Tim Noble and Sue Webster create assemblages from rubbish, discarded items, and taxidermy animals which when light is cast on them from the right direction, reveal a meticulously considered shadow image.
The artists’ earlier work from the 1990s mostly works with rubbish, as shown in “Dirty White Trash” from 1998.
Noble and Webster - DIrty White Trash. Source: Wikipedia
Over time, their work has evolved, with the assemblages themselves becoming increasingly sophisticated, and incorporating found dead animals. “Dark Stuff”, made in 2008, is one such example. Sue Webster said :
“‘Tim’s mum bought some kittens three years ago. The cats started bringing in their prey almost every day. We collected their remains in a box marked with a skull and crossbones, which we called ‘Dead Things’. Soon we had a few hundred rotting creatures – mice, rats, voles, even a squirrel and a toad. Walking through the British Museum, we were struck by the Egyptians’ use of mummification, their obsession with animals and animal parts, and how good at sculpture they were. And suddenly we knew what to do with our mummified animals!’”
Noble and Webster- Dark Stuff. Source: britishmuseum.org
The work “British Wildlife” used taxidermy animals rather than rubbish. In this highly personal piece, the taxidermy animals used to belong to Tim Noble’s father, who died in the 1990s. The piece was unveiled in 2000.
The pair met while studying art at Nottingham Trent university in 1986, and in 1989 worked as aristits in residnece at Dean Clough sculpture studios, a former factory building in Halifax. They later moved to London and worked for Gilbert and George, as well as being involved in a number of important exhibitions, including Statuephilia at the British Museum in 2009. Their work has also been bought by Charles Saatchi.
British Wildlife by Webster and Noble/ Source - The Telegraph
Grayson Perry’s The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, currently running at the British Museum,brings together some of Perry’s work – including new pieces which were created for this event – and the works of unknown craftsmen and women, drawn from the museum’s own collection. The Chelmsford-born artist, winner of the Turner Prize in 2003, is known for – amongst other things – his complex pottery pieces, his transvestism, and the sometimes graphically violent nature of his subject matter. In playing the role of curator, he’s had an opportunity to trawl through the museum’s sizeable collection over a two year period, looking for items which inspired him, pieces which he loved, and which he invites the audience to view through his lens. In this way it’s a personal collection, and about the work that he wants to make in the future as well as the kind of thing that’s influenced him in the past.
For an artist best known for ceramics, and who’s talked about the humility of pottery, there is a lofty aim to this installation – fuelled by a desire to see his own “culture” (from his own “civilisation” – an idea taken from his last big show) displayed with work from ancient civilisations; that of the Ancient Greeks & Egyptians, amongst others.
In a recent piece for The Guardian he describes what he calls the “hubris” of this idea, drawing attention to what he portrays as the faintly ridiculous notion of putting his work alongside that of these great historical cultures. Whether you think it ridiculous or not, it’s an intriguing proposition, and one which has resulted in an exhibition which is fairly unusual for the British Museum.
But Perry’s work focuses on the strange, the unusually juxtaposed, and so it makes a good fit – it’s a “memorial to […] anonymous skilled individuals” presented by the celebrity artist. Perry’s chosen works range from an Egyptian drawing board (complete with incomplete 3500 year old sketches) to a Hello Kitty towel. Also on display is a 250,000 year old hand axe: the first tool. It’s part ethnography, part contemporary art. It’s a trip into the afterlife, exploring ideas of pilgrimage and reverence, and it’s about the power that we confer upon objects as well as the notion of the museum as repository of knowledge and history, about the audience’s trip to the museum as a kind of pilgrimage in itself.
It’s clear from his writing on the subject that Perry is aware of what an enormous privilege it’s been to have been granted such access to the collection, and there’s an evident respect for those that work to preserve and display these objects, which is itself quite endearing. The finished collection includes 170 pieces from the British Museum, and 30 of Perry’s own, including the Rosetta Vase.
Grayson Perry’s The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman is running at the British Museum until the 19th February 2012. Tickets are £10 (£8 concession, children £0), 10am – 5.30pm Saturday – Thursday, 10am – 8.30pm Friday.
Since it opened in late September, Tate Britain’s John Martin: Apocalypsehas been attracting reviews as spectacular as the paintings themselves: talk of astonishment, the epic and the theatrical has been fairly standard. And although some of this excitement might be attributed to the rarity of the occasion – this is the first time in thirty years that Martin’s work has been the subject of such a sizeable exhibition – it really is a dramatic collection, and one that’s well worth a visit. Martin’s work has a sense of scale and of the grandiose that really do make it, well, awe-inspiring.
