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!
After having an exhibition in the gallery last year, I was interested to see that the annual open exhibition was taking place at the moment. Awaking early to a sunny day, last Wednesday, I was surprised when Sue suggested it would be a good chance to visit the exhibition before lockdown started on the next day. It is something I had been meaning to do but had never gotten around to.
Upon arrival, we parked in the main car park which was surprisingly quite full. Although relatively small, the park does have some excellent facilities for families as well as artists. Making our way to the gallery we entered through the front door and having donned our masks and cleaned our hands started to follow the one way system. The first display was in the now empty café, as food is only served outside, and the we entered the main gallery to the left where there was a good variety of paintings in several themes. It's always fascinating to see the range of styles and materials used by both professional and amateur artists in these exhibitions.
Following the arrows around the room, we then moved through to the corridor. The upstairs gallery, where I had my exhibition wasn't open, possibly to stop crowding on the stairway.
Walking along the corridor, there was plenty to look, with a wide range of work on show.
When the art gallery is fully open, the final gallery holds art and craft classes. Again, we were interested to see a mixed range of paintings, jewellery and sculptures all of which were for sale. In fact, while we were there, someone purchased a painting of Jurgen Klopp, hopefully as a present for a Liverpool supporter otherwise they are in for a shock!
As we wandered around, we always discuss which ones we like the best and at times which one we would buy. There are always favourites and I tend to pick ones in styles unlike my own or ones that explore similar topics in a different way. There is a superb range of work and something for everyone in exhibitions like this and they are always worth a visit. Shortly after our visit, several prizewinners were listed on the gallery website. It was a shame that these weren't known at the time of our visit as it would have been something else to debate with Sue.
As well as being an impressive park and gallery, it was also interesting how they were coping with the present pandemic and rules. The café was serving food and drink to small isolated groups on benches outside and a large marquee had been put up for shelter. To add incentive to visit, a musician provided background music as people enjoyed their food and drink. An excellent idea which could be copied in other venues.
A nice day out and a chance to escape the present situation for a while, as well as our third visit to galleries in a short time.
After not visiting an art gallery to see an exhibition for some time, we managed to get to three before the latest lockdown, I have already mentioned my visit to #TheLowry which was very enjoyable.
Deciding to venture into #Bury for our first visit, and were interested to see how the gallery had coped with social distancing etc. We first had to find our way in which was now down one side of the main entrance through the basement. On arrival, we donned our obligatory face masks and signed in. After a refreshing coffee in their super café, where we sat and viewed some cat prints which we were tempted by but they seemed a little dear, we proceeded through to the first gallery.
Here we viewed the exhibition by Bury Photographic Society. I always enjoy looking at these as they often have a different perspective on capturing images than an artist. The photographs are always stunning and show the level of commitment in a range of subject matters from the members.
Wandering through to the next room, we saw an interesting exhibition by the gallery's art group. It's important and refreshing to find that the gallery has groups like these and supports the local community.
The last room is always interesting, as normally, galleries show examples from their collection in a themed room with paintings and sculptures from the same era grouped together. However, in this gallery, you see a modern sculpture next to a traditional one, a contemporary landscape next to one by Constable and the same applies to traditional figurative work as well. An eclectic mix which made for an interesting visit.
One of our favourite works, Spring Morning ; Haverstock Hill by George Clausen, is also on show and we always stop to discuss this one. The mother and daughter walking towards you and the interesting figures in the background always fascinate us.
As you leave the gallery, there are a set of paintings by Maurice Mumpasi showing support for BLM.
The last room always has an interesting range of work by local artists and crafts people for sale. Again, another good idea by the gallery to support the local arts scene.
An enjoyable visit in a safe environment. The one way system takes you through the galleries and it's a shame that galleries such as this are continually hit with closures when they are making such an effort during these times.
At the moment I seem to be jinxing exhibitions. After the disappointment of not being able to visit the Tŷ Pawb Exhibition in #Wrexham I was looking forward to the 'Days Like These' exhibition taking place at the Lowry art gallery until the latest lockdown was announced. Fortunately, this time I did manage to view the exhibition before it closes for a month.
The safety at the Lowry was excellent and we were kept informed as we made our way through the one way system. Not surprisingly, as visits have to be booked now, it was fairly quiet which gave us a chance to chat to the attendants as we walked around. The first room introduces the theme and local people's work is linked to that of L S Lowry's. Poetry, prose and art are all on show completed during lockdown and showing Salford residents' reaction to the circumstances they find themselves in.
