4.3 Edge 1: On the Edge

On the Edge

My overwhelming inspiration on this first day was the visit to the Maggi Hambling exhibition ‘On the Edge’ at the Peter Peer’s gallery.

Aldeburgh itself is ‘on the edge’ in a number of ways:

  • the extreme vulnerability to the encroachment of the sea that has halved the land originally occupied in Aldeburgh and nearby Thorpeness and Orford – currently generally held at bay with barriers and groynes, but threatened in the longer term by global warming.
  • to the North the skyline is dominated by Sizewell nuclear power station – with periodic leaks though none so far serious.

The holiday was just after the June general election. Radio discussions on election fall out were playing on a popular mood of shock and uncertainty, reinforcing feelings of anxiety from Hambling’s Edge.

Development of the images

The images themselves were made from sharp rusty edges of ageing tractors used to pull the fishing boats.

Over the Edge

Born of volcanic rust


Sunday 11th June diary

Arrived late on Saturday 10th June, camp and eat.

Sunday morning:
Sun and cloud. 18/19c Windy. 18/19.
Smell of mown grass.
Cuckoos in the morning.

Walk into town in the morning. See Maggi Hambling‘s Edge Exhibition and Walls of Water.

Edge is more political than much of her earlier work on the sea, dealing with the refugee crisis, battle for Aleppo and global warming.

It is called Edge because I feel we are ‘on the edge’. There is a fragility to our existence – both ours and the planet and these works attempt to address that and strike up a dialogue with whoever is looking at them.

The paintings are large, with characteristic dramatic swirls of texture, that then on further looking show fine detail – people, remains of buildings and boats caught up in the chaos. The global warming paintings have a lot of gold, echoing renaissance paintings – but gold is now a reference to greed.
See: article by Andrew Clarke: Maggi Hambling creates new show about life on the edge

At the same exhibition were also the Walls of Water paintings I had seen before. And a selection of her books on sale.

Band on beach. Acoustic guitar. But not many people. Town feels quite empty.

On the walk back for lunch I do video and photos of sea.

Wave Video

Back in the van in the afternoon I did some iPad experiments inspired by Hambling’s Edge and waves. Exploring oil painting brushes, transparency lock and compositing to produce different textures. Trying to capture some of the drama and anger of the Edge.

I also looked at looked at some books of illustration I had brought with me for some ideas on how I might structure a book on Aldeburgh:

  • Olivia Lomenech Gill ‘Where My Wellies Take Me’ a book my daughter had bought me for Xmas. An advert for her exhibition ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was in the supermarket. I wanted to study her style – multilayered paint and mixed media on top with white gouache, erasing, often on brown paper. Pencil sketching and very good drawing. Use of muted colours. Lots of humour.
  • Tessa Newcomb ‘Paris’. Oil illustrations with cut out and exaggeration of shapes. Use complementary colours in overpainting. I was also interested in how she combined text and image.

I then did some further experiments in Procreate with a more patterned and delicate feel.

Wind dies down at sunset. Fans of sunlight in the sky. Then cloud again.

Walk along the beach to Thorpeness. Areas of beach fenced off to protect the plants.

Some semblance of calm.

Radio discussions on election fall out. Feelings of uncertainty. This re-ignites feelings of anxiety from Hambling’s Edge.

Further development

Back home I printed out the photos and did some mixed media experiments in my sketchbook.

I also revisited the Procreate images as part of experimentation with ArtRage and did a new series of images inspired by Edge.