PRESS RELEASE Art and Music at RWA Bristol and Hauser and Wirth Somerset

TWO CONCERTS CONNECTING ART AND MUSIC

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Fiona Robinson Anywhere Else But Here. Graphite charcoal chalk and wax. 56 x 76 cmd. 2015

How does one define the relationship between music and art? How might a work of visual art be re-imagined as music? New Music in the South West has invited composers to create new music in response to the work of contemporary artists for a concert exploring the interface between music and art. Geoff Poole and Jean-Paul Metzger will be composing pieces inspired by Zhang Enli’s Four Season’s exhibition at Hauser and Wirth Somerset, whilst a collaboration between composer Julian Leeks and artist Fiona Robinson will present a developing conversation between the two art forms, and between each other’s work. Leeks is Founder and Artistic Director of NMSW which commissions new work from young composers and hosts a series of concerts showcasing these works plus world premiers of works by more established composers throughout the year. Much of Fiona’s work is about music, primarily J S Bach’s Cello Suites, John Cage and Gustave Fauré. She chose Julian’s String Quartet Anywhere Else but Here 2013 as the first work for their collaboration. “The complexity of the layering of the different instruments and the repetitive pulse of the cello made it a very intense and demanding process. I needed to deconstruct and separate the sounds, isolate the yearning melody and then put it all back together visually whilst at the same time responding to the emotional darkness of the piece. It really took me out of my comfort zone and it took much longer than normal to complete the drawing.” Leeks’ new string quartet and Fiona Robinson’s drawing will come together at two venues in June. The concerts at the RWA Bristol and Hauser and Wirth will also feature works composed in response to works on show at both venues, The Ingram Collection of Modern British Art and DRAWN at the RWA and Zhang Enli Four Seasons at Hauser and Wirth.

Art and Music 1 NMSW Concert at the RWA Bristol 7 June at 7 pm

DRAWN Biennial Drawing Open Exhibition and The Ingram Collection of Modern British Art at the Royal West of England Academy 21 March – 7 June 2015

Art and Music 2 NMSW Concert, Hauser and Wirth Somerset, 13 June 2015

Zang Enli Four Seasons at Hauser and Wirth Somerset 8 March – 21 June 2015

http://www.nmsw.org.uk

Tania Kovats – writing drawing…..

Tania Kovats

Drawing Water

Drawing as a mechanism for exploration

published by Fruitmarket Gallery (2014)

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Drawing Water flits through the centuries alighting on topics, genres, functions of both water and drawing. Kovats thinks her way through her topics, some encapsulated in sound-bite sized chapters others given more space juxtaposing an eclectic mix of images, known, forgotten, unseen or surprising. The prose slips through your fingers like water, uncontainable but leaving a residue. It is detached but through the gift of personal anecdote it draws the reader in. A non-fiction book that is also a page-turner. It offers the reader a series of propositions for consideration; to be examined, meditated upon, discussed and taken forward. It is an open book provoking thought not closed in by definitive answers.

It moves from those who draw the ocean bed to those who draw the stars. The ocean is observed from above, below and across its surface, its romance, its power deceptively benign but essentially untrustworthy. Kovats is fascinated by pathways, but those on the sea are ephemeral. There is no record of the passage of traffic on waterways. The wake is short-lived, “sea roads are like dissolving paths.” There is a lengthy description of the exquisitely beautiful Cantino Planisphere visually describing the world as it was in 1502. A map made from stolen information, which would have lost the anonymous artist his or her life if they had been caught. There is a plan of a slave ship c. 1789 graphically showing people as human cargo. This is not just about the appalling conditions, ironically the image itself is beautiful, it is the sub-text that is so horrendous.

