I’d like to now bring onto centre stage my very first... please add mental drum roll here... “guest blogger.” Sandy Hamilton is a good friend of mine and when she got very enthusiastic about some art she bought I offered her a guest spot. Please take some time to read and give your warmest welcome to her... take it away Sandy!
Splitting Hares - The Art of Boast
I'm not sure why looking at art generally brings me alive.
That question, though, is for some grown-ups to discuss elsewhere. I had been feeling rather flat of late when I visited the Burton Art Gallery and Museum, whilst on holiday with my husband in Bideford. I knew it was a small gallery with the large ambition of being "recognised as one of the leading cultural venues within the South West." And in my view, it's doing a pretty good job of it. I was, therefore, expecting a reasonably good show.
The title "Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers Annual Exhibition 2011" didn't particularly do anything for me though... but I went in expecting to spend a pleasant half hour or so where I would be lucky to see one or two exceptional pieces. What we saw, however, was a superb exhibition where almost every work was an awesome delight. What an unusual treat, I thought, to see so many high quality works of art together outside of the national galleries.
As I tingled around the works, enjoying each and every one, I felt the urge to buy one as there was surely a piece that I would love to live with. Fortunately my husband was feeling the same way and so we worked out our pennies for a while before deciding that there wasn't a much better thing to exchange bits of paper for than other bits of paper containing the creative outpouring of another human being.
We narrowed it down to four favourites and, as we couldn't choose, we went away to sleep on it. One image stayed fixed in my mind as the others gently faded away. The unusual figures of Liz Boast's "Hares", with their black ears and tea stained frocks (yes, hares in frocks!) were surreal and bizarre enough to click somewhere in the unknown depths of my right brain. These Hares were like antique dolls that might be seen in the corner of a child's bed in an unsettling film - sinister yet amusing, and offbeat enough to tickle my fancy.
We did not buy them after all but came home and looked Liz up on the internet. Spookily, she had a studio at Parndon Mill, Harlow, close to where we lived. This is a beautiful old restored mill on the River Stort, turned into artists' studios and work spaces. Like it was meant to be, Parndon Mill had an Open Studios a couple of weekends later and we went along hoping to see Liz. She was there with many more Hares, prints of Punch and some of Japanese women, Hiroshima survivors. Her range is wider than this and includes works in metal, print and transformed objects that catch her eye and imagination.
As I lingered over her work, I realised that, typically tucked away in her images, were clues about some profound sadnesses of life - one of the Japanese women held a postcard of Hiroshima - cleverly suggested by a few strokes but unmistakable. Happily we bought two prints of Hares and are now thrilled to have them hanging in our living room, looking pretty magnificent.
Liz's art appeals to me, excites and moves me, and I urge others to see it and hopefully appreciate it too. She described herself as preferring the world of the child, and who can blame her. Liz Boast is a skillful artist who can turn dolls and toys into adult and serious art. The unselfconscious creativity of a child's world is reflected in her free, smudge-filled art.
Child-like, yes. Childish, definitely not.
To find out more about Liz Boast and see some more of her amazing work, please visit http://www.parndonmill.co.uk/liz_boast.html