It is a huge privilege to be living in such a beautiful part of the world. The drive to work through the groomed lanes and easy foliage is often crash inducing! The allotments at Earwig Corner (the Ringmer turning at Lewes) always catch my eye.
I wanted to discover Spring! Most of us know the colours of Summer, Autumn and Winter, but what happens at Spring time? In the Summer, the trees tend to take on the colours of the earth: greens and reds, and the far reaching sky above is an ethereal blue. This becomes even more apparent in Autumn. Sitting under the naked apple tree on the bare soil on the first day of Spring, the colours were only clear to see at first glance. After sitting there for a few hours I realised that the sky and the earth and the trees were almost all the same colour, more: the same tones! What has happened? Has the earth and the trees taken on some of the sky’s qualities? Is winter in the sky and has it impregnated itself on the earth?
This first day of Spring was a whopping scorcher! By the end of the day, no word of a lie, the apple tree I had sat under was sprouting all over! The greens of spring are either of the fluorescent shade, or our eyes need to adjust after the lesser light of Winter. Being a hay fever sufferer, Spring to me is like a tsunami of earnest and forceful growth. Buds burst, flowers spring, birds chirp their little hearts out. Its all a bit too loud after our quiet Winter. An uplifting from the dark and dank depths, all that colour hidden under the freezing sods.
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.
Artists tap into thunder, like a conducting rod, and translate it into sounds and images. There’s not just thunder in Philomena Harmsworth’s pictures; but also music, movement, languorous lines, light and colour, darkness and silence. The silence exists in the eye of the storm, the absence of light or sound between lightning and thunder, and the thrill of expectation. Philomena’s new exhibition at the New Steine Hotel, Brighton, explores this dichotomy between thunder and silence.
She describes herself as a ‘method artist’. “I sketch and paint whilst immersed in the subject matter… Read more
The seasonal pictures use varying shades of blue, to echo that atmospheric time between day and night…
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