Sunday 20 March 2016

South Central

South Central, acrylic on box canvas 40 x 40 cm
There's a new Arts publication in town. Well, in the region. The central south of England. It's a bit of an overlooked region in many ways - it's almost defined by what it isn't. It's not London. It's not home counties. It's not south east, because it doesn't have that flavour. It's not holiday-destination south west, either.  It's in the middle.
I'm a midlander by birth; I grew up in the Midlands. That's the Midlands that sits between the North and the South. Leicestershire, to be precise. I've lived in the South East (Brighton) and I've lived in the North (Hull, which is, of course, North East). In the South East I was considered a northerner. In the North I was designated a southerner.
It's almost as if I wasn't allowed to be something else. But I was. I still am. I'm a midlander.
I wonder if I'm drawn to these in-between places? I felt more at home in Southampton (another place that I used to live in, and a city that is definitely south central - neither East not West) than I did in Brighton or in Hull.

Anyway, all of that is really just to try and say that actually, I know precisely where South Central is coming from.

And where is it coming from? Literally, it's coming from Fareham (a small coastal town caught between the two large Hampshire ports of Portsmouth and Southampton). In terms of its name and it's concept, is coming from the not-one-thing-nor-the-other, it's coming from the under- represented, the casually neglected. It's coming from Hampshire and West Berkshire, from Wiltshire and Dorset,

And the painting? Painted for the competition to be featured on the front cover, it didn't win (the winner was a wonderful map-collage-labyrinth by Michelle Rumney), but was included inside the publication. It was an attempt on my part to represent the region as I see it.

I also wrote a short article for the first issue about West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios in which I interviewed the chair, John Brazendale.

The launch event was held last week at Sticks Gallery in Fareham, along with the private view for Beth Davis-Hofbauer's fascinating instalation, In A Room. I got my hands on a copy of the publication (and a couple of spares) there and then. It's good. It's very good. But I haven't read all of it yet...

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