After a couple of weeks of cool weather, it was good to be able to go for a walk in the sunshine. I had seen the sculpture trail advertised on Facebook in #BuileHillPark and wondered what it was like. Arriving at the mansion there were lots of people on the green area and stalls in the sensory garden. A nice lady explained that they were fund raising and gave us a map to find the sculptures.
The first sculpture was situated near the mansion so after photographing that we set off to find the rest, stopping half way round for a drink and chat at the community café.
After a short rest we continued on our search for the others, walking past one without realising it was there. Eventually, we found them all.
An enjoyable walk and it was good to see so many other people doing the same thing, with children enthralled by the animals etc, which were linked to the park. The Elephant is a link to the stuffed one that used to be in the mansion when it was a museum, I think, as I can't remember seeing any in the park in previous visits!
A superb way to add interest to this park and I'm sure it will attract more visitors. What a great job these volunteers are doing in the park as well as those in Light Oaks Park. At last these are becoming hubs for local people.
Having been on a coach tour holiday before to Eastbourne, we had a rough idea of what to expect. Unfortunately, things beyond our control made the journey to Babbacombe one to forget. Possibly to save money the company had added extra pick ups at the beginning which added three hours to the start of our journey as we were the first pick-up.
Then we had three major accidents that added time. (Hopefully no one was badly injured in these.) Anyway, after twelve tiring hours we arrived at our destination. I sat on one seat which did not give me a chance to do much sketching, as there was only a limited viewpoint, but I did manage a few quick drawings.
After a quick unpack and late meal we had a short walk to the headland, before having an early night. A stunning view of the coastline, but a shame we never had a chance to go down to the beach while we were there.
After an early rise and a decent breakfast, we were back on the coach heading for Sidmouth. This proved to be a quaint seaside town with a nice seafront and several unique shops on the side streets.
As an artist I am always looking for ways to exhibit my work and here the local Samaritan's shop offered a side room where artists could display and sell their work, with the charity taking a commission. What an excellent idea and one that other charities could copy.
Our afternoon visit was to Dawlish, which proved to be more of a traditional family holiday area, although it was spoilt a little as there was a lot of improvement work on the seafront. To offset this, there was a local, annual festival in the park opposite. where lots of activities for children were in full swing.
On Wednesday, we set off for Dartmouth which had a different feel to it from the last two places. Although quite busy, we had an interesting walk around the town, enjoying the views and atmosphere. It was surprising that this seemed to be a mecca for art shops as there appeared to be one on every corner.
I wonder what the art market is like in this area?
Our last stop of the day was a short visit to Torquay, a place where we had holidayed about twenty five years ago! Needles to say, we didn't recognised any of it this time around.
Again a contrast, as this was the quintessential family resort offering all types of entertainment. After a drink it was back to the hotel and an evening meal and another walk to the headland. On the way back we stopped for some liquid refreshment and a chat with another couple from Salford, before having to leave the establishment at 10pm as they wanted to close up!
The last day was a unmitigated disaster! We had planned to visit the prehistoric cave in the morning before going into Torquay again in the afternoon with a tentative plan of maybe to catch the ferry to Brixham. Having studied the map, we walked for twenty five minutes and should have arrived at the caves. Studying google we realised we were now forty five minutes away! To our horror we realised that the paper map we had consulted at the hotel had been the wrong way up!
So. being closer to Torquay, we decided to head there and an hour later arrived. After this experience we decided to treat ourselves to a cream tea.
As we arrived at the seafront, the rain started to fall so we decided to head for the caves, not realising that from here it was all uphill! And a steep, winding one at that!
After a long walk, we finally arrived to find that the caves were now all booked up until six pm and that would have meant waiting four hours. As we sat in the café, there was a thunderstorm, which luckily had mainly passed before we set off for the hotel, which was an easy walk, and only twenty minutes away!
Fortunately, we passed a local church hall, advertising the local art club's summer exhibition.
