The Red Studio After Matisse

Matisse learned to allow his subconscious peripheral vision to dominate the central macular in order to see more and to notice his emotional responses to colour, as inThe Red Studio (1911) .

Henri Matisse,  The Red Studio,  1911

Henri Matisse, The Red Studio, 1911

Matisse’s The Red Studio was a major inspiration in the transition from my previous body of work, The Nail House Series (2018) to the work I am making now. The Nail House series interrogated photographs circulated on the internet of architectural holdouts, where people refused to make way for new developments. Translating the images into paint was an act of slow archival resistance, an intervention against erasures on digital platforms or city streets. Using a limited palette of just three colours and a restricted scale, the paintings resisted both beauty and stature, they too became “nails that stick out”.    

The Red Studio After Matisse

Laura Hudson The Red Studio After Matisse: Studio Building, West London, 2018

Matisse’s The Red Studio provided a way to think about the interior spaces, not just of the nail houses but of other interior worlds and the ways in which they might be depicted as rooms or psychological spaces. In his essay of 1908, Notes of a Painter, Henri Matisse writes ‘Now that I think I can see further, [rather than be satisfied with the passing colour sensations of a moment] I want to reach that state of condensation of sensations [...] Nowadays I try to put serenity into my pictures (Matisse, 1908)’.

I also want to record a ‘condensation of sensations’, but while Matisse was looking for serenity I am attuned to friction and disruption.

The Red Studio After Matisse, follows the same spatial structure of Matisse’s original, however I replaced the artwork on the walls with my own paintings of nail houses. On the left, where a picture was leaning against the wall in the original, I punched through the wall looking out onto Grenfell Tower, a social housing block that had been clad for visual appeal with substandard materials. When a small fire started in the tower, it spread uncontrollably around the building via the external cladding and caused many deaths. By including the image of Grenfell beyond the window I hoped to allow the reality of life to encroach on the artist’s studio, and suggest that the studio is not an ivory tower, as in Matisse’s world, but part of a wider social context in todays.

I learned a lot of formal lessons by working from Matisse; reverse-lines - In Matisse’s Red Studio the red ground is painted up to the lines that describe forms, flat areas of colour and using peripheral vision to look at space.

Working Together

A collaborative practice in which 4 artists; Rachel Ara, Laura Hudson, Francesca Own and Pete Ward spent 2 days together; working, talking, eating, drinking, thinking and making a collaborative work.

Collaborative work - Photograph Stuart Fiddes at White Moose Gallery 

Collaborative work - Photograph Stuart Fiddes at White Moose Gallery 

The timing of our collaboration coincided with Rachel and I having to downsize our studio, in which we had collected all sorts of objects that might be usefull or become part of an artwork in the future. We took some of these and off-cuts from the workshop to the studio space of aARTh artists Pete Ward and Francesca Owen. Materials on hand were a series of three 3 vista paintings found in a junk shop, 3 chairs, wood off-cuts, rope, string, frames, wallpaper sample book, plywood panels, shrink wrap, CCTV casings, alarm clock (not working), chalk and paint and natural materials.

Finished piece photograph Laura Hudson  at eARTh studios

Finished piece photograph Laura Hudson at eARTh studios


“In law and government, appropriation (from Latin appropriare, "to make one's own", later "to set aside") is the act of setting apart something for its application to a particular usage, to the exclusion of all other use”.

A play on the production of an artwork: setting out with existing paintings and chairs, along with the kinds of materials they were made from, in order to make things into what they are not. To create something wrong in order to remake anew.


Beginning, cohesion, agreement, opposition, reconciliation, negotiation, decision, playing against each others idea of ‘what art is’ stamping a monika, claiming the space, positions felt, ownership deferred, egging each other on, watching what changes and how each change affects the others.


Transposed, repositioned, reformed, refined, replaced, separated, tied-together, let-go-of, discarded, removed, changed, interwoven, interconnected, destroyed, generated, added, elaborated, reduced, refigured, re-imagined, replicated, retrofitted, agreed, reconciled, held-on-to, recreated.

While the objects moved around the space, activated by one or other of us, the formal iterations of their positions were like a choreographed dance. At one stage we marked the positions with chalk tracing the actions and movements of the objects in the space. Over time lines traced the history of forms on the floor, marking out an unknown action, a moment before change.  Change is inevitable, what will come next may not be.

