The following are statements by artists taking part in Brancaster Chronicles:

John Bunker: “Artists have been operating in what Rosalind Krauss famously described as ‘the expanded field’ for the last 50-odd years. Art has been drawn away from the picture plane or sculptural form and thrown into worlds of politics, commerce, the sciences, the digital and beyond. Having lost their cultural dominance as discrete disciplines, the histories of painting and sculpture now seem littered with the remnants of formal invention. Paintings and sculpture now most frequently appear as ‘props’ used to illustrate a conceptual strategy or as a second hand sign of commodity exchange. But is this the end of the story? The Brancaster Chronicles has proved to me that it certainly is not. Taking part in the Brancaster Chronicles has shown me how painters and sculptors can remain committed to and ambitious for their respective mediums. The Chronicles brings together artists of different generations working with very different understandings of abstract art and very different takes on its histories. I’m aware of a new positive sense of self-sufficiency and independence growing amongst artists based on radical re-imaginings of Modernism as a flexible term or a contested realm of discourse. It is good to see younger artists are being drawn to abstract art’s protean, innovative and inherently visual nature. I think the Chronicles are helping to bring a renewed interest in abstraction into a real focus for serious debate by the emphasis on critique and analysis of participant’s art works in a supportive yet challenging environment. The unique and wholly positive Brancaster experience, for me, originates in it’s healthy, questioning approach to abstract art – one that is constantly on the move, always readjusting, reconfiguring and reinventing itself in the sparks of dialogue and sharing of insights between participants.”

Emyr Williams: “The Brancaster Chronicles is unique in its unashamed determination to insist upon rigour in art making, discourse and dialogue. It is not a talking-shop and has no bias, other than one in which demands are placed upon the participants involved to deliver artwork of the highest visual ambition. Abstract art, far from being an outmoded form of expression, should now set out on a new and ambitious journey dealing with uncontrived perceptions of real space. It should attempt to connect with, and meet the challenge of, the greatest works of the past and through such a connection help redefine and renew our experiences of these works. Whereas once neutrality was a prize, it is now being superseded with a more specific functionality. As a painter, the Brancaster Chronicles has been a stark wake up call. I have stripped away old habits, questioned myself and my art in ways that I did not consider previously, or maybe did not want to address – for the consequences felt so intimidating. At times this has been an uncomfortable experience, but I take solace from the fact that there is something that unites all these artists: optimism and ambition and the shared mindset of discovery which is at the heart of each artist’s practice.”

Robin Greenwood: “Brancaster Chronicles is a series of discussions which extend the personal creativity and questioning by individual artists in their studios into the public realm, opening it up to peer review, comment and insight, and broadening the revelation and analysis of developments in the work. The explicit agenda of all the artists involved is to divest their painting and sculpture of yet more literalist and associational baggage in celebration of abstract art’s non-prescriptive and innovative nature and the pursuit of true originality.”

Tony and Anne Smart: “We hope to match the creativity of our abstract work with the creativity of our debated response; this culminating in an event which illuminates achievement and how the sculptures or paintings work. Enter ‘potential’ – that which is capable of being developed. This is not a search for any answer, not a dogma or manifesto. Central to this is being able to change your mind in the face of what is happening, both in front of your work in the studio or in front of that being debated. This aims to be an unfolding stream of revelation. Abstract art being stripped of ‘literal’ subject matter has a natural powerful urge to innovate. The Brancaster Chronicles attempt to combine the tensions and anxieties of the artistic activity in the studio with the tensions and anticipation of having to say something and thereby expose the inner workings of those sculptures and paintings. As artists we owe a response to what is in front of us and it is the collision of all of that excitement and expectation of what has been made, then being matched with the response – not the attempt to bring down the work and calm its passion, or to inflate them, but to match the expectations with a response. The ability to change your mind is an essential ingredient of abstract art. Abstract art is full of surprises. Its non-prescriptive character makes it essential to look for the potential in the smallest of discoveries.”

John Pollard: “The Brancaster conversations are intense and sometimes difficult to follow, but not because of complex conceptual or philosophical theories. They are difficult because the conversations wrestle with how a ‘visual’ art object is judged ‘visually’: why does that work? How and why does it move us emotionally, intellectually? How to put that in to words, how to see it in a way that helps us further our critical eye and creative hand? If we want to discuss this we run into the difficulties of language; the object will always resist being defined neatly and clearly. This is why abstraction is hard to talk about without resorting to some meaning external to the work itself. Even talking about ‘process’, which can be useful, can mislead us, as though process can define value or quality. I think I have learnt a great deal from the Brancaster events; it has helped me to clarify what I value in painting and some ideas about how I can progress. Criticism is given sensitively but honestly, backed up by reasons; it is hard to get away with simplistic judgements. Ideas are offered, yet an individual’s own freedom is respected and valued. If you are interested in the ‘visual’ quality of works of art (rather than the conceptual, philosophical, political, or spiritual, aspects) the Brancaster Chronicles offer artists meaningful and practical ways to judge and create visual art.”

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