|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 March 18, 2015 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
The new year is well underway and Easter is on the horizon, where is this year going? When I last wrote the blog we were getting ready for the LOVE exhibition at Workshop34. This was a great success with lots of wonderful, varied work, so thank you to everyone that submitted something. A few pieces were sold and the exhibition drew lots of people in to the workshop in the two weeks that it was up. Due to it's success we decided to have another exhibition to celebrate the shop (which was due to be closing at the end of this month, but hopefully after a few meetings today I may have some more positive news in the next blog!) and to celebrate spring. This was the Roots and Shoots exhibition, which had it's private view last night. Again, lots of amazing work was submitted and made for a really interesting show. If you weren't able to make it last night, never fear! As lovely as it would have been to see you, the exhibition will be up until the end of March, so why not pop down and see everything we have to offer.
Aside from exhibitions at the shop, Marvellous Murals have been pretty darn busy over the last couple of months! Firstly we had a rather large job come our way in the form of painting the outside of a factory. That's right. The outside of factory. A salad factory to be exact. Firstly we had to prep the building for painting. This involved sanding down all of the metal at the top of the building, removing the old silicon from around the windows, cleaning all the windows and window frames, refilling with silicon, brushing down the bricks and sweeping the floor. The top of the factory was all windows and congregated metal, which as it turns out, is super time consuming to paint. We had Sam helping us with this project and we could not have completed it on time without him. Climbing up and down scaffolding really does add a lot of time onto our job, not to mention that due to the time of the year, working outside was just sooo cooold. Paint brushes are rather hard to negotiate with numb fingers. Once the top half of the factory was painted in the green of the company logo, we could move onto painting the lower half of the building with salad fields and a tractor. We painted a clear blue sky and then using a chalk line guide we were able to mark out the rows of different coloured salads in the fields. We then started adding more colour, building up texture as we went and we painted in a tree lined horizon. We also added a tractor to one of the fields to give the image a bit more interest and to break up the lines. It was then just a case of coating the mural with anti graffiti varnish to give it extra protection. Despite the bad weather due to the time of the year, we managed to get this completed just in time for the company's deadline, as they had a big client coming to visit them the next day.
Next we started a mural at Vigo primary school. Dean had painted a wonderful jungle mural in their school hall a few years previously and now they were looking for a large tree to be painted in their entrance hall which combined the four tree based names of the school houses as well as the school values. This will span across the ceiling of the entrance and also incorporate various woodland animals of which the school classes are named after. We got about half way through painting this mural, but due to other commitments we had to pause our progress but will be carrying on with it next week.
We then made our way to Wales! After a six hour drive, we found ourselves in the picturesque village of Herbranston in Pembrokeshire, ready to paint the room of a lovely little girl named Brie. This was a great job as Tina, Bries mum, gave us a lot of freedom. The brief was to paint a woodland animal themed room and to include some of their own pets in the mural. We started by painting a clear blue sky all around the top of the room. We used three different blues to give a nice gradient and went down to almost white. We could then start to draw in a rough landscape as a basis. Once the perspective was right, we began to paint in the hills, fields and trees. Whilst I was giving this a second coat, Dean added some detailed fluffy clouds to the sky. We then added three blossom tress in the foreground. It took us about three or four days to complete all of the landscape and then we could start painting in animals! We were working rather long days to get the most detail we could in the six days we had to complete the mural. We wanted to make the room really personal, so we included a lot of the family's pets, including two of their adorable miniature dachshunds, Martha and Benson, Bob the horse and some other animals that lived on the land surrounding the house. There was a shallow cupboard in the corner of the room which was a bit of wasted space, so we decided to secretly paint inside it to make a magical Narnia-esque doorway which opened to show a unicorn and rainbow. Once the main animals were painted, we added some flowers, toadstools, and insects. It's always quite hard working away from home, especially for a big baby like me, but Tina and Mark were so welcoming and cooked us delicious food every night and always made sure we had a cup of tea! And all of the puppy love from the dogs helped keep the homesickness at bay! Brie loved her room and couldn't keep her eyes off of it, so we hope she gets many years of joy out of the mural and keeps finding lots of little details. After a long seven days, Dean and I made the long drive home and had a well deserved day off.
It was then off to Nottinghill in London to paint a a sunken pirate ship mural in a basement flat. This was just on one wall, but also included painting a section of outside wall that the window looked out onto. We started by painting the entire wall a deep blue with a slight gradient to a medium blue. After a couple of coats, we could then add in the sea floor and the surface of the water. Dean painted the pirate wreck whilst I focused on painting a large treasure chest full of gold. Dean then added some delicate jelly fish to the wall behind the window and I painted some brightly coloured coral. I hadn't ever painted coral before, so this was a bit daunting at first, but i gradually found my own style. After adding a few more fish, a diver and a shark, the mural was completed. This took us three days.
This week we're painting a little boys bedroom with a shooting theme, then it's back to Vigo to complete their entrance hall tree.
There are still life drawing classes every Thursday at Workshop34, as well as other workshops and classes, involving juggling and guitar lessons. For more information or just for a browse, pop by Number 34 high street, Sittingbourne 10 -4 Monday to Saturday.
I hope you all have a great rest of the month and i'll update the blog again soon so you can see what else we've been up to and the fate of Workshop34.