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Posts tagged ‘Paintings’

Memories of Marrakech, in Abstract

It seems incredible that the summer is now drawing to its close. Why is it that time always goes so fast in the summer, yet the winter always seems to be an interminable torture without end? Yet the excitement with which this last summer season started infects me still, and I remember with what feverish anticipation we headed to the wild planes of Africa for the first time in our lives, to visit the Moroccan city of Marrakech.

In all the bustle of the new summer season, I barely had time to reflect upon the mesmerising pink tones of a city so unlike others I have visited previously. I created a few small art works, but soon my mind was focused towards Sicily. Amongst them, I painted this small study of the terracotta hued rooftops of Marrakech – a rather traditional work, but capturing something of the essence of that hodgepodge of a city. Yet when I looked upon the work the other day, sitting as it does on my bookshelf, I felt incomplete. This work, like the Windsor landscape and abstract coupling I have just completed, needed its abstract counterpart. And that is exactly what I set out to create.

Marrakech Abstract FINAL

Memories of Marrakech (©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2017, acrylic on canvas)

Featuring the same very Moroccan palette of pinks, blues and earthy tones, this abstract seeks to reinterpret my earlier rooftop study, injecting a whimsicality into the composition. In reimagining this work, I was also able to layer the abstract with double meanings. The round arc of a satellite dish also resembles, for example, the crescent and star which is the design of many an Arabic flag, while another dish is placed so as to recall the dome of a mosque.

Abstraction, as a concept, intends to remove something of the figurative and pictorial, at least from its normal compositional placement, if not from the canvas altogether. What interests me about this piece is its clear abstract quality, while retaining an evident illustrative quality of both Morocco and Marrakech. For me, that makes it the perfect souvenir of that fantastically unique city.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Ocho Balcones (No. 8): The Artist’s Studio

It’s almost unbelievable that over 2 months have gone by since I shared the first balcony from my Ocho Balcones collection, the series of gouaches which illustrate the 8 balcony views which we have enjoyed over the past year living in the old town of Palma de Mallorca. But on this final post of the series, the collection comes to a close, and a very appropriate close at that… since the last balcony which remains is the view of, and from, my art studio. 

It’s by far the space in which I have spent the most time in this Palma apartment, since in this little space which I can call my own, I not only created all of the art works which have filled my oeuvre over the last year, but I also spend time editing photos, working on admin, and of course writing this very blog. The painting is more multicoloured than the rest of the series, in an apt illustration of my studio which is full of paintings characterised by my iconic use of colour. And while this painting of course focuses on the balcony at the heart of the studio space, there are a few tantalising glimpses of some of the paintings which have filled the space… from the large Palma landscape which I was working on for 6 months, to Arrival, the first work I completed in Palma, and a thin slice of Pink Bf, one of my most beloved paintings. Also in the painting are various other personal touches, from the collection of Alexander Girard wooden dolls which I always keep close at hand, to the little cuddly pear which I recently collected with a series of vouchers from my local supermarket, El Corte Ingles.

Ocho Balcones VIII: The Artist's Studio (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Ocho Balcones VIII: The Artist’s Studio (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

And so, with my art studio, I close the Ocho Balcones collection. And this closure is appropriate in a number of ways, not only because it shows the heartland of my creative life, but because it is posted just days before we leave this lovely apartment for good. For we are moving on to pastures new, not outside of Mallorca, but somewhere close by… a fresh new apartment with a new art studio space. And amongst those works which I am sure will be made there, maybe our new balcony/terrace will feature too.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2000-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included on this website without express and written permission from Nicholas de Lacy-Brown is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Art on the Riviera: Musée Fernand Léger

I would be the first to admit that I largely overlooked the work of French artist, Fernand Léger. Although I was aware of his uniquely colourful works characterised by simplified figures painted with shaded tones and outlined in black, I had never really seen enough of them to heed Léger much significance. That grave error was to come to an abrupt end on my honeymoon when I attended the Musée Nacional Fernand Léger in the little town of Biot on the French Riviera. Seeing this artist’s magnificent work en masse, grouped together in a chronological retrospective of his life’s work, left me feeling uplifted and awashed by colour, and deeply, deeply satisfied by the sleek finish and positive subject matter depicted in his work.

