Planning for my exhibitions

With the pandemic dominating every aspect of life, the inevitable life re-evaluation takes place. I have found myself wanting my paintings to be so much more than well-executed paintings of beautiful bras. Suddenly it seems I should do something far more important with them to mark this time in history.

I have been inevitably thinking about my final exhibition modules and what sort of work I would like to be producing. Even before the pandemic, I had an idea, but I knew I couldn’t just jump straight to being at that point. My work needs to evolve to that point, if I get there at all.

I am very active in politics in my private life outside of painting and I love to do voluntary work helping others when I have the time. Of course, a lot of that has had to stop during the pandemic. But I have always had a desire to find a way of combining my outside interests with my art. This pandemic has only increased that desire. Having a disability has led me to direct a lot of my political activism towards tackling issues surrounding disabled issues. The bra also comes into this as a bra causes me physical pain to wear so this is very symbolic for me.

I want to be able to tell a story with my paintings. How can I do that using bras? I have considered several options. One was the timeline of a relationship. Women wear many different bras in their lifetimes. From sexy bras at the romantic stage of the relationship, through motherhood with nursing bras into old age, where function and comfort supersede looks. Then I thought of doing a series describing a relationship dominated by domestic violence. Starting with a hopeful, bright beginning, which slowly descends into a nightmare.

I am very wary about tackling abuse, because I don’t want to come across as though I am taking the subject lightly. I know someone who has experienced it and have been getting advice on what I should or shouldn’t include. Of course, domestic violence isn’t the only type of abuse and I have considered doing a series of paintings depicting different types. From domestic violence, to racism and sexual abuse etc.

There are so many pitfalls in tackling this type of subject matter. The practical ones involving technique is that I have to be able to recreate the scene for me to be able to paint it. Can I convey the right message without having to include too many objects that are likely to take far too long to paint? Can I source the props that I may need to recreate scenes? To tackle conveying the right message I have been looking at allegory painting and symbolism. I want my work to convey a moral theme or message and so I have been looking at William Hogarth’s morality paintings. I will go into more depth about these paintings in a subsequent blog post.

Published by Tracy J Hughes

English artist living and working in Wales. A BA and MA Fine Art graduate from Aberystwyth University. Working in acrylic paint and coloured pencil creating still lifes and beach scenes.

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