Sarah Ball - Themself

‘He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.’ - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Love in the Time of Cholera)

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Themself is a stunning collection of haunting portraiture by British artist Sarah Ball.

Born in 1965 in Yorkshire, Sarah now lives and works in west Cornwall. Her artistic practice is inspired by found source material, from newspapers to historical photographs and even mug shots of individuals and most recently selfies from social media. Her work has been exhibited internationally including The Royal Academy, Somerset House and The V&A.

Ball’s most recent solo show is currently on at Anima Mundi in the Cornish town of St Ives.

St Ives is famed for its connection to the creative arts, especially painting and although there are countless galleries and shops representing seascapes and more traditional Cornish art, for me it was very refreshing to come across a contemporary space like Anima Mundi. Sarah Ball’s fantastic works drew me in from across the street, the haunted eyes and expressions of her subjects made me want to know more. Painted in oil on either canvas or board, her technique is flawlessly smooth with muted backdrops to draw you into the subject. Ball’s muses for this sell out exhibition were from a selection of vintage photographs and here are some of my favourites.

‘Tim’, ‘Elise’ and ‘Izzy’

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This incredible show is on now and runs until 6th September at Anima Mundi, Street an Pol, St Ives. TR26 2DS.

Or you can check out the exhibition online at sarah-ball.co.uk

Yorkshire Sculpture Park - Damien Hirst.

My little sister got married at the end of last month and as she now resides in the fantastic city of York, it was a great excuse to revisit the YSL again. Me and Mr C had previously visited the sculpture park a few years ago for the Kaws exhibition, which was brilliant. Not only was the work by Kaws fantastic, the grounds were stunning, we discovered world renowned artists work around every corner which was so exciting, and you certainly clock up the kilometres walking around all day. For this visit, the featured sculpture show was by none other than Damien Hirst who as a Young British Artist in the 1990s has dominated the art world ever since.

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Hirst has 4 large bronzes on the YSL site and 3 within the Leeds city centre. The 4 sculptures we visited were all in the newly revived 18th Century deer park and they looked like they were made for that setting. ‘Myth’ (pictured) was one of my favourites. The vibrant anatomy against the marble white of the mythical unicorn felt very clinical but also powerful, giving a nod to the traditional art history of horse bronzes. ‘Charity’ was a stunning feature to the exhibit, although I have previously seen her in recent years at the RWA in Bristol, she is still a delight with her teddy bear and her ‘Please Give Generously’ sign.

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‘The Virgin Mother’ stood impressively by the estates lake. Referencing the stance of Degas’s ‘Little Dancer’ her medical atonomy, shows her exposed foetus, muscles, skull and breast tissue. Hirst loves to play with contemporary, medical references and religious iconography to tell a story. She has a similar feel to ‘Verity’ which stands proudly at over 20 meters tall, looking out to sea in Ilfracombe harbour, Devon.

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The biggest surprise for me was ‘The Hat Makes The Man’. I would never have thought it was a Damien Hirst sculpture. I am very familiar with his animal, religious and anatomical works but this threw me….. but I loved it! Created in 2004-07 this piece was based on a 1920s collage by Surrealist artist Max Ernst which consisted of cut out images of gentleman’s hats absurdly stacked. It is thought that Ernst was inspired by Sigmund Freud and his his theory that a hat is a symbol of repressed male desire. Hirst plays with this idea in three dimensions, stacking the hats high making phallic- objects. Created in bronze but beautifully painted to imitate the original object (wood, plastic and textiles) it was hard to believe it wasn’t a found object piece. I love how Hirst plays with the grandeur associated with bronze casting by painting it to look like plastic or a disposable material.

If you want to check out this show you have until 29th September but I highly recommend a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at anytime of the year because their permanent collection is incredible.

