Jackson Pollock is infamous for his abstract expressionist drip and splatter paintings, which sell for millions to international collectors. This amazing video, filmed all the way back in 1951 ( and in color! – of a sort) is a rare insight into his practical process.
Now that the children are on holiday, a great activity to do during the break is an art gallery visit. Most art galleries nowadays welcome children and have special facilites for them, meaning that a visit is both fun and educational. Here’s my rundown of the best UK art galleries to take the kids to this Christmas break.
The Tate Modern.
A favourite of many adults, this architectural spectacle of a gallery also offers interactive guides specifically for children, along with family trails and children’s art workshops. There’s even a whole website dedicated to art for children at Tate Kids. Every Saturday and Sunday, the gallery hosts “Weekend Sessions“, where kids can play and create with art materials after visiting the related artworks in the free collection displays.
The other Tates, that is, the Britain, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives, aren’t short on children’s activities either. The Tate Britain’s Art Trolley Weekend Sessions are a simliar opportunity for kids to create their own work inspired by the greats, while Tate St Ives’ offers the Hepworth Family Activity Trail, which is only £2 including a sketchbook and simple art materials. The Tate Liverpool has lots of imaginative activities to offer, including the “Journey into Wonderland“, based on Sophie Cullinans’ Wonderland installation. There are a few days left to catch this particular event – the last day being on the 2nd of January.
Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art
For art lovers north of the border, the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art runs a Saturday art club for children aged 3-11, along with story sessions and family art days. The Saturday art club is a drop in session which encourages you to get creative and messy! The sessions are popular, so there may be a short wait to join in.
Another great UK art gallery destination, the Wolverhampton Art Gallery is family-friendly as a whole. Along with drop in workshops and family art trails, the gallery offers a host of useful features such as high chairs, buggy parks, and even Hippychick hip seats, giving you an easy way to carry your little one around as you explore the gallery.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
For my final family-friendly UK gallery pick, I’m featuring Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. With its very fantastically illustrated kids’ website. The museum runs a non-stop calendar of family activities throughout the city, including art and craft workshops taking place every Saturday and Sunday and during school holidays. Visit their main website for more information.
Wishing you a happy and art-filled New Year from me and all at Art2Arts!
Time off over Christmas? I hope so. The time between Christmas and New Year is the ideal chance to get out and about and see a few of the many exhibitions that London’s art galleries have to offer. We’ll start with…
Alex Hartley Clearing, 2011. Constructed mixed media on C-type photograph 90 x 72 x 7 cm 35 3/8 x 28 3/8 x 2 3/4 in
This is an exhibition of Hartley’s large-scale photos with scale-models of architectural structures painstakingly build into the surfaces of the prints. Somewhere between a steam punk inventor, an early 20th Century mustachioed explorer, and a tree-house dwelling earth child, Hartley creates images dystopian architectural pieces – scale models of super-villan hideaways in remode desert landscapes. True to the explorer archetype, Hartely has gone on intrepid expeditions into the high arctic, and the gallery show includes objects and artefacts from his expeditions.
Coca-Cola vase, Ai Weiwei, 1997, Neolithic vase (5000-3000 BC) and paint. Courtesy of André Stockamp & Christopher Tsai collection, Ancram, New York
Ai WeiWei is a conceptual artist who I can really get excited about. He creates pieces that are truly thought-provoking, and does so with a light touch. His works are often almost visual jokes, but in a way which is subtle and doesn’t shout its message. “Dropping the Urn” includes the use of Neolithic and Han Dynasty Ceramics transformed and reinterpreted. For example, the Coca-Cola urn above has been repainted, and the exhibition features an original Han Dynasty figurine contained in a Johnnie Walkey whiskey bottle.
Hokusai’s Great Wave is one of the most recognisable, reproduced and popular images in the whole of international art history. It’s even been reinterpreted as a mural on a house in Camberwell, South London. This exhibition presents a unique opportunity to learn about the history and context behind this iconic piece.
Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), Under the Wave off Kanagawa (detail). Colour woodblock print. Japan, Edo period, c. 1831. Acquired with the assistance of The Art Fund.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition attracts amateur and professional entrants of all ages from around the world. The best entrants are chosen for exhibition, and this is a show that will astound and amaze, and give you a fresh perspective on animals and the natural world. Photographers go to extraordinary lengths to get these images – for “Pester Power”, pictured below, Mateusz Piesiak wrapped his camera in a plastic sack, lay down on his front and dragged himself across the wet sand to get these detailed shots of oystercatchers feeding on Long Island, New York.
The library might not be the first place you think of when you want to see an art exhibition, but the British Library’s latest exhibition is well worth drawing attention to. It’s a chance to see the Library’s collection of illuminated manuscripts – illustration from the medieval period, many of which are in amazing condition and are executed in stunning colour. According to the Library, the manuscripts are
our most vivid source for understanding royal identity, moral and religious beliefs, learning, faith artistic trends and the international politics of the period.
