Saturday, 31 January 2015

Beauty and Revolution: The Poetry and Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay

Across the courtyard from the main house at Kettle's Yard there is an interesting little exhibition about the typographical works of Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. These are playful uses of type expressed through concrete and kinetic poetry.

Beauty and Revolution: The Poetry and Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay
until 1st March 
Kettle's Yard

Monday, 26 January 2015

Kettle's Yard

On a lovely, sunny, crisp winter day I paid another visit to Kettle's Yard, the former home and art collection of Jim and Helen Ede in Cambridge. This place has an almost mystical air, where every nook and cranny  is filled with treasure of the artistic or natural variety. Jim was a curator with the Tate Gallery and befriended many of the artists, and was therefore able to create this enviable collection of art and sculpture. Artists collected by the Ede's include Ben Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, Joan Miro, Constantin Brancusi, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and some beautiful drawings by David Jones.

It must have been a wonderful refuge and home for the Ede's when they lived there. It is so tranquil and inspiring being surrounded by a wonderful art collection, some lovely pieces of furniture and glassware, plants and stones, as well as a substantial library.

I like the way the artwork and objects are curated and displayed in the house in a comfortable, seemingly haphazard manner. Viewers are able to interact with them with ease in a manner that is not too precious like some other galleries and museums.

This is a great place to be inspired if you are an artist/sculptor, architect or interior designer.

Kettle's Yard
Castle Street,

Friday, 23 January 2015

A Visit to London Art Fair

I made the annual journey to Islington for the London Art Fair 2015 and I breezed through fairly quickly as there didn't seem to be much of a buzz there this year. I was impressed by the number of Keith Vaughn (above), works on show from the various dealers as I really like his figurative work and hadn't seen many of these exhibited previously. I do think that the Pallant House display at the beginning of the fair was really good. It was a very impressive display of work entitled - The Figure in Modern British Art and made me want to make the effort to pay them a visit down in Chichester to explore their collection further.

Apart from this pieces that caught my eye for one reason or another included:-

Clive Barker - Origami Boat. A simple idea. Lovely bronze sculpture.

Henry Moore - Family Group (silk scarf)
His drawings translate well to textiles.

Tessa Traeger - I liked the surrealistic clash of the modern hieroglyphs over a Tudor-style painting.

 Sandra Kantanen - Exquisite butterflies and moths. What's not to like?

Ben McLaughlin - Wonderful collages. Blocks of colour and texture on an intimate scale.

Jane Edden - Her work made me smile. Miniature blouses constructed from feathers. Must have been so fiddly to put together and required patience. The results are well worth it.

Mit Senoj - I saw a strange beauty in these pieces.

Beth Carter - Travelling Shoes. Nice and whimsical, ready to take you on a flight of fancy. Have long admired her bronze Minotaur sculptures and these are a nice development.

Did you go to London Art Fair? What caught your eye?

London Art Fair 2015
Business Design Centre 
until Sunday 25th January

Monday, 19 January 2015

Yumi Okita Textiles: Butterflies Through Others Eyes #2

How good are these? Fantastic sculptural textiles based on butterflies and moths by Yumi Okita. Can't find much information on the maker but love these fabric interpretations of winged things. Really good attention to detail and mixture of textile techniques.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Egon Schiele The Radical Nude

Managed to catch this absolutely wonderful display of a selection of Schiele's masterful figurative drawings before it closes at the end of this week. 

The show comprises his drawings from 1910 to 1918 - the last year of his life. They are beautiful, almost other worldly, in that the figures are intentionally elongated, emaciated and a statement of intent of Schiele's radical ideas in moving away from the work of the other artists of the Vienna Succession and forging his own style.

I thought the textures and the mark-making in the drawings were beautiful and served to highlight the other-worldly appearance of the figures. I also liked the restricted palette of green and red gouache paint to highlight the features of the figures such as the elbows, buttocks, facial features etc. which also served to emphasise the thinness and alien-like qualities of his models. 

Some of the drawings are uncompromisingly explicit and depict his perverse take on the figure, and attempts to advance figurative art of the time. Unfortunately Austrian society of the time were not prepared to go along with Schiele's vision and he was jailed for a time as his work was deemed pornographic. In this respect I certainly found the drawing below of his wife pretty explicit and uncompromising. It brought to mind the similarly explicit Jeff Koons' pictures with his then wife La Cicciolina. Though it is a shocking image I find it to be beautiful at the same time because of the way in which it executed, and certainly no more explicit than what can be found on the internet in this day and age.

Schiele's drawings also reminded me of much of recent fashion illustration and the recent controversies about the use of both pre-pubescent and bulimic models in the fashion industry. I was really inspired by this show, Schiele's draughtsmanship is fantastic, and I feel the need to look at and reassess my own drawings through fresh eyes. Be quick if you want to catch this show as it closes next Sunday.

Egon Schiele The Radical Nude
until 18th January
The Courtauld Gallery
Somerset House

Also on show at Somerset House are some great photographs of the ever gorgeous Debbie Harry aka Blondie, taken by her long term partner and band-mate Chris Stein. These are a great evocation of the late 1970s early '80s period in music and fashion and remind me of seeing Blondie on Top of the Pops for the first time back in the day as a group fronted by the drop-dead gorgeous Ms Harry. This show has it all, the hair, the dresses and those cheekbones. 

Chris Stein/Negative:
Me, Blondie, And The Advent Of Punk 
until 25th January
East Wing Galleries
Somerset House