Thursday, October 30, 2008


The Contemporary Czech Glass at the Craft Study Centre is from three artist/teachers, born in the 1970's, and their students, born in the 1980's.
My particular favourites are the playful Pony and Rocking horse from Michal Silhan. The elegant, simple, shapes of these forms belies the technilogical challenges involved in their casting. The way in which they are placed allows the pieces to interact with each other and for new shapes to be formed between them.
Pillow and Lowair from Zuzana Kynclova are equally playful but quite different. The subtleties of the contours and the density of colours make these pieces highly tactile. Visually these pieces entice the viewer to believe that they will be soft and yielding even though they know that they are formed from cold, hard, glass.
Veronica Cerna is showing two blown and cut glass vases, reminiscent of dividing cells, the depths of which harbour rich fluid colours that draw the viewer inwards.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Heimo Zobernig and the Tate Collection

Heimo Zobernig and the Tate Collection has not been particularly well received locally perhaps because of its disjointedness. The accompanying booklet states that 'Through Zobernig's idiosyncratic choice and presentation of the Tate Collection and through the dynamic juxtaposition with his own works, the artist radically challenges the gallery context to produce an exhilarating and unorthodox display' - he certainly succeeds in the latter.
This is an exhibition that I will need to revisit a number of times if I am to stand any chance of 'getting a handle' on where its coming from. At the moment I'm not getting beyond seeing works that I am instinctively drawn to such as Naum Gabo's Construction: Stone with a Collar, 1936-7 version (T06975)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Knitting & Stitching Show, Ally Pally

Thursday 9th October was spent stewarding the Westhope stand. A very rewarding, if rather exhausting, day spent talking to students, teachers and the creative public about the possibilities of contemporary lace.
Directly opposite was Ruth Issett's stand of superb banners. On the outside wall of her stand were these wonderful concertina fold hangings. The photo fails to show the subtleties of the colour changes along the lengths, or the changes within the contrast stripes but it does show the beauty that can be attained by the apparently 'careless' interaction of the pieces as they intertwine at floor level. I've no doubt that this arrangement took long hours of very careful experimentation to arrive at it's current formation.
One of the highlights of the Knitting and Stitching Shows has always been the Graduate Showcase and this year was no exception. Debbie Lyddon (right) and Jackie Langfeld (below) were two of the highlights. Debbie's long seascape was superb and incredibly evokative of so many miles of our coastline. Her use of drawn threads to depict movement in the water was excellent and her use of mulitonal colours imbued the work with a sense of the changing light.
Jackie's larger than life figurative sculptures formed from willow, steel,stitched cardboard and acrylic paint were set against a superb painted backdrop that reminded me of Kurt Jacksons underground paintings, rich, deep and full of feeling. The figures themselves have elements of the skeletal about them, ancient bones with scraps of flesh still clinging to give hints of the original form.

Light:craft Symposium

The Light:craft symposium, on Wednesday 8th October, was organised by the Crafts Study Centre and was part of the ongoing Urban Field series.
In his introduction Bob Martin, Visual Arts Officer (Crafts), Arts Council England South East, spoke of his ongoing interaction with light through ceramics, glass and shadows. One of the images of shadows that he showed was Dail Behennah's Perspex Cube with Pebble Sphere, 2006 (right). I just love this piece, the play of light, the tones within the pebbles, the shapes formed by the shadows, the spatial relationships of the pebbles, the fact that the shadow is an integral part of the piece, there's so much there that appeals to me.
Laurie Lea took us on a tour of her long term interest in how light affects form and form affects light. She began with the single human form and gradually abstracted it down to squares and circles. Transparency allowing light to flow through a piece and imperfections that allow light to escape offer many possibilities for exploration. Her latest works (above) are of voids in cast glass that are then lit with brightly coloured fluorescent light. Photographed in the beach-side ruins of an old hospital they are highly evocative of time and place.
Peter Freeman is a creator of light sculptures and installations which have a high level of resonance for me. This beacon is situated on the Weston-Super-Mare junction of the M5. Comprising thousands of LED lights it is date sensitive and goes up in 'flames' on Bonfire Night, plays Space Invaders on Halloween and displays pink hearts on Valentines Day. It is always a point of interest to see what it is doing as we drive past on our monthly trips to Cornwall.
Another of Peter's installations is the lighting in the window of the Exchange Gallery in Penzance where the 60 meter long glass facade can be illuminated, with a barometric sensor controlling the changes in the light colours. The gallery becomes a place to be visited even when it is officially closed at night.
Poole Arts Centre has a cooling system that senses the build-up of CO2 and opens flaps to ventilate the building.
Peter took a feed from these sensors to control his exterior lighting. The illuminations are subtle and 'quiet' when the building is empty but become bright when it is full of people.
Tine Bech is a visual artist working with installation, sound, sculpture and drawing. Originally from Denmark she now lives and works in London. On the left is one of her experimental, mark-making, drawings. She likes to work with materials such as graphite and charcoal and then place them in the rain to get interactive marks and fields of tone that are often extremely subtle but at other time can be quite harsh.
Purple Membrane, (right), was designed as an installation to be experienced by people who don't usually go to galleries. The lit mist hovers over a swimming pool and as the light outside fades the colour of the mist intensifies. The purple of the mist is set against a really deep orange to heighten the contrast.
Tine is currently involved in Tracing Light as part of Farnham Creates. This will include a trail of lights through the town and an interactive illumination of the bridge to Farnham Maltings which will be triggered by people crossing the bridge. There will also be workshops at the Maltings including 'Drawing with Light' which can later be downloaded from the Tracing Light website.

