Sidney Sime Memorial Gallery in Worplesdon, Surrey, UK

A Wild Creature Stalking the Woods by Sidney Simes

A Wild Creature Stalking The Woods by Sidney Sime

This gem of a gallery existed on my doorstep without my ever hearing about, or seeing it even, despite being just off a busy main road that I use often. The gallery has been there since 1956, opened with proceeds from the sale of Simes’ home in Worplesdon on the death of his widow in 1949. There are approximately 500 catalogued pictures of which 86 are hung and on permanent display. The rest are in cabinets and folders.

We went there recently with a group from Guildford Museum, which was, I have to say, a most enlightening visit.

To say something about the man. Sidney Sime was born in Manchester in 1867. As soon as he was old enough he went to work in the pits and for five years pushed “scoops” of coal along rails through tunnels about 75 centimetres high.

He used to scratch little drawings on the walls even then and find odd moments for making sketches

After a succession of jobs including sign-writing which he became successful at, he eventually joined the Liverpool School of Art, part of a network of art colleges stretching down to South Kensington.

His studies complete , he contributed drawings to many well-known magazines, eventually purchasing and editing a magazine himself. Called the Idler, there are copies in the gallery.

He married in 1898. Following a bequest from an uncle in Scotland, the couple settled in Perthshire, where he painted many Scottish landscapes. They felt isolated in Scotland and moved to Worplesdon in Surrey which was accessible to his London studio.

He began to specialise in caricature, drawing local characters in the pub, viewing them in the mirror behind the bar. Many of his most enthusiastic supporters were among the wealthy, and they gave him the stimulus to produce some of his finest pictures. In 1896 he gained membership of the Royal Society of British Artists.

After the Great War, came a prolific period, when he produced much of his visionary work, especially from the Book of Revelation. He staged a well-received exhibition at St.George’s gallery in London in 1924, and another less so in 1927.

Later he was to drift into obscurity, painting for his own pleasure until his death in 1941.

There will be a major exhibition of his work in Woking’s  Lightbox Gallery from 15th April to 28th May 2017

 

David Hockney at Tate Britain

Pool with Two Figures 1972 detail by Hockney

Pool with Two Figures 1972 detail

David Hockney is probably one of the most popular and widely recognised living artists of our time. His work spans the last 50 years from his student days, continually reinventing himself

We went there today. We like Tate Britain on a Saturday morning. Thanks to the kindness of the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea you can still park free on a meter on a Saturday. Also no congestion surcharge on a weekend. Anticipating correctly a heavy attendance for this exhibition, Tate Britain has been opening the doors two hours earlier than usual. We were early but not that early. The queues as we drew up looked daunting. This is where the member’s card comes into its own. We swept in effortlessly

Like most people, we have followed Hockney throughout each of his stages. Some of them leave me cold. In his student days he was influenced by Picasso. Everybody copies Picasso at some stage. It is very easy to tire of Picasso

One of my favourite Hockney periods is when he veered towards naturalism. I just like recognisable paintings. He was in Los Angeles for this time in his life, and so lots of swimming pool pictures of athletic young men. I particularly like his double portraits which explores the relationship between the two. Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy 1970 is a favourite. Especially touching is the affectionate portrait of his parents, especially the way they are posed

I remember his work with the Polaroid camera in the 1980s, producing myriads of small images to make up into a collage of quite a large picture. He was dissatisfied with the white border around each small image. I rather like that. The whole composition looked like a ceramic mural.

After many years in America, he moved back to his native Yorkshire, and produced some marvelous work. Massive tableaux of the Yorkshire Wolds. The colours are breathtaking. He moved from paint to video to produce a colossal work entitled The Four Seasons which as the name tells us, was of a single stretch of road in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Incredibly technical work

I am sorry I have no images. Vigilant attendants quite rightly moved in on me every time I tried to take a photograph discreetly with my phone. His charcoal drawings……….one can go on and on, my eyes ached after two hours. I shall go again

Paintings to Google are My Parents 1977, Mr and Mrs Clarke and Percy 1970,the Road to Thwing 2006, A Closer Winter Tunnel February-March 2006 and of course so many more

See it if you are in London. On until 29th May

Henry Moore Exhibition at The Lightbox in Woking

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The centrepiece of the current Henry Moore exhibition which we went to see recently.

The Reclining Figure in Elmwood.

