Monday, 29 June 2020

Wheal Country

Place and Time: Botallack Mines

I have visited the site of the former mine complex at Botallack a number of times, over many years, and consequently have retained a clear image of that location in my memory, which I can access from my mental ‘filing system’ at any time, almost like a ‘picture postcard’ that I carry around in my head.

Except that my ‘picture postcard’ image is very different to the stereotypical, ready-made ‘composition’ of the dramatically situated, but now long derelict former Crowns engine houses, dropping sequentially and precariously down to the sea, with the tide pounding at the rocks into which their foundations are set.

W.S. Grahams’ poignant poem, The Thermal Stair, about his friend, the Cornish born painter, Peter Lanyon, evokes the unique atmosphere of this and of other nearby places on this ‘Tin Coast’, with their bleak and seemingly, randomly placed archaeological remnants, which speak to me as much about the hardnosed and dangerous industry and fairly recent human history, as they do of an untainted, natural, and sublime coastal landscape.

Peter, I called and you were away, speaking
Only through what you made and at your best.

Look, there above Botallack, the buzzard riding………..

There are numerous, fragmented hints throughout this liminal coastal landscape, (as well as those lost in the mine-workings deep beneath the ocean) scattered bits and pieces, made as much from concrete and wrought iron, as from stone, which now abstracted from their original context, are gradually in the process of being reclaimed by nature and defaced by man, offering only vague clues as to their actual purpose within the whole.

So a pictorial illusion, a realistic representation combining constructed perspective with ‘meticulous craft and miraculous detail’, to paraphrase Robert Motherwell; like a mere ‘picture postcard’, would not for me, do justice to the feelings and responses, these once unblemished natural coastal locations, now scarred and littered with strange and abandoned post-industrial detritus and relics, generate. 

Therefore, a metaphorical and symbolic synthesis of what I have felt, and seen as a result of directly experiencing this dramatic location over a long period of time, a kind of abstracted reinvention, rather than a mere illustrative copy, is for me a truer means of expressing my particular sense of this place.

I do not rely on photographs to make an image, that would be disingenuous and counterintuitive, but I have included a few of the snaps I took at Botallack around ten years ago, simply as references for some of the visual elements used in Wheal Country.

George Taylor

Friday, 1 May 2020

Ancient Land

It is not always helpful to attempt to explain a painting such as this in words. It is, after all, a constructed image, and is necessarily ‘of itself’, a material, but not a literal entity and words can sometimes mislead and become counterproductive. 
If we insist on interpreting  visual art ‘literally’, we can easily miss the point, art has no obligation to represent
figuratively, neither is there an essential need for it to be justified in words, any more than does music or dance.
Songs and poems are usually comprised of words, but should not need additional ‘words’ to prop them up.  
It is not understanding that really matters, but feeling and connection.
It is a risky business putting a picture ‘out there’, as it has to stand up entirely for itself, and is thus totally vulnerable – the best one can hope for, is that in some, there might be that connection.  
However, when I made this work in 2012, I gave it the title Ancient Land, partly because at that time I had been thinking a lot about Eliot’s, East Coker, from his Four Quartets, and certain passages from that poem may have been at the forefront of my mind.

                                              In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire………

What does the term ancient mean?
We tend to use the word relatively, in terms of modern human history, but in that sense, ‘ancientness’ is just a few millennia, but in terms of the age of the Universe, the Solar System, and the Planet, not really very much at all.

George Taylor
April 2020

Taylor-Thwaites Studios, Stonewalls, Sturt Road, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 3EP
01608 810174

Friday, 13 March 2020

Homage to Barcelona

Barcelona, the place, is about energy, vitality, and colour and thus,
inevitably about art.

The art of Joan Miro, Picasso, Gaudi and, for me especially, Antoni Tapies, all of whom are celebrated by museums in the city.

The unique verve and dynamic of the Catalonian capital is compelling, and in my view, can only be effectively be expressed visually and emotionally in abstracted form. The only real concession to a landscape format in the picture is a broad hint of a horizon line as if looking down spatially on to the city from the lofty heights of Montjuic Hill, where the architecturally inspiring Fundacio Joan Miro is located.

