Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A Steampunk Menagerie

If you're in Bristol and are feeling brave enough to venture south of the river, you must pop in to the Grant Bradley Gallery on Bedminster Parade, where the extraordinary Welsh artist Barry Lewis has a pre-Christmas show.

His show is called You Are What You Eat With, which makes sense when you see the role cutlery plays in his inventions: spoons become scales or teeth, while forks are twisted to create delicate bird forms. Meanwhile, the elephant above has a cement mixer body and the cockerel's tail began life as some kind of bladed garden implement.

Not sure who I'd bet on in this tug o'war!

Not all the creatures are scary, but they all share a rightness - a symmetry between the diverse recycled materials used and the subject. And they're great fun.

Walrus above, bear below...

For more information, contact the gallery or visit Barry's website.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Ravilious in Devizes

Eric Ravilious, Train Landscape, 1939 (Aberdeen Art Gallery/DACS/Artist's Estate)
Stop Press: the event is now Sold Out!

I'm excited to be returning to the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes on Saturday 24 November to explore the subject of Eric Ravilious and chalk hill figures. As before I'll be talking about the fascinating White Horse Dummy (which featured in the New York Times), but otherwise I'm planning to make the event substantially different from last time. I'm intrigued by the wider investigation of Ancient Monuments by (loosely) Modern Artists between the wars, and by the fascination people seem to have had for chalk downland in those days.

I'm writing an article on the subject for British Archaeology magazine, so there will be plenty of new material as well as an opportunity to look at some of Ravilious's loveliest paintings (on a screen, if not 'in person'!). Hope to see you there...

FFI: www.wiltshireheritage.org.uk

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ravilious at St Bride Library

A wonderful evening in store at the St Bride Library, off Fleet Street. We'll be talking about the fantastic interwar boom in auto-lithography - a form of lithography that involves artists working directly on the stone or plate - and showing all kinds of fabulous pictures.

Joe Pearson is the author of 'Drawn Direct to the Plate', which tells the story of Noel Carrington and the Puffin Picture Books, while Alan Powers has written books on the Curwen Press and related subjects. I'm looking forward to seeing what pictures they dig out of their archives and bring along...

I'll be talking about 'Ravilious: Submarine' and showing both the prints themselves and a selection of preliminary drawings - some of them beautiful works of art in their own right. Do come along and support the work of the St Bride Foundation, a unique institution devoted to typography, print culture and graphic design - past and present.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Victory Flag!

Jasper Johns, Flag, 1954/55, Encaustic, oil, and collage on fabric mounted on plywood, MOMA (artist's copyright)
Early last year President Obama presented Jasper Johns with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States.

'It has been noted that Jasper Johns’ work, playing off familiar images, has transfixed people around the world,' said Obama at the White House ceremony. 'Like great artists before him, Jasper Johns pushed the boundaries of what art could be and challenged others to test their own assumptions. He didn’t do it for fame, he didn’t do it for success—although he earned both.'

It's difficult to imagine either the previous incumbent or this year's Republican contender speaking with such eloquence and enthusiasm about a modern painter.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Edward Calvert: The Cyder Feast

Edward Calvert, The Cyder Feast, wood engraving, 1828

Edward Calvert was one of those 19th century British artists who were inspired by the example of William Blake. Like his friend Samuel Palmer, Calvert made extraordinary pictures in his youth, then became rather conventional. 'The Cyder Feast' is one of a series of tiny wood engravings (this one is less than 15cm wide, but I've magnified it so you can see what's going on) with a distinctly pagan feel. The people in the distance look as though they might have enjoyed a glass or two of dancing cider...

By the way, the new and revised second edition of 'The Naked Guide to Cider' is out later this month - now there's a reason to be cheerful!