Entering the second room I was pleased to see my four paintings in prominent position along side other artists work from the area. I focussed on the effects on the people in the area others reflected on the local cityscapes.
It's good that artists can still get out to paint these images and it is noticeable that the streets and roads were a lot quieter in the first few weeks.
#salfordartclub hasn't met now since March and the only links we have had is through the internet. Members have been busy producing work and it was good to see that six of us had work in the exhibition. A few members have been doing a 'One Inch' challenge, painting an object in a one inch square every day. Susan Leech has kept this up since the beginning and I think now is on the sixth sheet. In this exhibition Kathy Bowers has hers shown on the TV screen, Carol Parkes submitted a satirical painting showing Colonel Tom and the Prime Minister, which also can be seen on the screen. During, the first lockdown we also had to social distance during VE Day and my image of that is on the screen as well.
Other art club members focussed on different themes such as. Lynn Ann Kirkley who paid tribute to a nurse with her painting, whereas Liang Sun and Gill Nicolas were moved by darker thoughts and their work reflects that.
An enjoyable visit that showed the true spirit of many #salford people in these difficult times. Through the arts people are able to pass the days creatively and hopefully this is an uplifting experience as is this exhibition.
As a bonus some of Lowry's artwork have been re-hung with many unseen works added and every time I visit, I am enthralled by the way he saw the world and as he says, life can be difficult. A super exhibition and I look forward to going again when it reopens, hopefully next month.
After several online exhibitions, I was pleased that the Tŷ Pawb open exhibition in Wrexham, North Wales, was having a proper exhibition in the gallery. I was due to visit today and had booked a timeslot to see my painting amongst the works selected.
Then, last Thursday, the government announced new restrictions for Wales and the opening was postponed, you can imagine my disappointment.
After a few quite successful months selling paintings and having work and articles published, there now seems to be a general feeling of malaise in the art world as there appears to be no end to the pandemic.
Having said that, I was impressed with the way a couple of young artists locally were showing their work. I had seen it advertised on Facebook and it looked interesting.
Jen and Amelia, who live near me in Eccles, were holding an 'Art in The Garden' exhibition. On a horrible wet day I wasn't sure that this would go ahead but went to check it out.
Under a very wet awning, they had displayed their paintings and were keen to discuss the work with people who came to view it.
A shame the weather spoilt the number of visitors but a super idea in the present climate where a lot of local galleries are closed. An admirable effort from two young artists who wanted to exhibit their work. I hope they do very well in this venture and look forward to future shows.
Who knows, this could be the way forward for other artists in these restricted times.
Certainly something to think about!
I read about the open exhibition at Warrington a few months ago and applied but didn't get accepted. What I hadn't looked at was the title of the exhibition, 'A contemporary Arts Festival'. With selectors you are always being judged by the theme of the exhibition as well as their personal tastes. Also my larger work doesn't look it's best when looked at on a small screen as the textures etc don't show it off properly. Like most things in life you win some and loose some.
We decided to have a look at the exhibition to see what had been selected for the show. Before going we had to download a ticket for a selected time slot as a result of the present situation.
After arriving early, we had something to eat and then went to the gallery to sign in. Considering how busy the town was there was only one other person in the gallery, a complete change from when we last visited. The gallery then was crowded with people looking at the work of a traditional representational artist. This could have been because of the pandemic or could it be the subject matter?
We always find contemporary exhibitions a mixture of work we like or dislike or we even have trouble understanding.
Some of the work really appeals and when you can see what the artist is trying to achieve, this is when I think it is more successful. I prefer work where I can see some meaning to or a starting point from which the artist has developed such as the ones below.
I do find it hard sometimes to relate to work as in the case of the three blanket like artworks around the gallery, where even the title by the artist leaves me confused. The other two were behind cabinets so I couldn't see the titles.
Throughout the show there were only a couple of more traditional pieces such as the ones below.
The lack of what I would call traditional art reflects the overall content of the exhibition, although some pieces made us smile, a few made us think that as a whole this type of exhibition often disappoints with clever titles being the norm whereas the talent isn't always obvious.
A nice surprise was the work entitled 'Brand Spanking Neon' by students from Priestley college. They had been inspired by the Botany and Geology galleries to produce ceramics and textile works. Along side their brightly coloured finished pieces were the sketches they used to inspire their final work, which helped the viewer to understand more easily their vision.
