Friday, 25 July 2014

The Big Butterfly Count

The annual Big Butterfly Count takes place from Saturday 19th July until Sunday 10th August. The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey that asks members of the public to become active in looking at the environment and counting butterflies. The reason for this survey is that butterflies are a good early biodiversity indicator, so if there is something wrong with the environment and butterfly numbers decline, scientists will hopefully find the causes and be able to do something about it before the decline spreads to other species. The torrential rains of 2012 were disastrous for the butterfly population here, but there were signs last year that their numbers have started to recover.

President of Butterfly Conservation, Sir David Attenborough says - "By taking part in the Big Butterfly Count this summer you can discover the fantastic butterflies and other wildlife that share your gardens, parks and countryside. Butterflies fought back after a terrible 2012, but despite this butterfly numbers were still below average. Three quarters of the UK's butterflies are in decline and one third are in danger of extinction. Every single person taking part in the Big Butterfly Count this summer can produce a statistic that is of real value as their records help build a picture of how butterflies are faring and how we can best conserve them".

The Big Butterfly Count started in 2010 and has become the world's biggest survey of butterflies with 46,000 people participating in the count last year. Taking part is really easy. All you have to do is count each individual butterfly (or moth), seen over a 15 minute period, in a natural environment such as a garden, park, field or forest etc. This can be done as many times as you want throughout the dates of the Big Butterfly Count (19th July to 10th August). You can only submit records of your sightings online at or by free smartphone apps. You can find more information about The Big Butterfly Count here, and more about butterfly conservation here. Go on then! Get out into this wonderful sunshine and get counting!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Jenny Saville: Oxyrhynchus

I visited this exhibition shortly before that of Bridget Riley at David Zwerner, and it was interesting to see the obvious differences and approaches to art that both female artists have undertaken in their careers. One through the rigid, disciplined, use of colour and pattern, and the other with the looser application of paint to depict the figure. I am surprised that this is the first solo exhibition of the paintings of Jenny Saville in this country, given her status in the art world, and also the comparisons frequently made between her figurative paintings, and those of the late Lucian Freud, by art critics who refer to her as his natural heir because of the skill with which she handles paint and renders the figure. 

Saville appears to revel in the sensuousness of the paint medium and the resultant mark-making within her work. She is clearly not afraid of size, as these paintings are all completed on a large scale similar to much of her earlier vast canvases.

This new series in the exhibition reference other famous paintings by artists such as Manet and Velazquez and confidently hold their own in comparison. They are tenderly erotic and loaded images. The painting above in which a white female odalisque is locked in a ménage a trois with two black males is sexually provocative. The title of the show - Oxyrhynchus, makes reference to an ancient Egyptian dumping ground of papyrus texts, and she attempts to make parallels with this, her most recent body of work, and the references of other figurative artists throughout art history.

It was also good to see Saville's large pastel and charcoal drawings which display a good sense of tone and movement as she gives the models multiple limbs. I was reminded of Auerbach's charcoal portraits. The multi-layered line work makes them a little convoluted and hard to read, but this semi-abstraction adds to the charm and mystery of the works. It gives them energy, and you get the impression that Saville really enjoys her work. Recommended for lovers of painting and drawing.

Jenny Saville: Oxyrhynchus
until 26th July 2014
Brittania Street
London, WC1

Friday, 11 July 2014

Cambridge Contemporary Art: Summer Exhibition

I am delighted once again to have been invited to participate in Cambridge Contemporary Art's Summer Show which opens this weekend. I always have a good day out in Cambridge when delivering work, and get a good response to my new work from gallery staff and the general public. There are 4 of my pieces being exhibited and available for purchase over the summer. Cambridge is only an hours train journey away from London's King's Cross station, and is also home to other well known institutions such as Kettle's Yard and the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The Summer Show
Cambridge Contemporary Art
6 Trinity Street
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 324 222
Email: info@cambridge
12th July - 31st August 2014  

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Bridget Riley: The Stripe Paintings 1961-2014


Popped in to see this small retrospective of Riley's Stripe paintings on a grey June London day. It lifted me as it was a real pop of colour compared to the greyness of London outside. 

The combination of vivid colours and different width of stripes in the paintings produced some really strange optical effects on my eyes.

There is a really nice small black and white horizontal piece from the 1960s (below).

Must say I preferred the vertical striped pieces to the horizontal ones. The Zwirner Gallery is a nice space also.

Bridget Riley: The Stripe Paintings 1961-2014
David Zwirner
24 Grafton Street
until 25th July