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
I’ve pondered a lot, on this blog about Tate Modern. Some of them will appear below.
This is a lovely historic, Victorian, example of a “bossy” sign. It’s in Great Guildford Street, Southwark, London. I walked past it every day on my way to do Jury Service at Southwark Crown Court, which was a little ironic. No high tech crimes for me to struggle with. Just Ruffians, Pickpockets and Wankers. Exactly the sort of people this sign sets out to deter.
Bubble, friends, terrorists and artists.
“Bubble” spoken or shouted in a broad, loud, East London/Essex accent.
Bubble and Squeak is a staple of our festive season. It was always part of our childhoods, made as a way of using up Christmas leftovers. Our abiding love of “Bubble” currently involves an early festive meeting in London, with friends. “Bubble” happens regularly at Maria’s Cafe in Borough Market. We’ve settled very happily into an annual December breakfast at Maria’s after searching for Christmas breakfast perfection high up in London’s Skyscrapers with extravagant prices for many years. Height does not necessarily dictate breakfast good quality or satisfaction. Closer to the ground, and reality, Maria’s has become our regular pre Christmas breakfast haunt, they do the best breakfast we’ve ever had in the area. Any breakfast comestible with their bubble and squeak is festive perfection on a plate.
Fortified by calories, laughter and cups of tea we set off to sample, taste and shop.
Coffee from Monmouth is always enjoyed with a chocolate truffle, we drink our coffee and nibble our truffles, overlooked by the Market Porter. A flat-capped sturdy chap depicted in Street Art painted on the wall of The Market.
Illustrations by Josie Jammet https://www.designfather.com/illustrations-by-josie-jammet/
Art at Borough is not only about the working life of the market.
London Bridge and Borough Market have been the location of two seperate terrorist attacks. The second only weeks a go. The first in June 2017 has been commemorated by a mural by James Cochran or Jimmy C. on a railway arch in Stoney Street, part of the perimeter of the market. Jimmy’s work is a joyous multicoloured commemoration of the lives lost and the lives forever marked by the event. It also reflects the vivid and resilliant nature of London which will rise above the harm and wickedness of terror attacks. A series of hearts float like bubbles on a background of blue. The code 44A is the identification number of the railway arch.
Following this sad but resilient image, this blog about bubble shifts location from Borough Market and heads for home.
Bubble is a traditional left-overs treat in our house. Formed from the remains of the Christmas day roast it has a domestic ritual of its own.
Bubble is prepared during the evening after the big roast has been served. Portions of bubble rest in the fridge overnight, awaiting frying in butter the next morning.
Reminiscent of Jimmy C’s bubble-like hearts on the Borough Memorial a heart shaped knob of butter softens in the pan.
An edible landscape of buttery fjords and pillowy potato mounds form in the pan.
Once the outer surfaces are crispy, dark and caramelised it’s time to serve up the bubble and share.
Bubble, 💕 on a plate.
Suburban Winter Solstice
Waking up on the morning after the shortest day is always a little bit perkier than waking up on the shortest day. We could have bust a gut to be at Glastonbury but the reality is that the solstice has been happening here in Gipsy Hill just as long as it has been just north of the A303.
This area of London was countryside until 1856 when the railway station opened. The abstract photograph above is of the sky above the council estate which was built on the original coal yard and sidings for steam trains. They brought prosperity to the area and crowds to the nearby Crystal Palace. The posh houses that were built on this part of Alexandra Drive would have been directly in line of the steam and soot of shunting steam trains starting and ending their working days. The corrosive effect explains why some of them have been rendered.
As a sideline Alexandra Drive was named for Princess Alexandra, the long suffering wife of Edward The Caresser. Edward VII, 10 years on the throne, a lifetime of sexual incontinence.
Before the railways not much is written about this location. Part of the Great North Wood, this particular area is where Gipsies lived and worked. Samuel Pepys mentions in his diary that his wife, Elizabeth came here to visit them.
Another sideline, Samuel also suffered from sexual incontinence and married Elizabeth when she was 14.
Street Art on The Paxton
There was a plague pit in the triangular park opposite the Paxton pub at the bottom of Gipsy Hill, also the location, occasionally of contemporary short-term Gipsy encampments.
Post Victorian development of Gipsy Hill has expanded as a South London suburb. It was substantially bombed during WW2 and had a nuclear bunker built in the Cold War.
