05 August 2014

To Dulwich (south of the river)

Very civilised, is Dulwich. Where else in London do you find street trees like this? -
It takes a while to get there from north of the river, but finally we got to Dulwich Picture Gallery, to see "Art and Life", work by Winifred and Ben Nicholson, and their friends Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, and William Staite Murray, in the 1920s and early 30s.

First, though, refreshment in the nice caf -
The sustaining powers of the gooey almond croissant were much appreciated ... I spent a long time looking at the exhibition. The colours of Winifred's work, especially the flower paintings - so gorgeous. (They will surely feed into my "stripey painting".) Here are a couple from the gallery's website -
Cyclamen and Primrose
Winifred felt that "the tissue paper wrapper held the secret of the universe". She also wrote about gathering a bouquet of yellow flowers, adding more and more shades of yellow - but it didn't "tell yellow" until she added a magenta flower, at which point they glowed "orange and gold and lemon and primrose, each singing its note".
 Take the short curator's tour here. A review with pictures and links is here.

We happened to be passing the mausoleum just as the sun was streaming in at a particularly attractive angle -
 (Read about the gallery's history and architecture here.)

Elsewhere, among the "old pictures", are four amazing flower paintings by Jan van Huysum ... a booklet gives their history (he wouldn't let anyone into his studio so they wouldn't be able to learn his secret methods) and the tracing-paper overlays identify the flowers ... but it's the insects that really bring the paintings to life. What did he use to paint the tiny ants, a squirrel's eyelash?
In the shop, these topical ceramics include a rum pot - which in the navy of old (before 1970) would have held the daily tot of rum - diluted, it became "grog" -
Looking (unsuccessfully) for the name of the maker of the jolly pots, I found these paper "wish boats" in the gallery's online shop -
Speaking of boats, how do you like this one by Alfred Wallis? -
Schooner and Icebergs, 1928
Wallis's use of old bits of cardboard gave Ben Nicholson the idea of using different shapes for the support of his paintings, and of leaving their edges visible. "One finds the influences one is looking for," said Nicholson.


Stitchinscience said...

Dulwich Gallery always seems a very long away, but is worth the trip. Did you see the mulberry trees in the garden? There were lots of people picking the berries when I was there at this time last year.

Patricia G said...

Winifred Nicholson - such a colour expert. I swear she must have been born with enhanced sight.