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HANG OUT WITH US... Anthony Whishaw issue // Ivor Abrahams RA

Come to our Sunday food and craft Market. A place to browse or shop, to meet, eat, drink, enjoy live music and affordable art. A place for everyone.

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We use largely fresh local produce, with organic or fair trade ingredients.

The Barley Mow was saved from extinction by the Bristol Beer Factory to become one Bristol best local pubs, of Bristol’s serving ‘the Dings’, north of Temple Meads Station. It is adjacent to the Bristol-Bath cycle path.

Friday night live music in the hold bar - a great venue to hire all other days.

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Situated in the old Ashton Gate Brewery near the Tobacco Factory. The Bristol Beer Factory may be small but it brews some of the region’s best ales. awa Our Milk Stout was awarded a gold award by Taste of the West, one of only 2 beers to receive the accolade. We use locally grown malt and hops and are fighting for our independent pubs. p Demand our locally produced cask ales in your pubs and bars: Red, No7, Sunrise and Bristol Stout.

Illusion & Allusion: Whishaw RA

// Sister Wendy Beckett

Close-up // Garry Fabian Miller

BackChat // Joan Bakewell DBE

Winter 2011

07 Winter 2011

// Ivor Abrahams

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If you have not been to the Tobacco Factory you have not experienced Bristol!

Enjoy panoramic harbour views and watch the Matthew and others sail past while sipping our Bristol beers and European Wines. Try our home made pies and taps and sample our exquisite daily specials.

DBE

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// Sister Wendy Beckett // Garry Fabian Miller // Joan Bakewell

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Kyffin Williams (1918-2006) Original Linocut Waterfall Signed and numbered 53/100 in pencil Size: 30 x 75 cms

Barbara Hepworth (1905-1975) Original Screenprint November Green 1970 Signed and numbered 58/60 in pencil Size: 77 x 58 cms Collections. Tate

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Contributors

// Richard Storey took a BA Honours degree in Drama from Bristol University (2006). He worked for the Bristol Evening Post for 12 years and is author of Perfect Persuasion. He is a former Board member of Bristol Arts Centre and Travelling Light Theatre Company.

// Jodie Inkson’s obsession with typography began at school when she painstakingly hand cut every letter of a project. Climbing the design ranks in London, she formed Wire Sky in 2003, winning awards and a position in Who’s Who. She sees her beloved modernist chairs as art, not sure whether she prefers sitting on them or looking at them.

// Mike Whitton taught English, Art and Drama for almost 40 years in secondary schools. Now, in semi-retirement, teaches Psychology to sixth-formers. Hobbies include photography, mountain walking. Ardent defender of the Arts in the school curriculum.

// Celia Archer is currently reading English at Bristol University but has always been interested in the Arts. At the moment she is involved with work for the Bristol based gallery, Antlers.

// Simon Baker is an RWA Trustee and a solicitor on the cusp of celebrating 40 years in practice. An avid enthusiast of the visual arts since discovering that books with “pictures and conversations” were the best, he is too much of an impulse buyer to qualify as a collector.

// Jilly Cobbe has a degree in Fine Art Drawing and is a practicing artist living near Stroud. She has a life-long fascination with the history of art, especially the artist behind the art.

// Nigel Cox was thirty years with Barclays before opening (with his late wife, Maria) the Four Seasons gallery, Wimborne. Now galerist at the Orange Tree Galerie, Seillans, South of France. Primarily exhibiting the paintings of his wife Tessa Peskett and the sculptures of his daughter, Lisa Lindqvist.

// David Cuthbert studied painting at the Central School of Art & Design in London where he was taught by Adrian Berg, Blair Hughes-Stanton and Cecil Collins. He paints, makes constructions and teaches Painting, Drawing and Art History. With his wife Ros Cuthbert RWA he runs The Art Shed in Winscombe.

// Aidan Hart is a noted iconographer and writer, with commissioned works in over 15 countries. His book Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting was published in October of this year.

// Mike Jenner while a lecturer at Bath University, joined his one-man architectural practice with Ray Moxley’s to found Moxley, Jenner and Partners, ultimately sixty strong. He has always combined practice with writing on architectural history. He is a compulsive collector of every form of visual art, from 9th Century Tang pots to 21st Century paintings.

// Andrew Lambirth has written on art for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, Modern Painters and RA. Among his many books are monographs on Craigie Aitchison, Nigel Hall, Maggi Hambling, Roger Hilton, John Hoyland and David Inshaw. He is currently art critic of The Spectator and lives in Suffolk.

// Hugh Mooney is an art photographer and recently studied Fine Art at the University of the West of England. A physicist by profession, he spent 30 years in the aerospace industry prior to retiring in 1998. A camera is his constant companion.

// Darren Tanner Manager, Foyles at Cabot Circus has worked as a bookseller in various Bristol bookshops since graduating from Art College in 1999. As a bookseller he has made it his mission to create diverse and interesting art sections wherever he has worked.

// Fieke Tissink studied History of Art, became keeper of education at the Rijksmuseum and has written on Rembrandt and other artists of the Dutch Golden Age. For several years she made art programmes for Dutch TV which she continues to do through her own company Bobcat Media.

// Rob Withers lectured in education, philosophy and aesthetics. As Principal of University College Scarborough he participated in all interviews for new Art Department staff: his policy only to appoint highly successful, exhibiting artists capable of making both drawing and art history foundations of the art degree.

There’s a tee shirt out there somewhere that reads: Explanation Destroys Art. Years ago, at the Hayward, I stood in front of a Howard Hodgkin painting and found myself moved to tears. No other work in his exhibition had the same effect; just this one. Much later I read that Hodgkin spends months, sometimes years, distilling on to canvas the emotions of a particular experience. So – here’s the thing: if that painting had been accompanied by an explanatory label, or artist’s statement, would its effect on me have been the same? I doubt it. One definition of ‘explain’ is “to make an idea clear to someone by describing it in more detail.” And, thereby, in the case of art, possibly removing the joy of discovering for oneself what it is we like or dislike. Of course, we don’t have to read labels – often peppered with that arcane meta-language so beloved of artists – but if we do, is our viewing experience necessarily enhanced, or have we simply been spoon fed? I enjoy the ambiguity of context and would always prefer to view the work without explanation; then – if I am moved / impressed / fascinated – to seek further amplification. I’m off now – to find that tee shirt.

Richard Storey Managing Editor

RWA magazine

Winter 2011

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

ROYAL WEST OF ENGLAND ACADEMY Patron Her Majesty the Queen Board of Trustees Chairman Dr Norman Biddle Hon RWA Honorary Treasurer Bob Barnett Trustees Simon Baker, Elizabeth Boscawen, Jennifer Bryant-Pearson, Ned Cussen, Professor Paul Gough PhD MA FRSA RWA, Paul Wilson President Dr Janette Kerr PRWA Academicians’ Council Vice President Peter Ford RE RWA Honorary Architectural Advisor Mike Jenner FRIBA FRSA RWA Council Members Anne Desmet RA RE RWA, Vera BoeleKeimer RWA, Stephen Jacobson RWA, John Palmer RWA, Louise Balaam RWA, Rachael Nee RWA Director Trystan Hawkins Facilities Manager Nick Dixon Events and Income Manager Angharad Redman Membership and Office Manager Gemma Brace Marketing Manager Lottie Storey Gallery Co-ordinator Tristan Pollard Gallery Assistant Ben Harding Customer Services Manager Steve Fielding Customer Services team members Juliet Burke Louise King Accountants Hollingdale Pooley ART MAGAZINE Publisher Royal West of England Academy Managing Editor Richard Storey Art Director Jodie Inkson – Wire Sky Deputy Editor Mike Whitton Specialist photography Alice Hendy RWA and Academicians’ news Gemma Brace: gemma.brace@rwa.org.uk ADVERTISING Angharad Redman t: 0117 906 7608 e: angharad.redman@rwa.org.uk COPY DEADLINE Spring 2012 issue: 13 January Royal West of England Academy, Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PX t: 0117 973 5129 General enquiries e: info@rwa.org.uk Magazine e: rwamagazine@gmail.com Registered Charity No 1107149 The opinions in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Royal West of England Academy. All reasonable attempts have been made to clear copyright before publication.

Inside Cover Garry Fabian Miller’s Exposure (7 hours of Light), 2005 Editorial, Contributors

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What’s on at the RWA

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Diary – events, lectures, workshops, tours

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RWA news

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Bristol Drawing School

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Academicians’ news

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Friends news & Events

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ART Magazine Emerging Artist Award 16 Celia Archer introduces a talent to watch – Anouk Mercier. Anthony Whishaw RA Hon RWA: Illusion and Allusion Simon Baker meets the master of the multiple horizon.

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24 Ivor Abrahams RA: Merging the dimensions Andrew Lambirth catalogues the notable successes of the essentially subversive Abrahams. Jason Bowyer: figuratively speaking 28 Rob Withers talks to the President of the New English Art Club. The Icon: Window to the Transfigured World Aidan Hart – how a master iconographer works.

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Paule Vézelay: Clifton Arts Club to Abstract / Création 34 David Cuthbert remembers Britain’s first female Abstract artist. Gallery Review: Bath Contemporary

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Sister Wendy Beckett: Encounters with Art Deputy Editor Mike Whitton’s exclusive interview with Britain’s most famous self-taught art historian.

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An unknown masterwork: Christchurch, Shaw Mike Jenner shares his enthusiasm.

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Close-up: Garry Fabian Miller Hugh Mooney meets a photographer who conjures the visible from the invisible.

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Inside the artist’s studio: Rembrandt van Rijn 48 Fieke Tissink – in the studio of Holland’s most illustrious painter. Reviews

50

Artful Cuisine: our exclusive restaurant guide

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To read an electronic version of ART, or to visit the RWA online: www.rwa.org.uk. Follow us on Facebook and twitter.com/rwabristol

Listings

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ART is printed by WPG on sustainably sourced FSC certified paper using vegetable inks. www.wpg-group.com

BackChat: Joan Bakewell

DBE

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Winter 2011

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What’s on at David Shepherd: A Crazy Life of Steam & Elephants

Ivor Abrahams: Eden and Other Suburbs 8 January – 4 March

8 January – 12 February David Shepherd paints every day of his life. Now aged eighty, the famed wildlife, aviation and steam train artist describes his life as ‘a series of disasters’ – David Shepherd’s career has been shaped by serendipity. Rejected by the Slade School of Art, David planned to train as a bus driver. A chance encounter with artist Robin Goodwin resulted in a three-year apprenticeship – a first for Goodwin, who revelled in the challenge, and a life-changing opportunity for Shepherd. David Shepherd: A Crazy Life of Steam & Elephants features over 30 works rarely seen in public before. Selected from the paintings that hang in his own home, the exhibition showcases the breadth of subjects close to David’s heart, giving a glimpse into the ‘crazy life’ of one of the UK’s best-known painters.

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

Sculptor and printmaker Ivor Abrahams RA is a leading figure in modern British Art. Eden and Other Suburbs, a retrospective of Abrahams’ work, features a wide range of his highly individual, colourful, provocative and humorous sculptures. A strong thread of energy and perception runs through his early bronzes, peopled landscapes and seascapes, architectural collages and oversized bird sculptures. His flocked ‘gardens’ explore how nature and the artificial coalesce. Over the past forty-seven years his work has developed and changed, sometimes dramatically. But he has constant themes, returning time and again to urban landscapes, classical figures, gardens, and the sea. For a full-length article on Ivor’s work, turn to page 24.

A Village Lost and Found 8 January – 4 March The perfect antidote to the stress of life in the 21st Century, A Village Lost and Found portrays the idyll of life in a 1850s village, “far from the sound of the train’s whistle”. Brian May, of Queen, and photohistorian Elena Vidal have revived Scenes in Our Village – a renowned series of 59 photographs produced by a master of Victorian stereoscopic photography, Thomas Richard Williams. Pictures leap into glorious 3D, viewed in the new focusing stereoscope which May has designed and produced, to bring the stereos to life. The result is a powerfully atmospheric and touching set of photographs.

RWA Filthy Luker 20 January – 4 March The RWA is embarking on an exciting artist residency with international street-artist Filthy Luker. The Bristol-based artist creates temporary site-specific installations, specialising in larger than life hand-crafted inflatable sculptures. His unmissable, over-sized objects are reminiscent of Oldenburg, although Luker brings humour to his work through its interaction with architecture and the urban environment. As part of his residency Filthy Luker will be creating a series of installations and working with the RWA to provide hands-on opportunities to collaborate and learn more about innovative forms of art.

Janette Kerr PRWA: Extremes and Instabilities 16 February – 4 March

Margaret Gregory RWA: Portrait of an Artist 16 February – 4 March

Drawn to the perimeters of land, Janette Kerr’s work is an index of edges and ledges, exposed headlands and wind-swept seas. Her research project, Extreme Wave Theory, concerns the interface between art and science, relating to the history and stories of the sea surrounding Shetland, and the work of Norwegian oceanographers studying the unpredictability of waves and wind. The outcome is a body of work that seeks to make direct visual associations between observational, archival and oral research, and oceanographic measurement. Janette Kerr is President of the Royal West of England Academy and a Visiting Research Fellow in Fine Art at the University of the West of England.

Margaret Gregory RWA was a poet and painter, and an active member of the RWA. A year after her death in 2011, her son, musician Will Gregory, is presenting a retrospective exhibition of her paintings and drawings. A combination of key works charting the last 30 years hang alongside previously unshown pieces from Margaret’s own collection as well as remarkable pictures unearthed from her studio. The exhibition recreates a flavour of Margaret’s much-loved studio, including the easel and palettes she used in her work as well as the many photographs and cuttings from which she took inspiration. Featuring her diaries, sketchbooks, and the poetry she wrote, Will has curated a very personal show, providing a rare insight into the life of this powerful, poetic and visionary artist.

RWA magazine

Winter 2011

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December // Saturday 3rd 10am – 4pm Introduction to Life Drawing 1 day Workshop Tutor: Ruth Wallace £40 / £36 This workshop provides an introduction to Life Drawing for the complete beginner or a chance to revive rusty drawing skills for those with past experience. The workshop will consider elements of the figure such as shape, structure and tone and will concentrate on building confidence in drawing through careful observation. Come along and have a go.

// Friday – Sunday 9th, 10th, 11th 10am – 4pm Anatomy Drawing 3 day Workshop Tutor: Alan McGowan £210 / 189 There are many fascinating and interrelated forms within the body: flattened forms, spirals, arches and curves and they shift in characteristic yet always individual ways. The course is conducted through demonstration and explanation, reference to anatomical examples, and with an emphasis on drawing from the life model. This workshop will aim to deepen knowledge of this diversity whilst maintaining a feeling for the unity of the figure as a whole, and of our response towards it.

