Archives for category: exhibitions

May photo: There is so much to delight me whenever I visit Asthall Manor from the gardens, to the sculptures to the history and the links with The Mitford Sisters. This June, treat yourself and visit On Form 2018, an exhibition of contemporary stone sculptures set in these beautiful gardens.

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I took my children off to Tate Britain to saw the Impressionists In London Exhibition. At first my heart sank when we went in as it started off quite dryly but I was able to chat animatedly to the girls and we all got into it and it got better especially when we discovered Monet. We each chose our all-time favourite picture giving 5 reasons why it was our favourite. Next stop was the Imperial War Museum inspired by reading Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams. It was excellent – quite hard-hitting in places – but teaching us all. I received a start when we looked at the twisted window frame from The World Trade Centre and my daughter aged 12 asked what was 9 / 11. For me it was still recent but for her, it happened long before her birth. My younger daughter took photos of a Spitfire for a Rotary competition with the theme  ‘A Different Perspective’. Well done to her for winning first prize in her category. All in all an illuminating day which enlarged our horizons.

I found this artwork ‘Memory of a young boy’ at the Ashmolean so inspiring. It is ethereal and as I walk around, it disappears and all I can see are sheets of slippery glass. Each section of the mummy outline is drawn on a separate sheet of perspex and from some angles I can see the whole form but not from all perspectives. It made me think about faith in God and it all depends on what you look at. Sometimes you need to have faith and believe and EVEN when you can see nothing, you have to know He is still there. Just like the artwork – it was still there when I could only see the edges of glass.


What a privilege for my children to go to school in England with world-class museums around the corner – after 20 years in the UK, I am still savouring this fact. My youngest child was studying the Egyptians so off we went to the Ashmolean to go and see the real thing. There is an excellent permanent exhibition of mummies, funeral objects, sculptures and artworks. The stylised shapes and the forms of the crocodile god captures the essences and the cruelty of this reptile with minimal lines. I loved the concentration and interest of my daughter and then enjoying a hot chocolate together in the cafe. There is also the beauty of the Asmolean’s architecture to appreciate.

 

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If you are anywhere near Wantage in Oxford, do pop in to the Vale & Downland museum to see the Rope Of Words & Dance exhibition from 20 – 31 October. These two beautiful artistic books are produced by Lin Kerr, Megan Kerr and Christopher Ellott and all 14 illustrations from Rope of Words can be viewed. This exhibition will coincide with the Betjeman (not just) literary festival. Lin will also be giving a lighthearted workshop titled Scones and Scissors. Megan and Lin will also be giving a joint mother and daughter talk titled: Collaboration: Rope of Words and Megan is giving a writers’ workshop titled: Creative Writing Workshop on Magical Realism. So it’s all happening!

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Visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is always a treat, and this was no exception. It holds one of the world’s finest collections of anthropology from around the world and I always spot something new in this treasure trove of the unusual, interesting and macabre (think shrunken heads). This time I spotted a ‘witch’s ladder’ which was a twisted rope pierced with cockerel’s feathers and was used as a spell to sour milk or kill old folk. It was found in the wardrobe of an old woman in 1911 – was she the victim or the perpetrator? There was also a delicate little flea trap made of bamboo that was worn in clothing to catch itchy fleas.

We caught our breath in the gallery cafe of the Natural History Museum adjoining the Pitt Rivers. The lighting and recently restored neo-Gothic architecture was fabulous and I was frustrated not to have my camera with me. I did what I could with my i-Phone and am rather pleased with the result above.

 

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My final challenge for this year which was visiting an exhibition each month. I have recently returned from Waddesdon in Buckinghamshire and viewing Winter Light by Bruce Munro. With his contemporary light exhibition, he has transformed the gardens with seven pieces along a Light Trail. One of my favourites was ‘Eden Blooms’ which was huge spheres similar to massive globe thistles hung from trees. They slowly changed colour with three being the same colour and the fourth a contrasting colour. ‘Harvest Moon’ was also inspiring and appeared as orbs shimmering on the ground and it was one of my children who pointed out that they were moons. Munro often works with familiar objects and in this case 20 hay bales were covered in plastic and lit by projectors depicting the moon. With the lights and darks they appear as three-dimensional spheres. The name refers to the traditional time of harvest which was on a full moon to lengthen the working day and his visual pun of hay bales yields a bumper crop of moons. ‘Field of Light’ was hundreds of optical cables and frosted glass balls on slender stems that gently change colour from bright white to soft white to red. It was placed amongst the circular rose garden to represent a poppy and commemorates World War One.

I was delighted to finally see Munro’s work as I tried to go last year but missed it by a day – we only realised when we got there that it had finished. Ahhh! Wrap up warm, wait until dark and enjoy. The exhibition is on until 4 January 2015 and open until 7.00pm. It is free to enter Waddesdon gardens and the exhibition if you are a National Trust member. Check this link for details.

The garden's sculptures are covered to protect them from frost and appear as eerie mysterious shrouded figures.

The garden’s sculptures are covered to protect them from frost and appear as eerie mysterious shrouded figures.

About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley
February – Oxford School of Photography
March – The Ashmolean: Cézanne and the modern

April – The Jam Factory
May – Art in Ardington
June – On Form exhibition
July – Crossing Borders
August – David in Florence
September – The Vale & Downland museum
October – The Art of the Brick
November – Outlines

 

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I was planning to see Turner for this month’s exhibition this month but when I came to book tickets for Saturday it was fully booked so it will have to wait. Instead, my daughter and I went to see a printing exhibition called Outlines at the Oxford Castle. It explores the shapes and patterns created by the British countryside and what is particularly exciting is that much of it is local to us such as The White Horse, Boar’s Hill and Wittenham Clumps. The three artists work predominately with lino prints and Susan Wheeler is a favourite of mine. I was very pleased to see some of her newer works and I also feel delighted as I received some of her prints as a gift last year – they are still waiting to be framed but I feel inspired to get on with it.

This exhibition has now come to an end however the Oxford Printmakers have their Christmas sale next week and it is well worth visiting as the artists (including Susan Wheeler) donate one of their prints and they are then sold at rock bottom prices but arrive early!

About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley
February – Oxford School of Photography
March – The Ashmolean: Cézanne and the modern

April – The Jam Factory
May – Art in Ardington
June – On Form exhibition
July – Crossing Borders
August – David in Florence
September – The Vale & Downland museum
October – The Art of the Brick

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Poppies: to remember our war dead however there is the double-edged symbolism as poppies are associated with opiates which promise an end to pain and oblivion – to remember no more. It was extremely moving to visit the installation at the Tower of London to see Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red‘ where ceramic poppies are being planted to represent the 888,246 British fatalities in World War One. They stream from a window, carpeting the moat and it is sickening to comprehend that each one represents a man. And one of those men was my great-great uncle John Ellery who died aged 22 on the 6 January 1916.

The installation is up until the 11 November when it will be dismantled, do go and visit it if you have an opportunity.

Monetlr Monet2lrDavidlrblue figurelrMy boy1lr My boy2lrBrick artlrLego…what’s not to like? So when I heard that Nathan Sawaya was exhibiting over 85 sculptures made from Lego, we headed into London to see ‘The Art of the Brick’. The exhibition was in Brick Lane – how cool is that? Nathan has interpreted some of the most famous artworks such as Michelangelo’s David and some of Monet’s paintings out of Lego. He has also created Lego figures that take your breath away.

But is it art? I struggle to call it art or sculpture not because of the medium but because somehow I didn’t feel they pushed conceptual boundaries or encouraged one to reconsider accepted ideas or create an emotional response. I found it difficult walking around wanting it to be art but actually considered it high-class entertainment. There were possibly two pieces that I would call art. One was called ‘My Boy’ and was inspired by a sad story told by a parent. In this piece, I felt the sheer agony a parent experiences when their child is ill or worse, dies. The other powerful piece was a short film by another artist using Nathan’s pieces as props. In the film, an old man creates a wife and daughter from Lego and when they are complete, they become real. Did they really become flesh or was it a lonely’s man’s imagination? The film explores the way our imagination makes things real for us or perhaps it was a fairytale and in the film’s reality they became human – in a similar way to Pinocchio.

Final word? Brilliant family fun, not cheap, but an excellent day out. (And definitely go to trendy Spitalfields Market for lunch). www.artofthebrick.co.uk

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About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley
February – Oxford School of Photography
March – The Ashmolean: Cézanne and the modern

April – The Jam Factory
May – Art in Ardington
June – On Form exhibition
July – Crossing Borders
August – David in Florence
September – The Vale & Downland museum

 

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I walked into Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence and was admiring Michelangelo’s slaves when there he was. I was caught unaware and there was the incredible sculpture of David larger than life and towering over the crowds. After seeing so many reproductions and crass interpretations, the real thing took my breath away – it was a ‘wow’ moment. Many images of David have been depicted of when he is victorious and has slain Goliath – this one is different, it is the moment before. David’s hands are clenched and the tension is there in his body, in his watchful eyes, in his neck and in his veins. This is his moment and he can take it, he is at the cusp of the decision which would change him and he could choose to grab that moment, throw that sling and kill Goliath or let the opportunity pass him by. The man is not yet victorious, not yet sure of the outcome, he doesn’t know the end of the story even if we do. He can only choose to trust his God and the meagre tools that he has been given. He has been anointed a king but it is still a promise and not yet a reality. What will he do?

About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley
February – Oxford School of Photography
March – The Ashmolean: Cézanne and the modern

April – The Jam Factory
May – Art in Ardington
June – On Form exhibition
July – Crossing Borders

crossing1 crossing2 crossing4crossing3With hectic work and family commitments, I thought I would not be able to make it to an exhibition this month but an exhibition came to me. While waiting at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, I was able to enjoy an exhibition at the airport. What a cool place to display art and so much more satisfactory than browsing through a bookshop or tourist tat while waiting to return home.

An airport is a place where people who travel across borders meet and pass through. This exhibition depicts portraits of Swedes who work or have become famous outside their own country and included diplomats, musicians and athletes. Their work took them away from Sweden over geographic borders but they also broke barriers and borders in their spheres. The exhibition has crossed borders by being at an airport which challenges our perspectives of where we expect to find art and the ‘boundaries’ we place on an airport’s function.

I love viewing photography where the image reveals more about a person and is not trying to capture the ‘perfect smile’ or a glamorous pose. This challenges my response when I see photos of myself that I feel are not flattering. I also found it stimulating to see the reflections of the airport, of planes and travel paraphernalia on the glassy surfaces of the pictures creating new dimensions and breaking the borders between art and its surroundings.crossing5

About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley
February – Oxford School of Photography
March – The Ashmolean: Cézanne and the modern

April – The Jam Factory
May – Art in Ardington
June – On Form Exhibiton

Paul3I have recently completed a catalogue for Paul Kessling, a well-known abstract artist who exhibits world-wide. He also happens to be my neighbour and got fed up with trying to make the layout program InDesign work for him! Two of his paintings were being exhibited overseas by the Cube Gallery in London and they required a catalogue to depict his other work as well as describing the concept behind his work. I produced a 48 page catalogue plus cover to showcase his art. The brief was to keep the design as clean as possible and use lots of white space. The artist and gallery were delighted with the results. Have a look at Paul’s work on his website www.paulkessling.com.

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Asthall12lr Asthall14lr Asthall15jlr Asthall13lrAsthall17lrThere were so many details at the On Form but I limit the images on each post so didn’t include these, but I thought you may enjoy seeing more of the On Form Exhibition. There are still two more weekends when you can visit for a marvellous day out.

On Form is at Asthall Manor from June 8th to July 6th, 2014.
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 12 noon to 6pm
www.onformsculpture.co.uk

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Asthall lr Asthall2 lr Asthall3 lr Asthall4 lrAsthall9 lrAsthall6 lrWe rushed in at 12:00 on the dot for my daughter to attend the children’s carving workshop and I was overwhelmed by the sculptures, the flowers and the manor house. Once Isabel was sorted out, I could slow down and celebrate the On Form exhibition. On Form is a top priority to visit in June and is a fabulous biennial exhibition of sculpture purely in stone. The glorious setting of the seventeenth century Asthall Manor and beautiful gardens surrounded by the Cotswolds set off the sculptures to perfection.

My favourite sculptor this year was Tom Stogdon who uses roughly cut stone pieces to create organic shapes. They remind me of stone walls where there is much thought and skill in using individual pieces to create a satisfying whole. I love the way his sculptures interact with their surroundings and especially Stone Overlap which frames the countryside, is reflected in the pool and draws people towards it. Tom Stogdon has also created abstracted cityscapes inspired by London and Oxford where we were able to identify landmarks from the simplest shapes. The repetition of forms and texture in his work create a sense of calmness. Another sculptor I appreciated was Aly Brown and her piece Parvati, a slender torso, whose sinuous curves continue as they reflect into a natural pool dotted with lily pads. Aly said that a recent comment she had overheard was, “How does she make stone bend?” When you look at her work it is hard to believe it is stone as it flows like liquid. Then there is Adrian Gray, a stone balancer, and David Worthington’s Experiment in Colour VII who dared to add colour to marble – perfect against the red poppies.

Not only is there sculpture, but ponds, wild flowers, a dramatic swing, a tree house to die for and the connection the manor holds with the Mitford Sisters who lived there between 1919 and 1926. There are many events to enjoy too: Aly Brown gave free carving workshops to children which Isabel loved and on the 18th June you can watch Adrian Gray balance rocks.

I can’t recommend On Form highly enough as a day out whether you are passionate about sculpture or see it as a backdrop for a social occasion – our friend Jon’s words not mine!Asthall7 lrAsthall5 lrAsthall10 lr

Asthall12 lrOn form is at Asthall Manor from June 8th to July 6th, 2014.
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 12 noon to 6pm
www.onformsculpture.co.cuk

About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley
February – Oxford School of Photography
March – The Ashmolean: Cézanne and the modern

April – The Jam Factory
May – Art in Ardington