If you have worked in elmwood, you will know it is notoriously  difficult to get a smooth finish. The grain is very knobbly for want of a better word, and resists efforts to sand it to a smooth finish. This piece is like satin and invites you to touch, which you mustn’t do, of course

Moore sculpts for the landscape with his monumental works, and developed in his pieces the “far-seeing gaze”, so that they could look out over long distances. With the space restriction at the Lightbox , this exhibition quite rightly concentrates on Moore’s drawings and smaller pieces, which sometimes don’t get the exposure that they deserve. Here we see the natural shapes and found objects that influenced the sculptor throughout his career, which in turn influenced his finished sculptures

The holes and negative spaces were intended to stimulate rhythm, tension, force and vitality. He was driven by this idea of the outer layer giving protection to the inner shape within.  His interest extended to helmets, armour and shells which also protect the interior.

A frequent theme is the mother and child image, which explores this idea. The big protecting the small. His Madonna and Child sculptures reflect Moore’s fascination with the interdependence felt between mother and child.  He was drawn to how things naturally fit together within the balance of nature, and of course he was not the first to notice that.

He was also influenced by the solidity of  ancient Greek statues which he sketched in the British Museum. He sought to reflect the weight of the stone through the strength of his mother figures.

The exhibition lasts until 7th May. Although not a large space, nevertheless because of the accent on his drawings and maquettes, there is much to study. Too much, perhaps, for my level of concentration, I intend to go at least one more time before the closing date to carry on where I left off.mother-and-child

Chichester and Pallant House Art Gallery

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Chichester Market Cross and Cathedral

We were here on the 31st. A lovely cathedral town with its c14 market cross, and one I remember from my youth. Pedestrianised many years ago and rightly so, I remember when traffic drove round the cross, and double decker buses clipped bits off it. Now it is safe from that sort of damage. There are still a few of these market/preaching crosses about, Winchester has a good one for example, and they need to be cherished

The city is Roman originally. Noviomagus, the new market, I believe. There was a straight road to London built by the Romans, called Stane Street. It is still there, but now called A24 and A29. It has one or two kinks in it, as it had to get through the gap in the Downs for example, but basically is straight as a die from Chichester to London Bridge.

The cathedral needs a separate chapter, and is one of the finest in England, but our main reason for going there was to visit our old favourite , the Pallant House Art Gallery, which houses a wonderful collection of modern art.. The collection includes names like Hepworth, Moore, Piper and Sutherland. Incidentally in the cathedral, there is a magnificent tapestry backdrop to the altar, designed by Sutherland. There is also a wonderful window by Marc Chagall, not always remembered for stained glass, although he did many. But I digress from the art gallery

Founded on the collection made by Dean Hussey of Chichester Cathedral , it was bequeathed to the city in 1977, on condition that it was housed in Pallant House, a Grade 1 listed Queen Anne townhouse built in 1712, for a wine merchant called Peckham and his wife Elizabeth.

The collection was added to by further donations over the years, and the impressive collection of artists represented, includes now Cezanne, Leger,Sickert,Lucien Freud, Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi

As well as paintings, there is an excellent collection of c18 Bow porcelain

The new wing, a superb example of a modern building blending well with a Queen Anne townhouse, won the 2007 Gulbenkian Prize and was also listed for a RIBA award the same year

I try to stop after 300 words but have rattled on

Thanks for your comments on Bosham Harbour, now framed up and in store ready for the March exhibition. Thank you to those of you who enquired about this exhibition. The details are:

Guildford Institute, Ward Street, Guildford, Surrey, UK in the Assembly Rooms

Dates from 13th to 31st March this year

Thanks again

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Nash Exhibition at Tate Art Gallery

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The Menin Road 1918-1919

This was the best picture I could get taken from my guide book. This was prominently displayed in the exhibition being one of his best known WW1 paintings. A very big painting and naturally surrounded by people, so no chance I could photograph the real thing, and nor should I.

This painting was commissioned by the Ministry of Information, and was destined for inclusion in a Hall of Remembrance, which was never built. Today it is part of the Imperial War Museum’s collection

His style is starting to alter. He has become fascinated by geometric shapes, which will take him down the road to cubism and abstraction

However, to start at the beginning, we drove into London yesterday in the driving rain. Fortunately you can still park just outside the Tate which was useful considering the weather

The first section dealt with his early work and his comparatively comfortable existence in Iver Heath, where he paints in the garden and starts to show his predilection for landscape, which was to govern his painting throughout his life.

