Category Archives: Art

Woman in a White Coat – Final Draft!! Now to ePublish it

A selection of books recommended by the staff at Foyles

Now that I finished the final draft Woman in a White Coat I’ve been scouring Waterstone’s and Foyles for ideas for the cover. Also looked at covers by designers who entered for The Academy of British Cover Design awards.

I know I’d like to have a white shiny cover and I’ve seen quite a few that I like, but unfortunately mainstream publishers rarely include the name of the cover designer.

Herewith a taster – the beginning of Chapter 3 of Woman in a White Coat

A Country at War

We were tired and hungry, my sister Hannah and I, as we stood waiting in Littleport Village Hall, waiting to be chosen by someone, anyone.

‘Don’t snivel,’ Hannah said. ‘No-one will take us in if they see you crying.’

She pushed my hand away.

‘You’re too old to hold hands Abby, and anyhow your hands are always wet and sticky.’

Operation Pied Piper’, the plan for the evacuation of children from areas likely to be bombed, was in place long before World War 2 was declared. People in safe areas with spare bedrooms were urged to take in evacuees. They would be paid 10/6d a week for the first child and 8/6d for each subsequent child. Nearly a million children were evacuated on Friday September 1st, 1939. London railway stations were packed with children and whole trains were commandeered.

Parents had been given a list of clothing to pack. Girls needed 1 spare vest, 1 pair of knickers, 1 petticoat, 1 slip, 1 blouse, 1 cardigan, a coat or Mackintosh, nightwear, a comb, towel, soap, face-cloth, boots or shoes and plimsolls.

Continue reading Woman in a White Coat – Final Draft!! Now to ePublish it

Hokusai ‘Beyond the Great Wave’ at the British Museum

Beyond the Great Wave

A wonderful exhibition of Hokusai’s work, all the better for having seen the excellent documentary  ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ beforehand. It was shown both at the British Museum and at a selection of cinemas as well as on BBC4 where it can be seen on iPlayer.

During his lifetime, Hokusai (1760-1849) adopted upwards of 20 different names. He adopted this last one – Hokusai – when he was 70, meaning ‘Old Man Crazy to Paint.’

Nichiren and Shichimen daimyojin

The exhibition shows his work from his old age and we are amazed at the quality of the line and colour. Before that, most of his work was reproduced as woodcuts and a video shows the consummate skill with which the finest of lines are carved. I particularly liked ‘The Gamecock and Hen’ painted 1826-1834.

And loved this gem showing his signature dragon as well as the deity Nichiren.

Cushions and other artefacts based on Hokusai prints

He made hundreds of little drawings – manga then meaning ‘random’, which show his wicked sense of humour.

Always a selection of interesting artefacts related to the current exhibition in the Grenville Room, the more exclusive shop on the right near the main entrance.
Josh found this Toilet Bowl Cleaner while surfing the web. Hokusai seemed to have been such a jokey person – I think he would have appreciated the humour!! Certainly, some of his drawings were quite racy.

If you can’t get to the British Museum, do watch the film ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ on iPlayer.

Canaletto and The Art of Venice at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Also with paintings and drawings by his contemporaries

Another fascinating exhibition of paintings and drawings from the Queen’s own collection.

I can take or leave Canaletto’s paintings – they all look too similar to me and too yellow – nothing like the colourful Venice of my memory – but I loved his drawings – especially the early designs for the theatre., where he started his career. His drawings show his great sense of humour as well as his compassion.

 

A view of the Rialto

His paintings and drawings of Venice would have been a must for wealthy Englishmen making their Grand Tour.

Interesting drawings and paintings by his contemporaries included some by Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Francesco Zuccarelli, Rosalba Carriera, Pietro Longhi and Giovanni Batista Piazzetta.

We have George III to thank for the collection. He bought Joseph Smith’s entire stock for £20,000 in 1762 – some 15,000 books, 500 paintings, drawings etc.

