Jane Austen’s Portraits

The Mysterious Miss Austen, The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street
Winchester, until 24th July, 2017

Jane Austen by James Andrews, watercolour, 1869
(c) Private collection, courtesy of the 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop, Stevenson, Maryland.

I had of course known about Jane Austen for many years but had not actually read one of her novels until I was in my early twenties and found out what an absolute delight they are. I knew something of her life (I just passed where she stayed in Covent Garden’s Henrietta Street this morning) but it was a real delight to come and see this exhibition which marks the two hundredth anniversary of her death and which not only brings together five portraits of her under the same roof for the first time, but includes letters, items of clothing and a manuscript alternative ending to her final novel Persuasion, which was not used in the end. There are also items from both an English and an American private collection which bring the story up-to-date and the rather fine ceramic vase Jane Austen in E 17 by Grayson Perry has been loaned as well.

Installation view:
Jane Austen Pelisse coat

I found it unexpectedly moving and although as the exhibition’s title suggests she does remain somewhat mysterious I felt I had at least encountered her. It was therefore wholly appropriate to pay my respects as I bowed my head to read the inscription on the tablet set into the floor of the north aisle in nearby Winchester Cathedral, commemorating her life and burial there.

Jane Austen ledgerstone – Winchester Cathedral by John Crook

https://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/the-gallery-at-winchester-discovery-centre

Installation View:
Jane Austen portraits display

Stories Unfold!

Every Object Tells a Story, 5 Cromwell Place, London SW7, until 5th July 2017

Installation view
(photo credit: Exhibition Design and Photograph by Charles Marsden-Smedley)

In May 2015 I shared with you the eponymous exhibition Oliver Hoare held at 33 Fitzroy Square, London W1 (Curiosities, 12 May 2015).  This new edition in the former studio of Sir John Lavery RA is even larger, beautifully displayed and crammed with some four hundred intriguing objects which you just do want to learn more about. There is a wonderful catalogue to help achieve that.

Installation view
(photo credit: Exhibition Design and Photograph by Charles Marsden-Smedley)

I shall let Oliver Hoare sum it up: “What is assembled here might look like a modern ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, an assemblage of the exotic and curious from the four quarters of the world. There is an intention behind it, however, that goes beyond presenting a wide variety of curiosities. We are today linked up to all those four quarters, and while a huge amount of information is available to us, unlike to those who awaited the ships in the ports of Amsterdam, Genoa, Lisbon, London, Marseille, Seville or Venice, the horizon of what interests us seems to have shrunk. The art market is an interesting barometer of this shrinkage. The point is, therefore, that we can connect with the whole world on a more profound level than can be gained from package touring, through the possession of, and study of even the most modest objects of different cultures. The purpose of collecting, as Molière might have put it, should not be limited to becoming rich through the investment in one’s purchases, but to become enriched through the intelligent possession of what one has acquired.”

 

Installation view
(photo credit: Exhibition Design and Photograph by Charles Marsden-Smedley)

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm
(Closed on Mondays (except by appointment))

www.everyobjecttellsastory.com

Two at Tate Modern

I am most grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about these two exhibitions on my behalf.

 

Wolfgang Tillmans 2017, Tate Modern, Level 3, Boiler House & Tanks Studio, until 11th June 2017

Wolfgang Tillmans
Collum 2011
© Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans (1968 – ) is one of the most exciting and innovative artists working today and this exhibition concentrates on his production across different media since 2003.

As well as some startling photography including landscapes, portraiture and still lives there is even a Playback Room where you may sit and enjoy music and another room where you can view the video installation Instrument 2015 which shows Tillmans dancing to a soundtrack made by manipulating the sound of his own footsteps, while in the Tanks Studio his slide projection Book for Architects 2014 is being shown for the first time in the UK.

Wolfgang Tillmans
Iguazu 2010
© Wolfgang Tillmans

A disparate and interesting show but a word of warning – don’t take your maiden aunt to see it!