// Thursday 15th 6pm – 9pm Bristol Tweet Drinks at the RWA in conjunction with GUIDE2Bristol Entrance is free but tickets are limited. Please book online: guide2bristolrwa.eventbrite.com Join us for Bristol Tweet Drinks in conjunction with GUIDE2Bristol. Bringing Bristol’s Twitter community together, come and meet people you usually only speak to online. Enjoy a festive glass of mulled wine, make friends and have fun in the beautiful surroundings of the RWA. Keep track of the event on Twitter with the hashtag #bristweetdrinks and follow us on Twitter: @RWABristol and @G2Bristol

// Friday 16th 10am – 4pm Watercolour 1 day Workshop Tutor: Jake Winkle £60 / £54 Inspired by light and movement Jake’s paintings are reflections of the world around him. He teaches a direct approach to impressionist watercolour, a highly structured

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

course with a certain amount of demonstrating and follow-up, with the aim being to discover how to simplify a complex subject without resorting to omission.

// S  unday 18th 11am Family Midwinter Storytelling With Martin Maudsley £5 per family (includes entry to the 159th Autumn Exhibition) Join us for a seasonal celebration of midwinter with Martin Maudsley, Director of Bristol Storytelling Festival. With tales from the hearthside, these stories will warm the heart during these cold winter months and rekindle the magic of myths and legends. Booking advisable on 0117 973 5129.

January // S  tarting Monday 9th (10 week course) 9.30am – 12.30pm Drawing with Ruth Wallace £180 In a relaxed and supportive environment, students will be encouraged to explore a variety of materials and different approaches to drawing, building their confidence and mark making ‘vocabulary’ at their own speed. Designed for beginners and intermediate students.

// S  tarting Monday 9th (10 week course) 1.30pm – 4.30pm Landscape Drawing and Printing with Ros Ford £180 We will draw outside, using a variety of techniques, materials and approaches, covering composition, structure, mark making, perspective, tone, scale and use of colour. There will also be an introduction to printmaking without a press including monotype (one-off prints) and relief print (woodcut or lino-cut) using water washable inks. These sessions will develop drawings made outside. This course is structured for all levels, including beginners.

// S  tarting Tuesday 10th (10 week course) 9.30am – 12.30pm Life Drawing with Movement with Sara Easby £180 Using an intuitive approach to drawing the human figure, there will be a series of short poses to capture the essence of movement through the use of line and mark making, with an emphasis on the process, rather than the end

product. Exercises are designed to loosen up, in addition to understanding weight, structure and how to express energy in the drawing. The tutor will encourage you to develop your own strengths and individuality. This class is suitable for beginners and those with previous experience.

// Starting Tuesday 10th (10 week course) 6.30pm – 8.30pm Introduction to Life Drawing with Angie Kenber £180 The aim of the course is for you to improve your observational drawing skills and to enjoy drawing in a relaxed and supportive environment. We will use different approaches to the drawing of the life model, including contour drawing, the use of chiaroscuro and line, influenced by movement and music. A range of media will be used. Suitable for beginners to intermediates.

// Starting Wednesday 11th (10 week course) 10am – 4pm Drawing, Paint and Colour with Esme Clutterbuck £320 This is a structured course for anybody who would like to develop paintings and drawings over a whole day. By working from a range of subjects (including the life model) we will explore the technical, practical, intuitive and expressive qualities of paint and colour and their relationship to drawing. As the course progresses students will have the opportunity to develop through a series of exercises and processes towards work which better reflects their own interests and direction.

// Starting Wednesday 11th (10 week course) 6.30pm – 8.30pm Life Drawing Drop-in with Carol Peace £140 in advance or £14 a session This is essentially an untutored class but a tutor will be on hand should you require advice or direction. It does not matter whether you can draw well or not, there can be a certain kind of quiet private space you slip into while drawing. Book a full term in advance or drop-in, spaces on a first come first served basis. Suitable for all abilities.

// Starting Thursday 12th (10 week course) 9.30am – 12.30pm Experimental Drawing with Esme Clutterbuck £180 This is a structured course for anyone who is interested in drawing and its relationship to other areas of creativity. The course will present drawing as an activity which is both challenging and fun and suits people with widely varying ability and experience. This term the emphasis will be on the figure. We will work from a range of sources including ourselves and will have a life model on 5 of the 10 sessions. There will be an opportunity in each session for a brief group reflection on our drawings. Suitable for beginners to intermediate.

// Thursday 19th David Shepherd: In Conversation 6.30pm Join wildlife artist and conservationist David Shepherd CBE for a chat show alongside his exhibition at the RWA. Learn about David’s extraordinary life and the challenges he’s setting himself in his 82nd year to help conserve some of the world’s most endangered species. David’s wildlife foundation has launched TigerTime, a campaign to save the tiger in the wild. It has attracted some huge celebrity supporters including Ricky Gervais, Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Roger Moore, Michael Parkinson and Sir Paul McCartney. Join us to learn more about TigerTime and the life of one of Britain’s best-loved wildlife artists. Prepare to be inspired. Tickets £10, booking advisable.

// Saturday 21st 10am – 4pm Drawing with Mixed Media and Techniques – Drawing Studio Tutor: Ruth Wallace £40 / £36 An opportunity to explore a range of materials and techniques to help develop texture and variety in your drawing. We will experiment with mark making using different media and methods and will look at relevant work by various artists. The aim of this session is to suggest new ways of working and help you extend your drawing vocabulary. Come prepared to get mucky. Suitable for all abilities.

2012

Diary // December to March

Join the Friends of the RWA

Events, Lectures Workshops, Tours

// T  hursday 26th 4pm

// S  unday 19th 7pm

Book signing: Brian May of Queen

Margaret Gregory: A musical tribute

To celebrate his pioneering 3D photography exhibition A Village Lost and Found, Brian May will visit the RWA. Don’t miss this chance to meet the artist and have your copy of the accompanying book signed by the man himself. Books will be available from the RWA shop, priced £35.

Margaret Gregory was passionate about music. At 7pm on Sunday 19 February there will be a concert at the RWA featuring live performances of some of her favourite pieces, conducted by Charles Hazlewood. Friends and colleagues will also be speaking in tribute. Fifty tickets are available for purchase on a first-come, firstserved basis – call 0117 973 5129 to book, tickets £5.

// S  aturday 28th 10am – 4pm Introduction to Life Drawing 1 day workshop Tutor: Angie Kenber £40 / £36 Drawing the human figure is one of the best and most exciting ways of learning to draw. In a friendly and informal atmosphere, this workshop provides an introduction to Life Drawing for the complete beginner or a chance to revive rusty drawing skills for those with past experience.

February // S  aturday 11th 10.30am – 4.30pm Developing Photoshop Skills with Stephen Morris 1 day workshop A course for those with some practical knowledge of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements with emphasis on creativity and practical results. £40 / £36

// S  aturday 25th 11am – 12.30pm Friends Lecture Gordano Textile Artists: From Source to Stitch Six members of Gordano Textile Artists will demonstrate their different approaches to the creative process of textile art. Each artist, working to a common theme, will show how the final piece has been achieved. As every member has a different way of working the results are likely to be varied and interesting. £8 Friends and £10 Visitors.

March // S  aturday 17th Friends AGM // V  isits planned for the Friends in 2012 In May, a 3 night stay is being planned for the Manchester and Liverpool area, including The Lowry and Walker Galleries, the Liverpool Waterfront and, among others, Sudeley Castle. The painting and cultural vacation in September will be in the scenic Lampeter, Dyfed area. Both visits are likely to be extremely popular and so early booking is advised. Details to follow. Linda Alvis Secretary to the Educational and Cultural Visits Committee. linda@alvisfineart.co.uk

The Friends provide valuable support to the Royal West of England Academy: Educational activities The Friends organise lectures, workshops, visits to galleries, painting holidays and visits abroad Welcoming visitors Meet and Greet and tours of the RWA building and exhibitions to enrich the visitor experience Helping the RWA Selection days and stewarding exhibitions Financial support The Friends make regular donations to the Academy and sponsor awards Membership of the Friends offers Private View invitations and free entry to all RWA exhibitions ART magazine delivered quarterly to your door Social events and fund-raising activities Opportunities to volunteer Lectures: a varied and stimulating programme Cultural visits and painting trips Submission of work to the Friends Exhibitions Discounts on work submitted to Open Exhibitions 10% discount at Papadeli Café – RWA Shop – Bristol Fine Art – The Bristol Drawing School Regular mailings to keep you informed of news and forthcoming events

Booking To book courses or workshops for the Bristol Drawing School please visit www.drawingschool.org.uk or call 0117 973 5129 To book Friends Lectures please contact Wendy Mogford wmogford@talktalk.net / 0117 950 0712 To book Digital Photography Workshop please call 0117 973 5129

To join this vibrant organisation of art lovers, please complete the application form overleaf. RWA magazine

Winter 2011

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Join the Friends of the RWA

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Friends enjoy: free entry to RWA exhibitions; private view invitations to all exhibitions; a lecture programme with professional speakers; cultural visits and painting trips; an opportunity to submit work to Friends’ exhibitions; preferential rates with discounts on submissions of work to the Autumn Open Exhibition; 10% discount at Papadeli Café, RWA Shop, Bristol Fine Art, The Bristol Drawing School; ART magazine delivered each quarter. Your membership will help the RWA to serve the region and artistic community by raising funds for the Academy.

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We can claim an extra 25p from the Inland Revenue for every £1.00 you give us – if you are a I am eligible as a UK taxpayer and consent to the Friends of the RWA claiming UK taxpayer. Gift Aid on subscriptions or donations I make. You can cancel this declaration at any time by notifying the Friends of the RWA in writing. You must pay an amount of income tax and/or capital gains tax equal to the amount recoverable on your total gift aid donations. Should your circumstances change and you no longer pay sufficient tax, you should cancel your declaration.

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In order to save us postage please consider paying by standing order. Contact Membership Secretary at friends@rwa.org.uk Alternatively please make cheques payable to: Friends of the RWA and return this section to: The Membership Secretary, Friends of the Royal West of England Academy, Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PX t: 0117 973 5129 www.rwa.org.uk

Bonhams hold advisory days for pictures every month at our Bath office. Our specialist valuers offer advice on the sale of paintings, prints and watercolours, from old masters to contemporary. Home visits throughout the south west are available for larger items or collections. 01225 788 988 elle.leach@bonhams.com

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

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The RWA ground floor shop has been remodelled and now includes many new stock items and a broader selection of merchandise relating to exhibitions, including original artworks. A completely new RWA website has been developed which can be updated in-house see www.rwa.org.uk. This is an important development: we can now present accurate, up-to-date exhibition, event and visitor information to a huge number of virtual visitors. This has been a massive undertaking, largely achieved by volunteers who make an enormous contribution in all areas of our work and are a key part of our success. With over 30 volunteers a week involved in a range of tasks this represents a generous investment of time for which I am very grateful. To volunteer in any area of our work, please get in touch – 0117 973 5129. Finally, works are now underway to improve storage for our Collection, create a new multifunction room, and install environmental controls in the first floor galleries, enabling us to take works from national collections, which will see world-class exhibitions coming to the RWA. Trystan Hawkins – RWA Director

Our new President: Dr Janette Kerr PRWA I am delighted to have been elected as President of the Royal West of England Academy. The RWA has been changing – and changing for the better. Together with our Director, Trystan Hawkins, we have been planning some exciting shows; the doors are wide open and more people are coming through them. These are very challenging times for the Arts, particularly within the current economic climate. I am confident that these changes will ensure and secure its continuance as a 21st Century Academy of excellence and inspiration in the Arts. Open to all, it provides opportunities for national and international artists and its recent programme of shows and events is already attracting new audiences, encouraging engagement and dialogue on all levels. I feel very positive about the RWA and its future. I’m really proud to have become President and to be able to be part of its development at this stage

in its history. However as an artist I have a strong commitment to my own artistic practice. I am passionate about continuing to extend this, and keen to engage in dialogue regarding contemporary art. The RWA is more than a gallery – it’s an academy, and I see part of my role as President as encouraging the continuing development of its scholarly and artistic identity, as well as supporting all elements of the RWA’s activities.

Alice Hendy

Autumn: A season of change at the RWA

159th Autumn Exhibition // we meet some visitors

A good mix of art work, with plenty to enjoy on all sorts of levels. It’s well worth many, many visits. I’ll be back between 4 and 6 times before Christmas. Stephen Lovatt: Artist

Seeing all this work together in one room is amazing. A marvellous juxtaposition of painting, sculpture, photography and such an exciting mix of styles and mediums, on many different levels. Mr. Bartle: Graphic designer

I really loved the exhibition, particularly the elephant. I loved the painting by Kerry Phippen and I also liked the big portrait of the girl, done in spray paint – Universe by Harriet White. Florence Croft: Student

There’s so much talent out there and what the RWA does is give younger artists who don’t have gallery representation a platform whereby we can see that talent. This is a wonderful facility and at least gives the artists the opportunity eventually to become boring old farts.

I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the space has been used: the hang is much fresher giving each piece more space to breathe. Although it was quite fun to have a Salon hang, it always had a sense of being over-crowded. It’s a different range of work too – fresher and more contemporary.

