2021

Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Glasgow

Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Glasgow (1868 – 1928), the renowned designer and architect of Glasgow (remember his Glasgow Art Studios burning down twice recently?) was asked by the publisher Walter Blackie (remember his books with the intriguingly illustrated covers?) to design a house for him near Glasgow. The result was Hill House in Helensburgh. ‘Here’s the house’ said Mackintosh to Walter Blackie on completion of the house. ‘It is not an Italian villa, an English mansion House, a Swiss chalet or a Scotch castle. It is a dwelling house.’ And that certainly is what it is, the building and all its unique decorations and furnishings. Now owned and maintained by National Trust Scotland, it is a treat for visitors to wander through its rooms and admire the exceptionally talented design work by both Margaret MacDonald (Mackintosh’s wife) and Mackintosh himself. … Continue reading Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Glasgow

George Bissell miner soldier artist

I’m shortly to run a series of sessions on the subject of ‘Women in Art’. Female depictions of women and male depictions of women and draw some contrasts and comparisons, if there are any. ( George Bissell miner soldier artist ) Coincidence being as it is, I stumbled across an interesting article in one of the national dailies. George Bissell was an English artist miner and furniture designer. At the age of 13 George was sent down the mines, his family having moved from his birthplace in Gloucestershire, to the mining village of Langley Mill in Derbyshire. (Full bio here at Wikipedia) Then came WW1 and George joined the King’s Royal Rifles, but his time in the trenches was soon changed to time under the trenches. Because of his mining experience he was sent to be a sapper, digging and … Continue reading George Bissell miner soldier artist

All lives matter – whatever colour

In the late 1920s, Laura Knight joined her husband Harold in Baltimore USA where he was commissioned to paint a portrait of the John Hopkins Hospital’s Dr Baer. Baer gave Laura permission to go on the segregated wards to paint the patients. She was greeted sceptically, the patients afraid that she would simply stereotype them. The nurse Pearl Johnson had faith in Knight’s intentions and helped her become accepted by the patients would then paint them with integrity and dignity. Juanita was one of the patients. All lives matter – whatever colour It was here that she painted Juanita in 1928. Pearl Johnson befriended Laura, and this is a pastel of Pearl. In addition to helping Laura gain the trust of patients, Pearl also took Laura to various civil rights meetings and events, thus introducing Laura to the prejudices that … Continue reading All lives matter – whatever colour

Cornwall Penlee Dame Laura Knight

Women in Art is the subject of a series of talks and articles I am presenting in 2021 embracing the depiction of women by male artists and women as depicted by women artists. Cornwall Penlee Dame Laura Knight I thought I’d start the series by having a brief look at the work of the English artist Dame Laura Knight. Knight’s full bio can be found on Wikipedia. Born in 1877, at the age of 13 Laura Knight attended the Nottingham School of Art where she met her husband Harold Knight and where male and female segregation of tuition and subject matter was as practiced at the time. The excellent exhibition at Penlee Museum and Gallery Penzance in 2021 brilliantly illustrates Knight’s developing technique and subject matter. In this article we can explore her approach to depicting her female subject matter. … Continue reading Cornwall Penlee Dame Laura Knight

The Beano Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol – influenced by Dennis the Menace cartoon character in The Beano. Sounds incredible, but that’s the reflection of singer Marc Almond (Soft Cell) in Classic Pop magazine. Apparently Marc Almond was at one time with Andy Warhol when he was reading the Beano. And the influences go further. Warhol may have been introduced to The Beano by David Bowie, again with shocked hair styles. If we look at much of Warhol’s iconic pop art works: Elvis Prestley, Marylin Monro, Mickey Mouse and in particular his self portrait, we can actually see The Beano influences. The style and composition of the cartoons is one thing but above all, the layers of colours imposed on one another.  Let’s look at a few examples to compare style, composition and technique … The Beano started publication in Dundee in 1938 by DC … Continue reading The Beano Andy Warhol

