09 December 2016

Exhibition log, November

This'll clear up those bits of paper that will never get looked at again...

The East End Gallery Trail leaflet is widely available in East End galleries; it's an initiative launched by the Parasol Foundation. Keeping up with gallery openings and closings is quite a job...
East End Gallery Trail (via)
9 November - Frank O'Hara: In the heart of noise - wonderful evening of poetry and music at King's Place

Protest (17 artists) at Victoria Miro, including Sarah Sze's newspaper works - with a twist (went twice to this)
Calendar Series (via)
Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Portals, at Victoria Miro - "apparently everyday scenes"

Alex Hartley, A Gentle Collapsing II at Victoria Miro - "encapsulates the classic modernist tropes"

Robert Therrien at Parasol Unit - all works were called No Title ([short description])

Antony Gormley "Fit"at White Cube Bermondsey - "a series of dramatic psychological encounters in the form of a labyrinth" (went twice to this)
Room III (via)
King's Place - sculpture trail leaflet

Crossing the Circle - Philippe Vandenberg at the Drawing Room - abstract images expressing his "existential despair about the world, as well as his dark sense of humour"

Peter Waechtler at Chisenhale - the narrative in the animation in the show is, he says "my attempt to make the film and to make the song"

States of Mind: Tracing the edges of consciousness at Wellcome Collection - nice illustrated leaflet, for bedtime reading, includes pix of neural cells, rather like these, by Ramon y Cajal at the turn of the 20th century; seeing them was made possible by a new staining technique -
Samson Kambalu, Capsules, Mountains and Forts at Kate McGarry - documents from a copyright dispute. (His recent PhD examined how the problematic of the gift animates various aspects of his art practice.)

Stuart Brisely, From the Georgiana Collection at Hales - Georgiana Street, northwest London, had a hostel for the homeless - photos of domesticity in a public space; buttresses; a procrustean bed; Brisley is often hailed as the "godfather of performance art" (in this video (one of the Tate Shots series) he considers painting not as an object but a performance)

Hugh Mendes at Charlie Smith - "ongoing, obsessional series of obituary paintings"

Jutta Koether at Campoli Presti - "Questioning the traditional hierarchies of painting, her work deconstructs the distinction between copy and original"

Annette Kelm at Herald Street - constructed photographs of ordinary things

Maureen Gallace at Maureen Paley - "carefully adjusted visions of houses and landscapes visited and reimagined as a subject over many years"
Early September (2016)
Martin Wilner - NY psychiatrist; rule-based process; music; micrographic writing
Hew Locke - sculptor, Brixton - colonial; symbols of power; cultural identity; Queen; ships)

Rosenfeld Porcini - Across the Divide - works by Chao Lu, Leonardo Drew, Keita Miyazaki

Ceramics in the City at Geffrye Museum - more than 50 potters

08 December 2016

Poetry Thursday - Carnations on the Roof by Clive James

Carnations on the Roof - is it a song lyric or a poem? This is the sort of question you might ask after Bob Dylan's Nobel prize for literature, and the death of Leonard Cohen. Often, poems need to be spoken rather than read; hear this one sung by Pete Aitken here.

He worked setting tools for a multi-purpose punch
In a shop that made holes in steel plates
He could hear himself think through a fifty minute lunch
'Bout the kids, gas and stoppages, the upkeep and the rates
While he talked about Everton and Chelsea with his mates

...and it goes on, a sad tale really, telling the story of many proud working men in a Britain that was losing its industries.

For a song you need a rhyme scheme - throughout, it's ABABB, which gives opportunities "between the lines" for the music.

Another excerpt:
Forty years of metal tend to get into your skin
The surest coin you take home from your wage
The green cleaning jelly only goes to rub it in
Clive James talks about "words being energised by music" and his lyrical career, and collaboration with Pete Atkinhere. "Writing song lyrics is my favourite form of writing anything" ... but he's never managed to become famous for it, "in fact, I'm almost entirely obscure for it".

When, after a 25-year gap, they started writing songs again, "We couldn't stop, and gradually we realised that we had never stopped. The long hiatus had been part of the process. We had just been gathering our strength in the interim."

