Posts Tagged ‘sculpture’

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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As the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden at Wisley is almost on the doorstep I thought I’d mosey on up the A3 this week and take a wander to get some botanical inspiration. Having to park in the second overflow car park before mid-morning didn’t really bode well crowd-wise but I’m in chilled out holiday mode, so hey-ho.

Once through the gates it was obvious that there must be a special school-holiday event on. (Oh, dear). Grimly undeterred, I waded through hundreds of very small people attached to their Surrey mothers, all pushing the obligatory Surrey pushchair – the equivalent in stroller terms to a 4×4 vehicle. These modern day contraptions come with several levels of parcel shelving, space for two or three infants and room for all the paraphernalia that seems to be required when taking an outing, however uncomplicated, with your children these days. Things have changed since Son was small. We had the equivalent of a canvas deckchair which folded up like a telescopic umbrella. That and a modest back-pack was all we ever needed. Perhaps he was a deprived child, I don’t know, but it never took long to get ready or in and out of my humble hatch-back.

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I like to start a Wisley walk by taking the wide path through the herbaceous borders and up towards Battleston Hill, passing the rose garden on the right.

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“Off With Their Heads!”

It was here that I realised why there were so many children and their parents around – the event ‘Adventures in Wonderland’ was celebrating 150 years of the book by Lewis Carroll and the small visitors were rushing around like crazed beetles trying to find Alice and all the character sculptures hidden around the gardens.  In the centre of the rose garden was the Queen of Hearts, positioned here looking for all the world as if the three gardeners behind her had caused displeasure and were definitely for the chop. I began to see the fun in this and actively started searching out the figures for myself although I was at a disadvantage because I hadn’t been given a fact sheet to tick off or a little booklet on my arrival.

Now – here’s a point to ponder: When does a garden ornament become a sculpture? What actually defines a sculpture?

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I puzzled on this as I meandered through the hydrangeas, also wondering why ours don’t look quite like these gargantuan specimens. No Wonderland figures here as far as I could see so I changed route towards the rockeries, passing this intriguingly mown lawn and more herbaceous borders.

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Here I found the Mad Hatter standing on the edge of a bird bath as well as the White Rabbit. I spied the manufacturer’s details on an information stand near these two and thought what an excellent way this is to maximise publicity for your company.

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White Rabbit with the Dormouse sitting in the bird bath

I can imagine that these figurines will prove very popular and are certainly a step up from the kitsch garden gnomes or moulded Alsatian dogs I’ve seen at my local garden centre.

As I crossed the main lawn where I passed a giant chess set and a croquet game being played with plastic flamingos (this whole event has been very well thought out for Wisley’s youthful visitors) it occurred to me that I’d probably answered my own question, especially as I spied this bronze sculpture, on loan to Wisley from the Henry Moore Foundation.

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Entitled simply ‘King and Queen’ and created by Henry Moore in 1957, these two figures sit serenely in front of the house now used as a botanical laboratory. They overlook the canal and appear very much at home here.

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 Now, that’s what I call sculpture.

Adventures in Wonderland continues at Wisley until 31 August.

This post forms the fourth part of a challenge thrown down by Sherri, over at her Summerhouse.  As Sherri herself has already changed the rules of the challenge which originally was to post five pictures and five stories on consecutive days (ha! not a chance!), I have been taking a more relaxed attitude towards the rules myself. I’m supposed to nominate someone to take up the challenge after each of these posts but I’m not going to do that. Suffice to say, if you feel the urge to challenge yourself to five pictures/five stories (fact or fiction) then please feel free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When I started my first school, at the age of five, Dad seemed very excited to hear that I had been placed in “Churchill” – one of  four houses our tiny school was divided into for Sport’s Day events or collecting merit points. The houses were each designated a colour and I was to wear blue webbing bands which, because blue was – and still is – my favourite colour,  pleased me more than its name which at that time held little significance.

The houses were named after famous local residents – and Winston Churchill had his country retreat less than five miles away. As children we drove past the place often; were taken there for outings; were told stories of a great man who had lived there.

During the war Dad was a despatch rider for the Royal Signals. He would regularly make trips to Chartwell to deliver documents or papers and of course always held Winston in very high esteem. He got to know that part of the countryside pretty well and it is probably part of the reason  he decided to buy the virtually derelict house he did in the 1950’s which was to become our family home for over thirty years.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death. Time, then, to revisit.

Chartwell sits behind a high stone wall down a narrow winding lane with far reaching views across the Kentish Weald. Winston bought the place in 1922 and it provided a sanctuary for him, his wife Clementine and their children away from London and matters of state.

