Archives for category: exhibitions

15-10-15 Invitation to exhibition72

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!

Advertisements

Tessa Case museum lr

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.

 

Munrolr1 Munrolr2 Munrolr3 Munrolr4 Munrolr5

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

 

print exposmprint expo3sm print expo2smprint expo5smprint expo4sm

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

poppies1lr poppies2lr poppies3lr
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

Bob Dylan1lrBob Dylan2lryellow figurelr

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

 

David1 lr

David2lr

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.

Paul2

Paul4

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

Asthall16lr

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

 

artinard2 artinard3 artinard4What I love about sculpture is the way in changes the surroundings and itself is changed depending on where it is placed. Ardington, a village in the shadow of The Ridgeway in Oxfordshire, has been transformed over the last two weeks with about 70 sculptures positioned near its streams, lakes, beautiful houses and Millennium woods. My friend and I met for a walk to enjoy time together, to catch up and also to appreciate the art. Some were good and some indifferent, but it was always exciting to spot the next one on our treasure hunt of sculpture as we shared our news. My favourite was the tall tall woman with a rusty, crusty texture by Pam Foley. It reminded me of Giacometti’s thin figures or the way our shadows become elongated and heads pin-shaped in the setting sun. The glass lozenges by Jenny Pickford made me smile as the colour glowed with joy. Some sculptures were not to my taste but still created beautiful shapes, textures or reflections that they gave us pleasure. What a pleasant way to start the week – talking with a dear friend and enjoying the familiar countryside subtly changed with the addition of sculptures.

Sadly Art in Ardington ended yesterday, so we were just ahead of the removal men who were taking the sculptures away, but if you are quick, you may still catch a few!artinard1 artinard5 artinard6About 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

 

jam factory2 jam factory3I could say that the fourth excursion was back to the Cézanne exhibition as I returned to enjoy his art with my three children where they became quite animated in their discussions. But that felt like cheating so this month I visited The Jam Factory in Oxford to take pot luck in what was being exhibited. There are so many layers of pleasure here from interesting art to quirky décor to the story behind the building as this was where Frank Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade was made until production moved away in 1967. It is now a café, a meeting place and an art venue. As I wandered around, a group of mums with young babies gathered for coffee looking very NCTish which sent me down my own nostalgic path. But on with the art…

jam factory7

Wait ’til it settles by Sarah Craddock

jam factory6

Wait ’til it settles by Sarah Craddock

There were three exhibitions being held and my favourite was ‘Inspired by the Canal’. It is an exhibition of children’s art, professional artists and art from the community using Oxford’s canal as their inspiration. Starting in Banbury, the canal to Oxford wanders through Wolvercote ending quietly at busy Hythe Bridge Street in Oxford and is a secret byway waiting to be explored. I enjoyed the children’s boats, the hilarious tea cosies, the excellent etchings and found the contemporary installation thought-provoking.

Sarah Craddock had bottled and ‘packaged’ canal water from different spots that had witnessed stories – a birth, a drowning, an attack, a draining. The labels on the water provide a tantalising hint to the history and stories that the canal could tell. If the containers were not in an art gallery they would look like rubbish but their situation makes you think deeper and harder about water and the canal. As the water in the containers settles the good rises to the top and yet the history and sediment is also there to be acknowledged. Allowing situations to settle helps you to see things clearer and to extract the good from a situation. Even our English language alludes to what water teaches, “Don’t muddy the waters”.

jam factory5

Tea cosies inspired by canal boats

jam factory8

Etchings by Caroline Maas

The Canal Exhibition is only on until the 27 April 2014 but there is always something interesting to see and do at The Jam Factory – ‘Anyone for scrabble?’jam factory4jam factory1

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

 

cezanne2cezanne“Painting from nature is not a matter of copying the subject but of expressing one’s feelings.” Cezanne

After a mad morning I finally made it to the Cézanne exhibition and as I walked in, I breathed a sigh as calmness descended. I love Cézanne’s work – the way he worked fast creating an impressing of a landscape without becoming bogged down in the detail. I feel as if he was enjoying the process of creating and not aiming at an end product.

There were a number of his sketches which are rough and use a mixture of watercolour and graphite. There are vertical pencil lines to suggest the trees while the leaves are in soft watercolours of blues, greens and purple which are calming and delight the eye. They are certainly not overworked and in their unfinished state the white spaces are just as important as the filled areas. It is as if he captured the gist of a view and then moved on. My favourite oil painting was Mont Sainte-Victoire (1904-06) and it was amazing to finally see it because in my final school year we had to study a post-impressionist in detail and then create a work in the style of the artist. I chose Cézanne and then in the spirit of the post-impressionists, I set myself with an easel and oils in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (Cape Town) and painted the view of the mountain. One of the things that struck me was how quickly and easy it was to paint with flat brushstrokes and yet challenging to fill the area without it becoming too two-dimensional.

In the painting Mont Sainte-Victoire I could see how loose his style was with the gleaming paint suggesting flickering light through the clouds. As Cézanne’s work became less descriptive it become more abstract and he began to simplify his shapes into basic squares, rectangles and cubes hence he is often known as the father of Cubism. I wanted to buy the postcard of the painting but it looked so dull after seeing the real thing that I didn’t bother – I think I will just visit again with my children in tow.

The exhibition is at the Ashmolean in Oxford until the 22 June 2014 and is well worth visiting.

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

Moore

A solitary Moore

Morley

Ashmolean interior with Morely in the background – no photography of his work allowed!

My resolution this year is to visit a creative place once a month. After procrastinating for about 3 months on visiting the Bacon and Moore exhibition at the Ashmolean, I thought that it would be a perfect January outing, only to discover it ended 4 days ago so I had to make do with a solitary Moore at the entrance. It was a rather lovely reclining figure although she looked like I sometimes feel on the beach.You start off feeling comfortable but your bones become awkward shapes and the sand is not as soft as you anticipated! I wandered inside and ended up seeing Malcolm Morley who has been painting for the last 50 years. He was one of the founders of hyper-realism which was a reaction to the pop-art of the 1960s. His style began to break up from realism and became more paintily and he became progressively loose in his style dripping paint in the fashion of Pollock. By the 2000s his style had become smooth and stylised and it reminded me of airbrushed art. The pictures look as if they were painted from photos, have flat surfaces and an intended kitschness. I don’t much like his work and preferred his very earliest style which was much more tactile. However it was interesting to study his progression over the years. I had to laugh at a comment I overheard, “A car crash – rather unpleasant subject matter for a painting.” Perhaps for that woman it was just as well it wasn’t Bacon! Note to self: DON’T miss Cezanne in March.

Morley paintings (from the catalogue)

Morley paintings (from the catalogue)

Oxford from Cafe Loco

Oxford from Cafe Loco