The Uncertainty Series is an ongoing body of work that mimics the ‘track changes’ function in word processing programs. This format allows me to reveal the doubts I experience during my art-making – giving solid form to my meandering and often contradictory thoughts. An installation at Mid Pennine Gallery took the form of vinyl works spanning two walls of the gallery.
According to Michael Corris (2), the Uncertainty Series is:
‘the story of authority rebuked, of certainty suspended, of an internal dialogue made manifest in the world . . . In one work, viewers find the sentence: “I don’t often believe my end-result is driven by my original idea.” As they stumble through strike-throughs, lose their way and retrace their steps, a conflicting sentence emerges: “I always have a clear idea that drives my practice.” . . . We read phrases that are, so to speak, false starts. We trip over ourselves, and in so doing rehearse Charnock’s uncertainty.’
It takes time to unravel the competing thoughts. I have ventured into making paintings partly because time is encoded in the act of painting itself. Moreover, the painted surface complicates and further hinders the process of reading. In the texts of these latest text works, I question my decision to paint; I worry that I’ll fail, that I’ll mislay my thoughts in translating them into words, while stealing myself to state: “I’m sure I can reinforce my idea through the act of painting.”
Together with my earlier text-based works, the Uncertainty Series reflects a long-standing interest in the opacity and indeterminacy of inscribed language. There is, of course, a long tradition of art in language. I was once a practising journalist and I have perhaps naturally gravitated towards this field of practice.
2 Michael Corris, “Rethinking Writing: Anne Charnock and the Art of Language” in Certainty Suspended, Castlefield Gallery Publications. September 2008.
See Artist Newsletter Review by James Hutchinson, May 2006.
What is the essence of painting and how can artists lay bare the essential characteristics of this medium? In my current conceptual painting practice, I am attempting to answer these questions.
In the course of this enquiry, I am finding similarities between the acts of painting and writing.
As with the works of abstractionists Bernard Frize and Atsuko Tanaka, my method of working is easy to trace and the viewer becomes an active participant in unpicking my process. In other words, the viewer can ‘read’ my paintings.
I have adopted a simple repertoire of techniques starting with ink flicks or drips; sometimes using gravity to force some movement in the wet ink. However, all my physical gestures are restrained – in deliberate opposition to the exuberance commonly associated with historical, male-dominated, abstract expressionism. And, in handling my paint materials, I exploit minor differences in viscosity, opacity and translucence. In some works, the hand-made mark enters the arena in the form of pencil lines and graphite doodles.
Much of my painting process is pre-determined but I accept that intuitive impulses will also guide my hand. There’s a tension between control, spontaneity and chance, which I happily accept.
The completed paintings are playful and might call to mind the work of Atsuko Tanaka, Ian Davenport and David Reed. The vocabulary of everyday doodling reminds me of Ian Davenport’s description of his own painting (1) as:
'big drips . . . absurd, quite stupid really . . . a journey from a dumb thing to somewhere else.'
Jackson Pollock Revisited, by Anna Moszynska, Contemporary Visual Arts Vol 22.
I shot a series of eight photographic portraits with a faulty digital camera. This work pushes to the limit the photography movement that opts for simple methodology over technical skill.
To emphasise this extreme approach, I have output the images without enhancement as large high-quality giclées on heavy, matt Somerset paper. They are mounted in high-quality frames to further emphasise my extreme approach to these technically ‘sub-standard’ images.
There is a definite painterly quality in sections of these images when enlarged to full size – due partly to the matt paper and partly to data fragmentation. The works could be considered paintings in a broader reception of that media. Some of the images are clearly portraits though others are more abstract. There is an echo of Thomas Ruff’s Jpeg photographs in these images, though Ruff’s work involves more manipulation. They also bring to my mind Diane Arbus’s question: ‘How much can a photograph really tell you about anyone?’