I personally prefer Canaletto’s paintings of London and its surroundings, carried out during his repeated visits to England 1746-1755, but obviously not included in this exhibition.

Giacometti at Tate Modern

The long thin sculptures we associate with Giacometti

Another interesting retrospective of Giacometti’s work, though I preferred the exhibition of his portraits at the National Portrait gallery with lots more paintings and a broader view of his oeuvre. You can’t get very close to his small elongated sculptures and from the distance you are kept from them it’s hard to distinguish one from another

Most of the exhibits were sculptures – a surprising number of lifelike  heads in the multitude in Room 1, as well as some of his signature long thin sculptures. Once again I was frustrated by having the titles of everything so far from the objects.

The enormous double life-size sculptures in the last room were amazing but one of the best things in the exhibition was the film about him, showing the amazing care with which his clay figurines were made – his hands darting rapidly from eyes, to crown and to mouth, modelling with fingers, knives or modelling tools.

The Giacometti posters against a backdrop of the River Thames and St Paul’s

For some reason, the coffee on the exhibition floor is always better than that in the downstairs café and the view from the balcony of the 3rd exhibition floor is stunning.

 

Always lots of merchandising!!

Looking around gallery shops is always a pleasure, though we might buy a couple of things for the grandchildren, rarely for ourselves. We have accumulated too many things!!

 

MADE Craft Fair Bloomsbury Part 2

Alexa Simone Cushions

I had only recently made new covers for our scatter cushions or I’d have been very tempted to buy some of these cushions by Alexa Simone.

Jane Sedgwick Beads

 

 

Jane Sedgwick’s stand reminded me of kindergarten and how satisfying it is to thread wooden beads .

Sally McGill’s delicate ceramics

 

 

Gorgeous delicate ceramics by Sally McGill. Alas, absolutely no room in our flat for any more.

 

The sweet smell of lavender

 

Delighted to smell lavender as we passed Prilly Lewis’s stand and so pleased my sense of smell is getting stronger all the time.

Didn’t realise that some mixtures of Herbes de Provence contain lavender leaves as well as savory, marjoram, thyme, rosemary and oregano, but of course, rosemary and lavender are closely related.

My I remind you If you email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter of my memoir Woman in a White Coat, and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.

Ashley Bickerton – Damien Hurst does it again

 

Orange Shark (2008)

Ashley Bickerton’s Ornamental Hysteria is another brilliant exhibition in Damien Hurst’s gallery in Newport Street. Like the previous exhibition of his own Jeff Koons artefacts, the exhibition extends over two floors.

Born in Barbados in 1959, he has moved around the world ending up in New York in 1982.

Flower Pot (2009)

It’s hard to choose which of his work I liked best. This sculpture of colourful flowers growing out of skulls is certainly high on my list. The texture and colour of the stone container are gorgeous. The painting behind is Red Scooter (2009) a joyous vision of a family and their dog riding a red scooter on the beach.

Canoe, shark, woman (2016)

Love this sculpture of a woman balancing on a pile of coconuts and holding another hammer-head shark .

The serene painting on the wall behind is K.T._K.T (2015).

I must go again!!

America after the Fall, Royal Academy, London

Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic 1930

Another excellent exhibition at the Royal Academy. The poster shows Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic. I had never liked this painting that  I’d only seen in reproduction – glanced quickly and thought ‘What a miserable couple!’. In fact it’s of Grant Wood’s dentist and his sister, Nan. The house behind them is owned by the Dibble family. When you look carefully, Nan is quite pretty, with a gorgeous complexion so much better in the original painting.

Not much in the way of Abstract Expressionism, though there had just been a huge exhibition of those works. Just one Georgia O’Keefe – Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses. Grant Wood’s painting of three elderly women – Daughters of Revolution – struck terror – you could imagine them ruling their families and communities with a rod of iron!! There were a few painting reminiscent of German Expressionism – like Philip Evergood’s Dance Marathon and Reginald Marsh’s Twenty Cent Movie. Just one of those sad, evocative Edward Hopper paintings – Gas.