As the title suggests, the work of this English Romantic, born in 1793 in Northumberland, concentrates on disaster, destruction and apocalypse, mostly of the biblical kind. Intense and powerful evocations of the might and wrath of God, conveyed through scenes of judgement, fire and devastation are all common features of his work. There are elements of the mysterious, and of the fantastical. Landscapes are rugged, mountains towering and vast in scale, cities in the midst of collapse, skies dark with gathered cloud or bright with fire.
Martin enjoyed huge popularity during his lifetime, with pieces like Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion (1812), The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (1852), and Belshazzar’s Feast (1821), a print of which hung in the Brontës’s Haworth parsonage. His work is recognised as an influence upon their writing. Sadak is recognised as one of the key pieces of the period. Such was the reputation of his work that when his eldest brother Jonathan (who would later in life be confined to a lunatic asylum) set fire to York Mister in 1829, it was said that the scene was not unlike that of one of his paintings.
One of his most famous works, The Great Day of His Wrath (1851-1853), depicts the ultimate destruction of Babylon and was one of three large scale canvases dedicated to biblical scenes, completed before his death in 1854. Although this particular work was given to the Tate in the late 19th century, many of the pieces in the current exhibition have been gathered from collections around the world, to which have been added some that have been recently restored, and even some for which this is their first outing.
This renewed interest in Martin’s work represents a critical reception which has gone full circle; despite his popularity in his own time, the Victorians felt his work to be overwrought and less than tasteful, and within a few decades of his death he had been largely forgotten. However, his influence has persisted, and can be seen in the work of a wide range of other artists, from the afore mentioned Brontës to Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden’s sleeve art, and a host of film directors in between.
John Martin: Apocalypse runs at Tate Britain until January 15th 2012, and admission is £12.50 / £10 (concession). The exhibition is now open until 22.00 every Friday.
With the economic situation being what it is – call it a downturn, call it a recession, call it what you like – more and more people are looking to their local art gallery (or indeed, an online gallery) for an investment that’s got a greater degree of safety than your more traditional portfolio. No one’s saying that painting is recession proof, but there are a growing number of people coming round to the idea that when you’re putting your money into canvas you’ve got a more than fair chance that it will retain (if not increase) its value over time.
Some investors and collectors are looking towards buying classics, hoping that current trend for lower prices at the auction house will turn up a bargain that will make a decent return once the markets readjust, or that paintings by the old masters at least won’t suffer any extreme fluctuations in price. In other places ownership is shifting; pieces which have been off the market for a long time are becoming available again as collectors re-evaluate their pieces. For the art collector, the recession’s certainly brought up some interesting options.
If you’re browsing an online gallery like this one then, what sort of thing should you be looking for? Is there an artist, or artists, that you should be keeping an eye on? Are you better to buy art online than in a physical art gallery or an auction house?
What to look out for.
As I’ve said on this site before (and it certainly bears repeating), one of the most common pieces of art investment advice you’re likely to hear is to buy something that you actually like, something that you want in your space – if you buy it purely for the money that you hope it’ll make in a few years’ time, then you’re missing out on a huge part of the experience. Plus, if it doesn’t make a financial return you’ll feel cheated – remember always that part of the investment is the pleasure that the piece is going to give you while you own it.
The work of new, relatively unknown artists is probably some of the most exciting collecting you can do – the hope of finding the next darling of the art world isn’t far away from anyone’s mind when visiting a graduate show, and there’s an absolute joy in finding something before it becomes really famous that’s hard to replicate elsewhere. Again though this often comes down to finding a piece that you connect with – if the cliché is true and the best artists aren’t appreciated in their own lifetimes, it might take a while for their influence to be felt.
The benefits of buying art online go beyond the simple facts of gallery overheads and auction room etiquette, although these are important things, especially for the first time collector. And ok, obviously I’m a little biased, but the range of art and artists you can browse from a site like Art2Arts is probably always going to be wider than that you could find locally, especially if you live away from major artistic centres.
The Tate Modern recently launched a new exhibition of Gerhard Richter’s work, which will run until January. Richter’s abstracts are some of my favourite paintings, and I’m really excited to be able to go and see some of his work in person. The exhibitions coincides with the artists’ 80th birthday, and will show paintings spanning nearly 5 decades of artistic practice.
Along with his colorful and textural abstracts, Richter has created work covering a wide range of moods and styles. He really has been a chameleon of the art world, and has successfully challenged the notion that artists need to stick to a singular cohesive style throughout their career.
With his moody black and white portraits, created in the 1960s and 1970s, Richter was one of the pioneers of a particular style of photorealism. Rather than just copying a photograph exactly, his portraits use blurring and distortion to take them to a different level as challenging art pieces. In the 1908s, he created a series of memento mori style works. These are very simple paintings with candles and skulls in a blank room. Realistic rather than photorealistic, they use shadows and soft tones to echo the memento mori paintings of previous centuries, such as those by the artists of the Dutch Golden Age around 1650.
