Monday 29 April 2019

Chantal Joffe - Childhood Now

Chantal Joffe - Childhood Now

ay Compton Verney, Warwickshire.

Joffe often works from photographs, but is adamant that she can only paint her daughter, Esme, as she currently is. Joffe's paintings of Esme chart the artist's changing role as a woman and a mother.

Esme on the Sofa, 2018, (oil on canvas)

Self-Portrait with Esme, 2008, (oil on board)

Esme in a Blue Skirt, 2014, (oil on canvas)

Self-Portrait with Esme Watching TV, 2012, (oil on board)

Esme (First Painting), 2004, (oil on board)

Vita, Alba and Esme, 2009, (oil on canvas)

Poppy, Esme, Oleanna, Gracie and Kate, 2014, (oil on canvas)

Thursday 25 April 2019

Apocalyptic sun

The weather forecasts warned us, but still, we were taken by surprise. A surreal mist greeted us yesterday morning: a combination of cloud and the red dust that blows in from the Sahara gave the atmosphere a surreal, apocalyptic feel. The light was strange and the cream-coloured tiles on our terraces had turned red.

The sun came out for about four minutes at around 6:00 pm and all I could think of was the Cormac MacCarthy novel, the Road.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Bird of paradise

Spring is here and there's lots of beautiful flowers around at the moment. I spotted this bird of paradise during our walk by the sea in Palaio Faliro.

This one is in our front garden in Athens.

Sunday 21 April 2019

A change of scene

After almost a week of dental visits and  sorting ourselves out in the apartment, we were able to go for our first walk  by the sea.

The apartment is almost back to normal and the dental situation is looking very promising, so we were able to start relaxing. The weather was very unstable for the first few days, with daily electric storms and heavy rain, but it looks like it might settle now, the sun has come out

and our walk was very pleasant.

We'd heard about the boat that the marina staff had sunk, making it ready to be taken away, so we went to have a look.

We walked all the way to Skippers where we sat for a mid-day ouzo and some lunch.

We watched this man and his slow climb to the top of the mast

My first thought was that a man in his middle sixties was too old to be doing this, but then, I remembered my father who in his eighties, would nimbly climb up our neighbour's fig tree to harvest precious ripe figs, while Ken and I, in our early 40s then, would look up from the ground, thinking 'I could never do that'.

 And, he made it.

We then watched three people trying to put up this sail but they seemed to have problems and they gave up after a while.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Mark Fairnington - Childhood Now

Mark Fairnington - Childhood Now,

at Compton Verney, Warwickshire.

Fairnington applies a scientific process of collection, documentation and observation to the production of his portraits. The artist developed this approach whilst painting insect specimens, where multiple photographs were used to generate images which detailed and complex surfaces. Fairnington's paintings are also informed by past art historical practices. The paintings of his sons' eyes are inspired by the 18th century 'Lover's Eye' miniatures that were exchanged by George IV and Maria Fitzherbert.

Despite his intimate familiarity with his two identical twin sons, Fairnington has described how, when painting them, his primary intimacy is with the touch of the brush on the painted surface, and not with the subjects themselves. This objective distance from the boys recalls Lucian Freud's stance when painting his family, and his belief that sentimentality could ruin an artist's paintings of his children.

Lee, 2013, (oil on panel)

Jason, 2013, (oil on panel)

Jason (Grey), 2014, (oil on panel)

Lee (Green), 2013, (oil on panel)

Lee and Jason, 2011, (oil on panel)

Sunday 14 April 2019

Painting Childhood

Painting Childhood - From Holbein to Freud

at Compton Verney, Warwickshire.

This exhibition of childhood brings together paintings, sketches and sculptures of children produced in the past 500 years.

Frederico Barocci, The Head and Shoulders of a Swaddled Baby Lying Down, 1595

Hans Holbein The Younger, Edward, Prince of Wales, 1540-43

Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Princess Elizabeth, Daughters of Charles I, 1637

Marcus Gheeraerts The Younger, A Boy Aged Two, 1608, (oil on panel)

This unknown child can be identified as a boy by his front-fastening doublet, short hairstyle and the dagger at his waist. At this time boys typically wore skirts until the age of six or seven, when they were 'breeched'. The red coral bracelets at the boy's wrists were believed to protect children from harm.

Judith Leyster, A Boy and a Girl with Cat and an Eel, 1635, (oil on oak)

John Constable, Maria Constable with Two of her Children, 1820, (oil on mahogany)

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Boy with a Lesson-Book, 1757, (oil on canvas)

Sir Joshua Reynolds, A Child Asleep, 1782, (oil on canvas)

Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Three Boys, 1670

Merchants brought Murillo's paintings of Spanish beggar children back to Britain where they inspired the development of fancy pictures. In this scene a black servant pauses on his errand to beg for a piece of pie, unaware that he is being pickpocketed.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Penelope Boothby, 1788

Set against a dark background and wearing an oversized mob cap, this image of three-year-old Penelope Boothby came to epitomise the idea of vulnerable childhood. The fame of Reynold's portrait was due in part to Penelope's tragic death shortly after her sixth birthday. Penelope's outfit became iconic, inspiring a spate of children's fancy dress costumes, it was referenced a century later in John Everett Millai's painting Cherry Ripe.

Camille Pissarro, Jeanne Holding a Fan, 1873

Pissarro had eight children, and Jeanne-Rachel was her father's favourite. The girl's illness is suggested here by her flushed cheeks and limp posture. In a letter of 1873 Pissarro described the family as 'half-dead with worry and concern'.

Mary Beale, Head Study of a Boy, probably Charles Beale, the artist's younger son, 1664 (oil on paper laid down on canvas)

Mary Beale was the most prolific female artist working in England in the 17th century. She was the family breadwinner, with her husband Charles Beale acting as her studio assistant by obtaining materials, priming her canvasses and keeping her accounts.

Sir Stanley Spencer, A Family Portrait, 1937, (oil on canvas)

Winifred Nicholson, The Artist's Children, at the Isle of Wight, 1931-32

Louise Bourgeois, Children in Tub, 1994, (drypoint and aquatint on paper)

Louise Bourgeois, Birth, 1994, (drypoint on paper)

Lucian Freud, Annabel, 1967, (oil on canvas)

Sir Jacob Epstein, The Sisters, 1950-53)

Auguste Rodin, Mother and Child

John Ward, The Newspaper Boys, 1960, (oil on canvas)