She quotes Susan Sontag ruminating on how to critique art. Should one even attempt to do this? She examines the importance of interpretation and also the importance of just letting art ‘be’. Not to attempt to explain what it means. A compelling exposé of what drawing is for, a plea to allow it to exist in its own time and not to allow it to become hijacked by words. With any book the reader is metaphorically faced with leaving the safe haven of the land and sailing into the unknown, uncharted waters. Kovats constantly draws attention to the unthought the unconsidered point of view, opening up a space for dialogue, discussion and argument.

Reading this book is a bit like sea angling, from one section to the next you are never quite sure what will be at the end of the line but it will always be some thing that emerges from a relationship to the sea. The vast topic of the ocean as environment as well as a vast dumping ground for hugely destructive plastics is touched on very briefly. It is journey of discovery for Kovats and her readers, though words and images, her own and that of other people, as she dips in and out of things that catch her attention. From the personal to the political, from despair to delight: water as playground as Kovats joyfully watches her young son capering in a river, and as source of tragedy: a young migrant woman and her barely born child fished from the fatal waters of the Adriatic.

This is a book about drawing but it embraces drawing as a tool for everyone. It is also about water and like a stone skimmed skilfully across the surface of the sea, it touches subjects which brush against the matter of the ocean the river and the lake.

© Fiona Robinson 2015

Day Bowman – New work in Oxford and Sherborne, Dorset

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Day Bowman’s recent exhibition at Jenny Blythe Fine Art,  Oxford is being followed up by a week-long show at the Oliver Holt Gallery Sherborne where a series of drawings, commissioned by Marcus Ainley for the Douzelage group in Sherborne, will be on show from the 15 – 21 February. Twenty-seven new works, each related to one of the European towns with which Sherborne is twinned. The Douzelage Collages are about borders, barbed wire and little fragments of maps in Europe.

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Study 3 Fast Moving Trains charcoal, pencil and wash on cartridge paper, 17 x 22 cm

In Oxford Bowman was showing her signature large canvases alongside new small drawings, which are somewhat of a departure but also the germs of a new beginning.   Fast Moving Trains and Road Trip are two new series of work in charcoal, pencil and wash on paper with occasional touches of orange crayon. Straight lines give structure to fast scribbled circular motion and Steve Reich immediately springs to my mind. However these works were not made in response to music rather to images burnt on the retina as the artist passed through the countryside in either a car or on a train. They are not futurist either despite the speeding up of marks racing backwards and forwards across the surface.

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Study 2, Road Trip, charcoal, pencil and wash on cartridge paper, 17 x 22 cm

Day Bowman’s recent work is a revelation. She has long been interested in borders and boundaries, with the edges of things, areas, which are now neglected on the peripheries of cities and towns and by the sea. She has responded to the poetry of neglected shipyards, ugly gas towers, railway sidings and wasteland, places of desolation and neglect. But she does not romanticize this desolation she acknowledges the huge history of these previously hard-working areas. These concerns continue but her paintings have undergone a radical change she has relinquished the fleshy tones in favour of richer browns and oches and subtle blues and greys and she is flirting with figuration!

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Oil Gasometer 1, Oil charcoal and conté on canvas, 152 x 168cm

© Fiona Robinson 2015

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Fast Moving Trains 19, Mixed media collage on paper, paper, 20 x 26 cm

http://www.jennyblythfineart.co.uk

http://www.douzelage.org

The Oliver Holt Gallery Sherborne School Abbey Road Sherborne DT9 3AP

http://www.daybowman.com

Bringing sea and land inside….

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Alfred Stockham Cliff and Boat, Grey Sky 

Some of my favourite artists are currently exhibiting at Sladers Yard in West Bay in Dorset and I headed off there last week.  It was a cold blustery day and I just had to walk around the harbour first to blow the cobwebs away, listen to screeching seagulls and watch a turbulent sludge grey sea. I love the sea in winter and lacking sun the muted colours exactly suited my mood.  In the gallery it was almost as if the colours had moved inside with me and were reflected back by the sublime, understated, receding hues of Alfred Stockham’s quiet paintings.

