Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Sybil Andrews Linocuts

Another very good exhibition of linocutting can be found at Osbourne Samuel.

This is a retrospective exhibition of the print works of Sybil Andrews. Sybil Andrews (1898-1992) had an interesting early life as a welder, and then art teacher, who next went on to become one of the leading lights of the Grosvenor School of Modern Art - a group of artists who taught art in day and evening classes at this private school from 1925 to 1940, and whose aim was to produce affordable art for the general public. 

The Grosvenor School artists were strongly influenced by the artwork of the Futurists and Vorticists movements. They produced dynamic, graphic images based on speed - racing cars, speedway, fairground rides, the movement of machinery, men at work, and sports such as tennis and rowing. Music and religion were also strong themes in their prints.

These are wonderful stylised images and I was really surprised by how fresh, bright and vibrant the colours in these prints are considering their age. The prints are highly regarded and avidly collected, this is reflected in the prices they achieve, particularly Speedway, by Andrews below (£90,000 if you please!).

Towards the back of the gallery are a number of iconic prints by other members of the Grosvenor School such as Claude Flight and Cyril Power. There is also a lovely huge linocut by Edward Bawden (below), which complements beautifully the work of the Grosvenor School artists.

Sybil Andrews And The Grosvenor School Linocuts
until 10th October
Osborne Samuel
23a Bruton Street

Saturday, 26 September 2015


 Picasso - Faunes et Chevre, 1959

I am a big fan of linocutting, and I really enjoyed this small but interesting survey of what was once a humble print medium. The lino cut print was originally used as a way to introduce children to relief printing, but the process was adopted by many artists as their chosen means of expression in printmaking. Much of this I have no doubt was due to the wonderful images produced by Pablo Picasso who used lino printing initially as a means to quickly and cheaply produce posters for exhibitions of his work in Vallauris, and also local bullfighting tournaments.

Picasso - L'Aubade, avec Femme Accoudee, 1959

Cyril Power - Speed Trial, 1932

Cyril Power was a member of the Grosvenor School of linocutters who created linocut prints as a means of producing affordable modern art for the general public. Grosvenor School prints were influenced by Italian Futurist artists and are expressive, and full of colour and movement. They are highly collectable and very expensive!

Sol Lewitt - (Untitled) Doctors of the World, 2001

I did not know that Sol Lewitt produced lino cut prints so this exhibition was enlightening. His love of colour was central to his work and is made clear in this print.

Fred Sandback - Untitled, 1975

Sandback's lino prints are very sparse and minimal to reflect the work of his spatial, linear sculptures.

Wayne Thiebaud - Sandwich, 1970

Wayne Thiebaud - Candy Counter, 1970

Thiebaud's prints like his paintings are fun and graphic in style.

Gary Hume - Paradise 4, 2012

I love this piece by Gary Hume. The scale is large and the colours are very seductive and calming.

Reece Jones - Does A One Legged Duck Swim In Circles? II, 2015

Reece Jones - Does A One Legged Duck Swim In Circles? 2015

I really liked the oddness of the images in these prints. I had not heard of Jones before and need to seek out more of his work.

Ray Richardson - Clobber, 2015

There are also print contributions from Peter Blake and his daughter Rose in this survey of the lino medium. I would have liked to see contributions from Edward Bawden who is renowned for the skill and inventiveness in his exceptional lino cut prints, and other contemporary prinmakers who use lino like Paul Catherall and Angie Lewin, in this show, but it wasn't meant to be a comprehensive survey of linocutting and nevertheless is a good exhibition that demonstrates the versatility of the lino-cut print.

until 3rd October
Paul Stolper
31 Museum Street

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Charles Petillon: Heartbeat

Another visually impressive art installation, this time in the historic Covent Garden market building. Heartbeat is the work of artist Charles Petillon and the latest in his Invasions series, in which he installs clusters of white balloons in various locations.

Heartbeat consists of approximately 100,000 white balloons, is around 54 metres in length by 12 metres wide, and fills the space beautifully. It is suspended by a series of wires which adds to the illusion of a giant floating cloud. There is also a gently pulsing white light which symbolises the beating of a heart.

