From 7th – 12th Nov, Artlink’s Studio 3 group staged an intervention into the John Sell Cotman exhibition. Throughout the project, Studio 3 artists were invited to examine and respond to the works of Cotman prior to the gallery re-opening. With special access to the collection and support from Artlink artists, Jill Johnson and Rozi Fuller, Studio 3 have been able to test new ways of working with watercolour including sketching and painting on a trip to Knaresborough, following in the footsteps of Cotman himself.
The group made practical studies of Cotman’s techniques, extensively researching and resourcing materials as close to those available to Cotman. They tried out wet-on-dry watercolour, studied the geometric and negative shapes in Cotman’s compositions, then moving on to watercolour to develop their own ideas and interpretations.
As Studio 3 grew in confidence, they began to experiment with a range of media including pencil, pen drawing, water-soluble pencil, ink sticks, silk painting, photography, acrylics, oils, emulsion paint, animation and book binding.
Many of these sketches, studies and explorations will be exhibited near to the Cotman work they most relate to and from where inspiration was drawn from. As such, they show ‘work in process’ in much the same way as many of Cotman’s sketches do.
The key to this intervention is the depth of the exploration of Cotman’s work, both technique and subject matter. One person perhaps summed up the reflection of the whole group when he said, “It was a really nice way to access an artist’s work, to engage with it and learn how to use watercolour. It gave me a focus, narrowing the parameter’s down, giving a really creative way to work. It was a bit like being given an ‘artist’s brief’ to work to. I felt very professional, as if we were being treated as artists ourselves.”
The enthusiasm for Cotman and watercolour has generated a large body of work by Studio 3 and the intervention is a small sample of this, some of which can be seen below.