Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Open spaces... closed places...

nowhere spaces
[nowhere places]
empty spaces
[invented places]
imaginary spaces
[feel-good places]
no spaces
[complex places]
confusing spaces
[nowhere-to-run places]
nowhere-to-hide spaces
[frightening places]
spun-out spaces
[beautiful places]
unknown spaces
[city places]
urban spaces
[rural places]
far-out spaces
[far-away places]...

outdoor spaces
[interior places]
run-around spaces
[keep-still places]
open spaces
[closed places]
mysterious spaces
[revealing places]
vast spaces
[high places]
in between spaces
[in between places]
usual spaces
[same-old places]
wonderful spaces
[dream places]
tumble-down spaces
[crumbling places]
dangerous spaces
[happy places]
dead-end spaces...

Standing at the edge... the beginning of something new: to all the places I've been... and the many spaces I've never seen.

Skimming the Surface

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Work in progress"

Work in progress - oil on linen - 2008

This is the title so not to be confused with 'work in progress' as in unfinished!

Little girls in pretty boxes

BACK CATALOGUE: I have decided to now and again post work from my back catalogue in the absence of a website that I can easily update. A new website design will appear at as soon as I have the funds!

So in the meantime...

Here follows a text written by Ken Pratt (Curator) from the press release for 'Sugar and Spice" at Vegas Gallery, London, 2007.

Sugar & Spice…
a show about little girl’s dreams and lost innocence...

The paintings of British painter Natalie Dowse tap into a world that is now almost gone. The melancholic imagery of little girls on forlorn seaside fun fairs, of gymkhana girls on ponies and petite gymnasts contorting their androgynous bodies before the glare of international television cameras speak of a world that is already purely nostalgic. Dowse’s work taps directly into the narratives of aspiration and desire pushed at a few generations of British girls through popular media at a certain time, a strangely English response to dealing with the onslaught of the Swinging Sixties.

For a period from the 1960s until its eventual death at the hands of MTV and the invention of a teen pop press in the 1980’s, British girls no longer content to exist on stories of plum-mouthed lacrosse champions fiercely loyal to their boarding school named after some suitably Anglican saint were offered a compromise set of aspirations. Arguably a containment strategy for worried adults intuiting the end of 1950’s style patriarchy yet fearing the impact of the sexual revolution on their daughters, a range of comics, magazines, annuals and television programming offered little girls a range of supposedly suitable role models. Gymnasts such as Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci seemed to be the perfect solution: undeniably active and mini career women of a sort, they nonetheless presented an apparently innocent and upstanding (non) sexual identity. Ditto for powerful little girls who could control much larger horses and make them jump over fences in competitive environments.
And of course, it is over. Tammy is a single mother living on benefits. Bunty has been beaten by Britney and Lady Sovereign and her gang of streetwise inner city rude girls would tell any pony to talk to the hand.

Dowse’s work is acutely aware of the strange contradiction of the world presented to the particular generation of girls in which their sexuality would be apparently contained by sublimating it into a range of suitably sporting, ideally exhausting activities, upon which they could be encouraged to fix their dreams and aspirations. Dowse frames this in terms of examining the use of sport as a form of propaganda used to control and ultimately abuse little girls, an interesting position given the similarities between this construct from the 1960’s and 1970’s and vision of right-wing European thinking in the early 20th century that encouraged girls to hang around in groups doing callisthenics, simultaneously containing them and strengthening them for marriage and childbirth.

The work relies on a fatalistic hindsight: there are those who remember Comaneci’s descent into anorexia, drug and alcohol dependency as clearly as her historic perfect ten Olympic score. This sense of a disappointed hindsight about girlhood dreams, even if they were dreams encouraged by a social machinery way beyond the control of the little girls who dreamt them, is heightened in the blotchy, soft style of the works that make their source as screen images evident. In this sense, Dowse’s practice is not only concerned with the content, but also with the formal aspects; the historical context of image production, the relationship between painting and photography and television.

Text copyright © Ken Pratt

Olga 1 2 3 exhibited at Grey Area, Brighton:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Top Banana!

I've just bought my first copy of Turps Banana - and really looking forward to some serious self-indulgent reading about painting (and why not indeed), as their website states:

"No Advertising.
No Backers.
No Professional Critics.
No Life Style Drivel.

Just obsessive, self absorbed, deluded, lonely, dirty, penniless, alcoholic painters discussing what they love most. Turps Banana is the only painting magazine written exclusively by painters."*

*Caveat: I would just like to add I maybe many of the above - but not alcoholic or dirty! (Not that I have ever contributed or adhere to such stereotypes!!!!).

I hope I won't be disappointed - I'll let you know.

Also, there's an excellent (in my opinion) painting show on at Aspex at the moment by Andy Harper "An Orrery for Other Worlds". For me this is one of the most interesting exhibitions they have hosted for a while and runs until 18th April. One major piece was commissioned for this exhibition and painted in situ over a period of three days: painted on a large blown Perspex globe which hangs in the middle of the gallery. The works on canvas are equally as impressive (mainly completed in one day). I have always had a fascination with work that hovers between the concrete and abstract - and this work occupies that space. See installation shots here: Andy Harper.

To help celebrate our 30th Anniversay year at Art Space Portsmouth (where I have my studio and work as the part-time studio co-ordinator) The News published a three page article about the organisation. I'm really happy with the result - and hope we survive another 30 years! (All thanks to our vibrant membership).

Image courtesy of: The News - Saturday 6th March 2010.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Note to self: try and remember you're supposed to be an artist...

Tomorrow's deadline - hit (nearly there)
Heartbreak - miss
Painting workshops - hit
Administration - hit
... more administration - Hmmmm
Building maintenance - miss
Artist's talk - hit
Loss of confidence - miss
Finding some comfort in being creative - hit
Miss you - miss

From the archive: I demand a penny for my thoughts or else I'll be intellectually broke - Oil on canvas, 2000
(Have I been doing to for too long?)


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