Art Paintings

The Sitting Cows

Sitting cows in Dartington oil painting by Noel HefeleThis oil painting on canvas measures 2′ x 2′

When I first arrived in Dartington, I was told that the cows sit down when it is going to rain. I was unable to directly prove this during my time here, but it seems possible. It brings up interesting questions about the sensory perception of animals. What do they know that is outside our immediate grasp?

The cows have been a significant presence here at Dartington. When I first arrived in the fall I realised they had a pattern that I would learn. Somedays they would be in one field, and then others they would be several fields across the way, moved by those invisible Devon farmers (it took me over nine months to see a farmer interacting with cows) Or were these a different herd of cows? One day, they disappeared for the winter. In the springtime, they were back, only smaller and younger looking.

The cows are absolutely massive creatures with incredibly squared off hind quarters. They are very skittish as well. I remember once walking across a field through a herd of about twenty. They nervously parted and kept their large glassy eyes on me. Suddenly I was surrounded. Cows in all directions;  scared of me while I was thinking “Wow, these cows could very easily kill me,” cautiously continuing through the herd. Cows have a long and complicated relationship with humans. There are estimatedly 1.3 billion cows in the world today.

Art Paintings

Buckham’s Park Barn

buckhams-farm-dartingtonThis oil painting measure 4 feet square.

I discovered Buckham’s Park Barn on the Dartington Estate during my walks. It is a late 18th century ruin of what I assume was an agricultural building. The ruin has been surrounded with a portable metal fence since I’ve first come across it.

This was the first larger painting that I started after the Landscape Thinks Itself in Us show. I was committed to continue to look for landscape sites dealing with absence or the forgotten.  Buckham’s Park Barn was an obvious choice.

I found the name for the building on a map that the school provided.  The map labeled “Out of Bounds” areas for student projects and became a critical tool in my explorations and thoughts about landscape in Devon. I read about ruins as spaces outside of the dominant ordering systems and realized how much the concepts we carry in our heads about these spaces matter as much as the spaces do. I went to every single out of bounds location on that map, several of which have become paintings.

Although ruins have been assigned as useless space, the objects within them have a more ambiguous status, for whilst they occur in that space they have not been specifically sorted and classified into piles ready for dumping, and thus possess an intermediate quality which renders them ripe for re-appropriation. They are excess matter which has not been disposed and therefore not consigned to fixity through annulment. Ruins contain excess, wast with which people can construct meaning, stories and practices, objects which possess ‘unforseen value and status insofar as they lack contour … precisely because they are fluid as well as opaque and resistant to fixity'(Nevill and Villeneuve, 2002: 5)

Tim Edensor in Industrial Ruins:Spaces, Aesthetics and Materiality

Can a painting of a ruin be thought of as an “object within” it? Is there such a thing as an economy of visual use?

A planning application claims Buckham’s Park Barn is within an “Area of Great Landscape Value.” Interestingly, Dartington Trust is looking to develop the site into a studio / residency for a fellowship program. The initial planning permission was granted in October of 2006. They had 3 years to show material progress towards development. Dartington Trust showed an invoice dated the 21st of September for an access road.  The access road was enough to satisfy the council.  But it would appear that the Trust is in no hurry to develop the site.

Art Paintings

New Image for Old Dartington Nursery Painting

Photographing paintings is incredibly difficult. Yesterday I photographed the 11 paintings from the Landscape Resounds show. I used a Digital SLR camera and shot in RAW file format.  Above is an example of the newer images. To the right is an older photograph of the same painting. I think it is an improvement, but it is amazing how difficult it is to get it perfect.

At the show, I met someone who has known this space for 50 years and has seen it derelict twice. She told me the layout of the buildings on the site.

Asides Journal

Walk through a field barefoot.

Today, after swimming in the Dart River, I walked barefoot up a sloped field to get to Dartington College of Arts.  (The shell of what is left there)  I found it very interesting that the field was sporadically covered in thorny plants that hurt my feet.  I thought about the cows that normally graze on this field and how they probably don’t like to eat the thorny plants.  A mechanical lawn mower wouldn’t mind thorny plants.  I wouldn’t have noticed them if I wore boots.  I tip-toed through this field, avoiding prickles where I could—marveling at the way the field was shaping my trek across it. Was the grazed grass my infrastructure, provided by the cows? Are the thorny plants encroaching ‘nature’ or are they arising specifically because of the grazed grass? Barefoot, I weaved my way through this entwined patchwork of land, shaped by human practices yet shaping my path.

I still have a few thorns in my feet as I get ready to sleep.

Exhibitions Videos

Ultimate dART. Dartington MA SHOW 2010. My video.

A bunch of the MA students are making short videos to advertise the upcoming MA show at Dartington College of Arts this July 20-22nd.

I took a time lapse video of the beginnings of a painting at 30 second intervals. I believe there are 24 frames per second, translating to roughly 12 minutes represented by every second. 5 Seconds an hour? I used the ambient noises recorded in the studio to construct the background track (except for the piano at the end).

I will be exhibiting this painting, along with many others. I’m also planning to put some of my original music behind the paintings. It could be quite cool.


The Harvesters

Harvesters oil painting by Noel HefeleWith this painting, I started to see neglect and abandonment in a cyclical perspective.

Oil on Canvas