The Everyday and Extraordinary – An Arts Council Collection National Partners Exhibition at The Towner Gallery, Eastbourne

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Jordan Baseman, Based on Actual Events, 1995, teeth and dental acrylic. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London; © the artist. Gift of Charles Saatchi 2002

A friend and I decided to visit this last week, lured by the introduction of the Gallery’s website:

“The notion of the found object as artistic material, content and subject-matter provides the inspiration for The Everyday and Extraordinary, an exhibition presenting a Wunderkammer of modern and contemporary artworks drawn from the Arts Council Collection. The show brings together a fusion of materials, processes and innovative ideas, celebrating the physicality of objects in this predominantly digital age.

Found objects or ‘objet trouvé’ provide infinite inspiration for artists. When, in 1913, Marcel Duchamp used a found object in his work, he introduced the term ‘ready-made’ to art. Whether modified, presented in a new context or left unchanged found objects have had an enduring impact on artistic practice, with artists appropriating and transforming objects in many ways to communicate particular ideas or concepts. Surrealists used ‘the everyday’ as an invocation of humour and satire whilst Pop Artists directly appropriated items from popular culture. Techniques of the ready-made continue to engage and inspire contemporary artists today.”

We both like to use found objects in our work so thought this exhibition would be right up our street.

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Anya Gallaccio, Preserve (Chateau), 1995. © The artist. Mixed media wall mounted construction. Purchased by the Contemporary Art Society Special Collection Scheme on behalf of the Towner Art Gallery, with funds from the Arts Council Lottery the Friends of the Towner, Eastbourne Borough Council, Towner Contemporary Art Fund Committee and donations.

Anya Gallacio’s installation Preserve (Chateau) shown above in its original form, has been deliberately allowed to rot and is now looking very sad. The frame is somewhat misted up and the flowers have died and are dropping out of the base.  Stated to be a sombre meditation on the passing of time, it consists of 100 red gerberas sandwiched between the wall and a pane of glass. Preserve Beauty was the paradoxical title of a work in which no attempt is made to conserve the wilting flowers.

I liked Mona Haltom’s sculpture + And – but, like many other exhibits, it does not incorporate found objects. A wooden box is filled with sand. Like a clock, it’s two hands rotate.  The serrated hand draws concentric rings in the sand  and these are then obliterated when the smooth hand follows.  There is something soothing about this repetition.

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Tony Cragg, New Stones – Newton’s Tones, 1978, plastic. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist

The above work by Tony Cragg was made in 1978.  This does use the found – hundreds of pieces of plastic.  As a regular beachcomber, I identified with the fact that there is a horrendous amount of such items to be easily found upon our shores and I can only suppose that forty years ago this work was saying something new.  Today I found it too simplistic to be considered a piece of art.

I did like the following exhibits which I photographed together with their notes:

Bill Woodrow - Crow and CarrionBill WoodrowHermione Allsopp - Sidentary ArchiveGareth Griffiths

but, overall, my friend and I both considered the exhibition disappointing.  Too few exhibits featuring the genuinely found and those that did, were not particularly inspiring.  Do let me know what you think!

And finally, we walked along the seafront where we saw two of the five new beach huts installed recently and available to hire.  As art installations, I enjoyed them.  You can read more about them and view the others by following the link above:

Mark Making, Printing and Collage – Part 4

On the last day, I made some more paper collages and then moved on to working with fabric.  Caroline Bartlett was very helpful in experimenting and suggesting a way of using the screens to print images that were looser and more akin to drawing. This was more appealing to me and I returned to my group of chosen objects:

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Working on a screen I used three different tools to draw these and came out with an image which I felt better suited my style of working:

My first screen print of found vessels

I felt that this had possibilities although this version is a little too busy.   I prefer the reverse – as is often the case!

So I will now write up my notes, process my photographs and take a little time to digest all that I have learned, but, in the meantime, a big thank you to Caroline and the rest of the group – many lessons learned by all!

