19 April 2015

Landscape collage

Caterina Rossato, made from postcards (via)
Megan Coyle (via)
Eileen Downes, Stinson Beach Series No.3 (via)
Katherine J, Homage to Tom (via)
Martha Marshall, Collage 041, handmade papers (via)
Besen (via)
Jennifer Tucker, Bush Landscape (via)
Erin Case (via)
Misteldin, made from scanning objects (via)
Sue McKee (via)

Video by Theo Tagholm- at https://vimeo.com/123006429

Seeing red

If you're in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before 14 August you can see "Cultural Red" at the Capitol Rotunda Art Gallery, a show by the New Mexico chapter of SAQA that "features interpretations of the many ways in which red has been an integral part of our lives, past and present.

One quilt in the show is "Dolce - Sweetly" by Katie Pasquini Masopust, and I don't know what to make of it -
The title is at odds with my first impression, which is of violence - but on second thought, is that title ironic? The composition, the tonality, the choice of fabrics, the enhancement by quilting, the way the eye keeps moving around, the speculation on what it references, what it means - all these mean that looking at it is an art pursuit. And yet, it's so ambiguous, I'm left unsatisfied, unable to decide "what does it mean". Yet more, it's that sense of the unresolved - along with my aesthetic pleasure in it - that makes it memorable.

I'd love to see the other quilts in the show.

To get back to the subject of the exhibition, the colour red and the role it has played in culture. In 2010 the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam had a wonderful exhibition, ROOD, about the colour red, which seems to be available as an app. At the exhibition I took lots of photos (in "interesting" lighting conditions). To "save film" I didn't photograph the captions, which may have been a false economy - though on the other hand, the lack of information leaves us free to make up our own meanings for these objects.

"The objects are displayed in a transparent, flowing setting created by designers Maarten Spruyt and Tsur Reshef, The colour red means something different to everyone, but it also has universal associations. These meanings are numerous and contradictory. Red can stand for happiness, fertility and love but also for power, violence and danger. Red can be romantic, but it can also be deadly. All of these associations are included in the exhibition in themes such as life cycles, energy, power, identity, deities, demons and love" says Antenna International.


18 April 2015

Book and Bard

It arrived on Wednesday, much anticipated - yet I've hardly had a moment to look at it.

Flipping through, I'm struck anew by Franz Kline - love those dark lines, the resulting negative spaces -
and near the end is -
yes, a stitched work! - and it plays with the idea of people always needing to see the back of stitched work...
Dredging the photo archive a while back, I found a photo of that page, taken while looking at the book in the college library, and tried to find information on the artist, Joellen Bard. She was active in the 1960s and 70s, in the predigital era, so there was very little to find, other than what is in the book -

"Joellen Bard (Contemporary American). Sewn Xerox Series #1, 1979. Xerox print with hand-sewn thread (Number 6 in a series of 7), each 8 1/2" x 11" (22 x 28 cm). Courtesy Pleiades Gallery, New York. Photo: Mort Greenspun.

"Bard has experimented with a vast array of materials and means for making marks, from drawing on acetate with ink to this current series in which her lines are not drawn but sewn with needle and thread on canvas. [Note the need for clarifying what sewing is, and that it's on "canvas" so within the realm of art!]

"Her 'image' is generally rows upon rows of horizontal 'lines,' but to create this photocopy print, she turned the sewn canvas to the reverse side, which contains all of the ends of her thread. These ends create a completely different and accidental or 'found' image unlike the intentional one she had produced on the other side. A print was taken of this reverse side and then six rectangular areas of the paper were hand stitched with real thread (which in this reproduction appears slightly greyer and more solid). [You can just about see the solid areas in the photo above.]

"Bard also took photocopy prints of the 'correct' side, the character of which is completely and totally unlike this one. 207 Hours is the name that she gave to another free-hanging, 4' x 6' (1.2 x 1.8 m) field of canvas she had sewn horizontally with row after row of tiny black stitches, because that is how long it took her to complete this compulsive project."

Bard, born in 1942, put together an exhibition, "Tenth Street Days: the co-ops of the 1950s" - after 1953, the second and third generation Abstract Expressionist artists came to live and work near Tenth Street, New York City, and founded and ran a number of co-op galleries. Pleiades Gallery, source of the Xerox Series image, was one of them and is still going. The records of the exhibition, shown in Dec 1977-Jan 1978, are in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonial Institution.

Back to the book, which was published in 1980 ... it was Katherine Tyrrell's review of it - or rather, of the reissue, the 30th anniversary edition, that got me ordering it. So far I've read just one page, the foreword, in which Kaupelis says -

"If a student does not know the meaning of values or how to produce a broad range of them with a variety of materials, I thoroughly believe that he [or she!] should acquire this knowledge at once."

