Lorraine Cooke is one of 38 artists selected internationally to be showcased in the online Saatchi exhibition entitled ‘inspired by Miro.’ The exhibition is curated by Kat Henning of Saatchi Art, Henning has worked with Christie’s in their Impressionist and Modern Art Department. The collection showcases the work of artists from the US, UK, Sweden, Mexico, Germany, Bulgaria, Canada, Poland, Brazil, France, Uganda and Australia. To view the exhibition or purchase art works please follow the link below:
Roderick. K. Newlands MA (RCA) and myself are currently creating work in response to Cyprus in support of the 'European Capital of Culture 2017' developments of which Paphos won the title bid. To view art works and hear of future exhibitions both in the UK and Cyprus please visit 'TAKE2' at www.facebook.com/take2artists.
I have been developing works surrounding the genre of landscape. My work seeks to address the importance of landscape painting within the current nature of debate centring on the breadth of accepted contemporary practice that it remains to be a valid currency within the parenthesis of visual language. This subject is important to me because I spent my early childhood growing up in rural surroundings and so my relationship with landscape has formed an important role in my psyche and personal development. It is this relationship with the natural environment that governs the origins of my practice and that first drew me to the landscapes of Cyprus.
I have explored notions of human relationship with the environment to develop ideas within the context of ‘inscape’ of which the paintings entitled ‘Lunar landscape,’ ‘Lunar landscape II,’ ‘Last light,’ ‘Night flight’ ‘High horizon,’ ‘Emergence II,’ ‘Flight,’ ‘Arched sun,’ Fragments of flight II’ and ‘Big red’ are examples of. I have used the banana plantations of the Cypriot villages of Lemba and Kissonerga as a vehicle to communicate a psychological response to landscape. The banana plantations are of particular interest to me for a number of reasons, the first being that this agricultural landscape was completely new to me on arrival to Cyprus and as I discovered is a relatively new phenomenon to Cyprus too. My personal discovery of this landscape suggested concepts of the ‘uncanny’- a Freudian concept of an instance where something can be familiar, yet foreign at the same time, resulting in a feeling of it being uncomfortably strange. The state was identified by Ernst Jentsch in 1906 who defined the ‘uncanny’ as:
“...being of a product of intellectual uncertainty; so that the uncanny would always, as it were, be something one does not know one’s way about in. The better orientated in his environment a person is, the less readily will he get the impression of something uncanny in regard to the objects and events in it.”
The work entitled ‘Dog hidden in the plantation’ plays on this state, as you will have noticed there is no dog in the image, but the title encourages the spectator to look for a dog, exploring a disjointed world of amorphous forms which ominously elude to landscape and evoke atmosphere. The spacial composition owes much to the work of Max Ernst highlighting the influence of the Surrealists on my work at large.
My investigation has been set with a focus on ‘real engagement’ with this particular landscape to explore the notion of ‘spirit of place.’ I have worked directly in the plantations producing studies and photographic works which were then brought back into the studio and developed further in the paintings. The effect of the light in the plantations and absence of it contribute to the sense of the ‘uncanny’ and greatly impacts the experience of being in this landscape at changing times of the day. I have therefore used light as a vehicle to traverse both concepts of the ‘uncanny’ and ‘inscape’ within the genre of landscape, anchoring my visual language concerns within a long standing history of painting.
The series of photographic works entitled ‘lunar eclipse’ were taken immediately after a lunar eclipse, at this moment the sun was setting and the moon was high in the sky. What effect does the absence of light have on our perceptions of a place or landscape? The feeling of being in this particular landscape during the eclipse was both unsettling and mysterious. In this instance I set about creating a body of photographic works which would be considered drawings, using light as a tool to draw with, to describe, manipulate and define forms and space, identifying the changing moods and interpretation of this landscape. The result is a collection of surreal images which describe something of this unique moment in time.
