Art Exhibition at Leatherhead Theatre

Leatherhead Theatre Exhibition May 2018

A new venue for me in a new town, which is always exciting. Leatherhead is about twenty miles from the Woking/Guildford area where I usually exhibit, so this should be a good opportunity to address an audience which as yet is unfamiliar with my work

Leatherhead is a smaller town than Guildford, but prosperous nonetheless, a commuter town with a busy shopping centre. The theatre is in the middle of town, and open all day, so not just with performances but also with conferences, classes and clubs, so we are told quite a heavy footfall

I have entered six framed paintings and five folios. One thing about a new venue is that nobody has seen any of my work so I can give some previous paintings an airing. Galloping Horses is the only painting that hasn’t been shown at all. Certainly the organisers were very enthusiastic about my work, and expected great things, but then organisers always do. My own theory is to expect the unexpected, which seems to work every time. They actually contacted me, which is unusual and pleasing, having seen my website under Surrey Artists.  Maybe that was the unexpected bit!

The exhibition opened this Tuesday and runs until the 15th. I had an interim report on Thursday telling me which pictures were receiving most interest, namely the Flamingo painting which is one of the framed ones, as well as two of the folios, Sicilian fishing village and Cockerel with Hens. Exciting stuff. It could go either way

As I always say, one would be nice.

By the way, I have had to interrupt progress on the Bosham painting, as I have received a commission which is needed for a wedding anniversary towards the end of this month. I am on with this, but still some way to go, as some parts are tricky. I may well write about it later.

Itching to get back to the Bosham painting, though !!

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Impressionists in London Exhibition at Tate Britain

Charing Cross Bridge by Pissarro

Charing Cross Bridge by Camille Pissarro

I took my grandson to see this fascinating exhibition at Tate Britain, a week or so ago, as he is studying Pointillism as part of his Art GCSE syllabus. The work of Camille Pissarro was much in evidence, so a lot for him to have a look at. This was his first visit to a major gallery, so significant, and as he pointed out, we were looking at originals, so the actual canvases that these painters worked on. I sometimes lose sight of that fact myself.

The exhibition was centred around the work of French painters who fled to Britain in the 1870s to escape the horrors of the Franco-Prussian War. Napoleon III had been captured after the Battle of Sedan, and on his release went into exile with his wife, Eugenie, and their son the Crown Prince, in England, living in Chislehurst. All three are entombed in Farnborough, in the abbey founded by Eugenie. After the fall of the Second Empire the fight went on, culminating in the horrific Siege of Paris in 1871. Civil war followed after a popular uprising by the Paris Commune. Thousands died. Many of the Communards were amongst those who fled to Britain, and who were received without question or restriction.

Many well-known painters arrived and stayed in London. Claude Monet had a suite of rooms in the Savoy Hotel, and painted the Thames and Houses of Parliament in all its moods. He loved the London fog, as did Whistler, credited by Oscar Wilde with the “invention of the fog”

Camille Pissarro, whose house in Louceviennes was commandeered by the Prussians, fled to south London with his mother and other relatives, ruined by the conflict. He lived at Kew, and paintings of his, of the Gardens and Kew Green are on display. He was another fascinated by the Thames and painted similar views to Monet, of the Houses of Parliament through the mist, as well as Charing Cross Bridge in the picture shown.

Not all the arrivals were Impressionists. James Tissot having been introduced by his friend Thomas Bowles, made a name for himself as a painter of High Society. With a great eye for colour and fashion, his paintings of ball gowns and uniforms are magnificent.