Most importantly, Gipsy Hill has Fanny, the Gipsy Hill Cat. Often on duty at the train station and always available on her Twitter account. Fanny unites this suburb with her cuddles and affection on Platform 1.
Residents crowd funded when she had a mishap. The Friends of Gipsy Hill are building her a workplace garden. She also has a loving home and family when not on-duty.
Today she is the face of Suburban Solstice.
Last sideline, Fanny keeps herself nice.
Detail from etched stained glass at The Bulls Head, Barnes.
Some days you get more time than is truly necessary for the task in hand. A trip to Barnes for a classical concert with some additional unexpected hours gave us time to explore the town and it’s excellent charity and coffee shops.The Thames shapes this northeast portion of the London Borough of Richmond- on- Thames. The Thames was our first destination. We were both gig rowers so we love a bit of paddle action. On a Sunday this portion of the river is busy with rowers, the boats seem impossibly flimsy compared to a sea- faring gig and the speeds impressive. The promenade alongside the river is raised up to give pedestrians a good view of the rowing. Crowds on this bank are a familiar sight on Boat Race Day. We walked for as long as the weather was good and then took shelter in The Bulls Head. I’ve wanted to visit this significant Jazz venue for a very long while. My dad loved Jazz, his desire to visit the jazz venues of his dreams and experience live jazz was thwarted, probably, by my arrival when he was only 27 and then by the realities of life. For a while when I was his adult child we shared some jazz experiences and since his death I’ve continued to, occasionally, dip into Jazz. I don’t give it enough attention, every time I do I realise what I’m missing. The Bulls Head is a fabulous building for music, two Barnesian musicians have rooms named after them, Holst and Bolan. Not surprisingly the background music is brilliant, as was the food. Proper live Jazz in the back room will have to wait for another day. We were destined for a classical afternoon at St Michael and All Angels Church.
Barnes Concert Band gave a performance of Dixieland Jazz, ( so we did get some live jazz) Klezmer, classics and theme tunes. Over an hour of intriguing and different music played in a beautiful church with great acoustics was followed by an excellent afternoon tea also provided by the band.
theoldmortuary was there being supportive and proud of a brother and brother-in-law. He is the bands musical director. It was a really fabulous performance.
Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead uses shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect. The term is also applied to art that is based on an object, figure or landscape where forms have been simplified or schematised.
Synesthesia is a condition where one sense ( for example hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses. The word synesthesia comes from two Greek words syn ( together) and aisthesia ( perception) meaning joined perception.
My abstracts are mostly landscape inspired. Rooted very much in a particular place but also informed by the history and geography of the place. In some respects they are also created with reference to my synesthesia. Whilst creating art I often listen to music, sometimes deliberately chosen , other times just random. I often choose not to allow synesthesia in and listen to spoken word radio. A painting created with Joy Division as background music would be subtly different if it were created while listening to Benjamin Britten. These things are hugely important to me but joyously insignificant to everyone else.
It’s important to me to know where a painting comes from once I’ve committed it to canvas or panel. Naming it is obviously a start, but that has never quite satisfied me. Owners of my works often read something quite different into them , sometimes I share the geographical location or the synesthesic source, but they are of course, free to interpret the art on their walls however they see fit. However for me there has always been a tethering that I couldn’t quite catch, something that satisfied my need for a location but that didn’t dictate too much to the final work . I’ve recently discovered ‘what3words’ It is a location system that is simple and accurate to a 3m x 3m square anywhere in the world.
Retrospectively I’ve started giving my pictures a ‘ what3words’ tethering.
Beast From The East.
From the title anyone can roughly work out the timing of this painting. It is an amalgam of a few wintry walks in the village of Forder near Saltash in Cornwall.
The walk takes you along a creek into Churchtown Farm Nature reserve. Most days I stopped at the same spot to contemplate the cold . What is never obvious is that this was painted when I was personally very chilly as our central heating boiler broke down and we were without heat during this period. However I can perfectly express where I was standing when the inspiration for this picture formed using what3words.
Breathing. Frowns. Index. Curiously appropriate words , I’m sure this won’t always be the case.
Coincidentally I’ve discovered a whole new story for the next work that I was going to tether, I was doing a little research about the pillow in this picture, prior to giving it its ‘what3words’ location. As it turns out there is a whole new story which deserves a blog all to itself. Here it is at Tate Modern as part of the Pillowtalk Exhibition, with my lovely daughter.
Here is its estimated ‘what3words’ location while at Tate Modern.Loaded.Tiger. Salon.
