Three years ago in June, I was on the train to Coventry going to meet Corinna Spencer.
I was on my way to see the Tainted Love Exhibition, a group show installed by her, its origins derived during a discussion with some of the artists taking part. As she succinctly described in the show's exhibition diary:
“Tainted Love was an idea that emerged from a chat in October 2011 between myself, Cathy Lomax and Alli Sharma about painting, obsessional love and what it is to be a fan.”
The venture included artists selected by Corinna and was arranged over three venues during the summer of 2012, starting at Transition Gallery in Hackney, moving on to Corinna’s home town of Coventry at The Meter Room, then to Great Brampton House, Down Stairs Gallery in Hertfordshire.
All three very different locations and spaces. The art work as I remember, looking perfectly at home in all. I also remember being quite amazed by the individual artist’s work. The whole being a great, complimentary and thought provoking combination.
Corinna Spencer: Robert at Blue Cut, from Robert and Jesse, oil on found postcard, 15x10.5cm Tainted Love, 2012
I had first seen Corinna’s portraits during 2011 after visiting the new and now hugely successful Art event Sluice.
Her portraits, by their expressions alone, give an intriguing window into each individual, each subject's inner world. The postures, a tilt of the neck, a framed back all transmit a sometimes spiritual feel or sometimes worldliness aura, full of emotion. More recently her portraits winged their way over to Theodore Art of Bushwick, NY during the summer of 2013 to be shown in group exhibition Notorious.
part of the Wallis Simpson series
Lady of the house series, 2014 oil on plywood 21x15cm
Back in 2012 closer to my home town of Nottingham I was also writing about a local artist Alex Pain who had just left college and found himself the winner of the first Nottingham Castle Open in 2011. This resulted in him holding his own solo show the following year during the next exhibition.
Technically Nottingham Castle Open dates back to 1878, with the first being held in the then new Dawson Gallery, showing contemporary work of the day, and so creating ground for artists in the locale to maintain an annual group exhibition.
Nottingham Castle Open in its present form, however is a relatively recent addition to Nottingham and East/West Midlands calendar of art events. An annual open call, that since 2011 has gained nationwide reputation. And offers equal platform, with good critical panels, for all artists wanting to take part. This year the solo show was given over to the wonderful works of Andrew Bracey.
View from Nottingham Castle Balustrade
This years Solo Show in the Main Gallery, by Andrew Bracey
So when I heard some of Corinna Spencer's lovely ladies were taking part. I made tracks up to the castle to take a look. It was a great pleasure to see her Photo Booth Girls, not least amidst the quality of art work that was on view this year. I wandered around late on a wintry January afternoon without too many visitors so I could take in all the works, and there were some excellent pieces.
Photo Booth Girls at Nottingham Castle Open
I must admit I was rooting for Corinna, since I first saw her work in 2011, I have been taken with each new painting she does…. Each individual face or gesture has a depth and subtly, that to me, is mesmerising.
Some of my favourite Photo Booth Girls from Corinna's more recent work
So, as I hurried along to the closing prize-event-proper, hoped I wasn't going to be too late. And as Nottingham Castle, like most castles is on a hill, believe me you really don’t want to be running up that hill in a hurry. As it turned out the prizes had been scheduled to the beginning of the evening, probably a better approach than previous years. But just my luck I missed it!.
However the individual pieces had all been marked with the appropriate prize, so I was able to catch up. I spoke with Corinna later, and she mentioned the wait, along with all the artists expectancy when the list was read out, and it is a fairly long list!. So after what must have seemed an eternity the last prize was read out. The next Nottingham Solo Show, was handed to Corinna Spencer.
The Artists at this years event
And when I spoke with her a few days after the event, she said the schedule was still to be laid out for 2015-16, apart from the time and place obviously. That and the fact that she was furiously painting!. So well done Corinna ! and I'm sure I am amongst quite a few others in wishing you congratulations and in looking forward to seeing your solo exhibition at Nottingham Castle Open in December 2015.