Stephen Roden
Visual Artist
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Welcome to Stephen Roden's website.
Stephen Roden is a painter and printmaker based in Cheshire.

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History
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Stephen Roden

1964 Born Manchester. U.K.
1981-83 Chester College of Further Education, A level Art, A level Printmaking.
1983-85 Central School of Art & Design, London. Fine Art Painting.
1985-87 North East London Polytechnic, Printmaking.
1989-94 Borderline Printmakers, Shropshire. Print workshops in schools, colleges and galleries, locally and nationally.
1985-2010 Practicing Artist.
 
Exhibitions include:
 
1988 Open to Print Sunderland Polytechnic and tour.
1990 Merseyside Artists 6 Touring exhibition.
1991 Boxes and Totems England & Co Gallery, London.
1993 Bradford Open Print Exhibition Cartwright Hall, Bradford.
1995 Jolly Peril Paradise Group exhibition, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.
1996 Toothpaste in Florence Participation in Life/Live in the space of David Medalla and Adam Nankervis, Musee D’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris.
1999 Artists for Amnesty Group exhibition, Old Stables Studio, Chester.
2000 & 2001 Artists @ Work Cheshire Open Studios.
2001 PAC Group exhibition, Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead.
2002 Participation in World Tea Party, Horniman Museum, London.
2005 Pallets and Prints Joint exhibition, Keele University.
Alchemy group exhibition, Quiggins, Liverpool.
2006 Printmaker of the month Wrexham Art Centre.
2009 New Evolutions Group exhibition, Telfords Warehouse, Chester.

Statement of Philosophy
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There are three strands to my current work: Painting on industrial pallets, Woodcut prints and portraiture in charcoal, pencil and oils.

I first started using the pallet as a support for the painting in 1994. It symbolised, for me at that time, a transient and disposable aspect of society. I wanted something ubiquitous. I had previously used the Coca Cola can extensively in my work. I saw the broken surface of the pallet as a challenge. I liked the fact that the pallet seemed like anti art, pretending to pass an old pallet off as art.

The horizontal slats leant themselves to words which I was using in my paintings. I wanted to make the words bold. I carved them into the pallet. I like the physicality of carving into a surface. It seems to fulfil a basic desire. It reminds me of cave painting and graffiti which I enjoy looking at and find inspiring. With the first pallets I generally used four words which I had been doing in earlier paintings and screen prints. The words were chosen to encourage the viewer to look for connections and create a picture in their own mind. I wanted the words to resonate and have a rhythm. I then wrote messages, usually ironic, on the pallets. In more recent pallets I have been carving images as well as words.

Carving pallets led me on to making woodcut prints, again scratching into a surface. I make small editions as the prints are fairly large, up to 6 foot, and therefore have to be hand burnished. Again it is the physicality of handling these pieces which I enjoy as well as the thrill of making multiple images. The pallets and woodcut prints have continued to develop together.

Some of the recurring themes throughout the work are: the sea; war; the human condition; and art itself. The sea inspires me. It feels like an immensely powerful, malevolent force. I also like the nautical history this country is steeped in which links with the words I like to use, as much of our language is derived from nautical terminology.

There is a parallel I think between art and war. Both ask us to confront the human condition. Together with the joy of creating work I find myself asking the question, why do I need to give shape to my feelings and ideas in materials? That question is particularly pertinent when the finished work has no destination. The answer is that I make work to move forward. As the artist Shirazeh Houshiary said "The object is like the tools. The work is just a tool for the journey". Whilst the work is largely about my own journey I believe it is important that others can relate to it. I see part of the struggle of making work being about creating something relevant to others.

By art itself I mean I enjoy referencing other artists works. I like picking up themes in art in the way that Lichtenstein continued Monets theme of Rouen Cathedral and the hay rick paintings. This I believe enriches the language of visual art.

In 2001 I began to make portraits. I wanted a way of engaging people in the work. Having people sit for several hours can give them an insight into the process of making work. Whilst the portraits themselves appear somewhat disparate from the more abstract pallets and woodcuts I feel they bring a new dimension to the work.

The portraits are like a yardstick, a reference point. They are a separate discipline. They require a different way of looking, a closer scrutiny which I relish. I have incorporated aspects of the portraiture in recent pallets and woodcuts. I am currently striving for a more abstract integrity in the portrait work.

I feel the disparity between the strands of work is positive in that it creates a tension and that one discipline informs another. My aim is to develop the strands of work simultaneously, possibly bringing them closer together to create a more powerful resounding impression. I do not see them as being that diverse, just different aspects of my creative output.

Contact and Links

Stephen can be contacted at stephen.roden@btopenworld.com

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