The story of this pillows journeys and my experiments with what3words will be the next blog.
A lot has happened in the last 6 months. A sentence that explains and excuses the hiatus in my blogging. The thing I have been able to stick with, in that time, is my lessons in the dark-art of water colour painting. Apart from holiday dabbling there have been forty years between my serious attempts at watercolour. In those years there has been sculpture, pottery, land art, oils, acrylics, palimpsest and collage.
Fish from Plymouth’s historic market. http://www.plymouthmarket.co.uk unfinished
Inevitably, I’ve had to buy some supplies and this is where the preposterous comes in because , with only six months experience,I’m going to review the products I’ve been using. I’m a bit of an abuser of watercolours, I do have brushes and I’m desperate to learn all the traditional watercolour techniques but I also apply the paints with all sorts of non- standard devices including twigs, feathers, sticks, sponges and fingers.I have a fabulous teacher in Shari Hills and my fellow students have years of painting experience. My ears stretch in all directions to gather the wisdom they casually drop while creating mistresspieces, masterpieces and vicarpieces ( an extraordinary number of watercolourists have God’s number on speed dial )
My suppliers are mostly independents. The one exception to that is a brand that bombards me on Facebook.
My products of choice are Isaro Watercolours. Handmade in Belgium by Isabelle Roeloffs a colourwoman with generations of experience. Her story can be found on the Isaro link above. I buy them direct from her or from Jackson’s art supplies.
Dr PH Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art liquid watercolour. I can order these at Plymouth’s fabulous art supplier The Artside or from Jackson’s on-line or their own site, link above.
The last of my trio is Arteza watercolour pens, bought direct from Arteza via Facebook.
Any papers, sketchbooks, putty rubbers etc come from The Artside. They also provide a great printing service.
Let’s start with the actual watercolours by Isaro. I love these paints, partly I admit, because of the romance of their production but also because they perform beautifully when used traditionally. What blows me away is that they are robust enough to use with unusual applications. Let’s not pretend these are as tough as acrylics but they go from subtle to vivid with ease . Wet on wet can be magical especially with unusual colour pairings.They respond superbly to the watercolourists guilty secrets, cling film and bubble wrap. The special effects can be subtle and vivid within millimetres of one another.
Talking VIVID as we were moments ago Dr P H Martins Hydrus watercolour is the go-to for pop and glaze. I loved the effects I got with it when I painted the views of the walk home from a hard nights on-call at BartsHeartCentre.
After On-call https://www.bartshealth.nhs.uk/cardiovascular
I use Dr PH Martin’s when I’m a bit timid about saving a painting when it is heading in the muddy direction. A quick layer of Hydrus can make a painting sing, and get me back on track.
MUDDY leads me nicely to the woe that is the lot of a novice watercolourist . Watercolours can go from manageable to mud in an instant. I’ve found that when I hit the mud zone a quick swap to the Arteza Watercolour Pens can resolve the problem. Not every time, of course, muddy can quickly slip into a quagmire and for those occasions only a bin will do. I have not yet used them exclusively for a painting
Fabulous paints are one part of the story, skill and technique are the things that need to be honed now. I’ve had some lucky breaks but fruits that look like a fanny and a sheep that could be a rockstar are moments to reflect on. Loose is the word most often bandied about in watercolour classes. By taking a slightly mixed format approach I think I would use the word serendipity alongside the ‘L’ word. I love to watch these slightly different watercolour formats jostle with each other on the paper. Sometimes they do half the creative work for me.
Figs from Plymouth’s historic market http://www.plymouthmarket.co.uk/
Rockstar sheep https://greyface-dartmoor.org.uk/
And finally an old school friend , Fred, we knew each other years ago when I was first taking tentative steps into watercolours. Social media keeps us in touch, I painted this from a photo on his Facebook page, this portrait is the first I have attempted since my delayed return to the medium. this was painted just using Isaro watercolour in Sepia.
As someone who has spent their entire adult life actually being drawn to the Valley and then drawn to London, on repeat, and loving both equally, this was always going to be a ‘ not to be missed’ exhibition. The Valley in question is the Tamar Valley, the natural border between Devon and Cornwall. Beautiful, spectacular and largely undiscovered this vivid corner of England is home and sometimes muse to a vibrant gathering of artists. Some of whom belong to the collaborative group Drawn To The Valley.
The group has over 160 members, thirty-five of the artists have brought their work to Pall Mall.
