Posts Tagged ‘artists’

Here as promised are details of the artworks featured in my last post. Because I drifted around snapping only the pieces that immediately appealed to me without taking much notice at the time  of pricing, this year’s selection has turned out to be rather over the top from a financial point of view.  Apart from a couple. But there is art available at the Royal Academy that wouldn’t break the bank…so if you get the chance to see for yourself, then I’d recommend getting a ticket.

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“ALL THE FISH IN THE SEA” by David Mach, RA £56,000

 

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“MIGRATION” by Cathy de Monchaux £35,000

 

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“GOLDENGROVE” by Christopher le Brun £168,000

 

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“SATCHEL” and “LIBERTY BODICE” by Valerie Bradbury £500 each

 

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“VENICE TRIPTYCH” by Ken Howard RA £20,000

 

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“SPRING GARDEN, UNDER FROST” by Frederick Cuming RA £25,000

 

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“SNOW IN HYDE PARK” By Ken Howard RA £38,000

 

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“AVOCADO COCONUT EGG (ACE) by El Anatsui Hon RA Price on application!

 

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“KOZANJI: WINTER FIRE” by Ian MacKenzie Smith £4,000

Now, since I went to the exhibition and made my selection and with the Olympics about to burst forth, I settled down the other night and watched an interesting documentary about Tom Daley, Britain’s high-diving medal hope. When I next looked at that last painting, above, all I can see now are a pair of blue Speedo’s and some yellow legs behind a wafting scarlet scarf. Funny how perceptions can be changed, isn’t it?

Oh, and if I were to make a choice and money was no object, then from the above selection I’d probably go for Frederick Cuming’s ‘Spring Garden, Under Frost.’ (I like the colours which remind me slightly of a Patrick Procktor painting a friend once owned).  I discounted the bottle top wall-hanging on account of its size and also because I imagine it would need dusting. Ever practical when it comes to housework avoidance, you see!

The Summer Exhibition  runs until 21 August. Galleries open at 10.00am until 6.00pm, late evenings till 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

 

 

 

 

 

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Last weekend we popped down to West Sussex to take a look at some outside art at the Cass Sculpture Foundation, part of the Goodwood Estate. The Foundation was established twenty years ago by Wilfred and Jeanette Cass. Their vision was to create a charity to support both emerging and recognised artists, allowing the public to engage with contemporary sculpture as well as providing a venue for displaying large-scale works. Originally established to promote British artists, the Foundation now includes work from across the globe.

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“Janus Head” by Peter Burke. I liked this because it made me think of Easter Egg hunts – it looks like moulded chocolate, although actually it’s bronze.

The twenty six acres of ground are enclosed by an impressive Sussex flint wall inside which the woodland has been left to its own devices; the floor is carpeted with coarse grass interspersed with nettles and the odd weedy flower struggling for light. The Foundation does not appear to employ much in the way of horticultural management. There’s allowing for natural planting and there’s leaving a place to go to seed…

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Stairway to Heaven? No, just “Stairway” by Danny Lane, made from glass and steel

From the park, there are far reaching views to Chichester and the south coast.

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“Peregrine” by Stephen Cox. This appealed because of the reflections bouncing off the polished Indian Granite.

The sculptures are placed randomly around a rough trail which you can follow on the map picked up at the visitor’s centre when you pay your £12 entry fee. I’m pleased to say that my Art Pass allowed me a fifty percent discount. Most of the sculptures are massive and one wonders who, other than large corporate bodies, would purchase such things. I can’t see any of them in your average domestic garden.

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“Passages and Circumstances” by John Isherwood, carved from Pennsylvanian Granite. This invites you to squeeze between the uprights to view from different angles.

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I loved this smoke and mirror illusory piece in stainless steel by Rob Ward. He calls it “Gate” which I think is suitably cryptic.

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Another one by Peter Burke, this is called “Host.” Conjured up creepy images of a Dr Who set.

