Working in the studio

We’ve been busy in our studios working from the footage and GPS data recorded at Tony’s farm to create a series of large scale paintings and drawings.  From the footage we’ve agreed on several sequences that we think might make an interesting series of works and started on the first layers – Sara using the video as her basis, whilst I work with the drawing-machines, to map the movement.  Once the initial layer is made, we swap the work with each other – either in person, or by post – and the next layer is made over the top.  By alternating the layers, the work is then built up, slowly over time.

sara studiodrawing machine

Sara’s hand-made marks are very painterly and have the flexibility to form delicate transparent washes that allow the machine-made marks to appear through, as well as thick opaque areas that can obliterate everything.  This diversity of mark-making, gives a sense of depth which is in direct contrast to the flatness of the machine-made lines,  creating unexpected areas in the paintings which resemble palimpsests – where the previous layers are only partially erased and so traces remain.

detail of sheep cam in barn 0045 - 0225

For us, this directly links to our attempts at capturing and depicting the movement of the sheep – their traces are marked across the paintings, sometimes fleetingly, but at other times more obviously.  Each work will normally have at least 8 to 10 layers, though we also create drawings as part of the ‘working-out’ process, which are much simpler, with only 4 layers.

study I for field cam feeding sheep in field 0051

We have regular joint studio days to discuss progress on all of the works and usually have around 8 on the go at any one time.  By working collaboratively, we become both the creator and the viewer – each time a piece is returned to us, we have to consider, then react, to the marks the other has made.  Often, when I get the work back from Sara, it has changed so dramatically, it is unrecognisable – mainly due to the power of the large paintbrush vs the fine liner!  Therefore we continuously document all the layers in a painting, which certainly help to identify them.  Our working practice is dictated entirely by the process we have set out for ourselves, rather than aesthetics and so there is usually lot of lively discussions and negotiations between us, on the direction each piece might take.  This strong conception basis is very important to us and the integrity of our work and roots it in landscape traditions and the documentation of the farming industry.

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