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'Experiences, Experiments, Expressions' by Cliff Baxendale

I  am at the age when candy floss and Italian ice cream cones seem like smiles of the past.  Those were days when white plimsoles were the chosen footwear for Whitsuntide trips from our village to the seaside on a steam train.  They were also the days when pencil crayons, wax crayons and little pots of paint coloured my imaginings of these events.


Now I look at the walls in the gallery and see that my visual accounts present a different but personal history.  They are, I hope, pictures of my experience on the journey of exploration and revelation which are my own expressions of joyful moments.


I am inviting you to see something of these revelatory moments, moments when the art is lightened by unexpected results.


I ask myself “what will you make of the obvious pictorial presentations and abstract imagery that also represents creative moments”.


Today ‘pots of paint’ and other media are being used to push at the boundaries of some of my learning methodologies, challenge pictorial order and, may be, feed a world of full colour, textures, movement and shapes that edge the dark with the joy of light.


When I was a student at Goldsmiths, Anton Ehrenzweig used to talk about “Tangents and Orbits co-existing with transient experiences of serendipity.”


I guess I have travelled around the sun, experiencing the seasons of pictorial composition, colour, energy and the media that reflects my journey.  But I have always been intrigued to see where a tangent might lead.  On the walls of the gallery are some of the serendipitous moments I have had.  As I followed the tangents I am not sure if I have gone “to infinity and beyond” but if I talk about a few pieces you may get the gist of how one or two things have clicked into place for me.


I have decided to begin the show with an etching I made as a student in Leeds in 1964.  The source idea that sparked the work came from an encounter with a fellow student who offered me some pink and blue pills.  I saw his face and I declined.  As I looked at him I literally saw the Prince of Darkness at work in him.  He looked like he had eaten an apple which was rotten to the core.  The experience made me think about choices, self-determination, lies, falsity and all the evil that darkens the consciousness of humanity.  I used symbols, corporate logos, flags, road signs, wormlike organic forms to show the invidious invasions in the structure of social, political and religious life.  I stress this was my take “Lucifer” the fallen “Star of Heaven” (the etching was “on the line” in the RA Summer Exhibition 1966 and the BBC focussed their lens upon it).


To complete the show just before Easter this year I “utilized” a copy of a Rembrandt etching of the Crucifixion which I saw in the Vatican Museum in December 2016.  It seemed to me there was a comparison of “the darkness” in the groupings of the people.  We see how Rembrandt chose to display in black and white the attitudes of merciless power, mindless and indifferent violence, self-serving evil etc as well as the consoling disciples revealed by the light ie those not yet knowing that Sunday’s “exit” would initiate a change.


In the collages of torn and cut “bits” I have stuck together used, discarded, old and unwanted paper and card into a structured design.


I had it in mind to say that what is often rubbish, marginalised and rejected by our society can become a new creation.  As an artist I want to show it.


Also, over the past 20 years I have been involved in over 40 projects in the community.  Most of these projects were in co-operation with artsNK.  But the three summaries of my work outlined above represent my experiences, experiments and expressions.


I hope you want to see the show and enjoy the ride.