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Welcome to Singing skies – A collaboration by stuart A. staples and Suzanne Osborne.

At the heart of the idea is the book (available here) marrying pieces from Suzanne’s work ‘A year in small paintings – Skies, September 2010 – September 2011’ with Stuart’s song lyrics that would be written down for the first time.

You will find all the original artworks and materials here.

A mini documentary of the process by long term collaborator, film-maker, Martin Wallace.

And finally, a video installation of the paintings by Claire Denis with an original tindersticks score.

We hope you enjoy.

A collection of handmade carborundum prints of 5 of the skies and their partner songs from the books spreads made by Suzanne and master print-maker Tom Phelan in Vienna are now available here.
They are in limited editions of 12 only of “Cherry Blossoms”, “I know that loving”, “My oblivion”, “Marseilles sunshine” and “The other side of the world”.
These will be available for sale from August 1st 2013. Please contact us here for more information.

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“A year in small paintings – Skies, September 2010 – September 2011.”

The sky paintings project was born out of the need to quickly re-establish a regular, daily working routine after having lapsed, unwillingly, into a stultifying period of stasis (driven mostly by external factors – a culmination of enjoyable years raising our children, interspersed with sporadic, erratic work, followed by a sucker-punch period
of bereavement).

Starting small, but consistently seemed to be the first step: take one year, the beginning point irrelevant, just 365 days of something regular and sustained.

After years of living with almost static London skies, from first arriving in Limousin
I was astonished by the speed and energy with which the weather changed – the sky seemed so alive – the choice of subject made itself obvious, staring me in the face. My aim was simply to observe and respond (directly in oils) to whatever was happening in the sky, at some point, every day, on the same-sized board, for one whole year. Initially, I had no expectations beyond continuity; to engage with the paint, to work with immediacy and some speed, sensitivity and honesty.

For the greater part, the skies were painted from my studio window in France, but my paintbox also went with me to Istanbul, Portugal, London and other places in England. To restrict myself to painting from the same place or at the same time each day was, practically impossible – as a result of this ‘freedom’ within the structure, the variety in colour, content and form became a hugely important element in the project. Purely by chance, the first painting marked the birth of David’s second child – thus the year continued, punctuated by arrivals, departures, crises, high-days and holidays….
all silently woven into the fabric of the whole.

The sustained activity taught me so much that I could never have anticipated – it was a scary, nourishing, surprising and, ultimately, healing process. Standing back to view the work, I feel that these small paintings, with their modest ambition, add up to a larger piece which is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Suzanne Osborne 2013

View more of Suzanne’s work at: www.suzanneosborne.com

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Too many songs in my head. A downside of not fixing them as written words, they are all still in there rattling around, popping up every now and then asking to be tweaked or reworked. I felt as though I needed to create some space, to draw a line and move on, to try and write them down somehow.

I thought about finding the right font – too cold, ‘asks to get involved in correct punctuation and syntax, things I am not interested in. My own handwriting? – too personal, painful. Then I remembered a sound from my childhood – the click-clack of my mothers typewriter when she brought extra work home. I found a decent looking machine in the junk shop around the corner, found a new ribbon, cleaned it up and started to experiment. I was immediately impressed with the violence of the action, as though each letter was made like a blow from a hammer and chisel. Though after a week, I was forced to remember the terrible problems my mum had with her neck – the pain was excruciating.

I typed the songs as they came to me, straight out of my head to my index fingers (though later I decided on a rough chronological order) I had one attempt at each one. My only quality control was if the song held my interest to the end. These 75 made it. Some I love to sing, but disliked written down, others I mistrusted, some I just didn’t fancy at all. And there were those, I just felt the ideas were short-changed by the pressures of finishing the recordings at the time.

Suzanne was working on her sky paintings, one a day. She chose her moments, occasionally going to the window and checking out what the sky was up to throughout the day. As I watched her work, sometimes furiously to catch a moment in a fast-changing sky, other times, able to explore a sky more static, I was struck by how similar the process was to the writing of my songs. I felt they belonged together. (Though perhaps I secretly hoped that these spindly words could hide behind the depth and beauty of her work).

stuart A. staples 2013