Graham Woodall

Mixed media on canvas. 2007.

Graham Woodall was a professional artist and teacher who worked in the UK and Malta. His Untitled artwork came into the Fondazzjoni Kreattività Art Collection in 2007 following his solo exhibition titled Besieged.

Whilst Woodall’s subject matter ranged from landscapes, portraits, figurative compositions and 3D structures the artwork Untitled is purely abstract. Untitled is comprised of paint and mixed media which when applied to the canvas rendered a low relief.

The exhibition Besieged was in the artist’s own words: ‘a reflective collection of artwork, based on first-hand observations and drawings around Malta’. Besieged showcased works which were made of cardboard, wood and handmade paper using pulp from recycled supplies. Also displayed were found objects. Woodall’s aim was to try and engage the public in the ongoing debate about the changing face of Malta, with particular reference to the amount of construction which was taking place. The 60 pieces of artwork forming part of Besieged reflected the same theme.

When looking closely at Untitled one can almost picture the coffered ceiling of the Mosta dome being swallowed up by an external layer of warm colours being yellow ochre, burnt siena and burnt umber resulting in a harsh juxtaposition. This layering is only broken by the almost central underlying blue textured by the canvas itself. This work is reminiscent of a ‘collage’ which comes from the French term papiers collés (or découpage) utilized to create avant-garde assemblages by pasting paper cut-outs onto various surfaces. ‘Collage allows the opening up of consciousness, which is very direct…it’s also a way of looking at what you are consuming all the time’ – John Stezaker. Indeed, what Woodall was perhaps trying to express through his artworks was the fact that the Maltese population was no longer ‘consuming’ terraced fields and rubble walls so much as layers of construction. To this end Woodall was successful in making a bold statement when observing what was happening in his adoptive country. Woodall regularly held workshops with various museums, hospitals and schools, both in Malta and the UK wherein he wanted to promote the positive in people.

Generated from this idea of positivity, Besieged allowed the viewer to reflect on the changes that each one of us as individuals can undertake to better our environment. Woodall’s artworks are a commentary and an invitation for audiences to take action, as he stated about his workshops ‘although I have a vision of what we are trying to achieve, the method and direction can be a surprise’.