When World War Two ended in 1945 the Churchills were not confident they could afford to keep the place going but a consortium of friends got together and shored things up for them with the proviso that the property  be bequeathed to the National Trust on the deaths of Winston and Clementine. The Trust is now custodian of this quirky yet highly personal house and its magnificently sweeping gardens and I’m pleased to say that I was able to gain free entry for two using my marvellous National Art Pass.

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Our walk started with a gentle stroll down towards the lake where black swans can be spotted if you’re lucky. Following a rough path around the water’s edge brings you to a small clearing where a sculpture of Winston and Clementine Churchill is situated showing them sitting together looking towards their beloved house. The art work is by sculptor Oscar Nemon and was unveiled by the Queen Mother in 1990.

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Carry on past the sculpture and you reach wild woodland to the south-east edge of the estate. The path here winds uphill through beech and bluebell woods to where a unit of Royal Canadian Engineers camped out during World War Two. These troops set about camouflaging Chartwell, hiding the swimming pool, draining the reservoir and disguising the lakes with brushwood, keeping the place safe from possible aerial attack. Apparently Winston was mightily relieved that his precious goldfish were not in immediate danger.

image Returning downhill from the site of the Canadian camp, the house comes into view across the fields and sloping lawns.

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Inside, the house is a delight – the rooms have been maintained almost as they would have been when the Churchills were in residence: some personal things remain – Winston’s slippers, for instance. Sadly, photography is not allowed, but you can click here to view interiors from the National Trust’s website.

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According to the National Trust’s blurb the house is ‘of little architectural merit’ having been added to and changed over the years by various occupants – Churchill included. When he bought Chartwell he opened up some of the darker rooms by installing large casement windows, making the most of its position overlooking some of Britain’s finest green and pleasant land. It was this view that enticed him to Chartwell in the first place and one of which he never tired.

“A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted.” (Winston Churchill)

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This view point overlooks the miles of  rolling countryside stretching towards the English Channel that fired Churchill’s fierce resolve to keep Britain safe from  invasion. In the centre of the photograph is the wall around the kitchen garden which he helped to build – at a reported two hundred bricks a day.

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Through the arched gateway  is Winston’s art studio, left as if he has just popped out for an amble around his garden.

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He spent hours here painting, finding the relaxation it derived a perfect antidote for the famous depression he suffered and  which he referred to as his ‘ black dog.’ One of his paintings, of his goldfish pond, sold at Sotheby’s for £1.8m last December. Now, having seen his collection of paintings in the studio  (sadly, no photos allowed here either), while they are the dedicated work of a very enthusiastic and prolific amateur, I’m not sure the price the painting fetched at auction is justified, other than the fact it is by Churchill. Here’s a photographic representation of his painting, as near as I could get …

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So much has been written about Churchill: his policies, political leanings, the crossing twice of the House of Commons from Conservative to Liberal and back again, his failures and his triumphs, his family, his speeches and most of all his determination to never surrender to a Nazi invasion. Without his dogged and ruthless determination to plan and implement the Battle for Normandy, which the French will be commemorating this weekend, the course of the war would no doubt have been different. And while we cannot forget the tremendous sacrifice made by  Allied troops on D-Day – 6th June 1944-  and in the days following – perhaps a silent salute to Winston wouldn’t go amiss.

Enjoying your freedom? Thank a veteran.

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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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Here’s one art form I don’t like: tattooing – because I don’t understand it. What’s that all about? I’d rather go to see Damien Hirst’s Thousand Years than have a young girl’s shoulder with its badly pricked out butterfly foisted in front of me in a queue at the post office. Did she have this done on a whim, after a night of tequila slammers? Why else would she deface her unblemished skin with irreversible graffiti? I understand that ‘corrective’ surgery is available at a cost but it’s apparently painful and leaves scarring. According to the British Association of Dermatologists, one third of people with tattoos live to regret them.

It isn’t even a fashion thing. Fashion, by its definition is ‘something that is popular at a particular time;’ it’s transient: it doesn’t last. Tattoos, whether you get tired of them or not, do. Where has this current trend sprung from?

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Celebrities. Let’s blame them. Many high profile people – especially footballers – flaunt their heavily tattooed torsos, none more flagrantly, I’m sorry to say, than David Beckham. I say sorry because, even though, in 1998 he contributed to England’s early exit from the World Cup and I, along with most of the country at the time, held him culpable for the whole team’s short comings, am very fond of dear David. In spite of his ‘body adornment’ he is a beautiful sight to behold; he has an endearing grin, appears charmingly honest and by all accounts is a model parent. His celebrity marriage is standing the test of time and I’m prepared to accept there is a side to his wife that the public don’t see.