We always enjoy these as it is a chance to compare the artwork to that of Salford Art Club's. It was also a chance to talk to a couple of the artists who had work on show. An interesting exhibition and some super work.
Friday morning arrived and we left the hotel at 9am to start our journey home. Fortunately, this proved to be a lot better, with few hold ups.
An interesting holiday, possibly not an area we would rush back to, although, we did enjoy Sidmouth and Dartmouth.
Having experienced a virtual art immersion in a gallery, in Singapore, where there were a variety of computer artworks to interact with, I was interested to visit the Van Gogh exhibition in York.
After booking on line, I arrived at our allotted time to see how the show was organised. The experience was on a loop so could be seen at any time.
After a few minutes deciding which deckchair to sit in, I sat back to enjoy the projections. At first, tiny seeds of disappointment appeared and I thought, 'Was this it?'
On the walls were a series of frames showing examples of some of Van Gogh's paintings.
But then my interest was captured as they started to merge into other paintings and so the immersion experience began!
Every wall, the ceiling and the floor were covered with moving images of Van Gogh's paintings, so I sat back and was surrounded by them.
These images led me through his early life to his later darker days, with music and prose added to the effects. A fascinating insight into his work and the way it can be experienced in a large space.
I really enjoyed my visit!
My only criticism was that I would have liked to see a few of his better known works such as the 'Café Terrance at Night' and 'Starry Night'. I also thought that a couple of the in-between sections were over-long.
Going through to the next room, I took part in a colouring session, where visitors could either draw their own pictures based on Van Gough' style or colour one of the prepared drawings. A virtual reality session was also offered at an extra coat but due to time constrictions I had to miss this.
A super time spent at this exhibition and I hope this type of experience can become a fixture in all towns, possibly alongside an actual exhibition. I can imagine, in my own city of Salford, an immersive exhibition of L S Lowry's paintings, where the people wander around the scenes would be a fantastic addition to the Lowry Art gallery.
Since visiting and doing the notes for this blog, it is interesting that I came across this advert! I look forward to going to this to compare the experience.
Hosted within a stunning, purpose-built venue at MediaCity piazza from October 22 to January 23, this Covid-safe and family-friendly experience is anticipated to become the North’s biggest visitor attraction; providing a truly world-class cultural experience in the heart of Greater Manchester’s iconic cultural hub.
Prepare to transcend time and space as you accompany Van Gogh on a journey through the Netherlands, Arles, Saint Rémy and Auvers-sur-Oise, where he created many of his timeless masterpieces. Set to an evocative classical score, a thrilling display of over 3,000 inspirational images transforms every surface that surrounds you in what has been described as an “unforgettable multi-sensory experience”.
I can't wait!
After waking up to a sunny day, it seemed a suitable chance to visit Southport, having not been there for over two years.
On arrival, we took a pleasant walk along the front and then sat on a bench overlooking the water to eat our packed-lunch. We decided to visit the art gallery, as they always seem to have a good variety of work on show.
Going into the main gallery we were surprised to see a full exhibition based on the British Landscape, a subject matter close to my heart, and one that is not as popular nowadays.
Landscapes had been the mainstay of British art for centuries with the artists from the early 20th century portraying the most idealised views. Artists and the public found solace in these type of art works especially after the horrors of the wars and saw the countryside as a place of calm and security.
Britain led the way in landscape art until the development of impressionism, but it was still popular until the mid 20th century.
It was a fascinating insight into this genre, showing artwork from around the country from the early 18th century to more modern paintings of today. A subject matter that hopefully one day will return in popularity, although artists such as Damien Hurst and David Hockney are exhibiting work on this theme at the moment.
Walking through to the next gallery, a similar theme was on show. Here Paul Kenny exhibited abstract compositions on small glass plates with objects found on beaches and crystallised sea water. These plates are then scanned to produce large scale photographs and light boxes. These works focus on the often overlooked elements of the landscape.
Interestingly, Paul was born and educated in Salford but now lives in Northumberland.
