03 Oct The Connection Between People and Places- A Celebration of The Grand Pavillion, Porthcawl.
Title: The connection between people and place: A Celebration of The Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl.
Artist: Francine Davies
Introducing the Project
Art is an emotional response in both the creator and the audience. The Grand Pavilion as a setting is a work of art in itself! I have experience of The Grand Pavilion as both a visitor over the years and as an exhibiting artist and that may explain why I had quite an emotional response to this call for art to celebrate the building. As an artist, this is the most important response of all i.e. “to be moved’ alongside “a desire to do justice to the expectations of a patron”.
When I first picked up the brief, I reflected on my exhibition held in that same café in 2017. I knew my work sat well and had been appreciated but felt something more could be achieved in this project. Feeling such a space that embodies both a local communities’ outlook and also a geographic and geological heritage should be reflected in the artwork.
We have been through an extraordinary time and never have I been prouder to be an artist than now. Watching artists all over the world respond to their frightened communities and networks with helpful techniques and opportunities for anyone to engage in the creative process has been heartening. Furthermore, as artists we have realised that art is not a solitary business but a process often of discovery that resonates with communities. The most exciting art is ‘realised’ through the process of creating and sharing.
The desire to do this is a reflection of everything we as a society have gone through over the last year. We should be expecting ourselves to expect more of ourselves and when given opportunities to represent others we think courageously and not try and simply deliver what we have always done just because it is easy, and it is what we know.
The final two pieces are the outcome of a really huge learning curve for me as an artist. My original vision was very much centred around celebrating this venue as a place for people. A place of high energy, expectations and hopes and also a place of enormous geographical significance. A coastal town, a town of culture and creativity.
I chatted with other artists whose work I admired and began exploring my own interpretation and vision. I stepped right outside my comfort zone and usual techniques and embarked on a study of the different people that had visited and entertained at this venue. I made regular visits to the setting and sat, watched and captured the comings and goings. I took considerable time to explore the archives and discover who had frequented and performed at the Pavilion.
I commissioned a professional drone expert to help me explore the area from a variety of different angles. I took numerous walks out along the coastline at low tide and high tide studying the rocks for colour, texture and wildlife.
I visited the Café setting to get a feel of the space in which the paintings would hang and ensured the frames would be a good fit. I studied the colour scheme and atmosphere. With the help of my husband we began the process of making the frames to stretch the linen canvas over. There is something very grounding about making your own frames. You feel part of the process from the beginning stages of the painting.
I began developing my ideas in drawings and preliminary paintings and spent a considerable time reflecting on styles that I felt I could develop now or in the future.
The final two paintings were chosen in the end to reflect my passion for placing us in the landscape that we are part of. For example, I felt a real connection with the drone images that made me see we are always part of a whole and sometimes we do not acknowledge that. I became unsatisfied with my more intimate interpretations and felt my usual need to connect us to nature that surrounds, moulds us and holds us.
Finally, I hope my paintings reflect my intentions:
1. When given an opportunity to create artwork to represent the pride, history and impact of a setting for a community then we should imagine its prominence in the community and highlight it as best we can.
2. When given an opportunity to create artwork that “places” a setting such as the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl among a specific geography and geology then we should know it and create a sense of it in our artwork.
Whilst many of my drawings were in Acrylic ink, pen, charcoal and pencil my final pieces were acrylic on canvas. I worked with both palette knife and brush to create the textures and perspective I was after.
I hope these two pieces begin what I imagine is just the start of a series of paintings over the coming years reflecting the significance of this unique building for the local community and visitors.