Our daughter was attending the British musical firework championship so we decided to meet up with her for the day. Fortunately, it stayed dry most of the day. It's been a long time since we have visited the art gallery there and it was a surprise to see how much it had changed due to lottery etc funding.
We started on the top floor entering a historical area showing Southport's development with information, artifacts and artwork.
In the next area was a collection of memorabilia with toys such as Meccano and a cabinet of items related to Dan Dare, a character from the Eagle comic. I remember him slightly but it did promote an interesting conversation about how they saw us living in the 1990's, with technology and space travel. One of the staff even joined in and was very friendly as we talked about this topic.
Next, was the Egyptian room where a range of artefacts were on show with information about the ancient Egyptians. As we arrived at the gallery, the mummy was being taken away to be x-rayed which, we were informed, was an exciting event for the gallery.
Moving on we came to a room entitled Cross Pollination.
Here were a range of interpretations of the theme and featured a variety of work both traditional and more abstract.
After viewing these we moved through to the next room. Here we came upon a room called Black Presence an exhibition by Nahem Shoa
Using paintings from other artists to introduce the theme, he then included a range of his own very impressive pieces. I'm not sure how true his statement is but his work was very moving. I have done a lot of portrait studies over the years but unfortunately, I have not had much experience as I would have liked,to experiment capturing the nuances of colour needed for these skin tones.
As a complete contrast, the next room we entered featured the designs of Vivienne Westwood. It was interesting to see these designs and look at the fashions from the past.
Finally, before going downstairs we walked on to 'The Landing' where work, by invited artists, were on show. It was good to see that the gallery included these, as often there are no places for upcoming artists to showcase their work in the modern art gallery.
Also included in the arts complex, were a theatre, a shop, a café, as well as areas to study and places for children to participate in artwork.
All in all, a building that other art galleries should aspire to with a range of exhibitions that are varied and offered something for everyone.
After one of the wettest Augusts on record, it was now our turn to fly to Texas for a road trip. Flying with Singapore airlines was an enjoyable experience. What made us laugh was the final announcement as we arrived that the temperature was a mild 33 degrees!
After an expensive taxi ride to the hotel, we did have time for a quick explore of the nearby area before retiring to bed. The next day was described as Labour Day and we thought that this would be like one of our bank holidays.
We woke to a surreal environment with everywhere looked deserted, so we decided to explore further. The streets were empty. Had there been a pandemic with only a few survivors? Was there a battle ship out there looking for a cure? Maybe it was linked to a presidential edict where the population had been taken to a centre to be brainwashed, or was there a clue in the title 'Labour Day' had everyone reported to the border to build the wall?
As we wandered, we eventually found the remnants of a party with discarded food and drinks. Had everyone been abducted? Where were Mulder and Scully or the Men in Black when you needed them?
Arriving at Sam Houston park, which contained a collection of old style houses, we stood and reflected on our surroundings when suddenly a waggon train of Segway's arrived. They stopped and the leader got off and fed the ducks before they slowly sped away leaving us once more on our own.
Following the path along the Bayou, we were accosted by lone cyclists as they sped to an unknown destination before suddenly hearing music off to our left. Here we found an entertainment area isolated from the outside world. Families carried on enjoying the rides etc as if caught in a Groundhog day. Maybe a large bubble would form to save this group.
Moving on, before we were trapped, we decided to head to Main street as we were getting hungry by now. Only a few odd eating places were open and the survivors congregated in these. As we sat with a meal, a group of youths passed by arguing and becoming aggressive. Eventually, one member became isolated as the group turned on him. He was soon squatted and the new leader lead the rest away.
As we made our way back to the hotel, we encountered a few lonely people, some talking to themselves, others foraging for food. Eventually, we reached Green Park, which was near to our hotel. Thankfully here people had been spared and life carried on as normal. I decided to sketch some of these people for prosperity and sat in the café. I felt sorry for the first man I drew, as he was drawing a building and before he finished a park ranger left her buggy in front of him. A lady sat enjoying her ice cream and a young couple sat opposite each other and he was massaging her feet. If only these people knew what we had seen in the city, they wouldn't have been so relaxed!
Returning to the hotel, we found out that only eight rooms still had people in them, after the hotel being fully occupied the night before. Was this just a bad dream and what would we find the next morning?
After visiting Hockney's exhibition at Salt Mills, I was interested to see if I could duplicate his technique on my tablet. The tools I would need would be slightly different than the ones I use for my figurative work but using them would be a challenge.
Using some of the images I have collected over the last few months, I chose a few that would be suitable. The hardest part was simplifying my technique to reflect the style I wanted. I tend to keep my work fairly realistic; this was going to be a interesting!