He earns millions through sponsorship deals – currently the face of Sky Sports TV; previously – to highlight a couple – the face of Breitling watches (fair enough) and Armani underpants. (Odd, being the face of underpants). Amongst his charitable work he is a Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef and supporter of Help for Heroes. The boy’s done good, as they say; he’s become a national treasure, part of our sporting establishment culminating last year in a starring role at the Olympics ceremony.

Arise, Sir David. Or will he? Are tattoos preventing him from becoming a knight of the realm? (Or would that be Posh?).  Do tattoos deter potential employers, I wonder. I know I’m being unnecessarily judgemental, but if I was in a position to recruit staff, I’d be put off by a display of exhibitionistic self harm. It seems that many folk start off by embellishing themselves with the name of a loved one. There’s an obvious flaw to that straight away, given the rising divorce statistics. Even the name of a child. Who’s to predict they won’t turn out to be an axe murderer?  Enough of this – it’s turning into a rant.

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Let’s look at another perfect David. Michelangelo’s. Would his looks be enhanced if someone were to doodle over him with an indelible pen? I don’t think so. The act of vandalism would cause outrage.

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The Venus di Milo, now residing in the Louvre and discovered in Greece in 1820, was found in several pieces and reassembled. Her arms were never re-attached as they didn’t appear of the same quality as the rest of the sculpture, so were discarded. I’m just wondering if her ancient creator, Alexandros of Antioch, had been experimenting with a bit of ancient sleeve graffiti. We’ll never get to the bottom of that one but I’d be genuinely interested to hear from the pro tattoo lobby.

You never know, you might convince me it’s art.

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I’ve been a fan of Henry Moore for years, possibly since Dad, on driving us past the newly installed Knife Edge Two Piece, in front of the Houses of Parliament, dismissed it with a scathing grunt as ‘modern art.’

Knife Edge Two Piece

Knife Edge Two Piece

I was at that age when everything one’s parents say is complete rubbish so automatically I strove to like it. And I still do, so thanks, Dad.  Having been to a major retrospective at the Tate a few years ago and to an exhibition of Moore’s works at Kew Gardens, it was with excitement that I planned my trip to Hertfordshire with a competent map-reading friend.

It takes a while to find Perry Green, the tiny hamlet where Henry Moore lived. When you get there, you feel like you’ve dropped through time, to an era before technology ruled the world; a peaceful, slower time, where people stopped to pass the time of day. The sort of place where a whistling butcher’s boy rides past on an old bicycle and the bus comes once a week. There are no shops, but there is a telephone box, which, on closer inspection, is a tiny exhibition gallery called the Red Cube. The Hoops Inn, tucked away behind a hedge, provides a further clue that this is no ordinary village: the size of their car park suggests they expect a crowd.

Hoglands - Henry Moore's home

Hoglands – Henry Moore’s home

Hoglands, Henry Moore’s delightful house, is part of the Henry Moore Foundation, a registered charity founded in 1977 by Moore himself to encourage public appreciation of the visual arts. The garden and adjacent fields are home to many of Moore’s finest pieces, the setting complementing both the structure and form of his sculptures. Opposite the main house is a little cottage which doubles as the ticket office and coffee shop. We were advised to book a time to see the interior of the house as only a few people are let in at once. This is well worth clock-watching for as inside the house there is a real feeling of the artist’s presence – as if he and his wife have just popped out to the nearest town and will be back any minute.

The garden is informal with hedges and plantings masking the next treasure. At the far reaches of the garden are the sheds and barns HM used for creating, and these too, are open for inspection – some are as he would have left them; one is an indoor exhibition of his work and another, The Aisled Barn, has an exhibition of tapestries designed by HM and woven at West Dean College in West Sussex.

Colour composition with half moon - tapestry

Colour composition with half moon – tapestry

Beyond these buildings is the sheep field where some of his largest pieces can be seen, magnificent against the landscape, yet completely at home with the animals resting against them. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I’ll finish with a few more images from my day at Hoglands. Henry Moore’s home is most definitely on my top-ten-places-to-visit list.

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Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge

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Double Oval

Large Internal Form

Large Internal Form

Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae

Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae

If you decide to go, be prepared to spend the whole day there and book a table at the Hoops Inn the food is good but they do get extremely busy.

Hoglands is open until 27 October 2013, Wednesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays 11am – 5pm.

Header picture shows Large Reclining Figure, situated on a mound in the far corner of the sheep field: an imposing sentinel.

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