Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Strawberry September

I've always had a thing about strawberries. One of my earliest memories is looking for wild strawberries with my father in Swanscombe woods (the wild ones have a beautiful concentrated flavour).

I was shocked when a girl in my infants' class said she disliked them. I think this was the moment when I began to understand that people are not the same, that we are separate entities with diverse tastes. However, this really upset me when I was six - how could anyone not like strawberries?

In my early twenties I worked for the Post Office as a counter clerk (mainly to raise funds for my music projects). As experiences go it was rather a dull one but I do remember being struck, one day, by an issue of stamps based on William Morris's 'Strawberry Thief'. I took this inspiration home with me and ended up writing a piece for Four Point Paint with the eponymous title. We performed this piece, along with three others, at a small gig in Southampton and for each piece we also created a visual image which we suspended above us. I did a reinvented Strawberry Thief illustration in gouache, incorporating some biographical elements.

I've been painting with strawberries as a continuation with my work with fruit (see previous entry 'Brush') and it has been a very interesting challenge. Unlike raspberries, the colour tends to remain uniform - vermillion when wet and a darker red (crimson) when dry. The flatness of the colour heightens the role of texture in a monochrome painting. The use of strawberries, following on from the raspberries, (see entry below) has also made me reflect on the symbolic and metaphoric potential of this activity with fruit and accordingly has opened up several areas for exploration (including narrative, provenance and chemistry).

above: 'Strawberry Echoes' September 2008

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