Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Something To Look At: Paul Bloomer

If I was a wealthier woman, or maybe even just one with a bit more foresight, I'd have made it a habit to get my pictures framed with non reflective glass. I'd also have made sure I got a whole lot more things framed before the best, and most reasonably priced, framers in the city went under last year. I still have some of the earliest things I bought in frames that came from Ikea or habitat and do nothing for the pictures inside.

Until that framers went under I hadn't appreciated how lucky I was, or how cheap they were (I wish they'd charged more now). Lucky because they knew what they were doing, took time to listen to what the customer wanted, would guide you, and then make the frame you wanted. I've since found (expensively, which adds insult to injury) that you can't take any of this for granted.

It's my opinion that a frame is essentially an outfit for a picture, and that outfit might need to be changed at some point in it's life. I think you have to consider where a picture is going, what else it will be hanging with, what it is in the picture you want to focus on, your own personal taste - and these are all things that might change. There isn't a single right answer (there may be a few clearly wrong ones) and I am very much in need of finding another framer who understands that.

If I can find one who isn't ruinously expensive one of the first things I want to do when I'm working again is get the two large* Paul Bloomer woodcuts I have properly framed at last. Paul is originally from the Black Country but ended up in Shetland in 1997 and teaches at the college there.

My first contact with his work was a postcard sized egg tempera piece my father had bought for my stepmother. It's a beautiful jewel like little thing. The next time I saw Paul's work was at Vaila Fine Art, it was an exhibition of much larger woodcuts which I love for their energy. The last exhibition I saw was the Return of the Light series of etchings, first by accident in a gallery near Inverness, and secondly by design at The Shetland Museum last summer where I bought 'Layers of Time'.

It was by no means the only etching in the series that I wanted, settling on just one was not easy, and maybe one day I'll have another. Paul's website is really worth a look. The range of mediums and techniques he uses are really interesting, and the section about his influences really good. There are links to lectures he's given, and especially on his Instagram he talks a lot about what he's doing and the thinking behind it.

 In terms of what he's thinking and painting about he's probably the most interesting artist I follow, and certainly the one with the most to say. Generally the work I'm interested in is purely representational, but Bloomer's work is full of tensions between different elements and ideas, and I'm finding those resonate more deeply than ever with me at the moment.

 Layers of Time 2018, is a small etching from the Return of the Light series, it's on the wall opposite me right now and I find it a comforting thing to contemplate. Curlews feel integral to the Shetland summer landscape, especially their song. 

Curlews and Snipe 1997, is a woodcut (74cm x 61cm) Snipe drumming is another very evocative sound of a Shetland summer and there's something in this that recalls the frenetic energy of a summer full of birds.

*Large in the context of my flat, not in relation to Paul Bloomer's work which can be on the really grand scale.

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