Catherine Baker


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The Blue Waters Residency 2012
Seeing the Light 2009

jičínský plenér Artist Residency 15-25 August 2013

I was invited by Mikhail Scigol, a Czek artist I met in Lithuania last year, to take part in this residency which he has organized for the past three years, along with designer Milos Stary. It is based in the town of Jičin, about 60 miles north of Prague. The brief was to produce two paintings about the area, one of which they would keep for the residency collection.

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In the studio being photographed while painting - nerve wracking!

I arrived at Prague Airport on the evening of the 15th August, having no idea what this trip would be like. I decided not to research the area beforehand, all the better for me to react to the environment in an immediate way. I was struck by the beauty of the centre of Jičín, with its vast town square and Baroque buildings, each one different with its own colour. My living quarters were literally palatial!

Jičín town square 2013

Jičín town square 2013

A guided tour on the first day informed us about the history of the town and its people. I also explored the outlying areas of the ‘Bohemian Paradise’, visiting the magnificent rocks of Prachovské, and the perfect little chapel of Marie Magdaleny at Zebín (See watercolour).

The other artists were from Poland, Russia, Latvia and Berlin. We talked about each other’s work and ideas at social gatherings in Mikhail’s lovely house and garden, where the vodka flowed, naturally!

When it came to start my paintings, lots of ideas and images were flying around my head. I never know what my pictures will look like in the end – they go through many changes.

For my first painting, ‘Jičín, Zebín’, the Marie Magdaleny chapel and the hill became a strong image, along with faded earthy pinks and pale blues of some of the house colours I observed. I added a piece of collage – a rubbing of a pattern from one of the doors of the palace, which echoed the curves of other shapes in the painting.

The second painting, ‘Looking Back at Jičín’, started off with colours of the houses again, and the numbers from the pavement on one of the streets – a trace of the once-thriving Jewish community.

After a visit to the hill of Velis just outside Jičín the previous day, I knew I had to go back there to do a watercolour sketch of the town and use this image in my painting. The fields of farmland were striking in their rich greens and pale golds, and in the distance the town’s rooftops, towers and the mound of Zebín could be seen.

I was very grateful for the way I was made to feel so welcome with such generosity and hospitality from everyone throughout my stay. It was a good feeling to be part of the Jičín community and I had a wonderful, productive time.

<em>Jičin, Zebin 2013, acrylic & collage on canvas, 60 x 76cm</em>

Jičín, Zebín 2013

<em>Looking back at Jičin 2013, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 76cm</em>

Looking back at Jičín 2013

<em>Mary Magdalene Chapel Zebín 2013, watercolour & pencil on paper, 20 x 13cm</em>

Mary Magdalene Chapel Zebín 2013

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The Blue Waters Residency, Palanga, Lithuania 6th - 20th May 2012

I was invited to take part in this international residency last May. There were fifteen artists in total, coming from Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and Sweden. An artist from Africa couldn’t make it at the last minute, unfortunately.

The brief was to produce a painting in the two weeks about the Baltic Sea (Palanga is situated on that coast) and the history and culture of Lithuania. We stayed in a hotel and behind the hotel was an empty building which were to be our (freezing cold!) studios for that time.

The painting I produced was a response to what I felt are some of the co-existing strands to the culture of Lithuania : the strong Pagan mythical feel to the place typified by wooden carvings and sculpture in parks and churches; Christianity;and the shadows and scars from the Soviet era. I worked in thin layers of acrylic paint beginning with the colour of amber (which has its myth of origin and is found on the beaches), then with images taken from my sketches and a final layer of the many blues and greens of the Baltic Sea.

There are also dates repeatedly written in the sand, to symbolise bearing witness to the soviet tank invasion of 1991 and the human chain of hands held across the Baltic States in 1989 in protest against Soviet occupation. The residency was a fantastic experience and a great chance to meet artists from different countries and discuss ideas. All the artists produced such diverse work – it was fascinating to see all the other responses to the brief in the final exhibition in Palanga.

Residency artists outside the gallery 2012

Residency artists outside the gallery

Palanga beach 2012

Palanga beach

<em>Jura, Jurate 2012, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 120cm</em>

Jura, Jurate 2012

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Seeing the Light, Bonington Gallery, Nottingham - March 2009

Catherine Baker, Anthony Rudman & Haida Liang

Dundry Hill & Maes Knoll Video 2009

This exhibition was the result of an art and science collaboration commissioned by Nottingham Trent University, from an original idea by Dr Haida Liang, of the School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent.

The installations were inspired by colour science and modern research into the pigments and techniques used by Renaissance artists.

Light and Colour

For the paintings Dundry Hill and Maes Knoll, with the guidance of Haida Liang, I mixed a few groups of two colours made from different pigment sources, which to our eyes under daylight seem to be the same. For example mixing a purple using cobalt, and then again with Prussian Blue. But different colours reflect different spectral wavelengths, depending on their ability to reflect or absorb light, which will cause them to behave differently under another light source - say tungsten, or florescent. The two mixtures of pigment will then be perceived by eye as different colours. This is known as metamerism. For this show we attempted to maximise the effect of metamerism and explore how light can change the appearance of a painting.

<em>Dundry Hill 2009</em>
<em>Maes Knoll 2009</em>
<em>Dundry Hill & Maes Knoll 2009</em>
<em>Dundry Hill & Maes Knoll 2009</em>
Infrared Imaging

Infrared imaging is routinely used by conservators and art historians to detect the drawings under layers of paint. For the installation with Stanton Drew, we used an infrared-sensitive camera to deconstruct the painting, revealing the charcoal drawing underneath. The painting is from sketches made of part of the stone circle at Stanton Drew, North Somerset. Recently English Heritage carried out a non-invasive survey of the site (using magnetometry) and found concentric rings of buried pits beneath the ground of the main circle. The charcoal underdrawing of my picture depicts the rings. As the spotlight on the installation faded, the camera’s night-vision mode was activated and the infrared image appeared, projected onto the wall next to the painting.

<em>Projected infrared image of Stanton Drew 2009</em>
<em>Stanton Drew 2009</em>
<em>Projected infrared image (left) of Stanton Drew (right) 2009</em>
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Colour-Blindness and Colour Theory

Anthony Rudman explored his experience as a colour-blind artist and how he overcomes it through colour theory.

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