This will have to be a little project, producing a range of values with a variety of materials, and then the reading of the book can continue.

17 April 2015

Art I like - Fiona Robinson

Prelude, Thrown Notes (2013) Graphite, charcoal, chalk, wax; 56cm x 76cm
Echo (2013) Charcoal, chalk, wax; 56cm x 76cm

Fiona's current work is directly related to music and had its genesis in exploratory drawings made whilst listening to John Cage’s pieces for prepared piano. Strings soaked in Chinese ink were plucked repeatedly and the sound of them snapping against the paper was a significant element of the process. 

After this, she turned to exploring the deeply emotional charge of Bach’s Suites for unaccompanied cello, pursuing "a deeper engagement with the music, creating an interaction of sound, vigorous movement and mark-making whilst listening to the differing interpretations of the suites."

Her website is fionarobinson.wordpress.com. She lives and works in Dorset and France, and also writes about contemporary art from an artist's perspective.

16 April 2015

Poetry Thursday - Loves Songs in Age, by Philip Larkin

 "Once in the dear old days ..."; published in 1910 (via

Love Songs In Age

She kept her songs, they kept so little space,
The covers pleased her:
One bleached from lying in a sunny place,
One marked in circles by a vase of water,
One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,
And coloured, by her daughter -
So they had waited, till, in widowhood
She found them, looking for something else, and stood

Relearning how each frank submissive chord
Had ushered in
Word after sprawling hyphenated word,
And the unfailing sense of being young
Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein
That hidden freshness sung,
That certainty of time laid up in store
As when she played them first. But, even more,

The glare of that much-mentionned brilliance, love,
Broke out, to show
Its bright incipience sailing above,
Still promising to solve, and satisfy,
And set unchangeably in order. So
To pile them back, to cry,
Was hard, without lamely admitting how
It had not done so then, and could not now.

-- Philip Larkin (via)

The poem may well be about Philip Larkin's mother, Emily Eva Day (1886-1977), who by all accounts was a nervous and passive woman; married in 1911, she outlived her domineering husband by 29 years.

15 April 2015

A Victorian Dream Palace

After the maximum number of online renewals, it is almost time to take all 507 text pages of John Piper, Myfanwy Piper, Lives in Art back to the library - only 56 pages left to read! It's been a great help having the ipad handy to look up people and especially artworks mentioned in the book. Harlaxton Manor, for example, which John painted at an unspecified date and made screenprints of in 1977  -
Harlaxton, 56 x 77 cm, edition of 100 (via)
Harlaxton Through the Gate, 715 x 534 mm (via)
The book mentions it in the chapter on John's editorship of the Shell Guides and his abiding interest in topography and the English sense of place. In 1977 he exhibited works based on grandiose late nineteenth-century architectural fantasies under the title "Victorian Dream Palaces and Other Buildings in Landscape", the building of which had peaked a century earlier, and many of which were struggling to survive.

Harlaxton Manor, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, "much pinnacled and encrusted, rises dramatically on the horizon as the visitor heads down the dead-straight, mile-long drive" -
"This exuberant pseudo-Jacobean pile, built in 1837, owes its continuing life to American money, for it became a European campus for Stanford and now [2009] belongs to the University of Evansville." Also, it's available as a fairytale wedding venue - the internet provides many photos of draped, sashed, and bowed chairs set ready in the chapel, which need not concern us further. Back to the art...

"Its improbable, fairytale quality was still further enhanced by John's decision to paint it an unnatural, near turquoise blue, using a tube of new paint which Winsor and Newton had sent him to try out."
oil on canvas, 42"x 72" (via)
The Tate gives the dimensions of the "blue" screenprint in its collection as  5846 x 1016 mm -
Harlaxton (Blue), screenprint (via)
The blueness in the online images varies greatly!

14 April 2015

Tuesday is drawing day - British Museum

Last week's drawing session was in the Islamic gallery at the British Museum - a return visit for me, and there's still lots there to choose from, so this will be on the list for the future.
 Those glass shapes are marvellous - Caryl caught the way the glass catches the light -
 This 12th century water pot from Afghanistan, with its stamps and lumps and strange handle, intrigued Michelle and me  -
Result - two renditions -
After placing each little bump in relation to the ones near it, I wanted something freer and more varied and tackled the shapes of vessels on different shelves, getting different perspectives; the dark outlines are an alternative to erasure in terms of getting the shape balanced - or, in the case of that water jar, accurately asymmetrical -
Michelle used colour in an interesting way for this cat-shaped pitcher (sorry about the fuzzy photo) -
 and Mags rendered amulets, feeding into a theme she's working on -
 She also produced this week's Most Desirable Tool - the pocket-sized watercolours  -
and after comparing the darkness of soluble pencils, we were all tempted to head off to Cornelissen's (which is very near the British Museum) to stock up on yet more "drawing stuff".