Archives for category: Art exhibition

The Halesworth Gallery has an open show every autumn and I usually contribute something. I am on the committee and have been for the past ten year or so. This is a legacy from when I used to organise art shows in fields and marshes with a friend. In the end I got asked to be on the committees of a couple of art galleries in the town and this has been part of my being active in the local art community. Halesworth Gallery has been there since 1966 in an old alms house in the town. We show from May to September and put on about seven shows a year with a couple of shows of children’s work at the start and the end of the season. And we always have the Open Show.

This year I put in two square pieces which were supposed to be channelling Lily Van Der Stokker . Unfortunately I didn’t get down to Tate St Ives to see the show and they have been tardy in sending me the book but I read about it in magazines and online. I was intrigued by the idea that her work can be seen as being aggressive in its prettiness. I really like it. It appeals to me as it is clearly quite annoying whilst being very ‘nice’.

So I made one piece with water colour on the canvas using a frilly manner of calligraphy. It reads ‘A Painting to Cheer Everyone Up’. The other piece was made with thin acrylic over a layer of clay based house paint. It reads ‘How to Paint and Draw’. This is the title of one of the case studies and it was supposed to sit in the middle of the wall of varied open show type work and be a half question about the work around it. A low key intervention in the show really.

I was asked to make another temporary wall painting for the Culture of the Countryside project, this time for the show at Wingfield Barns. Yesterday I spent the day in the barn with my Mac, a projector and Jo Wylie at Glastonbury on the radio. It took from 9.30 to 5.30 to do, with a twenty minute break for lunch. I used umber, white, black and cerulean blue acrylic paint to restrict the palette. I had been asked to mention the field names and the villages of the schools that had taken part in the show which gave the initial map the range. I had been supplied with a scan of a Victorian OS type map and a detail of the Wingfield college site. I had taken a photo of a fold out map in a book of the Wingfield College estate with the field names on. There was no way the scale of these maps would marry up at all. I did mention the notion of a palimpsest during the planning stage.

Final map painting at 5.30pm on Saturday.

The previous map painting I made using an overhead projector and I arranged the digital files and printed them out onto transparent sheet. This time I decided to use a digital projector as I thought I would be able to control the light and darkness in the room more easily. It also meant that I didn’t have to prep the image in the same way. I used Google maps to make a basic map of the whole region which is what I did for the Halesworth one. Then I found appropriate digital images and put them in a folder. On my way to the site I stopped a took a photo of St Andrew’s church from the top of the hill and used that as well.

This meant that I could be a bit looser about the image construction. I started with the google map and then started layering the Wingfield detail and then the field map and the Victorian OS map, more or less centred over Wingfield.

The manner of the images came about because I had discussed the practicalities of the piece with the art centre manager who was worried about the expensive tiled floor. I had reassured her that I wouldn’t drip paint at all as I hadn’t done at all for the Halesworth one. “You’re not doing a Rolf Harris then?” she said. When I got there in the morning I was given a very fine heavy weight dust sheet which it seemed a shame not to make full use of. I also thought, as the morning wore on, that thin paint would be quicker to use and would help with the palimpsest effect that I was after, it would allow the layers to show through. There was a time limit to the work and I thought it would probably be more fun to use thin paint and be a bit looser about it. And I was right; it was more fun and quicker. I was doing the images in about twenty minutes each with a bit of Photoshopping on the images before projection, specifically gray scaling and increasing the contract and brightness. So the look of the piece evolved during the day and was a mixture of preparation, having a fairly clear outline idea in my head and improvising on the day. The outline in my head was vague in detail but I had a conception of what it would look like. Quite what that idea in my head looks like is difficult to explain as it is purposely vague and I did no prep drawing or sketch.

I realise, once I’d done it that I could have been much more orderly about it. I could have measured out the wall and designed the whole thing in Photoshop before I got there and then just traced it on. I could have arranged all the overlaps and so on and made all the decisions before I got near the wall. Why didn’t I? The fact that I didn’t and did it the way I did seems interesting and the process that I have used seems to have lead to the image looking in a certain way. There is an interaction between the circumstances, the time allowed, the materials, the brief and with the manager. Interesting. Is there any meaning in that? Is this creativity?

Last week we went down to Northgate High School in Ipswich for the opening of the Beneath the Surface exhibition of work by Jevan Watkins Jones made during his residency as an artist there over the past two years. The work mainly consisted of the large ceramic mural made by year seven pupils on large white tiles donated by a local tiling firm. Jevan had done a huge and very beautiful drawing based on the pupil’s drawings of people in the playground and this was used as the basis of the large mural. The pupils had filled in the images on the tiles with oxides and glazes.

