Grandma Made Me

thimbles

These things leap out at you later in life, and, you feel a fool for not fully understand the glaringly obvious. All the things I loved, all the things that fascinated me, as a child, are the sum of all my parts. Not only the sum, but all of the parts.

Above is a blurry photo of my grandmother’s old study. Below are two photos of just one of my many Collected Items, a repository for everything and everyone I have known and/or loved.

Taking the Egg out of Easter

“The present was an egg, laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.”
– Zora Neale Hurston

I was a college dropout, ergo my dazzling University educated brain doesn’t exist. However, with intuition on my side, I tend to feel around for the answers and check to see if I’m right, later. So what I’m about to say, regarding the mighty egg, might not be correct in a historical folklore context, yet rings true for my own experiences of egg symbolism.

The eggs came to me. The first egg, from my grandmother, also an artist, an Italian immigrant, born in the 1920’s, is filled with superstition and magick. Grandma decorated duck eggs when I was a child, usually with scenes of countryside life, often adorned with some reference to the holy trinity. When grandma’s eggs weren’t on display at the local garden centre, and, once, very proudly at the Cecil Higgins Museum, she sat them on cheap, gilt-covered thrones, placed in her Edwardian wunderkammer.

IMG_6644I wasn’t allowed to handle the eggs until I stopped playing with muddy worms, sticky-fingered from rotten garden apples. On my eighteenth birthday, I was given my very own duck egg, decorated with fuchsia and bumblebees. Different from the ones she usually painted, more occult, more meaningful somehow. It became a powerful object.

Around the same time, my great uncle, Kazik, arch enemy of my grandmother, gave me a child sized decorated enamel egg from a visit to Poland – certainly a coincidence. It was his first time abroad since coming to England after taking part in the liberation of Dachau. The eggs turned heavy then, both literally, compared to the hand-painted duck egg, this weighed a tonne, but also heavy in the sense of their potency. Not only the symbol of new beginnings, eggs held it all: secrets, birth and rebirth, nostalgia, the past, present and future, to act as a celebration and also a warning, to remind you to live, and that you will die.

Behold, this revelation set me on another trajectory. I was in my early twenties, with no ability to naturally astrally project, I dabbled in the engineered cosmic, purchased from a true hippy burn-out, a market trader in a market town. Egg visions became a common visual hallucination for me. The world took on a different likeness, I saw it in another unrecognisable form. Ever revolving doors, forever looping escalators, and eggs, coming steadily into my vision – before the first one had passed me by, the next began to take shape. It was a constant theme, regeneration of time, place and sense of self.

IMG_6642Into adulthood I purchased decorative eggs when I saw them. I didn’t seek them out, they always came to me. My collection is small but that’s what was intended. Ukranian pysankas, the Polish enamel egg, my grandmothers duck egg. I started to paint eggs into my art work, both in a figurative and abstract sense, to symbolise life and death, strength and fragility, and protection. Eggs in nests, eggs as body shapes, egg shaped wombs and coffins.

I’ve got a sneaking feeling that the eggs are to blame for the ‘l’appel du vide‘ type feelings which permeate my entire being – in this particular case, the destruction of fragile objects, but, in general, the compulsion to do the exact opposite of what I should be doing. It has a special place in the formation of Who I Am, both in a negative and positive sense. I’m obsessed with the ‘moment before’ and ‘moment after’, for example the fine line that defines fucking up or not fucking up a piece of art, or the bombshell that you’re about to drop to your closest friends or family, that might see them fleeing out of your life for good.

These days, my special duck egg resides in a drawer, safely away from my destructive temptation, as it always has done since it was given to me, while the other eggs sit in a little collection for people to look at, pick up and touch…hopefully to feel the magick.

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One Bare Foot Square

 

‘ONE BARE FOOT SQUARE’
Exhibition Dates: 30 July – 13 August 2016
Opening Event: Saturday 30 July 2016, 3 – 5pm.
Curator: Chutima Kerdpitak (NOK)
Outsider Art Gallery in The Hermitage museum Amsterdam
Address: Outsider Art Ateliers in de Hermitage,
Neerlandia Plein 1, 1018 DR, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Hermitage: http://www.hermitage.nl
Outsider Art Gallery Amsterdam: http://www.amsterdam-outsider-art.nl

That thing, above, is three panels of illustrated calico. I’ve done this piece of work for a travelling exhibition, One Bare Foot Square, the creation of Nok, and Uncooked Culture.

First stop for the panels is Amsterdam Outsider Art Gallery, at the Hermitage Museum, The Netherlands. All three pieces are for sale. After the stop-off in Amsterdam, comes London. That will be in November. I’ll update you nearer the time.


‘Re-entry’
© 2016, Marie-Louise Plum


‘Journey’
© 2016, Marie-Louise Plum


‘The Approach’
© 2016, Marie-Louise Plum

Raw Vision

I recently took part in the Mental Spaghetti group exhibition, ‘Mind Machine’, at Menier Gallery.

