Is it too late to start something new? Too early? Still keen to change into a well-planned, ahead-of-the-game sort of a person. Still no nearer.
I'm going to be there, sharing a table with Gemma Lacey. Probably ought to check what I've actually got to put out on said table.
Is it too late to start something new? Too early? Still keen to change into a well-planned, ahead-of-the-game sort of a person. Still no nearer.
I made a last minute dash to see the landscape art exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park ten days ago, only to miss it because that particular gallery closes an hour earlier than the main centre. Ah me, the trials and tribulations of cutting things so fine.
But it's a long way to go to miss something, so I spent the time instead on the Ursula von Rydingsvard exhibition. You can't miss the first piece of work towering above you as you arrive.
There's a scattering of others around the outside of the centre (although I know now that I missed some more at the Camellia House. What Camellia House? I'll find it next time).
A certain sameness, yes? Almost all of the artist's work is based on cedar, with the structures built up from beams and carved into shape - some cast in bronze or resin - and, with the exception of that initial entrance piece, I found myself a little underwhelmed. They're obviously monumental but I didn't find myself particularly engaged by them.
Inside was better. Plenty of wood - plus cow's stomach and acaba paper here and there - and plenty of carve marks showing. They were very immediate, and I liked the effect of tiles when all the beams met just so.
The inside sculptures were more varied and interesting than the outside ones. Some - spoons, ladles, weeping plates - seemed a little folksy, if on the large side (I doubtless missed the point), but others I did like. A row of five outsized bowls along one wall was one of my favourites.
Like many others, it was to do with body forms. I wasn't so sure about at least a couple of them - one (Halo with Straight Line) seemed mostly like a fun climbing structure, another (Droga) made me think for some reason of a sandworm from Dune. But I rather liked one that reminded me of a massive sea creature - the roll of a whale or porpoise, perhaps, in the slow movement of the sea - even before I saw its name.
I was very taken by two panels called Hemorrhaging Cedar I and II, made from acaba paper (apparently made from a rare banana) moulded over a cedar relief panel (or possibly individual panels?). The paper absorbs oils from the wood and becomes a really interesting surface almost like (admittedly unusually textured) skin, complete with veins and blemishes.
That skin-ness caused me to think initially that another couple of items were constructed similarly, but they turned out to be made from the fourth stomach of a cow. Whatever, I liked them too. It could partly have been in both cases (paper and stomach) that they felt almost light and airy after so much heavy wood.
There were other pieces that I liked - Blackened Word, apparently based on handwriting, immense and very satisfying, another favourite (no photo - it came out too blurred); Large Ring (I think part of the appeal of this one was once again that lack of weight bearing down) - and in many more the carving was fascinating in itself or the whole work had presence. Equally there were some that had no impression on me - I mentioned the spoons and plates, but Von Rydingsvard's paper and silk 2D pieces, that had helped to draw me in from outside, also came into that category. And in the end I decided that, while it was interesting to have seen her work, it left nothing behind. I wasn't drawn in, I didn't care enough about it. I suspect a part of the problem for me was that it was too too much - less (quite a lot less) might have been sufficient. I'm glad I saw it and on a future visit to YSP I would even catch up with the odds and ends I missed, just for interest, but that would be an end to it.
Yesterday was a curlew day - I spent a chunk of it in Yorkshire, in a swathe of the county east of Grassington, admiring rock formations and the intense green of the landscape (well watered, I'd say); bright creamy sheep and windswept thorn trees; high, elegant stone bridges and those incredible geodesic thingies, like scifi puffballs, at Menwith Hill. And curlews - a scattering of them throughout the day, standing on walls beside the road and flying across the moor, so that somehow they came to define it. Which was lovely, full of bright, unsummery sunshine (it had the quality of an unexpected brilliantly sunny day in autumn). I made my cautious way along slightly too narrow roads (but with plenty of places to pass, so I wasn't too fraught) that switchbacked into and out of ridiculously steepsided valleys - hills like upturned pudding bowls - and passed through cool woods and ran over chattering rivers and squeezed (barely) over more than one of those elegant bridges. I stopped off at Pateley Bridge (alas, mostly closed on thursdays) and would have liked to investigate Brimham Rocks but decided that would have to wait for another day.
