The Environment Trust: Secret Art Sale, 22-23 Sept 2017

‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ Aesop

I’m delighted to have been asked to participate for the second year running in the Environment Trust’s Secret Art Sale. This is a two day art exhibition with a twist, where acclaimed artists, jewellers, photographers, architects, scientists and art students all contribute an A5 painting anonymously. Each painting is priced at £35.00, giving you the opportunity to purchase an original work of art by a renowned artist or celebrity at an affordable price. Only once the artwork has been purchased will the name of the artist be revealed! Most importantly, all proceeds benefit the charity’s conservation work in educating and encouraging communities to protect our natural environment and green spaces for posterity, particularly in urban areas. Submissions for 2017 can be viewed here. The artist biographies are also now on the website.

I posted my A5 oil painting at the local post office in the picturesque village, Bourton-On-The-Water, whilst holidaying in the Cotswolds. This is me beside the post office in Bourton’s exquisite model village, built in 1937 and an exact miniature replica of Bourton- a masterpiece by some very talented artists and craftsmen!

Each year, the Secret Art Sale has a unique theme to support the charity’s conservation work. With 24% of Greater London made up of private gardens, the 2016 exhibition was aimed at heightening the awareness of the importance of gardens as a vital resource and habitat for wildlife. The event saw contributions from the Environment Trusts patron, Gordon Buchanan, as well as Quentin Blake, Alan Titchmarsh, Nobel Prize Laureate Sir Paul Nurse, and Axel Scheffler- the Gruffalo artist and another patron of the charity. I’m happy to share that 90% of the paintings on display last year were sold and over £7000 was made, which has been a fantastic asset to their conservation work. The funds generated enabled them to work directly with school, local communities, and others to highlight the use of gardens and other green spaces in urbanised areas as habitat that will encourage the return of once common species such as the hedgehog. You can read more about last years event on their blog. You can also view the paintings and revealed artists from 2016 here. Continue reading “The Environment Trust: Secret Art Sale, 22-23 Sept 2017”

Art UpCLOSE – Monaco, Miami and New York

‘It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s who you travel with.’ Anonymous

I’m excited to announce that I have recently signed with New York based art agency, Art UpCLOSE! They are a pioneering art marketing company who will be showcasing my paintings digitally via flatscreen at events in Monaco, Miami and New York. Modern technology has revolutionised the art market and I’m looking forward to promoting my paintings and drawings in niche markets worldwide using their company strategy.

Our first destination will be the exclusive Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) for the ultra luxury market in Monte Carlo on 27-30 September 2017, under the high patronage of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco. MYS has been set in the iconic Port Hercules of the Principality of Monaco since 1991 and is the only place to admire and purchase around 125 extraordinary one-off yachts built by the world’s most respected shipyards. 580 companies and partners participate in MYS among the world’s leading brands, designers and luxury manufacturers. Art UpCLOSE have been selected as the only company representing art at this unique event and will be exhibiting my paintings and drawings, alongside other artists work, during daily private receptions held in the Artifact booth at the new Starboard Pavilion, next to Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Rolls Royce.

After the Monaco Yacht Show, there will be three more global art and design fairs in Miami and New York to look forward to in the coming months and into 2018, namely: Spectrum Miami on December 6-10, 2017, the Architectural Digest Design Show in Manhattan in March 2018, and Artexpo New York on April 19-22, 2018. I also have my art exhibited continuously alongside other artists, via flatscreen in Artifact’s Manhattan gallery in Orchard Street, New York. You can read more about Art UpCLOSE on their website, where my original oil paintings and drawings are now available to view.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the coming months and next year will bring and what God has in store. All glory goes to Him. I hope you can join me on this journey with Art UpCLOSE.

Next stop.. Monte Carlo!