Andrew Price: Crochets budgies

Leiza McLeod: Office worker

I think the 159th is as eclectic as ever. Consciously, or subconsciously, they’ve gone for something to please most people, from abstract to realistic. I’m very impressed with the sculpture; there are some fine examples this year. Peter Gruffyd Poet

Very impressive; lots of new things, lots of interesting things. I love the way the works have been hung – and I particularly like the ambience of the galleries. I am very impressed. Anna Maria Cianchini: Artist

As a show, I don’t think it’s very good because it’s too crowded. It’s a mixed bag; there’s some interesting stuff. I don’t think the sculpture’s great but there are some technically amazing things going on. Andy Curry: Fine Arts technical instructor RWA magazine

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

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Bristol Drawing School at the RWA Graham Woodruff

Since September 2011 the Bristol Drawing School has been based at the RWA and already in its first term here has been busy providing a large range of classes, from specialist ten -week drawing courses to shorter weekend workshops for adults and children. All the courses are skills based with both historical and contemporary references, but most importantly they provide hands-on tuition. The Bristol Drawing School was originally set up four years ago as an education facility based at a purpose built Paintworks studio by Carol Peace and Graham Woodruff. Its aim to encourage and nurture the art of drawing, not only as an art form in its own right but as an essential part of the creative process, has remained at the heart of its practice. Over the years it has continuously provided a highquality programme of exhibitions, talks, courses and workshops in a professional and supportive environment. Now based at the RWA, in its dedicated light-filled studio adjacent to the main gallery, the programme continues to develop offering life drawing, portraiture, experimental

drawing, drawing with movement, anatomy drawing and botanical drawing among the many courses on offer. Catering for all levels of ability, from professional artists to complete beginners, the Drawing School offers courses such as anatomy drawing, which are complex and technical, alongside the more informal drop-in sessions, which simply give students the opportunity to draw from a professional model in beautiful surroundings. The weekend workshops in particular enable the school to bring to Bristol the best tutors from around the country, passing on their knowledge and skills in a variety of disciplines. And it’s not just all drawing; the school has expanded its programme to oil painting, sculpture, etching, printmaking, bookbinding and bronze casting with more to come. Now based within the RWA’s historic surroundings students are able to utilise the space on offer. Classes spill out into the main galleries for the Wednesday evening life drawing drop-in class, and around the building for Monday’s landscape drawing and print course, making the most of the stunning architecture. Full details of our new timetable can be viewed at www.drawingschool.org.uk where you can also book online or you can telephone on 0117 973 5129, and don’t forget Academicians, Friends, and Artist Members qualify for discounted rates. RWA magazine

Winter 2011

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Academicians’ news 12

RWA magazine Winter 2011

Louise Balaam has had work selected for two exhibitions at the Mall Galleries London: The Discerning Eye Exhibition, 10 – 20 November www.discerning eye.org and the New English Art Club Open, 25 November – 4 December, www. newenglishartclub. co.uk. Louise is also showing at Porthminster Gallery in St Ives, Cornwall, in a show which will run until the end of 2012. RWA VicePresident Peter Ford heard recently that he is to receive the Albin Brunovsky Certificate of Honour for his “outstanding contributions to bookplate design.” This comes from The International Federation of Bookplate Societies (FISAE) which periodically makes such awards. Previous recipients have been Japanese and Russian artists. It is unusual for a British artist to be honoured in this way as very few British artists make bookplates. Bookplates are the most widely collected printed paper items after postage stamps. Former RWA President Simon Quadrat is, currently, the only RWA member who owns an etched bookplate designed by Peter. Kurt Jackson is showing at the Redfern Gallery, 20 Cork Street,

London in Kurt Jackson: Recent Work until 26 January 2012. A catalogue is available with an introduction by Robert Macfarlane. Kurt comments that… “this time I decided to bring together a series of small projects: Scilly, the Dorset Stour, two French rivers, Priest Cove and Greece. Huge sheet-sized canvases, small intimate studies, plein air and studio work, sculpture, etchings, jewellery.” www. redfern-gallery.com t: 0207 734 1732 RWA President Janette Kerr has a solo-exhibition In Search of Extreme Seas showing work (and workin-progress) made while on Shetland, linking to the work of Norwegian Oceanographers. The exhibition takes place at The Sir Terry Frost Gallery, The Art School, The King’s School, Worcester WR1 2LL, 11 November – 9 December, PV 11 November. Contact Head of Art Liz Hand on 01905 721 746 for further information. Margaret Lovell’s sculpture is the subject of a new three minute film which attempts to capture the essence of Margaret’s work, whether large simple movements created by bronze forms, her fascination with heads or her other favourite subject, the harmonious interaction of two forms as

in a marriage. Margaret was also awarded the RWA Friends Award for Excellence in Sculpture at the 159th Autumn Exhibition for her slate carving Telos. The film will go on Margaret’s web site, www. margaretlovell. co.uk but meanwhile you can find it at www.vimeo.com/ raindown Anita Mandl will be showing in The Christmas Exhibition of invited artists at the Jerram Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset, www.jerramgallery. com from 26 November – 21 December. Anita is also contributing to a special exhibition Director’s Choice 25/30 alongside Bernard Dunstan RWA at the Curwen and New Academy Gallery, 34 Windmill St, London W1T 2JR, which runs from 2 February – 2 March 2012. Ione Parkin’s large mixed media works were included in Fabric of the Land, in the School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen in August / September. The show focused on work that explores the elements within the environment and landscape from a geological perspective. In November she held a threeperson show, Raw Elements, with sculptors Peter Hayes and Ben Dearnley in Bath as part of the Bath

Art Affair. Looking ahead, she has been offered a solo show at the Victoria Art Gallery – Bath’s premier public art museum – scheduled for October 2013. www.ioneparkin. co.uk Maxine Relton is laying on an extra Sketchbook Journey to South India 16 – 29 February 2011. A new trip to North India is scheduled for 20 October – 3 November 2012, taking in the grand sights of Rajasthan (the Taj Mahal, Lake Palace in Udaipur and the Pink City of Jaipur), but adding a very special dimension off the beaten tourist trail for those particularly interested in the Arts and in gaining a greater insight into the heart of India. Maxine will also be running a 5-day course entitled Sketchbooks for Creative Thinking at West Dean College, Sussex, 25 – 30 March 2012. Maxine’s new work can be seen any time by arrangement at her Studio Gallery just north of Bristol. Contact her on 01453 832 597 or email maxine. relton@tiscali.co.uk Academician Obituary Rita Greig RWA NEAC, 1918 – 2011 Rita was born in Norfolk in 1918 and went on from Selhurst Grammar School to train as a Designer

at Elliot Spears, the prestigious London porcelain manufacturer. At the end of the Second World War she married David Williams and had two sons. Together they bought Serene House in Broadstairs, which sold antiques and objets d’art. Tragically David and one of their sons died, but some years later she married Donald Greig, a fellow artist and, with son Peter, they set up home in Devon. They converted a derelict bakery in Kingsbridge in to a studio and art gallery to display and sell their work. At this time Rita was an Art teacher and a rural district councillor. Her work – landscapes, still life, village show and carnivals – took her abroad, particularly to Altea in Spain, and is hung in the Chase Manhattan Bank Collection and the Royal West of England Academy Permanent Collection. Peter Greig Rita and I met in 1980 and have been great friends since. Our love of painting, and travel led us to Scotland, Wales, Venice, France and Southern Italy, mainly with sketchbooks. Her gentle, skilful painting taught me much about composition, tone and representation, but most of all, I miss her lively company. Dawn Sidoli RWA

City Art Breaks Dr. Tracy O’Shire shares her best-loved city art breaks: Amsterdam: So much to see: The Rijksmuseum; the van Gogh Museum; the Hermitage Museum; Rembrandt House. Barcelona: Miró, Picasso and Gaudi all jostle for attention in Spain’s art capital. Florence: The Academy Art Gallery houses David’s statue; the Uffizi – a must; less chaotic is the Bargello and the Accademia; the Museum and Cloisters of Santa Maria Novella, and Santa Croce, are veritable art galleries.

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New York City: The magnificent Metropolitan Museum; MoMA; The Frick; The Whitney Museum of American Art; the Guggenheim. And don’t miss the Brooklyn Museum. Nice: Musée Matisse; Musée d’Art Naïf plus two modern art museums. But the region offers much more. Nearby are: Fondation Maeght; Musée Picasso; Musée Fernand Léger; Musée Jean Cocteau; Musée Renoir and the new Musée Bonnard.

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Paris: Musée du Louvre; Musée d’Orsay for Impressionist and post Impressionist paintings; Musée Picasso houses the largest collection of Picasso’s works; the Musée de l’Orangerie offers Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse. 5

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1 Janette Kerr

2 Maxine Relton

3 Louise Balaam

4 Ione Parkin

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5 Peter Ford

Rome: The Borghese, The Vatican; Maxxi contemporary art and architecture. Vienna: The Hofburg Palace; the Museumsquartier – a large museum complex; The Belvedere includes Klimt’s The Kiss.

6 Kurt Jackson RWA magazine

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// Friends News & Events

Thank you to our loyal supporters, the Friends of the RWA As you will be aware, the activities and benefits of the Friends of the RWA are being incorporated within the RWA. Your subscription is vital to the RWA, providing a crucial source of funding for an organisation that is still receiving 100% of its income from self-generated sources. The knowledge that there is a group of individuals who support our work is

Stewart Geddes RWA : The Demarcation Between Pastoral and Urban Land Stewart Geddes treated us to a fascinating glimpse into the creative processes and working methods of someone looking to visually convey, not representational images, but rather – and more challengingly Friends of RWA Committee 2011 – 2012 Chairman Maureen Fraser e: mcf11@tiscali.co.uk Vice Chairman Simon Holmes e: simonfhholmes@lineone.net Vice Chairman and Lectures Wendy Mogford e: wmogford@talktalk.net Friends Exhibitions Gillian Hudson e: gs.hudson@toucansurf.com Cultural & Educational Visits Tom Western-Butt e: thomasbutt@virginmedia.com Volunteers Co-ordinator Mary Drown e: Mary.Drown@blueyonder.co.uk Membership Secretary Jac Solomons t: 0117 973 5129 e: friends@rwa.org.uk

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

reassuring and encouraging. There are now over 1400 Friends, with membership growing every day. We have already received some excellent feedback from Friends about the way forward and we welcome any comments or questions you might have – please get in touch. Here’s one example: “The new website is terrific and I also like all the new developments in the RWA – the café, the new wave of fresh ideas in the exhibitions. Well done.” If you know an art-lover who might want to become a Friend or Volunteer, tell them about the scheme, direct them to our website or pass on a leaflet. You are our greatest advocates and your support is genuinely appreciated. Maureen Fraser

– the emotional experience of, and reactions to, things seen. Stewart’s incentive, as he explained and demonstrated, comes from his observation of the urban street scene – seemingly inconsequential images which happen to catch his interest – torn and fragmented billboards for instance, or the look of abandoned and derelict buildings. Some years ago, becoming dissatisfied with the way his career was going, he undertook the challenge of an M.Phil. research project at the RCA. Completed in 2007, this opened up for him new lines of enquiry, taking him, among other aspects, into deeper, non-representational approaches to art. It became also an incentive to investigate and develop alternative ways and means of working, such as exploiting the advantages of non-traditional supports for his paintings; making much more use of collage, and exploring the possibilities of the ‘found’ object, as well as using photography where appropriate. John Eley

Barber Institute & Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery The Friends recently visited the Barber Institute galleries which display a wonderful range of artistic periods including the 15th Century portrait of Alexander the Great, Master of Griselda Legend, with its exquisite detail, striking pose and commanding sense of power tempered with emotion. Also a rustic scene of peasants binding sticks by Breughel the Younger, Rossetti’s The Blue Bower and Derain’s 1906 Portrait of Bartolomeo Savona with its rich, vibrant colour

and boldness of technique. An exhibition of art students’ photographs offers impressive contemporary interpretations of their individual choice of paintings from the gallery. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery house the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest ever find of Anglo Saxon artefacts. As yet, archaeologists don’t know why these treasures were buried together, possibly stolen and hidden by a thief, trophies of war or booty, captured by the pagan king Panda. We also took the opportunity to look at the Pre-Raphaelite works by Edward Burne-Jones, Holman Hunt, Ford Madox Ford, Frederick Sands and Rossetti. Geraldine Nicholls

Myrtle Pizzey: Art of the Linocut Myrtle Pizzey gave the Friends a Masterclass in the art of the lino cut and printing. Myrtle trained at the West of England College of Art with her husband the sculptor Tony Pizzey and taught at St Brendan’s 6th Form College where she influenced many future artists. She was greatly inspired by Edward Bawden, the pioneer of lino cut, Claude Flight and Van Gogh who was influenced by Japanese woodblock printing. Myrtle produces astounding work and we were privileged to see many of her originals as well as a fascinating slideshow of prints including those of her past students and important influences of the 20th Century and earlier. A demonstration showed the complexities of wood block printing, lino cut and collography with advice regarding best materials and

their use. Myrtle’s Prints can be as large as 30 x 40 inches (76 x 102 cm) with one monumental work of a willow tree at 7 feet (2.13m) high and comprising 3 sections fused together. Her well known gourd prints are especially memorable. She states “The majority of the colour images are created in natural light. Colour Prints are a result of overlays of pure transparent colours from dark to light; warm colours on one block, cold colours on another. I rarely print green; it is arrived at by overprinting yellows and oranges with transparent blue.” Needless to say, Myrtle’s work has been exhibited at the RWA and RA and as Artist in Residence at Nature in Art, Twigworth. Roz Wallace

Patrick Daw RWA : Material World

Pat Daw has taken the machine made artefacts that surround us as a starting point for much of his work. Pat has combined the mass produced and impersonal quality of everyday objects with superb craftsmanship often in unrelated and contrasting materials and often with a change in scale to create items with a humorous and beguiling quality. His love of problem solving he attributes to relatives in the engineering firm Baker-Perkins and his fascination with surrealism he feels stems from his great uncle the surrealist Sir Roland Penrose. Pat studied at Bristol Polytechnic’s faculty at Bower Ashton in the early 1970s, gaining a Dip AD before going on to the Royal College of Art for a Masters degree. He then spent a profitable time making precise models for advertising agencies before that work was replaced by computer imagery. Of his recent projects, one of his most dramatic, is the larger than life size model of a spanner and a hammer on

the path near the Avonmouth Bridge – Stronghold. The plate-like construction of the sculpture celebrates the thousands of tonnes of steel plate fins that were added internally to reinforce the huge box girders that support the bridge’s deck. Equally striking, but much smaller is Minimum Force, – a title taken from a newspaper headline describing police action. It comprises an oversize light bulb vulnerable in the vice like grip of a clamp. Although the work is apparently impersonal the artist’s involvement is there in the choice of subject and material. The crossover of materials is delicious in a number of over-scale and beautifully crafted replicas made in wood of anonymous fragments of electronic or machine goods, clips, brackets and so on – the sort of thing that one may find on a scrap yard floor. Another facet of work shown comprised a series of life size replicas of cast iron inspection covers, their mundane appearance being rendered exquisite in hardwood and their subject’s location recorded by postcode. There were more conventional works. The largest was a 10 metre high sail form sculpture, called Pelorus made in stainless steel, for the roof of the Bristol and West HQ building in Bristol. Although Pat has no qualifications as a structural engineer, what he proposed, for such an exposed site, was endorsed by the engineering firm of Ove Arup with little change. A case, perhaps, of ‘what looks right is right.’ Rare would be the person who has not come into contact with mass produced machine made objects of anonymous authorship and it is refreshing to see these items in a new light. The talk was particularly apposite given the renewed emphasis on engineering and manufacturing in the UK. Roland Harmer

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RWA magazine

Winter 2011

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Celia Archer meets winner of ART Magazine’s Emerging Artist Award, Anouk Mercier in her recently acquired space at the Jamaica Street Artist studios.

And the future? “I think that drawing is coming back into fashion, as there seems to be a renewed appreciation for skill based work. This is the first time since graduating that I am able to be dedicated to my practice full time so I am working on producing more ambitious work in terms of scale. The main thing I’m working on right now is producing work for my solo show with Antlers next year.”

For more information on the Bristol Drawing Club visit bristoldrawingclub.blogspot.com To see more of Anouk’s work check out her website at www.anoukmercier.com or www.antlersgallery.com and to take home a piece of your own, head down to the Antlers Winter Shop in Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus BS1 3BU. Runs until Christmas Eve.

