The environment is under constant attack from our actions. No bigger an issue is that of plastic in our marine environment. Heartbreaking images of dead or dying sea creatures succumbing to our careless waste are gaining in coverage. The depth of the issue is only now being realised.
During the summer of 2018 RAW-i Studios was approached by an organisation proposing to redevelop a much maligned underpass into the heart of the historic city of Chester. Turning the space into a talisman of environmental awareness was to be the central focus. We have been commissioned to produce a mural along the entire length of one (of three) of the underpasses. The theme being ‘Water’. The images below are work in progress. Wendy has worked alongside a number of local primary schools to develop these ideas. Members of eco-committees were invited for a workshop where they were encouraged to think about and use a range of everyday plastic products to mimic the marine creatures common to the region. The results were inspiring.
Exciting workshop working with the students staff at West Kirby Residential School for the annual Big Draw – this year focus on Mental Health is timely. More often than not the news will be filled with alarming statistics about the rise in numbers of young people suffering with mental health issues. I was delighted to be an invited artist to this thriving and very important school.
We discovered the use of coloured tissue paper to create relief work on a huge scale. The bright colours reminded one teacher of the ‘inner workings of a students brain’. A cacophony of divergent thoughts and mesmerising creations resulted in a gigantic mural of over 10ft long by 4ft wide.
All the students had a wonderful time creating within the boundaries of the materials and the brief. I tried to echo the vision and values of the school
It is a priority to provide a structured, supportive and controlled learning environment for each pupil. By actively encouraging children to develop their inner control and social skills, staff can help them to overcome their own individual behavioural difficulties.
Pupils are able to learn and grow in situations that will help them achieve their maximum potential. Staff are specially trained to assist pupils in developing an awareness both of themselves as individuals and within a group, increasing their respect for others, their self-esteem, emotional stability and acceptability.
Happy children, happy staff and what education should be about.
‘Ropes of Light No.11’ [Oil, Pigment and Wax on Board]
Rope, light; both words suggest ideas of space and place: inside, outside; indoors, outdoors; sheltered, exposed; open, enclosed. All in all, they are also a matter of location, of situation. One might say the works which are part of Ropes of lightare landscapes, and could move on and try to build connections and a sort of aesthetic genetics with earlier works which might have been seminal in their creation. However, this might not be so relevant and helpful, if talking of landscape is a way to say that some works are more or less valuable or respectable than others, or if bringing the idea of landscape forces an imperative necessity to identify locations, physical features and events in a figurative mode.
Although Wendy’s works feature titles with particular geographical clues and have been inspired by emotions felt in particular circumstances, this specific information might be more interesting from a documentary perspective than from an aesthetic point of view. Rather than asking the where-it-comes-from, or the who-and-what-inspired-it, both questions which – for a reason – inevitably lead to safe and reassuring answers, we might instead want to ask the what-we-can-do. If painting was edible, Wendy’s series/group/ensemble [?] would have to be slow food. Slow painting for discerning individuals sheltering from the constant and permanent visual shelling our post-modern culture induces. Slow painting, one which resists the quick skimming, the superficial glance, but needs sustained and repeated attention. For the one who takes care and pays attention, the unknown space of the image shall become a familiar place.
Ropes of lightsuggest a contradiction – apparent at least, between the thick of the rope and the thin of light. Both rope and light can be somehow light or heavy, thin or coarse, rough or soft. By chance or on purpose, all these textures make Wendy’s works in Ropes of light. Or is it that the contradiction would rather be a state of confusion? If figuration is assumed, discerning the land from the sky might prove difficult, as it can often be in various situations and places. There is also at times this unsettling thickness of the image, this granularity, which seems impenetrable, and balances at other times the smoothness of the glazing built up in the thick impasto applied under the palette knife, light and shiny. In other words, paintings resist, they open up as much as the viewer is ready to open themselves up to the work in this enduring conversation with the work no one ought to escape. We should be ready for this resistance, and reap the reward eventually.
Beyond the search in origins and the search in actual surroundings that they should evade perhaps more than any other work, what may be the most significant contribution/aspect of Wendy’s works is the search on oneself that they give an opportunity for.
Dr Guillaume Evrard (Art Historian, Edinburgh University)
Wendy Connelly – with students from ‘Portfolio’ Wales
RAW-i Studios recently had the absolute pleasure of welcoming a small group of very talented young and aspiring Artists from a number of schools in Wales. After a very successful series of workshops discovering the alchemy of the old masters and making our own paint. They came along for a morning in my studio where I shared the projects that I have on the go. From commissions through local council and sensory rooms for a hospital trust to my current body of paintings. Being an artist is often ‘highly textured’. The isolation in the studio focused on a series of work requires dedication and resilience. Working with groups and other stakeholders on bigger projects demands a collaborative approach that can mean a softening of your own ideals. Triggers and processes of starting the day in the studio. A freshly brewed coffee and a biscuit whilst walking them through my ‘rituals’, talking about the ‘triggers’ that allow you to think about your work and reflect on your progress. From my sketchbooks and boxes of tools to the myriad trials and fails, we talked of how ideas are formed, developed and realised.
As the sun rose to its zenith, the late summer heat crept across the studio filling the place with dappled light. Lunch was taken on the larch table as birds and butterflies and bugs pass on by.