Made In England
Constance Stubbs and Saving The Animals
By Wendy Rose
Fans, family and friends flock to see the well-known British artist in Ipswich. Stubbs, who is based in Suffolk, is exibiting at the John Russell Gallery of Contemporary Art on Wherry Lane. I went along to meet the artist and view her paintings.
Big, bold, colourful and unruly paintings with abstract figures greeted me when I walked in the door. There are some pretty expressive titles too. The exhibition runs until 12 July 2008.
Constance Stubbs, ARCA (Associate of the Royal College of Art), bases her work on her family and friends. Each painting shows people standing, sitting, climbing, rowing, riding motorbikes, playing musical instruments or just playing with a frisbee!
There is one exception in this exhibition: "I painted Save The Animals because of all the flooding around the world."
The people she paints are of all ages and genders and they fill the canvas in the style of social realism. "The works I like to look at are mostly by Turner, Gromaire or Goya."
Stubbs builds her paintings from torn paper and different fabrics which creates an almost riotous effect. She overlays them with mixes of media such as watercolour, pastels, chalk and goauche, which look as if they have been applied in a boisterous way.
"I was never particularly happy with the use of paint, having entered the Royal College of Art with only drawing skills. Tearing shapes out of paper prevented my work becoming too particular and made them looser.
"It was also a quicker way of working. Being able to cover larger areas with the torn out shapes rather than painting them. I became more interested in the use of line rather than the use of paint."
The largest painting in the exhibition, at 740x1660mm, is called Frisbee And The Washing Line. It shows a fantastic display of flamboyantly colourful washing and a child playing with a red frisbee. At first glance it is easy to miss this.
Frisbee And The Washing Line
Stubbs is capable of taking something simple and relatively unappealing and expanding it into something interesting and attractive. There are some darker paintings where she has used greys and golds to add an almost angel like hue to an otherwise mundane subject.
In Stormy Mondays the artist has applied delicate pastels and it has an unusual chequered foreground. The expression on the child's face is beguiling.
A tad of nostalgia is also an important part of this exhibition. The timescale of the paintings flits from present day, with a painting of her grandson playing an electric guitar called Zeppelin Mad, to some eighty years ago with The Courtship Of Dick And Lizzie, which is about her parents.
The Courtship Of Dick and Lizzie
"My parents were very working class - Dick was from Lancashire and was a very educated man. My mother was an Irish woman.
"Dick always used to tell us the story of how he had lassooed my mother from the Irish Black Mountains. The painting is a variation of this story, but in it he is using a black steed to scoop her up.
"It took over a year to paint all the pieces but I am pleased with the way the exhibition has turned out."
The paintings of Harold Yates, who was Stubbs' late husband, are also being shown at the gallery.
last updated: 27/06/2008 at 14:44
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