21 January 2017

London Art Fair

Can we every have too much art? ... possibly yes, when it's all in one place... eg the London Art Fair. In my four-hour visit I saw too much to absorb - yet much of it was rather ignorable, either gimmicky or samey or seen last year. If you browse in the gallery list on the website, clicking through to the images, you can get the same effect without going to the bother of being there.

It was a surprise to see, among the modernity, a 15th-century German carving - an "Anna Selbsdritt" to add to my collection -

Also surprising, among the many Ivon Hitchins landscapes on show and for sale was an interior with figures -

Work by Julie Airey appeared light and calm from a distance, and up close revealed the importance of a few lines of stitching, being "acrylic and embroidery on muslin" -
Detail; painted muslin layer is stitched onto painted background

A pair of tall thin pieces by Gordon Baldwin got me thinking ahead to making "chimneypots" -

Discovery of the day was the altered book pages by Carolyn Thompson, with revisions sewn on with hair -

Detail of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130, altered
Do have a read of this one on her website, which was also on show.

Many other artworks that caught the camera's eye, these among them -
Harriet Mena Hill

Sandra Blow - "acrylic and tea on ticking"

Katherine Jones

Leo Davy - the texture of the white echoes the shapes of the colour below

Marcelle Hanselaar

Tricia Gillman's "Memory Strings"

Lucy Jones, Reflections

Takefumi Hori's gold and silver leaf brought Dorothy Caldwell's work to mind

Claudia Carr, Col de Fornia, 2016

One of the first and last things I saw was this large painting with its sculptural elements -
Marcus Harvey, Sailing By, 2016
"Acrylic, jesmonite on inkjet on canvas"
The "crashing boar" incident was not exactly my favourite part of the day - enthused by seeing the work of Sarah Gillespie, I stepped back and was "attacked" by a knee-height bronze boar innocently standing in the middle of the gallery space. I managed not to fall onto his spiny back, but the tip of his tail caught me on the way down. I got off lightly and could walk away without hobbling. Fortunately the skirt I was wearing is made of invincible fabric and only a little mark was visible. Under it, though, as I found out at home, the slip and tights suffered huge holes, and my thigh has a 3" surface gash and a lovely bruise is developing. So embarrassing, but it could have been so much worse! 

To end, a mystery - 

These works by Susan Hefuna are described as "pencil and thread on tracing paper" - but they look more like white ink and red paint on tracing paper ... maybe the pencil and thread are underneath?

20 January 2017

Another wintery morning

Frost on the skylight, and the pearly dawn breaking. Now it's turned into blue skies and raking sunlight.

As a child in winter-whitened Quebec and even in the balmy Lower Fraser Valley, BC, and again as an adult in Halifax, NS, living in a house without heating in the bedrooms, I often encountered ice crystals on the inside of the windowpane. Often? Not really all that often, not getting-dressed-under-the-bedclothes often - but often enough ... hurrah for central heating!

Drawing at Royal Veterinary College

The Royal Veterinary College (in Camden) is running some evening sessions for drawing its specimens. I had been to a session in August, and drew the elephant skeleton that graces the cafe atrium -
The college's facebook page has a gallery of images from the drawing sessions. I used a felt pen in an A5-sized book, quite a challenge for capturing the elephant. Have you heard that elephants have four kneecaps? Actually the front "knees" are elbows...

But to the present: it was birds' beaks that caught my eye -
Magellanic penguins

Egret, curlew, and ... hmm, don't know ...

This is Bubo bubo, the Eurasian eagle owl
There's something amazing about those eye sockets...
A smaller owl, also with scleral bones round the eye
The specimen of choice was removed from the case and we could (carefully) handle it. I turned Bubo bubo this way and that (ignoring the tiger skull behind him) for a page of blind drawings, discovering his bony secrets, with a view to reading about it later - owls' eyes are fascinating - and did you know there are 216 species of owl, 18 of which are of the barn owl family? (the others are "typical owls", Strigidae family) -
Some rear views, including a closer look at the vertebrae -
I wasn't the only one to choose an owl skeleton  -
 A few more photos from this fascinating place -
Teaching materials

Hen in a cage?
 And this is Lucy, our australopithicine relative -
She's the size of a child, and children are apparently fascinated by her when similar models are taken round to schools - they can look her right in the eye. And she's ever so old ... 3.2 million, how many birthdays is that?

19 January 2017

Poetry Thursday - "Je te l'ai dit pour les nuages" by Paul Eluard


I told you for the clouds

I told you for the sea tree

for each wave for the birds in the leaves

for pebbles of noise

for the familiar hands

for the eye that becomes a face or a landscape

and the sleep that renders the sky from its color

for the entire drunken night

for the grid of the roads

for the open window for an uncovered face

I told you for your thoughts for your words

every caress every confidence endures

               - Paul Eluard (1895-1952)

(encountered in Ali Smith's "Artful"; translated by Stuart Kendall; other translations are available)

It's about the nature of storytelling, "or of all telling", says Smith, in the final lecture in the book, "On offer and on reflection".

18 January 2017

From the foreign correspondent

Can you blame him, with the winter weather an all those bookshelves to build it's better to be inThailand. He sends photos ...

Getting over the jetlag on "the island"

Rather a lot of rain ... time to go elsewhere
Flying to Phnom Penh

17 January 2017

Drawing Tuesday - King's Place

Some discoveries on the way to the venue - a little canalside park, with mosaics made by children at the local school -

 Converted warehouses along the canal, and the inevitable swans -
 A boat that knows it's a boat, not a castle or jug of roses -

The interior of Kings Place offers impressive opportunities for perspective drawing -

A nice display of prints caught my eye - artists include Ann Christopher, Breon O'Casey, Peter Randall-Page, Jeff Lowe, Brian Kneale, Geoffrey Clarke, WilliamTucker, Anthony Abrahams, John Buck - all in a few square metres! -

Terence  Coventry's "Choughs"

Perspectival print of a gasometer, simple but complicated (or vice versa)

The artist is Zachary Eastwood-Bloom
 More Ann Christopher in the Pangolin Gallery, with major window-cleaning going on, an improvisation in swoops and transition of states that made an ephemeral contrast to the static drawings and sculptures -

 Now to the work -
Janet K found the "insect" downstairs
(actually it's Ark by Steve Dilworth)

Joyce caught some people (perhaps a staff meeting?) and added sepia

Sue went outside and shivered through two drawings of  Post Inert Phase II Disc
by Geoffrey Clarke

Carol, too did "people and poufes" ... as well as "drums or seats", an improvisation
resulting from someone sitting down and blocking the view of the empty chairs she was about to draw

Judith rose to the spatial challenge

Jo's series of drawings of the paintings of north Cornwall artist Leo Davy

Najlaa  found a sculpture by Geoffrey Clarke - very different from the one Sue drew

Michelle's technicolour version of "the red thing"
And here's "the red thing" in red - a popular subject! -

I took a few notes from the wall of prints, then put graphite on a page and used the
rubber to emulate Peter Randall-Page's scarabs, experimenting with ways of making them visible

Tools of the week -

Chunky felt tip markers - in bright, neon colours

The Rotring Art Pen takes ink cartridges - of any colour