These notes were first published in August 2007. Perry is now showing his third exhibition. You can see the virtual version of the exhibition on his Baguette Magique site. More on that in the new year.
I suppose that even with a steady job, family and other constants, we are all going through changes. We develop and look for new avenues to walk, be it career, hobby or country. We chose to take a path that many often think of taking, but find they have too many commitments and anchors to keep them where they are. By selling up and packing a few possessions, we made a resolute decision to go find a new life, new home, new friends. And, a new way to make money enough to live.
After several years of camping out, we are beginning to create our home and exploring ways of earning a living. Thankfully, we have a broadband internet connection. Through this medium I can work, communicate, bank, book, buy, research, advertise and network. I would have had to reinvent myself completely to earn a living here without it. Over the last ten years I have become dependent on my computer. It is my multi-purpose work station, my newspaper, encyclopedia, recipe book, telephone book, weather forecaster, travel agent, book shop, telephone and self publisher.
Detail from 'La bicyclette'
But I am trying to make a transition, albeit as a parallel world. Since I started drawing and painting just for myself I have discovered more depth to my capabilities than I suspected I had. This is counter balanced by the agonising frustration at not being able to master some techniques. Having to put my stuff away and clear the kitchen table for dinner doesn't make it easy to just pick up where I left off. Sometimes it takes an hour or so to set up again. In the meantime, the desire to paint is gone, or needs to worked hard at to start getting results worth keeping. The completion of my studio will help enormously.
On the computer, I now tick away with all sorts of keyboard shortcuts, drag and drop layers, filters, text and use several complicated software programmes almost on automatic pilot. Mixing the right colours and applying a few elegant brush strokes comes from practice. From doing it every day until it happens without thinking. I am still struggling with the basics of the medium, although my creativity still manages to come through. Caroline will love a piece that I hate. She sees the end result, I see the struggles and mistakes along the way that made it less than perfect. But what is perfect?
Where are all the art lovers at?
My latest exhibition drew me to test myself and 'push the envelope' as my old ad colleagues would say. I love architecture and charicatures. Seeing a book by one of my cartoonist heroes, Sempé, I started to combine the two. Observations of village life with Trie-sur-Baïse (our nearest town) as the back drop and its inhabitants as unaware players. A transition from realistic compositions to composing a perceived reality.
I see people play out their routines on a stage, in front of a backdrop of church spire and the Mairie. They cross that stage every day, so don't notice that they all have walk-on parts.
By bringing all these characters, rituals and expressions together onto a paper backdrop, the French inhabitants who have seen my new series, suddenly see themselves under the arches, kissing, shaking hands, dancing, gossiping and shopping. There is a warm recognition of their way of life and an appreciation that I have somehow captured something that they had taken for granted.
Detail of 'Market under the arches'
If I tried to take photographs to capture this, I'd have images filled with cars and vans, road signs, ugly advertising boards and out-of-place tourists and expats. By using sepia in my work and simplifying the complicated, I have transformed a modern day event into a timeless moment. Something that never really happened, but is the sum of our memories and imagination of how it was, or how we think it should be.
You can visit the gallery in Trie or see the work online at www.LaBaguetteMagique.com