Thus, this image is the synthesis of an experience, rather than a single viewpoint ‘representation’, an aggregate of organised fragments of a vital, living place - movement, colour, form and space, and all those other qualities which make the city greater than the sum of its parts.

How else could one pay homage to the essence of this unique place in two-dimensional terms, mere figuration could not do justice to its spirit, its history or its art.

However, it is vital that a painting transcends its ‘subject’ and becomes something else, something autonomous, that is able to stand on its own, otherwise what would be the point of making it. In that sense, the title ‘Homage to Barcelona’ is essentially, a term of reference.

George Taylor
February 2020


Should you wish to view this work in our studio gallery, please call us on 01608 810174. It is attractively framed in limewashed hardwood and set in a wide, deep cut, white mount.

‘Homage to Barcelona’ has been shown at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery, in Birmingham, of which George is a Full Member, and was also included in the selection for the Ironstone Art Prize at Banbury Museum in 2018. It also appears currently on the UK Artists online ‘Artsy’ Gallery page.

Taylor-Thwaites Studios, Stonewalls, Sturt Road, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 3EP.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

When Only the Moon Rages

The title of this mixed media painting is borrowed from a poem called ‘In my Craft or Sullen Art’ by Dylan Thomas.
I made the work in 2009, I was familiar with the poem, but chose the title after completing it, as for me, when making a painting, it is vital that I am as free as is possible from the direct influence of a  conscious subject.   
The  intention is to convey a sense of drama, in the contrast between the hot colours in the lower third of the picture, and the cooler, deep blues in the upper two thirds, the intersected and conjoined diversity of marks across the picture plane, contribute to a feeling of circular motion and restless energy.
The picture is also about materials per se, not merely as a vehicle for creating an illusion, but materials ‘of themselves’. The lower half is comprised of thick impasto, applied by whatever blades and tools seemed most appropriate at the time,  sometimes the paint is scraped off, to show previous layers.
The colour to the upper half is vigorously applied by brush and palette knife. In parts, some masking has been used, and in others the surface is gouged through to the paper;  the angular, but nebulous marks are made with pastel and chalk.
The aim of this truly, mixed media approach, is to create as much surface interest as possible, whilst at the same time, striving to make an immediate and visually arresting image.

George Taylor
October 2019

Taylor-Thwaites Studios, Stonewalls, Sturt Road, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 3EP

This picture is on Saunders Waterford (300lb) Cotton Mould Made Acid Free Paper, set within a deep cut, off-white mount within a lime-washed hardwood frame.  It measures 81 centimetres x 100 centimetres overall and will be included in Mallam’s, Modern and Post War British Art Sale in Oxford on Friday 6th December 2019. (  01865241358  

Friday, 4 October 2019

Ariel's Song

With the help of a professional photographer, I am planning to make a video of a ‘journey’ through a selection of my ‘Elemental Series’. Rather like a helicopter, or a drone moving through a three dimensional, sculptural space.

Most of my wall-hung work is made on a flat surface, rather than on an easel, only placing it upright occasionally to assess its veracity. I have long been fascinated by the effect of laying the work flat, and then experiencing this as a kind of ‘terrain’, as if it were, almost literally, a landscape.

This piece is not from that series, is multi-coloured, and less dimensional in actual terms, but these still shots give some idea of how visually exciting that concept might be.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Quantum Moment

Quantum Moment

I made ‘Quantum Moment’ ten years ago, in 2009.
Essentially, it is about energy, a controlled explosion of colour and form, and of course, could allude to a number of things, or to nothing, or at least to ‘no thing’.
A concentrated image, possibly emblematic of the constant destruction of innumerable galaxies far larger than our own throughout the immensity of time and space.
On the other hand, the title may allude to what is commonly referred to as ‘The Big Bang’ – the fraction of an instant some 13.8 billion years or so ago, when science tells us, the known universe and thus, time itself began; ostensibly from ‘no thing’.
A human-made rendering in paint and other materials essentially ‘of itself’, possibly symbolic of, but certainly no more than that, of an event so extraordinarily complex as to be beyond meaningful human visual or oral description or representation. But out of which, much later on in cosmic time, and as a consequence of evolutionary circumstances, human-kind evolved, with the capacity to make art, and to attempt to understand the circumstances in which he found him/herself.
When asked by Hans Hoffman if he painted from nature, Jackson Pollock retorted, ‘I am nature’!
Possibly, one of the most veracious, and thus one of the most valid artistic statements ever made.
George Taylor
August 2019
Taylor-Thwaites Studios, Stonewalls, Sturt Road, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 3EP
Should you wish to view Quantum Moment’ in our studio gallery please call us on 01608 810174
This work is in mixed media, measures 80 centimetres x 100 centimetres, it is on Saunders Waterford (300lb) Cotton Mould Made Acid Free Paper, and is set within a deep off white mount within a hardwood frame.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Life in the abstract: George Taylor’s fifty years as an artist

