Ali Smith's superb prose has a kind of postmodern - modernist edge that sometimes makes me think of Virginia Woolf. Her subject matter, however, is always pertinent to contemporaneous cultural, political and societal issues. The novels are allusive and intense but also with a fantastic lightness of touch. The books often display an intense interest in paintings and the history of art and there are close readings of paintings within the novels. This helps to make the books very interesting to work with from a perspective of making paintings.

Autumn

                                                                                                                                                               60x60cm

  Autumn , complex, pointed and allusive, published in 2016 and about 2016 and Brexit. But it is also about the 1960s and the pop artist Pauline Boty. The collage here is from a Boty painting ( Untitled ). The colour's of Smith's text make a kind of stepping circle or clock (or EU flag?). And it is serendipitous that the pink and azure colours in the top right (where the woman is looking) correspond to those in the Boty painting where they consist of lace collage.

Autumn, complex, pointed and allusive, published in 2016 and about 2016 and Brexit. But it is also about the 1960s and the pop artist Pauline Boty. The collage here is from a Boty painting (Untitled). The colour's of Smith's text make a kind of stepping circle or clock (or EU flag?). And it is serendipitous that the pink and azure colours in the top right (where the woman is looking) correspond to those in the Boty painting where they consist of lace collage.

  Autumn , detail

Autumn, detail

  Autumn , detail

Autumn, detail

  Autumn , detail

Autumn, detail

How to be Both

                                                                                                                                                              150x50cm

 photo: Stuart Conway   How to be Both  is a dual narrative: one strand of which concerns a bereaved teenager in present-day Cambridge and the other is about Francesco del Cossa, a fifteenth century fresco painter. A del Cossa altarpiece in the National Gallery links the two narratives which also merge in many other ways concerning the nature of time, art, grief and gender. The background of my painting is an abstracted nod to this del Cossa painting - with a corraline stripe in an azure sky echoing the fantastical clouds common to such altarpieces. Apparently two versions of the text were published, with differing narratives appearing first. For this reason, in my painting the two stories begin at either end of the canvas and merge in the middle. The painting can be hung either way up.

photo: Stuart Conway

How to be Both is a dual narrative: one strand of which concerns a bereaved teenager in present-day Cambridge and the other is about Francesco del Cossa, a fifteenth century fresco painter. A del Cossa altarpiece in the National Gallery links the two narratives which also merge in many other ways concerning the nature of time, art, grief and gender. The background of my painting is an abstracted nod to this del Cossa painting - with a corraline stripe in an azure sky echoing the fantastical clouds common to such altarpieces. Apparently two versions of the text were published, with differing narratives appearing first. For this reason, in my painting the two stories begin at either end of the canvas and merge in the middle. The painting can be hung either way up.

 photo: Stuart Conway   How to be Both , detail

photo: Stuart Conway

How to be Both, detail

 photo: Stuart Conway   How to be Both , detail

photo: Stuart Conway

How to be Both, detail

  How to be Both , detail

How to be Both, detail

  How to be Both , detail

How to be Both, detail