When viewing a modern exhibition like this, it is always a joy to visit the gallery holding the historical pieces of art. Here the talent and hard work is there to see and appreciate.
The museum itself, set out on three floors is also worth a visit on its own. It has interesting and eclectic exhibits and we spent some time following the one way system around the empty rooms. It seems such a shame, that due to the present circumstances, places like Warrington Museum are suffering from lack of visitors.
An interesting visit and at least I can see why my paintings weren't selected and I can move on to Wrexham next week where I have a painting in the open exhibition there.
A nice touch by the gallery were the facemasks on sale, featuring paintings from their collection. A nice idea that other galleries could use to raise funds at the moment.
With a sudden improvement in the weather, we decided to venture out to Lytham for the day, away from the local area. Our first stop was Lowther Park where we went for a coffee. This was quite busy but we found somewhere to sit on a bench outside.
After the drink, we decided to walk along the seafront into town. As an artist I appreciate certain scenes and this lone boat on the estuary was impressive. I'm not sure it would work as a painting but who knows!
With the present situation and schools etc. being reopened, we didn't expect it to be too busy. To our surprise the shopping area was crowded and bars and restaurants full. Social distancing was hard and masks were only required in shops.
A couple of years ago I was involved in the Lytham arts festival and I was interested to see how the art scene had progressed in the area.
The only artwork on show on the main street was upstairs in a gift shop. Here, there were a range of original artwork from local artists, some prints from a northern artist and some generic work from other artists. The other gallery off a side street had been turned into a hairdressers and the local art shop had disappeared. This was a shame, as we had had a lovely talk, on a previous visit, with the owner who was trying hard to make a go of it.
Moving on to St Anne's, we parked near Ashton Gardens. The reason for this was two fold. As well as being a pretty park, there was an exhibition in the Pavilion Café by #StevieBruce. He is a local artist I follow on Facebook. His paintings really capture the local area, some of a bygone age and are always worth viewing.
Being a very hot day, the queue to get into the Pavilion Café, was slow moving as people tended to linger over their drinks. Whilst waiting in the queue, there was a medical problem where an old gentleman was overcome with the heat and a local lifeguard volunteer had to look after him. I did get a chair for the gentleman though!
After refreshments, we decided to have a walk along the seafront. Again, this was quite busy with nearly every bench being taken. Everyone was social distancing on the beach, although that wasn't hard as the sea is so far out!
Eventually, the heat got to us and we drove back to Lytham for a fish and chip evening meal.
A really nice day with a little respite from the problems and stresses in the world today. At times, you wouldn't have known that there was a pandemic, as people were enjoying the sudden hot spell, and life was carrying on.
A few weeks ago I read an article where a restaurant abroad had lined up a series of greenhouses along the canal side so that people could have a meal whilst social distancing. I thought that this was a great idea and then to my surprise on a recent trip to Salford Quays, on a day far removed from the stormy weather we are experiencing at the moment, I discovered that the idea had reached Media City!
The sheds and greenhouses are spread out on the area adjacent to where The Blue Peter Garden is situated. Meals are ordered online from the participating restaurants and you can book a box to eat in. A novel idea which I'm sure in the evenings are popular, however on a hot afternoon. they were empty. People were taking advantage of the deckchairs and picnic tables, relaxing and chilling in the sunshine.
As I wandered around, one of the main things that impressed me was that local artists had decorated them. I thought that this was an excellent idea. As well as making the pods and greenhouses more attractive, it also enabled artists to display their work and share their talents.
In these difficult times, with art galleries closed and exhibition space limited, many artists are struggling, and taking part in this innovative venue, will have helped them out.
It also publicizes the importance of art in modern life, creating something special, bright and beautiful, in what could have been quite a sterile environment.
A unique outdoor dining experience. A piece of impactful public art.
30 ‘boxes’ outside of Media City’s restaurants. Winding through the gardens and along the waterfront. Self-contained dining pods taking the form of sheds and greenhouses, decorated by Salford-based artists and creatives.
After walking around the area, I did have couple of worries though.
On the day ! was there, it was very hot and the idea of sitting in a glass greenhouse would not have appealed.
On a day like today, it could be quite enjoyable watching the heavy rain outside but I do wonder about the food arriving from some of the restaurants that are a distance away.
Anyway, it is a super idea and I would love to hear from someone who has had a meal in one of these pods.