterior mural (We had already painted the area we were going to paint with white masonry paint, and Dean had drawn out the image and the accompanying lines of scripture. Once the outlines had been painted on the glass, I could then go and start filling in the shapes with colour whilst Dean added detail onto the prayer garden mural. All in all this took us six days to complete, including finishing the outside mural with two coats of anti graffiti varnish for extra protection.
(The bit above is by Jaime - the rest is by Dean)
Workshop34 unfortunately closed down at the end of March. The creative community in Sittingbourne are still trying to find ways to keep a sustainable creative hub in the town and this will hopefully be in one of the other empty shops in the high street. I still have high hopes for this project but, due to the pressure of current commissions and a demanding family life (i.e. wife with a broken leg and and house full of children that demand feeding!) I am unable to give it much attention at the moment.
Saturday the 25th of April was the St Georges day festival in Sittingbourne High Street. There were stalls, music and other festivities including the making of a giant paper mache dragon and of course, some chalk at from ourselves in the form of St.George and a Dragon. The day was a great success and it was great to see the community spirit return to the town.
The following weekend saw us chalking once again in Sittingbourne at the Forum Sci-Fi Event organized by the fantastic Nikki Baker or Luniac Designs. There were people dressed up in costumes, exhibitions and screen actors to meet along with a host of all manner of weird and wonderful things going on. We created an anamorphic Silver Surfer on the floor ourside the shopping centre which went down a storm.
We have a busy few months coming up, including finishing a waterfall scene in a primary school, some work at Life night club in Sittingbourne High Street and some more work at Southern Salads so, if you've reached this far in this epic blog that was half written by Jaime and then amended and added to by Dean when he got round to posting it up a week and a half later - thank you for your support.