Brancaster Chronicle No. 76: Harry Hay Paintings

Word Go, 2019, oil and acrylic on wood, 70 x 60 cm

Untitled, 2019, oil on canvas, 91 x 91 cm

Untitled 2, 2019, oil on canvas, 91 x 91 cm

Feeding on Phantoms, 2019, oil on wood, 60 x 70 cm

Yarn Through The Spars, 2019, acrylic on paper, 49 x 36cm

Overture and Mantra, 2019, acrylic on paper, 49 x 37 cm

Mole Cricket, 2019, acrylic on paper, 31 x 33 cm

Mad Salt, 2019, acrylic on paper, 49 x 34 cm

Freeloader, 2019, acrylic on paper, 32 x 30 cm

Fox News, 2019, acrylic on paper, 50 x 30 cm

  1. I don’t dislike any of this work, and the four larger paintings in oil are particularly strong. The first one, “Word Go”, is looking better and stronger the more I take it in. I don’t know the order these were painted, but that one looks like it is the culmination of some very intense and open-minded working that takes it to a place where perhaps the other works have not really reached. You cannot break it down, but nor can you say that it’s wholeness starts to simplify into anything like a known arrangement, in the way the two bigger square works tend to suggest. They have a more familiar centralising aspect that “Word Go” hardly touches upon. Plus, the colour in all its variety and differences of application is really compelling. Its a complex work with lots of different things happening, and the more I look, the more I need to keep looking to discover new ways in which it holds together.

    Brilliant set of work, Harry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Robin! I also see “Word Go” as the strongest. It was the most “challenging”, as Tony pointed out during the discussion. It was a challenge to paint it, taking on what was for me an entirely different approach, and once I felt I could do no more to it, it was very difficult to accept that it might have arrived at its final place. But all the while it has been sitting in my studio, it has continued to surprise me with its quite understated believability and openness, as well as its capacity to look different each time I see it.

    I think you are right, Robin, to suggest it was made with an intensity and open mindedness. The seeds for this approach were actually planted after my previous Brancaster chronicle, during the discussion about the white, unpainted sections of the canvases I sent over last year. There was a suggestion that they could perhaps be expanded, or utilised in a more balanced and integral way. This got me thinking that my next step was to build an intensity into all of my mark making from the moment it starts to be made, under the belief that all of it could prove to be fundamental to what the painting becomes. I attempted this with several works, but “Word Go” was the one where it all came together. As Richard and Hilde pointed out though, you can’t really force a work like this. You just have to be open to recognising what it might be doing at the right moments. One of the central concerns of “Word Go” as I made it was to not let that larger green and white area slip back too far behind the rest of the painting. I don’t remember any specific decisions that I made to ensure it didn’t, just that I was very attuned to what was going on there.

    I think it’s interesting that “Word Go” and “Feeding on Phantoms” were actually made at the same time. Of these works, they are the oldest, pre-dated only by “Fox News”. “Feeding on Phantoms” started out with the same intentions as “Word Go”, but I feel something got lost along the way. Perhaps I took something too far and could never get it back, and so the picture had to go and become something else entirely. I too have struggled with the grey atmospheric patch near the middle of it, but I also couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. I just felt that for all its potential problems, it was contributing something to how the whole thing operates. I had a similar feeling about the top left section in one of the larger square works. I can completely accept why that might be deemed almost unfinished, but I also felt that there wasn’t a lot I could actually “do” to it, without disrupting the whole flow of the painting. That painting is the most recent, and I had considered it unfinished up until I was packaging the works to send, and made a last minute decision to include it over another one.

    I think across all of these works, I have tried to maintain a very open and experimental mindset, and be more prepared to leave certain troublesome elements when they emerge, employ a wider range of approaches, and also work within certain parameters I am less comfortable with. My attitude has been to let these things come about, and sort through it all later, and hopefully just keep throwing more things in the mix.

    It’s been such a thrill to have you all see these works and pour so much time and consideration into them. I’ve got so much out of it already, so thank you. Thank you Anne and Tony for allowing it all to happen.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: