Embroidered maps and Japanese links in ES Magazine

April 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Kusama Exhibition © Tate, London 2012

A busy March kicked off with a great exhibition (on at Tate Modern until 5th June 2012) at the Tate Modern – Yayoi Kusama, a bright and eclectic mix of innovative styles. I wish I’d taken the kids as they would have loved this, bright vibrant work. Yayoi’s self imposed psychiatric care shouldn’t offset what is a truly remarkable and exciting collection of her work.

Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York & Brussels
© Alighiero Boetti Estate by DACS / SIAE, 2012, courtesy Fondazione Alighiero e Boetti
Photo: Alex Jamison
© Tate, London 2012

Not a favourite, but visited Alighiero Boetti (on at Tate Modern until 27th May 2012) an influential Italian artist, but whilst the copying of magazines by students I found pretty uninspiring, it was the work – from what I could gather – undertaken at his instigation with the Afghans in the 1970’s creating amazingly bright embroideries, including the famed  Mappa, world maps which seem to have been at their brightest when colours were accidentally incorrect (pink oceans – because that was the material to hand) and then, as it worked so well, subsequently encouraged. Their size and rich colours requires them to be seen first hand… again worth a visit with the children once you’ve been through Yayoi (and skip over the awkward questions from the more perceptive kids!).

Fair use image of ''Girl with a white dog '', 1951 - 1952. Oil on canvas, by Lucien Freud. Artwork copyrighted to Tate, London

Friends kindly invited me to a viewing of Lucien Freud (National Portrait Gallery) a truly massive collection of his work, have to say an almost over whelming collection of flesh.. with the over whelming paintings of the benefits supervisor and his friend Leigh Bowery. The most striking contrast for me was the change from when painting what seemed like the rough textures of those who sat for months at a time for him (probably why so many of the subjects are unconscious), to the softer warmth of his painted children. The most striking works were his self portraits that seem to capture the strength and vitality of this man in a way that surpasses the works he spent on others… not to undermine the extraordinary capture of people, warts and all, with a strength and depth that defies your ridicule.

ES Magazine Feature (Duller Highlighters bottom right)

So following a visit to both of these exhibitions it came as a pleasant surprise that week to see our Duller Highlighters accompanied in the ES Magazine alongside Yayoi and Lucien Freud. It was a well framed piece (seen in our press section) and promoted them well… even if a bit on the small side! The pens if you don’t know them are a set of regular coloured highlighters, but with a delicate brush, modelled on Japanese ink brushes allowing for a more pleasant way to apply highlighting, but also an interesting artistic tool whether practising your character brush skills, enhancing comic illustration or enhancing your ink artwork.

Duller Highlighter available from Raw Dice £20.00

Duller Highlighter

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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.

1 week 3 exhibitions

July 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

I have been a very busy girl of late, I managed to cram 3 exhibitions in one week! First on the exhibition tour was Constable at Salisbury Museum. It was a gloriously sunny day, not a cloud in the sky to be seen over Salisbury.  Which is pretty unusual in this part of the country. Although, I am not sure whether we have more than our fair proportion of clouds than anywhere else but the thought of ‘clouds’ was heavily on my mind, as I was walking around the exhibition. Much has been written about Constable’s love for his wife Maria (a book came out last year ‘Constable in Love’ by Martin Gayford- I haven’t read it yet). However, as a romantic landscape painter, I think that he was as much in love with clouds as he was in love with his wife! And who can blame him?

Constable spent his honeymoon visiting his friend and patron the Bishop of Salisbury Rev. John Fisher. Consequently, came to visit Salisbury a number of times and painted Salisbury Cathedral, as well as other local landmarks. Amongst many of his paintings, the 2 that stand out the most for me are his watercolours of Old Sarum and Stonehenge. Both on loan from the V&A for the exhibition. Both have truly remarkably dramatic clouds. The Stonehenge watercolour was painted after the death of Constable’s wife Maria and his closest friend Fisher. The mood is surely one of melancholy and desolation, despite its double rainbow. Both of which he must have felt at the time. Stonehenge was shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1836. I was very suprised to find out that Constable only sold about 20 paintings during his lifetime in England and yet sold more than this number in France in only a couple of years.

Old Sarum (1834) John Constable © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Stonehenge (1834) John Constable © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Robin and Lucienne Day exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester was next on my tour. What an amazing building. Pallant House is a Queen Anne town house Grade 1 listed building, dating from 1712. It also has a very modern extension, dating from 2006. It houses modern art and has a good restaurant called Field & Fork. It’s small but the freshly baked rolls and food were great! There was a very aptly named installation at a stairwell, looking out to a well proportioned window: ‘The Evening Star and ‘Passing Cloud after Constable’ by the New York contemporary artist Spencer Finch.

The Evening Star, Spencer Finch, 2010

The exhibition itself was very interesting. Robin and Lucienne Day were a husband and wife design duo of the post war era. Robin designed furniture and Lucienne textiles. Both designed for the Festival of Britain in 1951, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this summer. Robin designed the chairs for the Royal Festival Hall, which had to be mass produced cheaply. His designs are very functional and served a purpose. He designed chairs for the orchestra and chairs for the public lounge areas. This meant that as well as style and function, the chairs needed to be mass produced cost effectively. Hence, the materials he used reflected these requirements.

Armchair for Royal Festival Hall 1951 by Robin Day

Hillestack Chair, 1950 by Robin Day

Lucienne’s abtract textile designs in the ealy part of her career were influenced by her love of modern art. In particular the paintings of Joan Miro and Paul Klee.  I particularly like her bold design in bright red and oranges and blues and greens. They feel pretty contemporary. Although her Calyx design for Heals was the one that brought her to prominence, I like some of her later designs, such as Magnetic (1957), Apollo (late 1950s), Apex (1961), High Noon (1965), Sunrise (1969), Petal (1971) and Parkland (1974). I can’t show you any of the fabrics here due to copyright but if you wish to see the fabrics go to Dwell, where you will find a slideshow of some of the fabrics mentioned above under the heading ‘Britain’s Mid Century Female Designers’.

You can purchase some of Lucienne Day’s fabrics from Classic Textiles and Twentytwentyone.

I have found a very good review of the exhibition at the Architects’ Journal, which will do it justice more than I can hope to. So, if you are interested please read this. Unfortunately, the exhibition is now closed. I just managed to get there in its final few days. Also, the Design Museum have a concise write up on Robin and Lucienne Day, as well as other prominent designers past and present.

Finally, The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. I get such a buzz from going to the RA, one visit is just not enough. There is so much to take in that another visit is definitely worth making. There were big installations and canvases that would look great in public places. As  we have limited wall space in our living areas, such big works of art are out of the question. We had acquired a Bill Jacklin ‘Skaters ‘ some years ago from the Summer Exhibition. I was very happy to see some of his new work that he submitted for this year. Once I visit again, I will be able to report back with more information.


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