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!
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!