Saturday, December 30, 2017


Well as they say Christmas has pretty much come and gone, for many people the ambition is solely to get through it for others it's a time of creating great memories, next thing is to get our energy levels up and prepare for the New Year..
Doors I have known

Odd as I look back on my blog (from nearly 8 years ago) I see a picture of Nick Clegg (Now Sir Nick) - we've been through quite a bit since then, perhaps we'll get another  change at the top in 2018?

[Also interested to see reference to Ringo and a knighthood from even further back - perhaps there's a lesson in this for would-be Knight David Beckham. ]

So for me 2017 I started a project to collect (pictures of) 365 sequential front doors (and managed 105- ish, which isn't too bad) and I bought a new Camera by saving and putting aside  a pound or two every day.

I have managed to spend quite a lot of time at The National Gallery (and the two London Tates too) am hoping to get more from Gallery visits in the New Year.

Bruce Nauman at Tate Modern -
Run From Fear Fun From Rear (1972)

I have again exhibited (and sold) some photo's so that has felt good.

Also keeping alive an interest in Philosophy, I'm going to do another course on this in 2018 and am drawn to find out more about two Frenchmen, Michel de Montaigne (his essays)  and  Xavier de Maistre (who wrote a travel book Voyage Autour de Ma Chambre about his room).

I also have News from Nowhere to read (I typically start the year reading then get overtaken by me own personal existential crisis.

Amazing and Free- London's National Gallery

What about 2018 - well I'm going to have a good long think about what  I fancy proclaiming as my mission/target - watch this space!

[Interesting to see the #FPBE hashtag on Twitter about Brexit, as is so much these days, feeling admiration for both Lords  Heseletine and Adonis.]

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas casting

Abbey Road- here Sir George Martin really was the 5th Beatle 

Hearing that Ringo Starr is to be knighted (another Sir Richard Starkey) I've been following up on some more Beatles stuff (on YouTube for example) and enjoyed very much the insights that Richard Buskin talking to George Martin revealed .

Sir George never seemed to boast but it's fairly clear that as well as being influential with The Boys George did do a lot of the work that made the Beatles such an amazing group in terms of leading them forward musically.

[It's really nice having Chromecast on a big screen in the attic]


The perfect gift

odd that Christmas is becoming (I think) less materialistic - once you've got everything (or nothing) it's about something else - Seems the latest Apple iPhone is top of what people wanted got in 2017 that (or an equivalent) pretty much is limitless (as though I suppose a pencil, eraser and stack of paper is) - I found this and got quite excited - reminded me that children sometimes have more fun with the packing than the gift

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Anish Kapoor (Almost an) original

Early this morning I watched a rather excellent BBC 'Imagine ' TV documentary about Anish Kapoor's RA exhibition in 2009.

I've seen work by (Sir) Anish Kapoor on more than one occasion but not fully engaged with what he's done and what he wants us to see -I'd been struck by his use of colour and the size of his work at the Olympic Park in East London.

This reminded me of his bold use of colour (he's even got his own colour Vantablack).

Kapoor's Teacher Paul Neagu

I hadn't really worked out what Kapoor was (he's a sculptor) but (oh the joys of the internet)  I see that although he's doing something different he does have influences - like principally his late  teacher the Romanian artist Paul Neagu as well as Kapoor Paul was teacher at Hornsey Art College  to Antony Gormley, Tony Cragg, and Rachel Whiteread.

The other thing I like about the work shown including those in Brighton Festival  and the monumental Cloudgate   in Chicago was his use of reflection.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas and Mrs May is still on top of the Tory Party and 'Lies Vs Misleading'

Well here we are nearly Christmas and Theresa May against many predictions is still heading up the precarious ship of state that is the UK government - feeling is that  now she'll be the one to see through most of the Brexit process - the way things are going though is not a given and we could see the whole thing disintegrate.

And like a sprint featuring Jeffery Archer there's a real danger (for the Tories) of a false start from a few ambitious candidates that could cause the house of cards to fall..

A Christmas  Panto 
Needs a  villain (and one has gone)

I'm not sure if Boris can be contained for too much longer and  we'll have to see if the Mark Garnier MP and his  Sugar Tits debacle is totally over 

Another Gov't minister goes

Didn't half feel like Newsnight had chosen the wrong day to go on holiday as  big political story came along with them away from the latest Tory banana skin moment

I  have since been wondered why lying was not used to describe what Damian Green MP  had done?
Well to be fair Misleading does as well.

I guess that the nature of the departure of 'De Facto' deputy PM leaving office is questionable bit I'm still shocked at (still ) is how willing politicians are to tell 'untruths' - although he's out of cabinet expect he will not feel honour bound to leave Parliament?


