Artist Spotlight: Jack Foster

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Coventry artist Jack Foster has recently returned from a month-long residency in Dresden, Germany as part of the Coventry-Dresden Arts Exchange. This artist-led grassroots initiative was set up by Coventry-based artist John Yeadon back in 2012 to develop dialogue and establish collaborative partnerships between artists from both cities.

We visited Jack’s current solo show “Dresden Paintings” at Classroom Gallery, and have interviewed him to find out more about his stay in Dresden, and this wonderful collection of paintings produced during his residency.

How did you enjoy your stay in Dresden?

I went to Dresden without knowing how I’d respond to seclusion of various kinds- spatial and societal, for the most part. I spoke some German but not enough to hold a conversation worth having. A month is a long time to run an experiment like that on yourself but I learned a lot.

My hosts, Anne and Christian Manss, could not have been more welcoming. They kept me alive for a month whilst I got the painting done.

Dresden was beautiful but extremely cold at the time (February) so I lived between my guest room at and my studio, which I shared with Christian and Anne. I met some great people in Dresden and the experience was invaluable.

Before travelling to Dresden, did you set any objectives, that you wished to achieve through your residency?

I hadn’t had too much time or space to paint in the months leading up to the residency but I had a few sketchbooks filled with ideas. My main objective was to see where I was as a painter. My work tends to tread a line between figurative representation and painterly abstraction and I go back and forth between the two.

Previous to Dresden, I addressed painting in a slightly more playful way, I wasn’t painting with any serious technicality or concern for colour theory. The work that I made was largely based on background figures and drapery in old masters paintings so I wanted to re-learn how to paint, to a degree.

My palette was stripped back to four or five colours (as opposed to my bags of hundreds of tubes that I usually work with), this forced be to get the most out of those colours and figure out new ways to use them. The decision to limit myself in this way also negated most of the decision paralysis when it came to mixing up colours due to the fact that I was mostly working in tone.

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What projects did you work on during your stay?

The sketches that I compiled previous to the residency were of draped fabrics, background figures and areas of light and shade- all lifted from old masters paintings, drawn and re-drawn out of context until they became their own image.

These were my starting point and I wrestled with them for a month.

‘Economy of mark’ is a phrase that my friend Mircea Taleaga used when he came to give a guest lecture about his work at Coventry university where I teach. The phrase, as far as I can see, originated with him but I’ve adopted it as a really useful way of talking about the amount of brush marks used to suggest form.

In a lot of classical portraiture, the faces could be said to have a low economy of mark (lots of marks to create the forms) whereas the drapery, background figures and even the sitter’s hands often had quite a high economy of mark (fewer marks to create the form, often tonal sketches).

I am interested in using the spectrum of this economy in different ways. Looking at a painting in this way works like a visual map of time spent in various places, it’s a sort of document of attention.

How do you feel that your time in Dresden benefited your creative practice?

It’s rare to get so much time to think about painting.

I’m able to do things with paint that I simply couldn’t do before, the time spent with just a few colours has been almost as important as the years spent with my collection of hundreds of colours.

What themes do your paintings explore?

Previous work has been about pattern seeking and superstition, In life, literature and In painting. I’ve painted a lot of Skinner Boxes- animal boxes from BF skinner’s famous experiments. I show these boxes alongside some paintings of drapery with suggested figuration.

I like to take things out of images when they should be there and put things In when they shouldn’t be.

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Draped fabric appears in many of the paintings in your solo show. Tell us a little more about this.

The draped fabrics started to come into my work as a bit of a joke, I painted a few which looked like a kid’s terrible ghost costume or something but the paintings looked more serious. There was no foot coming from underneath the sheet and the proportions weren’t human so they were just these draped forms, moving without an author.

They were also sort of about the way people approach semi-abstraction when looking at paintings, there’s almost a frustration for the image to be fully explicable.

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What’s next for you now as an artist?