The work entitled ‘Lunar landscape’ demonstrates the influence of Asian art and calligraphic line with an emphasis on Zen painting. In 2002 I studied the art of calligraphic line under the direction of Yoshida (a Japanese monk and artist) the influence of which can be seen in subsequent works. As well as the influence of Zen style painting in this work it was my intention to visually depict a poetic statement about my experience of this landscape mirroring Zen ideals:
“Sometimes it seems that we should take a half an hour and just sit down and figure it all out and by that get some control and sense of place... And what does this have to do with Zen and painting? When things are going well there is no particular reason to figure it out. But, everyone finds that the world is not a place that is made just for their needs and desires. For many this is the beginning of the spiritual quest. The adversities of life force us to think about ourselves in terms of a larger perspective.” –Robin Buntins on Zen painting.
It is the ‘larger perspective’ that arouses an innate response in us towards landscape urging a sense of our own identity in reflection of our relationship with the environment. Landscape encourages us to think about where we belong which brings us back to the concept of inscape. The following statement by the Boyle family defines the relationship between inscape and the environment:
“Inscape is the inner essential nature of anything. It is anything perceived, or experienced, or felt, without the filters of conditioning... It is so sad when this most unique and wondrous state is presented as a series of smutty clichés and when we have a look in wonderment at a system in our world that requires that we look at this sublime condition as something disgusting. But this too is part of our amazing environment. And this word environment, which used to mean the things that surround us, has I am glad to say, gradually come to mean something completely global. So that everything we can think of is part of our environment. We ourselves, our art, our innermost thoughts and essential nature are all part of the environment. The environment is the inscape of everything.” – Feature on ‘inscape,’ Art and Design Magazine. 1994 edition.
The painting entitled ‘Lunar landscape II’ marks the influence of Abstract Surrealism painting in my work, particularly the works of Arshile Gorky. In my opinion landscape art lost its focus over the later part of the last century, having been superseded by the complexity and confusion of practice which could be construed as artistically introspective. It is apparent that a great deal of contemporary practice which parades as ‘landscape’ inspired work, has not addressed the real essence of the accessible history of landscape art, but instead has only fed on short term, often superficial or fashionable practice.
My imagery is an amalgamation of forms recorded through studies made directly in the plantation, looking at positive and negative shapes, organic forms and perspective as defined by the changing light, juxtaposed with amorphous forms which are derivative of microscopic and organic life, used as a metaphor for our existence, evoking both a sense of the real and the surreal. The ambiguous spaces suggest a psychological space as opposed to any view or vista found in the landscape, serving aesthetically to present a synthesis of natural holistic rhythm, suggesting a meditative state. The images are not just abstract but allude to a higher awareness of reality. There is a visual layering which requires navigation, the eye first takes in the over- all dynamism and then focuses on the details and intricacy of line, as well as referencing appropriated symbolism. A number of the paintings undergo a lengthy process of collaging mono printed imagery with tissue paper and over painting with acrylic, building the image in a system of layers which serves to present a process which I like to think is unique, engaging the aesthetic and the tactile through surface. There is an interesting tension between the scissor cut line of the collaged shapes and the painted line giving rise to a lyrical fusion of imagery.
I would reference Roberto Matta as a major influence in my work. Matta’s strange organic forms came straight from the subconscious, produced by a technique called ‘pure psychic automatism,’ whereby the artist produces spontaneous drawings directed by his inner being. This interest in the subconscious is typical of surrealism. Matta’s ‘inscapes’ are preoccupied with infinite, cosmic space. Matta’s works were to have a significant influence on the paintings of Gorky and the American Surrealists. My own investigation involved developing through drawing, a language that could communicate different types of narratives, to develop a family of marks and forms that are characteristically my own and remain open to interpretation.