 

 

Alberto Giacometti, Tate Modern, Eyal Ofer Galleries, until 10th September 2017

Alberto Giacometti
Woman of Venice V
1956
Painted plaster
113.5 x 14.5 x 31.8 cm
Collection Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris
© Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017


This is the first retrospective of Giacometti (1901 – 1966) for twenty years and takes us on a journey from his early more conventional works to his renowned elongated figures.  In the first room you are confronted by a very large group of conventionally sculpted faces staring at you which gently leads you on to the more recognisable Giacometti style.

It brings together over 250 works and includes plasters and drawings and a large number of these fragile plaster works which rarely travel are being shown for the first time in this exhibition including Giacometti’s celebrated Women of Venice 1956. Created for the Venice Biennale, this group of important works are brought together for the first time since their creation.

Alberto Giacometti
Woman with her Throat Cut
1932
Bronze (cast 1949)
22 x 75 x 58 cm
National Galleries of Scotland
© Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017

This exhibition reasserts Giacometti’s place alongside the likes of Matisse, Picasso and Degas as one of the great painter-sculptors of the 20th century and the exhibition is a great celebration of a unique vision.

 

 

 

http://www.tate.org.uk

Selected Works from the Sina Jina Collection

When the Heavens Meet the Earth – Selected Works from the Sina Jina Collection, The Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge, until 21st May 2017

Installation image, When the Heavens Meet the Earth, 2017,
courtesy the artists and The Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge, photo Perry Hastings

Downing College alumnus Robert Devereux is a well-known figure in the world of contemporary visual arts and in 2010 he disposed of works from his collection of post-war British art to help set-up The African Arts Trust (TAAT).  This is a body which helps to fund organisations which help create opportunities for artists in Africa – a continent that Devereux loves and feels a connection with.

Installation image, When the Heavens Meet the Earth, 2017,
courtesy the artists and The Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge, photo Perry Hastings

He sums up his approach to collecting saying: ‘I have always bought what I loved and have always been led by what emotionally and visually stimulates me… I am uncomfortable with the notion of being a collector although that is probably what I am… It brings with it unattractive connotations of ownership, hoarding and possession. I like to think that my principal reason for buying has always been to support artists and, in some cases, gallerists.’

Aida Muluneh,
No. 7 from the 99 series, 2013,
Digital photograph, 100 x 100 cm,
copyright the artist, courtesy The Heong Gallery.

Opening Hours: Wednesdays 12pm-8pm · Fridays 12pm-5pm · Saturdays 10am-6pm · Sundays 12pm-5pm

www.heonggallery.com

A Gallery Selection!

Anya GallaccioBeautiful Minds, Thomas Dane Gallery, 3 Duke Street, St James’s, SW1, until 25th March 2017

Installation view, Anya Gallaccio, Beautiful Minds, 2015 -2017.
Thomas Dane Gallery, London, 2017. Photo: Todd White Art Photography

Paisley-born artist Anya Gallaccio follows in the gallery’s tradition for large-scale works in this space as the whole gallery space is given over to a giant 3D clay printer which will for the course of the exhibition be printing a scaled effigy of the monolithic Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.  It is an interesting exercise because slip clay is not a reliable material and it is that which factors into the artist’s creative process for this fascinating project.

 

http://www.thomasdanegallery.com/

Printing times: 1-3pm, Tuesday to Saturday (subject to change)

 

Kazuo Shiraga, Lévy Gorvy, 22 Old Bond Street, London W1, until 25th March 2017

Installation view of Kazuo Shiraga
Courtesy of Lévy Gorvy

It is quite surprising that this is the Japanese artist’s first London solo exhibition for a decade. Shiraga (1924-2008) was a founder member of the avant-garde group Gutai and was well known for his method of foot painting while suspended from the ceiling and using his feet to spread the paint across the canvas to create the powerful abstract images.  The works on show are chiefly from the early 60s; a period when he was attaining international interest.

http://www.levygorvy.com

 

Tim Noble and Sue Webster – STICKS WITH DICKS AND SLITS, Blain|Southern, 4 Hanover Square, London W1, until 25th March 2017

Installation view, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, STICKS WITH DICKS AND SLITS, 2017,
Courtesy the artists and Blain|Southern, Photo: Peter Mallet

For their third exhibition at the gallery Tim Noble and Sue Webster have produced a completely new body of work with a series of giant self-portraits created in twisted bronze.