Many well-known dealers also followed the painters, and there are many more names that one could mention, but in the final room, is displayed the work of Andre Derain, who was inspired by the London paintings of Monet. He was sent to London in 1906 by the dealer Vollard, and produced thirty canvases from this trip. These were in homage to Monet and covered the same subjects , Charing Cross Bridge, the Thames and the Houses of Parliament. Not to my taste, I think he belonged to a group called the Fauvistes, which believed in the arbitrary use of colour. However, his work is successful, and rounds off this exhibiton nicely

Paintings are on loan from galleries across the world, so a one-off opportunity for most of us to see them. Worth going to, more than once if you can

 

Schooldays in the 1950s: Part Two

One of the most important aspects of grammar school life was sport and sporting achievement. Sporting heroes were venerated, whilst scholars were not. I haven’t given this piece a title, quite deliberately, but if I did it could be Sport and Entertainment, which sounds like a quiz round. We had a lot of sport, but very little entertainment. Our antidote to work was sport. There was no place for the frivolous

I have not named my old school yet, I don’t know why, there is no need for me to be coy about it. The college was founded in the c18, by an East India merchant named Richard Churcher, to train boys in mathematics and navigation, before entering the service of the East India Company. The school is Churcher’s College, still very much there, but independent since the introduction of the comprehensive system. It stands alongside the old Portsmouth Road, built of local sandstone, it boasts clocktower, quadrangle,refectory and all those other ingredients of a traditional boy’s college from a distant past. It could be Greyfriar’s or Hogwarts

Sport was very well catered for. Rugby in the autumn term, cross-country running in the spring term and cricket in the summer, were obligatory, and enjoyed by many. I hated all three. My extreme odium was reserved for cross-country running, always on a Tuesday afternoon for juniors, straight after a lunch of corned beef, lumpy mash potato and some mixed salad leaves, with a boiled suet pudding to follow. Running three miles over rough farmland straight after that, was not good for the digestion. Several boys lost their lunch on the way.

I said this took place in the spring term. This ran from early January to Easter more or less so took in the worst two months of the year. Today,  thanks to global warming, we have comparatively mild winters, and rarely have snow in the south. In the 1950s snow was more or less guaranteed straight after Christmas, and would hang around for weeks

We changed in the pavilion, which doubled as a gym. One afternoon sticks in my mind, as our games master opened the doors to start us off. The sky was black, and large flakes of snow fell in blizzard conditions. Surely the run would be cancelled, and we could spend the afternoon in the library.  Dream on.  Smiling, if not laughing, our games master dressed in duffle coat, scarf and gloves waved us on our way. We had rugger shirts and shorts and Plimsoll shoes to protect us against the elements. Today, I think, people would be horrified to run in those conditions. Most runners in the winter seem to wear leggings, hood and anorak today, something about keeping muscles warm.

Across the playing fields and out into Love Lane, we ran en masse. Gradually the good runners pulled ahead, with the boys not built for speed lagging further and further behind. I was usually somewhere in the middle , I have to say

After a mile or so of road running, we approached that terrible first obstacle, the “muddy bridge” which really did sort out the good from the awful. This was an old railway bridge, one of many, which carried the Petersfield to Midhurst railway. The railway was in use then, but later would be axed by Doctor Beeching.  Beneath the bridge never saw the light of day, was very deep mud. It never dried out, not even in good weather. The local farmer drove his cattle through it. The cattle sank above their knees in this ooze, creating holes that filled with water with a crust of ice on top. We forged through this lot, likewise well over our knees, so that it took a very great effort to extricate our feet from this sticky morass of mud and excrement. Plimsolls were lost,  sometimes for ever.

After this we were on to open farmland, which we took in our stride, quite literally. It was expected, and we had to do it, so we did. No one was in touch with their feminine side in those days, if we had one to be in touch with. We were told it was good for us, as we arrived back at the pavilion, our characters built, glad to be alive, glad the ordeal was over for yet another week but yet strangely satisfied as we took our hot shower, forged anew by this arduous test. I felt sorry for the tail-enders, as they trickled in, sometimes in the dark, suffering derisive comments from the games master. I don’t remember any concern being shown for boys late back, only irritation. They could have been face down in a ditch for all that anyone knew.

Reading this back, it looks as though I had a miserable time at school, but not so.  I enjoyed my studies, and also enjoyed my time in the CCF or Combined Cadet Force, which once must have been an Officers Training Corps. You could join either of the three services. I chose the army. Everything was still WW2 issue,  uniform, weapons etc. Give a boy of 14 a .303 rifle and a magazine of blanks, and have him charging round the countryside shooting at the”enemy”, this had to be enjoyable. Health and Safety today would be horrified. This deserves, one day, a chapter of its own, so I will talk about what served as our only light relief in those days.

