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“I sat at my easel, facing a canvas that was playing out a dramatic tension between comfort and discomfort, control and freedom, planned stages versus improvisation, pale versus vibrant colours, calm over chaos.”

The above text is from my working journal in which I explored my thoughts on the work in progress. My artwork began as an inquiry into the disruption caused due to my experience of living with persistent pain. However, as my final body of work was created during the COVID 19 pandemic lockdown, I expanded the inquiry to explore a wider sense of the notion of disruption and containment, especially considering the emotional, physical, social and political chaos we were all experiencing.

In the paintings, forms and lines encroach onto and over each other in a constant disruption, followed by an attempt to contain such disruption where I make decisions over what is covered and what remains uncontained. Textures or ‘scars’ from historic layers are still present, scratches into the surface attempt to create distance, and subtracted paint leaves a residue which partially contains the layer beneath, often resulting in ‘windows’ or apertures. In some paintings, soft, fragile, delicate details have emerged which contrast with some of the bold coloured areas that remain untouched. As well as thicker oil paint, I found that pattern and near-translucent layers can also be a form of containment or semi-containment.

I also considered the action of failing to contain and my processes reflected this by using unfinished circles, arches falling off the edge, dispersed dots or dashes, and loose gestural mark-making. Within the composition, asymmetry gave me a sense of breaking with expectations and control. Considering spaces, encroachment, distancing and boundaries (of the canvas) reflected the language of the pandemic we were hearing.

As I experimented with digital planning for mark-making techniques, composition and colours, a new and successful process for my work emerged, where I would digitally paint over photographs of the paintings, make marks, delete, change colours, and plan my next steps before using oil paints on a surface. Planning helped, but experience and intuition told me when the work was finished.

The work I have created in the MA Fine Art has given me the freedom to move and push the flow of this inquiry and my creativity forward for years to come.