Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sea level rising

I recently heard an interesting radio programme about how the Solomon Islands are steadily disappearing beneath the rising seas.  And coincidentally I was cleaning up some files containing designs from my knitwear days - one of which involved mermaids.  So inevitably a doodle presented itself:
Mindful of mermaids (design in progress)
Ideas and designs recycle themselves in my thinking, no matter how far I have drifted from their origins.  While I determine to 'rationalise' the physical matter around me (i.e. downsize the stuff), the attic that is my brain still holds on usefully to all sorts of junk.  Repurposed, I now find that I prefer the mature reconfigurations. 
Just as well, really.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beauty in a hard place

When we visited the Centre of Ceramic Art at York Art Gallery last year I picked up a leaflet for the Ceramic Art York 2016 event (as seen on the desk in the photo above).  I did so mostly because of the design on the cover.  As so often happens, the leaflet was lost from my view and life intervened, until today when tidying a certain corner.
Before disposing of the leaflet in the recycling I decided to pursue that initial attraction and look up the artist: Rebecca Appleby.  In her ceramic sculptures I find that she has captured those brutish elements of urban detritus which so many of us find beautiful. 
I am attracted by her sculptures,
but am even more drawn to her collages/drawings
and especially to her paper maquettes.  All images are from Rebecca Appleby's website.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

I have never worn an Easter Bonnet

But quite a few folks seem to enjoy extraordinary creations:
image from here
image from here

each link leads to many more examples.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Three threads (part 3)

I have not thought about Sidney Nolan's work for a long time.  My first interest in him was drawn by Leda and the swan (image above from here).  I was a teenager and somehow had acquired a postcard of the work.  I knew about his Ned Kelly paintings, and other divers works; but I still do not know much at all about him and his work.
Sidney Nolan: In the cave (image from here)
I was fortunate while living in the USA to meet and make the acquaintance of his stepdaughter Jinx Nolan.  This was while I was still working in publishing, but she encouraged me to think seriously about coming to art later in life, and I found her and her work inspirational.  I was also inspired to seek out and read her mother, Cynthia Nolan's travel books.

Sidney Nolan: Woman and Billabong (image from here)
The exhibition at the Pallant Gallery was an opportunity to see my first display of several of Sidney Nolan's paintings.  Well, both my friend and I were wowed.
Sidney Nolan: Kelly, Spring (image from here)
All the emotion I had been lacking in the Pasmore exhibition was here, and how!   I love all this mythology, gesture, drama!  I was wondering how I could have lived this long and missed this much great art.  But maybe it's good to know that there are still artists out there whose work and working I still have to discover to my greater nourishment.
Articles here, here, and here, and a review on radio here.  I bought the catalogue where I shall start my researches.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Three threads (part 2)

Victor Pasmore: The Quiet River:The Thames at Chiswick (image from here)
Before the actual visit, the first of the three exhibitions at Pallant House which drew my interest was the Victor Pasmore, especially as it focuses particularly on his development into abstraction.  I first encountered The Quiet River in the Tate gallery in 1968, and bought a postcard which I have still.  It had a profound effect on me, both emotional and intellectual.  I enjoyed..., enjoy that abstracting of elements within sight, such as is also seen in The Gardens of Hammersmith 2 (below, image from here).
I also enjoy his much later wholly abstract work, which I have always believed was a progression from the kind of works pictured above.  Despite Pasmore's claim that his abstract work is purely abstract and not an abstraction of something, I still find visual connections.
Quiet is the Island (not in the exhibition; image from here)
Development in Green and Indigo 2 (image from here)
The exception is in his three dimensional work, the sculptural pieces with wood and Perspex - which excite interest but not pleasure for me. 
Abstract in White, Black, Brown, and Lilac (image from here - where there is a review of the exhibition)
Those I do see as a kind of intellectual exercise in composition, placement, shape, shadow, form, etc. - which could be said of the work like the two pieces pictured here immediately above the abstract if they were seen without any knowledge of the earlier paintings, I suppose.  But with that knowledge, that acquaintance informs and engages a more personal relationship, I find.
The time I spent scrutinising and pondering Pasmore's approach to his abstract pieces had led me to see them increasingly reaching for a kind of graphic purity - distancing them from emotion.
I found it a fascinating, thought-provoking exhibition, but I found myself needing to revisit The Quiet Thames before I left, and immediately on exiting the temporary exhibition space into part of the permanent collection was drawn by the emotional pull of a huge Michael Andrews painting - coincidentally also of the Thames.
Michael Andrews: Thames Painting, The Estuary (image from here, the recent exhibition at the Gagosian gallery in London from which it had just that day been returned and rehung)