Enjoying the Biot museum

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Born in 1881 in Normandy, Léger’s early work was characterised by a personal form of cubism, and human forms were reduced and simplified; curling curvaceous hair became what looked like undulating metal sheets, and his paintings drew clear influence from the Futurist movement. Gradually losing people from his works, Léger’s paintings became even more abstractive before an about turn saw the reintroduction of the figure alongside often floating disorientated objects such as keys and blobs of sky and clouds.

Early cubist work leading back into figurative depictions

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From this point onwards, Léger adopted a gradually more figurative, populist style as he sought to use art as a means of attracting not just the cultured set, but the whole of society into galleries, attracted by paintings depicting every day life in bright, happy colours, as well as working life, for example in his masterfully conceived works featuring labourers on scaffolding.

Later works

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Beyond the galleries, the Biot museum offers an immersive grand-scale opportunity to discover some of the artist’s incredible sculptural, ceramic and mosaic works as demonstrated by the immense mosaics which envelop the building, constructed shortly after the artist’s death by his wife and business partner. In a garden laden with pine trees, Léger’s candy coloured sculptures are dazzling in the Riviera sunshine, while the mosaics explode in the landscape with all of the force deserved by this brilliant 20th century artist.

The museum’s exterior and its gardens

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With his boldly simplified treatment of modern subject matter, Léger is rightfully regarded as a forerunner of pop art, and for me an absolute inspiration. I will never underestimate the work of Fernand Léger again.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

Conscience and Conflict: Pallant House explores British Artists and the Spanish Civil War

As the year draws to a close, it is only natural to look back on the highs and lows, and to review everything a little. When it comes to exhibitions, I wouldn’t say that 2014 was necessarily the strongest of years in the UK. I was left a little disappointed by a number of exhibitions I attended, especially at the Royal Academy and Tate Britain. However that is not to say that there were not a number of sure hits. My top 5 exhibitions of the year (in no particular order) have to include the Matisse Cut-outs at Tate Modern, Malevich at Tate Modern, Egon Schiele at the Courtauld, and Rembrandt at the National Gallery. But for the final of the 5, one further exhibition has managed to squeeze into my year’s hit-list, just before 2014 expired: Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.

As far as modern world history goes, the Spanish Civil War is too often overshadowed by the longer, larger Second World War that followed it. But none can underestimate the significance of this conflict which, in effect, lasted decades beyond the cessation of fighting, and not least because this was one conflict where the Fascists won the war, right on the doorstep of democratic civilisation. And it was this fear – the very real concern that fascism might win at a time when two major fascist dictators were already installed in Germany and Italy, and when a greater world conflict seemed more than likely – that inspired the artistic reaction amongst British Artists that is the focus of this excellent exhibition.

Frank Brangwyn: For the relief of women and children in Spain (1936-7), detail

Frank Brangwyn: For the relief of women and children in Spain (1936-7), detail

Clive Branson, Demonstration in Battersea (1939)

Clive Branson, Demonstration in Battersea (1939)

Merlyn Evans, Distressed Area (1938)

Merlyn Evans, Distressed Area (1938)

Walter Nessler, Premonition (1937)

Walter Nessler, Premonition (1937)

Edward Burra, The Watcher (1937)

Edward Burra, The Watcher (1937)

Stanley William Hayter, Paysage Anthropophage (Man-eating landscape) (1938)

Stanley William Hayter, Paysage Anthropophage (Man-eating landscape) (1938)

For British Artists between 1936-9 were reacting not just to the horrors of the war, often with surreal images (Edward Burra’s brilliant watercolours being a prime example), destroyed landscapes (Merlyn Evans), and distraught victims (Henry Moore and Picasso), but also to the innate frustration that the British Government had adopted a non-interventionist policy. This felt like utter madness when the fascist leaders of Europe were actively intervening in the Fascist cause, and caused artists of Britain to uprise, creating brilliant propaganda posters supporting the Republican Cause and, ultimately, fighting in the war themselves.

