Gareth A Hopkins

These pages will be kept updated with forthcoming gallery shows and news on completed artwork.

Pages from my ongoing surreal/abstracted comic 'The Intercorstal' can be found here: The Intercorstal

My deviantart gallery, chock-full of my art, can be found here: grthink

Stories from my (old) walk to and from work can be found here: Trolleys In Odd Places

Monday, 31 May 2010

Tate Cruising

"Ceremonial Ghost Mask"

So, as I've said, I recently got back off holiday. I went on a cruise around the Eastern Mediterranean with my wife and her family -- generally cruising isn't for me, but this was slightly different as on sea days there was three hours of activity arranged by Tate, both lectures and practical acitivities.

Now, P&O cruises have a certain demographic: what I call Coffin Boffins. Basically, 70% of the passengers on the ship could have been riding the bus for free. And not to push stereotypes, but people who are old and interested in cruising read the Daily Mail and have a very narrow view of what art is. This meant that the program of lectures were tailored to the more vanilla end of the spectrum... don't get me wrong, they were without exception excellent, and I got a lot out of them, but they were very, very safe, and I could feel how uncomfortable the three lecturers were with having to play to the audiences weaknesses. For instance, after a lecture on Picasso, one gentleman (installed on a motability scooter) remarked to me "He could obviously draw properly... why did he have to go and do all that nonsense with the faces and things". (The gentleman in question was actually a really nice bloke, he just liked pictures to look a certain way).

My favourite lecture was on Dali and the Surrealists. If I'd had my way, they'd have been two seperate lectures... actually, I would have had them split it into three -- one for Dali, one for Surrealism, and one for Magritte. But still, I love that entire movement, so to hear someone talk with authority about something they obviously loved too was a genuine treat for me. There was a wonderful moment when the lecturer (Linda Bolton) was talking about 'Gift' by Man Ray and the computer equipment broke down, and the audience was asked to imagine what might have been on screen -- Breton would have loved that.

Linda Bolton is forced to deliver the Surrealism lecture surreally.

As excellent as the lectures were, though, the practical workshops were awesome. Run by abstract artist Patrick Jones each of the eight workshops dealt with a different technique, starting with portraiture and figure drawing and ending on monoprinting. I was okay with the drawing bits -- drawing's what I do normally. But when the charcoal was broken out, and then the paint, I got very uncomfortable very quickly. Watercolours and monoprinting went okay, but anything with acrylic paint went very badly for me -- saying that, I loved the workshop on masks, which I'll come back to in a second.

Again, I was usually the youngest in each workshop, but generally the people who came to them were a little more open minded. Which was good for them, because Patrick had a delightful way of taking the premise of each workshop and twisting it slightly, to the point where the regulars knew not to expect the expected. For instance, one of the workshops was billed as 'Pop Art' and within five minutes we'd been told that we weren't doing Pop Art because Patrick didn't like it, and we'd be doing something nearer to Abstract Expressionism instead.

The best example was the session on masks: we'd just been to Venice and everyone was expecting the chance to make their own Ventian masks (especially since that's what the programme of events had promised), and instead we were asked to approach the idea of masks as something more primal and interesting, to think about how masks hide identity and respond to that. Everyone else worked onto plastic face masks, but because I got there late I did a painting of a mask instead, which was the piece I was most happy with at the end of the course.

Below is a selection of some of the stuff I did as part of the Tate programme, for interest rather than to impress anyone.

Sketch for a mask

Monoprint -- my first ever

Watercolour -- we were asked to do a lanscape with a 'bowl of light' in the centre.
I was thinking about The Intercorstal while I did this and with an extra hour or so
would have had something more... landscape-y. Maybe.

Figure drawing

Portraiture -- I was a very long way away from the model when I did this.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Intercorstal News Update 29th May 2010

I've just returned from a 16-night cruise, taken with my wife and her family. While I was away I finished five pages of The Intercorstal and some other very different pictures. The other pictures will come in a later post, but for the moment I just want to talk about The Intercorstal...

The quest for a stapler hefty enough to compile the first minicomic is complete -- it was waiting on my desk when I got back from holiday. Now I just need to print it out, and then I'll start sending copies out to those people who've requested a copy, and also to people who's opinion hasn't yet been offered but I'm interested in getting.

The five new pages have been uploaded at The Intercorstal blog. The latest three (Pages 36, 37 and 38) are among my favourites so far, and I've decided to talk about them a little here.

Page 36 is inspired by Abstract Expressionism, in particular Rothko, and I actually find it hilarious in its audacity -- I'm unsure as to whether anyone else will.

Page 37 is again a little private joke with myself: Because the ruler I had with me was only 6inches long, that's how long I made the image, but kept the page at its usual 8 inches, therefore referencing the process of creating the page -- in a similar way to how many Abstract Expressionist images exist principally to express the act of painting, the height of this page's content expresses the act of measuring. Again, not sure if anyone else will get the joke, or the reference. This page also features my favourite ever ghost, and some abstractions based on a photo I took in Venice of a boat moving past the city.

I came up with the idea for Page 38 while half-asleep one afternoon, while waiting for some water to cool in order to make up my son's milk. The sixteen little boxes are abstrations based on photos I took around my cabin -- the bases of lamps, the corners on TV cabinets, things like that. The cross in the middle is a location in The Intercorstal -- a mountain side dotted with Wind Houses with what is either wind or sand in the background. For the record, I know what a Wind House looks like, but don't know what it does, much the same as a hORSEhOOK.

Those that know they're getting a copy of the minicomic: keep your eyes peeled for the postman. Those that don't... well, keep your eyes peeled anyway, you might have some important credit card bills or something.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

News Roundup May 2010

After my last post, in which I was convinced that the Intercorstal mini-comics were about to be sent out, I came a-cropper of not having the right size stapler for the job. This is on order now, and I expect to start sending copies out to people (both those that responded to the offer, and some who didn't) by the end of the month. Trust me, when you get it, you'll be amazed... that it took so long to sort out.

I've had an illustration included in a blog by Amelia Gregory at the exemplary Amelias Magazine -- it's the one of Gordon Brown about halfway down the page. I'd post it here, but then there'd be no incentive to go and view it in its natural habitat, would there?

In sad news, Trolleys In Odd Places had it's last ever post a little while ago -- I made a little video to see it off which has lots of photos in it. Since posting the video, I keep finding other photos that really should have gone in there, but oh well. Now I'm looking for something else to make into a regular, focussed blog. I'd ask for suggestions, but knowing me I'd reject them all.

I've been finding pictures here and there which for one reason or another haven't found a home. above and below are some picture I did around the time of Operation Concrete that I didn't do anything with.

Lots of fun things coming from me soon, that I've not mentioned here... will do soon, promise.

Word to yo' moms.