Anouk Mercier: Enigmatic felines,

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

On being a co-founder of Bristol Drawing Club “Drawing Club was a result of a friend and I wanting to promote drawing as an art form, also to celebrate the fact that drawing is really fun. Initially it was just a few of us going to the pub with sketchbooks, then friends of friends wanted to come who weren’t artists, and it just grew from there. Now we continue holding evening events in pubs everywhere, but we also get invited by organisations such as Arnolfini and Spike Island or the RWA to put on events, and we always try and do it free of charge and get volunteers involved.”

Antlers Gallery & taking your sketchbook to the pub

Max McClure

On her work “What’s always captivated me is the fabrication of narratives and the notion of escapism through storytelling. My subject matter is really diverse. I’ll draw landscapes, and then portraits of cats, and people, but to me it’s really like they’re all uncanny elements of a greater narrative. I like to think that it is then up to the viewer to bring these together to complete the story.”

On being an emerging artist in Bristol “Bristol is a really great place to be an artist and there are a lot of opportunities around, but it does take a while to get your name out there. Working with Antlers Gallery has been a great experience, they have been fantastic at promoting my work and setting deadlines.”

Cascade du Pont d’Espagne

Anthony Whishaw RA Hon RWA

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

Illusion Allusion and

Simon Baker

RWA magazine

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I am on my way to meet the prominent British painter, Anthony Whishaw, at his studio in Bethnal Green. He has invited me to arrive early since he will have been at work there from 6am and has also invited me to visit his Kensington studio. I am full of nervous anticipation. Last year Whishaw celebrated his 80th birthday with three separate solo exhibitions, seven group shows and glorious works in

the RA and the RWA Annual Exhibitions. I visualise his painting Collapsing Tree in that RWA Show, at once grand, fragile and richly painted. Whishaw was born in England in 1930 but spent his early years in South America before returning to school, a charismatic art master, Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art. In 1951 while at Chelsea, Whishaw visited Spain for the first time and, thanks to a Spanish Government scholarship, lived there in 1955 and 1956

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at a time when hardly anybody visited the country. He has returned many times. Spain, its landscapes, people and artists have had an abiding influence upon him. Pueblo 1, like all his Pueblo landscapes with their cubist forms, glowing browns and sun baked ochres, bears witness to this deeply felt allegiance. Early success was hailed by the landmark BBC arts programme, Monitor in 1960: Whishaw, interviewed by Huw Weldon, was 28. That success has been sustained by more than 60 years of dedicated artistic practice and prolific exhibiting. His work is in national, public and private collections here and abroad, including the Arts Council and the Tate. He was elected an Associate RA in 1980, RA in 1989 and RWA in 1992 after

They also installed the awning which has created the secluded area which we now enter at the far end from the door. Here he offers me coffee while mentioning how well wrapped up he needs to be in winter working here. There is no heating. He begins to point out paintings – cool, black and white, with close patterning in the manner of the work Downstream which I see shortly. He brings up his website by way of beginning the explanations which I am seeking. I briefly catch his younger voice telling Huw Weldon: “It is very important to go on experimenting always; always seeking all the time something much more than you have done already.” To me this seems the creed of a committed creative life. Whishaw is known for completing

organising a show of works by RAs at the RWA. He returned in 1993 with a major solo show and has been a regular exhibitor ever since. Whishaw has explained to me that he creates his large paintings in Bethnal Green and I am here to see some of these. He greets me at the gates to the Acme Studios complex, a former brush factory, and conducts me to his own studio which he has rented for 30 years. I am taken aback by its size and light. Whishaw explains that Acme Studios transformed the space with display panelling and mounted the celebratory exhibition Whishaw at 80, to mark their long association with him.

work over time, even over a number of years, and hence for painting in series and working on many images at the same time at different stages of resolution. He gestures towards one particular work. “It is behaving itself,” he remarks before explaining that a painting can be interwoven and grow in other works. “Things recur and come back in different forms. There are varieties of approach to space.” He refers to the multiple horizons in many of his pictures, a legacy of his early fascination with the low horizons in the black paintings of Goya. Whishaw has written that he wants to produce an image in the process of making

itself visible. Painting slows down this process. It is anticipation of reality which engages him. “I am interested in the brain on the point of realising something on the very edge of perception,” he tells me. Sister Wendy Beckett encapsulates this when she says of a Whishaw Pueblo landscape that it is “…catching the wonder of the world before it is obliterated by familiarity”. Wishaw continues: “I do not want to know what the work is going to look like when it is completed. Images in my work are not literal; they are invented or discovered.” He wants to discover rather than to copy or illustrate. “Painting can do things other things can’t do. I am interested in illusion and allusion.” Works are stacked round the walls of the studio and Whishaw invites me to view

The grave royal dog is described by canvas collage. Whishaw explains this and his use of acrylic. Acrylic can sink into the canvas giving an impression of deeper space, be mixed with soil or sand and bind collage to the surface of paintings. He also tells me that the early 1980s were a turning point. Abstract Expressionism had made him experiment but figures began to come back into his work. “Two languages can exist side by side in the same work,” he says, “abstraction and figuration”. Whishaw is preparing for a show in Cork Street and shows me the works which he is exhibiting. For me these rise to an epic crescendo from Pond V and Celestial I to Forest VI and December Wind. Four of these are triptychs and Whishaw

to Reverie I in the RWA collection of an old woman sitting alone in the deserted Spanish village of Bujalcayado whom Whishaw depicts assailed by her memories. He points out two more arresting pieces: Hythe with its multiple horizons and Mousehole Harbour in the moment of spray dashing against the harbour wall. Two hours have gone by and it is time to leave for Kensington. Whishaw drives us across London. This is his working routine. On the way we talk about the RWA. He is a great supporter. Arrived at our destination, I absorb the charm of Whishaw’s mews house and the impact of the adjoining studio rising to the full height of the house. It possesses all the signs of the same busy creative activity as the studio which we have left. We walk

them. It is an unforgettable experience handling and seeing such monumental canvases and the intellectual and emotional engagement reflected in them. First Whishaw takes me to Collapsing Tree. The light and colour within the picture are stronger than I had recollected. Here also is a painting from Whishaw’s Las Meninas Series (1983 – 1990), his improvisations and reflections upon the enigmas in Velázquez’s great painting about looking and seeing. Doorways, mirrors and windows fascinate him, Whishaw says. A ghostly Infanta Margarita of the doomed ruling family looks out from Whishaw’s dark grey and brown background.

shows me how the panels should be placed together. Celestial I grew out of a member of the Astronomical Society asking if he could borrow a waterscape from Whishaw showing water drops in foliage. This led to the creation of this painting of constellations of stars, full of movement and lights. When we have placed the three panels of Forest VI together and I stand back to look, I am in awe. I am moved by the scale, lyricism and romanticism of this huge work. It is truly beautiful; its grandeur difficult to communicate. I help Whishaw to move out other paintings. These include works shown on the RWA website and a moving companion

to Gloucester Road for a Neapolitan lunch at Da Mario, former haunt of Princess Di and beneficiary of pieces given by Paolozzi. Whishaw asks wistfully why these are not in evidence. Our attendant waiter is newly employed and sadly unaware. Over lunch Whishaw is full of caring interest in the RWA and a fund of ideas for promoting RWA art. Back at his house and studio, Whishaw is again generous in showing me his work. Paintings which arrest me are the early figurative Corrida of 1955 hung high on the studio wall with its Spanish influences and homage to Goya, The Blind Leading the Blind from a series RWA magazine

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It is very important to go on experimenting always; always seeking all the time something much more than you have done already.

Whishaw photography – Acme Studios: Andrew McCargow

interpreting the picture by Bruegel, and another often explored subject by Whishaw, Startled Birds. On the wall between the house and the studio, Bouquet is a triptych which conveys a secret space between walls, but alive with the exuberance of flowers bursting forth from a slender vase. Whishaw also shows me the work he is submitting to this year’s RWA Autumn Exhibition: Slow Appearance. It is important to look at this work carefully and patiently let it reveal itself. There are also many smaller works and some “mavericks”, as Whishaw calls them, upstairs and in the studio. Painting by Bullets in the RWA collection is an example of these. With this in mind, I ask Whishaw why he says that drawing is like shooting. He replies simply: “Because it is putting something in the position you want it to be in.” It is late afternoon and time for farewell. For me it has been an inspiring encounter. I ponder on one of Whishaw’s last remarks: that he lives a monastic existence. And I marvel at the commitment of this great and passionate explorer of perception and memory through abstraction and figuration, who remains true to his early vow of always seeking something more than he has already done.

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1 p18 Collapsing Tree

3 p20 Forest VI

2 p19 Celestial I

4 Hythe

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Ivor Abrahams Red Riding Hood

Andrew Lambirth

Merging the dimensions of painting and sculpture The sculptures, collages, prints and drawings of Ivor Abrahams occupy a very particular place in British 20th Century art. No other artist has attempted to do what he has done – to create an entirely new kind of polychrome sculpture which operates effectively between painting and sculpture – and achieved such a catalogue of notable successes in the process. Essentially subversive, Abrahams has also gained a reputation for a wicked wit and a generally disputatious demeanour. Nothing is sacred, particularly the established names of the past. As he has admitted: “I always enjoyed the pomposity of academic sculpture, the grandiosity and rhetoric. The edifying or inspirational nature of the art has always led me to treat it with the greatest of disrespect.” That irreverence has fuelled his career, and helped him make of the sum of destructions a newly-constructed vision of his own work.

He did not, however, want to destroy the past like the Futurists, though he was highly selective about the influences he allowed to infiltrate his thinking. Adolf von Hildebrand’s important treatise, The Problem of Form in Painting and Sculpture (1893), was to become a seminal work for Abrahams. (Not surprisingly, perhaps, as Karel Vogel, Abrahams’ tutor at Camberwell School of Art, had studied under von Hildebrand in Munich.) von Hildebrand is celebrated for his passion for ‘clarified’ form – in other words, form which manages to remain naturalistic whilst fulfilling the tenets of classicism. He also stressed the importance of perceptual clarification – good training for a young sculptor much of whose work would turn upon the dichotomy between nature and artifice. In some ways Abrahams is a classical artist (he has stated boldly: “in my work there is no self-expression – no anthropomorphism”) and in others he is the epitome of the romantic, drawn ineffably to the sublime. But at the last moment he is saved by his sense of the ridiculous, and the originality of his spirit triumphs over generalisations. Abrahams is an outsider, a maverick. His work is independent and compelling, very distinct from what his sculptor contemporaries have been doing over the half-century of his working life. Abrahams’ imagery – and his handling of it, especially in his innovative use of materials – is very much of his time, but he is able also to give the work an objective distance, in order to comment upon its ostensible subject. Thus one strand of his recent work would appear to have concentrated upon owls as a new theme. The artist as ornithologist? Then there’s the use of pattern to seduce the

eye and disrupt preconceptions. This is evident in the earlier work, and becomes ever wilder in Abrahams’ more recent ventures, as he revels in post-Cubist fracturing. A tiled floor abuts a slice of wrought iron, book-ended by a wedge of drainpipe, a classical pilaster or a conch shell. A swag of net curtain might bisect a tray of sweetmeats, the sky take the place of architecture, while paving alternates with seascape. These are visions of existence which need interpretation. In fact, Abrahams’ preoccupations remain the same as ever: to investigate urban / suburban imagery, and the reality behind the contemporary dream. That impulse has not changed since his earliest sculptures, and was the basis of all his garden period: to examine the myths of modern living through the making of polychrome sculpture and prints. Then there’s the notion of the artist as bricoleur. This is an attitude of mind and practice that appeals strongly to Abrahams. His contemporary, R B Kitaj, follows Levi-Strauss in defining the bricoleur (literally the jack of all trades) as ‘the handyman who recycles the rags and bones of the myths and life-histories of the race of man’. The philosopher Richard Wolheim wrote of the bricoleur as improvising only partly useful objects out of old junk – but when has art had to be useful? Only when it’s applied art, and although Abrahams has on occasion ventured into jewellery, this definition scarcely applies here. The idea of the artist as actively improvising – like an actor in an emergency on stage during a live performance – is a very attractive and potent one. Yet it’s not a question simply of improvising, but of being able to recognize and identify ‘the myths and RWA magazine

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life-histories of the race of man’; and it seems that Abrahams has a talent for this too. Ultimately, Abrahams believes that the subject is less important than the way it is treated, which makes him in some senses more of a conceptual artist than anything else. He likens his habit of arranging and re-arranging his ready-made imagery to an endless and elaborate chess game. This creative strategy is echoed and mirrored in Abrahams’ habit of re-visiting earlier work, either by making variations on established themes, or through the medium of exhibitions. I have no doubt that his personal involvement with the 2011 Royal Academy Mystery and Imagination show, for example, will feed back into his new work, in ways that cannot as yet be foreseen. This gives full scope to the artist’s roguish side – unashamedly re-cycling his own imagery in ever denser layers of meaning and resonance. Never forget the perversity of the man who when told as a young man he was partially colourblind decided he would make colour an integral, even essential, part of his sculpture. This, together with the notion of the flat moving into three dimensions, but only just, have been key signatures of his work. In character, it’s not particularly English, being more widely European in attitude. (In 1990, R J Rees wrote that Abrahams merged contrary traditions: ‘the élan of the south and the tension and drama of the north’.) His work, with its polychrome intensity, its irony and relentless wit, must

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have seemed at times to be strong meat for the English; though not, presumably in a post-Sensation age. Free-standing extended relief has been for Abrahams a favourite mode, but by no means his only (or principal) form of expression. But the tidiness of relief, its ability to occupy its own well-defined space and not encroach on the viewer, its essential modesty (not a quality one might immediately associate with Abrahams), all these factors paradoxically

Throughout his career Abrahams has explored different ways of treating sculpture as if it were painting, or of uniting painting and sculpture in imaginative new combinations. He used the new materials of plastics and flocking (at some considerable risk to his health) to bring colour to his garden sculptures, and later, when he had returned to the figure, painted the resulting ceramic figure groups, and patinated or painted his bronzes. More recently he has used collage and photographic printing to bring colour and texture to the work. In him, the resolutely two-dimensional identity of painting and the threedimensional presence of sculpture, merge. He has created a new type of sculpture, a variant on the relief, which by preference operates between painting and sculpture – in a territory all of its own, which might be called 2½ dimensions. The wideranging RWA exhibition and the accompanying book celebrate a remarkable artist. Long may Swimmers litho 1987 he continue to surprise us.

recommend it to him. As he’s said, he likes to deflate the pomposity of High Art, to knock all those self-important individuals off their commemorative pedestals. What better way to undermine the rhetorical than by an insistent (and difficult to forget) series of modest proposals, couched as semi-abstract figures or semi-abstract concept-based work (the gardens or the suburban totems)?