The exhibition which runs from 22-27th October at The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery is an eclectic mix of art, some very representational of the area from which the group hails and some inspired by world travels or fantastic imaginations. This exhibition has something for everyone. West Country expats will love seeing familiar landscapes rendered in so many different ways, while those who are quite unfamiliar with the area will be exposed to its charms by the skill of artists who really love the place they call home. Not all the art here is representational, there are some amazing abstracts and 3D pieces. London and other world locations have also inspired this talented group of artists. Some pieces are pure creativity and inspiration.
Invigilators or gallery assistants can be a huge part of setting the tone of an exhibition. It’s not an easy job to gauge how much interaction gallery visitors want. Drawn to London benefits from having the artists themselves as invigilators. During my visit everyone was warmly welcomed and conversation about the art flowed freely and enthusiastically.
The ‘Hang’ at this exhibition, which covers three floors, is whimsical. Not unlike the Royal Academy Summer Show. Works that look good together, hang together. Maybe this style is not for everyone but I think it adds to the really happy feel of this exhibition.
I hope I can get back for another mooch around, I can’t recommend this refreshing exhibition too highly. If you have a blank wall there is almost certainly something here that would fill it nicely.
www.saatchiart.com for Marianne Sturtridge
www.callingtonartschool.com for Tessa Sulston
I’ve never really known the correct term for the incidental art created by street posters, graffiti and general wear and tear. Some years ago I settled on Palimpsest, this article in the Guardian has made me question my decision but I can’t really find a word that works any better.
Cultural and creative vibrancy can be measured by these serendipitous spaces.
Not all owners or administrators of walls are fans.
Palimpsest fascinates me , even the corporate version on traditional , paper and paste, advertising billboards are a rich source of serendipitous art if you can catch them on the day old posters are ripped off . The current trend to advertise gigs with notices, cable-tied to street furniture gets around the Bill Sticker haters but removes a layer of lovely colour and text that could be adding to palimpsest.
Occasionally I use the technique to create my own art.
Sometimes the most intriguing stuff can be found down alleyways. Hunting it out can require a strong stomach as these places also gather the excrescences, of a vivid and active night life.
London gives great palimpsest. The images below were collected on a walk from my hairdresser to a favourite coffee shop, half an hour max. My phone is full of palimpsest images from all over the world, some of it from teeny tiny places and sometimes in locations that are unexpected.
Hunt street palimpsest out; you will be rewarded.
” Dull places have immaculate walls”
A little over a year ago I crossed this bridge physically and metaphorically. After a 42 year career in the NHS I left to embark on an artistic and creative phase of my life. Straight ahead, in this picture, is St Paul’s Cathedral and behind that BartsHeartCentre. This bridge was part of my route home after a days work or an on call shift at Barts. The views from this bridge are wonderful, restorative and uplifting. Sometimes they needed to be.
One year on is a good time to reflect. Leaving a career I had nurtured for 42 years was a hard decision, but it had become an uncomfortable fit that I was no longer prepared to compromise my creative drive for. I had painted and created as relaxation since leaving school and even with limited time had had some success exhibiting and selling work. I studied part-time for a degree in Fine Art, fitting in five years of study with raising a family and building a career.
Having crossed the bridge forever, deliberately giving up my professional registration, the way forward was art rather than arteries and creativity rather than cardiac arrests.
The first thing I noticed was the incredible amount of headspace that appears when you no longer work 40 hour weeks. It took a little longer to feel fitter and younger. What surprised me was that limitless time to be creative doesn’t actually make for super creativity . It doesn’t actually get any easier to render an image onto a canvas , there is more time to make mistakes and prevaricate and definitely more time to tidy the studio or buy materials. Mistakes are the big thing, I love them now, previously they were mind numbing irritants, coming between me and my next great composition . Paint on canvas might not, in the past, have occurred again for weeks but now that’s not the case. So mistakes are my new big thing, new materials, quirky pairings ( Concrete and silk is my current vibe) Realising I couldn’t just flit about making extravagant mistakes I built some pressures into life. I’ve been learning the writing style to create useful art/cultural event reviews, 600 words, for publication. I’ve also learnt to utilise social media to publicise gallery and other art related events.
In many ways this brings my year of crossing the bridge to a conclusion. Unexpectedly a small piece of my work was included in a TateLates exhibition. Ironically it was a piece created when the pressures of my previous life on the north bank of the Thames were very great. Who knows where the mistakes, headspace and time will lead me.