I’ve been drawing and painting some of the paint bladders that were found at Gainsborough House, Sudbury, in 1966 (the largest group ever found together). Made from pigs bladders, they were used to store paint before tubes were invented (c1840).
Why am I doing this? I’m exhibiting at Gainsborough House in an exhibition, ‘Contemporary East Anglian Artists’ (26 October – 14 December 2013). I thought that objects in the museum may excite my obsession with small, unassuming everyday objects (see Gallery/Still Life). I was shown lots of other things from the Gainsborough House collection but these really grabbed me. Their simplicity and history were evocative, both symbolically and aesthetically. There is a hidden grandeur in everyday things – although unassuming, they can play an important part in our everyday lives and the signs of age and use add beauty and character.
I often paint things in rows, both in still life and in landscape. I think it has something to do with the East Anglian landscape with its unavoidable flat horizons and rows of trees – it’s never an intentional use of repetition but it seems to keep appearing in things that I paint!
Gainsborough’s House doesn’t know very much about the paint bladders at the moment but are looking to work with the Hamilton Kerr Institute in Cambridge to discover much more about them.