We read a great deal, it is fair to say. We read the classics without being told to. I read H.Rider Haggard, Robert Louis Stephenson, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, and H.G.Wells. These authors wrote wonderful adventure stories which appealed to boys, then. Stories of exploration and of empire, which remember we were only just leaving behind us. The humiliation of the Suez Crisis in 1956 taught us that our days as a world power had come to an end, and that America was taking over.

In our wonderful library, we had, amongst many other things, leather-bound copies of Strand Magazine, a Victorian publication which serialised stories that we know well today. Conan Doyle published his adventures of Sherlock Holmes in this magazine in serialised form, and I remember especially reading Hound of the Baskervilles. I can say truthfully that I read it in the original.

We had comics. I bought the Eagle from W.H.Smith on Havant Station. One of the first comics to run stories of space travel, it was a runaway success. Dan Dare was the great hero with his sidekick Digby from Wigan. Together they thwarted the plans of the Mekon and his reptilian band of Treens

Recently I researched and gave a talk on H.G.Wells and his time in Woking, his most prolific time, from 1895-6, where he wrote works that made him famous like War of the Worlds. He also wrote something called The Man from the Year Million, where humans had developed massive brains with massive heads to match, and atrophied bodies and limbs which had shrunk because they were no longer being used. Interestingly, the illustrators of the Dan Dare stories borrowed from Wells when they created the Mekon character, and somewhere I have a picture.

Mekon_Big

and there is the rascal himself

Dan Dare stories were also broadcast on Radio Luxembourg , which I was not allowed to listen to, in our authoritarian household.

There was very little in the way of titillation. Censorship was strong and minors had to be protected. Nevertheless we sometimes bought a paper called Reveille, which might contain a picture of Diana Dors in a one piece bathing costume! She was Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe, a blond bombshell and a very popular model. She died quite young in 1982, married to a gangster as I remember, and living an orgiastic lifestyle. On a more serious note, she was also RADA trained and a very competent straight actress. I can remember seeing her in character parts in TV dramatisations of different works by DIckens, in which she was excellent.

I became very interested in photography in my mid teens, an interest way out of my meagre budget. I did buy each week, the Amateur Photographer magazine, which cost me 1/6d in old money, out of my pocket money of 3/6d, which left me strapped for the rest of the week. My father liked to read it too, but never thought to cough up a bit more money to cover the outlay. Maybe this propagated in me a latent interest in art, who knows

Bits and pieces come back as I write. I started learning German when I was 14. You were only allowed to do this, if you were already proficient in French. We were encouraged to have pen friends in Germany, and I started to write to Brigitte who lived in Wilhelmshaven, a naval port on the Baltic coast, a place better known for U-boat pens than anything else, but enough of that. We were the same age. She wrote in English and I wrote in German. Her stuff was very girly, as one might expect, and I wasn’t mature enough to say anything interesting either, so the arrangement foundered fairly quickly. She was very good-looking though.  Who knows what became of her.

I think I will stop

Turner in Surrey Exhibition at Lightbox in Woking

Turner's Newark Priory

I can highly recommend this exhibition at the Woking Lightbox. Their exhibitions just get better. I had no idea that Turner did so much work in Surrey, especially around Guildford in or around 1805

He painted Newark Priory Church plein air long before the Impressionists, and you may be able to tell from my bad photograph that his style then was getting towards an impressionist one. His later paintings like Rain, Steam and Speed were all about colour and not form, very much like the Impressionists. The ruined priory church is all that remains of a once complete Augustinian foundation, coming under Chertsey as I remember. It stands on private land so it cannot be visited only viewed from the towpath on the Wey Navigation, or from the road, and I rather think Turner made his study from the road. There was probably less traffic on the road than on the canal towpath in those days