These highly colourful images were impressive and were a different interpretation to the landscape theme. Unfortunately, we were a few days early for the art club exhibition being hung during our visit which was a shame, as it is always interesting to compare their work and themes with that of Salford Art Club. Another enjoyable visit and we look forward to returning some time soon.
After enjoying both TV series of the art club, we looked forward to seeing the chosen artwork in the gallery.
Through the television series Grayson and Phillipa brought people together during lockdown, celebrating the creativity of everyone. People turned to art as a way of relaxing in these troubled times and to express what they were going through. Each week Grayson chose a different theme and people could send in examples of their work on this theme. Entries were in their thousands and a limited number were chosen to show each week.
Themes included: portraits, animals, fantasy, view from the window, home and Britain. I sent off for a couple of these but unfortunately, didn't have my art work chosen. Below are some of my favourites from the ones sent in by the public, Many are very personel to the artist and all show a great level of skill.
Each episode also showed work by known artists such as Chantal Joffe, Maggi Hambling, Antony Gormley, and The Singh Twins.
Also, there were interviews with celebrities who also produced artwork during these times. These included Joe Lycett, Noel Fielding, Harry Hill, Vic Reeves, Jenny Eclair, Kevin McCloud and Lisa Tarbuck.
These often reflected the personality of the artist and enlivened the programme.
Grayson, ably supported by his wife Phillipa, produced a series of artworks each programme with Alan Measles, his protective spirit, keeping them safe.
We had only seen one example of Grayson's pottery before but were fascinated by the range and complexity of images and writing on them.
My personal favourites were the small figures created by Alex Robinson, who is on the autistic spectrum and produces four figures each week. Making these was invaluable to him, as it gave a structure to his week and helped to maintain his wellbeing and his mental health.
I would happily buy one of these and maybe he should start selling models of them because they were superb.
An interesting visit and one of these occasions when something lives up to your expectations or even surpasses it. Well worth booking a visit and what a chance Grayson provided to allow everyone to enter this exhibition without having to be a well known artist.
The same can be said of the #LowryArtGallery where the #DaysLikeThese exhibition is on, showing the reflections of Salford people during the lockdown. The next exhibition we must visit again.
After an enjoyable visit to Nottingham, we decided to stop off half way home at Trentham Gardens. Having pre booked our tickets, we parked near the garden centre. After lunch, we entered and followed the path to explore the lakeside walk, all the way around the ‘Capability’ Brown mile-long Trentham Lake.
Scattered around the lake were several sculptures and these added interest to the walk. Some were carved into trees, whilst others were free standing. As well as traditinal subject matter, one area impressed with tree stumps laid out to form an interesting abstract landscape, which created a different experience.
A trail of superb fairy sculptures, had also been created around the lakeside and gardens. These were painstakingly created from galvanised and stainless steel wire, by local artist Robin Wight.
Some of these were stunning, glistening in the sunlight, whilst others were hidden in the trees or peeping over fences. A super idea to inspire children who could have a trail sheet to help find them.
Having followed the one way system, we finished our walk at the Italian gardens, where we could acknowledge the foresight of the layout and appreciate the plants and trees. After the walk it was enjoyable to explore this area, especially the sweet smelling pink wisteria boulevard before setting off for home.
A nice break from the stress of the last few months and a chance to see a new city and visit these beautiful gardens.
Visit to #Nottingham #RobinHoodExperience #CityOfCaves #NottinghamContemporary #NottinghamJusticeMuseum
After a hard year, it was nice to get away for a few days and visit another city. With regards to all the new rules brought about by the pandemic, we booked places of interest before our arrival.
The first visit was to the Robin Hood experience. When we arrived, we were surprised that the attraction was situated in a house 4 storeys high. We were greeted by a man dressed in period costume and told to follow the room numbers starting on the top floor. Each room was filled with artefacts and an audio recount of the Robin Hood period. We leant about the history surrounding the Robin Hood legend and we all agreed that it was all done really well.