The other work was based on prints of cells and two very large photo-grams which I unsuccessfully photographed in the stair well. There was also a text piece on a window. These all part of Jevan’s legacy work. We had a look round the art rooms and there was a lot of high quality stuff going on. It made me think about working in a high school where there was this level of enthusiasm and effort going into the art. I have become a specialist in working with a general population of pupils who may or may not like art. It is a long, long time since I worked with volunteers. Perhaps it is time to start.

I enjoyed Jevan’s studio and again he was very generous with his sketchbooks and prep work. We had a chat about our various projects and his upcoming show at the Drawing school in London. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of a diverse practice which I have been thinking about since. Jevan was concerned about the way the residency had diversified his work in a way and made it difficult to focus. I liked that about his work though, the way it covered drawing, science, photo-grams, computer work and sculpture and so on, just in this show. But, thinking about it, and doing some writing about the diversity of my own work I am more troubled. At least Jevan can think about his own work as an entity he might want to get back to but I am not sure what my work would be like any more if I was left to my own devises. My work over the past year has covered an enormous amount of ground in a wide range of media, some because of teaching, some as my ‘own work’, some in between, some because of the PhD. Trying to write down what the common threads are is very difficult, apart from me, ‘all made by the one hand’ as someone said of my NUCA show.

Perhaps that’s a warning. Keep making extremely diverse work and forget what it is like not to? Along the way I can remember things that have seemed to make it OK to have a diverse work pattern. I remember seeing a show of Braque at the RA years ago and thinking that here was a chap untroubled by the idea of making his ‘typical’ work. I wonder how much of an artist’s style comes about post-mortem. Is it the modern manner to have a range of work or styles to suit every occasion? I have been thinking about this and attempting the beginning of a Catalogue of My Own Styles or A Personal Art History.

Jevan emailed back:

Thanks Paul great blog and thanks for turning out I really appreciate it. It’s my last week in London this week and we had the thrill of meeting HRH The Prince of Wales at a reception in Winsor Castle on Monday eve and I sold two drawings there, so that’s fab! I will email again in response to your blog on the issue of ‘diversification’ the story of are times but I feel on reflection, as you reassured, genre variation to a healthy degree is lively & good but I do feel there is a depth of substance compromised that a dedication to a single discipline gives…..will keep thinking!!

Jev


Sketches of Henry Moore Sculptures

Sketches of Henry Moore Sculptures

Went up to London on the train for a Saturday visit. I took the Brompton and rode round the galleries on it which was an adventure in itself. I visited Tate Modern which was OK. I didn’t really enjoy it that much. It was very busy and full of parties of French children taking photographs of the art work with their mobile phones. In fact there was a lot of photography going on with everything from mobile phones to Nikon SLRs. I found this rather off putting somehow. It made the art tourism aspect of the place very apparent. I found a few things I liked in the gaps of the big galleries. I was particularly looking for ┬áthe work of Frederic Bruly Bouabre which I had read about and I enjoyed the collection of his little images. I also enjoyed the Exquisite Corpse etchings by the Chapman brothers. It was difficult to work out how many hands had been at the plates but there was an interesting range of marks and drawing manners in the images. There were some drypoints by Louise Bourgeois too.

I cycled round to Intaglio Printmakers just round the corner. A very fine shop indeed, packed with stuff, jars and bottles and plates and cutters and everything for the printmaker. I had a good browse round that and got a fine Italian etching needle and some oil based printing ink for relief printing.

Then I rode over to Tate Britain and spent an hour or so going round the Henry Moore show. They had a difficult task on their hands trying to sell the idea of Moore as being the radical artist throughout his life as it is so difficult to see past the ubiquity and familiarity of his work to what it might have looked like to people before the war. I enjoyed the show because I sort of like Moore. I like his drawings and some of the sculptures. My favourties are the big plaster and string piece from 1951 and some of the small lead pieces and the final elm carvings were pretty impressive. They make the point that his post war warriors and so on had a different meaning in Holland and Germany where they became war memorials. The show stops before the sixties really get going when he really diluted his reputation through repetition. Interesting show though. He was quite a celebrtity artist in his way but the way he was a celebrity is very different to the current model. He was a celebrity in a cardigan.

It was a bit of a hack on the bike up to Gimpel Fils to see Tom and his Pattern Completion project and a two hour presentation on the thinking behind the work. The neuro-science was interesting though I am not sure how much of it comes through in the work itself.