Sputnik,cheese curds and me + a little art.

I was known as Sputnik during my childhood , conceived and delivered in the same year as the first artificial earth satellite named Sputnik.Things could have turned out so very differently. Had my parents lived in Quebec, I could have been called Poutine.

Considered one of Canada’s greatest inventions, it was created in the same year.

It evolved in rural Quebec when a customer regularly asked a chef to add cheese curds to a plate of chips, gravy was added later to keep the whole dish warm.

The chef involved declared “Ça va faire une maudite poutine!” (“It will make a damn mess!”)

It has become the perfect comfort food. Crispy chips, rich meaty gravy and squeaky curd cheese. Textural, gustatory ecstasy for mouths and minds.

I discovered Poutine in Toronto, at a bar overlooking AGO, the Art Gallery of Ontario.

https://ago.ca/

It was a day of great discoveries. AGO was full of wonderful but unheard-of, to me, artists, none of them ever mentioned during a British Fine Art degree. There was something really thrilling about discovering new-to-me contemporary 20th Century Western Art. It was refreshing not to have the opinions of art historians,critics or lecturers already seeded into my head before viewing the works.

There were so many that I loved but this vivid work is the first to come to mind. Beyond the colours it is the certainty of mark making that gives it such impact.

This work is by Rita Letendre one of Canada’s best known living artists, she is 91 as I write this. Known for her bold visceral style, her images are created using many techniques, printing, painting, scraping, bare hands, knives.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Letendre

This one is called The Joy of Living.

I’m not sure I get ‘Joy’ from this image. Energy, powerful passion or excoriating pain are my immediate responses.The work has creative exuberance and I love it but I think I feel joy more calmly. Maybe it was the carb overload at the time of viewing!

After researching her many works I realise that one of my earlier synesthesia images painted to a piece of Jeff Beck music has some of the qualities of a Letendre . ( Who do think I am! )

I will add an image of my painting to this blog at a later date once I’ve contacted the current owner.

So much pleasure and knowledge gained in one day. A good amount of calories too.

Tate Modern is Twenty

Impermanence © Tate Modern

Anya Gallaccio had an installation at her recent exhibition at Tate Modern called Impermanence. A massive pile of oranges were left in the gallery . Viewers were invited to eat an orange, those not eaten would inevitably rot. It makes you think.

Tate Modern has been stimulating the artistic taste buds and making people think for twenty years.
It has become one of Britain’s most visited institutions.
When I did a Fine Art Degree as a mature student, Tate Modern became my 3D immersive text book. So much so that my nine year old daughter spun round the Turbine Hall declaring it was her favourite place in the world. There are some amazing works of art there.

My current favourite installation.
By Yinka Shonibare

The British Library

British Library © Tate Modern

I’ve pondered a lot, on this blog about Tate Modern. Some of them will appear below.

Social Media, a lesson learned

©instagram

Yesterday was the end of my week long ‘shift’ running the Instagram account of an Artist Collective in South West England. Drawn to the Valley is a collaborative support network and promotional organisation based in the Tamar Valley, a beautiful and often overlooked part of Devon and Cornwall. The members of the group work in and are inspired by vastly different landscapes and environments. The maritime port of Plymouth forms the distinctive Southern point of the group’s territory. The point where the River Tamar flows into the Hamoaze, Plymouth Sound and then finally flows into the Atlantic . In keeping with the mythic and folkloric emergence of any river the Northern boundary is less definite. Unromantically I would say somewhere in the post code EX 20. Specifically of course the Tamar arises out of the ground at Woolley Moor, Morewenstow.

©instagram

The area has many significant titles relating to Geography, History and Aesthetics.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Throughout human history the area has been exploited for minerals. It has a unique archaeologicaly significant mining heritage stretching from the Bronze Age to the present time.

European Special Area of Conservation.

Site of Special Scientific Interest

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The last category is represented by the Tamar Valley AONB. Drawn to the Valley has a particularly close association with this organisation

The Makers and Artists in this group are as diverse as the landscape in which they work.

Social Media is a valuable tool in keeping this diverse group of artists aware of what they are doing as individuals or groups but also and perhaps more significantly it is the group’s everyday shout out to the world.

Social Media has been a ‘thing’ for 27 years. It attracts bad press,deservedly, because like everything it is fallible.

But in benign hands for arts organisations it is invaluable. Persuading individual members of this can be a hard sell in any artistic community. As a group we run workshops and support groups to encourage our 160 + members to launch themselves safely and confidently into the Social Media Pond.

Which rather circuitously but hugely importantly brings me to the title of this blog.

I’ve been associated with the Tamar Valley for a large portion of my adult life and have only just learnt that River Tamar is the correct term for the river and area I’m talking about. Whilst #tamarriver is a completely different place in Tasmania.

#rivertamar

©instagram

A quick #tamarriver search on Instagram shows I am not the only person to make this error.

©instagram

There is also another lesson to learn, I fail to remember this one too often.

When operating a social media account on someone elses behalf always log out before waffling on about your own stuff.

Artist of the month.

No need to blog today. I’ve just lifted these two pages from the Drawn To The Valley Artists Newsletter.

It’s been quite a week of chatting at theoldmortuary all of it with other artists from the group Drawn To The Valley. Artists and bloggers live a singularly isolated working life so nattering around a table is a real treat. I think we’ve done some good planning and my Mrs Marvelous natter formed the Meeting Mrs Marvelous blog.
https://theoldmortuary.design/2020/01/27/meeting-mrs-marvellous/

Tomorrow we are all off to a Daffodil Nursery , more arty nattering, sketching and learning. Tomorrow’s blog might well be yellow.

A row of books.

Any row of books has potential.

A row of books that are beautiful, but fakes,  should be disappointing.

Tate Modern bought ‘British Library’ by Yinka Shonibare CBE in 2019.

The installation of 6,328 books is as much a space for contemplation as the Seagram Murals by Rothko in the same building .
https://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/display/in-the-studio/mark-rothko

My response to Rothko is to be peaceful and calm. Shonibares work makes my head fizz. It’s not just the vivid, vibrant colours but the stark utilitarian librariness of it.

3 walls of a gallery are filled with bookshelves. All the books are brightly coloured, covered with Dutch Fabric, a mass produced batik style material from the Netherlands. On the spines in gold leaf are the names of first or second generation migrants to Britain who have made significant contributions to the culture or history of Britain. Some books have the names of people who have opposed migration, this negative group is balanced by the huge number of books that have no names on their spines representing the future when currently unknown migrants will boost and embellish British life in unimaginable ways.
https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/shonibare-the-british-library-t15250

Central to this exhibition is a website where migrants or their descendents can add their stories. These additions can be read on the website.

I took my small granddaughter, also a migrant, to this exhibition before she was one. Already a lover of colourful books I plan to take her regularly until she can add her story.
https://thebritishlibraryinstallation.com/about/

The Guardian ran an article about Yinka Shonibare last week.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/jan/13/yinka-shonibare-london-nigeria-african-renaissance