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Reflecting at The National Gallery (and The Arnolfini)

National Gallery - Van Eyck

For quite a few weeks (before and after my CityLit class - Looking at Paintings)  I've been wandering in the National Gallery trying to locate The Arnolfini - yes there seems to be an ongoing re-hang but I know that this picture is on the 'must see' list for many visitors (including those Russians who think there's a Putin resemblance).

[A nice commentary on the painting here]

Well yesterday as my Tuesday appointment with art I decided to take a look at 'Reflections...' exhibition and to my delight it was pretty much about Van Eyck and his inspiring of  the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

I'm not sure how well this exhibition has been marketed - but |I really enjoyed it both the scale and content were well considered, the fact that it was not too congested helped too as did the excellent film  that positioned the works on show.

The exhibition included the only completed work by the 'all rounder' William Morris (La Belle Iseult 1857-8 ) which shows that he had talent as an artist amongst his other skills.

What is interesting too is the way that the Brotherhood who were iconoclastic at the time of their formation are now considered (or their work is)  as quite 'chocolate box-y'.

I do like the way the use of small brushes means the work looks (to me) in some instances quite Hyper-real and their use of particular items (books etc.) leads to a narrative reading.

The Exhibition felt unhurried 

Unusually the exhibition has particular mirrors on show as this was part of the inspiration than the Arnolfini featured -  this did make me smile.

The one work I felt could have been omitted (on aesthetic grounds) was the John Phillip Partial copy of 'Las Meninas' but this does help with the history of how the National Gallery purchase of the Van Eyck was such a strong influence on the Brotherhood.

I guess it's hard to imagine in our 'super- connected' world how the physical arrival in the Gallery could have such an impact on a group of students.

After seeing the exhibition I took a look as the works on show in the Gallery of Gerard David another Artist from the low countries who was active after Van Eyck - another impressive artist

Here 's The Virgin and Child with saints and donor by David

A lovely painting The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor 

And more art that highlights the strength of  the  Netherlands artists here shown in the work of the Italian artist Antonello da Messina.

And this... Saint Jerome at his study by Antonella Da Messina  
[The exhibition also helped me realise how works are shared for exhibitions, plenty of Tate works here and also that the early acquisitions have earlier numbers]

Monday, December 18, 2017

Also at Serpentine Gallery - Wade Guyton

There was work going on at the Serpentine Gallery (and I mean work not works).

Lovely View

More roof work
Well as mentioned yesterday I looked at Artists work at Serpentine Galleries at the weekend - in what I suppose we might describe as the main gallery (the older one anyway) was work from a US artist called Wade Guyon.

And what do we think of Wade?

Referencing the Press

Well he was certainly not the most accessible modern artist - all his work was 'untitled' and was distributed as hung work (mainly canvas pairs), adapted work (in cabinets) and a stack of work (which was why the title of the exhibition  was 'abridged').

Much of his (hanging) work referenced the media - and often their was a disjoint in these works.

Seeing him talk on Youtube clips he presents as a fairly direct person but I am not too sure what I get from this body of work.

Two big works and cabinets with some of his 'altered' items 

More joined canvases and cabinets
A stack of his work - don't touch
A working space shown.

Here is the Wikipedia on the artist - and a clip that has been released to 'highlight' the current exhibition.

If you find something that will explain more about the basis of the work  please let me know- I see he commands prices around the $1m.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Now Showing at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery -Rose Wylie's Quack Quack

Rose is the artist

One of my favourite venues for contemporary art in London is the Serpentine, it's a great location and I've seen some marvellous things there, as well as seeing Marina Abramovic and her 512 Hours, Ive seen work by the Irish artist Michael Craig-Martin  and a recent self deprecating  Grayson Perry exhibition.

That's not to say that what's on show is always accessible(in terms of the art not the venue)  or easy and so it was for me with the current.

I'd not heard of the English born (and still living)  Rose Wylie before and after seeing work from the US artist Wade Guyton (more on this soon) it did seem at least broadly speaking understandable.

Serpentine Magazine 

Well I took a look at what she'd  created and recognised it (I think) as representational and naive, Rose seems to be well in touch with the current interests (her work references Sport, Films and royalty for example).

Works did not for me have a strong emotional pull and realising that she's now in her 80's was bit puzzled by what she's doing.

I did like works like Yellow Strip that were designed to be shown in a corner - it also works well as being (to me)  amusing it shows people like Wayne Rooney but it's not portraiture and barely (I'd say) Social Realism.

Yellow Strip by Rose Wylie (2006)

Rose often joins canvases together and I quite liked 'Park Dogs and Air Raid' which is two paintings one from Rose's youth and one of revisiting - the work is based on the area of the Serpentine Gallery (Kensington Gardens) - like much of the work on show there are references to Parks and animals.

Park Dogs and Air Raid (2017)

Generally  I like big pictures but here I wonder if it's an easy way out for the artist - the work looks to be without (I would say) artifice.

There were visitors 

There were visitors but it was not overly crowded (with people) the space is manageable  and it was easy to take your time looking around.

Little devils
 When I got home I chose to find out more about Rose and found (via YouTube) her to be articulate and  knowledgeable in referencing Classical art - she also spoke of the way she works from memory and notes,  using text (in her paintings) to presumably help viewers.

Her work is based on her reality with the 'errors' that are  naturally introduced along the way.

Rose though is not someone whose work I would fall in love with but an artist who clearly has her own Artistic Schtick.  

[I was a bit surprised to be set upon by Grey Squirrels on my way back to Lancaster Gate tube station - one ran some way up my trousers!]

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Media Empires & Philosophy

A one off perhaps?

The Business

When I studied for my MA in Mass Communication one of the figures under the microscope was Rupert Murdoch -and he was/is a very interesting figure. (not just because he kept a bust of Lenin when he was a student at Oxford university).

He's only recently got married to wife number 4 (Jerry Hall)  and denies that he's stepping back from the fray.

At 86 he was/is still a significant player but the announcement that Disney is to takeover much of his empire indicates a couple of things.

1) Traditional Media is under siege - from Amazon, Facebook and Netflix

2)  Murdoch is mortal and the second generation of the media magnate's loins do not have the same driving  ambition that he did.

So this really could be just an acknowledgement that TV/The Internet  is now where media empires live.

Further to this what we can see is that Cinema is under threat as never before - 'Box Sets' offer the home viewer something the 'Picture Palace' can't provide - we've also got the possibility of affordable massive slim screens - they can be 3D or UHD and the possibility of the screens being used to provide great works of art in the home is another 'game changer'.

Samsung - Replacing a visit to the Gallery?

Why are some figures Driven?

The other question (perhaps unfathomable) is why does an 86 year old man  with more money than can be imagined (unless you're one of the modern day Titans like Jeff Bezos) carry on wanting to make the next big deal.

What did Rupert's relationship with his father Keith really mean to his son and will his dynasty carry on into the 22nd Century?

And the next changes

Perhaps we'll not know the answer into what drives Rupert (or any of us) but more will become clear on the consolidation of media companies (and the net neutrality)  in 2018 ,.

Discovery (my last employer) is looking a bit of a dinosaur adrift without visible means of support as cable cutters liberate themselves (in the USA at least) , BT (another previous employer of mine) perhaps shouldn't have got into battling (Sky UK) and the once mighty  BBC is unlikely to be able to become a league one player while it remains a state broadcaster (and what will happen to ITV?)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The End of Looking at Paintings at Tate Modern (or the beginning?)

This week was the final session of The Looking at Paintings and we wound it up at Tate Modern
Sickert at Tate Modern -Ennui (1914)
bringing us into the 20th Century.

It was nice to be at Tate Modern it is (by it's nature) less stuffy than The National Gallery but there are (despite what are esteemed course leader Julia said) lots of traditional-ish paintings, we did see a sneaky sculpture but stayed away from the edgy performance stuff.

 It was nice too to keep seeing more connections we breezed past another Sickert and even another Meredith Frampton (which featured the same vase as we saw in 'Trial and Error' last week) This one was titles  -Portrait of a Young Woman.

One of the group takes a look at
'Portrait of a Young Woman (1935)'

Tate Modern is well stocked with Picasso and we saw both influences in his work  of Matisse and the fashionable (at the time) African masks.

Picasso showing his influences

We were able to see Picasso through his cubist journey  and we took a look to at a Lee Krasner painting - Gothic Landscape, it seems close to an abstract but is not quite.

  Krasner was the lover of Jack the Dripper/Jackson Pollock and was  was eclipsed by the larger than life Pollock.

Gothic Landscape 

The standout for me though was the surrealists and the skill (and importance)  of Dali was very clear

Metamorphosis of Narcissus. Dali (1937)

For sure I feel better equipped to look at Paintings (critically) and along with what I've been exposed to on other courses I'm beginning to get some feel for the flow of works in terms of 'isms' and chronology

Monday, December 11, 2017

Planting, Snow And Cars

Last week I put in pots some Broad Beans, Peas and Garlic and on Saturday some Narcissus  and  Anemone bulbs in the front garden for some Spring colour.

Selection of bulbs for planting

The border planted

Garlic (from the shops not the garden Centre)

Then 10th December the snow (and debate on why England can't cope with it).

I popped out with my Camera and here are some pictures from round West Ealing
My allotment shed in the snow (plot 202)

St John's West Ealing
A Christmas Card in the making?


