Heretic Printmakers at the Anti-Design Festival

September 30th 2010

Not far from Tent, on Redchurch Street, the Heretic Printmakers temporarily set up shop to create off-beat, fine art screen prints. Squeezed into the MEN gallery’s tiny space, they looked like they were having a lot of fun.

Freshly made prints at Heretic

You can read more about what they got up to at their blog.

Posted in art, handmade, printing, review

Also at the Serpentine

September 17th 2010

The other reason for going to the Serpentine was to catch the exhibition of Wolfgang Tillmans’ work.

The photographs of Wolfgang Tillmans are beautiful. I especially like the huge C-Type prints. ‘Urgency XXI’, looks like drops of red dye floating and dispersing in water- very delicate and I love the pink hue.

His take on exhibition display techniques is so refreshing. Many of the prints are either simply stuck with Sellotape directly to the walls or hang from bulldog clips and nails. He also experiments with different printing techniques, photocopies, C-Types on matte and gloss papers giving his work a uniqueness.

One room features large cubed blocks of colour in the form of shiny C-Types which create a striking ensemble of blue, turquoise, yellow, white, red and violet; some dense in hue and others faint and tonal. But my favourite is the forest print ‘Wald (Tierra del Fuego) II’, a huge monochromatic C-Type; I love the matte paper and the depth of tones.

Wald (Tierra del Fuego) II © Wolfgang Tillmans

I also learnt something new and must try to remember to watch out for the next transit of Venus on the 6th June 2012 I may well forget so it was nice to see Tillmans’ photos of the last event, which occurred in 2004. After 2012 it won’t happen again for another 125 years so better put the date in your diary! Meanwhile, pop in and see this before it closes this Sunday.

Posted in art, printing, review

At the Geffrye #2

September 17th 2010

For the front garden of the museum, designer Kei Ito has been commissioned to create a brand new light installation. Called ‘Sitting the Light Fantastic’ her work takes inspiration from the content and themes of the Geffrye as its starting point. The installation of chairs and lamps, made of woven fibre options, will glow at dusk.

Installation by Kei Ito at Geffrye Museum

Photograph from Museumaker © Kei Ito

The installation will be unveiled to coincide with the London Design Festival but if you can’t wait til then, she’s keeping an online diary as her project nears completion.

Posted in art, design

The work of Peggy Angus

September 13th 2010

Eric Ravilious’ ‘Furlongs’, a wonderful painting of his friend Peggy Angus’ house revived my interest in her work, which I hadn’t seen since my student days at Camberwell when we were introduced to lino cutting and mono prints. Her house featured in ‘Furlongs’ was often full with artist friends such as Ravilious, Edward Bawden and John Piper to name but a few. It was just down the road from the Omega group’s Charleston Farmhouse and although apparently the two groups didn’t mix it’s amazing to think of that many artists within a 5-mile proximity, both exploring the South Downs as inspiration for work.

Eric Ravilious, Furlongs (1934), Image courtesy of The Bookroom Art Press

Peggy Angus’ work explored the repeating tile pattern. Using potato and lino, she made designs that combined modernity with traditional methods, the results were both beautifully simplistic and yet current in shape and form.

Peggy Angus, Ceramic Tile, 1950s

Peggy Angus, Ceramic Tile Design, 1950s

A student with Ravilious and Edward Bawden at the Royal College of Art, she was influenced by her tutor Paul Nash who encouraged to explore a range of techniques such as lino and wood engraving. I would recommend looking at Peggy’s tile designs many of which were designed for new schools during the 50’s. It’s also worth noting that working with Carter’s of Poole, she developed a new process of silkscreen printing onto tiles.

Illustration: Peggy Angus. Ceramic tile design 1951

Peggy Angus, Ceramic Tile Design 1951

Peggy Angus also produced bespoke, hand printed wallpapers, which were printed with lino blocks onto wallpaper lining paper using household emulsion paint (which, by the way, is still a really cheap and quick way of making a print! I have done this in the past for my Leaf and Lily wallpapers). She won Sanderson’s competition to mark the company’s centenary both Cole & Son and the Wall Paper Manufacturers Ltd bought her. Ideally though, Angus preferred to produce her own work as she felt that the art of making and the effects that the “hand” made were irreplaceable.

Sadly, her Camden studio and house, which was adorned in her wallpapers and prints, were pulled down by the council. It would have made a wonderful public research and reference library, something that is lacking in the textile world. Instead, there is plenty of information at Middlesex University’s Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture.

Posted in art, design, handmade, interior design, pattern, printing, review, wallpaper

Ravilious at Towner

September 13th 2010

Unfortunately this exhibition, which was at Eastbourne’s Towner has just finished, but I refer to it now because it was so great to see the work of Eric Ravilious actually in the flesh. And the gallery is definitely worth a visit anyway as they have a permanent collection of art related to Sussex.

Towner is known for its connection with Ravilious and the curators are committed to shedding new light on the artist’s practice. The recent exhibition included excellent descriptions next to each painting explaining the techniques, tools and paints that he used for wood block carving.

Eric Ravilious’ paintings have such a strong sense of design in his dealing with space and landscape.

Chalk Paths, 1935. © Estate of Eric Ravilious

Chalk Paths, 1935. © Estate of Eric Ravilious

But what made this exhibition so special was that his work was shown alongside that of his son James for the very first time, inviting exploration of the similarities between them as artists and revealing a deep-seated love of the land inherent to both.

Posted in art, review

Surreal Friends

September 13th 2010

Hurry to see this great show; it’s on until September 12th! Surreal Friends is the first UK exhibition of the work of Leonora Carrington and also features work by her friends and fellow artists Remedios Varo and Kati Horna. The exhibition explores their friendship and their mutual inquisition into topics such as magic and the occult, alchemy and witchcraft, tarot and astrology to name a few.

I loved the sensitivity of the work and the fact that they worked closely together, often gathering around Leonora’s kitchen table to discuss themes. I especially liked her ‘The House Opposite’ and ‘Song of Gomorreh’ in which she uses beautiful gold leaf.  For a quick feel of her work, here’s a short film

Leonora Carrington Ciudad de Mexico 2008

Elsewhere in the exhibition I found Remedios Varo’s ‘The Creation of the Birds’ beautifully sensitive and Kati Horna’s photography impressive. She took many pictures in Spain during the Civil War, hiking the mountains to get front line shots and later using photomontage. It is such a shame that these female artists are practically unheard of in Britain, but let’s hope this exhibition changes that (as I see it has toured and hopefully will again!) If you are into fairy tale and fantasy I would highly recommend getting down to Chichester before it ends.

Posted in art, review

The Wine Box Series by Arthur Meehan

September 10th 2010

Working in the tradition of Georgia O’Keefe and Karl Blossfeldt is American photographer Arthur Meehan whose latest collection of prints recently exhibited in London at the Jonathan Cooper Park Walk Gallery

Tulip-2, by Arthur A Meehan

Tulip-2, by Arthur A Meehan

I really like the sepia, old-school feel that’s somehow in keeping with the current love of all things nostalgic. The unique effect of these images is achieved by photographing the flowers inside a wine box, hence the name!

Posted in art, botanical

Alice Neel: Painted Truths

August 5th 2010

It’s so incredible to think that an artist of such talent and importance is only now having her first solo show at a European institution! Luckily the Whitechapel Gallery has a big exhibition of her work on now and I got around to going this weekend. It’s a must-see and on leaving I really wanted a keepsake but sadly the shop had sold out of catalogues. Instead I consoled myself with this mesmerising silent film of Alice at work online at Nowness.com.

Alice Neel In Action 1969 - An Uncovered Silent Film Gives Exclusive Insight Into a 20th Century Art Legend

Alice Neel In Action 1969

Filmed by her son Hartley whilst she was in the process of painting a portrait of his wife, you get the feeling of her intense concentration and dedication to making the work. For just a taste of how prolific Neel was during her seventy-year career have a look through the online gallery on the official Alice Neel website. There you’ll see the real breadth of her subjects; she painted strangers, beggars and children as well as famous artists like Richard Smithson and Andy Warhol whose portrait shows the grace and candour of both the artist and her sitter. Neel thought her paintings revealed the souls of her subjects but many believe they tell you quite a bit about her feelings too. This is what makes her work so moving and honest. Here’s my favourite example:

The Soyer Brothers 1973, © Estate of Alice Neel

Starting out in the 1920s and forging a career as a professional female artist can’t have been easy. Neel’s passion and confidence in what she was doing is admirable; more so once you uncover the details and complexities of her personal life including a bitter ex-partner and a mental breakdown. But it’s her influence that can’t be denied (artists like Elizabeth Peyton spring to mind) and though this might be the first major exhibition of her work for sometime but I’ve an inkling a resurgence of interest in Alice Neel is just around the corner.

