Artist Profiles: Felicity Keefe & Craig Bamford
20th October 2023, by Iollan
Artist Profiles: Felicity Keefe & Craig Bamford
Water, with its shifting, reflective, and mysterious nature, has always held profound symbolism and metaphorical significance in the world of art. From 2nd to 18th November, Maud & Mabel is set to host the captivating ‘Of Water’ exhibition, featuring the mesmerising works of four talented artists. This article will shine a spotlight on two of the artists, Felicity Keefe and SASA Works (Craig Bamford). These two artists, with their unique perspectives, beautifully weave together the ethereal and tangible aspects of water.
Painting by Felicity Keefe (right) and sculptural work by Craig Bamford (left), for 'Of Water' exhibition at Maud & Mabel 2023. (Photograph Josephine Cottrell).
T H E P A I N T E R O F W A T E R
Felicity Keefe’s artistic journey is a fascinating one. Her style, which fluctuates between figuration and abstraction, has been moulded by a deep connection with the landscape. As Keefe explains, her work is a reflection of both her personal experiences and her interaction with the environment. Keefe’s unique approach involves using paint in a traditional manner but also incorporating the use of thrown paint and water, creating a delicate balance between the control of the brush and the spontaneity of this technique in her mark-making process.
Keefe’s work delves into the metaphors and symbolism that water embodies. She draws inspiration from the ancient and continuing links that water has with healing, purification, wisdom, and transformation in different cultures. Her fascination with spiritual systems such as Shintoism, contributes to her belief in water as a shifting, reflective, and mysterious element that underlies all life on the planet. This profound perspective forms the foundation of her work and serves as a strong narrative that runs throughout her artistic creations.
Keefe’s use of colour is striking, with a focus on the winter landscape’s stillness, mystery, and its bleakness. Her colours are muted yet deep, using earthy umbers and siennas. Keefe explains that mixing primary blues and cadmium tones adds depth to her work. The colours within the water areas are often reflective of the sky, ranging from stark whites to dark shades, all dependent on the constant changes of nature; weather, time, seasons.
N A V I G A T I N G T H E W A T E R S O F A R T A N D E M O T I O N
Craig Bamford, the artist, architect, and master craftsman behind SASA Works, embarks on an emotional and creative journey that transcends the boundaries of traditional materials. For the 'Of Water' exhibition, Bamford's works, fashioned from silver, brass, and steel, beautifully capture the essence of water and its deep connection to the human experience. Bamford's creative process for this exhibition draws from a poignant source – a line from John Masefield's poem "Sea Fever." The poem begins with the line, "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by," which resonates with a deep sense of wonder and simplicity. This line held a special significance for Bamford, as it was recited by his father in the weeks leading up to his passing. The concept of journeying, symbolized by a boat and a guiding star, inspired a sense of peaceful meditation. It allows individuals to withdraw from the overstimulation of the world and find clarity and peace within.
Bamford's art also delves into the timeless myth of boats carrying souls to the other world. This concept, found in various ancient cultures, resonates deeply with him. Whether it's the Anglo-Saxons, Polynesians, or Egyptians, the idea of a boat ferrying the soul to a cosmic ocean beyond our realm is a powerful and universal concept. Polynesians, for example, created intricately decorated boats for this very purpose, which have been discovered in caves. Bamford interprets this myth as an exploration of an ocean that is not of this realm but rather a cosmic ocean encountered only in the afterlife.
The poetry and the technical aspects in Bamford's work are intrinsically linked, with the poetic idea leading the way. The challenge lies in aligning the practical with the poetic, a vast space of learning that Bamford skillfully navigates. For example, in his piece "Between Worlds," he transformed a World War II bullet shell into a boat, symbolizing transformation and remembrance of balance and peace. Bamford constantly explores and adapts to the materials and skills at his disposal to serve the poetic vision.
Working with metals, especially steel, brass, and silver, provides the unique ability to shape-shift. Steel, in particular, can take on delicate forms while retaining its strength. In the piece ‘A Star to Sail By,’ steel, brass, and silver are employed, offering a visual lightness that reflects the perfection of the cosmos in material form. Silver, a precious metal, elevates and reflects light, adding a touch of the divine to his works.
Keefe’s work delves into the metaphors and symbolism of water, capturing the ever-changing interplay between light and water with striking colours. Her art beautifully balances aesthetic appeal with a powerful message of environmental awareness.
Bamford, contrastingly, moulds water into delicate narratives, offering viewers a glimpse into the myth and poetry of the sea. As Bamford’s pieces find their place in the ‘Of Water’ exhibition alongside the expressive paintings of Felicity Keefe, they form a compelling dialogue between the ethereal and the tangible, inviting visitors to explore the many facets of water’s beauty and significance.