Mono-printing allows spontaneous mark making providing the opportunity to respond intuitively to the landscape, recording in the open air by a more intensive re-perceiving of the landscape at work, in movement with particular emphasis on changing light. Automatic mark making is mirrored in the work of artists of influence to me (including Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Graham Sutherland.) One of the most prominent issues in my investigation has been the identification of the word ‘landscape.’ This is not a new concern and is definitely one which will continue to change throughout history with ongoing influences of country, politics, media, art, literature, society, etc. Aside from the ideas, thoughts and transformations and experiences of landscape that we collect, we must realise that our interpretation and understanding of ‘landscape’ is conditioned by what we bring to it. This is better described by J. B. Jackson in an extract from ‘Land and Environmental Art:’
“... If a child’s vision of nature can already be loaded with complicating memories, myths and meanings, how much more elaborately wrought is the frame through which our adult eyes survey the landscape?... Before it can ever be repose for the scenes, landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock.”
The banana plantations can stir feelings of the unknown, hidden, forgotten, unusual, intimidating and overlooked; paralleled with distinguished features of beauty, intrigue, exotic and compelling interest, again presenting a dichotomy of the strange yet familiar. But this particular choice of landscape as a subject reflects the current contemporary portrayal of landscape art and consequential shift in the perception of ‘landscape’ to acknowledge what is the man- made, the strange, the mundane, the ugly, the functional and the commercial environment as landscape; owing more to mans relationship with the environment and consequently denoting notions of the picturesque, sublime and pastoral to encompass the urban, agricultural and every-day.
Decades on from the 1960’s and we are still searching for what is beyond the throw- away society, the obsolete and the dominance of technology. We should not just try to address social concerns, but question societies understanding of art today. I hope for a resurrection of artistic language which truly addresses issues of landscape, as history tells us that any language that is neglected will eventually fall into decay and die.
Copyright, Lorraine Cooke- September 2011.
An exhibition of Contemporary art works by tutors of Cyprus College of Art at the University of Northampton Art Gallery. The exhibiting artists will be Peter Bird, Margarita Drosopoulou, Andreas Efstathiou, Sarah Hoskins, Alexandrous Michaelides, Roderick Newlands, Margaret Paraskos and Stass Paraskos.
University of Northampton Art Gallery, Boughton Green Rd, Northampton, NN2 7AL.
Thursday 5th May 2011 5-8 pm. For further details please contact Suzanne Stenning- Curator of Northampton Art Gallery. 01604 893046 firstname.lastname@example.org
About the exhibition:
Romantic Cyprus: Artists of the Cyprus College of Art, by Dr. Michael Paraskos.
For anyone who knew the Cyprus College of Art in the 1970's the words 'Romantic Cyprus' will immediately produce a nostalgic memory of a ubiquitous guide book to the island, called Romantic Cyprus, written by the American Cypriot bookseller Kevok Keshishian.
Back then, in the days before the rough guides and Lonely Planet, Romantic Cyprus was almost the only substantial guidebook to Cyprus, which was not really regarded as a significant tourist destination. But it was also a guidebook that was, in many ways, deeply romantic, rooted in a love for the island and a desire to show the visitor what a wonderful place Cyprus was to visit. Of course we do see that in guide books today, but it is often hard not to think that the reason the authors are being so gushing about one tourist attraction or another is that they want to sell more copies of their book. You do not often get a sense that they really love the place. And when it comes to the Rough and Lonely Planet guides the writers seem under instruction to pepper their texts with dismissive comments, sarcasm and sometimes downright abuse. Presumably the asumption is that this gives their books a greater sense of honesty.
Romantic Cyprus was not like that. It possessed a kind of innocence. This was not innocence in terms of lack of knowledge. Indeed, there are some very erudite sections to the book. Rather it was an innocence based on an extreme optimism. The first edition of Romantic Cyprus was published in 1964 during the period of British rule, and even then there were plenty of British colonists and native Cypriots who thought the future of Cyprus was rosy. There would be agricultural improvement, industrial development and tourism, and all of those things would lead to a golden future. Sadly the optimism was misplaced, but as a guiding spirit it remained in every edition of the book, even during the violent liberation struggle against British colonial rule in the 1950's, the civil war of the 1960's and even the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. It was optimism in spite of experience, and that always has a charm even if it can sometimes be infuriating. It is the charm of romantic love, not in this case for a person, but for a place. It is a kind of geographical romantic love that is almost difficult to imagine in the modern world.
