Part 2: The Painter’s Wife by Drucilla Burrell

Feb 2, 2024 | Commission, Watts Gallery 2023

Go behind the scenes at Watts gallery with commissioned Artist in Residence, Drucilla Burrell

 

FROM THE WATT’S GALLERY WEBSITE

FOR TOO LONG REFERRED TO AS ‘THE PAINTER’S WIFE’ OR ‘MRS G F WATTS’, OFTEN OF HER OWN ACCORD, MARY SETON WATTS (NÉE FRASER TYTLER, 1849-1838) WAS AN ACCOMPLISHED ARTIST IN HER OWN RIGHT.

AS AN ARTIST, DESIGNER, WRITER, BUSINESSWOMAN AND PHILANTHROPIST, MARY FOUND WAYS FOR HER ART AND CREATIVITY TO SUPPORT AND INSPIRE THE PEOPLE AROUND HER. SHE WAS THE CREATIVE POWERHOUSE BEHIND TWO SIGNIFICANT ENTERPRISES: THE WATTS CHAPEL AND THE POTTERS’ ARTS GUILD AT COMPTON.

DURING THE WATTS RESIDENCY, I FOUND GREAT INSPIRATION FROM BEING IN AN ENVIRONMENT CREATED IN WHICH TO CREATE (SEE MY BLOG POST HERE). ALSO, AFTER CONVERSATIONS WITH CHARLIE BETT’S, I DELVED INTO THE WORK OF MARY WATTS – PARTICULARLY TAKEN WITH THE FACT SHE WAS KNOWN AS ‘THE PAINTER’S WIFE’

WHILE EXPLORING STEREOSCOPIC PHOTOGRAPHY AND NEW AI TECHNOLOGIES, I ALSO WANTED TO TAKE LEARNINGS FROM THIS RESEARCH INTO MY MORE CLASSIC PHOTOGRAPHIC STYLE – A RETURN TO SAFETY AFTER PUSHING MY WORKING PRACTICE.

DRAWING HEAVILY ON THE WORK OF GEORGE FREDERIC WATTS, I WANTED TO PAY HOMAGE TO CREATIVE PARTNERSHIPS.

IN “THE PAINTER’S WIFE,” I EXPLORE THE DEPTHS OF ARTISTIC COLLABORATION AND THE PROFOUND INFLUENCE OF THE MUSE ON THE RESULTING WORK. THE PIECE PUSHES THE TRADITIONAL PORTRAYAL OF THE MUSE AS A PASSIVE FIGURE, INSTEAD CELEBRATING THE ACTIVE ROLE OF THE WOMAN BEHIND THE ARTIST. THROUGH A BLEND OF GENERATIVE AI, DIGITAL PAINTING, AND DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY, I WANTED TO REPRESENT THE INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PAINTER AND MUSE.

 

SET AGAINST THE BACKDROP OF LANDSCAPES AND ENVIRONMENTS METICULOUSLY CRAFTED, WITH A HEAVY REFERENCE TO THE WORK OF GEORGE FREDERIC WATTS , THE PIECE INVITES VIEWERS TO CONTEMPLATE THE SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP, AND THE OFTEN UNSUNG ROLE OF WOMEN IN ART PRACTICE.

THROUGH THE LENS OF DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY, GENERATIVE AI AND DIGITAL PAINTING, I WANTED TO EXPLORE THE FUSION OF ARTISTRY AND TECHNOLOGY, INVITING REFLECTION ON THE OFTEN-OVERLOOKED CONTRIBUTIONS OF THOSE WHO STAND BEHIND THE SCENES, FUELING THE CREATIVE FIRE.

“THE PAINTER’S WIFE” IS A HEARTFELT LOVE SONG TO THE UNSUNG HEROES OF ARTISTIC ENDEAVOR. IT INVITES US TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND CELEBRATE THE PROFOUND INFLUENCE OF THE COLLABORATIVE PARTNER, WHOSE PRESENCE INFUSES EVERY STROKE OF THE BRUSH AND EVERY PIXEL OF THE DIGITAL CANVAS. IN HONOURING THE PERSON ‘BEHIND’ THE PAINTER, WE PAY TRIBUTE TO THE ENDURING POWER OF LOVE, INSPIRATION, AND CREATIVITY, AND ENVIRONMENTS CREATED TO AID CREATIVITY.

THE AI GENERATIVE PROMPTS WERE CREATED BY CONDENSING DESCRIPTIONS OF GEORGE FREDERIC WATTS’ PAINTING STYLE AND MY OWN EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO THE WORK.

IT ADDITIONALLY SITS AS A THANK YOU TO MY OWN COLLABORATIVE PARTNER, MAGDALENE CELESTE. 

THE WORK FEATURES HER AS A MODEL AND HER OWN CREATIONS. IT IS SHOT IN HER STUDIO AND EXPANDED AND DEVELOPED DIGITALLY.

STEREOGRAM AND DEVELOPMENTS.

ONE STORY TOLD WITHIN THE VICTORIAN VIRTUAL REALITY COLLECTION OF STEREOGRAMS IS THE STORY OF THE SEMPSTRESS. THE SERIES OF FOUR IMAGES DEPICT A SEMPSTRESS’ SLOW DECLINE AT THE ATTEMPT TO MAKE ENDS MEET.

TAKING THIS INTO A CONTEMPORARY SETTING I WANTED TO REPRESENT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CONTEMPORARY SMALL BUSINESS ARTISAN, AND HOW THE REQUIREMENT TO SELF PROMOTE ON SOCIAL MEDIA CAN SOMETIMES OVERTAKE THE ABILITY TO CREATE THE WORK. AGAIN WORKING WITH MY COLLABORATIVE PARTNER WHO IS HERSELF A SEAMSTRESS. 

FADE TO FILTER.

THE RESULTING SERIES – “FADE TO FILTER” DELVE INTO THE CONTEMPORARY STRUGGLE OF ARTISTS AS THEY NAVIGATE THE DIGITAL LANDSCAPE, PARTICULARLY THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS. THE TITLE SUGGESTS A GRADUAL DECLINE OR TRANSFORMATION, SYMBOLISED BY THE FADING, WHILE “FILTER” REFERENCES BOTH THE LITERAL FILTERS USED ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS TO ENHANCE IMAGES AND THE METAPHORICAL FILTERS THROUGH WHICH ARTISTS PRESENT THEMSELVES AND THEIR WORK ONLINE.

EXPLORING THEMES OF AUTHENTICITY VERSUS ARTIFICE, THE COMMODIFICATION OF CREATIVITY, THE QUEST FOR VALIDATION AND RECOGNITION, AND THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL CULTURE ON ARTISTIC PRACTICE AND IDENTITY.

THEY INVITE US TO REFLECT ON OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA, SELF-PRESENTATION, AND THE EVOLVING ROLE OF THE ARTIST IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY.

ALL ARE SHOT ON IPHONE WITH STEREOSCOPIC OUTCOMES. THE BACKGROUNDS ARE AI GENERATED FROM DESCRIPTIONS OF THE AREA AROUND THE WATTS VILLAGE.

THE FULL SET OF IMAGES CAN BE VIEWED AT ECHOES OF DEPTH: VISIONS FROM THE VVR ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE AT WATTS FROM 19TH FEB 2024.