A few of us were mentioned as highlights of the exhibition. Here’s the word on me, by Judith McNicol, in good company with Yvonne Mabs Francis, Terence Wilde and Jan Arden.

“Having spent most of her early life around her Italian artist grandmother, a woman immersed in myths, superstition and legend, Marie-Louise Plum has become a painter of magical realism. Within her bold paintings of heaving, tortured, intertwining bodies and nightmare scenarios imposed on fairy tale images, are Marie’s ‘secret messages’ that remind us ‘not is all as it seems’.

That’s a nice thing to say. Thank you.

Come and see me perform ’12 Months’

HELLO TINKERS.

I’m doing a performance. A proper one that I won’t be able to run away from, or hide my face with a mask. I might zone out a bit. It’s about dissociation so that’ll work, I think.

SO…

’12 Months’ is a sound and live painting performance. I’m painting in response to the words I am saying, prose and journal entries I have carefully selected from 33 years of being a morose tart.

I’ll be doing the performance at the opening reception (yes, there will be alcohol), Thursday 23rd October 18.00 – 21.00, then the two following weekends from midday until 5pm, and finally on Saturday 8th November for our closing reception, again from 18:00-21:00.

Here’s the official word from the curators, Mark Scott-Wood and Hayley Hare, and more information about the other artists taking part (they are GOOD).

“The Lights Are On… is a group exhibition relating to and exploring issues of mental health, well-being and the quirks of human existence and takes it’s title from the saying ‘the lights are on but no one is home’ which alludes to the idea of someone being preoccupied, be it by an outside distraction or something more subconscious.

Artists taking part:

Siobhan Barr
Alex Dipple
Charlie Tuesday Gates
Mikey Georgeson
Hayley Hare
Liberty Hodes
Paul Kindersley
Matthew Lee Knowles
Gemma Murray
Kayleigh O’Keefe
Marie-Louise Plum
Josh Redman
Christina Violet Sabberton
Mark Scott-Wood

Address: Fox Court, 14 Grays Inn Rd, London WC1X 8HN, UK

Opening reception: Thursday 23rd October 18.00 – 21.00

Exhibition opening times:
Weekends 11.00 – 17.00
And by appointment during the week.

Closing reception: Saturday 8th November 18.00 – 21.00

The lights are on… is hosted in Fox Court a Uthink PDP venue.”

Stow Brothers Vinyl Display

As part of the #ArtOnHoeStreet public gallery initiative by Build, I’ve got some work up at Stow Brothers, 236 Hoe Street, Walthamstow. I think the work is up until the end of May, and I hope to work with both Build and Stow Brothers again in the future, as the public gallery is a long-term project.

Here is an image of the work featured. Shop image credit goes to Build/Stow Brothers.

New Folk Visionaries

My new exhibition, New Folk Visionaries, will be on show in the private function room at The Bell, as part of the E17 Art Trail, from May 31 – June 15. The show is open whenever the pub is – usually 12pm til late. I will put a link to the Art Trail listing and times as soon as their site is up (01/05/14).

As part of The Pack of Wolves collective, we take it in turns to curate shows, put on performances, facilitate workshops…and the rest. This gig is my doing.

We’ll be turning the private function room at the back of The Bell pub into a contemporary ‘hunting room’ full of folk, collected items, cabinet displays, skulls and horns, the uncanny and unsettling.

If you’re a fan of stitching, drawing, puppetry, film, sculpture, painted skulls and bone magic you’re most welcome at our show. If you’re not, you should still come. Don’t be scared. We don’t bite.

Featuring work from all the ‘Alpha Wolves’, Marie-Louise Plum, Spike Dennis, Layla RR Holzer and Faye Scott-Farrington, plus honorary wolf, Mark Scott-Wood.

Plaster Objects

I’ve taken leave of my psychedelic senses and fallen in love with plaster casting. Obsessively collecting recyclable refuse has made no odds, as although I cast beautiful shapes in pristine milk white plaster from them (milk cartons, egg boxes, tetra-pak), I have found I inevitably scour, chip and carve away at them – rather violently, with scalpels, for the most part – and burnish them in graphite powder and boot polish.

Yes, I know it’s not clowns, freak shows and circus freaks. I have no idea what I am doing. All I know is I’m really enjoying it.

All work below relates to anatomy of wound repair and flesh.


Veins


Bloodletting Stone


Spare Time (when you weren’t looking)


Old and New


Fat Sacks


Notched Rock

thebARTershop @ Hoe St. Central

For the next three weeks I am working over at the new Hoe Street Central pop-up at the top of Hoe Street, opposite the market.

thebARTershop is an artist collective led initiative, offering printmaking, plaster casting and other art skills in exchange for materials, contributions and skills.

We’re open from 11:30-17:00 (often times later) Tuesday-Sunday, from February 11th until March 2nd. We’ll have a calendar up soon at thebARTershop.net, but in brief, we are printmaking for the first week and a half, then plaster and concrete casting for the second week and a half.

Check out the flyer above, and please do stop by! I am in on Wednesday’s and Saturdays.