Long time, no see!

An awful lot has changed over the last year, including completion of my studio, getting back into the studio full time, and finally opening a new online shop for my paintings. You can find that here:

joaylward.bigcartel.com

If you’re more interested in prints or printed items, they can still be found at my folksy shop:

JoAylward at Folksy

I will be updating both my painting and printmaking pages shortly, and keep an eye out for a new post about the developments in the studio.

Thanks! Jo19LR

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New print

Here’s the latest print. It was featured recently on the Print Block Whitstable blog (where I print) – hence the hanger!

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Solo Show

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November 10, 2012 · 12:48 pm

Beautiful photographs

We were visited a few weeks ago by our lovely friends Debbie George and Andrew Sanderson, wonderful artists both–a
painter and photographer respectively. Sandy brought his most fabulous old Kodak Specialist half plate camera with him –  a beautiful 1950s camera that he uses for paper negative photography.

That technique is a rare art in itself, and Sandy is one of its leading proponents (he’s written articles and a book about it, too), and is a master technician in the darkroom.

We’re used to seeing Sandy lugging heavy camera equipment around, but this camera takes dedication, not to mention stamina! The results, with Sandy’s experience and skill, are always worth it, though, and we were delighted this week to receive some scanned copies of photos he took in and around our house and Deal.

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We have many of Sandy’s amazing photographs, including some beautiful ones of our children dotted all around the house. Looks like we’ll be asking for a few more prints!

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For anyone interested in the technical side, the camera gives negatives of 7×5 inches in size; the lens is a Rank Zerox 9.5 inch f4.5 with no shutter and only one aperture. The exposures are controlled by simply uncapping the lens for a period of time.

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New prints – finally!

I’ve finally got around to updating my Etsy shop with some new handcoloured screenprints. They’re based on the collage pieces, as you can see, but they’re signficantly more affordable! The hand colouring process keeps them unique, since they all come out a little bit different. And there are some exciting plans afoot on the printing front – more later…

In the meantime, here are the new prints on Etsy…

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The other Nicholson

We’ve just come back from a holiday in Cornwall with my good friend and fellow painter Debbie George (Bee), her husband Andrew Sanderson (a fabulous photographer), and our children (five between the two families). When Bee and I first met, she was just about to have their third child and was still running the wonderful Sanderson, George and Peach Gallery in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. While managing the gallery, juggling three young children, and keeping up with the house, she was also determinedly trying to keep up her painting practice. Bee was there literally moments after the birth of my first daughter, and along with many other things, she helped and encouraged me to figure out the demands of balancing motherhood and art. For Bee, that eventually meant giving up the Gallery, and although it isn’t easy her paintings are now flying out of the studio and onto people’s walls.

Whenever I spend time with Bee, we inevitably start talking about that balance, particularly in relation to some of our mutual influences, many of whom are female artists of the 20th century. In some cases, these women have succeeded through sheer bloody-mindedness. In others, they’ve never quite reached their full potential—the pull of the house, the children, or even simply the pressures of their own artist-husbands’ careers, proving too much. Helen Saunders, one of Wyndham Lewis’s Vorticist crew, once noted that the marriage of two artists would inevitably end in the woman’s subordinating her art to the needs (and talent) of her husband. Well, I didn’t marry an artist (though he’s creative in different ways) and although Bee married an artistic photographer, their mutual support is inspirational. But I do wonder whether, unintentionally or not, female artists are always battling against the other roles that threaten to subordinate them; and it is simply a fact that of those artistic partnerships that spring to mind, in the majority of cases the household name in the UK at least will be the man rather than the woman. The art world has always been patriarchal, but there’s more to it than that.