Eden and Other Suburbs runs at the RWA from 7 January – 4 March 2012. Andrew Lambirth’s hardback book of the same title will be published later by Sansom & Company of Bristol, at £30 carriage paid direct from the publishers on www.sansomandcompany.co.uk Or ask at the Academy.

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RWA magazine

Winter 2011

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The New English Art Club has existed for over a century and is one of Britain’s foremost exhibiting societies and the bastion of figurative painting. Based at the Mall Galleries, NEAC is a centre of excellence for drawing and painting whose shared artistic language is one in which pictorial statements are slowly and intricately constructed, but when completed can be understood quickly and easily by everyone. It is ever evolving and capable of great spiritual depth, and this language is the Club’s main concern. Rob Withers met NEAC President, Jason Bowyer as he painted en plein air in one of his Suffolk haunts:

bring it into resolution with the muted tones of the land, or to work with a high horizon and, if you understand me, to attach the sky.” His favourite subjects range widely, from domestic interiors to sport (in 2011 he was Wimbledon Championships Artist), but his central concerns, which he terms ‘figurative abstraction’, can most readily be appreciated in his depictions of elements in the landscape. For Bowyer “The choice of an appropriate ground is an important decision, taken early in the process of making a painting”. Most often he will use light red for green foregrounds, white for clean lighting and light grey for interiors. But in Suffolk he had chosen a scraped-out canvas to allow a palimpsest to develop, intending that elements from the original, underlying image would show through the newly created surface. He pointed to a rich cream sun hat worn by a figure hunched against black-tarred Suffolk fishing sheds: “You try consciously to isolate, simplify and design. You abstract from the figurative, keeping it simple.” He swept his arm round to take in the wider scene. “Then you don’t need to include all this.” (‘All this’ was a riot

look for manufactured materials of the highest quality.” He likes Spectrum paint and emphasises that “…you mustn’t feel worried about using plenty of paint, especially when working outdoors, wet-on-wet.” Painting outdoors is important “…even if it is not where you do your best work, because it makes you aware of textures and surfaces.” Nevertheless, on his website he explains how much he now enjoys working in his studio at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum which has been a source of renewal for his observational drawing. I asked him to explain the interest for a painter. “Drawings provide so much more for the play of imagination to engage with than, say, photographs. Design is essential to painting, and drawing is design.” As a student at Camberwell College of Art, where he won the Camberwell Painting Prize, Bowyer would visit old peoples’ homes to talk with the residents and to draw. Whenever the fixed concentration of the students in the art studios became too confining, he would move into the sculpture studio to draw the sculptors and the changing structures they created. He is sad that so many colleges today appear not to recognise the importance of observational drawing,

Jason Bowyer: Rob Withers

Jason Bowyer is a painter who likes to escape the white-walled confines of the studio. He enjoys being ‘out among life’ and when we met in Walberswick I was not surprised to find him setting up his easel by the River Blyth. These windswept creeks, marshes, dunes, grey seas and big skies have always attracted artists able to rise to the challenge of finding a painting in the flat Suffolk land. For well over a century artists have visited this watery area to paint, but to compose a painting here the artist needs to have a serious attitude to the landscape; the tones of the muddy river water, the marsh and the meadows behind and the Northern European light: “The problem here is either to paint an effective sky with a very low horizon and

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figuratively speaking

of masts, landing stages, huts, walkers, crabbers.) “Resolved painting sits between the figurative and the abstract.” Bowyer is President of The New English Art Club. At their recent exhibition in The Great Barn at Higher Ashton in Devon, I had admired his delicate painting of the Thames, a subtle analysis of feathery greens. I had imagined that he was devoted to tiny, thin brushes; I was wrong. His preference is always for big black sable, up to 3 inches wide. He created those wispy marks using the edges of large brushes. But much of his work portrays robust structures and so he makes extensive use of a palette knife. “And it’s important to use the best. Often I prepare my own boards for sketching, but I also

seeming to be largely concept-based. “To be a good painter you have got to work with both concept and craft, but ‘craft’ is a word that has become debased in English art circles.” Membership of the NEAC has given Bowyer support, conversations with practicing artists and opportunities for exhibitions and to encourage new artists in their development. “Organisations such as the NEAC and the RWA provide links between established artists and the younger generation coming out of college, who might otherwise find themselves adrift after the initial impact and excitement of their work has died down and the galleries have lost interest. To have a successful, lifelong career as an artist you must continue to learn

and to meet the practicing community, maintaining lasting links.” He is also keenly aware that to have understanding from one’s significant other is vital. “In my case,” he tells me, “I am wholly indebted to my wife, the ceramicist Claire Ireland, for her constant help and encouragement.” As part of its programme of support for serious artists, the NEAC exhibits the work of members in a variety of venues. They have held a group exhibition at the RWA, for example, and shows by individual members, including their President, are a regular feature at the Russell Gallery, Putney. As the discussion turned to contrasts between the close, confined, patterned spaces and forms of the tennis court and the different opportunities presented by the wider, distant spaces of football, I began to realise that I had been wrong to assume that by ‘painting sport’ he meant primarily the depiction of actual games. While players were practising at Wimbledon, the Championships Artist was wholly absorbed in studying the structures surrounding the court. I am left wondering whether the superstars would have been puzzled to notice just a bearded artist in a straw hat, wholly ignoring them to concentrate on making a painting of a wooden gate.

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...organisations like NEAC and RWA provide links between established artists and the younger generation, who might otherwise find themselves adrift after the initial impact and excitement of their work has died down and galleries have lost interest. 1 Storm Coming (crop) 32 x 32 inches oil 2 Forge Window 60 x 48 inches oil 3 Blacksmith’s Doorway 32 x 24 inches pastel, ink

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RWA magazine

Winter 2011

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The Icon Aidan Hart

Window to the Transfigured World

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The last decades have seen a remarkable growth of interest in Byzantine and Russian icons. What are these icons, how are they used, and how do they relate to the world of art? Aidan Hart, noted iconographer and writer, explains: 32

RWA magazine Winter 2011

The word icon is Greek and means image. The emphasis of an icon is therefore on the subject rather than the image itself, the image acting as a mediator between viewer and subject. The fact that Orthodox icons depict people and a world radiant with light has a profound effect on how they are painted and used. The etymology of the word ‘art’ resonates with that of icon, and suggests art’s spiritual roots. The Latin, ars artis, stems from two proto-Indo-European words meaning ‘fitly to join’. The primitive aim of art is to join things together. Anthropologists agree that most ancient art fulfilled a religious function, and so this joining was not just to create harmonies of line, form or colour, but to help unite people with another realm, a higher realm. Indeed, the word religion

means to bind together, and culture is an expression of a society’s cult, of what it worships. Orthodox icons fulfil two main functions, one liturgical, to do with their use, and the other initiatory, to do with their painterly style. The faithful pray in front of icons, and kiss them as a means of expressing their love for the holy persons depicted. They carry icons in procession, and hang them in all manner of places as reminders that all places are holy and suitable for prayer. They consider icons as prayer expressed in colour rather than word, and as one means of embracing the physical world as an integral part of spiritual life. A second function of icons is to initiate the viewer into a deeper, more spiritual way of seeing the world. Icon painters attempt to depict the world transfigured, radiant with the light of God’s presence. They do not therefore use chiaroscuro because their subjects are bathed in and radiant with divine light. Unusual forms of perspective are employed in order to compel the viewer to see beyond what the rational faculty can comprehend. With inverse perspective, lines converge not in a point on the horizon but in the viewer, passing not through a fictitious space but through the actual space between icon and viewer. In multi-view perspective, objects are depicted as though viewed from many angles at once, seen as they are in God and not from a limited human perspective. These and the many other techniques employed are thus not the result of ignorance, but are the expression of a highly developed world view. Because panel icons are handled and touched they need to be robust. This explains why they are painted on wood rather than canvas. The preferred medium until around the 8th Century was encaustic, in which pigment is mixed with either hot wax or a wax emulsion. Examples of 6th and 7th Century encaustic icons can be found in the monastery of St Catherine’s, Sinai. For reasons we can only speculate upon, encaustic was then replaced with egg tempera. In this method egg yolk is mixed with pigment and painted onto a gessoed surface. Gesso is a mixture of an animal glue and an inert fine white powder, such as marble dust or chalk. Usually a layer of open weave cloth is glued to the panel first, to give the gesso greater stability. The gesso is then applied in ten or more thin layers and sanded to produce a smooth and absorbent surface. The areas not to be painted are then gilded. If the gold is to be burnished a method called water gilding is used. First about six layers of glue mixed with a red clay called bole are brushed on, then sanded. Water mixed with alcohol

is applied an area at a time, and the gold leaf laid down. After about an hour the gold is polished with an agate or hæmatite burnisher. The main pigments used for the painting process are earths – notably the ochres, umbers, sienna’s and terre verte. For the more brilliant colours, ground stones such as azurite, malachite, lapis lazuli and cinnabar are utilised. A limited number of artificial pigments have been used in the past, notably lead white and vermilion. Although some contemporary iconographers paint with modern pigments such as cadmiums, these generally appear garish and out of keeping with the harmony required of an icon. Unlike oil paint, egg tempera dries very quickly, which allows translucent layers to be built up rapidly. When the paint is applied thinly enough the gesso gives brilliance to the image: light penetrates the paint layers, then reflects back out from the white base. There are two main methods used to build up the paint layers. Probably the oldest is the ‘membrane’ technique, described in the work On Diverse Arts written around 1122 by Theophilus, a German monk-craftsman describing Byzantine techniques. In this process the image is first painted in dark monochrome and then covered by semitransparent glazes of the mid-tone (or the monochrome is sometimes painted on top of the mid-tone). Thereafter the lights are built up, shades reinforced, and warm tones blended in. This method has been revived among some iconographers in the last twenty years, in large part through the work of the Russian icon painter, Father Zenon (Theodor). In the second method, the ‘proplasmos’ technique, the darkest shade of each colour is first laid down as a flat area. Thereafter, layers of increasing lightness are built up. The painting thereby progresses from dark to light. Although the icon tradition is now associated with Byzantium and Slavic nations, it was until the Renaissance shared by Western Europe in such forms as Roman, Celtic, Anglo Saxon, Carolingian and Romanesque art. All these cultures expressed the same theocentric world view but each in their unique way. The stylistic history of icons falls broadly into five periods. From the 1st to the 4th Century Christian images did not greatly differ stylistically from contemporary pagan art. Among the earliest Christian images are catacomb paintings and stone sarcophagi. Although more cursory than Pompeii frescoes, the Christian catacomb paintings diverge little from their neighbouring pagan tombs; only the subject matter –

often mythological subjects alluding to Christian truths – betrays their Christian origins. From the 5th Century to the beginning of the iconoclastic controversy in 726 more abstraction is introduced in an attempt to suggest spiritual realities. Eyes are enlarged somewhat, figures are more frontal, and drapery simplified. However, in comparison with contemporary mosaics, panel icons still retain a reasonably strong link with the naturalism of the Romano-Hellenistic tradition. The oldest extant panel icons, dating from the 6th Century, are stylistically akin to Romano-Egyptian funerary portraits of the first and second centuries, and like them are painted in encaustic. In the illustrated work of the Virgin and Child seated between St. Theodore and St. George, we find Hellenistic and iconographic styles side by side. The angels are rendered quite naturalistically and dynamically, whereas the Virgin and two martyrs – where personal encounter is clearly the aim – are more frontal, abstracted, and simplified. From the final resolution of iconoclasm in 843 until around the 17th Century, Byzantine, Coptic, Georgian and then Russian iconography refine the forms we now view as characteristic of icons, such as a flattened picture plane, a variety of perspective systems within the one image, and altered proportions. Drapery folds are transformed either into straight lines, or by contrast, accentuated into ‘wet fold’ forms, a style found not only in eastern but also in western art, most notably in Romanesque work. The fourth period – one of decline into naturalism or sentimentality from the icon tradition’s point of view – begins in the West with the humanist Renaissance, in Byzantium with the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and in Russia with the secularising policies of Tsar Peter the Great (reigning from 1682 – 1725). The fifth period begins around the beginning of the 20th Century, when we see a revival of traditional iconography in Orthodox countries and a growing interest in icons in the West. The revival in Russia began in large part with the cleaning of old icons to reveal their full brilliance, and the writings of such scholars as Pavel Florensky. In Greece the writer and iconographer Photius Kontoglou almost single-handedly initiated the change. In the West, interest was stimulated with early modernists such as Matisse and Kandinsky affirming the power of icons, and then with exhibitions in major museums, scholarly publications, and the immigration of iconographers. Numerous icon courses are now held in Europe and America, and a great many churches and cathedrals

– Catholic and Anglican as well as Orthodox – are commissioning new icons and frescoes. A major challenge ahead of western iconographers is how to foster an indigenous form of iconography, on a par with past masterpieces such as the Bury St Edmund’s Bible. Aidan Hart’s new book is reviewed on page 51.