Many films and television series had told different versions of the story and it was intertesting to see all of these mentioned as well unknown facts relating to the legend.
After the tour, it was time to go and see Robin Hood's statue which was situtaed outside Nottingham's castle. Unfortunately, the castle had been closed for renovations and hadn't reopened yet. However, it was an enyoyable start to our first day.
We then had a chance to explore the rest of the city. which was interesting, as we compared it to Manchester. It was a very clean place and although the centre had been concreated, like Manchester, the area seemed a lot less crowded and relaxing, with children playing in the fountain. We enjoyed a chinese meal that evening and a visit to one of the many craft beer hostelry's.
The second day started with a visit to the City of Caves.
'Immerse yourself in the extraordinary atmosphere of the ancient caves carved deep beneath Nottingham’s city centre, including WW2 air raid shelters and a medieval tannery.
In the UK’s largest network of caves – with over 800 caves carefully converging to create breathtaking spaces – experience a place beyond imagination, and enjoy a truly memorable adventure in history'
This was a fascinating insight into the labyrinthine world and how different generations had lived in them, although we had fun trying to sort out the app explaining the sights on our tour!
Next door to the caves was the Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery. After expensive refreshments it was time to view the exhibitions.
In the first room was work by Allison Katz:
For more than a decade, Katz has been exploring painting's relationship to questions of identity and expression, selfhood and voice. Animated by a restless sense of humour and curiosity, her works articulate a tricksy language of recurring forms – roosters, monkeys and cabbages, among other things – that are by turns familiar and enigmatic. Katz's paintings, as well as her ceramics and posters, are frequently bodily (full of noses and gaping mouths) and relentlessly wordy, thick with puns and allusions. What emerges from these multilayered works is a sustained and critical pursuit of what the artist has called “genuine ambiguity”.
These paintings featured a range of paintings and we had mixed reactions, liking some and wondering about the symbolism of others. Definitely a time for discussion!
The next room, featuring Melanie Matranga, was not our cup of tea as we found that these type of installations didn't inspire us at all.
Matranga has, for a number of years, been preoccupied with the gap between intimacy and feeling alone, together. Fundamental to this exhibition is the way in which the private can become public. Divided into a series of rooms, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 begins with a purpose-built kitchen – a domestic space dressed with flowers and fruit that are left to decay over the course of the exhibition.
The final room had a exhibition by Brazilian Erika Verzutti:
Sensuous and tactile, Verzutti’s sculptures often seem to sit outside of period and place, conjuring relics or archaeological finds. Realised in bronze, concrete and papier mâché, they draw from a range of sources – from vegetables and household objects to newspaper clippings and imagery found online.
Some of these sculptures really interested us and gave us a chance to also add our own interpretation to them. Although abstracted, we could appreciate her skill, however, we did find the following sentence about her work amusing in its complexity!
They take a playfully omnivorous approach to art history, quoting and reimagining works that stretch from Brancusi to Brazilian modernism, or from Picasso back to the palaeolithic.
An interesting place, which offered some worthwhile art sessions for people to take part in, These were reasonable although other aspects like sponsorship started at £500.
Our last visit was to the Justice Museum, which is housed in a former Victorian courtroom, gaol and police station and is therefore a historic site where an individual could be arrested, tried, sentenced and executed.
The tour started with a talk in the court room where a visitor was tried as they would have been in the past. Sue was identified as a 'snitch' by the tour guide and was called as a witness in this case and caused the criminal to be deported to Australia!
We were all given a letter before going down to the cells where we learnt what our crime was and what our punishement would have been. In my case I would have been branded on the hand for stealing a horse.
The tour then visited the women's prison before going into the exercise yard. In both of these areas a character explained what would have happened at the time to prisoners.
After an interesting talk we visited the cafe for a reasonably priced meal and the left via the exhibition area featuruing paintings from their collection and by inmates from various prisons.