On Friday I was chatting with a somewhat 'Senior' woman and cars cropped up as a topic of conversation - she said that she couldn't really see driver-less cars catching on, well I'd earlier taken my own car in for a service, it's about 20 years old and while I was in that 'car' frame of mind I looked at a modern car (I'm going to replace mine soon) - it'd got all sorts of tech, camera for parking - Bluetooth and the like so I can see it happening, if my next car lasts as long as this one has I expect it'll be driver-less and electric too.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

CityLit's looking at Paintings course -Getting to the end

Tate Britain - it's beginning to look a lot
like Christmas  

This Wednesday we were back at Tate Britain for the penultimate group (City Lit Looking at Paintings  course) - Tate Britain has got a great Kitsch-y Christmas look and it was nice to there (less Crowded than National Gallery).

Generally the course has run along the theme of Genres but there's also been a less defined underlying chronological undercurrent and with these last two sessions (next one is at Tate Modern) we're coming (almost) up to date.
Julia shows us a 'near' abstract

So first of all don't get me wrong I do like Tate Britain but there are times when I'm struck by the fact that certainly after the Pre-Raphaelites and before the British Pop Art there was a period where most of what came along did not do it for me - much of it looked downbeat and  was concerned solely with the artist - so it was that what we looked at on Wednesday might have been of significance but was (I'm sorry to say) for was not exciting.

A story of Lizzie

[By the way interested to see that there's a book about the somewhat tragic Lizzie Siddal a muse and model to many of 'The Brotherhood and lover of Rossetti].

We did look at an example of British 'Quasi Surrealism' by Meredith Frampton called 'Trial and Error' which can also be read as a Still life Momento Mori. Meredith was the son of celebrated sculptor George Meredith.

Trial and Error (1939)

We did look at some Walter Sickert works and I do like his paintings but he is almost an honorary European, spending much of his time in France and being the son of a German-Danish Artist.

Sickert was a somewhat restless artist associated with Camden Town Group latterly much of his work was derived from Media images (often The Press) like the picture below of Miss Gwen..., who was a famous actress.

This use by Sickert was long before it became the 'vogue' to use Mass Media in works of Art as Sir Peter Black and Andy Warhol did in the 60's.

I am looking forward to (I hope) seeing more examples of Sickert when I visit the National Portrait Gallery with a City Lit  course in 2018.

[There were stories that Sickert was in fact Jack the Ripper - not sure how much salt is needed with that!]

Late Period Sickert - Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Isabella of France (1932)

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Taylor Wessing Prize at NPG

An answer to painting?

As I started to write this must say I was rather surprised to find that it's about 3 years since I went to see the winners of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait competition at London's National Portrait Gallery.

The good news is that I think the quality this year  is even higher than before and the subjects yet more engaging.

Goodness how the judges choose - technically they all brilliant to me - but the ones I especially liked were:

1) Fleeing Mosul by Abbie Trayler-Smith (it got second prize) despite the sad subject the work is beautiful and so painterly, the colours are out of this world.

2) Minecrafting by Hania Farrell is another photograph that really did it for me, what was great about this one was the way it referenced works like the recently viewed (by me)  Velasquez's Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (also seen last year).

And the third picture (and a big part of the reason I made the journey into town) was the really exciting...

3) 'One of them is a Human..' by Maija Tammi - what's so exceptional about this is that it's a portrait of Erica (an android) - Tammi is a Finnish artist who has worked and studied in America as well as Finland.

The idea of taking pictures of an Android seems almost a visual 'Turing test' and alerts us to issues that will become more and more applicable as technology progresses.

To be honest the visit to this exhibition really livened me up and made me enthusiastic to make more photographic  experiments myself.

[I was also intrigued by how many of the Portraits' had the subject so centrally]

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Christmas Spirit & Dysfunctional Gov't and Misleading Ministers

We need you Santa

Nice to see some genuinely tacky Christmas lights (thanks Alan Kane) at Tate Britain today - it might be tongue in cheek but it was making people smile..

Be great with a dusting of snow

Nice with a bit of snow

And not making people smile ...

Get a Grip

OK I'm of the view that we'd be better off in EU but my 'beef' at the moment is the mess Theresa and the Tory Ministers are making - any CEO doing as much damage as our PM would be marched off the premises with her belongings in a black bin bag - we keep thinking it can't get worse and then it does

I'm wondering what on Earth happens in the Tory cabinet meetings - obviously no holding David Davis to account or discussions on Brexit (or so Philip Hammond has indicated) - - I guess it's important things like what biscuits they should have and EU decisions are left to Rees-Mogg and failed Tory leader/Loon I D-S?

In a past life I was for a while a union rep and did some negotiating - it was necessary to communicate with colleagues present a united front and have a plan - we've none of these and got people like Crispin Blunt blaming EU negotiators for us not knowing what we want.

Please Please (as they used to say on BBCTV's Points of View) get your act (and team) together Mrs May.