Journal



Wednesday 28/04/21


Our lives are so convenient, especially in the city, and spending time in a rural setting, being surrounded by livestock and seeing what comes along with that makes this even more apparent. It´s one of the reasons I´ve been interested in learning about hunting and fishing, something I was always quite against. There´s something in those activities where you are taking on the responsibility for yourself - the gruesome parts of life are not being carried out for you. It´s real. I´m still not sure how I would feel killing a larger animal if it ever came down to it but it has me thinking. Farm life is full of death. Dealing with things dying, it´s part of working with livestock. Even with plants and trees, things are cut back, eaten or destroyed because they can be hazardous, then they grow back again. One is closer to the cycles of life. 
There is a hidden part of our way of life that is more obvious here. Alot of what we don´t ever have to deal with is apparent. That´s what I want to convey through these latest collage/paintings - that a lot of the rougher sides of life are white-washed for us. When you live in a metropolis, everything is at your fingertips, it´s all convenient. You don´t see the grime that´s gone into the work of achieving this convenience. In using found food sacks and materials this is a direct association to the part of the world I´m working from - the rural. In turn the presentation - minimal, abstract - is a direct association with where the work will most probably end up - the city. The mud and guts of the farm, to the white walls and minimalism of the gallery. It´s actually something I might try and do when we finally move full time to the farm house - start a ´Farm Gallery´, where only the cows and a few others will see any work that´s on show - a gallery with no white walls located in a field, in the open air. Let´s see, might be good as an Instagram project?? 

Process - these latest works always start with the collecting of materials to use as surfaces. I want to get the feeling of covering-up, hiding or painting over with these surfaces so the texture is important to how the piece will feel. These surface are layed out, usually with a canvas or wooden panel on top, and cut to size. The composition is something I will have been thinking about for a little while before starting on the piece. Once the materials are cut, I glue them, which can be quite a lengthy process waiting for each section to dry. Then each section that is to be painted or worked on will be taped off. I usually use a layer of gesso, then two layers of the desired tone. This last smaller piece I just posted on Instagram had two layers of different colour which I wasn´t keen on so painted over. This one also has a wood trim frame with another layer of trim inside to create a small gab between the frame edge and the work. This can also be quite a lengthy process but I enjoy the labour in it. The current paint I´ve settled on dries matte, which helps to give that covered-over effect I wanted - almost like when something has been covered in snow or by a sandstorm. I want the textures of the surface to be apparent, but not all completely visible, covered up and paint-washed over, to mirror the subject matter of the works. 