Most of Alex Lowery’s 2014 paintings have a stronger palette with abstract shapes of grouped buildings that seem to be holding their breath.  The contemplative isolation of Lake Edge, just one building, a cottage by the water, has that stillness. Teignmouth is a little different.  Pale and atmospheric, lovely drawn pillars of a jetty create a rhythm of lines which stretch out across the surface of the water.

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Alex Lowery Teignmouth  36 x 81 cm oil on linen 2014

Luck Elwes flickering canvases are supremely restless by comparison. Autumn and Spring both redolent of the change and movement inherent in both those seasons. And the watery theme is continued in the forms of David O’Connor’s simple boat shaped vessels and the turquoise blues of their beautifully patinated bronze and copper.

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David O’Connor Dream Ship 21x11x6cm patinated copper

O’Connor paints as well. His paintings bear a close relationship to drawing: marks stuttering over uneven ground, lines thickening and thinning as they move across the surface of the canvas, across the surface of the land.

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David O’Connor Along the Ridgeway 57 x 41 cm

Landscape is also of concern to Daisy Cook who is showing for the first time in West Bay and to Julian Bailey who has temporarily abandoned his large format oils in favour of intimate little abstract landscape studies in gouache.

Through Different Eyes: ways of seeing landscape is at Sladers Yard until 22 February 2015.  Works by

Julian Bailey, Daisy Cook, Luke Elwes, David O’Connor, Alex Lowery, Alfred Stockham ARCA RWA

with furniture by Petter Southall.

http://sladersyard.wordpress.com/through-different-eyes/

© Fiona Robinson 2014

 

One day – From sculpture to drawing to photography

Busy day yesterday.  I started at Spike Island talking to Ben Rowe, the sculptor who won the Evolver Feature Prize at the RWA Open Exhibition in Bristol this year.  More of that to follow when I have written my article about his work for the January February Edition of Evolver.  I than wandered over to Bath, taking as long to find somewhere to park as I did on the journey from Bristol to Bath!

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Susan Laughton Night Echoes III

I visited the elegant Quercus Gallery where there is an exhibition of contemporary  jewellery innovatively displayed.  The hang is as much of an artwork as the beautiful pieces on show.  There was also a strong group of monochrome prints including Sandra Porter, Christopher Binding and Stef Mitchell, a beautiful almost mystical small painting by Susan Laughton in acrylic and plaster on canvas and a trio of tiny landscapes by Helen Booth.  Laughton and Booth also make very beautiful understated drawings.

I then headed off the the Victoria Art Gallery to look at the John Eaves exhibition there, Small Beginnings.

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John Eaves Blue Glass

Lovely small work which is complemented by the exhibition of Eaves Prints at Anthony Hepworth in Margarets Buildings at the top of the town near the Circus.  Fortunately it was, despite the recent horrendous rain, gloriously sunny, so perfect for a day wandering around Bath.

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Jill Kennington Andy Warhol with Pug

Ended the day by going to the Private View of Jill Kennington’s photography at Bridport Arts Centre.  Stunning portraits of Andy Warhol, Lord Snowden, Allen Jones, Jean Muir, Elisabeth Frink and lots more plus her evocative landscape photographs.

 

Studio day needed today I think!

 

Writing drawing and listening to music…..

 Notes from a small room – Fauré #1 Copy     Notes from a small room – Fauré #2 copy

Fiona Robinson Notes from a small room – Gustave Fauré 1 & 2  Graphite charcoal chalk and wax on paper. 22 x 30 inches. 2014.

Distracted by too much writing, I am happy to be back in the studio doing some drawing: a new, very large John cage piece and two smaller ones in response to Gustave Fauré’s Violin Sonata in A minor.  The beautiful soaring sound of the Fauré forcing the lines to loop and flow.

Robinson Fiona John Cage In a Landscape 1948 Version 3 - Version 2

Fiona Robinson John Cage in a Landscape 1948 Version 3.  

Graphite charcoal chalk and wax on paper. 32 x 44 inches. 2014.

 

Now writing for Artlyst http://blog.artlyst.com/contemporary-drawing/ I have so far covered Drawing Prizes; the Drawn Figure as in Rembrandt’s exquisite drawing of A young woman sleeping (Hendrickje Stoffels) about 1654 in The Late Rembrandt Exhibition at the National Gallery; at White Cube experiencing ‘the throw away quality’ of Tracey Emin’s  discarded lines and at The Drawing Room, London, the complex contemporary explorations of the figure from Egon Schiele through Andy Warhol to Marlene Dumas and Paul MacCarthy .

Most recently Chloe Leaper’s spatial drawings caught my eye, made during her month as artist in Residence at Somerset House for the National Open Art competition.  Lots of images of Chloe’s work can be seen by clicking the link above.

 

This little post is necessarily short, so I can return to my drawing!!

Cicatrix – the drawing of scars

 Cicatrix by Prudence Maltby  (2)

Prudence Maltby Cicatrix

We are nearly at the end of 2014 and have four years to go to 2018 and so three years to continue to memorialize the Great War. There have been a lot of different attempts already to jump on the bandwagon with all the potential for hastily thrown together superficial shows. Cicatrix is not in that category. It is thoughtful, poignant and respectful.

 

Henny Burnett - 100 Wiltshire Towers

Henny Burnett 100 Wiltshire Towers

Henny Burnett - 4 Towers from 100 Wiltshire Towers

Henny Burnett 4 Towers from 100 Wiltshire Towers

Henny Burnett has constructed 100 Wiltshire Towers filling the recesses of each one with tiny objects, some as found, others fabricated, altered and displayed alongside small cast figures based on the ‘Fums-Up’ good luck charms which were given to soldiers by their sweethearts before they set off for the Front. All these tiny sculptures contain an element gathered on Salisbury Plain.

Henny Burnett - Juniper Joes for 100 Towers

Henny Burnett Juniper Joe

The miniscule figures are topped with Juniper berry heads, a plant that grows on the Plain and which is reputed to have a life of a hundred years. This is a touching installation and in a curious and engaging twist visitors are invited to exchange one of the figures with something they have made, a reminder of impermanence, of the charms lost by their lost owners. The scale of the towers and the scale of the figures, so small and insignificant are in gross contrast to the enormity of what happened and the huge forces of power which resulted in so many bodies being blown into smithereens, into tiny pieces and discarded on French soil. It is not difficult to be struck by the sadness of the appalling waste that WW1 was responsible for, but Burnett’s Salisbury Plain Mess Tins are also heartbreakingly evocative. Collections of objects contained in Kilner jars together with stitched fragments of cloth maps of the area on Salisbury Plain where each object was found. All this could just as easily have been gathered from Flanders Fields, transferring the location to an English Plain associated with the Military, brings it closer to home.

Prudence Maltby - Scar

Prudence Maltby Scar

The fragility hinted at in Burnett’s sculpture is present in Prudence Maltby’s installation of small drawings, paper, scarred and marked, lines pushed and pulled across surfaces, fragile objects in need of protection. Raw pigment and overlaid mark making building layers, a sense of scar tissue healing but always leaving the evidence of the original damage beneath the layers.

 Prudence Maltby - Fracture

Prudence Maltby Fracture

Susan Francis’ approach is different, using installation and a video which sees all of this through a lens. The lens is that of a camera but inevitably it parallels the barrier of time, the disconnection caused by the placing of glass between an object viewed and the viewer. 21st century perceptions of what happened in 1914 are seen through the wrong end of the telescope of time. Memories are ring-fenced by time, there is no one left now to reminisce, to mull over events, to weave new memories. What we know is now stagnated and set within an enclosure which holds within it, beyond reach, the lost voices of first hand experience. What we have here is a terrible beauty, residues which suggest an almost Baudelairian sense of evil through beauty, reference Les Fleurs du Mal.