I was pleased with my first attempt and took it to show Sue. To my surprise she thought it was one of Hockney's pictures I had downloaded.
This was a pleasing first attempt so I decided to do a few more. This style of working proved to be quite quick and I was pleased with the end results. If I wanted to continue, I would have to explore more of the effects available on the program I used, which was Sketchbook Pro. As I use an android tablet and Hockney uses an iPad, the program is slightly different. Below are my next attempts.
Although I enjoyed the experience, I feel that I am just copying his style and that it would be hard to escape his originality, as the results are dictated to by the program. It has certainly given me something to think about and I have to admit that I enjoyed the process.
Maybe, I will look to develop my own style from this in future.
Saltaire was one of the places we have always wanted to visit, but with it being quite close had never got around to going. After an enjoyable time in Leeds, we decided to stop here on the way home. I have been dabbling in drawing with my tablet for about eight years and was fascinated to see a programme on David Hockney's iPad drawings.
Directions were a little confusing but we soon arrived at the mill and fortunately weekends had free parking. The building is impressive and shows what can be done if people are prepared to pay to restore old mills. On entering, you are immediately faced with one of Hockney's paintings of the mill before entering the large impressive first gallery.
Around this large space, there are a range of Hockney's different paintings and styles. On the right wall are a selection of his portraits and as you wander further you can his progression through different techniques. Quite poignant are the three studies of his mother on the end wall.
An excellent start to the morning. There are even lots of books to buy as well as art materials and the expected souvenirs.
After stopping for some refreshment, we proceeded to the top floor where the iPad landscapes were being exhibited. As you entered, some were being shown on three changing television scenes. These showed them off as the artist would have seen them in a brighter colour palette.
On entering the gallery, the rest were seen as framed prints, It was interesting to see the way Hockney had interpreted the landscape, using a range of marks; experimenting with the digital programme. When I started using a tablet, I worried about how to show these works and eventually settled on printing them on aluminium, as a way of preserving them. Printing on paper allows them to be on a larger scale and made for a fascinating exhibition.
I was interested with this style of work and wondered if it was something I could try in future.
After leaving the Mill, we had a walk around this well preserved mill town, enjoying the old houses and local craft shops, before wandering down to the riverside for some lunch.
An enjoyable visit and a chance to see the pictures in real life that I had viewed previously on the television. A highly recommended day out!
Looking for somewhere to go, as an Anniversary treat and not being sure of the weather, we settled on Leeds. It's a long time since we visited Leeds but it always brings back memories as we both studied there.
Having settled into the hotel. we decided to have a wander around town. It was interesting to see the changes and compare it with Manchester. We found at least three, new large shopping centres and the pedestrian areas seemed so much wider than those in Manchester. We always feel that Market Street is too narrow and can be a little claustrophobic, especially when it is crowded.
I had heard about the links between the city and the nearby Sculpture park and it was impressive to see several sculptures around the area.
No visit would be complete without going to the art gallery. On entering the building, the sculptures continue with a couple of pieces by Anthony Gormley. Passing these you enter the room containing the historical paintings. Although not always my favourite style, you can't help but be impressed by the sheer skill involved in producing these. There was also work by one of my favourite artists Atkinson Grimshaw, whose nocturnal paintings really capture the atmosphere of the scenes.
Two of the other rooms contained a range of modern and traditional sculptures, sometimes next to each other, which seemed to work well. There was even one of Damien Hurst's pickled rams.
The upstairs gallery housed some of the recent acquisitions. When viewing these, I do wonder how some of them will stand the test of time and why these have been chosen from the thousands of artworks available.
One of the most notable displays, was the group of portraits at the top of the stairs. As I enjoy doing portraits myself, it was interesting to see all of the different styles that artists over the years have used.
An interesting couple of hours but unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to go in the Henry Moore gallery, as it was closing time. Something for our next visit.
On a lighter note, we decided to have a celebration meal. The menu for our hotel looked really nice so we went back to have a shower and change our clothes. Arriving at the restaurant, we sat down to order, only to be told they were only doing Pizzas at the moment as they were changing the menu. Not liking cheese, we decided to try somewhere else. The next suitable place was a carvery and you can't go wrong with that! We sat down and I went to order only to be told there was no meat left and it was still early evening.
By now we were getting hungry, so it was a matter of finding somewhere quickly. Fortunately, we came across an Italian restaurant that didn't have cheese in every dish, and had an enjoyable meal.
A nice end to an enjoyable day.