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1 (overleaf) The Emperor Constantine giving the tiara to Pope Sylvester. Fresco, from the chapel of St Sylvester, Santi Quattro Coronati, Rome, c.1247 2 The Virgin and Child between St. Theodore and St. George. Sixth century encaustic icon, from St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai 3 The Annunciation, painted by the author, 2011. Private chapel, Bradford 4 The Nativity of the Virgin Mary. Russian icon, from Novgorod. Second half of the fifteenth century RWA magazine

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Paule Vézelay:

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From Clifton Arts Club to Abstraction/Création

Marjorie Watson-Williams (1892 – 1984) was born in Bristol. She studied painting and etching at Bristol School of Art, a period she later described as “…three years of hard work at a local art school”. In a letter written in the late 1920s, she said: “When I was quite young, about seventeen...I decided somehow to come to London. I wanted to know about everything and to feel everything and to suffer anything rather than live a stupid life in a provincial town playing tennis and having tea parties...” By the 1930s Watson-Williams had 34

RWA magazine Winter 2011

re-invented herself as Paule Vézelay and was mixing with many of the most significant artists of pre-War Paris including Kandinsky, Miró, Mondrian, Masson and Arp. Now widely regarded as Britain’s first female Abstract artist, her work is represented in museums and public collections in Britain and abroad including Tate; the British Museum; the Imperial War Museum; the National Portrait Gallery; the V&A; the Ashmolean Museum and the Arts Council of Great Britain. David Cuthbert takes up the story:

There was a time when the English art world was in thrall to Paris; English art was considered second best to French artistic flair and sophistication – in order to be taken seriously as an artist a sojourn in Paris was de rigueur. One of the places to see French modern art in Bristol in the early years of the 20th Century was Clifton Arts Club as its first president, JacquesEmile Blanche, was well connected to the Post-Impressionist art scene in Paris. A young and ambitious member, Marjorie Watson-Williams, must have seen the Club’s exhibition held sometime between 1906 and 1911 that included two nocturnes by Whistler and two Monet landscapes which, by general opinion, were considered ‘daubs’. In order to make her allegiance to French painting very clear, she changed her name to Paule Vézelay in 1926. According to Ronald Alley, who wrote the introduction to Vézelay’s Tate Gallery catalogue in 1983, she chose the name because she admired the Benedictine abbey of Vézelay. Perhaps she chose the name Paule because of its gender ambiguity, as a strategy to postpone

the recognition that she was a ‘woman artist’. Her first Paris studio was in rue de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse, a busy artistic hub and home to L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where Modigliani had been a student and where three famous sculptors worked – Antoine Emile Bourdelle, Constantin Brancusi, and Henri Laurens. Around this time, Vézelay began to sign her work with a Whistler-like monogram entwining an M and W as a butterfly: the first step towards consolidating a new identity. Vézelay had her first solo exhibition in London in 1921 where she showed prints, drawings and paintings, the subjects mostly multi-figure compositions of people at the theatre, in restaurants and circuses. In 1925 the Lefèvre Gallery showed her work with Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Jacob Epstein and Frank Dobson. Even before she settled in Paris her work began to show the influence of Cubism. A still life from 1923 – Musical Composition – has a Cubist derived pictorial space and is a gentle example of an international modernism. There are still life paintings by Gino Severini, Morandi and crucially André Masson, in the years immediately following the First World War to which this painting could be compared. Vézelay was also a social creature who knew many of the leading artists of the day, becoming a close friend of Matisse’s daughter Marguerite Duthuit. It was in 1928, at a party in Paris, that the writer Carl Einstein introduced her to André Masson with whom she became attached, living with him for about four years. Masson was one of the first Surrealist painters, a First World War veteran, mentally and physically scarred by his time in the trenches. Given to violent outbursts, many of his paintings and drawings attest to an obsession with irrational violence – fish attacking horses, scenes of massacres, Actaeon being eaten by dogs. Vézelay also produced some work of a similar kind and style such as a drawing – The Fight (1931) and a painting – Women Fighting (1930). But she left him after four years. In a letter to Masson she wrote: “It is true that the happiest hours of my life, all the truly marvellous moments, I have spent with you…I know all too well that from this moment onward my soul will seek yours, continually and without hope…I wanted to make you less unhappy but I didn’t succeed.” She returned to rue de la Grande Chaumière. It is after this rift that her work became more decisively ‘abstract’. She was also friendly with Joan Miró and his wife Pilar and stayed with them in Barcelona for a couple of months in 1933; but artistically more important was her friendship with Jean (Hans) Arp. It is interesting that her friendships in the Surrealist camp were with what is sometimes called the ‘biomorphic’ surrealists. Their paintings tended towards abstraction in the guise of

organic shapes; curves and motifs. It was a logical development that her work became more in keeping with the other major ‘camp’ in Paris at that time – the Abstractionists, who formed the group Abstraction / Création. She was elected a member alongside Arp, Hélion, Herbin, Kupka and others. Other British artist members included Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Marlow Moss (another ex-pat Englishwoman living in Paris). In 1939 Vézelay returned to Britain and Bristol was her home again for the first few years of the war. During this period she obtained permission from the War Artists Advisory Committee to make drawings and paintings of war damage in Bristol. She also recorded the barrage balloon centre where the strange shapes of partially inflated balloons can be seen to relate to both Surrealist and Abstract painting. Flight and floating shapes became a theme of many of her abstract paintings and drawings of the 1940s. Relations with Hepworth and Nicholson were not close and post Second World War they became distinctly unfriendly as Vézelay felt that her contribution and originality was being overlooked in their favour. She claimed to have made the stringed form before Hepworth and Henry Moore. She became English president of Groupe Espace in 1953 and was also disappointed that her ambition to facilitate closer links between artists, designers and architects was thwarted by Henry Moore who was adamant that sculpture was no longer regarded as the handmaid of architecture. She complained to Henri Goetz that she was unknown in her own country. Paule Vézelay designed many successful textiles for Heals and continued to create charcoal drawings, constructions, pastels, paintings and prints until her death in 1984. But it was not until 1983 that her contribution to modern British art was consolidated when she celebrated her ninety first birthday during her major retrospective at the Tate Gallery, London. It was a tribute to her long career, celebrated also by Germaine Greer who interviewed her for the 1984 BBC series Women of our Century.

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With thanks to Dr Suzanne Clarke for Clifton Arts Club history. Paule Vézelay’s artistic estate is managed by England & Co, 216 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RH The Tate has sixteen of her works in their collection including prints, drawings, paintings and sculpture. Two of her paintings are currently on display at Tate Modern.

1 André Masson and Paule Vezélay 2 Musical Composition 1923 3 Women Fighting 1930 4 Flags 1929 5 Barrage Balloon at a Balloon Centre 1942

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Winter 2011

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

// Gallery review

Bath Contemporary Bath Contemporary are passionate about art, leading the way as one of the major Bath galleries in the city’s thriving art scene. Recently re-launched to celebrate its fresh new approach, the 100sqm gallery specialises in sourcing original and collectable artworks from across the UK, focusing on contemporary paintings, sculpture and ceramics. Dark Stack // Ros Perton Mark Foster Bronze // Ben Dearnley Dark Water, Ophelia // Clive Jebbett

2012 promises to be an innovative year at Bath Contemporary with the introduction of sculpture and installations for gardens, a consultancy for sourcing and placement of artworks, and an online catalogue for exhibitions. This is alongside a rolling programme of exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing established artists and emerging talent who have real promise in the art world. The gallery has built a trusted reputation for offering a warm welcome and an informed personal service, underpinned by 30 years’ experience in the international art world. Rebecca Phillips, gallery director says “Given the current market changes, we are keen to make art buying an enjoyable process here in Bath, alongside the recent trend for nationwide art fairs. Art enthusiasts are able to view a fully priced website and build collections of their favourite work through private viewing and have the option to pay through an interest free scheme with the gallery. Whether a serious collector or first time buyer, our aim is to provide beautiful and collectable art, accessible to all, which will engage, move and delight for years to come.” Situated in the heart of Georgian Bath, the gallery offers plenty of space in which to enjoy the art, including the light filled atrium gallery. A ‘virtual’ show tour of the gallery can be taken via the video link on the website (see the ‘about’ page). Known for its ‘colourist’ and uplifting works, these range

across figurative, landscape and abstract paintings, diminutive to life size sculpture – some on a scale that may surprise – and ceramics, all with a strong emphasis on colour, form and a sense of connection. For the coming year each exhibition will introduce a painter, sculptor and ceramicist working in various mediums and scale. Commencing in December and continuing through January, Darkness to Light features a collection of smaller works by exciting new talent and pushes boundaries into the ethereal. Featured artists for 2012 will include official Olympic sculptor Ben Dearnley, who launches his Olympiad sculptures to coincide with the unveiling of his twice life size torso of swimming champion Mark Foster in the Southgate centre in Bath. The gallery looks forward to offering an exciting programme in 2012 with full exhibition listings and catalogues on the website. Bath Contemporary is open: Monday to Friday 10am – 5.30pm Saturday 10am – 5pm, and by appointment. Rebecca, David and Veronica extend a warm welcome to everyone. 35 Gay Street, Bath BA1 2NT t: 01225 461 230 e: gallery@bathcontemporary.com www.bathcontemporary.com RWA magazine

Winter 2011

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MAntour A

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

Before Deputy Editor Mike Whitton contacted Sister Wendy Beckett for this exclusive interview, there were several things he already knew about her: she is an 81 year old art expert, consecrated virgin and contemplative nun who became internationally famous after presenting many acclaimed art-history programmes for television; she has written over 25 books on art and art history; and for the past 40 odd years has lived as a hermit in a caravan in the grounds of a Carmelite monastery in Norfolk. Mike’s first question: “What inspired you to become a self-taught art historian and international celebrity?� met early resistance:

Sister Wendy Beckett:

Encounters with Art Mike Whitton

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I am only an ‘art historian’ in that I have studied the books by the real art historians. I feel it is rather a grandiose description of what I try to do. Without original research, I do not think one can claim to be an historian. Nor am I sure I am an ‘international celebrity’. Some years ago, I was moderately well known, and I know that there are people who still remember me. Clearly, what I had written and said has struck some kind of chord, and readers and viewers have then gone on to look at art with new eyes and find a new dimension in their lives. As for more television: I am 81, and a rather doddery feeble 81 at that – no credit to octogenarians. I do not think I have the physical energy to make another television series. But my recent books have dealt wholly with religious art, so I can still feel the need for some television coverage. I am in the middle of doing an Arena on Gospel painting and Gospel meaning – not just telling the story of a Gospel incident, but showing its spiritual significance, both generally and personally. It should transmit around about Easter. It is one thing to have read books on artists and seen their works in reproduction, and quite another to

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stand before those works in all their extraordinary reality. I think I only understood why so many critics regard Velázquez’ Las Meninas as the greatest of paintings, when I saw it for myself in the Prado. It takes one’s breath away with the power of its immediacy. Compelling religious art is rare at any period, but above all in our materialistic age. I find [stone carver and painter] Greg Tricker’s work quite extraordinary. He is able to look at Christ and spiritual themes in general with an unconventional directness that is wholly his own. His figures are luminous with the grace of divine presence. Just visually, they are very beautiful to look at, glowing colour, strong powerful line, but the whole is so much greater than the parts. Tricker always works in a series, treating one theme in various modes: painting, drawing, etching, sculpture and of late stained glass. His latest series seems to me to be his greatest, in which he contemplates the life of Christ and of those who he draws to travel His journey with Him. His Jesus is infinitely moving, no great heroic figure but a thin tired man, aware of the sorrows of the world, sharing them. Yet this humble Jesus is also clearly divine. And it is Tricker’s own prayerful embrace of the full Christ reality that distinguishes his art. I came late to understanding the value of icons. Like most who write about art, I somehow could not fit them into art history, and ended up paying them a token respect but passing by. It was the discovery some years ago of a hitherto unknown 7th Century icon of Mary and the Christ Child, (there were up to now only seven in existence), an image so overpowering in its spiritual beauty, that forced me to look more closely. It is true enough that icons do not really fit into the story of painting, but then they are not meant to. They are both art and not-art. They are art in that a trained painter has created them, but not-art in that the action has been done as liturgical worship. In fact, the icon painter speaks of ‘writing’ an icon not of painting it. He or she is writing a theological act of worship. Icons are functional, not meant to be admired, still less to be used decoratively. They are meant to draw you out of the world of your present into the world of God’s eternity. You pass, as it were, through an icon into the mystery of God. I have heard it said that Catholic theology is in books and Orthodox theology in icons. Obviously this exaggerates, and certainly the Catholic Church is becoming more and more aware of the potential of an icon to direct the attention of the faithful to God. The value of icons is that they hold before us these images of what we believe, and

if we take time and are still, they will help us to transcend the limitations that cramp us all. Works of art that most vividly convey spirituality? A Cézanne landscape or still life, or, for that matter portrait: anything by Cézanne. He never uses religious imagery but one cannot encounter works so beautiful and truthful without being drawn into something greater than oneself. I think everything can be employed to positive purpose, and sacrilegious art is no exception. It never seems to me we know what an artist intends by his or her work so I would hesitate ever to feel able to assume that an artist intended sacrilege. What I have before me is a work that I can interpret in whatever way that seems most true to me. I am thinking in particular of Piss Christ (Andres Serrano, 1987), in which a crucifix is submerged in a bottle of urine. This upset many people, but I wonder if here we have not an expression of grief at the practical contempt shown to the cross today? It might well have been intended to arouse people to their lack of reverence. Or one could take quite a different reading: there is nothing inherently ignoble in urine. So the artist may be showing that nothing in the body is alien to the love of God, all human weakness has been redeemed. Perhaps sacrilege is in the eye of the beholder? Which artist would I most like to meet? The artist I most admire, Cézanne, would have been horrified at the thought of spending time with me: he hardly wanted to spend time with his friends or his family. Poussin, too, my next most favourite artist, was not a man for conversation. I suppose Fra Angelico would have been kind to me because he was a saintly man, and so would have Rublev, another saint, another great artist, but I would have hesitated to intrude upon their privacy. Time is very precious to me, not only because of my age but because of my vocation. Perhaps, we could consider the Creator as an artist? I choose to spend my time with Him.

1 (overleaf) Antoine Dominique Sauveur Aubert (born 1817): the artist’s uncle, 1866 Cézanne 2 Greg Tricker and Sister Wendy Beckett 3 Piss Christ – Andres Serrano 4 Joseph of Aramathea carving – Greg Tricker

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An unknown masterwork: Mike Jenner

Christ Church, Shaw There are about 8,000 medieval churches in England, and probably about the same number built in the five centuries since then. Most of these later churches were built at the end of that period, in the expanding towns during the great revival of Anglicanism and church-going in the reigns of both Victoria and Edward VII. Many of them are

magnificent but few are given their due. In Simon Jenkin’s book England’s Thousand Best Churches a mere 3.6% of his thousand were built in the 73 years of those two reigns. To some extent that will be due to his personal evaluation of their aesthetic and historic merits, but probably quite as much to the fact that although an enormous amount has

been learnt and published about medieval and Georgian churches, less has been written about Victorian and Edwardian ones except those designed by the acknowledged masters. Many by somewhat lesser architects are unknown outside their own districts. There are still superb churches waiting to be discovered by writers on architecture. RWA magazine

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It should be ugly, it is certainly unconventional, but through that unexplainable sorcery which only great artists can command, it is utterly magical. 5

By the end of the 19th Century nearly all architects still believed that Gothic was the appropriate style for churches, though an increasing number had come to think that Gothic should be modernised and no longer restricted to the exact repetition of medieval forms. Back in 1880 there had been widespread disappointment that the design of Pearson’s new Truro Cathedral had no modern characteristics. By the early 1900s there were a number of churches which developed Gothic in new ways, outstandingly beautiful examples being Sedding’s Holy Trinity in Sloane Square of 1888, and Lethaby’s concrete and thatch All Saints’ at Brockhampton in Herefordshire, of 1902. They are now well-known and much visited and written about. An almost unknown example is Christ Church at Shaw, near Melksham, built in 1905 by the architect Charles Ponting (1850-1932) [image 1]. It was a nearly total rebuilding of a cheap barn-like church which had been built in 1837 by T. H. Wyatt, one of the least interesting of that brilliant and fecund dynasty of architects. Ponting, who lived nearly all his life in Wiltshire, became, bit by bit, Diocesan Surveyor for the huge Salisbury Diocese and a large part of the Bristol Diocese, eventually becoming responsible for the upkeep and repair of 237 churches, more than any other architect of his time. In addition to his church work, he received commissions for other buildings, the best known of which is probably the splendid Marlborough Town Hall of 1901, which closes the eastern end of the wide High Street, and one of his most striking is the red brick and tile-hung Cottage Hospital of 1891 on the A38 at Almondsbury near Bristol