Susan Francis - Tending the Juniper detail

Susan Francis Tending the Juniper (detail)

Susan Francis - Experimental Ground film still

Susan Francis Experimental Ground, (Film Still)

© Fiona Robinson 2014

Cicatrix at Pound Arts Corsham and Tour

http://www.poundarts.org.uk

Auerbach – Clough – Hilton – Tom Hammick – Day Bowman – Fiona Robinson and more @TheArtStable

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Prunella Clough Six Studies 1948

I have just been to see this show.  Kelly Ross’s space at the Art Stable is small but despite hanging a lot of work, curiously it still has space to breath.  There are some real gems here.  A Prunella Clough which I would travel a long distance to see.  Six Studies 1948 is precisely, simply what it says it is.  A smallish sheet of paper with six raggedly outlined rectangles jagged mark making  and touches of colour.  She plays with line, thickening it, thinning it, moving it around, overlapping, containing, giving it a life of its own.  Quite lovely.

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David Jones Seated Woman Pencil. 1935-40

There is a David Jones line drawing Seated Woman 1935 – 40 in Pencil.  There is almost something of the Northern Renaissance in the high forehead or yet perhaps it is more akin to Modigliani in the turn of the head.  There is a small classic Nude, by Roger Hilton: lines overdrawn, the pose of the figure reaching forward, the back horizontal, almost crawling. Archetypal Hilton. Another figure,  Penwith Nude by Terry Frost  is interesting because, accustomed to Frost’s late paintings, one tends to forget that he like many other abstract artists often drew from life.  So it is a real treat to see this drawing.

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Tom Hammick

Two Tom Hammick Pencil Studies

There are several small Tom Hammick’s, pages from what looks like a Moleskine Notebook.  There are two lovely little Day Bowman studies, vigorous charcoal marks overlaid with spidery orange coloured pencil line.  Coloured pencil circa 1940 rescued from an old desk. I remember interviewing the painter Angela Charles years ago and she too had an ancient stub of red pencil which she used in her paintings and dreaded the day it would finally run out!

This is a lovely show definitely worth making a long detour to see it. There are some wonderful drawings here both Modern and  Contemporary and all at giveaway prices.  Probably shouldn’t talk about price but it is nice to know that top quality works are affordable.

I have to own up and say that I have three drawings in it too!

 

CONTEMPORARY AND MODERN BRITISH DRAWINGS

27 September – 18 October 2014

including work by:

Jemma Appleby, Peter Archer, Frank Auerbach, Day Bowman, Reg Butler, Prunella Clough, William Crozier, Adrian Daintrey, Kevill Davies, Thomas Denny, Terry Frost, Duncan Grant, Tom Hammick, Roger Hilton, David Jones, Jane Joseph, Ansel Krut, Richard Lin, Robert Medley, Fiona Robinson, Tobit Roche, Jane Rye, Celia de Serra, Liz Somerville, Rowland Suddaby, Keith Vaughan, Amanda Vesey, Kate Walters, Toby Wiggins, Michael Williams

Kelly Ross at The Art Stable Child Okeford Nr. Blandford

http://www.theartstable.co.uk

 

Ann Christopher RA – Marks on the Edge of Space – at Rabley Contemporary

 

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Nestling in the folds of the rolling Wiltshire landscape,  Rabley Barn, home to Rabley Contemporary Art Gallery and Drawing School is a  magical, inspirational place and one of my favourite places to visit.  Meryl Ainslie the Director of Rabley gathers around her a collection of wonderful artists and consequently attracts a stream of interesting people who are drawn to the place and the high quality work she shows.  Her latest exhibition, as often, a two-in-one, splitting the gallery into two separate but complementary solo shows, contains prints by Nana Shiomi and drawings and sculpture by Royal Academician Ann Christopher.