Normally the artists react to their everyday urban environment but this time the electrical wire maquettes for these works were started while they had a residency on the island of St Bart’s. The sculptures depiction of their naked forms reflect their artistic personae and do so in a direct, possibly to some, challenging way.

 

http://www.blainsouthern.com

 

Shinkichi Tajiri, The Mayor Gallery, 21 Cork Street, (1st Floor), London W1, until 31st March 2017

Installation shot from Shinkichi Tajiri,
Courtesy of The Mayor Gallery.

Shinkichi Tajiri (1923 – 2009) was born in the USA the child of immigrant Japanese parents.  Following Pearl Harbour the war saw him and his family in an internment camp and to escape this he enlisted in the American Army’s all-Japanese regiment.  The horrors of war that he experienced are reflected in the violence tinged with eroticism that are a feature of his pieces. The works on view date from between 1955 and 1963.

http://www.mayorgallery.com

 

Matt Stokes:Dead Sea Deaf Sea‘, Workplace London, 61 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1, until 1st April 2017

Installation view: Matt Stokes: Dead Sea Deaf Sea – Workplace London,
Courtesy of the artist and Workplace, UK

This is Matt Stokes’s first solo exhibition at the London gallery and it is a very thought-provoking one for by looking at HMS Standard, the WWII psychiatric rehabilitation camp and at both its main purpose – to heal and help – and the less obvious one – to deal with malingerers trying to avoid active service – the viewer is confronted by their own ‘fragility’ and the socio-political influences on our daily lives.

 

http://www.workplacegallery.co.uk/

(Open Thursday – Friday 10 am – 5pm, and by appointment)

 

Some French Art in London

CLAUDE & FRANÇOIS-XAVIER LALANNE, Ben Brown Fine Arts.12 Brook’s Mews, London W1, until  26th JANUARY 2017

 

Moutons by François-Xavier Lalanne in a set conceived by Manfredi della Gherardesca Photo: Tom Cartier. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts 2016

Moutons by François-Xavier Lalanne in a set conceived by Manfredi della Gherardesca
Photo: Tom Cartier. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts 2016

This is a hugely enjoyable exhibition celebrating the creative talents of Claude and the late François-Xavier Lalanne.  Their distinctive style explores the natural world through sculpture and one can easily understand why their work features in the collections and homes of Peter Marino, Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, François Pinault, Bernard Arnault and of course the late Yves Saint Laurent.

Installation view - Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne in a set conceived by Manfredi della Gherardesca Photo: Tom Cartier. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts 2016

Installation view – Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne in a set conceived by Manfredi della Gherardesca
Photo: Tom Cartier. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts 2016

www.benbrownfinearts.com

 

 

 

Fabienne Verdier: Rhythms and Reflections, Waddington Custot, 11 Cork Street, London W1 until 4th February 2017

Fabienne Verdier at work on the Walking Paintings series courtesy Waddington Custot

Fabienne Verdier at work on the Walking Paintings series
courtesy Waddington Custot

I must say I do wonder why this is Fabienne Verdier’s first UK solo show as her mixture of Eastern and Western artistic traditions are remarkable.  The exhibition features some thirteen new works from her Walking Paintings series and Rhythms and Reflections. This latter group reflect her period as artist-in-residence at New York’s Juilliard School in 2014 and show how music and art can be combined.  As the image suggests her working process is highly physical.

Fabienne Verdier, Ressac II, 2016, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 226 x 150 cm, courtesy Waddington Custot

Fabienne Verdier, Ressac II, 2016,
Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 226 x 150 cm,
courtesy Waddington Custot

www.waddingtoncustot.com

A Cautionary Tale

Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London SE 10, until 17th April 2017

'Emma as La Penserosa', 1791-92 by Sir Thomas Lawrence ® The Abercorn Heirloom Settlement Trustees; Bryan F. Rutledge B.A.

‘Emma as La Penserosa’, 1791-92 by Sir Thomas Lawrence
® The Abercorn Heirloom Settlement Trustees; Bryan F. Rutledge B.A.

This is an exhibition that has exceeded my expectations and one I had been looking forward to since I learnt of it.

It is I think very much a story of a beautiful young woman that has resonance today – a tale of humble beginnings, of becoming a “celebrity” but ending in disillusionment and obscurity.