The Shrewsbury Book
British Library, Royal 15 E. vi, ff. 2v
From me and everyone at Art2Arts, have a fabulous festive season and a colourful New Year!
Art2Art’s super-talented Paula Oakley has shares the progress of her painting “Harness and Plough”. These pictures clearly demonstrate how a strong drawing underpins a strong painting. Paula writes:
“Harness and plough”. Acrylic on box canvas. 20″x 16″x 1.5″ This painting was inspired by a day at the Sussex County ploughing contest which was held in my village. I wanted to capture the relationship between the farmer and his beautiful Shire horses. Working from the reference photographs I took, the first step was to draw up the picture using a simple grid.
Next the background is added, at this stage it doesn’t matter about painting over the lines of the main subjects as the acrylic paint will cover any overspill. The sky is a solid opaque coat of blue using a 1/2 ” flat brush but the rest of the work will be painted using size 1 and smaller,( I like Daler Rowney Acryla brushes)
Work can now be started on the horse, the whole area was painted in Paynes Grey (I never use black as it looks dull and lifeless). Highlights are added in thin washes (glazes) of of lighter colours and detail progresses.
Now work on the farmer begins, again the whole area is painted in before adding highlights and shading with built up glazes, although several layers are needed acrylics dry very quickly.
Finally the small detail is added and the foreground completed.
Alice P Jenkins recently completed a pet portrait commission of two lovely Yorkshire terriers. She’s kindly shared with us images of her progress over the days she spent creating the portraits. A great insight into the artistic process.
Lygia Pape’s Magnetized Space is at the Serpentine until 19 February 2012
Pape was a fouding member of the “neo-concrete” movement. Does that mean she incorporated the cement mixer into her installations? Alas no. Neo-concretism was a short-lived movement exisited in Brazil from about 1959-1961. Pape was part of an artists’ group called the Rio group, who founded the idea of neo-concretism as a response to and rebellion against the concretism movement. Did the concretism movement involve cement mixers then, or indeed any kind of construction material? Well, not usually. The 1930 Manifesto of Concrete Art specified concretist work as abstract work taht was purely focused on form itself, free of any assocition wiht either reality or symobilism. Lines, colours and forms were “concrete evidence” on their own.
Here’s an example of a concretist screenprint peice:
Günter Fruhtrunk, Screenprint, Untitled, 1971. Via Wikipedia.
So how exactly does this relate to Lygia Pape, neo-concretism, and this exhibition at the Serpentine. Well, as mentioned, neo-concretism was a reaction to concretism, and Pape’s Rio group sought to work more intuitively and freely, escaping the dogmatic rational constraints of concretistm. They were especially dedicated to the idea that art should be able to be included as a part of everyday life. Let’s have a look at Pape’s work to see what this meant in practice. Both photos below show Pape’s “Book of Time” an installation created between 1961 and 1963. The work certainly has a playful appeal, but still has the abstract, geometric, clean-cut feel of a concretist artwork.
Next up is Pape’s installation Tteia (Web), created recently in 2011. This is a visually beautiful piece where one can clearly appreciate the idea of forms existing for their own sake. At the same time, I can’t label this work as concretist, because the forms so clearly remind me of other things – sunlight filtering through clouds, or shafts of light piercing stained-glass windows for example. It is this, perhaps that illustrates a flaw in pure conrcretism – as much as we may be able to appreciate a form without justification or explanation, it is almost always because we automatically make a link with something else that the form reminds us of.
Drawing the human figure is one of the most coveted skills in art practice, and also one of the most challenging things to master. Maybe this is one of the reasons why figurative art has captured the imagination over the centuries, and remains wildly popular today, amongst both art-world people and those relatively unfamiliar with art history and art theory. Here are a few of my favourites from the Art2Arts’ online gallery.
Sarah by Stephen Quick
“Sarah” by Devonian artist Stephen Quick uses texture, overlay and strong colour contrast to beautiful effect. The bold graphic lines reference Stephen’s usual pop-art style, while the background provides contrast with a softer, distressed style. The hearts accent the composition perfectly.
Now of my threescore years and ten, twenty will not come again. By Julian Rowe
“Now of my threescore years and ten, twenty will not come again” by Julian Rowe shows influence from both pre-Raphaelite and impressionist styles, and conveys a strong sense of longing and nostalgia. The white fluffy tree blossoms are particularly well-rendered with impasto technique.
Racers by Alice P Jenkins
In her piece entitled Racers, Alice P Jenkins uses an acute perspective to excellent effect. This snapshot style painting really captures the energy of the race, the beauty of the horses, and brings to mind Degas’ horse and rider drawings.
Inner Strength by Annabel Thornton
I’m going to have to mention Degas again, as Annabel Thornton’s beautifully simple Inner Strength does bring his ballerinas to mind. A dancer herself, Thornton has a reputation for her talent in capturing the sprit of dance and dancers.