Monday 23 April 2018

Journeys with ' the Waste Land' in Margate

What better place to go on the hottest day of the year so far than to the seaside! Last Thursday I headed off to Margate to see the well reviewed exhibition ' Journey with the Waste Land' at Turner Contemporary. I wore my   trousers with zip-off legs and took paddling sandals and towel but alas the  tide was out when I arrived. 
It was a lot busier on the beach when I left to go home , with lots of people already going pink exposing winter flesh for the first time. 
 The exhibition had an interesting approach to curation  being the culmination of a 3 year project of local residents  who chose all the artworks, designed the layout  and wrote the exhibition texts, exploring the significance of TS Eliot's  poem' The Waste Land' through the visual arts . Rather than a catalogue, the gallery guide had quotes from members about why they had chosen particular pieces and at listening points in the exhibition there were recordings of the discussions.   
There was a  wide variety of work on show, often thought provoking, some  uncomfortable  and disturbing.   
There were  2  contrasting pieces by Paul Nash: 'Wire '  and 'The Shore' ( above).  It was wonderful to be re-aquainted  with one of my favourite paintings , having visited it several times in it's home gallery in Leeds and then seeing it again in the  Tate Nash exhibition. It was chosen here for  the parallels between Nash and Eliot visiting Kent  at times of personal crisis.. 

 'Goodwin Sands' by William Lionel Wyllie ( above and detail below), just off the coast near Margate  was chosen in relation to the section of the poem ' Death by Water' . The ancient shipwreck depicted , ancient and rotting, reminded me of  disintegrating  structures of breakwaters.
The sculpture ' Heavy Insect' by William Turnbull also reminded me of breakwaters and  interestingly the quote in the notes was  how it looked like ancient images of boats  and the resemblance to the decaying shipwreck in Wylies painting !

I loved  this photo by Lee Miller 'Portrait of Space, Al Bulwayeb, Nr Siwa, Egypt , 1941 and the discussions  at the listening post about significance of the rectangle ( was it a mirror or not?) added another dimension. 

It was fascination to see some of the collages by John Stezaker in the flesh having seen so many photos of his work in  recent collage class.  In the gallery notes I liked his quotes about collage , that it 'redeems fragments'  and is 'a relationship with the wasteland of everyday experience'. 
One of the gallery spaces was devoted to the actual  text of the poem, including the annotated copies of the research group . One wall was taken  up with 36 collages by Vibeke Tandberg , taking a copy of the Waste Land, cutting out each word individually  and organising them so you could see how many times each word appears, intentionally breaking it down  so that the meaning is lost. I  particularly like the one above which is  composed of sentences from the notes pages of the book.    

 My strategy in exhibitions is  to  go fairly quickly through to the finish then work backwards  more slowly . While I stop and look  in progress , it's often on the return journey that things leap out at me that I hadn't noticed. That was the case with the woodcuts of Christine Baumgartner ( above). The image is clearer from a distance, close- to its' a series of  subtly changing lines. From the notes: " There's an interesting question about the moment at which something takes on a recognisable form, the moment at which nothing becomes something" 

Elsewhere at the Turner  was this large scale installation ' Digestive Cavity' by Yin Xiuzhen made from clothes ( you could climb inside!) 
Outside in the sunshine ' Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block)' by Jyll Bradley  was casting wonderful colourful shadows. Commissioned  by Turner Contemporary and Chatham Historic Dockyards ( where appropriately I'm going sketching tomorrow), it commemorates the 1667 Dutch raid on the Medway which brought to an end the second Anglo-Dutch war. Referencing glasshouse structures, it uses  old timber from former  naval buildings with contemporary 'edge-lit' Plexiglas: orange to symbolise The Netherlands;green for Kent, the 'garden of England'.

More glorious colour on the way home , with the trees on Faversham 'rec' in full blossom and young leaves spouting

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Drawing Tuesday at British Museum: a colourful day.

Drawing Tuesday this week was at the British Museum, based round rooms 41 etc.  I took a right turn at Sutton Hoo ( which was swarming with excited small fry with clipboards) and headed away from the darkened rooms to the brightly lit room 48 

 I'm sure my American friends are very familiar with these ceramics but  they were new to me , I loved their asymmetrical  shapes and  interesting colours.
 I started out trying to capture the  curves in pencil - lots of rubbings out and corrections  and then overlaid it with biro outlines  before moving onto a more considered drawing using watercolour pencils ( didn't quite summon up the courage to use my waterbrush!

