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Renewal and rebirth; inspiration as we move towards spring

In this post I write about an inspirational talk by artist Dame Rachel Whiteread; one of my favourite restaurants, Kiln; and the ideas of renewal and rebirth that are inspiring my latest abstract paintings.

Abstract acrylic painting by William Watson-West
Abstract Acrylic on board, by William Watson-West

All Things Arty

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a talk by artist, Dame Rachel Whiteread. Interviewed by Tim Marlow OBE, head of The Design Museum, it was incredibly inspiring.

For those of you that didn't know, Rachel Whiteread was the first woman to be awarded the Turner Prize in 1993.

I can't claim to have known a huge amount about her or her work prior to the talk, but I left feeling invigorated and wanting to learn more.

Particularly known for her cast sculptures of inanimate and seemingly mundane objects, her work is full of emotion and memory and carries deeper stories than what often first appears as minimalist-looking.

I was particularly drawn to the story behind House, (1993) which led to Whiteread's Turner Prize. The entirety of the inside of a terraced house in East London due to be demolished was cast in concrete and then the exterior of the house removed leaving only the concrete visible.

The installation was incredibly controversial and only lasted 80 days before it was also demolished leaving just the concrete footings. It sparked debates and conversations on numerous issues of the day but hearing from the artist about the project I particularly related to the ideas of the importance of a home, lives lived and lost and the imprints that humans leave behind and our relationship with the mundane.

Referencing a previous piece, Jonathan Jones described Ghost, 1990, in the Guardian as "the solid trace of all the air that a room once contained" and how “We wonder at the dark invisible silence within. Vanished lives, lost voices, forgotten loves are trapped in that fossilised room like prehistoric creatures in limestone.” For me, this sums up Whietread's work beautifully.

If you're interested in learning more, check out this article from the Tate.

Rachel Whiteread Untitled House
Rachel Whiteread, House, 1993


Foodie Musings

You may already know that I'm a bit of a foodie (and winey if that's a word?!), so I thought I'd start including some of my favourite restaurants, drinks, pubs and other foodie musings in my newsletters. Being a creative person, it probably makes sense that food & drink experiences conjure up all sorts of emotions that sometimes resonate with the feelings I get whilst painting.


To kick things off I thought I'd mention a firm favourite London restaurant...

Kiln, Soho

You can book tables downstairs in the dining room but I recommend getting there early and queuing for a spot at the bar/open kitchen. It's a loud, dark and buzzing place. The clue is in the name - Kiln - as you feel the heat from the fierce open fires the chefs are cooking on right in front of you as you sip on something funky. Prepare for some pretty fiery flavours too (they don't hold back on the chilli!).

Kiln Soho Kitchen Bar
Kiln, Soho - view from the bar

Kiln produces Norther Thai inspired food as well as influences from other nearby countries. They use seasonal British ingredients where possible producing seemingly simple dishes with flavours I've not experienced anywhere else. The predominantly natural wines are designed to go with the food and there are plenty of unusual and delicious cocktails and non-alcoholic options to choose from too such as bergamot and lime soda.

Go for the Clay Pot Noodles if you're after a signature dish, or a favourite of mine - the Grilled Rump Cap with Ubon relish (if you can stand the heat!).

Kiln Soho Cull Yaw Chop
Cull Yaw Chop

Abstract acrylic painting inspired by spring and renewal
William Watson-West, abstract acrylic, 2024

Inspiration Update

A time for renewal and rebirth in my abstract paintings

As we move from winter to spring, the earliest signs of life are appearing after hibernation. Although the recent storms have temporarily felt like a relapse, the previous crisp blue skies, pure light and hints of green shoots have offered a relief from the short dark days of winter. The sharpness of the icy cold makes me feel alive and the welcome warmth of sunlight on my skin offers a glimpse of warmer days and excitement for what is to come.

In a world of uncertainty and suffering, this can be a time of renewal and rebirth; spring gives us a chance to cleanse and perhaps heal from the harshness of winter. Translating these feelings into my paintings has been a cathartic experience for me. I have challenged myself to continue to develop in new directions; spring gives us a space for change and inspires the positive potential in my new abstract paintings as I also take stock of the challenges that myself and others face and use this as energy to reinvigorate and move forward.

Spring is also the chance to express and renew our love for the important people in our lives. As with the beauty of new life, I try to evoke a sense of that in these new paintings and create something that is joyful and uplifting.


Recent Work

I love sending something physical to people in a world that is dominated so much by the digital. If you'd like some fresh new greetings cards you're in luck as I've just launched my latest batch of designs.


As usual, they're all based on my original paintings and there's a mixture of abstract and more representational versions - hopefully something for everyone.


(You can see my whole collection including previous designs here.)

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