Thursday 9 January 2014

Leamington Art Gallery: re-hang

Dick Hosking, Warwickshire Landscape, 1965 

Alma Ramsey, Mother and Child, 1980 (marble) 

John Piper, Wolfhamcote Church, 1940s (oil and mixed media on canvas
Abstracting and layering elements within the composition, Piper gave a sense of being simultaneously inside and outside the church, giving a sculptural and intimate feel to the work. The striking light highlights structural points of intrigue, and is manipulated to create a romantic depiction of the subject matter.

Simon Lewty, The Men who Lie in the Road, 1991 (ink and acrylic on tissue paper)
This painting was inspired by the village of Old Milverton two miles north of Leamington Spa, which Lewty has described as marginal land, neither town nor country. In Lewty's painting recognisable areas such as barn, wall and field have been overlaid with text and inhabited by curious humanoid figures. These figures were inspired by remains of discarded root vegetables Lewty saw strewn across the fields after harvesting 'like figures in a battlefield'. The diagrams and text are reminiscent of ancient maps and manuscripts, their meaning at once obscure and tantalising. In an interview Lewty noted that the writing was as complex as the imagery, but suggested that it also had a practical purpose, saying: 'I do hope people will read the writing in the pictures. It draws you in closer than you would normally get'.

looking closer

and again.

Laura Sylvia Gosse, Trumpet Vendor of Envermeu,  (oil on canvas)
Gosse was an etcher and painter. She was keen to capture contemporary urban life.

Terry Frost, Orange and Blue, 1963 (oil on canvas) 
Frost was captured in active service in Crete in 1941 and spent four years in prison camps. Ironically it was during this time that he met the artist Adrian Heath and learnt about the colony of artists in St Ives. He eventually moved to Cornwall.


Andrew Lanyon, Chapel, (oil on board)

Patrick Caulfield, Cream Glazed Pot, 1979 (gouache and pencil on card)

Caulfield was a painter and printmaker known for his pop art canvasses. His paintings are figurative, using flat areas of colour surrounded by black outlines and often portraying a few simple objects in an interior.

The vase standing before a window, through which a mountain range can be glimpsed, is a deliberate reference to both Japanese objects, which became popular with 19th c. collectors, and the boldly arranged Japanese prints from which Caulfield often took inspiration.

Zadok Ben David, Circle of Life: The Mythical Experience of a Cat, 1986, (metal, resin and pigments)
The cat sculpture is contained within an overarching circle, whose form contributes to the 'mystical' theme of this piece by directing the movement round circular and almost hypnotic motion.

Mark Titchner, We Want Responsibility to be Shared by All, 2003, (oil based inkjet on aluminium) 
Transport for London commissioned Titchner to produce ten giant billboard works for the 'Platform for Art' programme in 2003. The series of text based works, including this one, were exhibited at Gloucester Road tube station. Each text derives from a single phrase extracted from the corporate vision of ten top brands. The extracts are combined with the prefix 'We Want' taken from the ten-point plan of an anti-capitalist revolutionary group. In each work, the text design and highly stylised, ornate background draw on the style of trade union banners and the designs of 19th century social reformer William Morris, which hold personal significance for Titchner. Other references within the works include baroque religious art and psychedelic posters of the 1960s and 1970s.
Peter Blake, 'And to Show you I' not Proud, you May Shake Hands with Me', 1970 (ink on paper) 

Christine Borland, English Family China, 1998 (bone china) 
This is one of a set of five similar pieces that form the Set Conversation Pieces. In each of the five pieces a bone china baby's skull is placed in a different position next to a bone china pelvis. The five works each have a different pattern, which are based on the patterns on the china that was produced for the English market. Each of the skull and pelvis pairs are linked by the same blue painted decoration, which visualises the genetic pattern in a family.

Mark Francis, Replicator, 1995 (oil on canvas)

Replicator is one of a series of large paintings that Francis created in the 1990s, based on microbiological of blood, sperm, chromosomes and bacteria. During this period the artist restricted his palette to echo the monochromatic views of cells as seen through a microscope. 'The image refers to an internal landscape and its mechanisms... When I look at medical diagrams of the body, I can't help but be fascinated by the complex network of veins, arteries, blood vessels that link the organs, I think of the complexity of plumbing or wiring in a house or the transport networks that cover a country or a city'.

Neil Moore, Shapeshifter,  2004 (oil on canvas)
Moore, a self-proclaimed 'Contemporary Figurative Realist', cites  'Western society's increasing interest in cosmetic surgery' as his inspiration for Shapeshifter, which uses clinical blue and green shades in depicting a surgeon standing Messiah-like over the naked patient preparing to make the first cut. The model for patient and surgeon are intentionally the same, reflecting Moore's belief that cosmetic surgery is just a socially acceptable form of self harm.

Marc Quinn, Template for my Future Plastic Surgery, 2002 (photographic print)

In his work, Quinn explores the relationship between physical appearance and the inner self. The work was made by overlaying a photograph of Quinn, taken by Dan Leppard, with images of casts of alternative body parts. Quinn has selected: the ear of a violinist; the nose of an impresario; the tongue of a noted chef; the hand of Quinn's then-girl friend lying over his heart. The brain is depicted by a photograph of a section of coral.

Marc Quinn, Catherine Long, 2002 (Macedonian marble) 
Catherine Long is one of a series of portraits that Quinn created of people with missing or differently formed limbs. The series was conceived while Quinn was looking at sculptures in the British Museum and considering 'how people impute an inside to someone from a reading of their outside'. The pose was selected by both artist and model. Long was keen to be involved in the project, feeling that it would 'evoke and challenge people's perceptions of what they see as being beautiful or not beautiful'.

Keith Coventry, Inhaler, (cast plastic)

This plastic cast of a Ventolin inhaler is part of a series of works Coventry created on the theme of crack cocaine and drug addiction. The inhaler is generally considered as a life saver, giving breath, but on closer inspection one notices that this common medicinal aid has been adapted for the inhalation of crack cocaine.


  1. First let me thank you for this interesting walk through the gallery. I was delighted to see works by Piper, Caulfield, and Frost which I had not seen before, and which I very much like. But most of all I must thank you for the introduction to the work of Simon Lewty (although I have more than enough to distract me at present!). I am intrigued by the work you have shown, and by what little I have been able to Google, and I'm afraid that I shall have to find out more - and I see that one of my favourite publishing houses Black Dog has a book, ... another to add to the pile! Thank you.

  2. Yes, Olga, it's not bad for a gallery in a town of 60,000, and I did not include the other Piper or the Riley, because my photographs came out really badly.

    Simon Lewty is a local (to us) artist: he lives and works in Leamington. The first time I saw his work was in the hall of this osteopath I used to have to visit, so I presume that that means his work is affordable. I don't think he's that well-known, but I might be wrong. This particular work is huge - at least 9 ft long I would say, and the nature of the tissue paper is such, that it looks like a tapestry. I like it too.

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    1. Thank you so much Haris, for your kind comment. It's really appreciated.