Caversham Arts Trail: Once a year I become a cat
28.04.2018 by Charles Burns
Once a year I become a cat. Well, it’s an acronym, of course. CAT stands for Caversham Arts Trail, which is the annual open-studio event for artists based in Caversham.
The Caversham Arts Trail
takes place over the middle two weekends of May. As acronyms go, it’s a good one, and we seem have taken it to heart. I get emails from the organiser addressed “Dear kitties…. ”
This isn’t really a silhouette of me.
Caversham Arts Trail
I say “once a year,” but actually this year will be the first time I’ve been a cat since 2015. I missed the last two years; once because the event didn’t happen (political reasons, don’t ask… ) and once because our garden was a building site. There was no easy access to Mays Barn (my studio) and I felt I couldn’t guarantee the safety of any visitors. This year the politics are sorted, the building work is finished, and Caversham will once again be full of cats.
Most people know me as a silhouettist, rather than a cat, fluent with scissors and black paper. However, this has never been all I do. I graduated, many years ago, with a degree in Fine Art, and set out to be a painter. Life intervened – as it so often does – and I found myself earning a living with a pair of scissors instead of a paintbrush. Yet drawing and painting have always remained hugely important to me. The Caversham Arts Trail represents an opportunity for me to showcase these other aspects of my art.
This year I’ll be exhibiting a series of landscape silhouettes. Well, I hope I will. Most of them are still on the easel and oil paint takes an age to dry! I’ve been thinking about these landscape silhouettes for some time, but have only recently worked out how to make them. The landscapes are all local views in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, made on site during a series of sketching days before the building work started. The silhouettes are random people I’ve met at events over the last year or so, drawn freehand on canvas from the paper off-cuts. I’ve no idea who they are, I chose them for the simplicity of their outline. Bringing the two together seems to create an interesting juxtaposition. Or is it just me? Have I been cutting profiles for so long that I’m starting to see faces everywhere I look?
What would your internal landscape look like?
I’m very enthusiastic about these pieces, but I’m still thinking about what to call them. “Internal landscapes” was my first thought, or perhaps “Memories of a landscape”. What do you think? I feel the title needs to emphasise the subjective nature of the image: that this is an interpretation of landscape rather than the actual landscape around us. One of the main benefits of taking part in the Caversham Arts Trail is simply the opportunity to talk to others about the work.
I’m planning a private view two weeks from today, on Monday 14th May. If you’d like to receive an invite please let me know, if you’re in the area you’d be welcome to join us. Nothing too grand, but fizz and a few snacks will be on offer. If that evening doesn’t suit you then my studio will be open to the public from 11am to 5pm for six days over two weekends, so there’ll be plenty of time for visitors. The first period will be Sat 12th to Mon 14th May, and the second Fri 18th to Sun 20th May. Monday 14th is my extra “cats day” (to enable other Caversham Arts Trail artists to visit, since they’ll all be confined to their own studio on other days) as well as the private view in the evening.
Looking ahead, I’ll be looking for other opportunities to exhibit these works. I’ll let you know as and when, or if you know any potential galleries do let me know!
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