Friday 16/04/21


Following on from what I was rambling about yesterday, I want to give a bit of context into the current work I´ve been posting. I´ve always used items from my surroundings, found objects, usually things that have been discarded. Subconciously I feel this is the most relevant way for me to express what I´m thinking and feeling about life, what I see and my surroundings. In London this would come down to me usually making work with a heavily city-based aesthetic - I loved the chaos, the ripped, the torn, the used and lived in. My scratchcard series of works I think mirrored this notion or feeling of displacement and loss that a city can sometimes exude. Coming to Brazil, and especially knowing we would be spending time in rural parts, surrounded by nature and wildlife, I was curious as to what my output would look like. Aside from this I have been writing a lot of songs, I believe from the time away from distractions at home and due to having lots of space. But in terms of my visual work I had no idea what it would turn out like. I was happy to feel the environment, do some contemplating and just make, paint, draw or whatever when the feeling arose. Unsurprisingly, spending a lot of time on a cattle farm, I was thinking and talking a lot about food - production, consumption, the history of and migration of people and what they ate. In the local areas, I was seeing the left over evidence of food transportation - large discarded sacks, wooden crates, string bags. These were the remnants of life here, the story of the people. In London the story was different. Life is different. 
At the same time I was drawn to the mark that appears on packaging here, a circle printed with ´Brasil´and the Minestry of Agriculture. Unlike the UK most things are made here, the production of most food items you can think of happens inside Brazil. In England most things are imported, fruit and veg at least. Travelling around rural Brazil you get a real sense of the size of the country - in Goais soya fields stretch for what feels like miles, Minas has farms larger than the town I grew up in and the old coffee plantations in the Vale do Cafe in Rio are unimaginably vast. And so I was drawn heavily to the subject of food consumption and production, something that was probably rather inevitable spending so much time on a farm! This was a million miles away from the white-walled galleries and the art world of London and it felt like it too. I´m very good at adapting to new surroundings and living the local life, fitting in and experiencing a place fully. But I struggled at first with art making - is it OK to just produce the same work you have been making in a new environment? When you are drawn to using found materials in your practice this didn´t feel right. I was void of ideas and inspiration for a while. As always happens with any sort of creative block or what is more like a quiet period, the best thing to do is not panic and keep working. If it´s songwriting just keep strumming around, don´t ever force it, just play and enjoy it. With art making it´s the same - just keep making, or enjoying what you are doing, play around without worrying about the outcome so much. Eventually it will come. 
What came to me eventually here was the idea that these two worlds - the farm, and the gallery - were so far apart not just in terms of aesthetics but also in value structures. Really, in everything, the two worlds were so seperated I just wanted to bring one to the other. In part just out of a selfish practical desire to try and fit my two worlds together and also in part because I felt there was a lot of underlying subjectivity there - there was a lot to contemplate.
To be continued, now I´m off to satisfy my obsession with the story of the American West and watch The Good, The Bad and the Ugly...again. I was definitely there in a former life, I can´t get enough of the history and stories from that era and part of the world. I can feel it so strongly. This maybe a reason why I´m here at the moment, riding horses, living remotely. Maybe I´m going back to somewhere I´ve already been. 



Thursday 15/04/21


It´s funny how things come to being sometimes. In 2018 I was interviewed by DATEAGLE Art about my work and influences and I remember them asking something about the materials I use and how it might relate to my surroundings. Having only ever worked in London I remember saying it would be interesting to see what my work would be like if I lived in a field. Now that statement will be turning into a reality. We are soon to be living in an old refurbished farm house, on my wife´s father´s farm in rural Minas Gerais, Brazil. Already, and over the course of these last 14 months of being in Brazil I can see my work has changed, while I think also not too much so that it feels un-attached to what I was making before in London. When you use found objects in art making it is natural that your surroundings or the place where you find the objects will bleed into the finished artwork - this is part of the process, depending on the type of work one is making - I don´t think the location of Duchamps urinal has the same importance as say Mimo Rotella´s decollages for example. But my work has been informed by my surroundings here, initially just through making large scale, bold, bright abstract paintings that were influenced by the colours people here paint their houses and buildings. These works now seem almost like they were a bridge or something that enabled me to get to what I´m doing now. I work in series, so these current collage/paintings do feel like they sit on their own but also they feel like an extension of the abstract colourful paintings and previous work from other series that used similar materials. My reasons for using these materials has altered and developed within the work I´m making and, importantly for me, in the why I´m making it. This brings me back to the living in a field part, which I´ll expand on tomorrow as now it´s late and I have to turn off this screen.

Until tomorrow.




Tuesday 06/04/21


This is the first entry in what will be my online journal - a blog of sorts, giving a bit more insight into work I may be making and generally what I´m doing and what I´ve been up to. It may not be regular, it might not even be that interesting but it may provide a bit more context into the things I feel I need to make. 
It´s now 14:53 on a Tuesday afternoon and I´m currently in a town called Tres Rios in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It´s about 120km from the Rio everyone knows. My wife and I are refurbishing an old farmhouse about 20km from here, where will be based my new studio and our new home, for the time being. It´s a million miles away from London, the city where I was born and the place I still feel in my bones. We´ve been here since December 2019, a year and four months, the longest I´ve ever been away from the UK. One strong bout of homesickness hit me around Christmas time and lasted about a month but the strength of nature has a way of dissolving these feelings if they start to resurface. The cloudless blue April skies, the Serra mountain ranges and the view of the Two Brothers from Arpoador are just three things that quickly come to mind. 
Now time for coffee. 
Until next time..

PE 





© Peter Evans 2021