David Hockney iPad in Spring

David Hockney ‘The Arrival of Spring, Normandy 2020’. David Hockney iPad in Spring At the beginning of the pandemic hitting Europe in early 2020, David Hockney travelled with his iPad to Normandy France and there, whilst stuck because of travel restrictions, he created on his iPad many wonderful images. There must be a term for ‘digital art’. Maybe that’s it, or digitalised art or maybe even ‘e’ art. Whatever, David Hockney needs to be acknowledged for his brilliance at bringing fine art (I guess) to his audience through the media of electronic technology of the most modern kind. Few other artists would or could do this. Few would have the temerity, the reputation, the confidence to get away with it. It’s only the likes of such secure artists as Hockney who would be acknowledged by such institutions as the Royal … Continue reading David Hockney iPad in Spring

Paula Rego at Tate Britain

Paula Rego at Tate Britain A story of stories of women’s stories. No holds barred here. Intelligent, sympathetic, emphatic, brutal, honest and most discomforting. Paula Rego, Tate Britain. @tate Bio – below Her many styles are on display here, her forms and approaches, showing her developing oeuvre, each time dramatic in their formats. After visiting this exhibition and truly contemplating the messages behind the images, who could not become a feminist and empathise with the cause. Rego looks deeply into how women’s identities are shaped by patriarchal societies. She delves into the more sinister side of children’s stories; she explores adult’s cruelties and the wildness of children. Rego emphasises the vulnerability of women, in one place concentrating on her homeland of Portugal and the Salazar regime, the outlawing of abortion and the subsequent yet further abuse of women. Rego’s style … Continue reading Paula Rego at Tate Britain

Rodin A Work in Progress

The Making of Rodin, Tate Modern. Rodin A Work in Progress It’s worth starting with the tale about the making of ‘The Burgers of Calais’ one of Rodin’s most famous and dramatic works. Apparently, the figures were first modelled naked and then fabric tunics were dipped in plaster and draped over so that the withered bodies could clearly be seen beneath. The feet and hands, possibly too large but maybe emphasising the hopelessness and vulnerability of their fate at the hands of England’s Edward III. Extract from Wikipedia: The sculpture commemorates an event during the Hundred Years’ War, when Calais, a French port on the English Channel, surrendered to the English after an eleven-month siege. The city commissioned Rodin to create the sculpture in 1884 and the work was completed in 1889. In 1346, England’s Edward III, after a victory in the Battle of Crécy, laid … Continue reading Rodin A Work in Progress

Turner at Tate Britain Modern Times

So contemporary: background timeline ‘1829. Government enquiry into air-borne pollution and public health’. Turner at Tate Britain Modern Times The theme was Turner and the Modern World. His depiction of the changing times from the threat and uncertainty of the Napoleonic Wars and Trafalgar and Waterloo in particular through to his more famous works ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ and ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’. His times: revolutions, riots, wars, industrial revolution, slavery and its abolition, canal building, machinery and of course the railway. All captured in his unique styles.  That is styles plural. Precise, realistic through to impressionistic. But Turner struggled with figures and maybe that’s why there are so few of them, even though is works concentrate on depicting the human experience in his modern times, from conflict to industrialisation, to storm and frenzy. Whatever the world throws at us, we … Continue reading Turner at Tate Britain Modern Times

Sophie Taeuber-Arp Tate Modern

Sophie Taeuber-Arp Tate Modern. Was she just playing at being an artist following her whims or as described by Tate Modern ‘Taeuber-Arp was one of the most successful and innovative artists of her time’. Humm. The exhibition is worth a visit. An enjoyable dabble into the life and works of a little know (to most people) artist. Born and resident in the prosperous and secure country of Switzerland (later moving to Germany and South of France) Taeuber-Arp ‘was a crafts professional, teacher, architect, interior designer, painter, sculptor, performer, jewellery-maker, and editor of an international art magazine.’ Wow. How many terms could we all give ourselves? Nothing spared here. Bio below Looking through the exhibition, her work and approaches vary from formalised paintings, embroidery to marionettes to costumes to furniture and interior design and woodturning. All jolly good fun. Described also … Continue reading Sophie Taeuber-Arp Tate Modern