OUT & ABOUT: Blain|Southern

Bernar Venet at Cliveden
©Courtesy the Artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Jonty Wilde

If you did not catch Benar Venet’s first solo exhibition in London since 1976 at Blain|Southern recently then you have an opportunity to see his works in the grounds of Cliveden, Buckinghamshire. Regarded by many as the foremost living French sculptor, ten large-scale works await discovery in the glorious formal gardens and spaces of Cliveden and can be seen there until mid-October.

 

nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden

Bernar Venet at Cliveden
©Courtesy the Artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Jonty Wilde

 

http://www.blainsouthern.com/

OUT & ABOUT: Gazelli Art House

 

Kalliopi Lemos
Wooden Boat with Seven People,
Spital Square, London E1 6DX, 2017
Courtesy Gazelli Art House
Photography by John Sturrock

For centuries the Spitalfields area of London has seen migrants arrive in search of a new life and this sculpture recalls that history. The boat is one that was actually used to transport refugees from Turkey to Greece and was acquired by the artists after it had been left abandoned on the shoreline.

 

http://www.spitalfields.co.uk/public-art/

Kalliopi Lemos
Wooden Boat with Seven People,
Spital Square, London E1 6DX, 2017
Courtesy Gazelli Art House
Photography by John Sturrock

 

http://www.gazelliarthouse.com

 

Plywood Triumphant!

PLYWOOD: MATERIAL OF THE MODERN WORLD, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, until 12th November 2017

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood to visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

© John Kirkwood

Perhaps not surprisingly this is a world-first exhibition featuring as it does the many uses to which plywood has been put.

 

Like me, I’m sure you thought it was a twentieth century invention but apparently fragments of layered board have been found in Egyptian tombs – perhaps they thought if the mummies came back to life they might fancy a bit of DIY to amuse themselves – but it really came into its own in the late nineteenth century with the advent of mass production.

 

Plywood’s ubiquity has been embraced by furniture makers, manufacturers of surfboards and skateboards, designers, architects and engineers and this very interesting exhibition takes visitors through plywood’s many transformations from a cheap product to material prized by mid-century modernists and by today’s flourishing maker movement.

©John Kirkwood

I so enjoyed the exhibition that I left feeling that ‘plywood is my wood!’

 

http://www.vam.ac.uk

‘Op Art’

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception, Compton Verney, until 1st October 2017

Blaze IV,
Bridget Riley,
© UK Government Art Collection © Bridget Riley 2017. All rights reserved

Regular readers of my blog may recall that in October 2015 I posted about a small but enjoyable exhibition Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat at the Courtauld Gallery and now in this large-scale show at Compton Verney this debt is re-visited and much expanded upon.

La Luzerne, Saint-Denis,
Georges Seurat,
© Scottish National Gallery

It reminds us that since the 19th century some artists have been fascinated by the way in which the eye sees optical illusions as it responds to visual stimuli and this point is well proven in this exhibition. Ninety diverse ‘Op Art’ works are featured in the show, including pieces by Victor Vasarely, Julio Le Parc, Jeffrey Steele, Jesus Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Peter Sedgley, Liliane Lijn and, of course, Bridget Riley and Seurat.

Our Spectral Vision,2016,
Liz West.
Photo (c) Hannah Devereux

Professor Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney sums it up: “Optical Art explores a range of effects and emotions, using complex geometry and advanced mathematics to communicate with the viewer in a way that is simultaneously mentally challenging and visually appealing. This wonderful exhibition demonstrates just how exhilarating, electrifying and (quite literally) eye-opening Op Art can be.”

The show is curated by Penelope Sexton and Dr Frances Follin and appropriately enough supported by Farrow & Ball.

Pulse 05,
White Earthenware, Underglaze colour, matt glaze, 2012.
Sara Moorhouse,
(c) Sara Moorhouse

http://www.comptonverney.org.uk

Enlightened Princesses

Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World, Kensington Palace, until November 2017

Queen Caroline of Ansbach, Joseph Highmore c.1735,
Royal Collection Trust c Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

This fascinating exhibition has come to Kensington Palace from the Yale Center for British Art where it understandably attracted so much interest while there. It considers the part played by three German Protestant princesses at the court of the Hanoverian Kings who ruled 18th century Britain. A legacy that can still be seen in today’s monarchy.