Preserving Vanishing Cultures through Art

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow , to love. And then we return home.” Australian Aborigine Proverb

August 9, 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration of the rights of indigenous people around the world. It was a landmark decision to actively protect the 370 million people that make up the worlds population of indigenous cultures, including the Inuit of the High Arctic, the Eagle Hunters of Mongolia, the Dayak of Borneo, the Honey Hunters in Nepal, the Tuareg people of the Sahara desert, the Australian Aborigines, the Polynesian Maori of New Zealand, the First Nations of America, the Sami tribe in Scandinavia and the myriad of nomadic hunters and semi-nomadic pastoralists and hunter/gatherers around the world. This number may only total 5 per cent of the global population, but the unique contribution these people make to our world far exceeds that number in terms of cultural diversity, knowledge enrichment, sustainable development, enhancing scientific knowledge and tackling climate change.

Indeed, environmental conservation paired with the intellectual legacy of humanity has never been so crucial. With a myriad of challenges currently threatening the planet, including climate change and depleting global resources, this present time is a pivotal opportunity to actively protect indigenous peoples and learn from them. Not only will learning from them help to protect our environment, but recognizing their different histories, ways of life and traditions will help us to reject a generic modern culture, faced with the seemingly inexorable progression of technological advancement and globalisation. Alarmingly, out of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken on earth, one language becomes extinct every fourteen days. My project, ‘Vanishing Cultures’, for which I won the Surrey County Council Art Award, focused on my desire to highlight the gradual effacement of indigenous identities in the face of globalisation and consumerism. By raising awareness of the need for mutual understanding, I hoped to help preserve not just their legacy but also that of humanity, as we are all custodians of one fragile planet.

The project initially evolved as a result of my seeing some students at school getting tattoos depicting Japanese calligraphy without understanding its meaning, their only concern was that it was perceived as a mark of social status. After researching the significance of tattoos and other cultural emblems in certain societies, I realised that their meaning was lost when adopted by another society. I began exploring ‘vanishing cultures,’ a topic already of interest to me as a result of my subscription to the National Geographic magazine. I wanted to highlight the gradual effacement of a strong cultural identity and connection to history, retained most significantly by members of indigenous communities. My project aimed to resist a generic modern culture, whilst maintaining a dialogue between diverging communities and their personal histories.

I discovered a beautiful photo of a Filipino tribal girl in the National Geographic magazine and being of English and Filipino heritage (amongst others), I wanted to represent the closeness and distance of my knowledge with that of indigenous peoples. I  decided to paint the tribal girl’s tattoo on my sister’s arm; we frequently used each other as muses but this was especially significant as it was in a sense a self-portrait, but also an objective painting. The Tatak ng Alon tattoo (‘wave imprint’ in Filipino) is symbolic for the tribe and the wearer as each tattoo has a meaning and significance for the individual, consequently that meaning would be lost if adopted by another culture or inscribed on another person. The fact it is being washed away on my sister’s arm represents the gradual disappearance of that history when appropriated without an understanding of the said culture. 

Indigenous cultures only disappear when external forces, such as the deforestation of rainforests, engulf them. The final piece aimed to project a future without these cultures and the loss of their knowledge; it depicted a barren and drought devastated environment, akin to a photographic negative. Without the knowledge specific to a particular location, all significance is lost to the interpreter and that knowledge vanishes.

The final painting was on display at my school from 2005-2012 when I wanted to reclaim it for my portfolio. There is far more meaning that I included in the painting that there is not enough space to write here without being verbose, but now that I am working as an artist fulltime, I do feel a burgeoning desire to reinvigorate the project and continue exploring the theme of vanishing cultures. I would like to investigate more ways in which I can use my art to promote the beauty and importance of indigenous communities, and hopefully help preserve their heritage and knowledge for posterity.

There is always Hope – art and conservation in Polperro

‘The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.’ Jacques Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer

I have been interested in conservation from an early age, whether it be human or environmental, and have often been inspired to create artworks based on my research. Most artists are intrinsically fascinated with their environment and the sea is no exception: painters, poets, sculptors, filmmakers and musicians have each aspired to capture that elusive vitality of the ocean and our relation to it. In exploring our human connection to the sea, I wanted to capture some of the unique lifestyles of those around the English coastline whose livelihoods depend on the ocean.

It is now just over one year since I last visited the Cornish village of Polperro on holiday and explored its narrow cobbled streets once again. During that summer of 2016, I was invited by local artist Regina Farrell, a member of the British Association of Naive Artists, to exhibit my work in her pretty art gallery on the harbour. I have since been fortunate to have sold some of my favourite original oil paintings and limited edition prints to visiting holidaymakers.