Iterations on day 2 - chalk marked

Iterations on day 2 - chalk marked


Our collective piece forms part of painting together at White Moose Gallery. Artists Pete Ward and Francesca Owen re-created what we made together in their studio in the gallery, in its entirety bar a shard of blue splintered wood that went over the larger painting embedded in the floor. Although we disagreed about the rock at the time (Rachel and I wanted it out) it remained steadfast and on hindsight I like the fact that the rock is the only thing that will remain in 100,000 years time.

Annoying Stuart Fiddes (We annoy Ourselves!!!) is the title of our collaborative piece. We could have called it any number of things, ‘Blue Chip’ for one but this title made us smile. It pokes a little fun at; the fear artists have of annoying the wrong person, appropriation, and of deferring to the art market or the idea of the art world or even an assumed audience.


Interesting that none of us spoke of authorship or ownership during the two days, but i like to think we dealt with it by signing the found painting and assigning it to our perceived audience, Stuart Fiddes, a humorous sabbotage of the appropriation by artists to claim as their own the iamges of others.

Photograph Stuart Fiddes White Moose Gallery text by Pete Ward and Francesca Owen.

Photograph Stuart Fiddes White Moose Gallery text by Pete Ward and Francesca Owen.

Rachel Ara studied fine art at goldsmiths and furnture in Devon, Laura Hudson studied environmental art at Glasgow and moving image at st.martins,  Francesca Owen studied painting at the slade and art & environment at Falmouth,  Pete Ward studied graphics at Bristol and art & environment at Falmouth.

painting together is a project by North Devon based eARTh artists Pete Ward and Franceesca Owen that brings together concepts of contemporary art (dialogical, ecopsychology, environmental awareness and process based interdisciplinary collaboration) with the more traditional practice of paint making and painting from locally occurring earth pigments. Painting Together Exhibition continues at White Moose Gallery Barnstaple Devon England, until August 1st 2015 

Richard Serra on Drawing

Richard Serra is, for me, one of the contemporary masters of drawing in his words

"to see is to think and drawing is another way of thinking."

I like the way he thinks and there are some great video interviews with Serra published online about the importance of drawing in his practice, here's just a few I found particularly illuminating.

Richard Serra on drawing as visual note-taking 2:27

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Artist Richard Serra discusses his sketches of a Le Corbusier building in Ronchamp, France, as an example of an architectural space that has inspired him.

A Conversation with Richard Serra 53:04 

Richard Serra on his Drawing retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 13, 2011 - August 28, 2011, with Magdalena Dabrowski and Lynne Cooke.

Richard Serra on his Drawing  23:52

Richard Serra talking about his Drawing retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art  with Charlie Rose, april 2011 on HBO. Rose is completely out of his depth and verges on insulting with his hopelessly stupid questions however despite the interviewer Serra remains eloquant and inspiring. 

The Van Gogh letters Online

Most days I think of the internet as a remarkable thing, I got my first computer in 1989 and my first internet connection in about 1993, but today it just got better. Today I discovered a rather exceptional spot on the world wide web The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh  a remarkable resource, free to anyone who is interested. It has been online since 2009 but I hadn’t found it, so in case anyone else hasn’t either, I thought I’d share it.

The Van Gogh letters are a complete record, as far as they can be, of all the surviving correspondence written and received by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), the letters he wrote himself – 819 and those he received – 83. They are wonderful to read and a real joy to see in their original form.

Van Gogh’s letters are something quite special, a whole chronology of his life presented, as he wrote and intended them. The real treat is that his letters were regularly embellished with small drawings or enclosed sketches which he called a ‘scratch’ or a ‘croquis’, often as a means to explain to his brother, Theo, his progress in visual terms, or as an exchange of ideas with fellow artists.

The Van Gogh Museum , Amsterdam, holds the world’s largest collection of the paintings and drawings of Vincent Van Gogh, as well as of the bulk of his correspondence. Van Gogh’s letters have been published many times over the years and interest in the contents of his letters can be traced back as early as 1892 when quotes were published from them. The Van Gogh Museum, together with the Huygens Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, started work on the Van Gogh Letters Project in 1994 with the ambition of creating a complete compilation; in its original language with a full and accurate translation into English, illustrations and annotations as well as images of the paintings referred to in the letters, it took 15 years to produce this scholarly online edition.

The Online edition (2009) provides a complete online resource free of charge. There is also a six volume book(s) published with over 4,300 illustrations. ISBN 9780500238653. Edited by Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, Nienke Bakker of the Van Gogh Museum in association with the Huygens Institute.