Thursday 15 January 2015

Maggi Hambling Walls of Water and Society of Designer Craftsmen.

After a  couple of weeks stuck in the house with bronchitis  it was with great excitement that I headed up to town last Friday with Sue. I had an invitation from Alice Fox to the preview of the Society of Designer Craftsmen at the Mall Galleries ( she had a piece in the 25 x 25 x 25 project as did fellow Rydal Hall  retreater Julie Bunter) ).
As it didn't start until 6,  we fitted in the 2 linked exhibitions by Maggi Hambling 'Walls of Water'.I'd already seen the paintings at the National Gallery and was a bit underwhelmed so I was interested to see the monotypes  at the Malborough Fine Arts Gallery . As I'd suspected, far more interesting! The range of marks was  amazing - very aware of the fingerprints etc.  (read the interview about the  processes here) Also the compositions, especially those with a diagonal ,  were far more satisfying.   

Malborough Fine Arts was also the venue for the John Virtue paintings I saw last year. These  black and white seascapes on very different scales , draw you i to the picture , you can  feel the splash of those waves 

Slightly less  interesting to me were the monotypes done with silver ink - partly I think due to the black  paper they were printed on but mainly because the range of tones wasn't so marked and that horizontal line more obvious.

 It was interesting to compare similar compositions in monotype ( above  with an accidental touch of blue)  and  paint (below).   Besides the difference in size and colour, I think the processes used  also contribute. The print making is one-off  and  deductive, taking ink off the printing plate ( hence those dense velvety blacks) . When I did a printing course a few years ago at City Lit that was a revelation
Whereas the painting is additive  and  I know how easy it is to go too far.

 More food for thought at the Society of Designer Craftsmen show. For all the colour and diversity   my favourite  was a large quiet  piece by Beverly Ayling-Smith composed of a multitude of tiny mended pieces of cloth ( she had a similar piece in the Prism exhibition which also caught my attention.) A lot of her work is  based on ideas around shrouds and burial traditions. Interestingly she also has a background in science, trained as a microbiologist:  
"   I feel that the scientific way of working (making small changes in experimental processes and the documentation of these experiments) has spilled over into my artistic life"

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