Enlightened Princesses – Installation view
(c) Historic Royal Palaces

The three princesses concerned are Caroline, consort of George II; her daughter-in-law Augusta, who was married to Frederick Prince of Wales and Charlotte (Augusta’s daughter-in-law), consort of George III. In many senses they were the right women in the right place as Britain was embracing the ideas of the Enlightenment and the princesses’ intelligence and curiosity combined with their exalted status allowed them to foster and support the new ideas.

Queen Charlotte, Johann Joseph Zoffany 1771,
Royal Collection Trust c Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Scientists, authors and even musicians such as Handel were all drawn to their drawing rooms. They encouraged medical advances such as inoculation and were involved in the establishment of London’s Foundling Hospital. Plants and wildlife were another interest that all three shared and Kew Gardens is part of that legacy. They also supported British trade and manufacturing.

Enlightened Princesses – Installation view
(c) Historic Royal Palaces

The exhibition succeeds in bringing both their private and public world to life.  The Yale Center for British Art’s director Amy Meyers sums it up: “Caroline, Augusta, and Charlotte had sweeping intellectual, social, cultural, and political interests, which helped to shape the courts in which they lived, and encouraged the era’s greatest philosophers, scientists, artists, and architects to develop important ideas that would guide ensuing generations”.

The Flying Squirrel, Plate T-77, Mark Catesby
c The Royal Board of Trustees of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

www.hrp.org.uk

Christening robe made for future George IV, ivory silk satin c. 1760
(c) Historic Royal Palaces

Inspired by Rothschild Species

Creatures & Creations: Art by Platon H and designs by Mary Katrantzou inspired by Rothschild species, Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, until 29th October 2017 (Wed-Sun)

Lionel Walter Rothschild and a tortoise, early 20th century;
Waddesdon (Rothschild Family) Photo © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

The inspiration for this exhibition that combines digital art, fashion and animal specimens is Walter, 2nd Lord Rothschild and nephew of Waddesdon’s builder Ferdinand. Walter who lived at Tring Park. He was fascinated by natural sciences – birds, butterflies and giant tortoises. He even had zebras trained to draw his carriage. He was held in esteem and many species – creatures and plants – were named after him and known as ‘Rothschildi’.

Creatures & Creations, Waddesdon Manor.
Photo Derek Pelling (c) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

 

Designs by Mary Katrantzou, Creatures and Creations, Waddesdon Manor.
Photo Mike Fear (c) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor (50)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourteen Rothschild species – birds, butterflies and insects – have been the inspiration for the Greek artist Platon H’s digital collages which use their abstract natural patterns while the noted fashion designer Mary Katrantzou has created three couture gowns that celebrate the beauty of their nature. Combine this with specimens from the Natural History Museum at Tring, originally founded by Walter and opened in 1892 and it is an exhibition of wide appeal and imagination!

Galapagos Giant Tortoise from Tring Natural History Museum, Creatures and Creations, Waddesdon Manor.
Photo Mike Fear (c) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor (14)

waddesdon.org.uk

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/tring

 

‘The Caged Bird’s Song’

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic, Sunley Room, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2, until 28th August 2017

Chris Ofili
The Caged Bird’s Song, 2014–2017
Wool, cotton and viscose
Triptych, left and right panels each 280 x 184 cm; centre panel 280 x 372 cm
Installation view, Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic, National Gallery, 26 April – 28
August 2017
© Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London, The Clothworkers’ Company and Dovecot Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh. Photography: Gautier Deblonde

This is the first time that the Turner Prize winning artist Chris Ofili has worked in the medium of tapestry but I definitely think and hope that it will not be the last. Once again he looks at mythology for inspiration and combines it with the contemporary and the colour and the magic and tales of Trinidad. Alongside the tapestry woven in Edinburgh’s Dovecot Tapestry Studio, are the preparatory sketches for the piece.

Chris Ofili
The Caged Bird’s Song (She) 1, 2014
Watercolour and charcoal on paper
39.5 x 26.3 cm
15 1/2 x 10 3/8 in
© Chris Ofili
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London

The artist says of it: “The Caged Bird’s Song is a marriage of watercolour and weaving. I set out to challenge the weaving process, by doing something free-flowing in making a watercolour, encouraging the liquid pigment to form the image, a contrast to the weaving process. With their response, which is an interpretation rather than a reproduction, the weavers have paid a type of homage to the watercolour that I gave them as well as to the process of weaving.”

It is quite magical. After the exhibition it will go to The Clothworkers’ Company, who commissioned it, in the City of London and will be on permanent display there.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk