Since October 2018 I have been Artist in Residence at Portsmouth Cathedral. The Hermitage Artist Residency is funded by Arts Council England and is part of the Cathedrals creative programme and annual theme of ‘Time’.
I have been in residence, in the Cupola or Dome on top of the Belfry tower in Old Portsmouth. This is the Maritime Cathedral of the Sea, dedicated to the strong Naval, Merchant and Fishing community and traditions of the city.
My response to the theme and surroundings has been to produce a large body of work inspired by The Solent and Portsmouth Harbour which I over look from my vantage point high in the Cathedral tower.
The work is inspired by thoughts of the ships navigating to and fro. The Cupola was once used to announce arrivals and departures of ships from the harbours mouth and my thoughts were taken by those who didn’t return: the many thousands who are lost at sea in both war and tragic circumstance of fate. I was surprised by the numbers involved and referred to it as a Soup of Sous and the name has stuck since for this body of work.
Thoughts of how they rest in peace at sea and how the sea takes and sometimes returns those ‘lost’. I was taken with the term ‘lost’ at sea and what that meant in terms of hope, faith, spiritualty and optimism, an ancient relationship with the sea and oceans and how we can be ‘lost at sea’ but not ‘lost on land’.
The Solent and its nearby waters of the English Channel are some of the busiest water ways in the world and this historic port city has many a tale of the sea to tell.
The drawings, which start as thumbnails and compositional studies created in the Cupola, are scaled up and made to full size drawings in my studio, just around the corner on Southsea Seafront.
The size and shape of these large drawings is inspired by the shape of the dome shaped room I work in. The idea of a real dome or cupola fresco in an Italian church is not possible in the actual space but the trapezium shapes of the panels I have created are taken from the proportions of the space. If you aligned the drawings and curved them inwards they create a dome shape. They have been made in three sections, mainly for practical reasons due to scale and size of my studio space.
There are 24 drawings creating 8 panels. Each panel is dedicated to particular story from the Solent such as: The Mary Rose, The SS Mendi, Navy Sea Burials, Fishing accidents, people drowned swimming, the ancient trading boats of the Norman Saxon founders of our city and aeroplanes that have crashed into the sea with pilots.
The large panels will be hung on public view in the Cathedral this January and February 2019. In the meantime check out work in progress on my Instagram pages.