The exhibition Romantic Cyprus is part nostalgia for a book that featured so prominently in the early life of the Cyprus College of Art, and part homage to the spirit of Romantic Cyprus . At the College we have always encouraged students to engage with Cyprus, to get to know it and feel able to respond to the aesthetic experience of this place at this time through their work. This has led to a philosophical outlook that the best art, from any time or place , is always rooted in the spirit of that place, a sort of love affair with a genius loci. Or perhaps we should acknowledge the location of Cyprus in the Middle East and say it is a love affair with a genie, the genie of Cyprus. Either way, without that engagement with a place, art becomes flaccid, and no amount of justification that someone is painting 'from their imagination' can redeem it. Art can be imaginative, should be creative and can even cope with an excess of emotion or spirituality. But the most important element is that it always emerges from a direct physical and sensual engagement with the real world around us. To call the transformation of this experience into a work of art an act of love might seem sentimental, but love is not a synonym for sentimentality. It can be hard edged. And we can use the word love in this context, it does not seem too much of an extension to say that art emerges from a romantic engagement with the real world.
The artists in this exhibition, Peter Bird, Margarita Drosopoulou, Andreas Efstathiou, Sarah Hoskins, Alexandrous Michaelides, Roderick Newlands, Margaret Paraskos and Stass Paraskos, are all tutors at the Cyprus College of Art whose artworks subscribe to this principle. Like the College as a whole they come from different places, including Cyprus, England, Greece and Scotland. But while they are in Cyprus they seek to engage with the genie of our island. Each of them does this in their own way, as their sensory awareness of Cyprus passes through the alembic of their individual identities and experiences, producing very different kinds of work.
That spirit always underpinned the book Romantic Cyprus with the result it was not really a tourist guide written for people passing through the island in search of a short cut to information on the fashionable bars, the cheapest hotels or the sandiest beaches. It was simply a guide embedded in a love affair of a particular place at a particular time. And that, I would argue, is a description that fits equally with our tutors and our College.
Evoking the sensual, the life-size organic and mechanical forms in Roderick Newlands large paintings hold a deft conversation with the twisted and contorted figures skillfully draughted in his compelling drawings. Newlands paintings and drawings span a period of 30 years and provide a glimpse into the work of this celebrated artist.
Born in Aberdeen, Newlands graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1978. In 1979 Roderick was awarded a Fellowship to ‘Cheltenham college of Art.’ Roderick has exhibited both nationally and internationally and has exhibited at the Royal Summer Academy shows and Royal Scottish Academy summer exhibitions on a number of occassions. Roderick has won two major awards from the Royal Scottish Academy, the Meyer Oppenheim Prize and a RSA Carnegie Travelling Scholarship and was awarded a Fellowship to Cheltenham College of Art. . He has been based in Norfolk since 1980 lecturing at both Yarmouth and Norwich Schools of Art. He was course leader of the Foundation Studies Department at ‘Norwich School of Art and Design’ (UK) between 1993 and 2006.
The skill and technical brilliance of the artist tells further in his many inclusions into the RA and RSA summer exhibitions.
Like Roberto Matta(D) (who counts a number of Newlands’ works in his collections,) the artist plays with space and light. His family of bold, energized images cut across the featureless backgrounds. References to things past inhabit Newlands’ canvases. Childhood memories of his father, an agricultural engineer, mending ‘monstrous mechanical contraptions’ in a dark barn with only a hand-held lamp for light bring to life the monumentally present figures in his work.
It is figurative elements that also feature in Newlands drawings. Hands, larger than life and wrung together play with haunted faces, figures scarred and scored and at times Newlands’ pencil works so hard that the paper almost tears. Parts of heads and bodies tease us with their textures, a beard so fine contrasts with a distorted face and heavily worked parts play with those that are just implied.
