THE POET AND THE PAINTER
My search for FPS members who are exhibiting in the London area and the South East so that their activities can be publicised and their work reviewed, took me recently to Bankside Gallery where Geoff Pimlott was taking part in a fascinating show entitled ‘The Poet and the Painter.’ But a word first about the Royal Watercolour Society who have mounted this exhibition. RWS faces both ways: back into a distinguished past where it has long nurtured work in a medium not (in its opinion) accorded the status it deserves by an oil-obsessed Royal Academy; and forward to a future teeming with new ideas, such as this show, but always revolving round watercolour’s unique properties as a medium for artistic expression. Bankside Gallery, the RWS ‘home’, is an elegant venue for its many events, in no way fazed by its proximity to Tate Modern. Exhibitions apart the Society mounts a full programme of outreach work, educational events, sketching days (e.g. London, Paris), painting competitions, courses, talks and demonstrations.
The idea behind ‘The Poet and the Painter’ is intriguing but, many would say, self evident, i.e. that these two art forms have a common source of inspiration. To prove the point RWS members were invited to respond in watercolour or water based media to poetry of their own choosing, with the results hanging together in the exhibition. Maybe this was a ‘first’ for RWS (although it can work the other way. Some years ago there was an exhibition of Rouault etchings in Birmingham to which the city’s poet laureate, David Hart, was asked to respond in verse – which he did!)
Before we come to Geoff Pimlott a few examples of the work of some of the other exhibitors will be of interest, with text followed by image:
‘ACTIVITY’ by Martin Tupper
‘CELEBRATION OF A RAINBOW’ by Alison Musker
There it is, suddenly emerging, the rainbow
Gaze at the celebration of pure colours
Westwards slowly light pierces the dark
Giving out a growing flood of gold
Wisps of smooth turquoise glow across the sky
A pale pink blush spreads
Dwindling as it deepens over the far hills
Remember me with colours
As I love each and every one
With the blues and greys of morning skies
And the radiant setting sun.
Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?….
‘THE TYGER’ BY Neil Pittaway RWS
‘CRAZY BASTARD’ by Roger McGough
I have always enjoyed the company of extroverts
Wild-eyed men who would go too far
Up to the edge and beyond. Mad, bad women
Overcautious me. Sensible shoes and scarf
Tucked in. Fresh fruit and plenty of sleep
If the sign said ‘keep off’, then off is where I’d keep
Midsummer’s eve in the sixties
On a moonlit beach in Devon we sit around a fire
Drinking the wine and cider. Someone strumming a guitar
Suddenly a girl strips off and runs into the sea.
Everybody follows suit, a whoop of flickering nakedness
Hot gold into cold silver. Far out.
Not wanting to be last in I unbutton my jeans
Then pause. Someone had better stay behind
And keep an eye on the clothes. Common sense.
I throw another piece of driftwood on the fire
Above the crackle listen to the screams and the laughter
Take a long untroubled swig of scrumpy. Crazy bastard.
'THE COMPANY OF EXTROVERTS’ BY RICHARD SORRELL PRWS
Geoff Pimlott A common perception of watercolour is that its use is confined to small landscape studies, and that bolder experiments in paint tend to be the exclusive domain of oils and acrylics on canvas. ‘The Poet and the Painter’ gave to lie to this. The variety of themes and handling on display would easily match anything you could find in the RA or on an investigative stroll down Cork Street. Geoff Pimlott had four vibrant abstracts on display, their warm colours, straight lines and sharp angles all evoking the modern urban scene. But for the purposes of ‘The Poet and the Painter’ he cleverly applied two of these pieces as responses to poems by Stephen Adams, entitled ‘Zig – Picture to Viewer’ and ‘Zag’s Reply’. Let them speak for themselves:
‘ZIG – PICTURE TO VIEWER' by Stephen Adams
I am Zig – not Zag.
Don’t see piano keys
or soldiers’ sleeves
or flags and the Highway Code
or tent’s apex and terraced roof rows
or sticks of rock and a patch of sky.
Pictures can lie.
That’s not what I am.
What I am not is what I am.
Abstract me so I can be…
to polish your eyes
and through bright windows slide.
'ZAG’S REPLY' by Stephen Adams
Welcome to Zag – or what’s left of me.
I was in the pink
before Zig the prig started trying to open me up
pushing his little grains of sand in.
I told him. I said
I don’t do pomes. I am already one -
one big pearly pome
My silver suit. My sleek hair.
Zag through and through.
known to all as Zag the Jag….’
Geoff Pimlott ARWS "RIMG0296"
Geoff Pimlott has clearly gained much from his concurrent membership of FPS and RWS over the years. As a fellow Free Painters member back in the ‘nineties I could see how his work matured in his many contributions to our exhibitions. His keenness to explore new ideas in paint was always apparent, and the freshness and vitality of his approach impressed us all. I must frankly confess that I was not then aware of his association with RWS, but with hindsight it is clear how that association helped his artistic development. FPS members who would like to find out more about the Royal Watercolour Society can contact them at Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, London SE1 9JH Phone 02079287521 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org website http://www.royalwatercoloursociety.co.uk/
Geoff Pimlott ARWS "Lozenge"
PS Thanks to the staff of the Bankside Gallery for their help with this review.