Friday, 28 November 2014

Yayoi Kusama I Bronze Pumpkins

Whilst at Victoria Miro I also took the opportunity to see these huge pumpkins adorned with Yayoi Kusama's trademark dots. A really timely show this, it being autumn and harvest - the season of 'mists and mellow fruitfulness'. Unfortunately when I visited they were covered with packing to protect them from damage because of building work being carried out at the gallery, so it is hard to see the scale. I like the fallen autumn leaves around their base though.

These pictures below are from the gallery website and give an indication of scale and weight as they are bronze so must weigh a ton. Kusama writes of her pumpkin obsession:

"Pumpkin head' was an epithet used to disparage ugly, ignorant men, and the phrase 'Put eyes and nose on a pumpkin' evoked a pudgy and unattractive woman. It seems that pumpkins do not inspire much respect. But I was enchanted by their charming and winsome form. What appealed to me most was the pumpkin's generous unpretentiousness. That and its solid spiritual base"

They are lovely and playful and reminded me of my early Pumpkin Head limited edition linocut prints when I was also obsessed with gourds and pumpkins. I saw them as being like children and an essentially feminine motif, pregnant, full of promise and a metaphor for creativity and spirituality.

Yayoi Kusama I Bronze Pumpkins
until 19th December
Victoria Miro
16 Wharf Road
London N1

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Wangechi Mutu: Nguva na Nyoka

Up to Victoria Miro to see Wangechi Mutu's latest show based on both African and her own personal mythology of "Sirens and Serpents". These are her trademark collages, but it appears that her recent work is incorporating more painterly textures which is an interesting development. She handles collage so wonderfully though, and these latest pieces are no exception featuring her almost alien/human hybrid figures.

I am not sure if Mutu was aware of John Everett Millais' Ophelia in Tate Britain, but I saw some parallels with the figures his painting and her piece, If We Live Through It, She'll Carry Us Back, below. I couldn't help but compare the two. Whilst Ophelia sings in the water seemingly oblivious to her fate, Mutus' figure is all too aware of hers and finds solace in the water having jumped from the (slave) ship in the background.
In the gallery upstairs there is a great menacing installation of a female headed serpent asleep having devoured her prey. In the background a ritualistic video installation plays. Most artist's video installations leave me cold, but I found Mutu's to be compelling especially in the presence of that huge intimidating serpent.

The darkness of the gallery and the incessant hum of the video installation adds to the illusion that you have accidentally stumbled upon this serpents lair and if you rouse her with one false step, you may well be her next victim.
Wangechi Mutu I Nguva na Nyoka
until 19th December
Victoria Miro
16 Wharf Road
London N1

Friday, 14 November 2014

Vins De Bordeaux

Lovely, surreal use of butterflies to represent and sell white, rose and red wines from the Bordeaux region in this recent ad.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Edward Bawden Storyteller


On my way to Orso Major to deliver more work, I made a little detour and visited a lovely little exhibition a ten minute walk away that was packed with Edward Bawden gems - many of which I had never seen before. The show is at Morley College and is entitled "Edward Bawden Storyteller".

Bawden was one of the biggest influences on my work as an illustrator and lino-cut printmaker, and what is nice about this exhibition is that it is at Morley College, one of the venues where I used to print my linos. The work of Bawden and his great friend Eric Ravilious is very popular at the moment so I should imagine that this show will be very attended.

There are examples of Bawden's work in a variety of media - advertisement line drawings, linocuts, watercolour designs for stage and murals, book illustration and poster design.

It was good to see his original illustrations and compare these with the finished posters to see what alterations the printers had to make in colour and design to produce the finished posters. It was also interesting to see some tapestry designs and two small colourful tapestries created as a result of a visit to Egypt.

Although the linocuts are my favourites, the etchings are lovely it was great to get up close and examine the superb cross-hatching and line work in them. The concentration required must have been quite intense as the line work is so precise and dense in areas.

There is the large mural of Scarborough which Bawden created from collaged maps and watercolour painting, and also a charming Peepshow panorama of a Scarborough beach scene, and also two documentary films about his life and work. I also liked the personal quirky illustrations he created as greetings cards for friends.

This exhibition is apparently the first major survey of his work since the larger retrospective at the V&A in 1989. I found it very inspiring and well worth a visit. If possible do remember to take the opportunity to go into the main college building to see his wonderful murals in the refectory there as well.

Edward Bawden Storyteller
runs until 26th November
Morley College
61 Westminster Bridge Road

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Put On Your Red Dress Baby!

"Put on your red dress baby, cause we're going out tonight,
Put on your red dress mama 'cause we're going out tonight, oh yeah"

Recently completed this racy little number which has flown out to its new home in the Middle East. Red Dress is a lovely piece of work commissioned as a gift for a bride-to-be, and is the second largest dress commission I have completed at 1 metre high by 3/4 of a metre wide.

I used lots of variation in the red papers and think it looks stunning (even though I do say so myself!). Anyway I hope the bride to be (and hubby), love it. Congratulations on your impending nuptials, and I wish you both many happy years of marriage. Put on your red dress baby, press play and have a dance on me!