Thursday, February 26, 2015

Top tip

Duane Michals: Dr Heisenberg's Magic Mirror of Uncertainty
In today's Guardian newspaper the photographer Duane Michals gives as his top tip:

Don't try to be an artist.  Find the thing within you that needs to be expressed and then you might find it is art.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A man of parts

Following my visit to the New Brutalist Image display and sight of the sculpture Forms on a Bow (seen above) a few days ago in Tate Britain, yesterday I made a quick visit to an interesting display of Eduardo Paolozzi's collages and screenprints.  I have been attracted to Paolozzi's work since I was young enough to know that although I wasn't sure what it was about, I wanted to see and know more.  He came to my attention first as an artist from Edinburgh, and then it was through seeing Paolozzi's examples that I became interested in collage, printmaking, the processes involved in bronze sculpture, and even tapestry weaving. 
The Whitworth Tapestry, designed by Paolozzi, and woven at Dovecote Studios (picture from here)
Wittgenstein at the Cinema Admires Betty Grable screenprint (picture from here)
Wittgenstein in New York screenprint (picture from here)
It was also through Paolozzi's work rather than the university philosophy department that I first encountered Wittgenstein!
His work has kept popping up through my life, and almost always instantly recognisable it raises a smile when I encounter them.  There is an interesting article here on how despite examples of his work are widespread in many of our art and cultural institutions (such as in the Whitworth, the V&A as well as Tate, as seen above), his worth is generally underrated.
Cyclops bronze (picture from here)
There are some photographs here by Nigel Henderson, with whom he formed Hammer Prints.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Biography of a not-so-random object

She always wore her hat, and she only came to the afternoon gatherings.  I can't remember when Kiria Selini started being part of the weekday rotation, but it certainly was not right from the beginning.  I also do not know whose friend or neighbour she was, because she was not part of the family.  Formality was always observed with her, a small woman, neat and chirpy, removing her gloves as she entered.
After she had had her coffee and sweetmeat she would take her hand work out of her handbag.  It was always a crochet hook, and always one of two items that she was making: a looped washcloth or a needle case.
Every time we were there for the summer and she would say that we would not find her the following year.  It was, however many years before she was missing.  Life had caught up with so many of us in different ways by then.  There was so much I did not know about her, but somehow I felt that asking would emphasize my being the outsider.  I do not even know if Selini was her surname or given name but the Kiria (Mrs sounds so prosaic, Madame would be a better approximation) was always used.  I never heard her address anyone directly  - or perhaps even indirectly by name.
All I know is that apart from being a widow there was some sadness about her, which I understood from the vague muttered sympathetic adjectives overheard when she was not present - sadness more than simply that her son was a communist official in Russia!  In any case he was not discussed - well, not until Greece took in the folks who wanted to come back from Russia.  The son joined his mother, but by then I was married and no longer a summer visitor.
Over the years we received many washcloths: strong cotton constructs which did not disintegrate from one summer to the next.  But in 1969, on my last visit before marriage I also received this needle case, and I use it still.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Reading progress

I am partway through two books at present, and very much enjoying what might seem like slow progress.  The physically big book, and therefore having to be read with support, is Turner in his Time by Andrew Wilton
This is brilliant, and I am really lucky to be reading the second and much added to edition.  Wilton has been involved professionally with Turner's work for many years, and also writes well.  I like this kind of biography of art work.  It is like the excellent three volume Picasso biography by John Richardson.  Progress moves from painting to painting, covering the context of the life as it moves forward.  There are many illustrations too, of the works discussed.
I find that this kind of biography is not one to be rushed.  I like to read a chapter at a time, then enjoy thinking about what I have read, mulling it over thoroughly before moving on to the next chapter.
I am also savouring my bedtime reading: The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare.  This is a delightful meander through Hoare's journeys around coasts, in oceans, on islands,... his thoughts and experiences.  I don't know anything much about the author except that he lives around Southampton in the UK, and that whale conservationists and scientists allow him to come along with them.  At this point I only want to know what is revealed as the book progresses: I am a fascinated passenger on this trip.
Every evening I also read one story (or two if I miss a night like yesterday when we came back late from a concert) by James Robertson from his 365 stories.  There is one for each day, and also they are 365 words long.  I love the idea of the exercise for both writer and reader, as well as enjoying the stories themselves which are in no way obviously constrained.
Meanwhile of course while I meander about in this casual way, savouring the diversions along which each book sends me, the reading pile steadily increases.  So, what's new?!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Printmaking progress

Birdie (lino and digital)
This is a mix of experiments. 
I started with a simple outline drawing of the woman and the bird.
Not sure what I wanted as a background - certainly something more than just something coloured. 
Perhaps branches.
I wanted also to print on tissue paper which had been covered with pastel in colours which had been influenced by the Roman bricks I have been looking at in the archaeology course.  But I also wanted to use a commercial tissue paper which I received round a present.
I started printing the background onto the pastel papers,
and onto a collage of the commercial tissue.  After the background layer prints were dry I printed the top layer.  Unfortunately the collage of commercial tissue started coming apart after printing.  The other prints worked - more or less, but I really wanted to try the wildflower greens. 
I had taken photos of all the background prints as well as of the final layer prints in order to be able to collage digitally. 
I did not want the branches to be too definite, and so I chose one of the 'least successful' prints.  And I must say that I like the result so far.  Now it goes into the back burner for further pondering.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The fascination of walls

Today I have been entranced by Roman wall-building.  In the online archaeology course this week the main subject is how excavation is carried out, but this section on wall building is going to distract me a while, I think.
The photos below are all copyright the University of Southampton, whose course this is, and were taken by Hembo Pagi.  I think they look absolutely beautiful.
Here is an interesting page on Roman building techniques and their descriptions.