Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Interview with Nye Thompson

14/5/19
Interview with Nye Thompson 
CKRBT
Watermans Art Centre, London
22 March - 2 June 2019

Nye Thompson (b1966) came back to art after a period working with software and interface designs. Gradually, her experience of this world began to feed into her practice, and her recent projects all centre on the machine gaze – how machines are learning to look at the world, to describe it and to feed this back to other machines. Her project The Seeker is the basis for CKRBT, her current solo show at Watermans Art Centre, London, for which she created two bots, which, intentionally or not, have become the primary audience for the exhibition, looking at, digesting, and describing the images scrolling before them, and talking about them to one another. We, as human visitors, simply get in the way. A lot could be learned from this fascinating, compelling, and, if I am honest, somewhat terrifying, exhibition, and Thompson does  her best to present the super-technical in lay terms, and provided a helpful information handout. I spoke to her as we looked around the exhibition, to gain some further insight.




Read the full interview here






Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Review of Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on Nature at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London

08/05/19
Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on Nature
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London
13 April – 27 October 2019

If, as Seneca the Younger claimed, “all art is but imitation of nature”, putting one’s works in amongst one of the most beautiful natural gardens in London – the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – might seem somewhat presumptuous, or asking for criticism at the least. Alternatively, of course, one could take the Matissian view, that “great art picks up where nature ends”, and thus see the intervention by American glass artist Dale Chihuly (b1941, Tacoma, Washington) as a challenge and, potentially, a bidirectional compliment. 


I chose to review this, his second exhibition in the gardens (the first being Gardens of Glass in 2005, so popular its run had to be extended), as a challenge to myself, being a vehement disliker of his large, florid, and certainly over-the-top chandelier at the V&A, London. I wanted to see if I could be converted to appreciate Chihuly’s work, significantly inspired by nature – both plant and sea life – when presented in such a setting. And, indeed, I 90 per cent was.

Read the full review here




Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Edvard Munch: The Graphic Works

10/04/19
Edvard Munch: The Graphic Works

Edvard Munch: love and angst
British Museum
11 April – 21 July 

Although best known today for his paintings, it was through his graphic works that Edvard Munch made his international name. This exhibition at the British Museum, London – the largest of his prints in 45 years and compiled in collaboration with Norway’s Munch Museum – brings together some of his most iconic images, and reunites a number of prints with their matrices, elucidating the various processes involved in their making. Norwegian Arts looks at the artist’s experimental use of lithography, etching and woodcut.


Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s inscription at the foot of an 1896 black-and-white lithographic print of his iconic painting The Scream (1893) – ‘I felt the great scream throughout nature’ – is almost as soul-wrenching and shudder-inducing as the world-famous image itself. According to Giulia Bartrum, the curator of the British Museum’s forthcoming exhibition, ‘Edvard Munch: love and angst’ (11 April to 21 July), the wide-mouthed figure shown covering his or her ears, long assumed to be screaming, might, in fact, be hearing the scream rather than uttering it. The full title of the work, The Scream of Nature, similarly supports this standpoint. Either way, the very fact that such discussion is still ongoing, 126 years after the painting of the picture, shows the enduring appeal and intrigue of the Symbolist artist’s work. This lithograph will be one of more than 80 works on display, primarily comprising prints, from the period between 1894, when Munch first began experimenting with graphic media, and the first decade of the 20th century. During this time, Munch travelled a lot between Kristiania (modern-day Oslo), Paris and Berlin. It was in Berlin that he made his first print, aged 30. 


Read the full feature on the Norwegian Arts site






Monday, 25 March 2019

Spotlight: Milton Keynes

25/03/19






Published in the spring 2019 issue of Art Quarterly, and online here



Preview of Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern

25/03/19



Published in the spring 2019 issue of Art Quarterly

Review of John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing at Two Temple Place, London

25/03/19
John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing
Two Temple Place, London
26 January – 22 April 2019

With the bicentenary of his birth on 8 February this year, there is, deservedly, a renewed interest in the Victorian polymath, John Ruskin: a writer, whose collected publications run to 38 volumes; an art critic; an artist; a teacher; a social commentator; a collector; and, importantly, a supporter of artists. His anniversary is being marked by a plethora of exhibitions around the country, including several at Brantwood (his final home in the Lake District); Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud: Watercolours and Drawings, which is touring from York Art Gallery (29 March – 23 June) to Abbot Hall Art Gallery, in Kendal, on the edge of the Lakes (12 July – 5 October); and John Ruskin: Art & Wonder at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield (29 May – 15 September). The latter is a further iteration of the exhibition, John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing, currently on display in the neo-gothic mansion, Two Temple Place, on the Embankment, London, which celebrates primarily Ruskin’s intentional legacy, the Guild of St George. 