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Christopher’s sculptural drawings are characterised by a severe elegance but underlying this simple purity of form, glimpsed beneath opaque mylor, are scratchy energetic marks. The opacity of the mylor is like dust settling on objects in a long abandoned room, obscuring their surface qualities, and contributing mystery and a dreamy sense of time passing.  Combining different materials which could be thought to be unforgiving in their rigidity,  stiff glassine-like mylor, sharply cut blackened paper shapes and metal rivets these serene drawings contain surprise in their fluid half hidden marks.  The quiet stillness is disrupted by a suggestion of controlled turmoil beneath the surface. To regard them is to hold your breath.

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Also on show is the artist’s exquisitely beautiful contemplative sculpture Silent Space which balances on the edge of nothingness, teeters on the edge of thought. It is constructed of cast resin which has the appearance of marble and thin aluminium tapering curves which do not move but shimmer in the light creating the semblance of movement.  Here again the apparent perfection is disturbed, the surface ruffled by the deliberately unfinished roughness of the curved marble-like support.  It is a strange feat of asymetrical symmetry .

 

 

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Silent Space  Resin and Aluminium 6 x 160 x 27 cm. 2010

 The carving up of space in Christopher’s drawings suggests landscape, half seen vistas seen between the slats of fences or the walls of waterways, there is something very watery about some of them, or simply a recording of and a response to the evanescence of shadow light and movement. They are very beautiful.

Marks on the Edge of #641CB

 

Drawings

Marks on the Edge of Space 1 – 12

Conte, graphite, mylar and aluminium

46 x 47 cms

Musings on Malevich at Tate Modern

Amongst Malevich’s early paintings in the Tate show there are delightful little ink and watercolour paintings of houses, Flaneurs and boats. Known primarily for his Black Square this exhibition is a revelation. His early work seems to be an eclectic mix of styles revealing influences of Matisse, Lautrec and other French painters, a touch of Pointillism and Bather 1911 has suggestions of the Fauves in its vibrant colours. And Fernand Leger in the The Scyther. Rooms two and three take you on a fascinating journey through cubism with Russian roots and rural subjects to Marinetti’s Futurism. Morning in the Village after snowstorm is a lyrical soft edged face of cubism, with swirling snow drifts and a sea of houses, figures with elongated shadows on a pale ground. The drawings too are magical, lovely complex tiny cubist works in pencil on paper. Small because apparently paper was very expensive in Russia at that time. And so the the Black Square 2015 with its still heart-stopping white which is very beautiful, Lead White I wonder, and its now craquelured central black square with its tiny webs of lines, wrinkles on a much loved ancient face. Then the tumbling fat lines and straight edged shapes of the Suprematist work, still vibrant colours and occasional curves and circles.

Dynamic Suprematism 1915 or 1916 by Kazimir Malevich 1879-1935

Dynamic Suprematism 1915 or 1916 by Kazimir Malevich 1879-1935

Dynamic Suprematism / Supremus 1916 – 17, which I loved had a wonderful sense of stillness despite the slashing, destabilising diagonals and detached, leaning, falling shapes and strips. The pale dissolution paintings in room eight, labelled the End of Painting are very beautiful, light and edge dissolving, folding in on itself and disappearing, soft-edged and fading into a state of non-existence. Room ten contained drawing after drawing, some of them studies for paintings. In the little cubist Horse Drawn Carriage in Motion, 1913, you can see the wheels rotating and in Suprematist Construction no. 118, 1920, the weave of the paper shows through the crayon in a way similar to the slub of the canvas showing though the whites on some of the white on white dissolving paintings. The final paintings are poignant and have references to Renaissance painting. The Portrait of Nicolai Punin was reminiscent of Bellini. Signing these works with a small black square it is obvious that he was still rebelling against the need to make paintings which were not seen as decadent. Small and symbolic in these last works his black square was destined to become both mythic iconic in its future.

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