Archives for posts with tag: Ashmolean

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.


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


A solitary Moore


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