Power: Freedom to create is a new exhibition in partnership with Koestler Arts. Showcasing contemporary and historic artworks, it celebrates the skill and imagination of artists exploring themes of power and creativity.
An tasty evening meal and a cocktail or two finished our second day.
A fascinating couple of days with the weather helping to make it enjoyable although we would have prefered a hotter day when we visited the caves and museum, as they were quite cool and it would have been nice to come out into some heat.
We really liked Nottingham and would certainly recommend it for a short break.
Over the last year one of things that has happened is that a lot of people have turned to the arts as a way of coping with isolation. Grayson Perry, with his art club has encapsulated this need and inspired people to send in their work to be shown on his programme. The first series, which was broadcast last year, was so popular that a second series has just started, and the exhibition of the work chosen will be shown at Manchester Art Gallery when restrictions are lifted, I am sure that it will be well visited.
The works sent in are from artists of all abilities and shows the wealth of talent around the country. The work done by a young disabled girl using her eyes to move the cursor on her tablet was particularly impressive and moving.
Along with that, different celebrities, who paint or have an interest in the creative arts, discuss their work each week and will also exhibit their work. This mix of Grayson and Phillipa showing their working methods, as well as interviews, has become a must-see programme and has been an uplifting experience. Just seeing the struggles some people have overcome to create artwork is especially moving.
The latest programme, showing daily on Channel 4 at 5.30pm is 'Drawers Off'. I was interviewed for this a while ago and although interested, I decided that I wasn't happy with what was expected of the artists.
At the early planning stage, it seemed to be an actual life class, where each artist would be expected to pose naked for the other artists to paint. However, having watched the first two weeks of the programme, they seem to have changed the format with it almost becoming a figure study session where the model is partially clothed.
It's difficult to criticise the work produced as some of the contestants are new to figure painting, although I’m sure if I was new to a style of painting, and had to do it, I would at least practice first!
Another change added to the format was a competition element. There are five artists every week and each artist poses on one of the days. They are given 1 hour to complete a piece of work and one drawing is chosen after each session to go forward to the end of the week, where one is chosen as the overall winner and receives £1000!
When watching, I like to choose my favourite and wait to see if that is the one chosen as the daily winner. Sometimes, I'm correct but on other occasions the model's personal choice is different from mine.
On the first episode, I chose the tattoo artist as my favourite to win at the end of the week as he had a good understanding of form, but as is often the case as the week progressed another artist developed their style and surprisingly won. It was interesting to see how on different days the artist’s confidence grew, or how things went wrong with their work.
The second week was similar with a set of artists of different levels of experience producing a range of work. At times, they were influenced by suggestions from Comedian Jenny Eclair or mentor Diana Ali, although some chose to ignore the advice offered and went off at a tangent, which produced some unusual results.
Again, some improved as the week progressed or others experimented with new materials. Surprisingly, one artist who said that he only did abstract work produced a good line drawing on the last day. In this, the third week, we now see artists who are more experienced at life painting and it should be interesting to compare their efforts.
One thing I did wonder about however, was the fact that they refer to the programme being recorded over five days. If that is the case, then the contestants only have one set of clothes, as we see them in the same attire every day! I should think because of the pandemic restrictions it is all filmed on one day and if so, they could have fooled us by bringing a change of clothes for each session.
I have found this to be another art-based TV programme to enjoy and which will appeal to everyone.
Landscape artist of the year has been going for several years now and it is fascinating to see what the contestants produce in the four hours. It's not fair for me to criticise the artists as they have had the courage to apply and be scrutinised.
But again I must wonder, why contestants send in a painting that took more than the required 4 hours to paint then try to do the same style in this shorter time frame. It also amazes me that some of them also change the materials that they used in their submissions. I have also been disappointed in the choice of locations and views that the artists were given this year but in fairness this may have been due to covid restrictions. However, this year I was particularly impressed with the quality of the work shown by the wild cards, who are invited on the day.
As in all years the three finalists are a personal choice. The three finalists this year could all have done a superb job of the final commission, and although you can criticise the judges at times, they do choose the one, I believe, who is best suited for the final painting.