Pablo Picasso, Weeping Woman (1937)

Pablo Picasso, Weeping Woman (1937)

John Armstrong, Invocation (1938)

John Armstrong, Invocation (1938)

Alastair Morton, Spanish Civil War (1939)

Alastair Morton, Spanish Civil War (1939)

Joan Miro, Aidez L'Espagne (Help Spain) (1937)

Joan Miro, Aidez L’Espagne (Help Spain) (1937)

Henry Moore, Spanish Prisoner (1939)

Henry Moore, Spanish Prisoner (1939)

So this is an exhibition of posters and of paintings, all sharing the high tensions and morbid premonitions of the time. How apt, for example, was Walter Nessler’s Premonition in 1937, in which he imagined London suffering the same bombardment as had destroyed the Basque town of Guernica only weeks before. How right he was, for only 3 years later, his imagined landscape would become a stark reality for Blitzed London. Those tensions are also brilliantly played out in posters such as Brangwyn’s For the Relief of Women and Children in Spain, which uses the catholic imagery of Mary to emphasise the war’s human plight, especially amongst Spanish Children, and of course in Picasso’s Weeping Woman, painted at the same time as the most famous of all reactions to the war, Guernica, and which makes for a sensational focus of this exhibition.

Conscience and Conflict has only 6 weeks to go, but it’s a truly brilliant exhibition, and if you can’t make it your last favourite of 2014, make it your first of 2015. The exhibition closes on 15th February 2015.

Radical and a little racy… Schiele’s nudes at the Courtauld

They’ve done it again! Short, sweet, brilliantly focused, the Courtauld Gallery in London has once again mounted a brilliant temporary exhibition with a sharp focus on a particular artist and theme. And following on from the gallery’s scintillating study of the single most important year in the development of Picasso’s career, this time the Courtauld is looking at the prolific work of an Austrian artist who sadly never lived out the full career his talent so obviously deserved: Egon Schiele. Instead, almost as though he had a premeditation of the Spanish flu that would kill him at the end of the First World War at the age of only 28, Schiele worked frantically, producing in the few short years of his career such a virtuosity of artwork that even after that short time he has been declared a pillar of Austria’s Expressionist art movement. 

Such was Schiele’s prolific output that the Courtauld had the luxury of being able to chose to focus in on one distinct element of his work: his depiction of the nude. And in doing so they have surely touched on perhaps the most memorable and striking chapter of his oeuvre. For in his depictions of the nude, Schiele was indeed very much the radical, just as the show suggests. Depicting his models with an angular and uncomfortable frame, and raw and visceral colouring, Schiele’s nudes are at once uncompromising and vulgar, while being completely fascinating and electric to the eye. 

Standing Nude with Stockings, 1914

Standing Nude with Stockings, 1914

Egon Schiele, Male Lower Torso, 1910

Egon Schiele, Male Lower Torso, 1910

Nude Self-Portrait in Gray with Open Mouth, 1910

Nude Self-Portrait in Gray with Open Mouth, 1910

Squatting Female Nude, 1910

Squatting Female Nude, 1910

Schiele wasn’t exactly one to keep with the confines of classical approaches to depicting the nude. Far from it. As well as colouring in his heavily lined nudes with a raw almost skinless muscular palate of dark bloody pinks and bruised purples and ambers, he also strayed very close to the pornographic frontier, depicting women in an unflinchingly abrupt and exposed fashion. I don’t think I ever saw so many views of what lies between a woman’s thighs on a gallery wall! And yet these paintings are not porn. They do not depict a promise of pleasure, but a deeply exposed portrait of the sitter. Yes these women look seductive and often slutty, but it’s as though Schiele is inviting us to read that as part of their story rather than to have an aroused response at what they are offering. 

And of course this exhibition is far from being about the naughty bits. For what these 30 or so paintings demonstrate is the brilliance and apparent confidence of Schiele’s line work as well as the originality of his depiction. These are bodies like we have never seen them before. Distorted, and occasionally out of proportion, bulging and contorting where they shouldn’t and often with sharp edges where supple skin should be, these are nudes taken up a level to an almost abstract exploration; poses which are almost impossible to hold; limbs seemingly amputated from the torso in order to focus the audience on a particular present part of the body; and expressions which are both exposing and intensely emotional: this is uncompromising portraiture. 