Which brings me to the other Nicholson: Winifred. Winifred (Roberts) was Ben Nicholson’s first wife. They married in 1920, had three children, and divorced in 1938. That same year Nicholson married Barbara Hepworth, for whom he’d already left Winifred and the children in 1931. Ben and Hepworth had triplets in 1934, the year after she divorced her first husband, John Skeaping. Yes, I’ll admit, it is partly that vaguely incestuous kind of intrigue that draws me to groups like the St. Ives and Bloomsbury cliques! Anyway, Nicholson and Hepworth were friends with Piet Mondrian, who famously once told Nicholson that marriage and children spelt disaster for the artist (this was on the event of the marriage of their mutual friend Jean H). Winifred has been one of the biggest influences on my painting for over a decade. She had a pretty big impact on Ben, too, as far as I can tell, who regarded her work highly and her criticism of his work even more so. Winifred joined the Seven and Five Society the year after Ben; her work was incredibly diverse and often very challenging; her landscapes, in particular, are wonderful and, in my opinion every bit as good as Ben’s. But of the two of them, Ben is the one with all the major accolades. There are all sorts of reasons for this, aren’t there, and maybe I just have to accept that despite my love for Winifred’s work (and don’t get me wrong, I love Ben’s work too) Ben was the more important painter. But I do think Winifred was both talented and important enough (she wrote wonderfully, too) to be more of a household name than she is. Could it be that she was simply eclipsed by virtue of being Ben’s first (and less successful) wife? When they divorced, she carried on working, first in Paris and later in Yorkshire, but she had the kids, of course, and there’s a juggling act that can’t be underestimated. And it’s no simple equation – studio time doesn’t mean all that much if head-space is limited…

There are plenty of others in a similar position – including women who have had substantial success, but who seem to have chosen, quite deliberately, to subordinate their art to their husband’s or lover’s: Tirzah (Garwood) Ravilious is one that particularly saddens me. Prior to her marriage to Eric she proved herself to be an exceptionally talented wood engraver; after marriage, she engraved no more. See this wonderful blog post by Neil at Adventures in the Print Trade for more); and I could go on, of course – Elaine de Kooning; Margaret Macdonald (Charles Rennie Macintosh); Sophie Taeuber (Hans Arp)….

Naturally, there are exceptions. Vanessa Bell, for instance, is probably better known than her writer-husband Clive Bell and at least as well known as her long-term companion the painter Duncan Grant. With help, she also seems to have been a good mother to Angelica, Quentin and Julian (okay, excepting the revelations about A’s paternity that clouded her early teenage years…). Further afield, Georgia O’Keefe matched Alfred Stieglitz’s fame (no children). There were a lot of women (and husband-wife teams) in the Russian avant-garde movement: Natalia Goncharova, lifelong partner of Mikhail Larionov, was hugely influential (but again, no children). We can’t forget Frida Kahlo, of course, although the struggles she faced are infamous and arguably form part of her cache. Back closer to home, there’s Mary Fedden, who is still painting in her mid 90s, has probably been as successful (though still possibly not as famous) as her husband Julian Trevelyan. Outliving him for 23 years and counting can’t hurt! And, conceding that I sound like a broken record, she had no children. Hepworth herself, of course, achieved acclaim and success at a pretty similar level to Ben, although her well-documented single-mindedness is exceptional. She was able (both psychologically and practically) to put her art first. Her daughter Rachel Nicholson, for instance, remembers that “my mother on the whole really only, as far as I can recall, emerged [from the studio] for meals, and a day or two at Christmas”!

I live in hope, though, that the juggling exercise is possible, as it appears to have been for my favourite, Mary Newcomb, whose younger daughter Tessa is also a superb painter. This post might seem like a complaint. It’s not intended to be – I have no regrets about becoming a mother/wife/artist/gardener/dogwalker/cat-cleaner/woman-of-myriad-distractions. Both my daughters are artistic and I love spending time with them in the studio. I can put up with my husband (although he’s a classic example of someone who’s capable of putting work first!) and I know it’s a massive luxury to be able to do what I do, housework or not. But it is one of the material realities of the artworld that we rarely consider when we’re wandering around the archive, wondering where all the women went…

Afterword

I’ve never really thought of myself as a feminist—and I still don’t—but I started singing with a couple of other ladies about a year ago. We perform mainly old English folk songs and we were tickled when we noticed that our repertoire consists largely of songs by and about feisty women who don’t have much truck with the patriarchy. I feel a song coming on!

[The above images are all sourced from http://www.studiointernational.co.uk and are copyright the Trustees of Winifred Nicholson]

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1st Edition!


The printing has been going very well and yes, it’s done, my first screenprint, in a limited edition of 20! This is the first in a series of pieces that will have a very loose narrative. They’re available unframed for £40 + p&p via my etsy shop, or direct from me (just email me).

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