One for the Crow Studio Blog

'One for the Crow' is the collective name for visual artists Stephen Lovatt and Susan Lovatt

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Down With the Old, Up With the New

I’ll be very sorry to see Stephen’s work come off the walls of the Glass Room tomorrow evening. It’s been a great show and the work looked fabulous there. There has been some really encouraging feedback and I shall be posting some of the comments here shortly.

As you can see from the sidebar on the right Stephen will be taking the work down to Chard in Somerset for his next show. The exhibition preview is on Tuesday week and Stephen will be there from about 5.30. There will be new work going up as well as some of the work from this show.

Oh, and I’ve updated Stephen’s web pages, I’ve put up some more paintings.

Artist in attendance

Stephen has gone down to the Colston Hall to be on hand at his show today. If anyone is able to drop in he’d love to chat about the work. There is a record fair on in the hall foyer today, so there should be quite a few people around.

By Chance and Design – Launch and Update

All went well putting up the show and the paintings and drawings look beautiful in the Glass Room. It is a lovely open, airy space, well lit and nicely air-conditioned. It is an excellent addition for the Colston Hall. The gallery is in the main foyer, divided from it by a glass wall so people can see that there is a show on, it is obviously a separate space, but it is not intimidating. There is a small stage and a cafe bar and a seating area in the foyer as well. The cafe bar is open throughout the day and the evening. As it used by office workers in the day and concert/gig attendees in the evening so there should be a regular footfall through. Bryony Morgan, the Glass Room curator, and all the staff at the Colston Hall were friendly, helpful and efficient.

Having had an exhibition opening only a couple of months ago we weren’t sure how many would turn up for the launch evening. We were very gratified that so many made the effort to come and we had a good time and Stephen enjoyed talking about the work. I have posted some pictures on the One for a Crow Facebook page.

Oh, and I did manage to get my hair done. I think my hairdresser must be on holiday so I ended up going to local hairdressers on our way home from hanging the work and asking for, ‘An emergency haircut! Now!’. The second one came up trumps and it’s actually a pretty good cut.

Keeping Calm

There’s just 24 hours to go until the launch of Stephen’s show at the Colston Hall tomorrow. Things are remarkably calm here. All his pictures are framed, bound in protective film and ready to go. Tomorrow morning we will start hanging the work and the kit we need is organised and packed. I have prepared the labelling and text that is needed and I will collect some contact cards from the printer tomorrow.  I’ve used the painting ‘Degrees of Willpower’ on the contact cards and when I phoned to check that they were ready the guy said, unprompted, ‘Mmm. Good image’. I’m hoping that I may persuade my hairdresser to give me an emergency trim sometime before 6pm when the show launches, I’ll have to wear a beret if she can’t fit me in.

The only areas of anxiety have been 1) we haven’t got enough flyers and 2) should we provide wine at the launch? We decided that it would be most useful to put what we would have spent on wine towards another run of flyers. And I found a printing service online that was giving a really good deal on single-sided A5 flyers. So I have adapted the original artwork to suit. The website said that they have a 24 hour turnaround, fingers crossed then.

Stephen is now planning the next stage of his assault on the art world. He has a list of suitable galleries to approach and he’s prepared a sample painting to show them what he can do. He will have to get straight back to painting as well when the show opens because he has another booked for July and several open shows/competitions he is thinking of submitting entries to.

We’re busy, busy, busy

Distributing flyers, updating mailing list, framing work , preparing show information. Making the work is the easy bit.

Progress on the next show

Stephen has continued to produce new work while our ‘Treasures & Souvenirs’  show was on, so there will be new paintings on show for his next show which starts on on 3 June. It’s just as well he kept the work rate up as several paintings have sold recently. He won’t be able to take a break in June either as he has yet another show coming up in July.

Meanwhile I have been busy preparing the artwork for his flyers and the images he needs for the website – which I’ve just updated so take a look – and for his show publicity. I will have to start considering my own work soon though. I have to get some more images onto my Axis profile or I will lose my upload allowance. As they are photos of the boxes and their contents they are a bit difficult to edit, but it has to be done before the beginning of June. In addition I have clients patiently waiting for me to finish the artwork for some tiles they have commissioned. I will get there, somehow.

