Thursday 27 February 2014

James Turrell

James Turrell

at the Royal Academy of Arts, 6 Burlington Gardens, London.

This was the first time we'd seen Turrell's work and we were both mesmerised by it: 'Mark Rothko in LED' is how Ken described it. And in one sense it's true - it's work that invites contemplation, it's a meditative experience.

Tall Glass

Each work features an aperture with a frosted and curved glass surface which is animated by an array of LED lights creating a tangible and physical plane of light.  There is a procession of changing colours that the artist has likened to a musical system utilising themes and gradient tones. He wants to speak to viewers without words, impacting the eye, body and mind to heighten awareness: 'I want to create an atmosphere that can be consciously plumbed without seeing, like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire'.

Wide Glass

He is interested in exploring technological possibilities combined with sensory practices: 'I am really interested in the qualities of one space sensing another. It is like looking at someone looking. Objectivity is gained by seeing once removed. As you plumb a space with vision, it is possible to 'see yourself see. This seeing, this plumbing, imbues space with consciousness'. He wants reviewers to have a pure perceptual experience. Fascinated by the phenomenon of light he wants the viewer to go through the similar experience he undergoes in Quaker meetings of silent contemplation, patience and meditation. Contemplating while looking at his work, I would say he has succeeded.

Wide Glass

I did my contemplation with Tall Glass in the upstairs room. There was no seating in the three rooms downstairs which is a shame, as no serious contemplation can be achieved standing up. I took a few photographs of the changes in the light and colour. The changes were very slow and subtle. Below you can see just a few - totally mesmerising.






Tuesday 25 February 2014

In the Midnight Wood, John Caple

In the Midnight Wood, by John Caple at the John Martin Gallery, Albemarle Street, London.
Firmly embedded in folk tradition, John Caple's paintings are haunting, evocative and have a timeless quality to them. I have wanted to see an exhibition of his work for a long time so was very pleased to have this opportunity when we went to London last Saturday. Having read Harvest by Jim Crace recently, a novel about the forced enclosure of open fields and common land whereby subsistence agriculture was replaced by profitable production and the tenant farmers' subsequent dispossession and displacement, I felt there was a close connection between the novel and the paintings, both outlining the timelessness of living on the land, and how much part of it we are, a fact that is so easily forgotten in our hectic contemporary lives.
This is what Caple has to say about this exhibition:
'The imagination is always woken by thoughts of ancient woodland. Their dark interiors inspire us, enchant us and stir our deepest fears. The ancient Quantock woods in Somerset are where my family made their life, and their stories continue to weave their way through the branches, taking me back into a shared memory which rests there like some dark Eden of the mind. This was the Eden which Coleridge described in his poetry and the woodland tracks through which he and Wordsworth wandered, the crossroads where they met, were the self same paths used by my ancestors and which have become the inspiration for many of these paintings.
It is a source of great wonder and comfort to me that I can walk the same trackways as my family have walked for generations, both in the Mendip and Quantock Hills, and feel that deep sense of connection. And as I search the physical landscape for the stories passed down through my family, I discover an internal landscape, the two are fused together, a natural alchemy of mind and mud. I have increasingly become fascinated by the notion that this 'interior landscape' that we carry within ourselves, and the sense that there is a perceived point of demarcation - the edge of the wood and what happens when we cross that threshold.
Like my ancestors I have found meaning and purpose in following these tracks into the ancient woods. Woodland pools reveal our own nature: the symmetry of our physicality, our bodies dense with tributaries and branching canopies, we share patterns and seasons, tide and time, we come to know that nature is not out there, but that we are nature, there is no separation, and no separation from those who came before us'.

Journey to the Woods




Nightingale Woods





The bowl, a recurring theme in the paintings, a symbol of giving, sharing, offering.

Night Song

Holding a candle - another recurring theme

Another recurring theme, the lone human figure in front of a house, or walking along the lane


In the Midnight Wood

The Nightingale Man


The Broomsquire's Journey

Woodland Feast

Sunday 23 February 2014

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd at Nottingham Contemporary.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012. This is her first solo exhibition at a public gallery in Britain.

Most installations and sculptures in the exhibition started life as handmade puppets, costumes and sets for her anarchic, joyful performances. Her art is influenced by the history of popular performance including medieval mummer's plays, carnivals, communes, drag acts and political demonstrations. She also draws on the history of performance in avant-garde art.

'I have more respect for literature than anything. I find magic realism and literature the most satisfying way to understand history or politics... I am very interested in the origins of theatre, folk theatre and mumming. I like carnival, comedy and nonsense... B movie directors are often inventive due to their lack of budget and the results are really interesting. The audience have to fill in the parts that are missing. It is almost as if B movies don't underestimate the audience. A parallel are Brecht plays...

Simply put I am expressive and I find expression in making things very satisfying. I would not work with bigger productions as I find it doesn't interest me. I like the excitement of problem solving when you have a low budget, and the sense of autonomy and spontaneity that comes from working on my own or with a small team'.

Cat Bus, 2010

The front of Cat Bus 

The legs of Cat Bus which are attached when there is a performance

Various costumes from the following performances: Cat Bus, The Lion Tamer, The Green Room

Various performances are being staged while the exhibition is on.  There were none during our visit, but the figure in the front of this photograph wandered around the gallery, creeping up on viewers and hissing in their ears - it was great fun 

I asked if I could take a photograph and the answer was an affirmative hiss, so I snapped

Cat Temple, 2014 

looking closer

Hell Mouth (from Becks Futures), 2010 

Seal Costume, 2010

Seal Costume, 2010

Bat Opera, 2004-05 
'Cognoscenti have told me how much there is in common between the Bat Opera series and the performances I make. There are similarities in the staging and composition. The Bat series are like a story board with close-ups, long shots, medium shots, and so on.
I like to have different ways of working. When working on the bat paintings I am reliant on paint, light and me, rather than listening to other people's needs and organising. With the performances I am like a tour guide'.

looking closer

looking closer

The second gallery with Diorama in the background

Diorama, 2012

looking closer


looking closer

Brain Bug, 2011

looking out.


Exhibition booklet.