Now, as you probably know, I am a fan of sculpture but I have to say, I found it difficult to pick out works here that were worth a photograph. Some of them were hideous (in my view) so I didn’t bother. Some of them were untitled, so I didn’t bother. Why do artists do that? Leave something untitled? It bugs me. Giving something a heading or a title gives it credibility. Thinking up inventive headlines is part of the creative process. If artists can’t express what or how they were inspired by giving the viewing public some sort of clue then I’ll be darned if I’m going to give the work to which they’ve doubtlessly slaved over for months a second thought. Even the wonderful Henry Moore is guilty of this but in his case I can probably forgive. There’s always an exception.

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This collection of copper tents was my favourite of the day. By Diana Maclean it is called “Encampment.” I might’ve been tempted to name it ‘Tepee or not Tepee’ or ‘Reservation’ – plenty of connotations to that one – but at least she titled her work.

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Our latest sojourn west during the extended Christmas break reminded me of other recent visits to Cornwall, in summer, when the days are long and the light is sharp. Although Cornwall is beautiful at any time of year, early summer’s my favourite – before the hoards of holiday makers descend, blocking the roads with their caravans and filling the cafés up with their blotchy sun-burned skin.

St Ives

St Ives

Go west as far as St Ives – the quintessence of a West Country seaside resort; a perfect picture postcard of a place.

Stroll along typically narrow, Cornish cobbled streets, hear the constant cry of gulls as they wheel overhead; breathe in the salt air, rub shoulders with weather-beaten locals and wander around the harbour to marvel at the latest bounty coming in from the sea on little fishing boats or just spend time lazing on miles of glorious sandy beaches. Do all the things you would do at the seaside.

However, there’s another side to St Ives. The town is well known for being a place that entices artists to stay and enjoy the clarity of light for which it is famous. There’s the Tate Art Gallery right on Porthmeor Beach, housing ever changing exhibitions. The Leach Pottery, a museum dedicated to the work of Bernard Leach, (founding father of the renowned Cornish potters), is well worth a visit and can be found at Higher Stennack, a steep walk to the top of the town.

But to find the most magical of places you must get past the plethora of Olde tea Shoppes selling cream teas; get past the fudge shops, the shops selling surfing equipment, the bead shops, the shops selling crystals and polished fossils, the upmarket casual fashion shops, the bucket, spade and sun cream shops and wind your way around the backstreets until you find yourself in front of a curved, high stone wall and an unprepossessing door. It’s not easy to find, even with the help of the brown tourist signs which are all a bit skew-whiff – but perseverance will be rewarded, especially if, like me, you are a fan of 20th century sculpture.

For this is the site of Trewyn Studio – the home of the English sculptor, Barbara Hepworth – the place where she created some of her most seminal works and ultimately, the place where she died tragically in a fire in 1975. Originally from Yorkshire, Hepworth was one of several artists who settled in St Ives  during the 1940’s. She bought Trewyn in 1949 and remained there all her life. According to her final wishes the place is now a museum showcasing her works and is managed by Tate St Ives.

The museum houses a useful timeline documenting her life and work and then upstairs in a light and airy room, are models, plaster casts and miniatures of some of her larger pieces. Step through another door at the top of the stairs and you are outside in her wonderful walled garden.

Step out into the garden

Step out into the garden

There are many of her larger works here in bronze, stone and wood – resplendent amongst the foliage – one form complementing the other.

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To one side of the garden is her studio, left almost untouched – as if she was but a breath away. Her tools are out on the bench;

The studio - as it must always have been

The studio – as it must always have been

her coats hang on hooks;

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paint pots, ancient tins of glue and varnish line the shelves.

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Trewyn is an inspiring place and one I have returned to – always in sunshine. I’d like to see it in wet weather too as raindrops would provide another dimension to her sculptures – some of them, especially the bronzes, invite the addition of water.