Berlin service: Teapot depicting Emma Hamilton ® National Maritime Museum, London. From the Clive Richards Collection

Berlin service: Teapot depicting Emma Hamilton
® National Maritime Museum, London. From the Clive Richards Collection

Born in Cheshire in 1765, daughter of a struggling blacksmith Emma came to London in her thirteenth year and became part of the Covent Garden world which mixed high society with the sexual underworld. Aged sixteen she became the mistress of Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh and as readers of my blog ‘Unravelling Uppark’ (06/06/14) will know Emma danced naked on the dining room table there to entertain his friends. However when she fell pregnant Fetherstonhaugh chucked her out and she returned to Cheshire and gave birth to a daughter.

'Emma dancing the tarantella' c.1791 by William Lock ® The Jean Kislak Collection

‘Emma dancing the tarantella’ c.1791 by William Lock
® The Jean Kislak Collection

Fortunately she had made the acquaintance of Charles Greville, a son of the Earl of Warwick, and he took her under his wing, installing her in his house just off the Edgware Road in London, an area more rural then than it is today. It was there that Greville introduced her to the painter George Romney.  She was, as the wonderful paintings shown in the exhibition amply prove, a perfect Muse for the artist.

Emma as Circe, 1782, by George Romney ® The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Emma as Circe, 1782, by George Romney
® The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

She also met Greville’s uncle Sir William Hamilton and it was on to him that Greville passed Emma when he tired of her by sending her to Naples where Hamilton was British envoy. Naples was a major stopping-off place on the Grand Tour and thanks to Hamilton’s patient teaching and her own talent she created her famous “Attitudes” which brought scenes from paintings and sculpture to life. She achieved even more of a celebrity status which was crowned when Hamilton married her in 1791.

Gold and micro-mosaic necklace belonging to Emma ® National Maritime Museum, London

Gold and micro-mosaic necklace belonging to Emma
® National Maritime Museum, London

Her new position as an envoy’s wife meant that she had to play a political role too and in this Emma was fortunate that the Neapolitan King’s wife Maria Carolina, a sister of Marie Antoinette, liked her and made a confidante of her.

Horatio Nelson, 1758 -1805, Vice Admiral of the White by Johann Heinrich Schmidt ® National Maritime Museum, London

Horatio Nelson, 1758 -1805, Vice Admiral of the White by Johann Heinrich Schmidt
® National Maritime Museum, London

However in 1798 the arrival of Admiral Nelson, following his victory at the Battle of the Nile, was the beginning of what would be one of the great love affairs of history.  It was one fraught with dangers as her infidelity rocked society and it was not helped by Emma’s giving birth to Nelson’s child whom they named Horatia.

Emma, Lady Hamilton, 1761 - 1815 by Johann Heinrich Schmidt ® National Maritime Museum, London

Emma, Lady Hamilton, 1761 – 1815 by Johann Heinrich Schmidt
® National Maritime Museum, London

They acquired a house at Merton in Surrey and set up home their but because of Nelson’s naval duties he was frequently away.  His death at the Battle of Trafalgar 21st October 1805 brought it all crashing down. Life became difficult in every way and her attempts to maintain her lifestyle and position led to her being imprisoned for debt in 1813 in the King’s Bench Prison.  Thanks to funds being provided she was released but had to flee to Calais to escape her creditors and it was there in January 1815 she died after months of illness in the same poverty as she had been born.

Gold 'fede' or betrothal ring, one of a pair exchanged by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Emma ® National Maritime Museum, London

Gold ‘fede’ or betrothal ring, one of a pair exchanged by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Emma
® National Maritime Museum, London

This somewhat salutary tale is beautifully told through pictures, objects, jewellery, furniture, prints, costumes and personal letters.  It really does give a wonderful insight into her life and times and explains why she remains so beguiling a figure. She is one of those people from history you would really want to meet!

'View of Merton House showing Lady Hamilton and Horatia in the grounds' ® National Maritime Museum, London

‘View of Merton House showing Lady Hamilton and Horatia in the grounds’
® National Maritime Museum, London

 

http://www.rmg.co.uk/emmahamilton