Seated Female Nude with Raised Arm (Gertrude Schiele), 1910

Seated Female Nude with Raised Arm (Gertrude Schiele), 1910

Crouching Woman with Green Kerchief, 1914

Crouching Woman with Green Kerchief, 1914

Two Girls Embracing (Friends), 1915

Two Girls Embracing (Friends), 1915

Erwin Dominik Osen, Nude with Crossed Arms,1910

Erwin Dominik Osen, Nude with Crossed Arms,1910

So is this small but perfectly formed show worth braving the growing queues for? It undoubtedly is. For this is an unprecedented chance to focus in on the bold feverish creative output of a quickly lost genius and almost certainly one of the most important shows of London’s artistic year. The only complaint you may have is that this sharp focus doesn’t go on longer. 

Egon Schiele: the Radical Nude runs until 18 January. But beware – the show contains some explicit images and may not be deemed suitable for all. 

Venice: My paintings (Part 2) – Ripples

No artist can visit Venice and not be inspired. By the mist which clings so densely to its cold canals in the winter time, and the sun which shines upon the city with such alacrity in summer; by the classic Venetian gothic architecture which graces its canal-side palazzos, and the astounding masterpieces of art history which adorn the insides of those residences and their neighbouring churches alike; and by the elegance which resides at the core of Venetian values as manifested in the masquerade balls, the carnevale, and the most sophisticated of all modes of transportation: the gondola. But above all things, as yesterday’s photography focus demonstrated, no artist can fail to be inspired by the watery reflections which provide a unique, second facet to the city.

Back in around 2007, when I made a short weekend visit to the city, I came back loaded with ideas of what I wanted to paint. On Monday, I shared with you two of the paintings I created at that time, focusing mainly on the Grand Canal and the palazzos which neighbour it. Today however, it’s time for those rippled waters to take centre stage, as I share two further paintings from that brief 2007 collection, both of these focusing not so much on the city itself, but on its rippled reflection in water.

Venice II (2007 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Venice II (2007 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Venice IV (2007 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Venice IV (2007 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Venice II is almost a complete reflection, with only the mere hint of the end of a gondola representing the real world above water; while Venice IV focuses a bit more on the lavish paintwork which adorns so many gondolas and the kind of narrow canal “street” which is so characteristic of the city.

There’s one more Venice 2007 painting to share with you, and then it’s surely time to paint something new…? See you next time.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

2012: the Norms review their year

It’s been one hell of a year for the Norms. One could almost call 2012 the Year of the Norm, except to do so would be to presuppose that no subsequent year would be equally as Normy, something which, the Norms anticipate, will certainly not be the case. 2012 has nevertheless been a year of great Normy prowess and adventure. Why 2012 was the year when the Norms headed to Italy, to Spain, to Portugal, to Holland and to France. They sailed down canals, they took part in Easter Parades, they cycled over Amsterdam’s bridges and boarded Lisbon’s famous trams. In Paris, the Norms explored the sculptures of the Musée Rodin, while back in London, they milled around in the National Gallery, became covered with Yayoi Kusama’s polka dots and ran from a fly attack in Tate’s Damien Hirst exhibition. Oh yes, those Norms are cultured little blobs, but they proved themselves to be great sports-norms too, partaking in London’s hugely successful Olympic and Paralympic games, as well as mustering the energy to stand in crowds waving the flag for Queen Elizabeth Norm’s Diamond Jubilee. So you see 2012 really was the year of the Norm, and although you may have seen them all before, here is a little review of some of the sketches which captured the Norm’s adventures throughout the year.

But that’s not all. 2012 was also the year when the Norms entered the history books, having themselves repainted in the image of some of the world’s most famous paintings. From Norms in the image of Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe and, minus an ear (not that Norms have ears), in the guise of Van Gogh, to the Norm with a Pearl Earring, and the Norm with an Ermine, the Norms have recreated artistic greats such as Da Vinci, Frans Hals, Valezquez and Goya with their characteristic glowing blue complexion and their wide captivating eyes. What better time then, than at the end of the year of great Normular artistic endeavours, to take a look back at some of those paintings that made the year so artistically fruitful.

So that’s it – it was a year of fantastic Normic success, both in colour and black and white. Here’s to 2013, for a year of great creativity, activity, and a continuously abundant imagination with the power to carry both me, and the Norms to new and undiscovered heights. Happy New Year!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday Supplement: Clapham Common

Autumn is coming. It’s inescapable. When we are lucky enough to enjoy the sun, we notice that its heat is no longer so all embracing, and that a chilly breeze is never far behind. All around, the lush green of verdant England is turning slowly paler, then yellow, and then auburn, as the trees slowly relent to the weather forces around them, tired after a summer’s efforts to grow and sustain thousands of new leaves, now letting them drop to the floor as the tree retreats into its winter slumber.

Autumn is a time of death and decay, but also a time of great beauty, as summer fades away, and the canvas of colours all around changes perceptively from blues and greens, to deep oranges, umbers and reds. I love autumn, and no more so in the large parks for which London is so famed. Just around the corner on Clapham Common, the trees scatter such a bounty of leaves all about them that often a carpet of golden curls is all that can be seen for miles around. This is all the more enhanced when the long rays of the autumn sun cast long shadows upon them, allowing the shades of orange and red to dance around the park like wild fire.

Clapham Common (2010 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

It was on one such sunny afternoon that I was inspired to paint this scene – a vivid painting capturing light and shadow across fallen leaves in Clapham Common. Now I come to think of it, it’s a bit Hockney in its bold colours, although this wasn’t the intention. Rather I set about demonstrating how vivid and eye-catching are the hues of autumn, and how beautiful this time of fading summer can be.

Have a good Sunday.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday Supplement: Nordic Chills

In the first Sunday Supplement of 2012 which, for those of you who have not seen one before, features one, or a few of my non-Norm paintings, I have decided to pay homage to all things chilly. This is roundly because it has turned awfully cold here in London – ok, it’s not snowing or anything, but having had an unusually mild winter so far, we were all hoping that the spring had come early, and I think most of the budding plants all about were pretty much anticipating the same thing. So in homage to the cold, and in reminding myself that there are always colder places, I have decided to feature my paintings which were inspired by a series of visits I made to Scandinavia in 2009/2010, starting with a snowy trip to the elegant city of Stockholm, followed by an equally frosted visit to the buzzing city of Copenhagen. Upon visiting Stockholm, I was particularly struck by how watery the city is, probably more so because the water wasn’t actually frozen when I visited unlike the city’s Danish counterpart. When I took a boat trip around the archipelago, I was particularly struck by the various lighthouses which could be seen dotted all about. They looked solemn and lonely, stood steadfastly resolute in their solitude, performing their lone task of perpetual warning against sea ships and sailors whose vision is clouded with an icy fog. The result was a series of 5 paintings of lighthouses which were later exhibited along the famous Nyhavn in Copenhagen.

It was in fact on delivering my paintings to the Nyhavn Gallery in Copenhagen that I was inspired to paint my other Nordic work. Simply entitled Copenhagen, the work explores my fascination with the startling modern architecture, whose sharp angles and precise lines seemed to echo and suffuse with the cracking, floating ice which formed afresh each night over the city’s vast waterways. The fresh modernity of the city contrasts with Danish history represented by a furry Viking invading the scene at the foot of the painting, a wooden toy the likes of which you can buy (and I did – much to my partner’s disapproval) in souvenir shops all over Denmark. There too are signs of other Danish feats: Lego characters promenade outside the Opera House, and the city’s emblematic Little Mermaid statute, based on the story of that famous Dane, Hans Christian Andersen, who in my painting sits of the quayside, fishing fresh sushi, the likes of which I had enjoyed for the first time while in Copenhagen. The sushi, to this extent, also represents the city’s cosmopolitan feel, while the plumes of smoke flowing from the very prominent chimneys are testament to Denmark’s industrial prowess, while representing something of a conflict with their very “green” contemporary attitude.

Copenhagen (oil on canvas, 2010 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Wrap up warm, until next time…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Every Artist needs his teddy bear

The superb Grayson Perry exhibition at London’s British Museum (reviewed on my blog last week) proved an indubitable fact of life: Every Artist needs his teddy bear. Perry was unabashed in making his teddy, Alan Measles, the pivotal focus of his playful, yet sophisticatedly philosophical exhibition, feeding off the time in childhood when every young person’s mind is alive with the kind of imaginative creativity that most of us in our adult life can only dream of. It is only as children, unaware of the true gravity which attaches itself to most issues arising in everyday life, that we are free to run wild in the lush pastures of our imaginings, without responsibility, or worries upon our shoulders. To an extent, every creative Artist continues this spirit of childlike creativity throughout the duration of his career. However very few make their contemporary artwork in retrospective homage to the initial creations of their past. Grayson Perry does this with style, as well as sociological insight. But perhaps more importantly, he is not scared to emphasise the continuing importance of his teddy bear in his life and art at an age when he himself has young children, no doubt with their own cherished bears.

