Approved: 16.08.2006

Gemma Cumming

Artist, Arts administrator, Project manager, Event organiser, Community worker

Approved: 16.08.2006

My work centres around notions of failed perfection, utilising postcards to explore primarily imagery that sells places; which in reality don't fulfil our expectations. It is this idea of the perfect holiday that I'm interested in, both from advertising and the way people are persuaded to visit places and through my own personal memories of childhood holidays in Britain. I looked at the Art

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  • Location: Wokingham, South East
  • Activities: Events management, Studio practice
  • Categories: Digital, Drawing, Painting, Photography
 

Biography

My work centres around notions of failed perfection, utilising postcards to explore primarily imagery that sells places; which in reality don't fulfil our expectations. It is this idea of the perfect holiday that I'm interested in, both from advertising and the way people are persuaded to visit places and through my own personal memories of childhood holidays in Britain. I looked at the Art of Travel by Alain de Botton (2002) and was very interested by his notions of anticipation. He believes that the images that we are presented with persuade us to go on holiday, but that no place can live up to the image we create of it. The anticipation of a holiday is the best bit because we can only ever be disappointed by the real thing. I use postcards because they are tourist images that have ideas ingrained into them because of the things people write. Notable influences are John Constable and the Romantics, their work making places seem nicer than they are. It reminds me of other English tourist memorabilia like chocolate and fudge boxes. More recently Malcolm Morley's expressionistic paintings from tourist imagery also link by making a beautiful image look hazy and unreal. The postcards I paint have to include certain elements, including sky that I then replace with imagery of more apocalyptic and threatening skies to subvert the idea of beautiful places. These skies must work with the rest of the image and have most impact when their hue and tone contrast with the originals most prominent colour. I also change other elements in the postcard which are often more subtle than the sky. These cards must also contain people, as it is their non reaction to the strangeness of their environment that creates questions like, 'Are they really enjoying themselves?', 'Is this the perfect holiday?' The photograph series Last Resort by Martin Parr(1986) include people for this reason. Their holiday venue is a shabby seaside resort, which Parr shows in high detail with high-saturated colour. The photos connotations are beautiful but you can see all the grimy little flaws. I also produce drawings that take inspiration from both postcards and old travel posters creating simple monochrome images, subverting the highly coloured source imagery and by extension places they show. Instead of sunny blue skies or fiery apocalyptic ones the skies in these drawings are entirely solid black. This is further accentuated by the title (and in some occasions text in the image) that ironically tell you that the location is “sunny”. Recently I have also started producing hand coloured monoprints taken from my drawings. Unlike my drawings and other works however these have wonderfully blue skies. They are the size of postcards and the true to postcard imagery would suggest a lack of subversion. However, instead of subverting the postcard image I am subverting the postcard itself. Printed on delicate tissue paper and coloured with non light fast drawing inks they are beautiful semi -transparent images but completely useless as postcards. I have also has created a number of other works that further subvert the postcard or the tourist image and have a number of photographic projects that attempt to explore the reality of a place rather than subverting the falseness of the postcard image.

CV & Education

Qualifications and training 2003 - BA hons Fine Art (Painting) 2006, Loughborough University School of Art and Design, Loughborough 2002 - Foundation Studies in Art and Design 2003, Surrey Institute of Art and Design, Farnham Solo exhibitions 2012 - While Things Were Good, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell 2011 - Summer is Coming, Maiden Place Shopping Centre - Empty Shop, Lower Earley, Reading 2010 - Greetings from the Mantlepiece, ReOrsa Project Space, 114 Broadway, Bracknell 2006 - Solo Show in Old Foyer LUSAD, Loughborough University School of Art and Design, Loughborough Group exhibitions 2012 - Boundaries and Beyond, Gallery@49, Bracknell 2012 - Mis-InFormation, Fringe Arts Bath, Bath 2012 - Spring Open, Ark Conference Centre, Basingstoke 2011 - All That Remains, ReOrsa Project 5 at More Arts Space , Wokingham 2011 - Brighton Open, Open Fridge, Brighton 2011 - Double Lives: Duple Trials, Malt Cross Gallery, Nottingham 2011 - Inaugural exhibition , Royal Berkshire Bracknell Clinic, Bracknell, Berkshire 2011 - Jungle City Edinburgh, Elephant Family, Edinburgh 2011 - Light Bite, Open Fridge, Nottingham 2011 - Trans-Siberian Arts Centre, A KITCHEN project, travelling from Moscow to Beijing 2011 - Unblank, Square Art Exhibition, Golden Square, London 2011 - Wokingham Arts Trail, Maiden Erlegh School in association with More Arts Wokingham, Wokingham Borough, Berkshire 2010 - 5th Annual Summer Exhibition, Atelier-East, Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Wisbech 2010 - Elephant Parade London 2010, Elephant Family, Throughout London 2010 - Summer, Crocus Gallery, Church Square, Lenton, Nottingham 2009 - Ideas Bank 2009, Slough Museum, Slough 2009 - ReOrsa Artists Project No 4, 11 Crossway, Bracknell 2009 - Somewhere Else, Broadwalk Arts, Bristol 2009 - Somewhere Else, Broadwalk Arts, Broadwalk Shopping Centre, Knowle, Bristol 2009 - Summer Salon 09, Islington Arts Factory, London 2009 - Wish You Were Here?, The Firestation, Windsor 2008 - Hide and Seek, Blue Elephant Theatre, London 2008 - In Common, New Greenham Arts, Newbury 2008 - Locus, Fringe Arts Bath, Bath 2008 - Ode to Sartorial, Sartorial Contemporary Art, Notting Hill 2008 - The Great Purpose of Landscape Art , Mile End Park Arts Pavillion, London 2008 - Wrapped and encased in Liverpool, The Artists Book Fair, Liverpool Biennial, Wolstenholme Projects, Liverpool 2007 - Art at the Heart, Elmbridge Borough Council, Civic Centre, Esher, Surrey 2007 - Notting Heaven, Sartorial Contemporary Art, London 2007 - Word on the Street, Museum of Farnham, Farnham 2006 - Fine Art Degree Show 2006, Loughborough University School of Art and Design, Loughborough Artist talks 2009 - “What would it mean to take part?”, 23:25 group, Goldsmiths University, London 2009 - Ideas Bank 2009, Slough Museum, Slough 2008 - Locus, Fringe Arts Bath, Bath Competitions, prizes and awards 2006 - Painting 'Loughborough' Bought by Charnwood Borough Council (annual Charnwood Purchase Prize), Town Hall, Loughborough Educational experience - primary 2011 - Creative Partnerships Project: "How can we tell our story", Ashmead Combined School, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire Publications 2011 - Catalogue - "Jungle City Edinburgh 2011" 2010 - "Jumbo parade to protect elephant is capital" Bracknell Forest Standard 2010 - “Wish you were here” Bracknell Forest Standard 2010 - Catalogue - "Elephant Parade London" 2009 - "Freedom to Paint", Picture Business Magazine 2008 - “Opening up possibilities” Newbury Weekly News 2008 - Catalogue - "In Common" 2008 - Catalogue - "The Great Purpose" 2007 - The Rebel – Class issue 2006 - Catalogue - "Fine Art 06" LUSAD Degree Show