Cash Is King 2

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This week was the opening of an amazing exhibition ‘Cash Is King 2’ at Saatchi Gallery in London. This show was a second instalment of art on banknotes with artists free to use the cash in whatever form of expression they liked. There was a lot of defacing and a big f**K you to consumerism and of course the Tory government and brexit was a key feature. There was also some beautifully meaningful pieces by the artist Aida Wilde who along with the support of Choose Love, the refugee charity, created poignant and thought provoking pieces including Syrian currency carefully folded into delicate boats to highlight the refugee crisis.

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My husband, artist CopyRight was another of the artists involved in this project (and I am really proud) He had a series of 6 American dollars available at the exhibition, featuring a single Monarch butterfly. This was a representation of capitalist culture combined with the idea of a British Monarch which features on our own currency here in the UK. Could this also be a representation of the relationship we might have with the US after Brexit?

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The opening night was brilliant, such a great atmosphere and the attendance of artists and art lovers was impressive - a credit to Carrie Reichardt, Bob Osborne and Olly Walker who put the show together. I highly recommend checking out this exhibition, the work was amazing and affordable from a very high calibre of artists. The show runs until the 8th September and there is also a great book to buy from the show featuring the work from this exhibition and the previous ‘Cash is King’. Highly Recommended!

Plastic Free July

This year in our household we have made some major changes to live more sustainably and to reduce our plastic consumption. It made sense to pick up a copy of Martin Doreys ‘No More Plastic.

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The changes in this book are simple and if we all make a couple of simple swaps it can amount to a big change. Most of the changes in this book we are giving a go but like I've said before, some changes from single use plastic can be more expensive.
With my art I am always pushing forward my passion for nature and this planet so I felt like it would be hypocritical if I did nothing to change. I am so frustrated with our world leaders not doing enough to tackle climate change but I realise I have the power to vote with my wallet and give my money to businesses who are trying to make a difference. Once you start to notice plastic it becomes mind blowing that it is everywhere! I was shocked by finding out it's in most tea bags!!! I love tea, so that has now been changed thanks to @pukkaherbs💚

What changes will you make?

martindorey #nomoreplastic

BOOK CLUB - Maggie O’Farrell ‘I am, I am, I am.’

I have always loved books, but over the years fell out of love with reading until a couple of years ago. Since then, I have made time to reignite my passion for a good book and I have decided to share my latest reads here on my blog. I’m not the fastest reader but I’m averaging about one a month. I love crime and horror fiction as well as anything nature, self help and obviously....art. 

First up, a memoir of sorts by Maggie O’Farrell  - ‘I am, I am, I am, Seventeen Brushes with Death’ 

Bookmark by Ark Colour Design. 

Bookmark by Ark Colour Design. 

I have read other titles, years ago, by O’Farrell such as the brilliant ‘After You’ve Gone’ which was heartbreakingly good, so I knew her writing was great. I picked this up as a travelling companion with another couple of books for my trip to Chicago but I didn’t get a chance to start this one. I’m not the best flyer and combined with a dose of Valium, I tend to zonk out in front of a kids movie instead. I’m kinda glad I read this memoir with my two feet firmly on the ground, as an early chapter entitled ‘Full Body’ would have set off my anxiety at 30,000 feet.

As soon as I read the subtitle of this book I knew I had to read it. Having brushes with death myself I am always curious at other people’s experiences. Seventeen chapters, beautifully descriptive, intoxicatingly dark mixed with heartbreak but always a silver lining of hope and joy. O’Farrell really lays everything bare from dangers at sea, strangers, birth and miscarriage. I think every reader will connect with the chapters, and by the end, the book leaves you with an understanding that life is precious and fragile but also really f**king hard for every one of us in one way or another - which should make us embrace the ones we love and the good times just a little bit more tighter.

