Feather, Granite, Sea - 2023
Mixed media painting on Two Rivers Handmade paper.
Dr Rosie Jackson has won many awards including 1st prizes at Teignmouth 2021, Poetry Space 2019, Wells 2018, Stanley Spencer Competition, Cookham 2017.
At the beginning of this year, Rosie wanted to work with me as her chosen artist, and together, after lengthy discussions, visits and drilling down into my artistic practice, the chosen painting became the one shown above. Rosie went to great lengths to unpick me as an artist, her keen observant eye making notes, careful decisions as to the artist I am and how I love to work.
I am very thrilled to be part of this new collection of poems which will be released early 2024.
It has been an absolute privilege and honour to work with her. I think you will agree it is a beautiful poem.
You do what artists do, take a line for a walk,
let it lead you, send you back on yourself, move
to one side, show you hidden contours, thrift
and recess, fathoms of water, boulders of light.
You make marks urgent as swallows, quick
to change as melting ice, never perfect enough,
provisional enough, soaring round the cliff edge,
sea sweep, scoring the shape of shoreline and cloud.
You turn into skylark, gull, gannet, chough, wheeling,
eyes in the back of your wings, back and forth,
taking in this bird’s view of coast and blue space
washing into blue. You’re damp with a mizzle
that blurs sea and sky, the two worlds softened
in a haze of remembering, the whole landscape
a sketch to summon swell of wave, rock as gold
as if it had been gifted by the gods. You love how
free this walking makes you, how the western wind
delivers you to yourself, grief lifted on thermals
that rise higher and higher until you are dizzy
with release, breathing lapis and cerulean.
And still you barely glance at the page as you make
and unmake marks, wanting only to keep faith
with the points of truth outside yourself,
which is why you pocket seed-head, reed, feather,
limpet, lichen, bronzy granite, all these talismans
of path and earth and air and salty tide. You will
unpack them in your studio, trace round their wild edge,
press their pigments, put in, lift out, scratch and etch
lines deeper, brush wet turquoise, turn the chronicles
of your notebooks into palimpsests of texture and miracle,
your lines walking, flying, falling, never being still.
Dr Rosie Jackson
‘‘I want paint to flow. I want paint to do its thing and do unexpected things, because that’s the bit I like. I want that paint to go over there and I think, ‘Right. What am I going to do with that now?’’
I interviewed Sarah Ball for my radio programme on Frome FM, not only because she managed to win three art awards within a single month, but because I’d known her for years as a student at my classes and she was one of the very few who did things differently; who saw things differently and who engaged fully, in my opinion, in the serious business of distinguishing her own, personal response to the world about her from the one we all imbibe from the canon of Western art. Her paintings were refreshing, replete with imperfections and changes of heart, because Sarah was intent more upon exploration and discovery rather than on market-driven artefacts. There was a rawness and an edginess that left the viewer teetering, as if upon one of the cliff-tops that Sarah often walks on her beloved South West Coast Path. If tradition does play a part in her work, it’s the recent one of the experiential landscape, as espoused by Peter Lanyon, that combines memory, topography, geology and the very act of walking. We do not merely look at Sarah Ball’s art, we traverse it.
tutor, writer, broadcaster
Cast and Creel - December Light
Bath Society of Artists
22nd April - 24th June 2023
Victoria Art Gallery, Bridge Street, Bath, BA2 4AT
Bath Society of Artists Runner-up Prize awarded 2023
beauty and awe...
Sarah Ball Artist
It speaks to me, words come softly, yet I don't write them. I paint. I experiment that I might become more playful, I work at being experimental. Walking and sketching are central to my practice. It sets me free. I do not wish to be contained or predictable, nothing is planned, yet I have intention. Freedom, that's where the magic happens.