Philomena’s Winter Show at the New Inn has taken the artist in a new direction, the new pieces have been dubbed ‘3D paintings’.
Philomena says “I have spent this year going back to thinking in my sketchbook.” Sketching is an essential part of an artist’s life. To quote the Master Penman Jake Weidmann, “You should study 50% as much as you practice.” Drawing directly from life not only hones in on skills, but also in particular is a practise in the capturing of an essence of existence. Just as we receive feelings from a colour, we lance feelings into a creation.
Her way of working is to externalise inner thoughts. We all have a dual existence: the physically perceived way of living that runs alongside an internal dialogue. These two reels often play the same piece of film, but at times they digress from each other; neither one switching off, but the outer one certainly not representative of the inner. Her interest is in externalising our thoughts and daydreams. Feelings from a time spent in a remembered cottage, nestled amidst heather and bracken, with a warm, dark cosiness. How an apple tastes; frames of mind.
The model-making began with a piece called “Paper Flowers”. Philomena says “It is a room I used to live in a long time ago: a room in my head that enclosed and puzzled me. The only flowers that could grow there were made of paper. The only stairs in there to climb led somewhere out of the frame.”
The Destruction in the title of the show is what she has done to her old oil paintings – she has been cutting them up, and incorporating them into experimental models. Hence their Lift-Off into ‘3D paintings’.
The New Inn, Stoke Abbott is showcasing this new work over Christmas. It is entitled “Destruction for Lift-Off”. Come and meet Philomena, who had a recent exhibition at Farley Farm House, in West Sussex. Here her canvases hung in rooms where some of the giants of Modernism – such as Picasso and Lee Miller – lived and worked.
There will also be limited edition artists prints on acid free paper with light fast ink, to the standard of The Guild of Fine Arts.
And (as above printing standard) limited edition “Pages from my Sketchbook”, for a more affordable Christmas Present.
New Inn, Stoke Abbott, Beaminster Dorset, DT8 3JW 12th Dec – 23rd Jan
For the first time the artists at Sewells Farm Barcombe will be opening their studios to the public for Artwave 2015.
Over the weekend of the 5/6th of September come and see why such a diverse group of artists have chosen this beautiful secluded location as a place to work, and draw inspiration.
Meet Philomena Harmsworth whose recent exhibition at Farley Farm House saw her canvases hung in rooms where giants of Modernism, such as Picasso and Lee Miller have lived and worked. Philomena views her own studio space as an extension of her evocative sketchbooks. Together they create the anchored point from which the narrative of her work can evolve.
When Sandra Hurst Chico finds paper and canvas too confining for some of her ideas, she turns to Willow as a medium to create, as she says, ‘giant 3D sketches’. Growing and coppicing, dry or living, Sandra’s work explores all aspects of the weaving craft. She shares her knowledge of this, and other expertise, in private tutorials, school workshops and community projects.
Mark Griffiths finds the inspiration for his furniture designs in sci-fi, and 1930’s Hollywood, which is evident in both his Shell table and Triffid lamp. Along with creating contemporary pieces, Mark’s woodworking skills have recently led him to be involved in a project to recreate an Iron Age dug out vessel discovered in an Irish bog, using simple tools from the period.
Join them at Sewells Farm for a weekend of conversation, discussion, refreshments and wonderful works of art.
We all know instinctively that the colour volume is turned up to full volume in the summer, and muted into subtlety in the winter. Autumn is a bonkers display of reds oranges and yellows contrasting against grey skies, those brilliant leaves eventually covering the floor and turning back into earth. But what happens in spring?
The allotments at Earwig Corner on the Ringmer turning before Lewes, have always caught my eye. I sat there for the painting entitled “The First Day of Spring” (pictured above). I knew, only for the first few moments what colours the tree, earth and sky were, all still naked from the late winter. As the hours went by the colours became unsure and then indistinguishable from each other. Earth is brown! Shrubbery grows from the earth and has varying shades of brown in its essence all the rest of the year. So why in Spring is the earth and tree shades of the sky? I can only think that the colour of the sky has seeped into the earth over the 3 months of winter, and it is the sun that warms it back to its hues of yellow. Or maybe its my winter wearied eyes that the newness of Spring is too much for?
I hope you enjoy my Spring in the Lewes allotments series
This latest body of work Three Policemen is inspired by the book “The Third Policeman”, by Flann O’Brien. He wrote the book at the same time Picasso and the Cubists were painting three dimensions onto a flat page in a semi abstract way. The book is written in a very visual way; when reading it image after image floods my mind.
The book is unusual with the all – revealing twist at the end. The middle part features an other-worldly pair of policemen, who have the theory that a bicycle, a rider and the road will become each other, in different percentages, according to how often the bicycle is ridden. I find the idea of the bicycles interchanging personality with their rider and the road, a wonderful one. Anyone who has done an activity to any great extent will understand this idea. How realities meld into one another and make way for strange imaginings. The idea that a road has seen many generations of travellers and therefore has many secrets is also a theme in the paintings.