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(now used for other purposes and showing serious signs of neglect). He was one of the better architects of the Arts and Crafts movement, but is now one of the least well known. At Shaw he was commissioned to remake the interior of the church by providing aisles and a chancel, and to give the building more presence externally. He removed the great shed-like roof but preserved the side walls of the nave and their windows, and the walls of the two high transepts with their rose windows. Inside this stone shell he erected a great timber structure consisting of oak posts which form the aisle arcades, and then rise above them to form a clerestorey with timber windows [images 2,3]. The posts also support the oak trusses of the exposed timber roof, which becomes fascinatingly complex over the crossing where it supports the flèche which rises out of the roof [image 4]. The crossing is divided from the nave and transepts by elegantly lacy Gothic oak screens, and the apsidal chancel has a carved oak reredos. His tall west window was re-glazed in 1921 as a splendid memorial to the men of the parish who were killed in the war. Ponting’s technical skill in the construction of this great load-bearing timber structure is deeply impressive, but wood sap ran in his veins. His father was on the staff of the Savernake Estate (which included Savernake Forest), and the son began his career in the office of the Estate’s architect. Possibly all the wood used in the church came from the Forest. The dismal pine pews are the church’s only obvious economy, having been re-used from the old building (they were a mid-Victorian replacement of Wyatt’s box pews). In fact the entire new

structure was itself an economy: wood construction, even in expensive English oak, is always cheaper than masonry construction. This interior of golden oak timbers, flooded with light from the high clerestorey windows, has a slightly domestic atmosphere, faintly reminiscent of the great hall of an ancient house because it has very little ornamentation or imagery, relying for its stunning effect on the carpentry of the structure. There is no other church like it, anywhere. (The nearest that I can recall is Richard Norman Shaw’s St Michael’s at Bedford Park in London, which has a timber clerestorey but no other similarities – the mighty Shaw could occasionally descend into bathos: his clerestorey windows have balconies. They are very pretty but utterly useless: there is no access to them.) Externally, the sides of the church are its weakest aspect because the walls and the lower windows are Wyatt’s work. Even the slopes of the roof are dull. They are covered in the green Westmorland slates which were so popular with architects in the years around 1900, but unfortunately they have weathered to a dirty grey, the very opposite of the splendidly characterful effect which they will have had when new. But none of this is particularly damaging because the church’s much more attractive east and west ends grab all the attention. The east end [image 5] consists of Ponting’s tall polygonal apse which groups most attractively with Wyatt’s transepts, the clustered verticals of the three being crowned by the lead-covered flèche which grows out of their junction. The west end, which faces the road, is composed of further verticals, this time only two [image 6]. The four-light

window which lights the nave is narrow but very tall, finishing at the top in a glorious explosion of Decorated tracery [image 7]. The gable above terminates in a little niche containing a figure and supporting a cross. Beside this great soaring window, and occupying the width of the north aisle, is the slender tower stiffened by a pair of buttresses at each corner. It rises without incident up to the spectacular belfry which is lifted above the roof of the church so that there will be no obstruction to the sound of the bell. The belfry has two lancets in each face, not glazed but open, with huge louvres to allow the sound to ring out in all directions [image 1]. The arches of the lancets have further Decorated tracery. The buttresses terminate between them, but their vertical surge is continued by canopied niches containing large figures of the four Evangelists and four prophets. Between their heads at each corner of the tower are great gargoyles projecting dramatically far out from the wall. The tower is topped by a parapet with panelling and yet more tracery. This widely visible upper third of the tower is crammed with three-dimensional incident, a marvellous contrast to the much more plain two-thirds below. The final magical touch is the small spire or flèche faced with cedar shingles. It is usual for spires to be designed so that they appear to grow organically out of the tower supporting them, the junction between the two being managed so that the transition is smooth. Here there is no transition, the spire simply projects like a spike sticking out from a balk of wood. It should be ugly, it is certainly unconventional, but through that unexplainable sorcery which only great artists can command, it is utterly magical. The best Victorian and Edwardian church architects, including the modernisers, saw their work very differently from the way most of us do now. “When you visit a church does it send you on your knees?” said J.L. Pearson. “That is the question you should ask – not is this admirable or is it beautiful?” Almost certainly Charles Ponting, churchwarden and regular church-goer, would have put his priorities in the same order. He aimed to achieve the first by excelling at the second. I have known and admired his Town Hall in Marlborough and his Cottage Hospital in Almondsbury for many years, as well as a few lovely church furnishings which have caught my attention whilst church crawling. Until recently I rated him as a gifted but minor architect. Then, a few months ago, I discovered this lovely church at Shaw. It is the work of a master. No wonder he was given 237 churches to care for.

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Ponting’s technical skill in the construction of this great load-bearing timber structure is deeply impressive, but wood sap ran in his veins. His father was on the staff of the Savernake Estate.

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// Close-up

Garry Fabian Miller is one of today’s most progressive figures in photography whose cameraless abstractions have enriched the perception of contemporary photography within fine art. Hugh Mooney met him recently at his Dartmoor home: Garry Fabian Miller’s photographs are shining islands of light. Often combining intense colours with simple shapes they possess an extraordinary suggestive power, becoming, for the viewer, windows on a vision-inducing world of luminosity and abstraction. Fabian Miller is one of several modern artist photographers who eschew the camera. Using methods which would have been familiar to the inventors of photography who discovered long ago the magical effects of light on chemically sensitised surfaces, he manipulates light directly to produce strangely beautiful pictures in which it is both subject and medium. There is no negative and each picture is unique. His exploitation of the supreme ability of photographic materials to capture both the brilliance and the nuances of light and through that to express his reverence with its transforming powers and its associations with moments of contemplation, has brought Fabian Miller great success. Regarded as one of today’s most progressive figures in fine art photography, his work is regularly exhibited in major galleries in the UK and abroad and held in many important collections, including that of the V&A. Born in Bristol in 1957, Fabian Miller has been captivated from his earliest days by photography’s unique relationship with light. Choosing the life of the artist photographer, his first serious works were seascapes which dramatically expressed the effects of changing light and time on environment and he gained early success when, at the age of 19, his work was shown at the Serpentine Gallery in London and subsequently at Bristol’s Arnolfini. A developing artistic sensibility led thereafter not only to an increasing fascination with cycles of light-driven change within nature but also to a dissatisfaction with the camera’s inability to respond to the full intensity of what he saw and felt. Abandoning the camera altogether he began using translucent plant material in his darkroom directly to cast images through the enlarger to produce artworks of great beauty, his inspiration the effects of diurnal and seasonal changes in light on the delicate structures and colours of leaves and

flowers. These were powerful metaphors for light’s role as an important shaper of landscape and his use of natural materials – light and plants – led to fruitful associations with Andy Goldsworthy and other land artists of the period. Light, however, as the progenitor of deep personal experience, emerged as his dominant obsession and in the early 1990s, his art evolved from the literal basis of his plant pictures into a practice of total abstraction in which it became the central feature. Fabian Miller’s ‘light’ is not the cold radiation of the physicist’s electromagnetic field, but light as ‘radiance’ experienced deeply and subjectively at moments of peace. The emerging glow of dawn seen on his daily walks around his home on Dartmoor, an unexpected touch of sunlight in a room or the residual light of night – such as these produce in him the feelings of clarity and presence and the heightened sense of ‘being’ which empowers his art and which he explores through the poetry of his abstractions. Working entirely in his darkroom he uses simple material: a light source, glass vessels filled with coloured fluids, shaped cardboard templates and sheets of Cibachrome colour positive photographic paper. His variables are light intensity and colour, length of exposure and the form and position of his templates, all of which he manipulates with skill. In the resulting pictures, which he develops as series of works with differing visual themes, we see areas of powerful colour as continuous fields or flowing shapes which emerge chiaroscuro-like from an intensely dark background or, in others, as strict geometrical patterns of circles, squares, annuli and lines. In some cases, comparison with the work of the Abstract Expressionists, particularly the field painters, is inevitable. For him, the pictures are a “bringing together of light and matter” and become “places to inhabit”. Recorded on the smooth continuum of Cibachrome’s fine photographic emulsion, their transparency, depth of contrast and the way in which light appears to diffuse across boundaries of colour give the impression that the forms depicted are incandescent. Not surprisingly, illustrations in books or magazines fail to capture their full intensity and impact. Each of his series is an exploration of what is possible with specific colours and colour relationships, light intensities and variations in motif. They are also experiments with time, with some exposures taking many hours. His methods are painstaking, his visual language mature and disciplined and as I listened to him I imagined the composer who uses tones, rhythms and sound textures to create great and challenging music. In fact, Fabian Miller’s series are, in a way, just that –

Garry Fabian Miller

visual music, its theme the transfiguring influence of light. Although Fabian Miller’s pictures have their source in his very personal moments they are, nonetheless, mesmerising art objects in their own right. The suggestive power of their abstraction and their visual brilliance produce a deeply emotive experience for the viewer and reviews of his work are often punctuated by references to the numinous, and by language in which words like ‘mystic’, ‘transcendent’ and ‘cosmic’ frequently appear. Fabian Miller, however, seemed guarded in speaking in such terms,

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his pictures remaining for him an almost visceral response to his feelings and best experienced, therefore, with directness and simplicity. Nevertheless, I find it difficult to avoid their evocation of the formality and stillness of a Zen garden. As I gazed at the huge and compellingly beautiful pictures hanging in his studio I experienced sensations bordering on the synaesthetic and recalled the single beat of the large gong I once heard in a Buddhist monastery in Nepal. ‘Be Aware!’ it seemed to say. The subsequent silence, like Fabian Miller’s pictures, was eloquent beyond words.

The Colour of Time Garry Fabian Miller 192 pp: Black Dog Publishing, London 2010 ISBN 978 1 907317 06 4 Spring issue Close-up – Nadège Mériau

1 Year 2, Mica 4, 2007 2 Exposure (7 hours of Light), 2005 RWA magazine

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Inside the artist’s studio Rembrandt van Rijn lived and worked from 1639 to 1658 in the Amsterdam canal house that now bears his name. The recent reconstruction of the interior followed in-depth scientific and historical research returning it as closely as possible to the way it was in his day, with its studio as the highlight. A visit to the Rembrandt House Museum is a must for anyone who wants to get close to the real Rembrandt – the most illustrious painter of the Golden Age. Art historian, Fieke Tissink, introduces the highlights:

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

Rembrandt In 1639 Rembrandt, already an established artist among the respected artists and craftsmen in Amsterdam, took out a 13,000 guilder mortgage on a house in Breestraat. However, despite earning a lot of money, Rembrandt was unable – or unwilling – to pay off the mortgage. Between 1652 and 1656 Rembrandt made frantic attempts to pay off his debt. He did not succeed and was forced into bankruptcy. In 1656 Rembrandt’s property was inventoried for the benefit of his creditors, and his household effects and collection of art and curiosities were sold. The house was auctioned in 1658 and Rembrandt moved to a small rented house on Rozengracht, where he lived until his death in 1669. Rembrandt lived for nearly twenty years in the house in the Breestraat where many of his masterpieces were painted. Building up a flourishing workshop, numerous pupils and assistants – ‘apprentices’ – contributed to the workshop output. Rembrandt had his shop, his art dealing business, in the anteroom at the front of the house. This is where he received his clients, who – glass of chilled wine in hand – could feast their eyes

on the dozens of paintings by Rembrandt which crowded the walls. But it was on the second floor where it all happened. One large room – the studio – spans the width of the house. The room smelled of linseed oil and turpentine, and in the winter, of the peat that burned in the two cast-iron stoves. The stoves were needed to keep Rembrandt and his often-nude models warm, as well as to help dry the paint. The studio faces north and the light enters evenly through the windows. Rembrandt was able to control this by closing the shutters and adjusting the white cloth over one of them. On the shelves around the walls were objects that Rembrandt and his pupils used as props: armour, helmets, cuirasses and weapons of all kinds, plaster casts of classical statues and body parts – as the inventory reads: “…17 hands and arms, cast from life.” Rembrandt painted here while his pupils made his paints and prepared the canvases. There was probably also a covered gallery in the courtyard and there are indications that Rembrandt raised the height of this gallery, perhaps in order to paint The Night Watch within it. At more than three metres

van

by four and a half, this huge portrait of a local militia company would not have fitted in to the studio and on completion would have been rolled up and carried out of the house. The pigments were ground with linseed oil on a large, flat, hard stone to make the paint. The 17th Century artist had access to a limited range of pigments. These included smalt – a violet blue – made from ground glass; azurite, a bluish-green mineral pigment; white lead and chalk, used to make white paint; many yellow and red ochres, and lacquers made from insects or plants. The pigments were bound with linseed oil, with pigments and oils stored in bottles and earthenware jars. Paint was usually made in small quantities, enough for one day’s work. Early in his career Rembrandt painted on oak panels, but later switched almost exclusively to canvas. It is likely that he bought his canvases ready prepared – coated with a ground. He used numerous brushes, made from the hair of ermine, badger, martens and pig using the fine brushes for precise work and larger for coarser painting. When it came to restoring the studio, the information in

The room smelled of linseed oil and turpentine, and in the winter, of the peat that burned in the two cast-iron stoves.

Rijn the inventory was augmented by a drawing by Rembrandt. On the right sits a model, possibly Hendrickje Stoffels. Part of the easel can be seen on the left; to its right we glimpse the mantelpiece and the stove. This drawing was followed closely by the restorers. Rembrandt was a passionate – indeed, obsessive – collector. Had he not built his collection he would have been able to pay off the loan on his house and avoid bankruptcy. But Rembrandt needed his collection: he wanted to surround himself with beautiful and fascinating objects from around the world. And he was prepared to pay any price for a coveted piece. The collection was inventoried, then broken up and sold when Rembrandt went bankrupt in 1656. In reconstructing the studio, hundreds of similar rarities and objet d’art have been gathered using the descriptions listed in the inventory: “Two globes, a box of minerals, a pewter pot, a pissing child, two East Indian dishes, a bust of the Emperor Augustus, a Nero, two iron helmets…” The objects have as far as possible been placed in the order of their listing. Rembrandt and his pupils used the collection as study

1606 – 1669 material and as a source of inspiration for their own work. As a history painter, Rembrandt used items from his collection to paint exemplary stories from the Old and New Testaments, from classical mythology and from history. Elements taken from prints by other artists, weapons, headdresses appear in Rembrandt’s drawings and paintings. Although the collection was sold shortly after the inventory was taken, the sale did not put Rembrandt off continuing to collect art and valuable objects which he did until his death in 1669. Museum het Rembrandthuis Jodenbreestraat 4 11011 NK Amsterdam t: +31 20 520 04 00 e: museum@rembrandthuis.nl www.rembrandthuis.nl Open Monday to Sunday 10am – 5pm The Artist, Rembrandt in His Studio (detail) c1629

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TOP

art b ooks

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It is a delight that these letters are being published as they offer a rare insight into a remarkable man who deserves to be more appreciated and remembered for his many talents and achievements.