"With Heartbeat I want to represent the Market Building as the beating heart of  this area - connecting its past with the present day to allow visitors to re-examine its role at the heart of London life. Each balloon has its own dimensions and yet is part of a giant but fragile composition that creates a floating cloud above the energy of the market below. This fragility is represented by contrasting materials and also the whiteness of the balloons that move and pulse appearing as alive and vibrant as the area itself."

This is a lovely playful intervention which utilises the space wonderfully.

Charles Petillon - Heartbeat 
until 27th September
Covent Garden Market

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Ai Weiwei: Tree

Another post, another London art installation. This time a petrified forest of Frankenstein-style trees by artist Ai Weiwei in the Royal Academy courtyard. This display consists of eight of Ai Weiwei's 'trees' - the most that have been exhibited together at one time, which originally came from the rural mountains of China.

The trees died naturally on the mountains of southern China and are then cut up and sold as decorative pieces of wood at the markets of Jingdezhen. Ai Weiwei purchases the sections of trees from Chinese landowners at market and then has them transported to his Beijing studios where he collages them together to create these unusual hybrid 'Frankenstein-like' trees. I like the fact that he has collaged/spliced them together like a mad scientist creating new hybrids. It is hard to improve on Nature, especially trees, which are so perfect, and basically sustain life on this planet, but apparently these works were created as a commentary on the diversity of Chinese society.

I loved seeing the beautiful natural textures of the bark and wood grain of these trees, and also the contrast of the man-made metal nuts and bolts holding the natural wood of the trees together.

Apparently this Tree project was crowd-funded to the tune of  £100,000 from a Kickstarter campaign, and this is the first time they have been exhibited together en masse. There are more of Ai Weiwei's well-known works such as the dipped pots, and the notorious prints of him dropping a Han Dynasty urn on display in the galleries of the RA which also form this retrospective of his work.

Ai Weiwei
until 13th December
Royal Academy of Art
Burlington House

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Marc Quinn: Frozen Waves, Broken Sublimes

There are some impressive installations across London at the moment. I love these huge stainless-steel sea shells which have washed up on the shores of the Fountain court of Somerset House. 

They are the work of artist Marc Quinn, and were recently shown at White Cube Bermondsey as part of his The Toxic Sublime exhibition.

The contrast between the unpolished and highly polished reflective surfaces are lovely, and their monumental scale works well in the setting of the courtyard of Somerset House.

Marc Quinn: Frozen Waves, Broken Sublimes
until October 21st
Fountain Court
Somerset House

Monday, 14 September 2015

Ladybird by Design

I ventured to a much changed King's Cross to see this celebration of 100 years of the iconic Ladybird book series at the House of Illustration

I loved Ladybird books as a child (and still do), and remember them extending my vocabulary and knowledge after having read the equally as important (in my opinion) Happy Venture, and Wide Range Reader series of books. 

The design of Ladybird books though - one page of text against one full page of illustration is a design classic.

I used to spend hours pouring over the illustrations and looking at the lists of other books in each series on the back of the books to see if I could get to read those as well. 

I think Ladybird books were instrumental in sparking my interest in books and illustration, and were perhaps key to my going on to study graphic design and illustration, and a career as an illustrator. In this more enlightened age Ladybird books have attracted some criticism for racial and gender stereotyping, but they are/were a product of their time and did not set out to malign race and gender out of spite. Their main purpose was to educate, and they more than succeeded in this aim.

The exhibition was a wonderful excercise in nostalgia for me as it brought a smile to my face and evoked many happy childhood memories. It was also a fantastic opportunity to see the actual artwork for Ladybird classics such as - Shopping With Mother and Tootles the Taxi

The exhibition features the work of illustrators I liked at the time whose illustrations did so much to bring the text of the books to life such as Eric Winter and Robert Lumley who provided artwork for Ladybird's Well-Loved Tales' series which included Puss in Boots and Cinderella, as well as John Berry who produced great illustrations for the educational People At Work series. This is a good exhibition, a really good celebration of the art of illustration, and an important British publisher. Many happy returns Ladybird!

Ladybird books from my collection


Ladybird by Design

until 27th September
House of Illustration

2 Granary Square
King's Cross