A few years ago a good friend of mine over a glass of wine (or two!) joked that I was like a cat with nine lives. As well as my accident (which I am always banging on about)  I have been hospitalised more times than I care to remember. As well as my RTA, which changed my life, I have been hit by a car, multiple asthma attacks, glandular fever (which caused my air way to swell closed), a breast cancer scare and complications during miscarriage. We all have moments similar to these in our lives, similar to O’Farrell, we also have those everyday smaller moments when we reflect on our mortality. The change in the air pressure, that moment a speeding lorry passes by a little too close to the pavement. Or that bit of food, that goes down the wrong way or wedges for that split second in your throat. ‘That was a close one’ we think and then get on with our day.

I highly recommend this read, it’s live affirming, death defying and a celebration of life. It has left me with a feeling that we all need to be more compassionate for one another as you never know exactly what another person could be dealing with in their life. We are living in a toxic society of judgement, where people seem to have no filter when it comes to opinions about others. It can be hard to empathise when you feel like your at sea but know this, we are all in that same boat in one way or another, especially when it comes to death. It’s our only certainty in life.

In paperback this book retails for £8.99 but I have seen it for as little as £2.00 on kindle. Give it ago and tell me what you think or give me recommendations of great books you’ve read too. 

Small Steps.....

I don’t know about you but I get frustrated a lot about time and the lack of it. ‘How is it June already?’ I sighed yesterday. ‘Nearly half the year has gone and I haven’t done half the things I had planned.’ I know this is a feeling for nearly everyone out there and especially if you run your own small business or hustling hard doing your own thing.

Starting out on your own is tricky and it is something that no one (especially in our education system) teaches you how to do. Firstly you have to be the wearer of many hats. Most important, ‘Maker’ (of course, your passion, your ‘art’), social media expert (distracting you from the making), accountant (too many numbers), head of distribution (visiting the local post office 5 times a week), office manager (where is that pencil), head of HR (which is just organising yourself), mental heath consultant ( I can’t do it today)…… you get the picture. Not to mention this year I wanted to add ‘blogger’ and that ‘hat’ has been gathering dust for the last couple of months. * sigh * ‘Small Steps’ If your lucky, you can employ/bribe/exploit an intern to take on some of these roles but for me, well….. it’s just me and like most, that’s a lot to manage in very little time.

I constantly feel like I’m not working hard enough, I’m not good enough, not doing things right. It’s just me on my own (I have an artist husband but he has his own shit to deal with). I don’t get holidays, performance reviews or pay rises. My mum sometimes calls and says she likes something I posted on Facebook but I’m not sure that’s a great measure of the contemporary art world - sorry Mum, love you.

But I wouldn’t change it.

Now, at the start of the summer I’m making plans of things I want to try and achieve, the things I want to say and the artist I want to be for the rest of the year. When your working so hard in the present and focusing on the future, you forget about the small steps that you have already taken and how far you have come. And not all those steps have been forward. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, weeks of work that have become failures, galleries closing, lost artwork, companies ripping me off. I’ve been backwards, forwards, side stepping, running, laughing and crying over the 10 years I’ve been making art and fellow creatives I know and love, feel the same and are on that same journey too.

So don’t linger in the past, but take a little look back and see how far you’ve come. Imagine what can be achieved in the next couple of years… what will all those small future steps add up too? For anyone who is hustling today, making it on their own and wearing multiple hats - I see you and ‘Good F**king Job’

Progression over 9 years.

Progression over 9 years.

Art Institute - Chicago

Located in Downtown Chicago not far from Lake Michigan is the Art Institute, one of the largest collections of art in America. Protected out front by two large cast bronze Lions who have become unofficial guardians of the city. The pair were unveiled on May 10th 1894 and were sculpted by Edward Kemeys who was a self taught artist but went on to become one of the countries greatest animalier (sculptor of animals). The lion positioned north of the steps is titled “on the prowl” and the other to the south “in an attitude of defiance.

Once inside there is so much to see from paintings to sculptures, ancient antiquities to modern furniture. We only had the one day so we decided to concentrate on our passions of painting.

There are some hugely important names in this museum. Monet, Picasso, Warhol, Van Gogh, Hockney, Rembrandt, the list goes on and on. This is a very special place and a must see for anyone visiting the mid west. Here are a few of my favourite exhibits below.