Read the full review here




Saturday, 23 March 2019

Interview with Miriam de Búrca

23/03/19
Interview with Miriam de Búrca

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Through her work, Miriam de Búrca (b1972, Munich) seeks to draw attention to burial sites in Ireland known as cilliní, where, as recently as the 1980s, anyone deemed unworthy by the Catholic church of a burial in consecrated ground was laid to rest – or, rather, not to rest, since theology teaches that their unblessed souls remain for ever in limbo. These unfortunate and unknown strangers include stillborn or unbaptised babies, unmarried mothers, those who have taken their own lives, the mentally ill and excommunicates. The absence of headstones adds to the wilful desire to make people forget and to suppress this long chapter of Irish history. But De Búrca believes it should be remembered – those buried should be remembered – and, by making careful drawings of the plants growing on the graves and, in the process, paying absolute attention to detail, she seeks to pay back some of the attention that those buried have been denied. Having finished with the sods of earth in her studio, she then returns them to the graves, hoping further to show a sign of respect and return some of the lost dignity. 



Watch the interview here

Interview with Joy Gerrard

23/03/19
Interview with Joy Gerrard

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Working with hand-ground Japanese ink, Joy Gerrard (b1971, Dublin) makes small drawings and large canvases depicting bird’s-eye views of mass protests, here specifically anti-Brexit and anti-Trump marches from June 2018. Consciously working from media images – primarily stills from helicopter footage – which she collects in their hundreds, Gerrard selects those images that she will turn into her monochrome drawings, getting to know the image and memorialising it in the process. From these, she then may select a couple to work up into a large canvas – using the same medium, but to very different, almost abstract effect. This time, she works from the drawing, concentrating on areas of tone and shade, creating a strong composition, built up in small sections. Overall, her aim is to make visible the masses who attend these protests, which she strongly believes canmake a difference. Her work not only takes protest – and remembrance – as its themes, but it is, in itself, a form of protest.



Watch the interview here



Interview with Mary Griffiths

23/03/19
Interview with Mary Griffiths

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Mary Griffiths (b1965, the Wirral) has long been making drawings of (frequently derelict) industrial sites. A year and a half ago, she was introduced to Astley Green Colliery, a former coalmine in Lancashire, which was closed in 1970 and knocked down but for its winding house and headgear – rare examples of 1908 working-class engineering. Spending time at the site, walking around the surrounding geography, reclaimed by nature with trees, grass and mosses, and talking to the volunteers (the colliery is now a museum), Griffiths filled myriad A6 sketchpads with figurative drawings, focusing on aspects that intrigued her, from details of the machinery to a visiting colony of pigeons. From these drawings, she then extrapolated her larger abstract works, made on plywood, with layers of acrylic gesso, and even more layers of graphite, pushed into the board and burnished, before being cut into with an etching needle. Using thousands of straight lines, placed at minutely different angles, she creates an oscillating effect reminiscent of the surface geography of the region. One work, Wild Honey, for example, represents the seams of the coalmine, the waterways and the main roads. Griffiths sees her work as “an identification of the remarkable work that was done in industrial areas” across the country, and it is important to her to capture something of the “gravity and splendour” of the working-class engineering.




Watch the interview here



Interview with Barbara Walker

23/03/19
Interview with Barbara Walker

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Barbara Walker (b1964, Birmingham) describes herself as a “scavenger” for information. She typically works on topics that are new to her, whereby she is learning and being stimulated. For this seven-year (to date) project, looking at the contribution of black soldiers to British war efforts – from the first world war to the recent and contemporary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – she has spent time in archives, ranging from the Imperial War Museums to the US Congress, and even on eBay. Although the soldiers she draws are unknown to her, she feels they become like her children, and she gets to know them over time. Her works vary in scale, from small, often embossed pieces, to larger-than-life wall drawings. These latter are washed off at the end of the exhibition and live on only in photographs and, most importantly, people’s memories. Walker uses simple materials and methods, and her goal is to seduce the audience, and give the anonymous soldiers power: claiming a space for them and giving them a voice. Studio International spoke to Walker while she worked on her wall drawing for the exhibition. 



Watch this interview here