Woman Awakening at the Oxmarket Gallery

What, two posts in two days I hear you say! Don’t panic I won’t make a habit of it but I totally forgot to tell you about the “Awakenings” exhibition (I blame those head bees again!) that opens today at the lovely Oxmarket Gallery in Chichester and is on until 12 April. So while you are visiting Pallant House for the Leon Underwood exhibition that I alluded to yesterday you can pop across to the Oxmarket to catch this one.  Definitely a good excuse to visit the historic city of Chi.

For this open exhibition applicants were asked to consider the theme of Awakenings: “To awaken is to become aware of new life, perhaps new vistas in new light, new possibilities of trysts and romance, or new ways of looking and seeing the familiar”. My submission, entitled “Woman (Awakening 1)” explores the defined stages in a female’s life when she awakens, comes into existence, and is reborn as a Woman. Read into this artspeak what you will but be warned that I was making this whilst listening to the De Vinci Code on audio book!

Sadly I missed the Private View last night due to work commitments but this is the photo posted by the Oxmarket of the exhibition before the masses arrived.


Awakenings exhibition (photo credit Oxmarket Gallery)

And my submission:

"Woman Awakening by Nicky Barfoot"

Woman (Awakening 1) by Nicky Barfoot. Hand knitted textile in natural yarns.

with detail

"detail of Woman Awakening by Nicky Barfoot"

Woman (Awakening 1) by Nicky Barfoot, detail

It looks like the Oxmarket, as usual, have done a lovely job, and I am looking forward to a visit. Hope some of you can make it.  Let me know what you think.

Exhibitions, inspirations and a head full of bees

My head is buzzing! Not in the annoying tinnitus kind of way but in the full of so many ideas all jostling with each other kind of way that I feel like I am permanently over-caffeinated and can’t follow a single train of thought. The reason behind my rather excited but muddled state is two indulgent weekends spent immersing myself in the talent of others.


A head full of bees (self portrait)

Here are just a few images that I can’t get out of my head.

Marlene Dumas is at Tate Modern (an actual FEMALE painter being featured at Tate Modern and one who is still alive!). I had seen images of this artist’s work but knew little about her. Interested to learn that she doesn’t work from life, rather uses “secondhand images” which she says “can generate first-hand emotions”, I was particularly taken by her compositions, especially how she crops her portraits, and also by the large scale of some of her work. This was one of my favourite paintings on show.


Marlene Dumas  Amy – Blue 2011 photo reference Tate.org.uk

From the wonderful Henry Moore collection at Tate Britain:


Henry Moore, Reclining Woman, 1951

and also at Tate Britain I discovered the fabulous work of Caroline Achaintre who marries ceramics with textiles beautifully.


Caroline Achaintre “Skwash 2014” ceramic

And at Pallant House from the Leon Underwood exhibition. Interesting to see how Underwood’s work inspired Moore’s.


Flux (The Runner), 1924 by Leon Underwood

So you can see how I might be struggling to sleep with all of this floating around in my subconscious at the moment.  Now all I have to do is allocate some time to play and feed this excitement through into my artwork. I can definitely see some figurative 3d work in my near future and maybe some large scale 2d textile paintings. Perhaps a little raunch? Definitely more mixing of media. Buzz, buzz, buzz….

Warp Speed Ahead!

I couldn’t believe my luck when I noticed early this year that a Tapestry Weaving course with the lovely Caron Penney had been scheduled at West Dean College for my birthday week.  Well, it would have been rude not to so off I trundled armed with tapestry frames and images from recent life drawing sessions hoping to use Caron’s expertise to find a satisfactory way of interpreting the latter into the former in a way that made good use of the uniqueness and sensitivity that this particular medium has to offer.

"charcoal gesture drawing"

Charcoal gesture drawing

This warm up gesture drawing has been haunting me for a few weeks now but I hadn’t quite worked out what I was going to do with it.  I had considered knitting it but would have had to change the character of the image away from line to form.  Embroidery would have worked well but that would probably have been too close to the actual drawing so what would be the point? So weaving it had to be, but due to the enormity of the scale required to achieve the sensitivity of the line in a woven form for the whole image Caron suggested that I used a view finder over sections to see if anything took my fancy.  The result: a whole new body (no pun intended) of work is now planned!

"woven tapestry"

Woven tapestry

I managed to finish this first piece during the workshop and was pleased with how it came out. However, I think I will probably do another version, perhaps with a bit more blending to soften the lines a little. I also have some appropriately coloured mohair in my stash somewhere which might prove useful (but don’t tell Caron as I am sure this is probably cheating!). Frustratingly though, after warping up and starting the next image in the series, I have had to put the weaving on the back burner while I attend to more immediate commission and exhibition entry deadlines (oh and the small matter of the day job) but I am itching to get back to it. If only there were more hours in the day!

"Charcoal drawing enlarged on a photocopier"

Charcoal drawing enlarged on a photocopier

An unexpected positive to come out of this workshop for me was a realisation of the design potential of the good old fashioned photocopier. Not having used one of these beasts for more than 15 years and having only bad memories of paper tray jams and toner issues I think I might now be a regular at the local Rymans after discovering how wonderful charcoal lines on sugar paper look blown up. I am starting a coin collection as we speak for that very purpose.