I was honoured to be invited to join this prestigious residency for over two months back in 2017. I was prevented attending by unnecessary academic bullying, and then Covid hit. So, I couldn’t believe that I had finally made it on my third attempt in 2022.
From the moment I arrived, I felt inspired to get my Manifesto of Painting out as a suite of drawings. To be able to work 24/7 for two months without distractions was really the equivalent to a year in the studio. In 50 days, I managed to make 72 drawings, a body of work about my teaching philosophy.
Josef and Annie Albers’ pedagogy
I was privileged to research the full breadth of Josef and Annie Albers’ pedagogy. They were both great artists and teachers who had deep empathy with materials and the philosophy of making.
Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Connecticut, New Haven
I spent time with Fritz Horstman, Education Director, exploring their archives in the Foundation. Josef Albers is a genius of colour, and this is my life’s work too. It was very consoling that it was only at the age of 62 that Josef Albers embarked upon his great body of work that his reputation rest on, Homage to the Square. In this time, he made over 2,500 paintings in 26 years, completed in 1976.
Visual language is my primary expression
I’ve been trying to write a book for the last 10 years. I realised that I needed to express my ethos in my own natural language outside of words. I returned to the UK with a renewed and strengthened clarity about teaching painting and drawing, one of our most ancient forms of human expression. I am concerned that painting, drawing, and printmaking are misunderstood and greatly under-valued. These embodied activities are so essential for our wellbeing, and yet they are frequently contested at the highest levels of education in favour of the digital and word-based outcomes.
Working together to redress the balance
If nothing else, Covid has taught us that we need to be doing things with our hands, making, meeting others, and exchanging creative ideas. On top of this, climate change is now questioning our dependence upon electricity, so we need to re-discover traditional, abandoned low-tech approaches like painting.
A Residency in Connecticut, New Haven, USA, Summer 2022
It was in this beautiful studio that I was able to define and make sense of my lifetime of teaching and practice. I am so thankful to the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation for making this happen.