AOH talks to Abigail Bowen about ‘Lost Things’

Hi Abigail
It’s great to have you taking part in the Christmas Open Houses this year – previously you have taken part in the AOH May Festival.

1. Would you like to tell us a bit about your paintings and your practice in general?

I often say that I paint ‘the edge of the rainbow’ which comes from Donna Tartt’s novel ‘The Goldfinch’. She uses the term to describe a space just beyond reality where beauty, magic and art exist. I love this idea because when I paint, I am attempting to tap into a transcendent, subconscious space where all our dreams, love, longing and sadness are formed. Essentially, it is connected to our idea of ‘soul’ and with my work I am trying to visual the feelings and emotions that connect us to each other and make us human.

Faraway, 100 x 100cm, oil on canvas

2. For this Christmas AOH festival you are working on a new project about ‘Lost Things’. Can you tell us about this and what it means to you?

5 years ago my father-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and of course this has had a devastating effect on our whole family. As his illness progressed I was struck by how memories become softened by time. What was once clear and lucid becomes vague, slippery and amorphous. Although very sad, I also felt there was a profound beauty in this idea. In addition, I noticed through the grieving process with my own father who passed away 12 years ago, that my sense of ‘loss’ wasn’t one of emptiness or a lack of something. In actual fact the loss has a presence and a weight that I feel we continue to carry with us long after the person has gone. This project attempts to try and capture this feeling and consists of lots of small, abstract, ghostly pencil drawings, based on the average size of an adult human heart.

All the Lost Things hanging 1

All The Lost Things (display)

3. How can visitors to your Open House become involved and participate in this project?

As I have been creating these drawings, I had this idea about showing them as a selection of ‘lost property’. I imagined that I have found all these elusive memories that have been floating around in our subconscious and now I would like people to come and claim them and take them home. I am imagining that each visitor will choose a particular drawing that best represents their unique response. I will then invite them to leave a description of their own ‘Lost Thing’ which I will add to the website, thereby capturing the memory and preventing it being lost again in the future. All the drawings can be purchased and will be posted after the show closes on Sunday 8th December.

All the Lost Things progress

All The Lost Things (in progress)

4. What outcomes are you hoping for?

Ultimately, I hope that people find the project meaningful and comforting, as well as beautiful to look at. It will be interesting to hear a range of ‘Lost Things’ that people want to remember – It could be a loved one, or maybe a sentimental object or particular memory that means a lot. I will also be donating £5 from the sale of each drawing to The Alzheimer’s Society to pay respect to the original inspiration for the project.

All the Lost Things hanging 2

All The Lost Things no.2

5. What do you like best about taking part in the Artists Open Houses?

Like many artists, I work alone for long periods and so I find it is a great opportunity to present my work and get valuable feedback. I also love the fact that I am in charge of the space and choose what to hang and where – once the detritus of family living has been hidden away that is! Overall, people visit and say lovely things which is always really nice.

6. Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Thank you so much for asking me to talk about my work. I am really excited to be taking part in my first Christmas Open House. As well as presenting ‘All The Lost Things’, I will have some of my paintings on show. And my Mum, who is a florist, will be making some fresh Christmas wreaths to help make things a bit more festive.

Abigail’s Open House:

Abigail Bowen
22 Clifton Street, Brighton, BN1 3PH

Instagram: @abibowen73
[email protected]