He also stayed at the White Lion Inn in Guildford High Street, one of the many old coaching inns in the town. Demolished despite local protest to make way for Woolworths store, the white lion model inn sign was kept, and brought forward again, when Woolworths itself was demolished to make way for the White Lion Walk shopping centre in the 1980s

From his room in the hotel, Turner sketched Quarry Street opposite. The scene is much the same as today, with the historic Star Inn on the right-hand corner and St.Mary’s, the Saxon church behind that. You can see the castle too. The building on the left, which is now Thomas Cook, has changed. I tried to photograph the sketch, but not too successfully

Turner's Sketch Book

I have painted this view myself, so slightly eerie

He also painted and etched a very fine view of St.Catherine’s Chapel which stands just outside of the town on the Portsmouth Road. Ruined 13c, it stands roughly on the old pilgrim’s way, near where pilgrims would have been ferried across the river. No connection with pilgrims though, as it was built as a chapel of ease for the parishioners of Artington, to save them the long journey to St.Nicholas’ Church

There is more and I shall go back

 

 

 

My Artfinder Gem

I am responding to the challenge laid down by Artfinder,  https:/www.artfinder.com   which is to nominate the artist you most admire, and of course to write about them.

Since I joined Artfinder in May, I have been contacted by just under 200 fellow artists and art lovers, who were kind enough to admire my work. This I have found greatly encouraging. Naturally since I have been introduced to them,  and had a chance to look at the paintings they produce, I slowly started to form opinions on their art.

They are all good, obviously or they wouldn’t be there. They are all different. They produce wildly differing pieces in wildly differing styles,which is of course the lovely thing about art, it is so catholic. You do have to wait for the right person to come along who wants to own one of your paintings though, and you do have to be patient.

After a longer preamble than I intended, I would like to nominate Nela Radomirovic, a young lady who comes from Serbia, as my Artfinder Gem. She paints in oils.  I love her work because of the skill involved in producing a realistic, tangible image of the subject, and because the style does appeal to me. She is especially expert in representing texture, inviting the viewer to touch. Still life is a forte. Grapes with white bloom on them, how clever is that, look almost moist to the touch. Standing on polished timber table tops, which you would really like to run your hand along, these paintings of either grapes or cherries remind me of something produced by one of the old masters. I don’t wish to sound too euphoric but I am enthusiastic in my admiration

Unfortunately I am not able to reproduce an example of her work

She is versatile though. She produces equally authentic paintings of horses, nudes and vivid moonlit landscapes. My favourites are still the series of jars, carafes and a beautiful old pressing iron, entitled naturally enough, Old Iron

I believe, from what I read from her profile, that she is self-taught as a painter, something which I always gravitate to, as I never received formal training myself at an art college. You do have to be dedicated to learn your craft that way as it does take a great amount of discipline

I notice too from what she writes in her profile, that she paints everyday, like eating and sleeping.  Well, with devotion like that you will succeed

I believe her link is https.//www.artfinder.com/blog/post/nelaradomirovic/ /#/

Royal Surrey Hospital 2017

RSCH 2017

My co-exhibitor and I set up our exhibition at the Royal Surrey Hospital in the Peter Thompson Gallery last Friday. I am showing twelve framed paintings, and you may recognise some from previous postings. All new work as far as this gallery is concerned for this year

My colleague is showing 24 pictures, so quite a varied collection of work

So far, this year has been bleak as far as sales are concerned. I don’t know why. Last year i was selling one a month from my web site plus exhibitions. Maybe it is the Brexit factor!

There has been no communication from the hospital to date this week. The organisers are very quick to let us know of any sales or even serious enquiries, so I fear the worst. No news is bad news, as they say

I have a serious feeling of foreboding about this exhibition. I have shown here since I started painting, nearly twenty years ago, and have always sold, sometimes in large quantities, so if I score a duck this year, it will be my first.

We have three more weeks so time for something to happen. Not that my finances depend on selling paintings, it’s just that I like to turn them over to make room for new creations. Still, time yet. We shall see

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

henry-moore-reclining-figure-in-elmwood

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

chichester-market-cross-and-cathedral

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