We had sufficient members to take in guests  and have lunch in the members room , 10 of us taking over the large table upstairs . We're not used to having so much space!  When it came to sharing our sketchbooks,  the days drawing  filled the last pages of  my 'Museum sketchbook'  which appropriately enough started with the British Museum drawing class in 2016 . I must go through and tally up the places visited . 
 One of the many discussions  was about the current exhibition ' Charmed Lives'  about Ghika, Craxton and Fermor  in Greece so I had a look round on my way out.
This painting by Ghika  of Mystras made me feel particularly nostalgic - we were there last year  on our week in Gythion . I was feeling a bit sad as we should be in Greece now on a tour of ancient sites but reluctantly cancelled  as I've been having some health problems  and am on a restrictive diet. Hopefully we can go another time when things have settled down. 

Margaret C. mentioned there was a Pojagi exhibtion on in Museum Street ( we both did a class with Chunghie Lee) , just round the corner from the BM  so I called in on the Han Collection. Some lovely colourful works and I couldn't resist the catalogue and a little bag ( machined rather than hand stitched) 

My final stop before heading home was a visit to the wonderful MacCulloch and Wallis in Poland Street in Soho. I'd run out of bondaweb  and  not only was I able to buy it  from a roll rather than folded but it was carefully rolled round a solid cardboard tube and  wrapped in brown paper. I'll be visiting again when I have more time. 

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Journal Quilts and Studio Update

March (back) 

We've been spending the last few days decanting the contents of our bedroom  as the decorator starts next Monday.  We've ordered new carpet, bed and wardrobe: today we dismantled the bed - the frame is in the garage awaiting collection for disposal on Thursday along with junk accumulated over the last couple of years.  The mattress is in my studio,  where I'll be sleeping for the next couple of weeks ( reminds me of my first flat where I slept on a fold out sofa futon) . 
While I'll be spending more time in my work room  I'm not sure I'll get much stitching done, especially  as I had to pack away my sewing machines and sew-ezi tables. With that in mind, I  have a hand sewing project on the go and I finished off my journal quilts up to April, combining offcuts  saved from trimmings of quilts. It has made no impression on my basket of scraps... 

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Contemporary Collage Week 10: Text Collage: Write

Over a week now since the final Contemporary Collage class  at City Lit  and the subject  was text, word and image , looking at typographical arrangements of words; cutting, deleting and reorganising; changing meaning through cut and paste and juxtaposition   

As usual  we  were  shown a dizzying number of artists  who have used text in different ways ( some examples below) 

Bob and Roberta Smith ( at Folkestone Triennial

Grayson Perry 

' Bank' with faux artists statements 

Jeremy Deller with  mind maps  

Christopher  Wool ( large stencilled letters) 

Simon Evans ( Post Its)

Ed Ruscha 

Cerith Wyn Evans ( the chandelier flashes Morse Code messages) 

In preparation we were asked to bring in  a range of text and fonts  that we could cut up to create new images and meanings.
For the excellent paper lamination course  with Sarah Welsby at Art Van Go several years ago , I started  cutting out  headlines  in different fonts and colours ( unfinished sample above) . So I already had a stash of these to compose a quick 'poem' ( of sorts)  on  section of gessoed newspaper collage ( of which I also have a stash after Contemporary Painting Studio )!  I then did a tracing of the lettering ( below) 

More bizarrely, I also found a collection of the word 'Slough' cut from  local newspapers in 2011. In the early planning of my piece based on the 'Taplow Vase'  for Thames Valley Contemporary Textiles exhibition in Slough Museum , I had ideas about using paper lamination before using  'secret books' of cotton organza.  All  words used up now!  

 I then had fun matching headlines with photos from magazines.

Mostly though I had great fun with yet another find from the Fleur Bookshop in Faversham - in this case a 'News of the World' Almanac from 1953  stuffed full of hints on  street parties ( including graphic illustrations of how to bone a chicken)   and routes of the procession for the Coronation.  Best of all were the adverts  ( Simon copied and enlarged several pages for me) . 

My favourite ( above and at the top) combined an advert for cold remedies with an illustration from the Guardian from 2011 on 'Wiki Leaks', including redactions. Just goes to show , shouldn't throw anything out! 

At the end of the day we completed evaluation forms and learning agreements and had a quick look at  each others (hugely diverse) work. 
I don't know yet how much of  what we covered I will take forward and incorporate in my artistic practice  but overall I  had a terrific, exciting, time with a  generous charismatic teacher,   exploring possibilities, being introduced to the work of over a hundred contemporary artists and encouraged to experiment without the pressure of producing a 'great  work of art' .   A 5 star course.