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Elaine Axten: two paintings

Elaine Axten lives in Brighton. Her inspiration for the painting above comes from the poem "Oubilette" by Amy Durant. Elaine writes:

"In the poem she writes about obliterating unwanted people from her past:

'I can't catch up on something I don't have. I spent a long time putting them all behind me. There is no catching up to do. I have forgotten their names and their faces; there is nothing left of them inside of me except what they did to me, the scars they left, the traps they set that I seem to stupidly trip with every misstep.'

I recognised the feeling... For me, it's not just people, it's events, it's my own actions and my own weaknesses. It's my relationship with the restrictions of my illness, life regrets, a disconnect from my past art work, all sorts of things. I, too, wanted to put the past behind me and insist on the present. I grabbed a sketchbook from 2003 in which I had written and I began to paint.

When I was a young thing at art school a preferred method was to draw, then tear out whatever passage in the drawing was working for me, glue it onto a new sheet and carry on working. I had been wondering exactly what to do with old work. I don't want to keep it, and it doesn't reflect who I am now. My plan had been to simply document and dump, but there's a third way – cannibalise what can be used, paint over the pain, obliterate the clinging past. Acknowledging that the past exists, but insisting on the present day. Insisting on not telling the sad old stories over again. Creating a kind of palimpsestic form and letting the past peek through, but not letting it dominate."

About the second painting, she writes that:

"Today I broke my routine and just cleared the table and painted. Since I have started this project I have tended to want everything to be 'just so' before painting – which mainly means I don't get on with it. Today, though, was different. I just wanted to paint and I wanted to do it immediately.

I read a biography of the composer Gustav Holst years ago. It was written by his daughter, and one or two things really stayed with me. First of all, rather than get up every day and go to work with a gun to his head, Holst had a policy of not writing music until it really irritated him not to.

He also said, when addressing singers 'Those of you who can sing, sing, and those of you who can’t, make a glorious noise to god'.

Here, then, is my glorious noise."

Which it is. We hope to see many more of these in the future.

You can read more of Elaine's writings here.

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