Lesley Millar

Lesley Millar gave her inaugural Professorial Lecture at the Design Council on Monday 6th October.

Rothko at Tate Modern

Mark Rothko, The Late Series is at Tate Modern, spread across 9 rooms it focuses on his works from the 50's and 60's.
A superb collection of works including 'sketches', works on paper his iconic murals.
The two field compositions, Brown and Gray, (left) on paper were begun in late 1968. They were a concious move towards a new 'series' of works of almost uniform format. The range of tonal hues is incredible and having them together in one romm without the distraction of more colourful pieces adds to the sense of brooding drama.
Untitled, 1958, (right) is on loan from the Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Sakura, Japan. In the exhibition it is hung in the main room with many other richly saturated murals. One of the aspects of this particular mural that fascinates me is the way that the colours change depending on the angle from which you are viewing them. From certain angles the inner edges of the reds glow firey orange, form another angle they become more muted and the maroon background takes on a more bluish hue. I could immerse myself in this for hours and still not feel that I had plumbed its depths.
The Black on Gray series (left) were Rothko's final 'series' and like the Brown and Gray series were on paper. Although the black lacks the depth of tones that appear in the Black-Form paintings it's relative uniformity is a perfect foil for the sensuous hues of the grays (although to call these areas 'gray' feels such an understatement of the range colours that are present as to be almost insulting). Again these painting being together without the distraction of more colourful works is ideal.
There were many beautiful books on Rothko for sale but none of them can really do justice to the real thing, prints on glossy paper can't reproduce the tonal ranges or textures any more than these photos can. However they do provide informative texts and visual memories of a fabulous show. For me the only down side was having to share the works with so many other visitors - the constant chatter and movement are distracting and at time hard to tune-out.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Westhope Group

The Westhope Group meets once a year at Westhope College in Shropshire

Knitting & Stitching Show, NEC

The Westhope Group have one of the gallery stands at the Knitting & Stitching shows this year. The work is based on a theme of Divergence, grounded in centuries-old techniques but challenging the traditional view of lace. The general view shows some of the work including pieces using led lights, wire and felt.
Ann Wheeler's Undulating Form.
Sue McLaggan's Graffiti Neckpiece.
Caro Quarini's hanging, Memory,

Embroiderers Guild Auction

Twisted Threads, who organise the Knitting & Stitching shows are hosting an auction of donated textiles to raise funds for the Embroiderers Guild. They have limited the number of items in the auction to 200. These items can be viewed and bid on on their website and at the Knitting & Stitching shows. Items vary from ethnic and antique pieces, through works from ordinary members to pieces by famous textile artists. each piece has a reserve price. I am currently bidding on a piece by Ann Wheeler.

Northampton Museum Store

My daughter was visiting the Northampton Museum Store to look at the use of lace on shoes. As her knowledge of old lace is limited I was asked to accompany her to identify any lace she might find.
The most relevant pair (left) were on display in the Museum. Red leather and Chantilly lace (machine made). M.E. Sablouiere, Paris. Made for the great exhibition 1889, they won a gold medal.

Modernism in St Ives

St Ive School of Painting

To coincide with the September Festival St Ives Rotary Club help a 'Spot the Artist' charity sale at St Ives School of Painting.

Kurt Jackson - The Tamar Dowr Tamer

Kurt Jackson's latest exhibition, The Tamar - Dowr Tamer, opened at Lemon Street Gallery, Truro on the 6th of September.
It follows the river Tamar from source to sea through all of the seasons. Works include vast mixed media canvases, intimate pencil sketches, sculptures and three-dimensional pieces.
My favourite piece was the extremely evocative Tamarstone Wood (above right) 100 x 100cm Acrylic, ink, oil, wood and twigs £10,500
I am always taken by Kurt's collections such as Source Box, (left), 17 x 10 x 13cm, found objects and pencil, £850.
There were few of Kurt's signature seascapes in this show but the tidal reaches proved a rich source of inspiration. St John's Lake, June 2007, (right), 57 x 59cm, mixed media.