I feel I’ve been influenced just recently by some kind of influences from the past that are new to me but its just something about the present day and the art that is popular now particularly in England because there’s lots of stuff that comes in from the world and all sorts of really good stuff but some stuff that kind of sticks in my mind as to the expressing of English culture. I’m interested in this thing we have these days about gender roles because, you know, the world the way it is you have to survive by being very macho, sort of projecting a lot. I’ve been reading William Blake and he was a sort of medievalist mind but he was very ahead of his time as well. He drew on medieval and classical sources like a lot of people of that time because it was a romantic sort of allusion to the past. In a way he actually created his stories which is almost what people considered the backbone of English culture. But actually he was quite a popularist and he was creating a voice for the people. He mentions all these people of that time like Franklin and Thomas Paine and various people like that but they kind of come out of this story, which is his own rambling, visionary, prophetic story. He created a story by creating his characters and then illustrating them. Some of it’s very medieval and to do with anthropomorphism, zoomorphism, kind of creatures, and so on, woven into his paintings but a lot of it is very like modern graphic novels in a way, fantasy novels and Japanese Anime cartoons, you know fantastical larger than life and his figures have extraordinary contortions, they kind of sinuously blend in with things. Sometimes there’s flames coming out of them, it’s all very fiery, a lot of dragons. I think that’s kind of like childhood, a place for the imagination but also it’s like an idealized vision of what it is to be male and heroic and kind of macho, you know, rising up above everything and having strength, and so on, or even going through awful ordeals. He imagines these characters in all these situations and I think William Blake’s like that – very poetic, fiery. But now, I’ve just discovered Elizabeth Stanhope Forbes who lived in Newlyn and she was a little bit later than Blake and she was more concerned with nature, nature motifs and the actual day-to-day rhythms of people, women, and the emotional side of things and she used for her storytelling more natural forests and flowers and seasons, and so on, and the light, very very strong light, but very naturalistic. She had this thing where she was illustrating a different kind of fantasy, which was like the medievalist, romantic fantasy, but seen from her point of view, so they were still heroes but they were more human scale and more nature motifs. It was more nature spirits and that sort of openness to nature, and because she was connected with Newlyn woods, that’s close to here, it seems like that’s another echo of the past but it’s also English and romantic and rambling but its become more female. It’s like ladies with beautiful woven straw hats with flowers in them and things like that and chivalrous princesses and damsals, and so on. Very sweet, very true to her I think, very dreamlike but also telling the story of Arthurian times, recounting those heroes and so on but a female view of heroes. Blake’s heroes were all kind of semi-clad people with loads of muscles and extraordinary dancing energy, tumbling and becoming one with everything, which is as much an exploration in a way. I like to paint figuratively and it’s nice to feel there’s that in English culture in the past and that’s continuing to our time. There are so many children’s books of fairy tales and also there’s a lot of graphic novels and sort of fantasy imagination. Both suggest a kind of wildness really, childlikeness. I like that and I think that’s where I might be aiming for or I might be informed by that in the way I develop my art ideas.
Now that lockdown is at last gradually lifting, we're looking back on the past year with a sense of achievement and a committment to a future together. Even when we couldn't meet, Roamers stayed in touch by way of our post card project (details here) -- we've posted most the them here. We shared paintings and drawings and photographs from Toby, Suzi, Jon and Not Just Any Girl. Keep an eye out for a new video soon with more details.
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Laura Wild is Roaming's Lead Facilitator and one of its directors. "Click" about us to find out more about who we are and what we do, or read about...
Roaming's official goal is "to carry on creative activities that benefit the community and in particular (without limitation) people who find themselves in some way disadvantaged, excluded or vulnerable." Our values are really our common ground: confidentiality, integrity, fairness, respect for the values and culture of others, the withholding of judgement, inclusivity, flexibility, and equity in relationships. "