Artist diary: The Madge Gill Co-commission, part three

In Julia Oak’s third commission diary she talks about being – and the balance between – both the artist, and the critic

Learning about each other.

Julia Oak , Chimera in a Yew Tree, 2010, Original ink drawing for silk screen print
Stolen.

Madge Gill, Untitled, c.1950s, ink on paper, on loan from private collector

Side by side we work together
Not even realising the other

Line by line our images grow
Our bodies moving to and fro

One looks out the other looks in
Reflecting the world of kith and kin

I chose these two images as they are both black ink on paper and include areas of complex repetitive mark making.

I see an urgency in Madge’s mark making which I do not sense in my own work, even though when I made Chimera, I believed that every second of the day was immensely important to be filled with achievement and life was itself an urgency. Knowing the contradiction in my own work, what right do I have to make judgements about Madge Gill’s work?

And here enters the critic.

The truth of the matter is that once an artist’s work enters the public domain it assumes an autonomy all of its own.

As an artist I know I cannot physically be in the presence of every spectator, be there to correct them when they say something about my work I had not thought of, something I might consider to be wrong.

As a woman I can see parallels to creating a child and letting it loose in the world, I can feel similarities. I have to believe that I am strong enough to deal with whatever returns to me.

I find today that I am not only a spectator, a critic, of Madge Gill’s work, but of mine also.

“There is an intensity of mark making in both pieces, though they are achieved in different ways, with Madge’s work the intensity of lines are made by working over and over in very close proximity, being allowed to overlap and become thicker and darker. In Julia’s work the lines are creeping closer together to create the intensity, but only allowed to touch at the ends to create a hard edge.

In Madge’s work, the creation of the eye is itself a repetitive mark and they are mainly looking at you, whereas Julia creates only one eye to look out at you with a sideways glance, from under a burrowed brow.
Make of it as you will!”

Looking and learning, getting to know.
Stepping back, viewing in at the show.

Similarities unite, differences to celebrate
Two ‘fille unique’ craving to create

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