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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Exhibition Notes

 A Body of Work Exploring Our Human Connection With Trees

Trees are our still, silent counterparts, rooted in the landscape. Our ladders to the stars. Trees have long provided a metaphor for the human condition as we search for our roots, branch out in new directions or turn over a new leaf. Their seasonal transformation can remind us of both our aspirations and our mortality. They stand as monuments to bare existence, dedicated to growth. Feet in the dirt, looking for the light, we are all, to some extent, planted here.

We share some similarities in design with trees, our basic physical structure of trunk and limbs and our interior landscape of branching blood vessels. I play with these likenesses in raw material and organic form. My work often has a narrative element, hinting at the mythic resonance suggested in tree forms. Some of the paintings describe human-shaped hollows in deadfall trunks, alluding to the Norse creation myth of Ask and Embla. According to the Poetic Edda, Odin drew these first two people from fallen Ash and Elm trunks. I frequently play with the idea of decaying wood bursting with life and being transformed through the narrative process of human imagination. It is a curious life we share with trees, sometimes stricken, always striving.

I work in the woods, drawing inspiration from being immersed in the landscape whilst making studies. Sharing the air. These initial studies are often done in chalk pastel because of the intensity and portability of the medium. The fragility and ephemeral qualities also appeal; chalk paintings can be ruined with a sneeze or a stray sleeve! Some of these studies become finished pieces, some I use to create larger paintings in oil or acrylic. Most of the time I choose to work with acrylic because of its flexibility and fast-drying properties. I work in layered glazes, energetic brushwork and dry over-painting. I tend to use a bent, slightly corroded palette knife to drag and scrape paint, sometimes needles, brush ends and sticks to scratch the surface. Working this way, I try to find a balance between building and revealing colour, coaxing a painting into being. A piece is finished when I feel the raw material has been remade to express something of my experience in the landscape, complete with growth and erosion, infused with the strength and energy of the inspiring trees. Animate and resilient.

I’ve included blog posts written about particular pieces, and I hope these give you some feel for where the work is coming from and how it comes about in specific instances. Your comments are most welcome; please take a card with my contact details or leave your thoughts in the notebook provided.

Thanks for having a look!

Many thanks to the LEC for hosting this exhibition. Please contact the artist with any queries about the work or sales. 


Visit the website Friday 23 March for more details...

Thursday, 15 March 2012


There will be more on the website soon, once the actual work is on walls. Virtual Preview:
Friday, 23 March 
Do drop by, have a virtual drink, and leave a link to your work!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Mounting Excitement

Adrift (Hammerhead Shark Form) K Howell 2012
 Pastel on Paper 28cm x 28cm
     If you've ever worked in Framing, you'll know that getting the mount right is pretty fundamental. The word overcut still sends a chill through my system.  But there are so many ways to be inadequate when cutting mounts. My supervisor, when I was training, used to quote the cost of the sheet before I cut anything; just to clarify what was at stake. Rather drained the joy from playing with a razor blade.
     So I have this pile of work to be prepared for exhibition, and I need to cut mounts. It's a bit like renting a suit for an Occasion. The sharp, finished edges give pieces the protection they need to go out into the world. A mount gives work some breathing space within the clear boundaries of the frame.
     Cutting mounts is enjoyable for a repetitive task, because by the time you've cut three perfect sides, it becomes Vital that the fourth cut be exact. And to keep things running smoothly, there's lighter fluid. Exciting!
      So I'm not really thinking about putting work Out There so much as I'm looking forward to the curious thrill of cutting mounts.
More exhibition details soon.