A Journey of Discovery
Painter, ceramisist, teacher, traveller. Quorn artist, Erica Middleton, uses all her experiences and sensibilities to take viewers of her work on a fascinating journey of discovery as Kevan Porter has been finding out…
Erica’s broad aim as an artist is to make work which touches people’s sensibilities. She would
like her painting and ceramics to resonate with similarly minded people on an emotional level. Her recent work falls into various styles and media.
Regarding her semi-abstract paintings, Erica’s abiding subject over recent years is the river – she and her family have lived with the Soar running at the bottom of their garden for thirty two years. Rather than setting out to depict pictorial conventions, Erica seeks to express a meld of observation and emotional response. The mode of semi-abstract has the potential to communicate on a number of levels simultaneously, for example the personalised surface qualities achieved by
Erica by making her own paint from genuine pigments.
Riverine ceramic sculptural forms evoke watery moving environments through wavering edges and transparent glazes.
Occasionally Erica’s abstract paintings are politically motivated; they follow her
various travels in Europe. Es tut mir weh (meaning ‘it hurts’, but literally: ‘it does to me hurt’) explores the former East Berlin through the metaphor of the running drip. The drips reference the great lament (all the crying associated with the Berlin Wall), dark times, familial ties (some broken, some tightly knotted), cross-references, veins – the life blood, the nervous system, anxiety, the sinister, the reaching out, the map of roads surrounding Berlin on which the captured were driven prior to interrogation, veils of darkness and the overall tangled web of truth and untruth.
Erica has travelled (and taught art history to a group of doctors for thirteen consecutive years) quite extensively within Europe. She has also travelled in and around Dubai where her daughter lived for six years.
Wherever she travels, within her handbag are a very small sketchbook and watercolours. Sketches done on-site sometimes evolve into studio paintings. Erica’s Arabic pots aim to
speak ‘desert’ – evoking something of the harsh arid landscape around Dubai with elegant Arabic calligraphic script. The texture evokes sand and scrubby desert.
Recently Erica has been experimenting making her own glazes from local materials including granite dust from Redlands Quarry and wood ash from prunings in the garden which have been burnt in the stove. “It is very satisfying to create your very own personalised glazes” she says. Erica’s symbolic still lives use small scale, old, domestic objects. Although specific to Erica’s family, they aim to address our collective past – evocations from another time which bind us together. Gold and silver leaf denote the value of generational links, enhancing these modest objects.
Erica’s working life is spent teaching art / art history. Erica taught undergraduates Art History for the Open University for fourteen years. She now teaches Painting and Drawing courses for the Worker’s Educational Association in Loughborough and organises student exhibitions. Erica also teaches practical workshops and art history seminars privately in small groups. She has exhibited in Venice, London and numerous exhibitions locally including Stamford, Leicester, Hinckley Nottingham, Derby and Loughborough. Her qualifications include a Master’s Degree in Art History at Nottingham University, B.A. (Hons) Fine Art: Painting at Loughborough University School and Certificate of Education at Reading University
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Our latest exhibition is at the Stamford Arts Centre
1st to 18th June 2017
18 members of the artists’ group Artspace Loughborough explore the theme of ‘Odyssey’. Each artist has responded differently and with a variety of media to the theme of a journey.
Several artists have chosen to explore actual journeys: narrow boat journeys in central England, photos from a train in India, the journeys of refugees to a safer life, Australian aboriginal songlines, wallpaper seen in an old cottage in New Zealand, shoes and other objects that remind us of travel.
Some journeys are imagined: the possible aftermath of a shipwreck, the exploits of a travelling circus.
Other work has a more metaphorical quality: the artist’s own journey to develop their art or to find meaning.
I went to Sudbury, Suffolk recently, to see Gainsborough’s house. Very interesting – we devised a slightly alternative version of his life, piecing together the concrete information. I reckon he had quite a stressful working life, going to London early on (the right place for middle-class patrons) – whilst there he would have been obliged to get a posh studio in the right area whether he could afford it or not – posh clients wouldn’t want to be seen in a poor area. Then he went to Bath – maybe that was a bit cheaper, but still posh – we wondered why he moved? Then he returned to Sudbury and we wondered if that meant difficulties, not only in terms of making ends meet, but also he wasn’t entirely in line with Joshua Reynolds, the first principle of the R.A. Looks like his brother (who had made enough money to live elsewhere) moved out and allowed him & family to live in the house their father had originally bought. Looks like Gainsborough felt under pressure to keep up appearances as it were, and we did notice an increase of more ordinary local people in later portraits, so maybe he felt he had to take whatever work he could. What really inspired him though was aristocratic ladies with a bit of va-va-vroom, like ‘Mary, Countess Howe’ – now there was a fabulous woman!
I have been a member of Artspace Loughborough for a decade now having been a member, moving abroad, and come back so I thought it apt to write a few lines about belonging to an art group.
As artists, we tend to work in a fairly solitary manner. However in order to evolve, it is essential we communicate with like-minded people every so often, to support one another and divulge ideas.
One thing which I particularly like about being part of the group, is the diversity of the work of our group members. We often have positive critiquing sessions before we collectively exhibit. These are useful, insightful meetings where we show our work, conceptually, part way through, or finished and talk it through with others.
Skill sharing is another positive feature, which allows us as artists to evolve. We all use a wide variety of media, and can learn and share other skills on a didactic level as well as really useful things like setting up an exhibition (and all the jobs it entails!)
We all share a common interest which is a love of art in all of its’ forms. I highly recommend to anyone who is considering it. Find your tribe and stick to them.
This is a fabulous retrospective of ben Nicholson’s first wife at Djanogly Gallery at Nottingham University. First and foremost she was a terrific colourist, and also as an older person I found her inspirational as she remained so inspired, positive and interested in all things beautiful. Her subjects are often flowers, typically in a jar on a window sill, but then she was left with four children to look after while Ben went off with Barbara Hepworth – so are we surprised her subjects are often home-based? Anyway, I found the colour a real WOW! It’s inspirational, and her flowers are thick gutsy affairs, playing beautifully against the immediate surroundings. There are also her letters (nice friendly open handwriting). This show lifts the spirits – and it’s free.
The artists’ group ArtSpace Loughborough will be holding their annual art fair in Woodhouse Eaves Village Hall (Main Street, Woodhouse Eaves) on Saturday and Sunday 12th and 13th November. This year a total of 19 artists will be taking part. Many art forms will be shown including paintings, drawings, printmaking,
sculpture, ceramics, textiles, photographs and digital prints. All of the works will be for sale with prices starting at £2.00 for an original handmade card; limited edition prints from £25; and many original pieces being priced under £100. With hundreds of pieces to be browsed, there will be something to suit all tastes and pockets, and with Christmas fast approaching you could a snap up the ideal gift for a loved one.
Additionally, to the art fair, the group is running its fourth annual art competition for pupils from the village primary, St. Paul’s. The competition this year is to design a t-shirt for The Beacon Country Park May Day Challenge.
Doors are open from 10am to 4pm both days. Entry is free.
Handmade cakes and refreshments will be also be available, the proceeds of which will be donated to the British Legion Poppy Appeal. Last year over £100 was raised- the group are hoping to top this figure and will be baking furiously to ensure a range of
delectable bakes are there for your enjoyment.