06 December 2016

Drawing Tuesday - RAF Museum, Hendon

The WWI hangars, with WWI planes, adjoin a building that was moved, brick by brick, from elsewhere on the site of what used to be the Grahame-White Aviation Company Limited (it ceased operations in 1924) -
I found myself in Claude Grahame-White's former office, upstairs, listening to a short talk about the man and his achievements. The only original thing in the room is the fireplace lintel, which has his initials carved in it -
He'd had some "Jacobean" furniture made for his office, and this reconstruction did, too - 2nd generation fake Jacobean furniture.

But it was the planes we were there for - my favourite (not that I've seen them all) is the Halifax bomber, pulled out of a Norwegian fjord in the 1970s, a casualty of the attempt to sink the Tirpitz -
It was decided not to attempt to restore it.

Up under the eaves is the control room of His Majesty's R33 airship, built in 1919 and dismantled in 1928-
Our outcomes -
Jo watched men working on a Messerschmitt Bf-109

by Janet K

by Joyce

by Janet B
Sue's medley includes a stealth bomber

My airport beacon, WWI vintage

05 December 2016

Art I like - Robert Kelly

It's that black-and-white thing, and the boldness, that drew me in -
Kelly has traveled throughout the United States, Europe, North Africa, the Near East, and Nepal. His work often incorporates unusual materials from his journeys, among them vintage posters and printed antique paper, obscured and layered in saturated pigments on a canvas faintly scored with irregular grids. Kelly’s paintings have been likened to palimpsests and his method described as one of building “meticulously on inhabited ground, layering materials, documents, and signs, covering them, wiping out their beauty, nearly, but allowing something of the labor and their languages to persist.” (via)

Thicket I (via)
Born in 1956, he's been painting full time since 1982 - before that he worked as a commercial photographer.
Tantra IV, 1998 (via)
A few months back he had a show in London (missed it!) -

Left, Mimesis CV, 2008; Right, Tropos V (via)

04 December 2016

Sorting through the recipe box

Three magazine-boxes full of recipes, sorted through. I kept a handful - a few with Tony's written notes, and a few of my favourites of the many meals he made.


Tony came to be The Cook because of That Darn Old Cooker. The brown monster had been in the house since the 70s, and not only was it electric, not gas, but it had those old-fashioned spiral rings. Which had among them various sorts of slopes, so that pans heated only where they touched the ring, which was in a small amount of the available area. Sometimes you'd lift the pan and 3/4 of the ring would be glowing red - heat that should have transferred to the metal of the pan.

After a few years of battling with this, and making strong suggestions about New Cookers to no avail, I simply refused to cook any more. And Tony took over, first from the Waitrose recipe cards, then using the pictures (and shortness of list of ingredients) in the 101 Recipes books as a basis for choosing the dish. He often used the BBC Good Food website, printing out the recipes, some of them several times over the years, as I discovered when going through the printouts.

There came a time, was it 2009, when the kitchen needed repainting and it was decided to get a new cooker at last - "just to please you" may have been the words he used. What a treat to have a gas hob, and to have an accurate oven! By then his chefly repertoire was extensive - what pleasure to become aware of good smells wafting up to my weekend studio, followed by the arrival of a glass of wine and an estimate of when the meal would be ready. Ah there are things you miss ... chief among them, the cook ... but I don't miss That Old Cooker, not at all!

03 December 2016

Walking by water

Waiting to change trains at Clapham Junction on a crisp and beautiful day ... watching the flickering shadows as the invisible people move along the platform -


Wednesday, 30 November 2016
Start time: 10:25
Easy 7.5 miles / 12.1 km
Group South Bank
A flat waterways walk following the Thames Path to Kew and Richmond Lock, crossing the Thames to have lunch at Isleworth - pub/picnic. Then the route is along the Capital Ring through Syon Park and the Grand Union Canal to finish at Boston Manor.
Along the path and through the leaves

Lots of rowers out on the water

Glimpse into Kew Gardens

Obelisk in the Old Deer Park marks the Kew meridian, at one time
used to officially set time (later taken over by Greenwich)

Photo-op for a glimpse of Isleworth

Crossing the river at Richmond Lock

In old Isleworth, "a small town of Saxon origin"

The sundial at All Saints Church was restored in 2013

Looking over the fence at Syon House

Interesting structure along the Grand Union Canal, part of Brentford Boatyard?