Pupillage: When the Bar took Centre-Stage (detail of Fluffy) (2011 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

I loved Grayson Perry’s exhibition because it embodied much of my attitude to life. I trained as a lawyer, and outwardly, I try, at least, to exude an public face of professionalism. But at home, and therefore as an artist, I indulge utterly and without compromise in the introspective world of my imagination, my desires and my aspirations. Home life for me is all about cosiness, and the loving security of my relationship. And as welcome accessories to that relationship, two very cherished teddies are held dear. Meet Bilbao: a cute knitted puppy, given to me by my partner when I was in hospital, and Fluffy, living up to his namesake – a chirpy little bear with ever enquiring eyes and a sweet inquisitive nature. These two little creatures follow my partner and I when we go on holiday, and they are always close by when I paint. It is no surprise therefore that they have featured in my artwork, and in my photography, and it is in homage to the public outing of Grayson Perry’s teddy bear, that I write this post, showcasing the role of my teddies in my work.

Pupillage: When the Bar took Centre-Stage (Oil on canvas, 2011 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

The first painting to feature one of my teddies is this one, which focuses on my time as a Pupil Barrister in London. For the non-British lawyers amongst you, this is a year specific to the Bar profession, when a young lawyer spends a year in a Barristers chambers undertaking intense training in the run up to full qualification. It is a tiring, arduous and, at times, traumatic year. The pupil is constantly assessed, always on the move, and tirelessly trying to impress his superiors. This painting embodies the pressures, depression and anxiety I felt that year. Pink legal ribbon ties me to the slave-ball emblem of the career. My body has become a marble bust as I have sought to metamorphose into the lawyer expected of the Establishment, while turning my back on myself. The profession has taken centre-stage in my life, while in the bottom left hand corner, my Partner, represented by Fluffy, has been sidelined, although the ribbon around his neck represents the extent to which my Partner too has become enslaved to the repercussions of this hectic career.

Separatism: Catalonia and the Basque Country (2009, Oil on canvas, © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Separatism: Catalonia and the Basque Country (detail of Bilbao) (2009, Oil on canvas, © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

The next painting to feature a teddy is my work Separatism, based on the fractious political history and continuing stresses persisting in the partly autonomous regions of Catalonia in North-East Spain, and the Basque Country in the North of the country. The work, which formed part of my España Volver collection (2009) focuses on various features of the regions as well as the conflicts which have erupted in the past including the bombings instituted at the hands of terrorist separatist organisation, ETA. The rich diversity of the culture in these regions spins into a central vortex, while all around it, images from the two regions are fragmented like a jigsaw puzzle, except where the pieces are held together demonstrating signs of peace and unity in the regions. The image focuses on the architectural and gastronomic strengths of the regions, as well as famous sights such as La Concha in San Sebastián (Donostia) and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Meanwhile a spiralling red ribbon curls through the centre of the painting representing political red tape which, over the years, has hindered and complicated political progress. My teddy Bilbao is a small detail of the painting, wandering into the work in the bottom section. He floats in a safety ring in the seas of the rich coastline common to both Spanish reasons, and close to the marine symbolism which represents the maritime history which both regions also hold dear. His inclusion in the painting does not carry any special significance, but as he is named after the Basque Country’s great city of Bilbao, he thought it appropriate that he make an appearance.

Santa Norm (2011, acrylic on canvas) © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown

Finally, there is last year’s Christmas painting, Santa Norm, in which, appropriately, Fluffy makes an appearance in Santa’s sack of toys for all the girls and boys. Luckily, Fluffy already has a very loving home to go to.

I leave you with a selection of photographs of Fluffy and Bilbao taken on travels and at home. Enjoy being childish in life. Because we grow up fast and life is too short to take it seriously. Until next time…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.