Leo, Rob, John … and Eileen

February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Leonardo, Detail from The Burlington House Cartoon, about 1499-1500 Photo © The National Gallery, London

Leonardo, Detail from The Burlington House Cartoon, about 1499-1500 Photo © The National Gallery, London

… In case you were  wondering whether this is a roll call of the men in my life, let me enlighten you – they are not. Last Friday I just managed to catch a glimpse of Leonardo Da Vinci’s work on display at the National Gallery exhibition. I say glimpse since it was so very busy when went, I guess due to the fact that the exhibition was due to end on the 5th Feb. Despite the civilised pushing and elbowing out of the way, I was amazed at the size and the level of detail of his drawings. His reputation as a great artist and polymath is undoubted, but nowhere in the literature about him did I see any mention of his fantastic eyesight! He must have had what we call ’20/20 vision’ and a great deal of patience and clarity, since the miniature intricate drawings are a marvel to see. I am no art historian or curator, but in my humble opinion (for what it is worth), I am guessing that his numerous drawings acted as a mini sketchbook for the big murals and pictures he created. Artists these days seem to work on a very large scale, hence the need for spaces like the Tate Modern to accommodate them. Which brings me nicely to my afternoon at the Tate Modern.

Eileen White inspired paper cutEileen White inspired paper cutEileen White inspired paper cuts

It was freezing in London last Friday, so I took refuge in the afternoon, prior to my evening visit to the National Gallery, at the Tate Modern. Currently, there are no major exhibitions on, so I spent my time going around their collections. I was really pleased to see two paintings (Marguerite Kelsey  1928) & (Portrait of a Young Woman  1935) by Meredith Frampton, which I have discovered from my  regular post updates from The Persephone Books. I also discovered the very enlightening photographs of Akram Zaatari, dating from Studio photos taken in Lebanon in the 1960s and 1970s (situated on Level 5 New Documentary Forms – Tate Modern). Looking at these photos I felt as if I knew some of the people and could associate with them. Perhaps, spending part of my childhood in Turkey meant that they were not totally alien to me.

As for Rob and John, one sunny January afternoon, I had wandered over to Mottisfont Abbey (A National Trust property in Hampshire), to see Cutting Edge Contemporary Paper Art Exhibition. It showcased works from contemporary artists such as Rob Ryan, John Dilnot and Eileen White to name a few. Eileen White also held a workshop at Mottisfont, which I attended with a friend and my daughter. Her work in the house at Mottisfont Abbey called “Come, Heavy Sleep” 2011, was very inspirational and by far the most moving of all the art on display. On our workshop session she guided us through her method of visualising the subject matter and transforming it. The inspiration for her creation was the Winter Garden at Mottisfont Abbey. This is where we too began, sketching and then translating our sketches into paper and then cutting. Needless to say I have not produced a work of art that will be shown anywhere, but I think Isabella was very much inspired. She has been drawing trees and plant life ever since and now carries a sketch book with her most of the time.

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