MCA Chicago

The MCA is Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and can be found in the centre of the City on East Chicago Avenue.

View from the first floor lobby

View from the first floor lobby

The Museum has a great collection including Koons, Kalder and local Chicago artists etc but an unexpected exhibit made an emotional impact on me during this particular visit. Having visited the city and this museum before I thought I knew what to expect but I was blown away by Prisoner of Love on the ground floor.

Centred around Arthur Jafa’s 7 minute montage film Love is the Message The Message is Death, the exhibition features a rotating body of work from the MCA's collection inspired by the titular themes in Bruce Nauman’s iconic neon Life, Death, Love, Hate, Pleasure, Pain, on display as you enter the exhibit.

Normally I have a dislike for video art in exhibitions. Previous to this show I had not seen a piece I enjoyed or really understood. They had all seemed either very self indulgent or shock value with no real purpose, mostly I would avoid that dark door way at an exhibition at all costs. But Jafa has changed that for me.

It was the sound of Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’  and my love of hiphop that drew me inside that room and I stayed…. for the whole 7 minutes.

Love is the Message…. is a multi layered montage of the experience of blackness in the United States today. The video tells a story of trauma and transcendence in a flurry of footage including a celebration of Black Icons such as  Serena Williams, Beyonce, James Brown and Notorious B.I.G, mixed with historic speeches from Martin Luther King and Barack Obama, cut together with footage of the dark reality of police brutality in America today.

I was moved to tears for almost the entirety of this film. The power of black culture is incredible.  I have always prided myself on being liberal and against any kind of discrimination but after watching Love is the Message I have realised that it’s not enough just to say it. We need to speak out against injustice. We need to listen more to people of all cultures and faiths when they are saying they are being discriminated against. We need to educate ourselves in the history of others. The systems that are in charge benefit more from keeping us apart and afraid of each other.

The system we have IS NOT A FAIR SYSTEM for all but LOVE IS THE MESSAGE.

After the film had finished you could leave a comment to how the exhibit had made you feel. I can honestly say I was speechless and I just could not find the words (which is unusual) but this anonymous comment below captured my feelings perfectly.

There are other great, powerful and moving works by artists such as Deana Lawson, Melvin Edwards and Robert Mapplethorpe and if you can get to Chicago I highly recommend it.

‘Love is the Message The Message is Death’ will be on show from March 28th at the Tate Liverpool.

More information can be found here as well as a short clip of the film.

Studio Visit with Artist E.Lee

Most mornings waking up in Chicago the temperature on my phone read -9 and the morning we took a stroll around the Ukrainian neighbourhood to visit Eric (AKA E.Lee) for a catch up it was chilly to say the least.

I first met Eric when Chris (CopyRight) had his first show in the US around 3 years ago when he [Eric] was just getting into his artistic practice. Since then he has been creating his work here in Chicago as well as across Europe. He even came to hang out with us in Bristol and worked on several street pieces with Chris in the city.

E.Lee’s work captures and plays with the idea of light and shade. With themes such as Super Heroes and beautiful gilded frames, Eric captures a visual and emotional depth I’ve not really seen in other street artists work. Currently Eric is collaborating with Hubbard St Dance studio in Chicago to create a fusion live art event.

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For one night only E.Lee and the dancers will stage a sort of art heist for a live audience. Sadly this performance was the same night as our opening so we couldn’t make it but there are great videos on E.Lee’s instagram and it’s definitely worth a watch.

I love and admire Eric’s collaboration with another expressive art form such as contemporary dance. Both painting and dance can sometimes feel not very accessible but I think projects like this are a great way to engage a new audience into becoming lovers of art. I can’t wait to see what future projects they work on together.

Also Eric’s studio is incredible. I am very jealous of this huge space in such an exciting city as Chicago.

For more information on E.Lees work and future projects check out his website.

Feature on WIDEWALLS!

