Friday 18 March 2016

Exhibitions, Bowie and Inspiration

Last weekend I was so thrilled to be involved in two incredible exhibitions right here in the North West. 

Earlier this year, like so many of us were, I was deeply saddened to hear the news of the loss of David Bowie. I have so many great memories of listening to Bowie songs, and it has always been so encouraging as an artist to see someone express themselves creatively without holding back or bowing to trends. So, when Jamie, James and Kirsten from Draw North West got in touch with an idea to put on the 'Sound and Vision' exhibition inspired by David Bowie tracks, with all money raised going to Cancer Research, I couldn't wait to be involved.

The exhibition featured 36 illustrators, each choosing a David Bowie track to inspire an illustration, which was then printed 12 x 12 inch (LP size) and displayed together at Texture in Manchester. It was one of those exhibitions where there are so many brilliant artists involved, it really goes to show how much talent there is around Manchester and the North West.

I chose to base my illustration on the track 'Slow Burn'. It's not one of his best-known tracks, coming from Bowie's 2002 album 'Heathen', but I absolutely love the feel of it and from the second I heard about the exhibition I knew which track I wanted to illustrate.

I chose ‘Slow Burn’ for its deep sense of atmosphere, narrative and poignancy.  The themes of the song: fear, surveillance, a feeling of helplessness and a simmering indignation, can be interpreted as being incredibly reflective of today’s society, even fourteen years after the release of the song.

I wanted to suggest a narrative inspired by the song; pinpointing key elements of the lyrics and creating an emotive character to subtly convey an imagined plot centred on anger, sadness and determination in a dystopian-esque environment.

The exhibition was only on for one night, but the venue was packed and there was a huge list of print orders.  I'll get back to you with the exact figures, but it's looking like we raised an awful lot of money for Cancer Research - and I'm very glad to have been involved.

Coincidentally, that same week I was asked by the Creative Lancashire team if I could use my illustration to include in a David Bowie tribute exhibition in the Derwent Gallery section of the Best of Britannia show in Preston. It seems so many creative people were affected by Bowie's death, and it's not surprising to see the wealth of tributes and artistic dedications that have sprung up since -  I'm always keen to support those, like these two events, that start conversations about sharing inspiration and raise money for charity.

I also had a number of my other illustrations featured in a separate section of the Derwent Pencils-sponsored gallery section of the BOB show. The Best of Britannia weekend featured artists, makers and independent businesses from across the North scattered throughout the spectacular rustic old post office building in Preston. There were tie-makers, lampshade creators, artists, potters, writers and vodka brewers all exhibiting in the same building, and it was fantastic to meet so many of them.

It was a brilliant and busy weekend. One of those that reminds you to take the leap out of your studio more often, grab the chance to grow some inspiration and forge new friendships.

These sorts of events, where there are so many people brought together through common inspiration and passion for creativity, are some of the most exciting, humbling and meaningful. It's always good to be reminded that from loss; be it personal or cultural; there's so often that seed for something new to grow, and the heightened drive to embrace that which brings us together.


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