Tied in

The John Moores Painting Prize is nearly here. Today is the closing date for entries and in a few months time, all the successful entries will be on show at Liverpool’s prestigious Walker Art Gallery for the world to see. A visit to this exhibition has been on my bi-annual agenda since I was a teenager developing an interest in art and design.

There is something wonderful about the sheer eclecticism of the entries on show at this exhibition, it’s not controversial in the same way as The Turner Prize but I do often wonder how some of the pieces get through to the final and it’s rare that my favourite piece of art in the show is the winning piece. For decades I always dreamed of entering this competition, I am not a painter but as a designer I have a good eye for the visually pleasing one would hope!

It took a long time, but in 2010 I finally got around to entering a piece, it was a dual painting in collaboration with a fellow creative – Andrew Cornes, and the process was as interesting as the final result – so we weren’t too upset not to be shortlisted.

Not to be defeated, I spent a while thinking about what I wanted to do and actually worked on ideas for this painting over many months. It’s a mixed media effort, partly because I am terrified of paint and hate the lack of control I have when taken away from my Mac for creative endeavours. Battling on with the materials I worked with a selection of my Father’s discarded ties and worked through a laborious process of immersing them in resin which was then over-painted with multiple layers of oil paint until I got to a point I was happy with.

Interestingly, I used the reverse of the canvas/frame for this piece as I needed something that the resin could set-off in without leaking, so it’s ended up a bit of an homage to Howard Hodgkin and I see elements of other artists in there too including RB Kitaj – but it’s all by coincidence rather than design, which I like the idea of. The end result was 50% design and 50% where I was forced to go with the media I was working with.

Once again, it was the process that I enjoyed; I liked the idea of having paid for entry to the show I was effectively ‘tied in’ to entering and only just managed to get the piece submitted within hours of the closing deadline. Who knows what will happen now? It looks like the sort of painting one would see in the John Moores Painting Prize, so maybe this year I’ll be lucky? Oily painted fingers crossed…

  • Laura Smith

    Nice, Andrew! I’ve always been a big fan of texture and “found” object art. I think it gives it life and a personality. Best of luck in the competition!

  • Andrew C

    Kitaj!? Was that a deliberate pun? I think there’s substance to this – physical and cognitional – quite literally, there’s something in it. Even down to the fact that they are your father’s ties. Aesthetically, I can’t say I like it – but I believe you agree with me about that. It is interesting though. What is a painting? Is it anything that utilises paint? Does it have to do this to the exclusion of anything that isn’t paint, beyond the substrate upon which it’s held? Is it any means of applying pigment to an essentially flat surface? Should it be felt more than thought? Whatever the case – it’s a valuable experience to put yourself through this process and imagine if the end result ended up on the Walker wall! Because of the process you went through I have been thinking about how to make paint do something different and have an idea that may work and will produce unpredictable but hopefully interesting results – but this will have to wait for the next JM – which is probably a good thing – at least the paint will have time to dry…

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