Thursday 29 November 2018

Oxford pioneers

Oxford Pioneers at the Oxford Ceramics Gallery, Oxford.

An exhibition of the work of pioneering potters including five Gordon Baldwins.

Gordon Baldwin, The Developed Bottle, 1980-81, (stoneware)

Gordon Baldwin, Stoppered Vessel with Dark Signs, 2004, (stoneware)

Walter Keeler, two jugs and one teapot 

Edmund de Waal, Tall Cargo Jar

Edmund de Waal, Jug, 1997

Walter Keeler,  Salt Glaze Teapot

Walter Keeler, 2 Branched Teapots 

Joanna Constantinidis, Large Bottle, (stoneware)

Walter Keeler, One Teapot, Two Jugs

Alan Caiger-Smith, Open Bowl

Rupert Spira, Open Bowl, (stoneware with chun glaze)

Lucie Rie

Lucie Rie

 Rupert Spira, Large Open Bowl with Embossed Text, (stoneware with chun glaze)

Gordon Baldwin

Ruth Duckworth, Porcelain 'Blade Form', 1985

Gordon Baldwin, Mug, 2000

Sunday 25 November 2018

Hand drawn action packed

Hand Drawn Action Packed at the St Albans Museum and Art Gallery.

This exhibition, curated by Hayward Gallery Touring, showcases the works of ten artists whose practice springs from drawings and reveals the medium's infinite possibilities. The artists come from around the world.

Yun-Fei Ji:

Ji's brush and ink landscapes are made in the manner of Chinese narrative scroll painting.
The artist was inspired to revive this forgotten tradition after an encounter with ancient Buddhist cave frescoes in Tibet. While his soft colour palette and refined lines appear to create a serene, pastoral atmosphere, on closer inspection it becomes clear that his subject matter subverts the traditional
style, depicting contemporary scenes of social injustice. A child of the Cultural Revolution in China, his drawings tell the stories of political realities: dispossession, forced migration and dictatorial power.

In these drawings beasts and birds, who represent odious officials, are illustrated alongside instruments of propaganda. Humans mingle with grotesque skeletons and ghosts, in an allusion to the rural Chinese custom of moving the bones of their ancestors to a new resting place when villagers are forced to relocate. Speaking of his drawings, Yun-Fei Ji says, 'they may be lyrical but they are also satirical. It's a story of displaced people'.

looking closer

looking closer

looking closer

William Kentridge:

William Kentridge makes what he calls his 'stone age' animations by erasing or altering a drawing many times, capturing a photographic image of each stage and using them to create the cinematic illusion of a flickering narrative. He uses charcoal because of its tonal range, and the ease and speed with which it can be changed, allowing the narrative to evolve through the activity of drawing.

These intimate drawings of a female figure getting into the bath demonstrate the artist's method, although in this case the drawings did not result in a film but remain a static series. Presented sequentially - with a time stamp in each corner - the movement of the woman at her toilette is played out across nine frames.

The dramatic contrasts of light and dark in these drawings, splashed and shaded with gouache, give a sense of the physical action of making them. Traces of red chalk underpin the otherwise monochrome works, framing the composition and anchoring the forms.

Marcel Dzama:

Dzama conjures a theatrical world of masked and costumed performers. In 1996 the artist co-founded The Royal Art Lodge in Winnipeg, Canada, a collaborative artists' group dedicated to drawing with a surreal, mildly perverse twist of humour. Two years later he moved to New York and set about creating an expanding cast of costumed and masked characters in ever more extravagant scenarios.

Inspired by the climactic scenes in opera and ballet, Dzama's most epic compositions are elaborately choreographed and populated with multiple performers. 

The artist's distinctive palette of root beer browns evokes the 1920s era of avant-garde experimentation. The titles Resist! and My sisters in arms speak of revolution: the women stand poised in symbolic defiance.

Friday 23 November 2018

St Albans Cathedral

We walked through the Vintry Garden

on our way to St Alban's Cathedral

walked around the building and reached the front.

St Albans Cathedral, sometimes called the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, and referred to locally as The Abbey, is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain and stands over the place where Alban, Britain's first saint, was buried over 1700 years ago. It ceased to be an abbey in the 16th century and became a cathedral in 1877. Probably founded in the 8th century, the present building is Norman or Romanesque architecture of the 11th century, with Gothic and 19th century additions.

A plan of the building

The nave is long and impressive

Under each arch, looking down on the centre of the nave, are medieval paintings, the work of many artists, the most famous of which was the 13th century monk, Walter of Colchester. In medieval times these formed an altar-piece over a small altar.

The chancel is magnificent

looking  back

a closer look at the stained glass

and at the engraved glass above the door

We then moved on to the side to look at two collages which tell the story behind the building of St Alban's Abbey up to the middle of the 14th century. These were designed and drawn by Susan Llewelyn-Elvidge. Hundreds of eleven year old children worked in groups to bring the drawings to life by applying fabrics.



We moved on to the other side of the chancel in order to explore the rest of the building

and arrived at the Crossing

the High Altar

looking closer

impressive ceiling

we continued on our way

the shrine of St Alban was on our left. Alban was a Romano-British citizen who was put to death for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. Pilgrims have visited his shrine for over 1700 years.

We reached the end of the building and the Lady Chapel.

A well-attended Catholic mass was going on here when I first entered so I had to come back later to take photographs.

We retraced our steps

admired the poppies and left the building.

Facing us, the Keep

which is a public school nowadays.

a last look at the building,

an exploration of the surrounding area and we were on our way to our hotel and the drive back home.