Having written a few blogs about how artists have transformed areas in towns that have been run down, or have increased tourism, it was interesting to hear about Hay on Wye. Our daughter read about the book festival there and in her usual manner researched the town. After she told us about what it had to offer, we booked our first Airbnb and set off for a few days.
Although google maps said it should take about two and a half hours, I don't think it allowed for all the winding roads and it certainly took a lot longer. After settling in to the house we had booked, we set off to walk into town for something to eat, following the instructions left by the homeowner. This proved to be a walk through a wooded area near the river and a little longer than we expected. It was interesting that someone had taken the time to spray any dog poo, not picked up with orange spray.
The town consisted of small streets with lots of quaint shops and we looked forward to going into them when they were open the next day.
Waking up to a bright morning, we soon set off to walk into town, avoiding any orange landmarks. The shops were all individually decorated; many to focus on the books they were selling. One of the more impressive shop fronts was for Murder and Mayhem, although the shop was a little smaller than we would have liked.
Inside the shops, as well as hundreds of books, many were decorated to illustrate the theme or themes of the books. Every where you walked there were shops with a wide variety of specialist books. Even small alleyways were utilised and filled with bookshelves. You would need to spend a day in each shop to see everything they had to offer. From an artist's point of view, there were lots of fascinating small details to see, such as a stairway bannisters made from old bike parts.
There were also lots of antique shops and several art galleries. Some of these had local scenes or work by more well known artists. There was a wide range of artwork although some of it was very pricey.
We were surprised by how many people were visiting the town and it certainly had found a unique way to market itself. There was something for everyone, from the collector wanting a specialist book to people who just liked reading. Our daughter bought several books, although I think she just picked the heaviest ones, as we finished up carrying them at times. I looked for art books but in this case didn't find what I was looking for. Sue eventually decided on a couple of books and found a unique card come poetry book for a birthday present.
A fascinating town that is well worth a visit.
Attending Salford Art club gives me a chance to meet other artists and once a month we have a demonstration or workshop. This year, members have volunteered to do these on occasions to reduce running costs. I myself did a demonstration of palette knife painting and this time another member Lynn ran a workshop on mono printing.
Wearing my newly acquired black and white checked apron, I looked more like a competitor for MasterChef, but it did keep my clothes clean. After a short talk, I soon inked up my plastic sheet and after placing a piece of paper on it had my first attempt. Not knowing what to pick I decided to have a go at a portrait. I was quite pleased with the end result and thought this was going to be easy.
I soon realised that many things influenced the end result, such as, putting the right amount of ink on the sheet. Sometimes, they were too dark; on other occasions not light enough. Fortunately, the technique was fairly quick so I could produce a variety of prints. I was able to experiment with adding offcuts of cloth, wallpaper or other materials to the sheet, and after inking them up some interesting abstract results were accomplished. To take this further, pastels or paints could be added at a later date. Different effects could be achieved and I could also print on coloured paper.
Before the break I prepared some sheets by painting a watercolour wash on them. When dry, I was able to use the techniques, I had practiced, to then print on top of these and try out more ideas. Again, some of these were more successful than others. I tried redrawing the portrait and this was pleasing although you have to look hard to see the image.
A really enjoyable couple of hours and a fascinating insight into one aspect of printing by a very knowledgeable member.
It often seems that art in the UK schools is being marginalised . This to me seems to be short sighted. After a few of our recent trips, we have seen how street art has benefited the local community and economy. In Funchal, Madeira, local artists had painted the doorways in an old part of town and businesses had moved in to cater for the tourists. In Kamloops, Canada, alleyways had been painted to attract people to that district and in Valencia two run down parts of town had been transformed by the street art, Because of this people were now going on organised tours to see this work and providing employment for locals as well as customers for shops and restaurants..
In the city of Penang, Malaysia, which we visited earlier this year, had even been listed as a world heritage sight because of the artwork. This is one way that art can transform areas and if you think of the UK street artist, Banksy, these artists can become famous often selling their work for premium prices.
Having enjoyed the walk around Valencia, here are more of the artworks to see and enjoy. You may even recognise some of the artists from my last post.
When going abroad our daughter always does a lot of research and one of the things she likes to do is find free walking tours. Having done a daytime one to acquaint ourselves with the city, we decided to do a street art walk.
Arriving in the square we were met by the guide, because they want a tip at the end they are often lively characters who really sell the area. The group was reasonably large and we soon set off. Learning about the history of the area proved interesting. We were told about the early social problems and how artists had moved into areas and started to produce the artwork.
The types we would see included, 'Tagging' where letters or words were used on as many surfaces as possible; the more difficult the place, the more Kudos the artist achieved. These were mainly illegal.
