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Alison Goodyear


Topsy Turvy (2020) is an abstract virtual reality painting of two halves. It was made to encourage us (me in the making and you in the encounter) to question what it is we understand as painting today. It is my first full work of this kind and was developed over the period of a year.

Topsy (2020) is created using tools that produce painterly marks that resemble physical paint, or what we might recognise paint to look like. It is based in an environment lit with daylight or a white light. This is in contrast with the other half of the painting, Turvy (2020), which has a more nocturnal setting, and uses many tools that produce marks that behave in a completely alien way compared to what we understand as physical paint. Perhaps better described as painting gone to Vegas!

Both parts of this painting were painted in exactly the same manner. They each are based on one of my physical paint palettes that I have extrapolated from, which involves a sequence of mapping and tracing. Topsy is based on an oil paint palette and is made-up of over 43,000 marks and is the size of a 2 storey building. Turvy, which is slightly smaller, is based on a luminous acrylic paint palette and is made-up of over 10,000 marks. Each painting is accompanied with a minimal score created from recordings taken during painting sessions in my physical studio, which have then been digitally manipulated, much in the way of virtual paint.

When Topsy Turvy (2020) is encountered through a headset, you are taken on a journey, navigating through the multitude of layers within the paintings. This tour creates an overarching experience of painting as place. Here I am inevitably thinking of Diderot’s Promenade written in 1767, in which Diderot describes his fantastical journey venturing into seven Vernet landscape paintings hanging on the Paris salon walls in front of him. I am left wondering, once experienced, can works such as Topsy Turvy (2020) turn what we think of as painting on its head? 

ABOUT Alison Goodyear

Alison Goodyear is a visual artist, researcher and educator based in Bedfordshire in the UK. Initially, her early art practice involved working as an abstract painter, using paint on canvas. Over the course of the past two years this practice has evolved into working on painting in the expanded field, testing what it is we understand as painting today and what that might mean for both the artist/maker/producer and the viewer/participant/contributor.

This work connects with Goodyear’s practice led PhD research, completed at Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon Graduate School, University of the Arts London in 2017, supervised by Professor Malcolm Quinn and Professor Daniel Sturgis. This research practice examines the threshold between aesthetic and banal absorption in painter to painting relationships drawing on the theories of Denis Diderot, Michael Fried and David Joselit. It achieves this through a collaborative address to and from painting practice.

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