Whilst visiting the area, the stories of local fishermen’s wives captured my interest, some of whom told me their husbands have turned to the tourist industry for a more stable income. Set in a beautiful 12th century harbour, the village’s source of revenue originally came from smuggling and fishing. For centuries, pilchard fishing was the predominant occupation, however shoals of pilchards diminished in the 1900s and it ceased to be the mainstay in the 1960s. Tourism became the main industry during the 20th century, forcing some families to abandon fishing and transform their boats into tourist vessels. At the time we visited, there were currently around a dozen fishing boats in operation, employing over 30 local fishermen. Although I enjoyed our boat trip, it seemed a shame that the fishermen couldn’t be out on the waves, working in a job which they loved and was a part of their heritage.

There is currently a real urgency for marine conservation and the work of artists are vital in helping to secure the protection of our heritage and environment, whilst ensuring the delicate balance between our human need and what resources are available. Artists are uniquely placed to capture people’s imaginations and raise awareness of endangered places and traditions. Fishing in vast quantities may not be sustainable for the planet, but it is important that this way of life continues sustainably for those whose livelihoods depend on an incredibly tough fishing industry and who live in accordance with the ocean. I love the name of this particular Polperro fishing boat, as I feel it is emblematic for the future livelihoods of those who depend on the fishing industry.

This painting is still a work in progress due to some exciting commissions which I will soon be revealing. However I’m looking forward to finishing the painting and adding to my series of Polperro artworks. You can see some of my (finished!) original oil paintings and limited edition prints in person at Gina’s Art Studio, Lansallos Street, Polperro, Cornwall, UK …

Home is where the Art is – The World of Interiors Magazine

‘A house is more than mere shelter. It should lift us emotionally and spiritually.’ John Saladino (American Interior Designer)

I have always had an affinity with interior design. As a painter with interior designers and architects in my family, design is in my blood. I have been raised to believe that art and design are closely entwined. Without art, design is merely function. Both art and design are means of communication, and both can elicit an emotional response. It has been said that every child is an artist, it’s just difficult to stay one when they grow up.

The homes I have been accustomed to with my family are as culturally diverse as their owners, from palaces around the world to luxury residential properties and royal residences in the UK. The wealth at some of these client’s disposal is staggering. But what I have come to appreciate most about home design is its faithfulness to the personality of the owner and to their environment and culture. The more personal the approach, rather than mere ostentatious display for its own sake, the more meaningful it is and the more I like it.

The houses featured in the summer edition of The World of Interiors Magazine are ones that would inspire anyone who treats their home as an extension of their personality. Coco Chanel is quoted to have said that an interior is a natural projection of the soul. I believe that art, like interior design, should be a refuge for self expression, a world away from the homogeneous capitalist industry that often seems to surround us. It should be a space for our soul and spirit to be restored, to remember what makes us individuals. I like the fact that the owner of the kitchen featured in the front cover, ‘Lady X’, has remained anonymous so her creative flow is not impeded by what the media or history might have portrayed. Adopting a pseudonym has given her the freedom to be herself and give others a glimpse into what really makes her alive. It also gives me a strange desire to purchase a balcony facade from an 18th century house in India and situate it within my living room. The welcoming and vibrant nature of her home is in stark contrast with the art of Marcus Jefferies, not less inspiring, whose work addresses the uncanny, lonely nature of a postindustrial society, with buildings that survey us rather than include us.

I was elated when Conde Nast’s World of Interiors contacted me saying my work would be a perfect fit for their summer design festival. Art should create conversation, and for me, be a hopeful response to a mundane society by encouraging the connection between people and the environment, rather than distancing us from one another. I chose to include my hydrangea oil painting in the Artistic Impressions pages, as to me the painting represents what art should do within a home.

Like a flower blossoming in nature, art should add life and hope, set in stark contrast to what is often a dark world. The pink petals denote warmth and passion,  adding colour and vibrancy. Art should inspire you, and when situated within your home, it becomes an integral part of the tapestry of your life. Surround yourself with those meaningful pieces of art that uplift you and see what a difference it can make to your home.