I’m making more sketches and I’ll figure out what they are later when I try to paint them. After that I’ll try to show them somewhere.

Where can people go to find out more about your work?

For now my Instagram is the best place @jack_foster_artist

 

Jack’s solo show “Dresden Paintings” is currently on display at Classroom Gallery, open Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 – 4pm, or viewing by appointment, until the end of April 2018.

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New residency announced for Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange!

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Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange have announced a new month-long residency (February 2018) in Dresden for Coventry based artist Jack Foster, hosted by Dresden artist Christian Manss.

Born in Coventry, Jack is a 26 year old painter and a graduate of Coventry University. He currently lectures on the Foundation Art and Design Course at Coventry University. Jack has had solo exhibitions and group shows in London and the Midlands. He was the 2013 winner of Coventry University Drawing Prize from which he was an artist in residence at Rugby School, teaching and creating a new body of work.

This pilot residency programme is been supported by Coventry City Council a Small Arts Grant. Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange hope to make these Exchange residencies a regular feature of their activities.

Dresden artist Alexandra Müller was artist in residence in Coventry in July-August 2017, hosted by John Yeadon. The residency was a great success and Alexandra was a perfect ambassador for Dresden and Dresden artists. She had an open studio and a final exhibition in City Arcadia Gallery, which were well attended with over 60 visitors, amongst these visitors was The Lord Mayor of Coventry and the Dean of Coventry Cathedral. Alexandra visited museums and historic sites in Coventry including the Cathedral, also visiting artists studios in Coventry and Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire plus art galleries in London and Birmingham accompanied by Coventry artists.

Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange is a personal initiative of Coventry based artist John Yeadon and has been active since 01/06/2012. It was formed into an Unincorporated Artist Association in 01/04/2015. The Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange is an artists-led grassroots initiative, which seeks to develop dialogue between artists from the cities of Coventry and Dresden and to establish collaborative partnerships of exchanges, exhibitions, educational projects and forums.

Since 2012 they have had 6 collaborative exhibitions with Dresden artists in both cities. With over 1,000 visitors at the Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange exhibition at Pillnitz Castle during the Elbhangfest in 2016.

We are looking forward to seeing how Jack gets on during his stay in Dresden.

This week’s exhibition round-up

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So it’s been another busy week for art lovers in Coventry! We managed to get along to three private viewings:

Thursday evening saw the opening of “Visual Stream” by Jeff Dellow at the Lanchester Gallery, and was wonderfully curated by Matthew Macaulay, Director of Class Room, Coventry. A vibrant collection of abstract paintings, layering geometric shapes with brash criss-crossing patterns. Dellow’s paintings feature contrasting colours and forms, interwoven and broken up through more subtle and delicately placed shapes and layers – lightly exposing the harsher patterns underneath. We managed to get hold of a copy of the exhibition brochure, which features a great write-up of Dellow’s work and Matthew’s enlightening interview with the artist.

The exhibition will continue to run Monday – Friday, 11am – 4:30pm until the 2nd of Feb. Be sure to check this out!

 

Friday evening we got along to the opening of Warwickshire based artist Tammy Woodrow’s exhibition of her latest sculptural work; “Concatenation: interconnected things at City Arcadia Gallery. A collection of miniature sculptures, which appear reflective of the constructivist movement. On the other hand, there is an exploration into the idea of the way in which everything in the universe in interconnected in some way. Found fishing floats used in her sculptures could be symbolic of rippling water – a comparison of the “butterfly effect” and “string theory”. The way in which they are presented in the gallery space is as if each sculpture is floating in a white universe.

Throughout the duration of the exhibition, Tammy will be creating a series of drawings inspired by the sculptures and handing them out for free to the public.

