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Its been a good first week, a very busy week and one that has afforded me  a rich opportunity to reflect on my practice in a very intensive way.  It has also brought a  complete change in the way I am working. Here, I am sitting mostly alone in the dissection room poring over small scale intricate drawings, whereas over the last few months back in my studio in Cardiff I have been working on large scale drawings and oil paintings to prepare for the Breast Cancer: a creative intervention exhibition. The difference in practical terms is stark,  but the sense of immersion in the work is the same, if not intensified, here in Dundee as when I am alone I find I can enter depths of myself that general life often dictates I should bridge. Moreover, the feeling of being so welcomed within an environment where the science behind what I do as an artist is so ‘palpable’ is  exciting and inspirational. It’s also very interesting in relation to the differences between the science lab and the hospital wards and theatres that I work in.

I am teaching here too. Running the life drawing classes and joining in on the ‘crits’ with students on the MSc Forensic and Medical Art courses is a pleasure and a great experience. It is a valuable challenge to adapt my way of teaching to address what the students need most. It helps of course that they are keen and willing to learn. In the image below thats me at the back – drawing on the wall!

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I am staying in Broughty Ferry, a small coastal  town just outside the city and it has become for me  very special place. Being by the water is always very evocative for me but that’s another, longer story! For now I simply  offer the image here (taken from the window of my rented flat) of the sunset that I came home to yesterday evening.

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Here is an early invitation to another show that I will be putting up at the Waterloo Gallery in September. This time the exhibition will be at their Wyndham Arcade venue in the centre of Cardiff, and I am excited to be working in Collaboration with Luis Fernando Noriega. Luis is a gifted fine art photographer based in Antigua Guatemala, and since my visit to the city last year we have been working together to produce something which I hope will present a rather special collaborative insight into life and culture in the city.

The good writer possesses not only his spirit but also the spirit of his friends, much like the photographer has an undeniable connection to his surroundings. For me, that perception-altering connection was made with Antigua Guatemala. A city filled with history and unique colonial architecture, Antigua offers a perfect setting to capture a compelling frame on every single one of its cobblestone streets and avenues. The contrast of the mundane wonders of everyday-life against such a unique dreamscape of a city creates the necessity to frame every shot in a way in which the foreground and the background become a single story to be told. For this exhibit I want to present Antigua in a way that no one else has seen it before. The angles and the light are crucial because Antigua has been photographed so many times and I want to take a fresh look at what my city means to me. Luis Fernando Noriega, 2016

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Having spent time in Antigua, Guatemala, I was struck by its cultural richness and by my own responses to the emotional ‘nearness’ of the suffering endured by the Mayan people throughout half a millennium. Peace Accords that finally ended the conflicts of recent history were signed in 1996 but contemporary Guatemala bears the scars of war and the wounds are deep. In my practice I often use portraiture as a conceptual framework for exploring the relationship between culture and contemporary society and this collaboration with Luis Fernando Noriega is a great opportunity to bring together our two different approaches to a subject matter that is deeply meaningful. This exhibition will fully realise the affinity between art and photography, where both are conceived as discrete art forms in themselves, yet at the same time they are interrelated processes of visual exploration. Jac Saorsa, 2016

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Contrasts is the title of this post and there are contrasts indeed in the work I am engaged in at the moment! I am busy with different aspects of five separate projects and I am feeling very positive about how things are going with all of them. A huge amount of my time recently has been taken up with completing the second body of work for the  Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula exhibition in New York, but it is all now complete and arrangements for the show are in full swing. Just click on the  website for more details.

I am looking forward very much of course to the NY show, and also to hopefully raising some money to fund further work on the Obstetric Fistula project. I have two other exhibitions however to work towards this year and the image here  is a ‘teaser’ for one that will be launched in September in Cardiff. It will be a show in collaboration with a very gifted fine art photographer, Luis Fernando Noriega, who lives and works in Antigua, Guatemala. My oil paintings and drawings of the Mayan inhabitants of the city that I made during and after my visit there late last year, will respond to and reflect on Luis’s powerfully emotive photographs of the crumbling architecture.  https://www.facebook.com/LuisFernandoNoriegaPhotography

Entitled CONTRASTS: two interpretations of Antigua, Guatemala, the intention behind the exhibition is to present both Luis’s local view and that of a visitor to Antigua, which together, simultaneously explore several forms of parallel interrelation: that between art and photography, that between the human inhabitants of the Antigua and its historical, cultural and architectural heritage, and, perhaps most importantly, that which defines  the cultural disparity between Mayan tradition and contemporary society.  In addition to the conventional exhibition launch event we are planning to organise an evening talk where the audience can engage with the issues that the show will raise, but more details on that nearer the time.

 

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