The programme has become so popular that 'Canadian Landscape Artist of the Year' will be on shortly.
It can only be a good thing that television companies are starting to realise the appeal of art programmes to the public and are even showing the old Bob Ross tutorials which are proving to still be popular.
With the extra time now spent in the house because of lockdown, and continual rain, we have been spring cleaning. A leak in our roof meant we had to clear out our small store room. Whilst going through some boxes I came across my art homework book from Salford Grammar School, from when I was eleven.
I was surprised to see the range of art theory work I had completed. Writing in my last blog about what artwork may have inspired me, I was interested to see how many, without remembering having done them, I still used in my art today.
Here, I was looking at Composition in paintings, starting with the horizon line and then looking at how this effected the composition, examples of what was considered a bad layout and how it could be improved.
This was about fifty nine years ago and nowadays present day art teachers may consider it to be an old fashioned way of looking at things. Today it could be seen to be more beneficial to break these early rules.
Moving on, homeworks were set studying Relative Proportion, including the spaces left around an object. This was to break the monotony of the composition.
Following on from this, we looked at what was described as the pleasant relationship of objects and how they relate to each other.
We moved on to looking at the golden section, a means of placing important items in what was considered its optimal place. This layout is often found in works by many of the great masters from the past.
Many other subjects were covered, including Line, Tone, Colour, Texture and even Emotion in a composition. Some homeworks being more successful than others.
This activity was based on Tone, the degrees of light and shade. It was meant to show how two different colours could have the same tonal value. Some worked better than others.
This homework book is one of the only surviving records of my art lessons at the start of high school. I was surprised at how good my basic grounding was in the subject and feel lucky to have such a good start in my art journey. I went on to study it for O level, A level and at College in Leeds.
I believe a great deal of this knowledge must have helped and influenced me in my artwork that followed and I am grateful for the advice and grounding covered by the teaching staff at my school.
( I noticed my handwriting was no better in those days as well!) LOL
#LSLowry #EdwardHopper #Cezanne #northernart
One of the questions I often get asked during interviews is why I paint the subjects I have chosen This is exceedingly difficult to answer, as often it is a subconscious decision. Certainly, many influences and stimuli are always around us. Visiting exhibitions, childhood experiences, the art books studied or nowadays, television and YouTube are available to view.
This is something I have started to think about recently and it was brought home to me when I posted a painting, I have done of two chess players. Someone commented that it reminded them of Cezanne’s painting of card players.
I had forgotten that whilst studying the Impressionists many years ago I had decided to have a go at copying this painting. I never got to finish this as I realised, I preferred to develop my own style and subject matter. Whether this could have influenced my choice of the composition for my painting I don’t know, although I suppose on reflection, work that I have completed in the past could have had an impact on newer paintings.
My copy of 'The Card Players' by Cezanne and my recent painting of 'Chess players'
Looking back, as a child my parents used to take me and my brothers to Salford market every Saturday morning. My mother would buy her vegetables etc. and my father would swap books on a stall. This environment was the inspiration for my first attempts at oil painting and it seemed a natural development for me to progress onto the precinct that was attached to the market.
On a footnote, all local artists see a lot of the work of L S Lowry and one of his subject matters was Salford Market. I don’t remember seeing much of his work at this young age or if maybe his scenes inspired my choice of compositions. However, I do know that I didn't consciously copy his work.
L S Lowry Market Scene Northern Town and one of my paintings
Moving onto painting people, I admired the work of Edward Hopper, but again the question is, 'Did I start painting my images before seeing his work or afterwards?' All I know is that after painting images myself, it made me appreciate his work more.
A painting by Edward Hopper and my painting
Looking back, it is easy to think that one thing or another has influenced me, but I will never be sure as at the time I just painted what I enjoyed and had no thought of why I chose the images, it’s only when people ask me that I try to analyse my thought process. Maybe I will never really know!