On until 17th September at the Whitechapel Gallery

Posted in art, review

Trends from I Saloni

May 27th 2010

Less is more was the order of the day at this year’s Milan furniture fair. Visitors and press alike wondered ‘does the world need more chairs?’ So in tune with leaner economic times and a greater social and environmental conscience, the newly launched products had a pared down feel. Designers focused on how things are made, exposed construction methods and celebrated traditional craftsmanship skills. The natural state and shape of materials was shown off.

This simplified feel calls to my mind the landscape designer Jacques Wirtz. He might be in his 80s but he’s so relevant, creating clean, beautiful sculptural forms that are refreshing and highly in step with what’s being produced by younger designers across interiors, furniture and product. It’d be great to see him create something for Milan one year.

Jaques Wirtz hedges, private garden

Jaques Wirtz hedges, private garden

Jacques Wirtz, private garden

Jacques Wirtz hedges, private garden

Trade fairs are still an essential part of doing business in this industry but these events are expensive, short-lived and incredibly wasteful, really taking their toll on the world’s resources. Not in keeping with current thinking around environmental issues. Saved by Droog’ picked up on our desire to take better care of our planet, inviting a range of designers (nicknamed ‘revivers’) to recycle and upcycle over 5000 items rescued from liquidation sales.

At Moroso there was talk in emotional tones, new designs were developed around words such as ‘memory’, ‘wellbeing’ and ‘intimacy’. In their showroom, the company presented ‘Tumbleweed’, an installation by two artists Francesco Simeti and Andrea Sala that juxtaposed the prevailing trend for plain, angular furniture with large-scale prints inspired by travel and journeys – both real and imagined – to invigorate the overall space.  Similarly at Poliform a blowsy, bold print by Ken Scott was used to upholster sharp, modern pieces.

Moroso, Tumbleweed by artists Francesco Simeti and Andrea Sala

Poliform, Ken Scott print

Posted in art, craft, design, interior design, product design, trends

Elephants in town

May 11th 2010

At the weekend I popped into town to have a look at some of the 250 elephants that have been painted by well known designers and artists which are scattered all over London for WWF. It’s worth looking at the Elephant map there is an awful lot of them!!!.

I like this one by artist Patrice Moor called Josephine she looks beautiful wrapped up in a coat of flowers, you can spot her at Sloane Square.

Patrice Moor’s elephant ‘Josephine’

But if you miss seeing them in situ you can see the entire herd at the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 24th June – 4th July.

Posted in art, colour, design, fashion, handmade, pattern

Calling the untrained…

May 11th 2010

The Museum of Everything Exhibition #1 Guide

For those of you that were fortunate to visit The Museum of Everything (see my November blog) you will be very interested to know that there is to be an event # 2 which not only can you visit but you can enter your art work as well !!

Here is the info from the lovely people at Museum Of Everything:

CALLING THE UNTRAINED, UNINTENTIONAL & UNSEEN CREATORS OF GREATER BRITAIN.

The Museum of EVERYTHING

Exhibition #2 @ Tate Modern

THE MUSEUM OF EVERYTHING

NEW! Exhibition #2 @ Tate Modern NEW!

On Friday May 14th, Saturday May 15th and Sunday May 16th 2010, The Museum of Everything will present Exhibition #2 at London’s Tate Modern, featuring the unknown, untrained, unintentional and unexhibited artwork submitted during the show itself.

If you are a self-taught or non-traditional artist, or if you know one, or if you have discovered something we ought to see, bring it to the Tate Modern and hang it next to a couple of Rothko’s. For details on how, when, where, what and why, click here, my dear.