Newlands is now living in Cyprus (Kissonerga) and has a studio where he continues his practice and is currently lecturing at 'Stass Paraskos- Cyprus College of Art' on the MA Fine Art course.
sculpture, Ricky Wilson, Dennis Creffield, Rachel Whiteread, Mali Morris, Jennifer Durrant, Euan Uglow, Sir Terry Frost, Peter De Francia, Lempa, Stass Paraskos, the Great Wall of Lempa, Cyprus College of Art
Lorraine Cooke is currently studying on the MA Fine Art course at 'Cyprus College of Art,' (CCA.) She is living in Kissonerga (a Cypriot village just 1km from the college in Lempa.) She is developing a body of works inspired by Cyprus (the islands light, architecture, landscapes, archaeological finds, Greek art, etc.) The first painting to be produced in this series is 'flight' which can be viewed in Lorraine's album of paintings.
About CCA: CCA was founded in 1969 by the Cypriot painter Stass Paraskos and is the oldest college on the mediterranean island of Cyprus. It has two campuses, one in Lempa near Paphos and one in Larnaca. The college was originally based in the town of Famagusta but, after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, it was forced to move to the town of Kato Paphos. It remained here until 1985, when the Ministry of Education granted it use of the former school building in the village of Lempa, 4 km north of Paphos. The Masters degree in Fine Art is the most popular programme attracting artists from all over the world.
Over the years many well- known artists have studied, taught and worked at the college, including Peter De Francia, Sir Terry Frost, Euan Uglow, Jennifer Durrant, Mali Morris, Rachel Whiteread, Dennis Creffield and Ricky Wilson (British musician.) Some of these artists have contributed to the 'Great Wall of Lempa,' (an ever growing wall of sculpture surrounding the college at Lempa, which Stass Paraskos started and continues to work on.) The college itself is a work of art.
Centred and circuitous, Cooke's seductive landscapes weave their magic, drawing the viewer in to discover the excuisite depths and layers held within the work and marvel at the detail each production offers; another experience evident with each encounter.
Referencing the term 'inscape,' Cooke explores the landscapes that she inhabits and works in a precise and controlled manner, the images held in the centre of the canvas allowing the viewer to navigate a breathing space from the vibrant and emotve images that fuse and flow, twist and weave. Hers is a visual dynamic which challenges the brain and intrigues the eye through a complex and inventive use of layered space and multiple, seductive perspectives.
Like the artist herself, there is an honesty and playfulness that is masterfully composed in each of her mixed media productions. Recent works reference Asian art and the use of calligraphic line.
-Laura Williams (Art historian.) 2010
An exhibition of contemporary Japanese art and Japanese inspired art curated by Lorraine Cooke in collaboration with the Unearthed exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
Art1821 presents Rebirth (Thursday 29th July – Saturday 4th September). The exhibition showcases the work of eight contemporary artists. Japanese artists Sahoko Aki, Megumi Baba, Tsunaki Kuwashima,Keika Sako and UK based artist Shaun Caton have produced works in response to ancient Jomon cultureconsidering Jomon existence, how encounters with small objects affect our perceptions of the world, connections between contemporary art and ancient art and the role of archaeology and culture in the making of identities. Veronica Grassi, Jazz Green and Barbara Leaney’s art works reference the meditative and philosophical nature of Japanese culture in the translation of aesthetics which are synonymous with contemporary Japanese arts.
Unearthed (until 29th August) brings together prehistoric ceramic figurines from the Balkans and Japan for the first time. Over 100 figurines from Albania, Macedonia, Japan, Romania and the UK are on display. These include ornate Jomon figurines (known as dogu) from the Robert & Lisa Sainsbury collection. The exhibition offers you the opportunity to get up close to those tiny, enigmatic figurines and to consider some of the mysteries of these ancient objects. There is a series of contemporary art works (including works by Shaun Caton and Tsunaki Kuwashima) which challenge us to think more widely about figurines and the expression of the human form.
REBIRTH…An ancient culture revisited, rediscovered, readdressed, revitalised and remade.
Gallery Open: Tue 10-4;30, Wed- Sat 10-5.
ART1821, Opposite Norwich Cathedral Gate, Augustine Steward House, 14 Tombland, Norwich, Norfolk, NR3 1HF. (East of England.) www.art1821.com