WW1 transformed him and his painting. He described himself as a messenger bringing back word from the men fighting to those who wanted the war to continue. This time a ravaged landscape witnessing a violent emotional experience. The Menin Road which I have shown is the best example of this in my opinion

After the war, places took on an importance for him. He lived at one time in Dymchurch on the Sussex coast, where he painted the sea defences again demonstrating his interest in geometric shapes and becoming ever more cubist. He was also influenced by de Chirico, after visiting an exhibition in 1928, and his paintings started to show lonely places and tell mysterious narratives through isolated objects.

He also at this time became interested in interiors and in still life. These paintings again showed him exploring cubist ideas, with their dependence on geometric shapes. A painting called “Dead Spring” painted in 1929 best illustrates this and I am sorry that I don’t have a copy of this one

He went on to explore the life of the inanimate object, conveying on them human personages. Working closely with fellow artist Eileen Agar, on the Dorset coast, they both used found objects in their work,  both in paintings and in collage.

He became closely involved with Surrealists, and produced work like “Landscape from a Dream” which I can showdscf3496

Some of this was cropped to get it into the frame, but here on the Dorset coast, the hawk is looking at itself in the mirror and also watching itself flying

Then came WW2, and Nash was made an official war artist. He was equally terrified of and fascinated by bombers.He talked about the “sky was upon us all like a huge hawk hovering, threatening”. He was inspired by the imagery of crashed German bombers in the landscape, like sculpture, and also at the Cowley Dump where these parts were brought. He drew upon his surrealist ideas when he painted Totes Meer or Dead Sea, where the twisted mass of crashed planes metamorphosed into waves of a metal sea.

This painting I can show and it is probably the one we all think of,when we think of Paul Nashtotes-meer

By now his health is suffering. He returns to landscape painting. In 1946 he succumbs to pneumonia and heart strain, and can no longer stand at his easel. Severely depressed he dies at Boscombe near Bournemouth at the age of 57. He is buried at Langley Marsh

 

Paul Nash and the Turner Prize Finalists

Hoping to go to the Tate Britain Art gallery tomorrow, weather and circumstances permitting to see amongst other things , the Paul Nash exhibition

Paul Nash, known as a war artist covering both world wars, not as a documentary reporter, but with his own surrealist style, was also a superb landscape artist in his own right

In fact an artist of many facets

I shall look forward to writing about him and his work when i have learned more myself

Exhibition in Woking Lightbox: The Camden Town Group

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This painting is by Robert Bevan 1865-1925, one of the the Camden Art School, painting as the name suggests in North London during the Edwardian period

This painting is entitled Dunns Cottage and was painted in Devon, although Bevan was just as at home painting in London, usually horse fairs and horse drawn vehicles. Bevan studied in Brittany in Pont Aven painting alongside Gauguin, and the influence on this painting is plain to see, large blocks of flat colour and unrealistic shades

Other artists represented at this exhibition are Walter Sickert, sometimes known as the father of them all, Spencer Gore and Ginner

Rather like the French Impressionists a few decades before, the Camden group painted contemporary scenes of city life, the streets, theatres, places of entertainment like pubs and circuses. Sickert portrayed young women in the nude at their toilette rather in the style of Degas, who was a great influence. Non erotic portraits of women in dingy surroundings were something he often came back to, as though the flatness of their life was something which fascinated him.

Preparatory drawings of the figures for his famous painting Ennui are also there, a study of tedium and of people trapped in their lives

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The Balcony, Mornington Crescent  by Spencer Gore (1878-1914)

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The Circus by Charles Ginner (1878-1952)

Ginner was born in Cannes of a British father who established the Pharmacie Ginner. His brother was a doctor on the Riviera . Ginner himself studied art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and was influenced by the French art of the day. The circus was a favourite subject, and this picture can be compared by one of Seurat, which is in the Kroller Muller Museum in Holland

Ginner moved to London and became an influential member of the Camden group

The quality of exhibitions at the Lightbox continues to improve, and well worth a visit if you are in striking distance. The other exhibition one floor below, on the History of the Comic, extremely informative and comprehensive for those interested in graphic art

Art and Empire: Following on from my post in February

Moslem Burial Ground

The Muslim Burial Ground near Woking built by the War Office in 1917 and restored beautifully in 2014 in time for the Centenary

If you read my post in February about the exhibition at the Tate Art Gallery, London, entitled Art and Empire, much of which had to do with India including the contribution of the Indian Army during World War 1, then you will remember that I finished with the story of the Muslim Burial Ground where Muslim soldiers who died of wounds in local hospitals, were interred.

