Exhibitions, inspirations and a head full of bees

My head is buzzing! Not in the annoying tinnitus kind of way but in the full of so many ideas all jostling with each other kind of way that I feel like I am permanently over-caffeinated and can’t follow a single train of thought. The reason behind my rather excited but muddled state is two indulgent weekends spent immersing myself in the talent of others.


A head full of bees (self portrait)

Here are just a few images that I can’t get out of my head.

Marlene Dumas is at Tate Modern (an actual FEMALE painter being featured at Tate Modern and one who is still alive!). I had seen images of this artist’s work but knew little about her. Interested to learn that she doesn’t work from life, rather uses “secondhand images” which she says “can generate first-hand emotions”, I was particularly taken by her compositions, especially how she crops her portraits, and also by the large scale of some of her work. This was one of my favourite paintings on show.


Marlene Dumas  Amy – Blue 2011 photo reference Tate.org.uk

From the wonderful Henry Moore collection at Tate Britain:


Henry Moore, Reclining Woman, 1951

and also at Tate Britain I discovered the fabulous work of Caroline Achaintre who marries ceramics with textiles beautifully.


Caroline Achaintre “Skwash 2014” ceramic

And at Pallant House from the Leon Underwood exhibition. Interesting to see how Underwood’s work inspired Moore’s.


Flux (The Runner), 1924 by Leon Underwood

So you can see how I might be struggling to sleep with all of this floating around in my subconscious at the moment.  Now all I have to do is allocate some time to play and feed this excitement through into my artwork. I can definitely see some figurative 3d work in my near future and maybe some large scale 2d textile paintings. Perhaps a little raunch? Definitely more mixing of media. Buzz, buzz, buzz….

A tale of two Tates

Don’t you just love that rare morning when you wake to the realisation that you have a Saturday ahead of you with nothing planned (or in my case wake in fear of no diversions to take priority over responding to the gentle reminder from the accountant that the end of year has passed and books are now due!).  This morning was such an occasion and after blowing the dust from my Tate membership card and briefly explaining the plan to the dozing husband I set off for the station.

My first stop was Tate Britain’s oasis of calm and the Richard Deacon exhibition.  A big fan of this talented artist, I particularly like how Deacon mixes engineering with nature, combining laminated wood and galvanised steel (and in the case of his 1986 work “The Back of my Hand”, linoleum) to create his large scale, entwining, organic forms.

"Richard Deacon's "After""

Richard Deacon’s “After” (photo reference http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/richard-deacon)

In many the steel is cut and folded over to form the 90 degree joins (there is probably a technical name for this, apologies for my engineering ignorance) much like one would fold paper or fabric over, and rivets/bolts are used both for structural integrity and decoration.  One of the sculptures almost filled an entire room and standing inside its undulating forms felt somehow comforting, almost like receiving a big hug.

The other exhibition at Tate Britain was “Ruin Lust”, which explored how artists are attracted to ruins seeing both a new beauty in their changing form as well as a warning perhaps, that nothing lasts forever.  The exhibition was certainly diverse featuring everything from the drama of John Martin’s “Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum” which itself underwent near ruin from a flood at the Tate in 1928, to atmospheric Turner landscapes, to Laura Oldfield Ford’s gritty depictions of modern day ruin.

My favourite piece of work from this exhibition however has to be Eduard Paolozzi’s “Michelangelo’s ‘David'”.  To me it is a humorous reminder of the fragility of life.

"Michelangelo's 'David' ?1987 by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005"

Eduardo Paolozzi “Michelangelo’s ‘David'” (photo ref https://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/T/T06/T06944_10.jpg)

So, after a thought provoking and inspirational couple of exhibitions and a quick visit to the Tate shop (it would have been rude to leave without a few new books and postcards after all), I set off for Tate Modern and the much publicised Matisse paper cuts exhibition.

Foolishly I hadn’t realised quite how popular the Southbank would be at lunch time on a bank holiday Saturday so the walk took somewhat longer than anticipated due to a few gridlocks caused by queues at vendors and entertainers along route.  However, it gave me a chance to appreciate the view along the way.

"palace of westminster"

Palace of Westminster

In contrast to Tate Britain, Tate Modern was heaving, in particular the Matisse exhibition. I had seen some of his paper cut work when it came to the Winchester Discovery Centre a few years ago but this was a much bigger exhibition.  My favourites are still the Blue Nude series partly due to their perfect composition and partly due to how Matisse has managed to simplify the female form into a few crucial shapes.  Many of the other pictures looked more like studies for pattern design and would not have looked out of place adorning ceramics or fabrics.

My day of two Tates finished with a quick whizz around the Richard Hamilton exhibition.  I think I had probably exhausted my creative concentration by this stage and sadly I didn’t really appreciate most of it.  However it did give me some idea of the huge scope of this influential artist’s work and I did like the experimental way he evolves his ideas creating numerous pieces of work for each (a man after my own heart in this approach!).

So overall a most productive and enjoyable day and as usual I am left inspired and buzzing with ideas and hopefully have the excuse to spend tomorrow with my sketchbooks rather than my spreadsheets.  Long may the diversion tactics continue………

Extending a Life Drawing session

Another great Life Drawing session at Southampton City Art Gallery today, led by the lovely Brian Reynolds and modelled by the energetic and dynamic Pav.  I spent the morning sketching, and still excited by my recent visit to the Kurt Schwitters exhibition at Tate Britain, the afternoon translating my work into collage.  One of the sketches and its inspired collage are shown below.  I think I might get the lino and printing ink out next.  Watch this space…..

"seated male nude"

graphite stick sketch on paper

"paper collage of life drawing"

Paper collage on paper