One of the policeman has fathomed a way of carving immaculate miniatures of ornate boxes. The miniatures go down in size and fit inside each other like Russian Dolls. They are so beautiful that they seem to dance of their own accord on the table. The tenth box is smaller than a pin head; there are 22 smaller than that. This strangeness furthers my interest in endless possibilities. I have made a model of the police station that is a little like a treasure box.
The third Policeman is never seen, but they know of his existence by his nightly visit to sign in the book, and to tell you of him would spoil a good read!
The painter Philomena Harmsworth had her first “awestruck about a piece of art” moment at the age of 17, looking in a school textbook at the collection of sculpture in the garden of Farley Farm House. She realised that she was looking at something that she did not fully understand, and was deeply moved by.
It is fitting therefore that she is now holding an exhibition of her own at Farley Farm House in August. It took until last year for her to completely understand the sculptures. When she was touring the house and garden in preparation for her exhibition, she was confronted by the actual sculptures, and suddenly had an epiphany. She saw the Pemrose enjoyment of life.
The paintings in the exhibition are a Celebration of Sussex, and Sussex’s Celebrations. In particular the Fire Festivals – Bonfire Night and May Day – and the links and the differences between them. They are both about ritual, fire and dressing up. But one is more about destruction and death of the old year, and the other about birth and the creation of the new. The opposing imagery also links into her application of paint, a lot of layers of existence go into the paintings – the actual time taken, her moods, the weather (shadowy colours come out on overcast days), and mark-making changes.
Philomena has created paintings that work with the art already at Farley Farm House. The sense of humour of Picasso for example; and that he tried to catch the personality of a person, not just doing a straight portrait but trying to catch their intrinsic nature. The paintings also celebrate that Philomena sees the intrinsic nature of the world as a mathematical one. She loved maths as well as art as a child, and she uses this understanding to try to get to the essence of what she is painting; of the objects, the people and their stories.
So why is Philomena painting Sussex? The answer is that although she has now been here for a couple of years, it still feels like her new home. She also feels that the best way to understand something is to draw it. When she first arrived in Lewes, she could feel the medieval ancientness of the place, from something like a wrought iron gate standing like a ghost at the entrance to a school. Brighton has some of these echoes of the past too, walking where lots of people have been before; but has a happier, festive party feel. She wants to convey the feeling of discovering the mysteries and secrets of a place when you are a newcomer.
The exhibition starts on August 3rd and runs until September 21st at Farley Farm House.
Philomena Harmsworth’s new exhibition at “Le Vieux Four” patisserie, in Beaminster this spring, is about the twin themes of food and stories. The paintings are inspired by the stories Philomena heard in “Le Vieux Four” from both the customers and the owner, Lynette Fisher. The place began to assume a delightful intrigue which was capped by Lynette’s discovery of an old oven whilst restoring the fireplace, hence the name “Le Vieux Four”.
The first group of paintings are a Celebration of Food. The main theme is the creative connection between cooking and talking; how talking seeps into the food people are preparing. Once you start creating something, you are giving it life; making it glow. Everything feeds into creativity – tears and joy. The person talking is the channel that guides the stories into the dishes.
The second group of paintings is about the characters that frequent cafes and food places; who come for company and stories. A short story of Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells of someone who picks up snippets of people’s conversations and lives. It is an intense, condensed experience, which leaves you wondering about the characters. Philomena’s pictures are a similar experience. The people in the café weave their own stories – who is the lady in the meringue dress?
Philomena started to explore the relationship between people and buildings in her last exhibition “Kith & Kin”. This takes the exploration further – The people who frequent the building give it its character and life – or is it the other way round? The characters come in to tell their story; they make it part of the building’s atmosphere.
For this exhibition, Philomena has chosen to use glowing, sweet colours, for the liveliness of the café. This is contrasted against the dark, base colours of the structures. These structures are the grounding things in people’s lives – the dark side that makes you laugh harder and love deeper. The colours show the range of people’s psychological states.
Bachelor of Arts: “Technical Arts, Theatre Design”: Wimbledon College of Art
Set Design: Designed and built sets for Italia Conti. Worked as a Scenic Artist for seven years on Film, Theatre and Television including:
Film: “Sleepy Hollow”, “A Band of Brothers”
Theatre: “Seven Year Itch” at the Shaftsbury Theatre
Television: “Big Brother” and “Eastenders”, to mention but a few.
I have also taught Art workshops for various groups:
Training Provider at NACRO College: 11-15 and 16-18 yr olds, where I supplied the “Plus” program and Bronze and Silver levels of the “Arts Awards” programme.
Taught art workshops for 4-7 & 7-11 year olds at an after-school club at the Community Centre, Battersea.
Taught art to adults at the drop in centre: “Asylum Welcome”
In 2008 I returned to Dorset where I grew up.
Solo shows at: “Le Vieux Four”, ‘January Nudes’, “New Inn”, Stoke Abbott
Group shows: “The Little Art Gallery”, “Space”, “Artemesia”
I also have a painting in the Bridport Museum Archives.
Director of the Bridport Open Studios 2010