Baobab to Beech trees – Sandy Densem

Baobab to Beech trees  – Sandy Densem

I’m enjoying my work for Secret Severn so much! Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with Sandy Densem, who’s work I’ve admired for many years. She explores texture and tone and creates pieces that are intrinsically multi-layered. Sandy describes how growing up in Zimbabwe has given her the lens through which she sees the world and it’s fascinating to see this in action.

Summer Trees

Much of Sandy’s work is inspired by trees, expecially the mighty Baobab. This is a tree that lives for thousands of years, but if it’s knocked down can fade away in a fraction of the time. The pull between permanence and fragility is interesting thread to me and it’s reflected in the range of materials Sandy uses.

Twin Baobabs

For yesterday’s visit we focused on creations built from collage and print. Sandy begins with lino and tissue to conjure her starting shapes, then uses oils, water and oil pastels to layer, define and refine the images. The layers reflect what Sandy describes as an internal landscape, and seeing her work build and grow was a captivating experience. I was amazed at how quickly she works, and how much work is that combination of instinct and deliberate action that gives an artist their own style.

Tissue and printing
Drawing out the shapes
Highlighing the spaces
Textures
Baobab and beech trees

We talked about Sandy’s recent work in Uganda as part of the Xavier Project, which provides sponsorship to refugee children in East Africa. She showed me her concertina sketch books, produced by the light of a mobile phone, as well as artwork produced by her students which she hopes to auction as part of a fundraising exhibition.

Concertina sketch book

Sandy explains, “I’m originally from Zimbabwe, where I lived most of my life. I’m fortunate to have been born with the right to a British passport, unlike so many millions of others who now spend their lives in the ‘no-man’s land’ of refugee camps around the world.”

Sandy’s produced a series of works called Migration, that are rooted in the refugee crises around the world. There’s an intensity and pull to these pieces that I want to spend more time with, and I’m already putting together plans for another visit.

Migration

From background, to process, to product, for me this was a writer’s dream. Ekphrastic poetry is a joy to create, and I’ve come away with layer upon layer of notes to fashion into finished poems. A good day.

As ever, please share this if you’ve enjoyed reading it, whether you’re on twitter, Facebook or you just want to reblog. It’s a great way to support me and build interest for this project and for the art trail.

To discover more about Sandy’s work go to http://sandydensem.com/work/

To discover more about Secret Severn go to https://www.facebook.com/Secretsevern/

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