Our exhibition ‘Two Sides’ at Vertical Gallery in Chicago got a great feature in WideWalls.

For full article click  HERE

For full article click HERE

A great write up by Elena Martinique.

Check out more of Elena’s art blog posts on WideWalls

Two Sides - CopyRight & Gemma Compton

Me and the other half have been working incredibly hard for the last 3 month to create our latest exhibition that opens at Vertical Gallery in Chicago on the 2nd March. We have created nearly 30 new original artworks as well as 3 print editions exclusively for the show in the US. All the work will be available online at VerticalGallery.com and more info and a request for an online catalogue can be found here.

Here is a little more info about our show:

‘Two Sides’ 

‘Two Sides’ is a combined body of work by Contemporary British Artists CopyRight and Gemma Compton. Both artists in their own right, this husband and wife team wanted to explore how their individual artistic practice could be combined into a collaborative project, exploring the ‘two sides’ of relationships.

The work has been curated into 3 sections. A third each for the individual, to showcase their signature style and the other third of the paintings are blending two different artistic practices to create something unique.

CopyRight has combined his roots in Street Art with his dark, romantic narrative to create a Pulp Fiction of strong iconographic artworks. His paintings of strong female figures unite with vivid pop art imagery to examine emotional opposites such as revenge and forgiveness.

Contemporary painter Gemma Compton’s highly stylised works explore ideas of love and loss portrayed through natural form. Her detailed ‘Mother Nature’ portraiture depicts a strong female presence joined with the symbolism of florals, insects and birds to represent the transcendence of life. Gemma creates her artworks mainly in shades of blue which is representative of 18th century porcelain, expressing her own physical fragility after suffering serious injuries in a road traffic accident at the age of 18.

If you have any questions about the work or attending the show then please feel free to contact me direct either through my contact page or via gemmacomptonartist@gmail.com

Collaborative Painting Project - RWA

Invented by Tunisian artist Hechmi Ghachem during the 1980s - when freedom of expression was outlawed in his country - groups of artists painted together, on the same canvas, in complete silence to protect their identities.

Luke Palmer is the first to bring the liberating concept of collaborative painting to the UK. The fascinating results of the collaborative painting sessions with local and street artists are now on show at the RWA until 28th February. Some of the great artists involved in this project include, Xenz, Andy Council, Jody and Bex Glover.

Below are a couple of may favourite pieces on show at the RWA. I love the magical cityscape with all its depth and texture and the second piece reminds me of a high fashion print that I could see on garments worn at fashion week.

Felix Braun, Andy Council, Matt Moran & Xenz.

Felix Braun, Andy Council, Matt Moran & Xenz.

3Dom, Jemma Bursnall, Sarah Dixon & Epok

3Dom, Jemma Bursnall, Sarah Dixon & Epok

This exhibition is a really interesting concept and the results are definitely worth checking out.

Elizabeth Parker - Poet

I’m gonna use this blog to talk about the things I love including the talented people that I know and love and Lizzie is my first friend I’m going to recommend that you check out. She is one talented lady.

Elizabeth Parker grew up in The Forest of Dean and now lives and creates her beautiful poetry in Bristol with her photographer partner Chris and their young son Jack.

She was shortlisted for The Bridport Prize and Eyewear Publishing’s Melita Hume Prize, which resulted in Eyewear publishing her debut pamphlet ‘Antinopolis’. She is a member of the poetry group The Spoke, who put on great poetry events in the city - worth a visit.
She has been Highly Commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition and was a prizewinner in the 2016 Troubadour Poetry Competition. Her work has featured in many publication and her first poetry collection ‘In Her Shambles’ was published by Seren in April 2018.

Her book can be purchased here.

Cover art by  Maria Rivens

Cover art by Maria Rivens



Lizzie’s poetry is beautifully written and definitely worth a read. I think people feel intimidated to pick up poetry, for me Lizzie has made me want to read more and potentially write some of my own, especially to compliment my own artistic practice.