Lux, calme, et volupté

Heading home

South Africa: art of a nation

The South Africa exhibition at the British Museum is introduced online by some nice little videos. 

I took notes and drew little pictures in my notebook, the pictures getting ever smaller and sketchier.... I don't have a clear grasp of South African history and the exhibition made me want to know more, to put it all into context. Kruger, Smuts, the Boer War ... so much that was so far away from where I went to school; we learned nothing about it. There were nine Xhosa frontier wars, for heaven's sake.

What sticks in my mind is the leather sandals made by Ghandi while imprisoned, and given to General Smuts on being set free; in 1939, as Ghandi celebrated his 70th birthday, Smuts wrote to him that he'd worn the sandals during many summers, and felt humble to be wearing the shoes of such a great man ... or something like that. 

Also, the ballot paper for the first election - I counted 19 parties, and for each the picture of the party's logo, and photo of the candidate. But even so, quite intimidating! People were so proud to be voting....
Partial 1994 election ballot (via)
There was old art and new art - a pebble collected by an Australopithicene, 3 million years ago, because it had accidental markings that made it resemble a human face; it was not a type of rock found in the neighbourhood. Think of that, 3 million years ago... the Makapansgat pebble -
The Makapansgat pebble - an example of early curiosity (via)
New art - lots of it, it swirls in my head and nothing singular appears. Ah, Karel Nel's work - the two ochre squares, red ochre and white ochre -
And conceptual artist Willem Boshoff's Bad Faith Chronicles (explained here) - 11 panels, each with a bible in one of South Africa's official languages -
Detail from Bad Faith Chronicles

02 December 2016

01 December 2016

Poetry Thursday - from Psalm 107, King James Version

JMW Turner, Ship in a Storm (via)

Psalm 107:23-31

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.
28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
31 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

"We who go down to the sea in ships" suddenly popped into my head in relation to the eye trouble last week. Having ready access to a specialist hospital is the secular version of "putting your trust in the Lord" - and having faith in the knowledge and skills of the staff. 

It was such a pleasure to look for and choose an image for this post. I had this one in mind (it's in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford) - the guy in the sky is St Nicholas, he of the many miracles -
Medieval art has many ships, and storms (and other delightful diversions). But when it comes to ships and storms, Turner wins, hands down.

30 November 2016

Is it time to break an old habit?

The sewing machine has been out on the table for a couple of weeks now, and I've used it to start some journal quilts. Having the laptop on the ironing board is working well -
During that time, papers seem to have built up into a few heaps. It's getting out of control.

Solution: simply consolidate the heaps -
 ... and deal with it "tomorrow".

Which dawned sunny and energising. I started sorting the papers -
Only to find there are still four heaps - how does that happen?!

Since doing the foundation art course (2009-10!) I've been saving all the explanatory bits of paper collected at exhibitions. Often they are useful in writing a blog post about the show ... but really, they serve no purpose beyond that. Why would I look at them again, unless to sort through and throw out?

Throwing them out can't be done wholesale. I'm in the habit of recording things, and have become lazy in not writing in my notebook, and not blogging every show I've seen. Some of these need to be pinned down. (Or ... do they ...)

Does it matter? Does all one's history need to be retrievable? something to ponder... At the moment it seems better to say less about more, eg one image and a link per exhibition, "for the record" - some, let's face it, are amusing for a moment but leave no other trace. Others, you tell yourself you'll visit them again and have a closer look and deeper think ... but you never do, somehow.

Lack of focus? Trying to do too much? Losing my way? Not sure ...

I love a clear desk and will be tackling those papers again today. Perhaps by sweeping them all into the bin, after all. Because I'd like to get the sewing machine back onto the table - this has caught my eye, or rather I've suddenly looked at it afresh ... it's been sitting right there beside the screen all the while -
Is this the final JQ for 2016? It's nearly the right size, just needs a nice border to get to 8"x10". It has orange and green bits, and can easily acquire purple. It's almost ready to go.

It's time to clear off not just the table, but that design board. If not now, when?