There were 28 service personnel buried there from both world wars. Their remains were moved to the Brookwood War Graves in 1968, since when, the area within the walls was left barren. With the restoration, this area has now been turned into a Garden Of Remembrance, and includes a stone tablet with the names of the 28 fallen, inscribed on it.

Finally I have been again to look at it, and have taken some pictures so that I can conclude this post. It really is a very tranquil and, I think, sacred place

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The new plaque by the main entrance of the Muslim War Cemetery-Peace Garden. Let us hope the sentiment comes true

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This is the tablet commemorating the 28 service personnel who lost their lives in both world wars. You will need your zoom to read the names, I am afraid. This was as close as I could get

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Looking back towards the main gate, with the pool, landscaping and new trees. The water is being pumped round continuously, giving that delightful trickling sound. Certainly a place for meditation, and perhaps a prayer for peace. Not easy when there is an atrocity every day

I am still working on the painting of Shere Village and Church, which I would hope to finish within the next week or so

Exhibition at Tate Art Gallery: Painting With Light

We went to see this exhibition recently. Painting with light explored the relationship between painting and photography, and was a thought-provoking exhibition. Purists still tend to be critical of painters who use photographs, and yet at the time, artists saw great merit in the use of the camera

John Ruskin was never easy to please, being most exacting in his standards. He drew meticulous architectural studies which would have taken him hours. I cannot remember the quote verbatim, but words to this effect he said that if he could have been saved many hours of detailed drawing with a device that did the job in half a minute, then there would have been no doubt in his mind as to which he would use.

Photography was invented in 1839, and was to lead to a development in new techniques and materials which were to influence painters

Edinburgh was home to a progressive movement amongst scientist and artists. In 1843 the young Robert Adamson was to establish one of the first photographic studios where he was joined by the painter David Octavius Hill and Jessie Mann. Together they took something like two thousand photographs during their four year partnership

Their photographic portraits were admired during their lifetime and their views of Edinburgh were an influence on Hill’s landscapes. These works came to be recognised as some of the earliest collaborations between photographer and artist

Holman Hunt painting of Nazareth

Holman Hunt’s painting of Nazareth

Photography was a gift to the Pre-Raphaelites  of which Holman Hunt was one of the founder members. They looked for inspiration to the medieval period, and their works are known for sharp detail and vivid colours. This was almost a quasi-religious movement, and partly because of the medieval influence and partly because of his deep Christian conviction, many of Holman Hunt’s pictures are of Biblical or religious subjects.

Together with his friend Thomas Seddon, he stayed in Jerusalem for two years at the home of James Graham, a pioneer photographer. Together they took many landscape photographs. The reference material that photographs gave artists certainly helped painters like Holman Hunt in their chosen philosophy of sharper detailing.

Many photographers had trained as painters, and had set up studios. They used models whose posing time was cut dramatically with the use of the camera, especially when complex or spontaneous poses were called for. Photographs were used for preparatory references, which meant that props, costumes and models could be dispensed with.

Thus began the successful collaboration between photography and painting, the former even becoming an art form in its own right.

For me the camera has become the sketch book, enjoyable as sketching might be. I shall never again feel bad about that

Two White Rabbits

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The two white rabbits

This was a project miles away from my usual comfort zone

I was asked if I could provide an illustration for a children’s story, which was flattering in itself, as not really something I am known for. I am usually doing something architectural. Occasionally I paint animals, but this exercise was rather different

The stipulation was to paint or draw two white rabbits, a mother and child. They were to be white but set against a white background, so tricky in itself. The storyline dictated that the picture had been painted by a child, albeit an art prodigy, as an entry to a competition. How to look through the eyes of a child? Not something I have ever been good at

After the drawing, which was simple enough, I shaped the rabbits with shading in a very pale blue. I think I used Cobalt as that is fairly flat anyway. White rabbits tend to have pink noses and pink inside their ears, which I added with very dilute Crimson

To give the forms some sort of identity, I washed round the edges with again very dilute green gold, which gave a little bit of a lift, without straying far from the original specification

So that the images didn’t float in mid air, I did put some darker green as grass, but otherwise stuck to the original premise

I am pleased to say that the young boy won first place in the competition, so all was worthwhile

The story is called The Poisoned Apple and is serialised on Pinterest

two white rabbits