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Hepworth’s ‘Dual Form’ outside the Guildhall in St Ives

Years ago, when I worked just off London’s g-jackson-winged-figure-sculpture-john-lewis-store-oxford-street-london-by-barbara-hepworth[1] Oxford Street,  I used to walk past a Hepworth sculpture every day. Mounted on the wall on the corner of the John Lewis department store, her piece entitled ‘Winged Figure’ stands poised, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes. The John Lewis store had to be rebuilt after the war on its current site where, according to baffled business analysts in our current economic climate, business is booming.

I like to think that the commissioning in 1961,  by the John Lewis Partnership, of Hepworth’s prophetic sculpture has had something to do with it.

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Do you buy a daily newspaper? I do, by force of habit – but I never read it properly – I skim and scan, as I learned in my early press office days.   We used to produce a list of relevant daily press cuttings for the company’s top brass to peruse at their leisure and while I quite enjoyed this exercise, I always secretly wondered why they couldn’t each take a different paper every morning and find their own articles of interest, and then swap them amongst themselves. It would have given them something to talk about at their endless board (bored) meetings.

 I always buy the Times because you get a reasonable view of what’s happening in the world without too much bias. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have a preferred leaning – all papers do – but I can see through that and I buy it for its legendary letters page and the Times Two pull-out entertainment and culture section where I can manage the smaller crossword in the time it takes to do a London commute and there is usually something worth reading.

So I was a little irked that the publication in which I have invested so much of my time and loyalty over the years, (not to mention hard cash), decided to run a series last week, telling its readers what they should be doing with their leisure time. Their ‘experts’ produced lists. Twenty films you should watch; twenty plays you should see; twenty paintings you should know; twenty-five books you should read and twenty classical works you really should have listened to.

Now, I read books all the time and I‘ve only managed seven of the titles on their higher than highbrow list. (This doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoyed them). The only two plays listed that I am able to agree are worth recommending were ‘Death of A Salesman’ by Arthur Miller and Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet.’ There were others on the list that I’ve seen but I certainly wouldn’t suggest anyone sitting through any of them. The film choices were so beyond belief that I’m not even going to mention them here and if you couldn’t pick out Masaccio’s ‘Expulsion from the Garden of Eden’ in a line up of early Renaissance works, then you’d definitely be at the bottom of the intellectual pile.

According to my paper of choice, I am an unenlightened philistine and have several years of hard reading/watching/contemplating to do before I can hold my own in polite cultural circles. How dare they? Who are these so-called ‘experts?’ It was the dictatorial ‘should’ on the title page that I found offensive. Why should I? I’ve never been good at being told what I should be doing, I know that, and some might consider it a flaw. I like to think of it as having a questioning and open mind.

I have pulled out these articles and am preparing to circulate them amongst my colleagues next week in an attempt to prove I’m not the only ignoramus in the staffroom. Meanwhile, I’ve thought about making a list of my own, but in no way will I expect you to have read or enjoyed the same things, and I’d be interested to hear what book/play/work of art/piece of music means something to you.

To kick off, here are a few books (in no particular order) that I’ve read and which have stayed in my head over the years, which must indicate that they mean something to me:

Peter Pan by JM Barrie

Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Going Solo by Roald Dahl

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess

The Lady of Shalott,1888, John William Waterhouse

The Lady of Shalott,1888, John William Waterhouse

The first painting that wowed me as a child was ‘The Lady of Shallott’ by JW Waterhouse and I have a soft spot for Van Gogh’s ‘Café Terrace at Night’ painted in Arles  because I’ve been there for coffee.

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Café Terrace at Night, 1888, Vincent Van Gogh

There are so many other works of art to choose from there is no way I could write a definitive list of my favourites – and the Times didn’t include installation art or sculpture – hey, what do they know, anyway.

Film wise, Cabaret would be right up there, along with The Great Escape, The Killing Fields, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,  Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump and The Deer Hunter with Toy Story as a surprising late entry. (There is a Tom Hanks theme emerging,  for which I make no apologies).

So meanwhile, as I’m wallowing in the mire that apparently is my cultural wasteland, what would be on your list?

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