Thursday, 12 July 2018

Drawing Tuesday at Tate Modern: Blavatnik Building, Planes and William Kentridge

 What an exciting Drawing Tuesday  at Tate Modern ( even if not much sketching got done)! Besides exploring and interacting  with various artworks,   had  an excellent view of the flypast to mark 100 years of the RAF   and watched  some of the rehearsals with William Kentridge of the 'Head and the Load' .
I was delayed getting  to the Tate due to problems on the buses so instead of settling down and drawing or visiting the busy exhibitions in the Boiler House  I decided to explore some of the free displays in the Blavatnik Building  starting out with 'Performer and Participant' , including the screening of 'The crystal Quilt' by Suzanne Lacy. What an amazing project  and ahead of its time. 

I was intrigued by how Ana Lupas had 'preserved' fragile straw structures in metal, preserving their form, reminding me of my visit to Romania for work.  

  I couldn't resist taking selfies among the mirrors of Edward  Krasinski's installation
 Mirrors and selfies  also featured in the 'Between Object and Architecture' display, this piece by Yayoi Kusama was very popular , the guard had his work cut out stopping  people going over the line ( it's very fragile) .

I liked how it interacted with other pieces in the room like this pavilion  by Cristina Iglesius
  The work I like best however  was 'Stack' by Tony Cragg.

Meeting the others at 12.30 as usual, instead of heading for lunch and 'show and tell' of our sketches ( that came later)  we went out to the river to find a good position for viewing the flypast . 
I've never seen so many people on the Millennium ( 'wobbly'') Bridge   and every accessible rooftop was filled. 
A couple of helicopters were hovering nearby as markers  and then just before 1pm , cheers  erupted as the first group of Chinooks  flew over. 

The precision  of the positioning was amazing ( I only realised afterwards that I'd managed to capture the '100' formation) 

 And it finished of  course with the 'Red Arrows'  ( the coloured trails just starting as they moved out of sight. ) Just wonderful .

After lunch at Leons, I returned to the 'Stack'  but  after 2 failed  attempts to draw  it accurately, started to list all the components including the different forms of cardboard.  
 My inattention was probably due to my impatience to get back to the rehearsals of the Head and the Load. I'd watched a bit of it earlier with Margaret C.  with nothing much going on - lots of directing by William Kentridge himself on positioning of people  and shifting props around. When I returned in the afternoon it was in full swing with musicians, projections and shadows of people. It sounded and looked amazing: the tickets , unsurprisingly, sold out straight away.

Exhibitions: Picasso at Tate Modern and CityLit Advanced Printmaking

 3 Weeks ago, in the morning before my 'Large Scale Sketchbook' course , I combined a visit to Tate Modern for the Picasso 1932  with seeing the exhibition  of  the City Lit Advanced Printmaking course  'Pressing Time'  at RK Burt Gallery in Southwark.  Walking in between these venues, apart from popping into CAA and  coveting earrings   by Joanna Veevers,   I went via the Jerwood Space , admiring the wonderful dynamic murals ( above).  

 My favourites from the Picasso  were those in room 8: charcoal drawings on canvas  with rubbings, erasures and over drawings.
It was intriguing to see how the same images/sketches  had been developed in different ways: in the beach scenes ( above) and particularly in the series of drawings inspired by Grunewald's 'Isenheim Altarpiece' :  use of different media; fine drawings v looser raw ink sketches; the progression from shaded sculptural forms to simplified line. I'd go back just to look more closely at these. 

 An interesting array of  artists books  in the window at RK Burt enticed you in - you can just about make out the monoprint of a kayak   by Patricia Gaudron suspended from the ceiling. I'd seen one laid out in the corridor at City Lit  so was intrigued to see how she's fitted one in a box! 

I was keen to see the exhibition the following week from the year-long 'EDAM' course  as I was considering applying  for  it but unfortunately the show  finished on the Thursday.  Nevertheless , with sharp  intake of breathe I submitted my application ,was accepted and have now enrolled !  I realise I can't do much else  next year  but  it seemed like the logical next step from the doing shorter courses. A bit daunted  but excited. 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

London Mini-Break: Concert at British Museum and visit to RBGKew

So many blog posts to catch up on and June was supposed to be a quiet-ish month in comparison to what's ahead in July! 
On  23rd June  we had a ' minibreak'  in London ,  staying  at the Premier Inn in Brentford , round the corner from where we used to live, in order to go to an evening concert at the British Museum. This was an 'after hours' event just for Friends of the BM   with the London Philharmonic Choir    with music for midsummer , inspired by the Celtic collections. 

 After checking  in hotel ( and helping some American tourists negotiate the local buses ) we headed into London   with time for quick look at the 'Charmed Lives'  exhibition   before an early meal at Savoir Faire  which was as delicious as usual.
What a contrast   when  we returned to the British Museum - walking through the gate and up the steps with  only fellow concert goers instead of the usual crowds . Drinks were served in the  Egyptian Sculpture Court  where for once you could  easily look at the  Rosetta stone and other exhibits  ( it's usually absolutely packed with visitors). The lighting was very atmospheric and spooky!

 We were seated  in the Great Court  and the acoustics  were  wonderful  - ' O Radiant Dawn'  by James MacMillan sent shivers down my spine  and the music played  on the harp was particularly beautiful
 The following day  we  made our way to RBGKew ( with my 'Life Pass' )  to see the newly re-opened Temperate House. 

 It was wonderful to climb up the spiral staircase  to the roof top walk and look down on all the replanting

Down to earth again and I spent some time searching  for some of the plants I'd worked with.
 Early in my career  we made  some attempts in the lab to grow some cuttings of the 'St Helena  Olive'  but they failed and the original  last remaining plant unfortunately died and so it is now extinct.  It was great to see this story  explained  through the excellent interpretation  ( and the symbolism of a large, empty, pot) . Failures are  just as important  as successes - we developed   innovative methods   that have saved other plants   but we were just too late.

We finished the day by visiting the Shirley Sherwood Gallery , fascinated  by the examples of how  various artists had tackled different examples of botanical illustration  and revisited the Marianne North Gallery  ( I'd forgotten  what a  fantastic  collection it is)

Monday, 25 June 2018

Large Scale Sketchbook Week 7: Adding detail and more cutting

 The first half of  last weeks 'Large Scale Sketchbook' was spent looking at each others  sketchbooks so far. While it took longer than anticipated to go round everybody, it was such a valuable exercise  not only  to look at the very varied work, hear about their inspiration  but also to receive feedback about progress so far and what to do next. 
Some of the approaches  taken or suggested  included:
- leaving more space ( small items on a page) 
- cutting through several pages 
- contrast of large scale dark areas with detailed drawings
- repetition of shapes ( on 1 page and over several pages)
- drawing/ working  from toy figures (or jelly babies!) as alternatives to sculptural figures
- adding colour: in paint and acetate  

 While I was mulling over what to do, I took a page out the back of the sketchbook and did a 'frottage' rubbing of the collaged 'figure' on the righthand side of spread above from the previous week , then inserting the page. It looks even more mournful than the original!
Having given Tony photos of the details I'd identified I wanted to work with to photocopy,  I pasted some of the resulting photocopies into the book and started cutting through the pages. 
 The photo below is the page beneath the page shown above
 The shape I used to cut through several pages was the sculpture of Madonna and Child.

 I then  outlined the shapes cut out in different ways : with marker pens and fine lines
Several people commented on how dynamic my  sketchbook was. With so many cut-throughs and changes to the pages when sections are flipped over or seen through the holes, it's very difficult to take photos that demonstrate  this.  

Tony had already  suggested filming an animation and this was reinforced by comments from others. That will have to wait until after next week when I finally bring the book home. In the last few minutes  after clearing up, I attempted a few shots  holding pages up to  give a flavour of how that might work.