Because in the evening I was going to the opening of '20' - the latest Hot Bed Press exhibition, again in Warrington but this time at Warrington Art Gallery (the art gallery and museum are always worth a visit). It's in a long, elegant (that word again) gallery painted palest cool dove grey with a single wall in intensely deep pink, cerise? I'm not quite sure. Excellent show, full of excellent prints, and on till September 16th - please go along and enjoy it.
Actually there are only 65 here - the final batch is still drying - and I'm not quite sure if they're finished yet. They might have to be - they need posting off - but I'm still considering the possibility of (surprise surprise) some birds. I've still got time...
So like I said, Fringe Arts Bath (FaB) was on. It's part of the Bath Fringe Festival, so there was a lot more going on than visual arts but that was where it intersected with me - it flagged itself up to me first on Walcot Street, where I happened upon this.
Anyone who's read Robert Macfarlane's 'Holloway' (and doubtless many Radiohead fans besides) will know that this is by Stanley Donwood, and it didn't take too long to find that it was there as part of FaB. I fell across a pair of group exhibitions at the Octagon Building next - I'm sorry to be a little vague, but one (Commensalis Collective) was from Swansea(?) and the other, in the main octagonal room, wasn't. There were pieces I liked across both exhibitions, including Jane Sargeant's work, Julia Penrose's Transportation Series and Rose Davies' Degenerate Artists. I managed to pick up a programme to FaB there, too, which at least told me where other shows were.
Jane Sargeant - sorry for any blurriness. Earth Studies on the left, Still (and close up) centre (and right).
Julia Penrose - Transportation Series 1 & 2
Rose Davies - the backdrop to her Degenerate Artists. It's the Berlin Holocaust Memorial in the snow, I discovered from her blog.
My trips to Bath tend to be limited by parking time and by the fact that I'm supposed to be visiting my parents, not popping back to theirs for meals and to sleep, and this influenced how I approached FaB. I would like to have seen everything, but I knew I wasn't going to manage that - however, I ended up rushing what I did see in order to fit in more. I think that's why I reached saturation point - it would have been better to limit myself and look more slowly. I suppose in a way I did limit myself, in so far as I wandered round one or two of the venues in minutes without forging any kind of a link to anything there and swiftly moved on.
The invigilator at the Octagon pointed me in the direction of a five storey building full of art, but I never did find that. Instead I ended up at FaB3 on (hang on, let me check, in umpteen decades of living near and visiting Bath I never have managed to absorb the street names there) Cheap Street. Ground floor and cellar; A Dialogue on Nothing in Art. I particular liked two muted, abstract pieces by John Taylor, Expressions of Oppression and Hope, and a grid of nine even more muted and abstract images by Lee Riley, entitled Un, but downstairs in the cellar I liked the cellar best - that's not a judgement of the audio pieces down there, I just found the cellar fascinating, with its low arches and old tiles and little off-stage rooms full of darkness, the weight of a whole building just above my head.
On Stall Street (and I never knew before that there was a Stall Street) I found a couple of shows where I did linger. Out of the Box drew me in - I'll call it Cornell-like, and hope that anyone who knows better and disagrees will accept my ignorance and move on. Essentially, we're talking art in boxes, dioramas, something contained. I've been trying to pin down the appeal - is it exactly that containment, rather like a 3D version of an artist's book? Or that it's quite miniature, with a touch of dollshouse? The setting up of a stage, a still life? Probably a combination of all those and more, but whatever the reason I really liked them. Here's a selection.
And at the back of the same space was Timeslip, each artist presenting their own translation of the theme. Although it was good, by then I was due somewhere else and had anyway almost completely lost the ability to concentrate. Here are some images from a couple of examples - Timeslip/temps perdu, by Nancy Mitchell (left), and Timeslip/taking time, by Alexander Hamilton (centre and right). Both works had a lot more to them than this - these are just tasters, but in each case a good flavour of the whole.
