Brancaster Chronicle No. 74: Noela James Bewry Paintings

No. 5 (all paintings acrylic on canvas)

21st July 2019, near Bath.

Taking part: Hilde Skilton, Mark Skilton, Anne Smart, Anthony Smart, Sarah Greenwood, Robin Greenwood, Charley Greenwood, Shelley Latham, Noela James, Steven Walker, John Pollard, Richard Ward

No. 1 (since reworked into no. 6)

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 6
  1. Richard Ward said:

    Noela’s characteristic, ribbon like marks create miles and miles of edges in each work. I think it is the treatment of these edges – the way the coloured areas come together and relate to each other – that gives each of these paintings at least one aspect of its particular character.

    In no. 4 the marks crisscross and get in each other’s way, fighting like crabs in a bucket. There is no sense of communality or mutual respect. I exaggerate of course, but the eye has a bumpy ride, repeatedly held up by fractures and warring inconsistencies.

    No. 3 is different and more peaceable because here Noela has created a whole lot more space between the marks. Particularly towards the upper and right hand sides of the painting, the overlapping areas of paint have air between them, existing as “individuals” in space. Without edges in common they are like pioneers moving out from a densely packed lower left corner into a generous vastness of virgin territory.

    In no. 1 the marks are pressed together again into shallow space, but here they relate much more respectfully than in no. 4. Look at how the blues, reds, pinks and yellows combine in the upper left hand corner of the right hand panel. The edges are finely judged, allowing significance to each coloured area. Intrusions connect rather than eclipse or suppress.
    That said, there is something a little rigid and formal in the relationships throughout this painting. The communality and respect seem here somewhat imposed, as at an over-polite tea-party.

    All this loosens up, becoming organic and flexible in no. 5.
    There is nothing forced here. Particularly on the left hand side, the coloured areas combine and disengage fluidly and without compulsion.


  2. Noela James said:

    Thank you Richard, I really enjoy your insightful comments and descriptions. I get the ‘crabs in a bucket ‘ look of number four, the painting takes a while to connect with the rhythms within it.
    I agree with what you said on film concerning one particular black mark on the nearly bottom right hand side, there is something a little too dominant about it.
    I have actually completely altered number one and could get it posted if you are interested. I wasn’t happy with the reds and before long the whole painting changed.


    • Richard Ward said:

      Yes, that would be interesting. Maybe a better photo of no. 5 too? The light looks a bit uneven on it.


  3. Noela James said:

    Will do Richard, I shall get the images to John sometime this weekend.


    • Noela has provided a new photo of no. 5 and a photo of reworked no. 1 (now no. 6).


      • Noela James said:

        Thank you John.
        I felt the reds in the original painting were somewhat problematic for me but when I changed them it sent the whole image out of kilter and before long everything had to change.
        I feel the updated version is more coherent.


  4. Noela James said:

    Ps. I’m talking about the diptych.


  5. anne smart said:

    In Praise of No. 4.

    When I try to think of this painting I can’t imagine its colour. [in the film Robin said one of its qualities was you don’t have to worry about its colour}.
    I can’t visualise any edges or forms. [ in his comment Richard says that the ribbon like marks are all fighting like crabs in a bucket.]
    I can’t remember the brushwork.
    I can’t remember any spatial relationships or any parts coming at me or receding. [in the film Mark says that no one thing is allowed to dominate….Hilde and others said that too]
    I don’t recall any flat areas or any surface treatment….
    The sheer amount of stuff in that painting fills up my head. ….
    All of those complications ?
    in the end I have a sort of panic attack… until….

    I confront and LOOK at the actual painting…
    Painting No. 4 …..
    and I find it to be… Calm..and Whole and Together …and Complex and Abstract.


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