Female Voices Exhibition at Worthing Exhibition Talking About My Painting

Worthing Museum are holding a series of talks titled 'Female Voices Exhibition' and one of them, held by Kevin Scott in February talked about my 2005 painting 'Red Roaster'. My painting won the Worthing Open back in 2005 and is now in their permanent collection. It was a really  lovely surprise to be contacted by Kevin Scott, Art Historian who is giving talks about the collection.I was keen to find out how his talk went about my painting Red Roaster

painting red cafe scene

Red Roaster, Oil on Canvas, Permanent Collection, Worthing Museum


So I asked Kevin a little more and here is an excerpt of how it went;

Kevin: Yes, your canvas Red Roaster Café is part of the Female Voices exhibition at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery. The exhibition was curated by Sarah Hobson and it highlights work by women artists in the collection.

I’ve done a little bit of writing about gender issues in art and aesthetics, and the Museum asked me to give some free talks. For me, there have been two issues to grapple with. The first was to contradict all the essentialism of the past – ‘women are naturally inclined towards watercolour and to domestic subjects ...’ etc – while at the same time recognising that women artists bring priorities, concerns and life-experiences to their work which are sometimes quite different to those which male artists bring. The second was that, while the purpose of the exhibition is to draw attention to the exclusion of women from the art world, we had some pieces there which were important and beautiful regardless of who had painted them.

Having talked about what the artist brings to the work, we turned to your painting to think about what the viewer brings. I asked people to think about what your painting was about – always an interesting question. I must have been back to the Gallery ten times to stand in front of it to think about just that. Whatever your intentions were, you’ve created something that has such psychological depth people stop and really think about it. 

The group was equally divided between men and women, and they were projecting all kinds of stories onto the couple at the table. They quite naturally started reflecting on relationships, and the ways in which women and men treat relationships differently. There was also some talk about the almost magical skill of the artist in rendering complex and nuanced emotion with just pigment on a surface... Had you been there, I would have plied you with lots of questions – and so would the others in the group, I’m sure -  but they now seem a little sterile in an email! I really enjoyed engaging with this piece of your work, and a lot of other people did today too. Thank you.

Jane: I would have loved to be a fly on the wall to hear the discussion you had about my painting. It seems like such a long time ago. It was at the end of my college time that I painted it. I had spent 3 years at Northbrook College in Worthing. I had started drawing and sketching in cafes back in 1996 prior to going to art school and this relaxing activity filled many sketchbooks throughout this period. 

The Red Roaster Cafe was at the bottom of St James Street in Brighton and as I regularly went out for coffees I tended to sit and draw. I think what is interesting is that I never met or came into direct contact with any of the people I sketched. They were always very quick as people would get up and leave suddenly. I quite like the fact that a story can be seen in so many ways, that it is ‘open ended’ It is really nice to hear that viewers are considering what is going on in Red Roaster.

I love to focus on body posture and the ‘gesture' of the figure, I find it can say so much the way someone sits or listens. Looking back at this period drawing in cafes was also a great way to get to sketch from the figure for free. I went to lots of life drawing and gradually developed skills but this period of intense looking and studying figures in cafes was really important.

Kevin is holding another talk at Worthing Museum on 18 March as part of the Female Voice Exhibition and I am looking forward to meeting him. You can also listen to the collection podcast which is really interesting.

Kevin Scott http://www.kevinwscott.net/

Worthing Female Voices Exhibition

 Listen to the Collection Podcast

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