Friday, April 07, 2017

Joyous Spring outing

Not a breath of wind, no clouds, full sun, birds singing, and hardly another person around: our outing to Heale House garden was blissful.  We had been there twice before, but many years ago, and had kept meaning to go back.  A friend reminded me of this when she told me of her recent delight there, and so we chose to go today.  And what luck with our timing!  Not only was the weather wondrous, but the blossoms on the trees were out and pristine. 
The house and garden are in a fantastic situation, in the curve of a branch of the river Avon, which creates views and opportunities for naturalistic design around the more formal gardens.  Surrounding hills create a delightful wide valley which (apart from the occasional fighter plane! from the nearby air force station) was soothingly restoratively peaceful.  With hardly anyone else in the gardens, and with so little other intrusion from the outside world it felt like we had sidestepped the everyday. 
Even Heale Cottage (the large house with the thatched roof and the only visible neighbour) looked like an illustration from an 18th century novel.
Bright sunshine is not the best condition for taking good snaps, but everywhere I looked - vistas and details - demanded to be captured, to be savoured later.
In one corner there is a Japanese bridge leading to a now rather dilapidated tea house.  But it all looks fitting with the magnificent surrounding blossoms.

So many shades and shapes of green - so much beauty, and promise of beauty to come.
This outing was both restful and stimulating in so many ways!  We won't leave it so long to return again - although we should not count on being as lucky as we were today.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Three threads (part 1)

Hughie O'Donoghue: Three Studies for a Crucifixion II (image from here)
This week I was fortunate to see three exhibitions in one venue: the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.  I had arranged to meet a friend there to see two exhibitions - the Pasmore and the Nolan - but the bonus for me was the display of woodcut prints which I had time to visit before my friend arrived. 
Vanessa Bell: String Quartet (image from here)
The display covered quite a range of styles which I enjoyed perusing.  Durer's work is always a delight, and it was interesting seeing Vanessa Bell's illustration work, as I was not so familiar with her prints.
Ben Nicholson: Five Circles (image from here)
Of the abstracts, two artists' work was intriguing: Ben Nicholson I did not expect to see at all, and indeed it turns out that this is most likely the only woodcut he executed.  I love the way that the grain of the wood fits his minimal style so well.  What a pity he did not do more.
Salter's work also fascinates me - it always strikes me that she is trying to make pieces which look as much unlike woodcut as possible.  The two on show here are like fine woven cloth.
Emma Stibbon: Hverir, Iceland (image from here)
Such a contrast with the work of Emma Stibbon which is pure drama in landscape.
Utagawa Hiroshige: Travellers surprised by sudden rain (image from here)
John Buckland-Wright: Figure (after Stanley Hayter) (image from here)
I was pleased to see a couple of 'usual suspects': Hiroshige and a homage to Stanley Hayter by John Buckland-Wright.  But was thoroughly delighted finally to see Nana Shiomi's work close to - having previously admired it online only.  Of the prints from 100 views of Mitate, it was No88 Great Buddha which appealed to me - shown below.
But the work which inspired me most was not a woodcut at all.  It was in the gallery/cafĂ© space outside the print room: Hughie O'Donoghue's Three Studies for a Crucifixion II - magnificent carborundum prints, illustrated at the top of this post.