Richter’s textural abstracts began as black, white and greyscale works, and then developed their rich colour over the course of his practice. He creates them by building up the paint in layers with a squeegee, and describes the process as “letting a thing come, rather than creating it.” The paintings have a partuclaur quality of depth and space, and often appear to be semi-abstract landsscapes, evern though they have been painted with no representational source in mind.
Gerhard Richter, Abstract Painting, Lake, 1997 (Source: contemporary-art-blog, via paintworks)
The Tate Modern’s Gerhard Richter exhibition runs until January 8th. Visiting information is at the Tate Modern website.
Autumn has arrived late this year, but I think I’m finally beginning to get a sense of the leaves turning gold, along with a fresh chill in the air. Here’s Art2Arts top picks of autumn-themed art from the site.
Tina Ashton - The Tree of Joy.
Tina Ashton’s Tree of Joy picks up on autumn themes and colours while keeping a fresh and modern style. Heart shapes bring a fashionable focal point to the home interior.
Lovers Stroll in the Woods, by Casimira Mostyn
Lovers Stroll in the Woods - Isn’t this one of the nicest things about autumn? Taking a walk beneath the rust-coloured leaves? Casimira Mostyn’s informal and charming piece will remind you all year round of the relaxing qualities of a nature walk.
Natural Bloom by Caroline Ashwood
Caroline Ashwood’s painting uses autumnal metallics in a way which is both subtle and visually enticing. A bold and attractive floral semi-abstract that’s great for a home or corporate interior.
Dappled Chestnut by Verity Darby
Verity Darby’s Dappled Chestnut focuses on the qualities a single leaf while demonstrating warm autumnal sunlight.
Lonely by Rumen Dragiev
Rumen Dragiev’s painting uses impasto to stunning effect, creating a strong illusion of reflection. Rumen has a talent for capturing the spirit of autumn, and has several visually rich autumnal paintings on his artist’s page. The trees are bold and colourful, and this sophisticated painting makes an ideal statement piece for home or workplace.
London is full of galleries caters in one way or another to pretty much every artistic taste. The big and well-known galleries are great to visit – The Tates Modern and Britain, along with the National Gallery, the V&A and the RWA draw zillions of visitors each year and are really stunning to experience. What if you’ve got a bit longer to explore though, or you’re a London resident looking for something a bit different? Here’s my lowdown of a few smaller, quirkier and slightly lesser-known galleries in the city.
The Soane Museum is where neo-classical architect John Soane used to live, and is now a museum, featuring Soane’s own drawings and models, as well as his extensive, eclectic, and jumbled collection of drawings, paintings, classical statues, and antiquities.
There is actually an Act of Parliament stating that the house must be maintained as closely as possible to it’s condition at the time of Soane’s death. He put the act of parliament in place to ensure that his son, with whom he’d had a long-running feud, would not sell off the artefacts or house (which after several developments and architectural experiments is an artefact in itself.)
The museum is packed with quirky art objects and makes for a fascinating visit.
A engaging insight into graphic art and design and branding over the decades, the museum of Brands features the beginnings of familiar brands such as surf, OXO and Corn Flakes, as well as some you’ll never have heard of. Absolutely packed with packets, a visit to the museum is like walking around a supermarket-cum-time tunnel. It’s just off Portobello Road in London’s Notting Hill, and The Telegraph described it as “a place of worship.”
It’s very worth venturing south of the river for this uber-quirky museum and gallery. This fabulous grouping of artefacts amassed by private collectors Richard and Henry Syer contains more or less the same group of objects that it did over 100 years ago. The collection itself actually represents the result of over 100 years of collecting between 1780 and 1900 by the father and son team. Highlights include a Hawaiian gourd bottle dating from one of Captain Cook’s voyages, along with a 19th century dentist’s hat adorned with real teeth.
Central London’s Foundling Museum is near the site of the now-demolished Foundling Hospital, which from 1739 served as a home for London’s abandoned babies and children. The hospital also happened to be the country’s first public art gallery. The Foundling Museum now houses an excellent art collection along with a museum of artefacts and stories related to the original foundlings, along with a collection of the manuscripts of composer George Frederick Handel, who was a founder and benefactor of the hospital.
On 20th August, over 70 artists from around the world transformed a run-down street in central Bristol into a vibrant outdoor gallery. The majority of the work is permanent street art, so the galley remains in place for Bristol’s visitors and residents to enjoy. It’s called the See No Evil project, it’s based at Nelson street, and its creation involved over 13,400 cans of paint.
Here Bristol’s own Raspberry and Jam walk us through 36 hours in the life of the project.