And that was it. I didn't follow any of the art trails (never found them); I didn't search for fridge magnet art by the river; and in spite of repeated attempts, I never saw the exhibition at the Walcot Chapel. Who knows when it was open? Never when I was there, that's for sure. One other moan - I didn't find either the programme or the website as helpful as they might be, but maybe I wasn't tuning in as well as I could have. Whatever, I never did find the Octagon in the programme, and what I mostly seemed to find on the website was something along the lines of 'nothing here yet'. Still, a minor quibble. I think the whole festival (by which I mean the visual arts I saw) was great and I'd like to give it slower, deeper attention another year.
Finally, a quick mention for art in shops (there was just so much art knocking about on this trip!). Newly opened Anthropologie (this is not a plug) had at least three artists showing there, including Sally Muir, she of the dog a day website, who had a wall to herself. And I found somewhere called Cethegrande, which describes itself as an antique shop but has to be the definition of a curiosity shop, with fantasy window dressing and all sorts of fascinating things inside, from old chemist shop bottles (complete with unidentified powders and other residues) to a bottled jellyfish (very small), a lamb's heart, various shellfish carapaces, and a ton of other unexpected items. It wasn't so much that there was art in the shop, but I think you could argue that the whole shop was a piece of art. Amazing.
I just about overdosed on arty input this week in Bath. It started simply enough with the Julian Opie exhibition at the Holburne Museum - having completely managed to miss Joseph Wright of Derby there, I didn't want to fail to see this one, even if I wasn't sure I cared a jot about Opie. A lot of his work has always seemed to me like someone drawing with a big thick black felt pen and then colouring it in with nice, flat acrylics, or the computer equivalent of that process, but either way resulting in something akin to Ladies and Gents signs on toilet doors - worth a glance and pleasant enough designs, but not something to make me linger.
Actually it was really enjoyable, though I'm not sure my opinion has shifted enormously, and if it's moved much at all it's only because I've seen this show of his work, which I find always gives me the hint of a sense of ownership. It's now slightly mine and I feel a sort of loyalty to it. Odd but true. Anyway, the show was more or less what I expected but more fun. There were works that fell into the 'expected' category
and there were computer pictures that moved - they were unexpected, good fun, and my mother particularly liked them. Thank you to the Holburne and to Julian Opie, by the way, for allowing photos - these might not (all) look quite like my usual photos but that's because I mostly cropped off the crookedness. Of course.
Then there were heads based on portraits, with all the shading coloured in without the need for light (I quite liked that),
Reed 1 and Delphine 2. Or possibly the other way round
plenty of neon (or maybe just light) and movement
and all sorts of other. 'Julian Opie makes smart, original, argumentative portraits' starts one end of the exhibition catalogue (yes, it starts at both ends) which is probably true - I won't argue with it, anyway (ho ho). Half the exhibition wasn't Julian Opie at all (hence the catalogue structure) but instead works from his collection - the majority being centuries old portraits in oils, that, rather like Opie's own work, were pleasant enough. I suppose part of the problem might be that I don't go for portraits much. Though I always admire how much in an oil painting can be achieved with so little precision - a few apparently slapdash strokes of colour here or there and intricate lace or a glowing pearl necklace appears. Amazing. One of the older portraits appealed - Portrait of an Unknown Man by Nicolaes Eliasz Pickenoy - but the rest were just there. Anyway, I enjoyed the show, and that'll do me.
Portrait of an Unknown Man - while the texture of his black clothes was barely (yet effectively) suggested, the hands were very well executed, though it probably won't show here (couldn't hold the camera still enough)
Most of the rest of the week's art was because Fringe Arts Bath was on. After a while the slightly calcified sponge that is my brain decided that it was full and that any further art was just going to flow straight off because there was nowhere left for it to soak in to, but I'd seen quite a lot by then. I'll save that for next time. To finish off for now, here's the Holburne, front and back, with more Julian Opie on show. The museum had to fight hard to get its extension, but it changed it from quite a nice Georgian building mostly full of, um, decorative clutter (interesting decorative clutter, but nevertheless) to somewhere far more interesting both inside and out.
I make prints and book arts, though nowhere near as often as I'd like - no good reason, just an inability to get on with things. I occasionally go on about landscape (with which I am mildly obsessed) and various of its elements, and I like to pass comment on exhibitions I visit.