Reading Notes: “Art & Instinct: Selected Writings of Roy Oxlade”

Roy Oxlade (1929-2014), was a British artist and writer, who studied under David Bomberg and alongside contemporaries such as Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. He was married to artist Rose Wylie with whom he lived for much of the later years of his life in Kent.

His views on drawing and what it means to make art, or to try do so are forthright and refreshing. As ever my Reading Notes are the snippets of text I heavily underlined while reading, occasionally with my own reaction included to. Enjoy, particularly as I think this book is now out of print and hard to find! Added emphasis my own.

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Reflections on a Year of Art Education

Despite cultivating my art practice in earnest since 2018, this year I embarked on my first year of full-time art education at an academic institution. This took the form of a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design at The City Literary Institute. In some ways this felt ironic or like some kind of admission of failure, I had after all treated my first year of living in Spain as my own ‘self-directed foundation year’, even putting on my own show at the end of the year. But finding myself back in the UK, no longer part of an active art community and trying to move forward from the isolation of working through various lockdowns, the time felt right to embark on my first experience of something approaching ‘art school’. My last experience of formal art education had been taking GCSE art a very long time ago….

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We Will Walk – at Turner Contemporary

In 2020 the Turner Contemporary in Margate, Kent hosted a show called ‘We Will Walk – Art and Resistance from the American South’, celebrating and documenting the art of black communities in the 20th century. It was an exhilarating and moving show, with such a rush of humanity and bathed in an art spirit of the highest order. I wrote a little delayed art commentary afterwards but the show felt so profound, in many dimensions, that I struggled to do a full write-up. Here at least are some of my reflections gathered together with some photographs, to document this show.

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Just a great article about drawing from the Masters

Drawing from other artists’ work – be it casts, statues or paintings – has a long tradition in art education. This article has a great rundown of this vital part of self-education for many artists. Some great historical titbits too – for example when it first opened the Louvre in Paris used to reserve certain days for artists to work from their collection!

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On becoming an artist

In October 2018, I moved my life to Valencia, Spain, in search of a more artistic life. It was one big experiment to see what could happen if I put most of my time into making art. I thought of my first year as a ‘self-taught foundation year‘ and even put on my own end of year show.

Now, another year on, with the world turned upside down by a pandemic, I’ve decided to relocate to Kent, in the UK, for the foreseeable future. (Not that the future is desperately foreseeable these days, but you get the gist!) It’s a decision I wasn’t expecting to make and it is with a heavy heart. Living in Valencia over the last two years has been a hugely significant period in my life. So I thought I would take a moment to reflect on what I’ve learnt from my time in Valencia and on becoming an artist, so far!

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Delayed Art Commentary and Purvis Young

Sometimes my art writing verges into serious Delayed Art Commentary … actually I quite like that phrase, and also the notion, of having a little time to digest and process a show. But there’s definitely a sweet spot, the optimum amount of time for the work to muddle round my brain a bit, but also for my initial reactions not to be too distant, to be able to call them back, dig into them, turn them over and figure out a bit more what it all means.

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