Posted in art, review

Vegetable Surprise on the King’s Road

April 30th 2010

It’s always lovely to discover a new artist and this weekend I stumbled across the work of a lady called Georgie Hopton. Her exhibition ‘Cut and Come Again’ is partly like a grown-up version of potato prints! After successfully growing a vegetable garden at her home in the Catskills in 2005, she started photographing herself with her harvest. She then began using the vegetables as tools, dipping them in acrylic paint to create brightly coloured abstract prints on paper. Finally the vegetables and chopping board are cast in bronze. It’s an intriguing, playful and very personal series of work.

The show is part of the Nomad galleries programme and is therefore on in a space temporarily commandeered just for this exhibition so catch it while you can!

Cut and Come Again is organised Poppy Sebire and is at 232 King’s Road, London SW3 5UD until May 29th 2010.

Posted in art, review

Most Curious

April 21st 2010

Although there are a few of Tracey Neuls’ shoes and a chair by Nina Saunders in the Fashion and Textiles Museum show, I would recommend a visit to Neuls’ store on Marylebone Lane to see more at ‘Most Curious’ a collaboration between Tracey Neuls, Nina Saunders and Sanderson. It uses textiles and wallpaper resurrected from Sanderson’s archive applied to footwear and sculpture. Anchoring the installation is an incredible ‘melting’ chaisse longue and the display also includes Neuls’ use of the wonderful squirrel prints by Sanderson for her fabulous spring/summer collection. It’s a playful, lovely installation.

Most Curious Installation

Tracey Neuls’ shoes made with a selection from Sanderson’s archives

Posted in art, design, fashion, pattern, review, textiles

The magnificent Mrs Delany

March 5th 2010

At the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London Lincoln’s Inn Fields there’s a lovely exhibition of the work of Mrs Delany, née Mary Granville.

Born in 1700, in the days when embroidery and art showing pretty flowers was considered charming but not taken seriously because being female then, creating such things was regarded as a hobby. However, Mrs Delany’s is a considerable body of work in its own right, combining such a high level of skills, dedication and passion. Working at least 100 years before Marianne North of Kew Gardens fame, during her lifetime Mrs Delany built up a strong relationship with Kew Gardens who gave her plant specimens.

She started off with embroidery and sketching and then at the age of 72, she began her remarkable series of 1000 flower collages, Flora Delanica, now owned by the British Museum.

Portlandia Grandiflora, © The Trustees of the British Museum

She managed to get hold of glossy black and vibrantly coloured papers to make collages which, looking at them now, feel current, appealing and never twee.

I found it quite up lifting to see a woman’s work from this era held up in such high esteem and not just considered something to pass the time. She went about her work in a very methodical manner, organising her household to store the materials she would use to make her collages and embroideries. The collection of her sketchbooks depicting gardens scenes and delicate graphite fauna left me scraping my jaw off the floor! Through her visual style, techniques and by proving that a woman could be considered a serious artist, in many ways Mrs Delany was way ahead of her time.

Everybody should go to see this exhibition it’s free and at the wonderful Sir John Soane Museum where one should never need an excuse to visit the fantastic yellow room!

‘Mrs Delany’ and Her Circle is on until 1st May.

Posted in art, botanical, craft, handmade, review, vintage

Chris Ofili at Tate Britain

March 4th 2010

Continuing my cultural whirlwind, I went to see Chris Ofili’s exhibition at Tate Britain. One of the most acclaimed British painters of his generation, Ofili won the Turner Prize in 1998 and was also chosen to represent Great Britain at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. The current exhibition is a major survey of his work, gathering together his intensely coloured and intricately ornamented paintings with pencil drawings and watercolours from the mid 1990s to today.

For me it was The Upper Room that took my breath away, even though I have seen it before it still captures my gaze and transports me into a blaze of colour and pattern, I love David Adjaye’s wooden room installation it really makes it feel very organic and smells wonderful too. I also loved the line drawings and how your focus is drawn to the dots or circles that seemed to have little faces and Afro heads in them. His latest series of paintings are much less decorative and have a magical and spiritual feel.

Here are a few quotations from reviews of the exhibition to whet your appetite before you go:

‘Hip, cool and wildly inventive’ – The Guardian

‘You can’t fail to be entertained’ – The Times

‘Modern Master of radiant colour’ – Daily Telegraph

Think that sums it up!

The exhibition is on until 16th May.

Posted in art, colour, review