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What are artists thinking and doing? We hope you enjoy the second in our series of ‘Reflections from Home’. No.2: Vicken Parsons, Norfolk, England

‘These tiny prismatic cubes were given to me by my daughter, they bring the light in and split it into all its colours. I always glance up at them to see what they are doing in different light conditions and what they are choosing to reflect. Sometimes we play around with clay and I made this vase with a ring of squashed beads round the top to keep the smallest flowers from falling in. These flowers – daisies, Amelanchier blossom and Turkestanica tulips – are so small that you hardly look at them outside.

I had thought this would be a very good time to paint. During the first week I spent a lot of time in the studio trying to carry on, but my mind was so unsettled that I couldn’t concentrate properly. It was quiet and peaceful, but all I could think about was the momentous thing which had overtaken our world. This same catastrophe is giving many of us a surprising gift – time. Time to stop, to think, to re-set.

I work in the studio and spend time in the garden; digging, weeding and sowing seeds. I have also made some of the things I have long had in my mind to make but which had receded into the realm of fantasy projects. At the moment for my son’s girlfriend I am making a roll up sewing case like my grandmother’s ‘Rolly’ which she always kept by her.

The mental space I need to work in is deeply introspective and recently I have found it difficult to stay in that space for long periods. Engaging with the physical, the practical and above all nature are all grounding and helpful. I’m curious about the effect this is having on my paintings. I won’t know until I look back. Everything feels contradictory. The meeting of high anxiety and deep calm sounds impossible but it also seems to be a good place out of which creativity can arise.

My friend sent me a wonderful poem by Mark Nepo called ‘Adrift’. For me the first line says it all:

Everything is beautiful and I am so sad

We are frightened that things won’t go back to what they were and frightened that they will.’ – Vicken Parsons, April 2020

‘Untitled’, 2020, oil on plywood

Andrew Nairne, Director of Kettle’s Yard, writes: ‘over the coming weeks, we are asking artists we have worked with to offer their reflections from home, through images and text, at a time when millions around the world are homebound.

Jim Ede, its creator, described Kettle’s Yard as “a space, an ambience, a home”. For Ede, the home was a social place in which art and life might become inseparable. As the artist Anthea Hamilton has observed, the Kettle’s Yard House can also be understood as ‘a state of mind’. Of course, for many the concept of ‘home’ is also deeply personal, and often economic and political too, as our recent exhibition ‘Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan’, explored. For Jim Ede, who never forgot his time in the trenches in WW1, Kettle’s Yard was a welcoming sanctuary, a place of renewal and insight which could sharpen how we engage and act in the world’.

More about Vicken Parsons

The exhibition Actions. The image of the world can be different marked the opening of the new Kettle’s Yard in February 2018. Vicken Parsons was one of the thirty-eight exhibiting artists.

Click here to find out more about Actions

Following a Kettle’s Yard exhibition in St. Peter’s Church, Vicken Parsons was invited to display a number of her paintings and sculptures among the permanent collection in the House in 2014.

Click here to find out more about the display

Vicken Parsons display, Kettle’s Yard, 2014. Photo: Belinda Parsons

Vicken Parsons display, Kettle’s Yard, 2014. Photo: Belinda Parsons

Vicken Parsons display, Kettle’s Yard, 2014. Photo: Belinda Parsons

Click here to buy the catalogue for the display

Click here to buy ‘Vicken Parsons Painted Objects’ book

Image top left: ‘Untitled’, 2020, oil on plywood

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