Exhibition Showing Now

‘Treasures & Souvenirs’ is a joint exhibition by painter Stephen Lovatt and visual artist Susan Lovatt showing at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory from 28 March 2011 to 30 April 2011. Stephen Lovatt presents paintings revealing the contents of his ‘treasure box’ and Susan Lovatt displays some unusual souvenirs.

Painting 'Degrees of Willpower'

Degrees of Willpower

Stephen Lovatt’s paintings are composed in his studio from the curios he has collected over a lifetime. Isolated players, they face each other across the stage; relationships suggested but not confirmed. A highly disciplined painter, Stephen Lovatt produces work in which his meticulous observation, carefully manipulated effects of light, and smooth brushstrokes all add to the artifice of his enigmatic tableaux.

The study of 17th century masters of still-life such as Adriaen Coorte and Juan Sánchez-Cotán has been an influence, as have 20th century exponents of representational painting, in particular Tristram Hillier, Edward Wadsworth and Christian Schad.

Disaster Souvenir, box 6, front panel, beach workers

Disaster Souvenir, box 6, front panel

Disaster Souvenir, box 6, showing contents of box

Disaster Souvenir, box 6, contents

Susan Lovatt has sought to respond to the 2010 ‘Deepwater Horizon’ oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In previous work she has used a variety of materials to fabricate evidence of passing events, displaying the results as if they were valued relics. This time she has created  contemporary treasure cabinets whose contents carry meaning in the manner of seventeenth century ‘Vanitas’ paintings, which incorporated symbols of mortality or mutability. Joseph Cornell’s boxes and the artist Susan Hiller have also influenced her work.

Searching for an appropriate medium to acknowledge a maritime event, she was drawn to the old whalers’ technique of scrimshaw. The cabinet doors carry synthetic ivory panels, finely engraved with images of the disaster selected from press and official images that were current as the sequence of events unfolded.


When preparing artworks to a deadline it is as well to recognise that if something can go wrong, it will. I built in masses of contingency when I planned my boxes, and I am using all of it. I had allowed for researching scrimshaw and finding synthetic ivory suppliers, for doing my picture research, for making the boxes and for gathering the objets trouvé to fill them. I had also made sure that the publicity materials were written and designed in good time.

So, apart from breaking my elbow by slipping on the ice before Christmas, what went wrong? Well, it has been the boxes that have repeatedly caused me problems. I thought that I had a woodworker ready to make them for me, but in January he found that he was too busy to do them. I sent out an SOS to my friends, one of whom was able to put me in touch with Jonty, a local craftsman, who made them for me in double quick time. Unfortunately when I started to work on them I found that the hinges that he had used were not quite strong enough (they were chosen as they were inconspicuous). But Jonty took them all back and had replaced all the hinges by the following day.

About ten days ago when the hinges failed, I had a strong suspicion that I might not get any boxes completed and that Stephen would have to fill the space all by himself. The knock-on effect was that I have been late getting the advertising flyers to the printer. As they quite clearly say that I will be showing ‘contemporary treasure cabinets’! But all is resolved, the boxes are steadily being filled, the printer has the artwork and I’ve ordered white envelopes. Just in the nick of time.

A License to Draw

Synthetic ivory scrimshawed panels of a Deepwater Horizon smoke plume

This image is now legal

Here is one of the sets of scrimshaw panels that will go on the front of the boxes that I have had made. Five of the images I am using were from press photographs. You need a license to use such images for artist’s references or you infringe Intellectual Property Rights. I have purchased these through the Press Association, which is the agent for these particular photo journalists.

Publicity Poll- results are in

Thanks to everyone who participated, and the winner chosen to go on the ‘Treasures and Souvenirs’ publicity was…

Thumbnail: Degrees of Willpower

Degrees of Willpower