John Sansom’s introduction offers a frank, informed and illuminating overture to Sven Berlin which whets one’s appetite for the man and guides one’s affections towards his long standing friend. Illustrations have been used with subtlety – I particularly liked the mutual respect and affection so evident in the image of Sven and John Wells – together on a rare visit to St. Ives. Hand written letters were one of Sven’s favourite means of communication: remaining an unassuming and shy man, the written contact allowed him to speak his piece without direct confrontation, almost as if he were conducting an orchestral piece in his own style and timing. Sven was kind, generous and above all, totally genuine. He scaled some heights as

dancer, author, sculptor, poet and painter and if he appears to have fallen short in reaching the pinnacle in any one of these journeys it may be explained by his dazzling diversity in art forms and by not nurturing one single talent. The letters between Sansom and Berlin indicate the frustrations felt by this very special artist over the final few years of his life and will become increasingly valuable as a resource and reference, as the name of Sven Berlin edges slowly towards the summit, many years after his passing. Nigel Cox

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Graffiti and Street Art Anna Waclawek

An Architectural History of Bristol Gomme and Jenner

Paul Nash in Pictures: Landscape and Dream James Russell

Foyles at Cabot Circus

1 Sebastian Smee Freud at work Lucian Freud David Dawson

One 2 Hiroshige: Hundred Famous Views of Edo Melanie Trede Lorenz Bichler

Sketchbook 3 Bento’s John Berger Freud 4 Lucian William Feaver Projects: 5 Drawing An Exploration of the Language of Drawing

// BOOK Artist and Publisher: Sven Berlin’s letters to John Sansom 1992 – 1999 Edited by John Sansom 143pp: Sansom & Company, Bristol, 2011 ISBN 978 1 906593 79 7

Mick Maslen Jack Southern

Matisse: 6 Henri Drawing with Scissors: Masterpieces from the Late Years Olivier Berggruen Max Hollein

in Bristol 7 Sculpture Douglas Merritt and the Ballet: 8 Degas Picturing Movement Jill DeVonyar Richard Kendall

Primacy of 9 The Drawing: Histories and Theories of Practice

Deanna Petherbridge

Rauschenberg 10 Robert James Lawrence John Richardson

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208pp: Thames & Hudson, 2011 ISBN 978 0 500 204078

Back in the mid-1960s it could not have been anticipated that an illegal practice such as letterbased graffiti could develop into an important aspect of urban culture. Graffiti and Street Art, reviews the history of this development and explores its motivations and meanings. This lavishly illustrated book offers a very readable insight into this diverse and often innovative form of expression. From a Bristolian perspective it is fascinating to read an analysis that places Bansky’s work in a broader context. Highly recommended. Mike Whitton

436pp: Oblong Creative, Wetherby, 2011 ISBN 978 0 9556576 5 8

This is a magnificent reworking of Bristol: An Architectural History, 1979 which has been my bible of Bristol Architecture for the past 30 years. Brilliantly illustrated with the architecturally intelligent photographs of John Trelawney-Ross it is both a great catalogue of Bristol’s amazingly eclectic architectural history, and a punchy commentary that dispels many myths and pricks a few Bristol balloons. George Ferguson

48pp: Mainstone Press, Norwich, 2011 ISBN 0 955 2 77 779

Celebrating the life and work of Paul Nash, this new book from local author, James Russell, brings a fresh eye to the artist’s legacy by going behind the scenes of twenty-two paintings to explore Nash’s life, the places and people he knew. The book draws on diverse sources to create an intimate portrait of a passionate, funny, supremely imaginative artist. Well known paintings such as The Battle of Britain are included alongside pictures that are reproduced for the first time. Greg Reitschlin

// Reviews

Aidan Hart is perhaps the UK’s leading exponent of iconography and this encyclopaedic work gives an invaluable insight not just into iconography as such, but into how a master iconographer

works. While presented as an in-depth, comprehensive manual for budding iconographers it goes much further, as the writer delves into chemistry, conservation, and contemporary controversies, with his own preferences, inspirations and insights woven into every corner. Even the most seasoned practitioner will find something new, while for non-practitioners or those new to iconography there are enough personal anecdotes to make this a fascinating journey into a living world of mindblowing treasures. This does make the book, at times, a bit of an idiosyncratic work, with some inconsistencies of depth reflecting the author’s personal interests rather than actual usefulness for the reader. Some areas display an amazing grasp, for example, of the very detailed aspects of

chemical processes, while other topics are quite summary in their coverage. Yet, this isn’t the sort of book to sit down and read cover to cover, more a treasure trove to be dipped into as need and interest arises and its detailed coverage of egg-tempera, fresco and secco techniques will also appeal to non-iconographers who work in these related fields. However, the one serious disappointment is the omission of the techniques of mosaic, especially given mosaic’s essential place in the earlier periods of iconography and its enduring validity as an iconographic medium. If it had had this, then without doubt this book would be the definitive work on the living world of iconography today. Despite this, the sheer insight and vision which Hart brings to his reader makes

this a thrilling and at times inspiring book. He is a man who paints and creates with a great love not just for his art but also for the spiritual realities he is describing in colour and form and this comes across page after page. You can see ‘where he is coming from’ as well as ‘how he does it’ and this in turn helps you enter into the world of the icon which no descriptive tome can provide. Those who don’t share the Orthodox faith in which iconography lives will still be able comfortably to enter into its world with reverence and respect, essential if one is to ‘taste’ iconography for oneself. Richly illustrated, expertly written, it is an unrivalled resource for anyone remotely interested in the living world of iconography, and an essential addition to any practitioner’s library. Ian Knowles

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Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man Martin Cayton and Ron Philo

Hokusai Matthi Forrer

William Nicholson: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings Patricia Reed

Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series Sarah C. Bancroft, Susan Landauer, Peter Levitt

672 pp: Yale University Press, 2011 ISBN 978-0-300-1705-42

256pp: Prestel, 2011 ISBN: 978 3 791 3513 84

William Nicholson was the father of British modernist Ben Nicholson, and a wonderful artist in his own right. William Nicholson’s paintings have many of the freedoms of modernism combined with a rigorous command of traditional techniques. Together this gives his works a wonderful sense of freedom, and his late still lifes in particular are essays in pure painterly joy. DT

In Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park Series the artist combines the techniques learnt from the Abstract Expressionists and combines them with a refined and contemplative sensibility to produce works of singular beauty. The paintings speak of a different way of engaging with the world, of a slow and reflective point of view open to new modes of seeing. DT

// BOOK Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting: Egg Tempera, Fresco, Secco Aidan Hart 517 pp: over 450 colour illustrations and 180 drawings Gracewing, 2011 ISBN 978 085244 215 9

160pp: Royal Collection Publications, 2010 ISBN13: 978 1 905 686 223

This book should whet your appetite for the National Gallery’s Leonardo exhibition. It documents Leonardo’s anatomy studies from the Royal collection with superb reproductions. The unique point of this book is that the facsimile of the works is followed on the next page by the reproductions overlaid with translations of Leonardo’s notes. Darren Tanner

288pp: Prestel, 2010 ISBN: 978-3-791-344-386

I must confess I’ve never really been a fan of Hokusai’s prints but this beautiful book really changed my mind. With reproductions printed on a surface which gives an accurate facsimile of the original prints, this book really brings the images to life. Through the medium of woodblock prints Hokusai produces works which convey a profound sense of atmosphere and radiance. DT

RWA magazine

Winter 2011

51

Artful Cuisine

1

Welcome to our exclusive Directory of places to enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner – all within a 15 minute walk of the RWA. To advertise please call Angharad Redman on 0117 906 7608 or email angharad.redman@rwa.org.uk

Fifty

50 Princess Victoria Street Clifton, Bristol BS8 4BZ t: 0117 973 3711 www.restaurantfifty.co.uk ‘Break away from the chain gang’ Fifty is an independent restaurant serving locally sourced foods cooked to order. We pride ourselves on our excellent service and range of fresh eating options. Brunch 11.00 – 3.00pm Set lunch 12 – 3.00pm only £12.50 for two courses. Dinner: Early bird menu £12.50 for two courses 6.00 – 7.30pm A la Carte menu 6.00pm – 10.00pm. Closed Sunday evenings and all day Monday.

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3 5 2

7 4 1 2

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

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Fishers

35 Princess Victoria Street Clifton Village BS8 4BX t: 0117 974 7044 www.fishers-restaurant.com

8 9

A specialist fish and seafood restaurant just around the corner from the Suspension Bridge with a daily changing menu buying direct from the best markets on the Cornish coast. Amazing lunch and early bird deals, renowned fish and chips and fishcakes in a warm welcoming environment. Call now for daily specials.

Fish

Gastro Pub

Italian

Japanese

Mediterranean

3

The Lido

5

Papadeli

7

 he T Richmond

Oakfield Place, Clifton Bristol BS8 2BJ t: 0117 933 9530 www.lidobristol.com Every day 12 – 3pm and 6.30 – 10pm (closed Sunday evenings)

84 Alma Road, Clifton Bristol BS8 2DJ and Café @ RWA info@papadeli.co.uk t: 0117 973 6569 9.30-5pm Mon to Sat and 11-5 on Sundays.

33 Gordon Road, Clifton Bristol BS8 1AW t: 0117 923 7542 e: richmondpubandkitchen @gmail.com

The Lido is a veritable oasis tucked within a courtyard of Georgian terraces in the backstreets of Clifton. The Lido restaurant is located on the first floor with sliding glass doors affording fantastic views of the 24m outdoor heated pool and period changing cubicles. The food style is Mediterranean with the focus being on the provenance of the ingredients.

Papadeli make the most delicious cakes in Bristol, use Hobbs House bread for our sandwiches and our coffee is organic and fairtrade. Meet at café @ RWA for mouthwatering food in gorgeous surroundings. “The nicest piece of lemon polenta cake that I have ever had. Great atmosphere, nice staff and wi-fi. It really is good!”

The Richmond offers a wide range of classic British cuisine with a distinctly modern twist. Food and drinks served in the warm and comfortable surroundings of a traditional British pub, with two open fires and a relaxed, friendly ambience. Offering free room hire for small or large bookings, the Richmond has the facilities to completely cater for all your needs.

4

Noa

2 Waterloo Street, Clifton BS8 4BT t: 0117 973 2881 e: bookings@noajapanese.co.uk www.noajapanese.co.uk Lunch Mon to Sat 12 – 3pm Dinner Mon to Sun 6 – 11pm Contemporary and traditional washoku cuisine where fresh ingredients are seared to seal natural flavours. Starters include a traditional miso made from the finest nutritious soya beans to a wakame (seaweed) salad. Light and crispy tempura, tonkatsu, harumaki; sashimi, cut and served in different ways; all garnished with our range of vegetables and seaweed. Our skilled chef can create mouth-watering sushi delicacies complemented by a choice of side dishes.

6

 rimrose P Café

1 – 2 Boyces Ave, Clifton Bristol Bs8 4AA t: 0117 946 6577 www.primrosecafe.co.uk Daily from 9am – 5pm (9.30am – 3pm Sun) Tues to Sat evenings from 7 The ideal place to watch the world go by. Al fresco eating, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner all using sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients. Twenty years under the same ownership and a Bristol institution. Daily from 9 – 5 0117 946 6577 www.primrosecafe.co.uk

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Vincenzo’s

71A Park Street, Bristol BS21 5PB t: 0117 926 0908 For over 40 years this family-run, authentic Italian restaurant and pizzeria has been offering its many fans the authentic taste of Italy. All your favourites are here: antipasti, fish, chicken, veal plus pasta and pizzas including many veggie options. Our wine list contains all your Italian favourites.

Rosemarino

1 York Place, Clifton BS8 1AH t:0117 973 6677 www.rosemarino.co.uk Open seven days a week from 9am Dinner Wed to Sat from 6pm Rosemarino is a place to enjoy fresh, un-fussy, sensibly priced food in a light and relaxed atmosphere. Alongside our extensive all-day breakfast menu, the lunch and dinner menus are based on satisfying regional Italian specialities using the freshest ingredients around.

RWA magazine

Winter 2011

53

The thrill is being there

JANE CARTNEY Colourist Paintings

See the Aircraft Carrier Experience and Concorde RNAS Yeovilton, BA22 8HT

01935 840565

ART�STUDIO & Gallery Viewings Welcome

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By Appointment

Tel: 01934 418198 www.janecartneyfineart.co.uk Winter promo

2 for 1* with this ad (RWA)

*Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Expires 31.3.12.

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

Arnolfini 16 Narrow Quay Bristol BS1 4QA t: 0117 917 2300/1 e: boxoffice@arnolfini.co.uk Tues – Sun 11am – 6pm 9 December – 19 February Museum Show Part 2 Following on from Part 1, Arnolfini presents the second chapter of Museum Show, a major historical survey of museums created by artists. It is the first ever exhibition to chart this particular tendency in contemporary art. Neil Cummings Self Portrait: Arnolfini

Bath Contemporary 35 Gay Street, Bath BA1 2NT t: 01225 461 230 e: gallery@ bathcontemporary.com Mon – Fri 10am – 5.30pm Sat 10am – 5pm Bath Contemporary leads the way as one of the city’s art scene. Recently re-launched, the 100sqm gallery specialises in sourcing original and collectable contemporary artworks from across the UK.

R E Bucheli Fine Art Albion House 12a Broad St, Bristol BS1 2HC t: 0117 929 7747 e: gallery@rebucheli. co.uk Tues – Fri 10am – 6pm Sat 10.30am – 4.40pm To 24 December Christmas Exhibition 5 January Framing Event

Courtyard Gallery 5.2 Paintworks, Bath Rd. Bristol BS4 3EH t: 07977 219 037 e: info@courtyardgallery.org www.courtyardgallery.org Tues – Sat 11am – 5pm Last Sun of the month 11am – 5pm

Diana Porter Contemporary Jewellery 33 Park Street, Bristol BS1 5NH t: 0117 909 0225 e: web@dianaporter.co.uk Mon – Sat 10.30am – 6pm Sun – 11.30am – 4.30pm To 31 December All Together

Fleet Air Arm Museum RNAS Yeovilton BA22 8HT t: 01935 840 565 www.fleetairarm.com Aircraft Carrier Experience & