The first big art event of 2017 has graced the Capital - the 29th London Art Fair. I popped over to see what was occurring and found the Business Design Centre buzzing with arty stuff. 129 galleries from 17 countries were packed inside and there was a size-able crowd perusing the stands.
Overall, there was a large variety of good works on display, along with the usual sprinkling of pieces that shouldn't have been there and the odd comedy piece thrown in for light relief. Generally though, I enjoyed my 4 hour ramble around the galleries, looking for trends, spotting some vintage gems and muttering under my breath at a few choice items.
Personally, I wanted to find my place within this smörgåsbord of talent - would my work hold its own in this market and who could I approach to represent me and my paintings? I made notes, chatted to reps and took business cards. In due course I'll follow these up and see where it takes me.
There were many highlights in the show but as usual the sculptural elements stood out for originality and often, humour. The most topical of these had to be 'The Wall' by David Cotterrell, showing President Trump's favourite project as an oversized ping pong net.
Image- wise there were few favourites to choose from, but for an artwork that you could spend hours looking at, Emily Allchurch's 'Sic Transit Gloria Mundi' was hard to beat. It was a backlit digital image fusing classical statuary with a London skyline and I felt as though I could just climb in and explore its fantasy world.
Christmas is almost upon us! Yesterday was the first day of winter, and as the year draws to a close it's time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.
2016, despite global shenannigans, turned out to be a good one personally. I displayed work at several shows including a month as 'artist in residence' at the Baldock Arts Centre for Open Studios. I had a crack at Sky Arts 'Landscape Artist of the Year' and ended up with a brief moment on TV with Joan Bakewell. Also I began to teach, both in workshops and as a tutor at The Settlement in Letchworth.
Last week I visited Tate Britain to see the Paul Nash exhibition (opposite is the upside down Christmas tree in their foyer). There was some wonderful stuff on display - he began as a figurative landscape painter, moved into abstraction, through painting the chaos of WW1, then onto Surrealism and finally onto a mixture of all three with full on colour - almost in the manner of Van Gogh.
It reminded me that an artist is never static. Influences and interests buffet your work, changing and pushing it in different directions. So there is one of my resolutions for 2017! Absorb other artists and their work, use new materials, loosen up and try something different!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Hand me the BAFTA now, please!
I survived the edit and made my second appearance* on TV last night on Sky Arts' 'Landscape Artist Of The Year 2016'. Blink and you'd miss me, but I got a soundbite and a close-up, which is great!
Unfortunately I didn't make the next stage, but I had a great time, learned a lot and got to chat to Dame Joan Bakewell (before the Heaven's opened and everyone got drenched). If you haven't seen the series before it's well worth checking out.
I'll be back.....
* My first appearance was as an extra alongside Suggs from Madness in 'The Final Frame' for Film On 4, way back in 1989!
On my half- term travels this month I found myself looking for inspiration and taking unexpected trips down memory lane.
There is a new sculpture prize exhibition at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, and I decided to pop over to see what was occurring. Four artists are competing for a £30,000 prize and the public are being asked to nominate their favourite work.
For me, there was only one true sculptor there, in the grand tradition of Hepworth - Phyllida Barlow, who made a monumental scree slope from multi-coloured slabs of plaster.
I did enjoy though, adding my own wordage to David Medalla's participation piece, 'A Stitch In Time'. Have I contributed to the winning sculpture? Am I entitled to a percentage?!
A few quick updates -
My first tutorial at The Letchworth Settlement went very well and my 12 students produced some fantastic Autumnal Hertfordshire scenes. Next week I'll be guiding them through a misty mountain painting! I will take photos, I promise!
Though this course is fully booked, there will be a further acrylic course on offer in January on a Tuesday morning. Details to follow!
For those of you waiting for my appearance on Sky Arts 'Landscape Artist of the Year 2016' I have sussed out the running order and my episode (Stowe) should be on Tuesday 15th November! I'm the one in the straw hat.
Back in July I had an extraordinary experience when I took part in Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2016! We were officially told to keep the outcome a secret until the screening, and I genuinely do not know what will make the final edit, but it should make for an entertaining show!
I was entered, along with 50 other artists, as a 'wildcard', with one person being chosen to proceed further in the contest. The location was Capability Brown's masterpiece at Stowe, Bucks, and we were asked to take our positions on a great sweep of lawn in front of the main house. Most of the four hours went well - I found a good position (for the cameras as well as the view) I met some lovely fellow artists and the judges (including Dame Joan Bakewell) came round for a chat - and then the heavens opened and the wind swept in! Chaos ensued!
I believe the Stowe episode is airing this Tuesday 25th at 8pm on Sky Arts. Tune in to see real drama!
Setting up - my canvas is in the centre with the blue and orange rucksack.
So that's my first Herts Open Studios finished! My nice, light and airy studio space at Baldock Arts Centre is no more and the walls are once again bare - but my garage is once again full!
I've met some lovely people, held a successful workshop, sold some art and thoroughly enjoyed myself! Thanks again to everyone who came and to all of the volunteers at the Baldock Arts Centre who gave up their time to come along and support my open days.
No time to ponder the past though! In a month's time I'll be holding my first classes at The Letchworth Settlement. Places up till Christmas are fully booked, but there will be more in the New Year, so watch this space!
In the meantime, I can now announce that I took part over the summer in Sky Art's 'Landscape Artist of the Year 2016'! I had a great time at Stowe, Bucks with all the other contestants, battling against the elements and meeting the judges. Tune in on 11th October and see how far I got!
I'm chuffed that The Comet has published an article about my show, encouraging people to come in and see 'an artist at work'. Unlike my photo though, I do smile when people walk in!
Three weekends in and the Baldock Open Studios is still rockin' - mainly to the sounds of my 80's music. It's great to have a chat with visitors and I've been really pleased with the feedback - I just wish I could do this more often! Thanks to everyone who has popped in to see me and my work so far!
Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd are my last two days of Open Studios, so it's your last chance to catch me in action before I retreat, once again, to the confines of my garage.
As an aside, I've been told that my acrylic painting course is now fully booked at The Settlement. Watch this space as I'm adding more dates for workshops there in the New Year!
Two weekends in and I have to say I could get used to using the Baldock Arts Centre as a studio space! It's a lovely airy room with plenty of light and it really shows off my paintings to good effect. Best of all I get people walking in and engaging with me and my work, asking questions, making comments and giving me immediate feedback on what I've done, as well as actually buying some of my paintings, prints or cards!
It's all swings and roundabouts though, as they say. One elderly couple were on their way out having had a quiet look around and as they passed the windows I heard the lady say loudly, "Ooh, what beautiful curtains!"
I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks as I chat to more visitors and complete my latest cityscape of the Shard. I'm also taking bookings for my workshop on the morning of the 20th, so if you know of anyone who may be interested, please direct them to my website or contact me on email@example.com.
Thank you to Laura Valentine for the above photo!
I'm very excited to say that the paintings for my Open Studios exhibition are now hung and ready for the opening this Friday 2nd at Baldock Arts Centre!
I've chosen a selection of atmospheric landscapes and cityscapes together with a grouping that revolve around the theme of time - past and future. In all, 30 paintings to peruse.
I'll also be 'artist in residence' so I'll be there in person, happy to chat whilst I'm dabbing away at my canvas!
During the last week, on Tuesday 20th September, at 10.30am, I'll also be holding a one- off workshop on acrylic painting, where participants will produce their own artwork based on a 'Harvest Field'. Cost is £15.00. All materials are provided and refreshments will be available.
Bookings should be made through www.bahc.co.uk
In an earlier article I mentioned the generous donation by Tim Sayer of his entire art collection to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. Whilst up in Yorkshire at the weekend I got the chance to visit the gallery for the first time and was blown away by the whole set up.
The building itself is perched on the edge of a series of weirs by a canal basin, and no doubt the gallery was intended to form part of a regeneration of the industrial area. The whole effect of this stark, modern, grey hulk rising out of the water and softened by trees is magical.
The gallery is everything you'd expect from a modern, professional, national space - well organised and roomy with several exhibitions on display. There was less works on show from Hepworth herself, but I'm sure that this will be addressed in future incarnations of the site.
What I was most impressed with though was how friendly some of the staff were and how much the gallery encouraged people to talk to one another. The reverential silence was broken by people asking questions and commenting on the displays - which is how it should be. My wife and I spent 10 minutes or more discussing the collection of Tim Sayer (100 hundred of his pieces are currently on display) with a very friendly and knowledgeable attendant, who pointed out her favourite pieces, told stories and was genuinely interested in what we felt about the works.
All in all very impressed - and they even sold nice cakes and coffee!
As part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, The Hepworth is showing the rest of the country how art curation should be done.