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Thoughts on the collages


Collage is a way of working that is rich in both literal and metaphorical meaning. It gathers up not only materials but also memories and images. It is a wonderful way to recycle, which makes it ecologically and creatively very “green”! It lends itself to building a rich palimsest, encouraging the artist to delve deep, to honour the unseen as well as the seen, the accumulated layers of a history in which nothing is wasted. Above all, it invites us into what the artist Cecil Collins called the Matrix, a birthplace of creativity resembling a womb in which chaos gradually gives rise to order and new birth.

Often when I work with collage I enjoy the chance to use old paintings and drawings from the past that never quite worked or became outdated. Using them is a way of honouring the experiences that resulted in their creation. It roots the artist I am now in the person I was then.

However, for the project on Glastonbury Abbey I made the decision to create all my collage material specifically for the occasion. I wanted the finished work to be steeped in the experience of being both there and also in some of the geat French Benedictine abbeys of the same period that I had visited in preparation.

The first collage that I created was a temporary installation on the floor.  I framed the top of it with ringlets of paper that I had shredded from my drawings when I tore them up.  I had not thought of making it look like a window until the daylight flooded in from the door behind and gave me the idea, but I had wanted it to look as ecclesiastical as I could, which is why I chose the flagstones on which to lay it.. Seeing it all laid out on the floor gave me a chance to relive the process of getting to know and love the abbey before embarking on creating the permanent collages and then making them into paintings.


"Floor collage " Installation with collage on flagstones