Feeling Bookish II

My last post mentioned a beach find of a mobile phone:

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Found at Church Norton May 2018

When I took the phone apart, I found a lovely rusty circuit board which I found intriguing and knew that I would use it someday.  It  s time has come!

I made tiny pages using papers made on a course “Experimental Batik” with Hetty Van Boechout.  These were just the colours I was looking for to complement the rust and verdigris of the circuit board.  The reverse is formed from another part of the phone.  The finished piece is tiny but beautiful to me!

Is it a painting of an object or a “painting”

I recently attended the last of three “Alumni” days at West Dean College.  There were 13 students all working on their own projects and two tutors were on hand to guide and support us in our work.  My passion is for found objects but I struggle with how to move them on in an artistic way when I consider them to be beautiful in their own right.

A year or so ago, I found a strip of seaworn rubber on the beach:

Seatown - rubber 1 Continue reading “Is it a painting of an object or a “painting””

Candida Stevens Gallery, Chichester

In a word – GO!!  The Candida Stevens Gallery is at 12 Northgate, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1BA (near the roundabout with the fire station) and is open Wednesday – Saturday 10 – 5pm and by appointment until 7th July.  The current exhibition is “Geology of Landscape” showing a range of paintings and Intaglio monoprints by the wonderful Jeremy Gardiner.

You can read more about him on his website but here is an introduction from it: “Jeremy Gardiner’s artistic excavation of the geology of landscape is shaped both by human activity and by the forces of nature. Gardiner interprets, through his painting and printmaking, a variety of landscapes that contain the marks and secrets of their own distant formation, giving them a unique, contemporary depth and beauty. His artistic exploration has taken him from the Jurassic Coast of Dorset to the rugged coast of Cornwall, the Oceanic islands of Brazil, the arid beauty of the island of Milos in Greece and more recently the Lake District and its numerous waterfalls.

Gardiner’s spatially probing and texturally explicit pictures creatively transform the lessons learnt from pioneering modern British landscape painters such as John Tunnard, Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and the American artist Richard Diebenkorn.

Jeremy Gardiner is a graduate of Newcastle University and the Royal College of Art. He exhibits regularly with Paisnel Gallery in St James’s, London. His paintings have been exhibited in Europe, the USA, South America, Japan, Australia and China. He has won numerous awards throughout his career including a Churchill Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a Harkness Fellowship. Gardiner’s paintings are represented in public and corporate collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Government Art Collection, BNP Paribas, Vincent Masons and Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi.”

I have his book “Unfolding Landscape” and “Pillars of Light” should arrive today.  But, the books cannot do justice to his work – you really do need to see the paintings in real life to appreciate the depth and texture in his work.  Here is one of my favourites –

Golden Cap, Dorset by Jeremy Gardiner

“Golden Cap, Dorset, 2007” – acrylic and jesmonite on birch panel.

Those who know me will understand my love of textured paintings and Jeremy’s use of layers built up out of  acrylic and wood relief or acrylic and/or watercolour and Jesmonite on wood panel in sculptural waves and ridges is very exciting.  He often works on wooden panels which are not driftwood but feel as if they might be and if you watch the videos on his website you can see how a blowtorch and a chisel help him create the lovely surfaces.   Recognisable features of the coast are part of a complex unification of shapes and textures and sometimes there are lovely details of buildings amongst the curves and sweeps of landscape.  Here are a couple more examples:

“Against the Light, Trevose Head, Cornwall, 2016” Acrylic and Jesmonite on poplar panel

Image result for jeremy gardiner pendeen sheer cliffs

“Sheer Cliffs, Pendeen Lighthouse, 2011” – acrylic and jesmonite on poplar panel

I understand that Jeremy’s next project will be Sussex so I look forward to seeing his new work in due course – please go and be inspired – prices from £1,750.

All images produced with the kind permission of Jeremy Gardiner.