With Urban art, the artists have legal permission and these can have a cultural heritage. The one shown, although at first, this just appears to be a car falling; it works on a couple of other levels. On one it tells of a 1973 car bombing where a politician was killed and also tells of a scandal about someone called Casandra .
This was by Steve,one of the more famous Valencian artists and like Banksy his work is very popular
The next type is Gorilla art, which is illegal. Here no one often knows what the artist looks like. Examples of this, were the several images of a Ninja figure around the town. The artist is a man called David De Limon, who has a political or social message which can also have a global message. This artist was controversial at first but is now considered to be main stream. There are over 500 Ninjas around Valencia.
Another one of the famous artists is 'Disneylexya' who has a style reminiscent of Aztec art but at the same time, it reminds you of a painting by Picasso. These works were some of my favourites with their geometric shapes and details.
The next stop introduced us to one of the most disturbing images Fasim's "Stop Victim's of War" mural. "The origin and the meaning of the completion of this large mural is based on the unbearable reality of the day to day disasters caused by war, affecting civilians; men, women, children, and elderly people".
The piece reminds us of the famous painting by Guernica by Picasso.
Although most of the early artists were male, the guide told us now they were outnumbered by female artists. As we explored further, we met one of these, as we were stood by her painting and Barbie was good enough to pose for us . She paints pink bunnies, in this case Pippi Longstocking which was a response to Playboy bunnies, which identify women as sexual beings.
Another female artist includes flowers in her work with hope being her message in the decorative paintings.
The most respected of the Valencian artists is Deih, whose work was first seen in 1994. Other artists will not tag or deface his work, as sometimes happens, as a sign of respect. His theme is the universe, space travellers, in a universe of strangeness, with metallic symbols and an apocalyptic style.
His work was very impressive, taking about four hours and can even be seen in hotel foyers.
The final stop was to see a collaboration by several of the artists on a long wall. Although a commission, they had used the work as a protest, supporting the local community who wanted the council to develop the fenced off piece of land into a nice park for them to enjoy.
This was a fitting end to our walk. It had been fascinating even if we did suffer from an overload of information at times. Although we only saw a small portion of the artwork, it was a good introduction to the area. The only complaint was that we didn't finish back at the square where we started from. This was quite upsetting for an elderly couple who found it hard to understand the instructions given on how to get back to the square.
I would recommend these walks, although at times I personally would prefer to explore on my own particularly with the city tour and find the sights myself. Having said that, they are ideal for single travellers who would feel safer in a group, when visiting some of the side streets.
We had watched a holiday program about Valencia and were keen to experience the city. On arriving at the San Lorenzo Boutique hotel, we picked our rooms. Our daughter chose a nice one with a balcony, whilst ours was on the side of the building. It was equally as nice but without the balcony. The only problem was that it was situated next to a church bell tower which rang at 8am every morning! Still, the hotel was ideally placed and we couldn't fault it.
Leaving the hotel, and a five minute walk led us to the nearby central square, which had a fountain and the main cathedral. As we explored the city over the next few days, we were impressed with how well preserved and clean it was. The town council seemed to appreciate their heritage, preserving it and not destroying it like some of our councils. Considering we are supposed to be a wealthy country, many of our buildings are left to fall apart. In our local park there is an example of this; the Buile Hill mansion, which was once a museum and has over the past twenty years been left to deteriorate. Also, within the city, we saw a police presence in a lot of areas and even security guards had truncheons and handcuffs. We certainly felt safe and even though there were a few people begging, there was no evidence of homeless people sleeping everywhere like in the centre of Manchester.
Valencia at one time had a river running through the centre of the town, unfortunately this flooded at times, so they decided to divert the river out of town. They were then left with a long stretch of riverbed. In this country they would probably have just built houses on this but here they turned it into a park acting as a green lung for the city.
At one end of this were a group of modern buildings in an area known as the City of Arts and Sciences. These futuristic building were impressive and show what can be done with a little imagination. Walking around these you couldn't help but admire the architecture. Our daughter had bought tickets to return the next day to see the exhibitions but we were content to just enjoy the sights.
I was even inspired to sketch two views of one of them.
Walking back through the park to the hotel,there was a wide range of sports facilities and recreational areas for the locals to use. We saw people running and the area was perfect for exploring by bike. We only managed to walk half of it and further on there were other areas to explore. There was even a large sculpture of Gulliver that had numerous slides on it for people to try, although it was a little hot on the way down.
An enjoyable experience of the city's highlights, showing how the old and new can be incorporated when planned properly.