Catherine Baker Paintings
L to R Haida Laing, Catherine Baker and Anthony Rudman
Cath with some of her specially lit exhibits
Some imagery from ‘seeing the light’, an art - science collaboration, at Nottingham Trent University
Click on picture left for an example video
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, Palanga beach & Jura, Jurate 2012
THE BLUE WATERS RESIDENCY, PALANGA, LITHUANIA 6th - 20th May 2012
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 Jicin, 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.
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!
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.
Me in the studio being photographed while painting - nerve wracking!
Jicin town square from the tower with my palatial lodgings on the left
Left to right lJicin, Zebin, looking back at Jicin, - and Mary Magdalene Chapel Zebin
Residencies & commissions