The exhibition will run every day 10am-4pm until Thursday 18th Jan, when she will be holding an exclusive experimental sculpture workshop – see her website for more details:

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After visiting the opening of Tammy’s exhibition we then headed over to the CET Building for the opening of “Prelude” a mid-year showcase of the 3rd year Fine Art Students at Coventry University. The room was packed and saw over 150 people attending the Private View – a great turn out for the students. An impressive collection of artwork spanning from both figurative and abstract painting, photography, digital imagery, plus some thought-provoking installation pieces. Again, the level of talent this year is really high. This will be open until Tuesday 16th January. We’re looking forward to seeing the final degree show now this summer!

Coventry University MA Exposé – Postgrad Showcase

This week Curating Coventry was invited along to the Private Viewing of the MA Exposé Postgrad Exhibition. And boy, did they deliver! This incredible showcase of raw talent blew us away.

First stop was MA Painting display on the top floor of the Graham Sutherland building. We turned straight into a beautiful, vibrant collection of surrealist style paintings, which formed Tabi Lampe’s display. We got to chat to the artist and it was upon discovering what inspires her creativity that her work became even more exciting to view.

Tabi explores the different levels of human consciousness, and how the activity of regularly creating art pushes you through limitations and inhibitions. This results in a higher level of consciousness, self-awareness, acute intuition and inner freedom. It is escapism from the fear-driven mind-sets, and limited state of ‘being’ in which we have become conditioned to in today’s world. As you view her paintings, you really feel the sense of the release and freedom that the artist was experiencing, as she delved into the higher state of consciousness.

This amazing installation accompanied the paintings, featuring pinecones delicately emitting from the central figure – each pine cone symbolic of the pineal gland – that gland that was once know as the “third eye”.

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Round the corner was a charming collection by Jennifer Shufflebotham’s “Sri Lanka Series” – a result that has grown from the organic relationship of combining photography and painting.

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The process in which the artist took to create the final pieces is an interesting journey in itself. The photographs were captured during experiences travelling Sri Lanka. She creates composite images from photo combinations, in which working drawings are created. These are then adapted to paintings. The result is this wonderful series of fictitious scenes, and the combination of mediums results in an original and distinct style of painting.

Andy Farr, is another artist exhibiting a seriously impressive display, featuring a combination of different projects that he’s worked on.

“Lost Generation” was the first we explored – a project he ran with the Arts Council of England across a number of schools, designed to make WW1 centenary relevant to today’s youth. Dark scenes of the bloody aftermath WW1 battlegrounds, combined with scenes of a modern festival – mud-bathed fields with bodies strewn over the land. In the modern scenes, are the teenagers dead? Sleeping? Or is this just the morning after a heavy night partying at the festival?

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In contrast to this, his “Black Dogs” collection of paintings were created in response to reflections and experience of mental health issues. We particularly loved “Swing”, and “Carousel’ which combine a more abstract style with eerie dream-like scenes of an abandoned funfair.

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Andy has secured a Studio Space at the Meter Rooms in Coventry, so we’re looking forward to seeing more great work from him.

Other great work included a great collection of landscape scenes by Yue Haung, incorporating this wonderful painting installation of dark, foreboding mountainous rock scenes, painted into the gallery space.

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Samridhi Khandelwalgreat “Shadows” installation piece and an striking sequence of stunning modern figurative paintings.

Yiwen Chen’s display combines drapes of fabric with her paintings, and creates collections of delicate miniature paintings, combined together to form a single artwork.

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We then moved along to the Glassbox Gallery, which was exhibiting the Contemporary Practice MA. We loved the diversity and assortment of different mediums truly expressing the individuality of the artists on display. Artwork included audio-video installations, a digital fabrication of wearable sculptures, eerie dolls house of figurines made up from Barbie dolls, fairies, combined with military action-figures, plus more sculptural, installation art.

The combination such a variety of contemporary mediums resulted in wonderfully eclectic showcase of creative expression, which pushed through convention.

All in all this was such an outstanding showcase of the quality of work coming from the post-grads of Coventry University. We were really blown away by the pure talent and integrity of this impressive show, and looking forward to seeing more from these gifted individuals in the future.