so surreal crop

“So Surreal”

Features of Surrealist Art:  dream-like scenes and symbolic images, unexpected/illogical juxtapositions, bizarre assemblages of ordinary objects, distorted figures and shapes.

Surrealist Art always surprises me as I am an artist who likes to create order from disorder.  It fascinates me when I see a painting with items out of context, placed next to each other for no clear reason. 

Over the years I have enjoyed visiting Farleys House and Gallery: Home of the Surrealists and seeing the variety of artwork and photography on display. 

“Lee Miller, Roland Penrose and their son Antony Penrose’s Sussex home became a meeting place for some of the leading figures from the world of 20th century modern art.”

I feel proud and pleased to have the opportunity to exhibit my own art in my From Waste To Wall exhibition at Farleys Gallery from 20th May to 11th July 2021.  The oak tree I created below in my Árbol de la Vida, Tree of Life collage will represent the exhibition:

I collaged Árbol de la Vida, Tree of Life with Picasso’s depictions of birds and also Guernica in mind.  I was given the Spanish scratch cards by a friend who comes from the Basque Country.  She collected them for me.  When she told me about the town of Guernica, I researched and found out about the oak tree which stands in front of the council building there.  It replaced the 146-year-old oak tree that died during a particularly hot summer in 2004.  However, that tree had survived the 1937 bombing of the city during the Spanish Civil War.

One of my latest pieces of artwork was inspired by the photograph:  Meret Oppenheim Arm with ink, taken by the famous American photographer and painter Man Ray in 1933.

It made me think about how I could create my own Surrealist-style collage of a lady’s arm. 

I decided to link the idea to my own interests in tree art using recycled materials.  Farleys House and Gallery sent me some old leaflets (photographed below) to use in whichever way I wanted for the latest collage.

In this new piece of artwork, the outstretched arm is the tree trunk and the fingers become the branches.

This experiment with a surrealist style is in preparation for my exhibition at Farleys starting 20th May 2021. 

Recycled materials for Farleys artwork:

I also use discarded scratch cards as a colour palette for my collage art.  I chose some scratch cards with ancient Egyptian symbols for an exotic look as the background of my latest piece.

Lee Miller lived in Cairo after marrying a wealthy Egyptian business man. 

These scratch card symbols of a miniature Pharaoh, Ankh, Scarab, Horus etc. are my way of representing her earlier life in Egypt. 

However she gradually became bored and unhappy with her life and left the country.

She later met British Surrealist painter, Roland Penrose and they moved to Farleys in East Sussex in 1949, living there for 35 years.

The photograph below shows the outstretched arm that has developed into my tree collage art.  If you look closely at the shredded paper forming the bark of the tree you should be able to see words and the face of Lee Miller taken from the Farleys leaflets.

“So Surreal”

I remember when I was told to experiment with ideas in surrealism as a student at Bradford School of Art, I felt at first that I hadn’t the imagination to easily create dreamlike landscapes.  However, I found that painting with encaustic wax enabled me to form unusual and abstract shapes.  Here are some photos of landscapes taken from pages in one of my sketch books.

I also enjoy looking at other artists’ work such as Frida Kahlo’s brightly-coloured surrealist paintings that represented people and important events in her life. She even managed to capture in her art the pain she felt after being involved in a terrible accident.  I admire all the detail and vibrant colours.

Perhaps Picasso may not have been thought of as a Surrealist painter, but I would describe his multi-sided, multi-coloured paintings of faces as surreal.  They remind me in a way of when I used to be puzzled by people’s emotions because learning to understand facial expressions didn’t come naturally to me, especially how quickly they could change!  This is a page taken from one of my old sketch books.

FROM WASTE TO WALL: Sundays and Thursdays 20th May – 11th July 2021.

Farleys Gallery, Muddles Green, Chiddingly, BN8 6HW,

Gallery open: Sundays and Thursdays, 10am-4.30pm

Pre-book online (Exhibitions and Garden ticket.) 

  • For more information about the exhibition, please contact:
  • Elaine Wardekker O’Brien                  

Tel:  01825 872856

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email