In his work, Taylor attempts to organise aggregated glimpses and fragments of form, the juxtaposition of vaguely referential, symbolic, abstracted and ambiguous marks being pivotal.

The product of this approach becomes a self-contained entity having a concrete existence in the natural world but not defined by it or dependent upon an illusory construct of it, but possibly having oblique or allusive references to it.

He strives to construct a compositionally coherent, essentially self-referential image that resists absolute definition or rigidly literal interpretation, free from the prop of the visually perceived world 'out there' or of the 'deceit' of the figurative.

Nearing, 1963

George Taylor sees an inherent integrity in abstract art… through his visual world of ‘imagined spaces and specific places’ he explores how to communicate the complex.
He believes works of art essentially become objects, left to be encountered by others, and the power of abstraction is held in intensely felt forces, captured through art at a particular time and place.
ART BLOG asked Taylor what drives him to create, and what makes abstraction so compelling…
What drew you to abstraction?
My early training in art in the late 50s and early 60s involved drawing from life: pictorial composition, anatomy, colour analysis and the study of perspective…
It was a thorough traditional and academic grounding in the essential skills of perception and observation, none of which I regret.
However, I discovered very quickly that mere representation, even when undertaken skilfully and imaginatively, did not satisfy me.
I was inexorably attracted to what is popularly referred to as abstraction, or possibly more accurately, non-figuration.
Equinox, 1961

I made my first fully abstract painting in 1961 and in 1963 began making white, wall hung abstract constructions with Michael Baldwin, later of the influential conceptual art collaboration Art and Language.
A little later in that year, I met and got to know the internationally-known painter Sir Terry Frost RA, and began to develop further my strong interest in colour, form and, critically, with abstraction, pictorial space.
What, for you, is the chief satisfaction to be had in making abstract art?
The virtually boundless freedom and creative possibilities it affords, in that one is not restricted to the depiction of a subject, or at least, to something ‘represented’.
Freedom, though, implies responsibility as a corollary, and amongst other things, the making of abstract art requires rigour, insight and dedication.
Silent Motto

North Atlantic Odyssey

Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have heightened sensitivity for composition and for colour, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.
Wassily Kandinsky 1866 – 1944.

You have spoken of ‘the deceit of the figurative’… could you elaborate?
I don’t seek to criticise representational art, or to be controversial, and comparisons should not be an exercise in semantics.
Any attempt to reproduce an imitation of the objective world in paint, or any other medium, is arguably of the nature of a ‘deceit’ (the quotation marks are important) and the more skilfully this is done, then logically the more ‘deceitful’ it becomes.
George Taylor in his studio, Shipston

Therefore, what are regarded as the best or most successful figurative paintings are also the most ‘deceitful’.
This though, does not detract from the fact that they remain the best figurative paintings, and amongst the very best works of art ever made.
It is crucial to regard the word ‘deceit’ in relation to its opposite ‘honest’, or perhaps, ‘deceitfulness’, as opposed to ‘honesty’.
Thus, a representation of the objective world on a two-dimensional plane is by definition, a ‘deceit’, as the resulting image is not ‘of itself’, but purports to be a representation of something outside of itself; whereas a non-figurative or abstract work is essentially self-referential, and therefore innately more ‘honest’.

Obviously, there are degrees of representation and thus of abstraction, but it is only when all objective references are excluded, and a work relies entirely on the materials of its making, does the result become wholly abstract and non-referential, and is therefore, more intrinsically ‘honest’ by definition.

Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature.
Josef Albers 1888 – 1976

George Taylor, September 2017
Reference: RBSA Birmingham Art Gallery ART BLOG