I hadn’t been sure I wanted to visit the exhibition but it was a lovely March day, spring flowers in planters outside many of the shops and the Cherry Trees in blossom and I’m so glad I went out that Sunday.

Not a large exhibition but varied and well worth the visit.

Gods and Goddesses in Manchester Square – the Wallace Collection

Guided trail of images illustrating stories from Ovid

Our excellent tutor, Dr Michael Paraskos, took us to the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, W1, for one of our Tuesday morning sessions.

The course at Morley College is called Greek Mythology in Art and what an eye-opener!! I read loads of Myths and Legends as a child and thought I understood the Greek pantheon. Not a bit of it – it’s much more complicated than I’d thought – what with Gods, Goddesses, Titans and Heroes – often known by several names in Greek – let alone what they were called by the Romans.

By co-incidence the Wallace Collection has put together a guide to some of the many images they have of episodes from Greek Myths. Although I’ve visited the Wallace Collection several times, I hadn’t realised just how many paintings of mythical subjects there were.

In the 16th – 19th centuries  a hierarchy of painting genres was recognised in which Historical Painting, which included paintings of myths and legends, was at the top, followed by Portrait painting, Genre painting, Landscapes and Cityscapes and Animal painting with Still Life on the bottommost rung.

Historical paintings were almost invariably a good excuse to include one or more nubile semi-nudes.

Titian’s Perseus about to release Andromeda

We visited only some of the objects mentioned in the Gallery tour but they included Titian’s painting of Perseus about to rescue Andromeda.

 

Late 17th century French Armoire

 

 

The mythical theme was carried on to furniture and table centrepieces. This French armoire c 1695 has a depiction of Apollo chasing Daphne on the left and Apollo watching the flaying of the Satyr Marsyas on the right.

When I picked up my copy of Ovid’s metamorphoses, it opened at the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. Yet another story Shakespeare pinched from the Classics and included in his Midsummer Night’s Dream.!

Lockwood Kipling at the V&A Museum, London

Lockwood Kipling Exhibition at the Porter Gallery in the V&A

 

Fascinating free exhibition at the Porter Gallery at the V&A museum. The gallery is on the left as you come in through the main entrance.

 

Joseph Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911) was the more famous Rudyard Kipling’s father.  He was Principal of the mayo School of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan  (present day National College of Arts)  and also became curator of the original Lahore Museum.

He was an artist, teacher, influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement and campaigner for the preservation of Indian crafts. Besides the many Indian artefacts, photographs and videos of India and Pakistan, there is a wide variety of his drawings and paintings including his delightful humorous caricatures and the ABC book he made for his children, as well as some of his illustration for his son’s stories.

He is eclipsed by his more famous son, Rudyard, but certainly deserves to be better known.

The new Switch House – Tate modern, London

Tate modern switch house

Finally got round to visiting the new 10-storey Tate Modern extension – the Switch House which opened June 2016 by the same architects – Herzog & de Meuron – who converted the original derelict Bankside Power Station that opened in 2000.

A brilliant use of light and space, though a bit overwhelming for someone like me, who has no head for heights. After looking though the tall window on the first floor into the Turbine Hall and turning back to a stark very tall white wall I needed to rescued by Josh before I could move!!

Tony Cragg’s Stack 1975

Liked too many of the installations to list them all but Tony Cragg’s Stack – a cube of raw ands prefabricated material – comes high on my list as do Ana Lupas’s The Solemn Process 1964-2008, Carl Andre’s Equivalent VIII 1966 and Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt’ s) Horizontal Square Reticularia 71/10 1971.

One of the several videos available

I particularly liked the room of videos which you turned on by standing in a spotlight.

I well remember the first end of year show at the Royal College of Art where videos were shown and thinking this wasn’t real art. How our ideas have changed so that now they are not only acceptable but expected.