We are hoping to collaborate together on some projects this year, so watch this space.

Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism

Currently at the RWA in Bristol (which is an incredible asset to the city and should be visited regularly) is a wonderful abstract exhibition. As a younger artist I dismissed abstract art as simplistic and lazy but I have a new love for the art form and I understand the emotional connection to the work. Through visiting exhibitions such as the this recently, it has ignited something in me to pursue some of these techniques in my own work.

Albert Irvin OBE RA RWA Hon (1922-2015) was one of Britain’s most important post-war painters and printmakers. He is best known for his large-scale abstract colourist paintings - some of the most distinctive to have ever been produced in this country.

The colours were so vibrant and exciting. I was impressed how the paint and mark making was so clear and no a purple brown mush on the canvas. The size of the pieces was also impressive. As well as Irvin’s work there is a group exhibition including great names in this genre including Pollock and De Kooning. Why wouldn’t you take advantage to seeing a Jackson Pollock in your city.

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The exhibition runs until 3rd March and there is an entry fee of £8 per adult.

Eric Haacht at That Art Gallery

That Art Gallery is a small but excellence contemporary art space located on the Christmas Steps in central Bristol. This area of the city is becoming a little gem art destination filled with interesting bars and independent artisans doing a mixture of things which makes it worth a visit.

The show at That Art Gallery is currently Eric Haacht with his alluring abstract portraiture. ‘17 paintings’ is intriguing and colourful. I felt the pieces were expressive and very emotional. That despite the lack of features each one was telling a different story. here are my 2 favourites from the exhibition.

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‘17 Paintings’ runs until 2nd March. Check it out.

G x

New Chapter....

For the longest time I have been stressed and felt the general strain of life, not only with my mental health but also my physical well being. I have been dealing with chronic pain for half of my life due to a serious RTA and although I try to be positive and wear my scars proudly, I am run down, sick, depressed and loosing my motivation. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for everyday I've had since 11th February 2001  - I was given a second chance. I got to go to university, I worked hard, met my husband, fell in love and I now paint pictures for a living, I'm lucky. I have great friends and an amazingly supportive family, so why has everything become so hard to manage?

Since mid July this summer, I took time out. It wasn't really my decision, I'd pushed too hard since the start of the year, ignored advice, dismissed the aches and pains in my body because I wanted to feel 'normal' and if I worked harder for longer then this year would be full of great things, but 6 months in I hit burn out. An already fused spine caused disks to bulge, nerve issues in my legs, arthritic joints seizing up, at only 35 I'm feeling more like 85. I can't seem to make it through the day with out a 2-3 hour nap and I'm struggling with everyday tasks, like putting my pants on! My productivity is beyond minimal when it comes to making new art. I've fumbled my way through the summer months, finishing a couple of projects that I had already committed to before my health took a turn. 7 weeks on I am making some progress, some days I'm better than others. I'm gently exercising (swimming and yoga) and I'm eating healthy, trying to be kind to myself, giving my body the best chance for the years to come. I've even redesigned my tired website to mark a new chapter of moving forward but I am afraid. I'm afraid to start to a new painting because of the fear it won't be any good. That I've lost the stamina and ability to be an artist. And I'm afraid that I won't be able to manage the pain in my body and that my physical health will deteriorate further. I have THE FEAR. I was even afraid to start this blog, to be honest with myself and anyone who ends up reading it. 

Since letting my followers and clients know via social media that I was taking some time out from my creative process due to ill health, I was surprised to be contacted by so many other people who have been suffering from chronic conditions too (fibromialgia, crohn's disease, colitis, endometriosis) Hidden conditions that aren't shared through the glamorised, curated posts of instagram. I felt not so alone by our shared stories and that's the reason I wanted to start this blog. Of course I will fill these 'posts' with art and inspiration but I felt it was important to fill them with honesty. Everything isn't always perfect and that's ok. 

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Love G x