Friday, 8 March 2013

...An Artist's Studio...

I am very excited to share this post with you guys and I really hope you take the time to read through it all. I also found it very hard to whittle down the imagery. More has been uploaded onto my flickr, here...

In just over four weeks Andrew Hofmeyr will be displaying a collection of dynamic and personal interpretations of his world in Brighton and Hove. Check out his stunning pieces during the Open House exhibition last year in a previous piece I wrote. This exhibition, though, is set to be even more exciting and will only add to the experience of his art. Unfortunately Andrew has revealed very little about the exhibition itself. All you need to know is that umbrellas are involved; lots and lots of umbrellas. I have been kindly asked to blog about the process and build up to the exhibition, taking a sneak peek into his studio and finding out the reasons behind his paintings.  Andrew felt there was a lot more to give with his paintings and began a four month journey depicting some of Brighton and Hove’s iconic neighbourhoods. (If you wish to view the whole interview with Andrew, I will be editing the footage I got and be placing it up on my YouTube account over the next week.)

Using the medium of wooden blocks, the paintings have a real and immediate feel to them; a tactile quality that encourages you to get up close and explore all the details. When talking with Andrew an interesting fact arose about the wood and how it changes from day to day depending on the temperature, whether it is damp or warm and, as a result the paintings are almost alive. This for me creates a dynamic back story to the already interactive images of the animals, as you can see from the images displayed. You want to touch and trace the images before your eyes. The process in preparing each piece of wood is a very laborious task with sanding and varnishing, to ensure that paint will not bleed into the cracks. In order to create a recognisable world, Andrew spent a long time researching the area, taking into account the colours of the doors, how the roads bend, and what animals appear the most in each neighbourhood.  If you live in the Brighton and Hove area, you cannot, not recognise the classic coloured doors, the forever annoying seagulls, the winding roads, the squeezed in houses, and of course the beach huts along the coastline.

Having a relationship with art is so important and having an actual connection makes the paintings special to each individual who gazes upon them. For Andrew creating art that makes people smile is all that he can hope for. Creating something beautiful that is relatable and obtainable, and when I asked if he then creates for others pleasure, he suggested that in some ways he does. The positive response he got from last year, really inspired him to give more and develop the idea further.  He wants people to feel inspired when they view his images and become involved with them, taking in all the wonderful little details, such as the cats in the window, or the enticing look on the foxes faces.

Speaking with Andrew I expressed how when I view the images I feel happy and care free, because of the vibrant colours and cheeky expressions on the animals faces. They have a playful, child-like quality to them. I let my imagination run away with the paintings, creating a story and relationship between the animals featured. The enormity of the animals and lack of humans, suggests the idea that the wild is all around us and that really when we look at it, is truly beautiful. Whilst I may not be the biggest fan of seagulls or of foxes, I cannot imagine a world without them. They play a huge part in my life. Right this very moment I can hear the squawks of the gulls and see the wings in the air. For Andrew having grown up in South Africa, animals were always a part of his life and I suppose with the animals represented in his images, he wants to recreate that feeling. Demonstrating how you can never escape the wild around you. I am truly very excited to see the final product in a months time and see how they all fit together, piecing the parts of Brighton and Hove together, creating one magical journey through the eyes of the animals that inhabit the space.

One thing that struck me when viewing some of the completed pieces was how intricate they are and I wanted to know how Andrew achieved such a high level of detail in his pictures. The technical aspect of art is very attractive to me as I think it really helps to bring the paintings to life, knowing the effort behind creating them. At first Andrew uses his imagination and inspiration of the world around him and produces rough sketches of how he wants the final paintings to look. Using those sketches and photographic references he begins to piece together his interpretation of Brighton and Hove. Each painting is made up of a collection of individually painted wooden blocks. I love this element to Andrew’s style, as it makes you think of the paintings as a puzzle and what would happen if you jumbled up the pieces. This only adds to the interactive feel to the pictures and playful qualities already mentioned. They take an enormous 30-60 hours to complete and this is clearly worth it. They are really wonderful pieces of art and technically brilliant.

Listening to him talk about each process with the pencil then the ink and then finally beginning the painting, then repeating over again, you can see how much effort and care has gone into making the paintings. The way he talks about the individual images, such as the rabbit poking out from the behind houses and the foxes cheeky grins, you get the sense that he has formed a relationship with his work and it has become a very personal journey. Having this prior knowledge and understanding of the paintings helps me to really appreciate how important it is to look at our surroundings and take in the beauty it holds. The images remind me of child’s play and imagining a world full of wonder and excitement.

Spending time chatting and watching Andrew paint was such a lovely experience and I really do hope that the exhibition is a success. Over the next month I will be reposting his flyer on my blog, twitter and Facebook feed for you all to gaze upon. This show is expected to be like no other as his paintings take you on wonderful journey through the streets of Brighton and Hove,
and I cannot wait to share my experience of it with you guys...

'Into The Wild' - Naked Eye Gallery, Opening Weekend 31st March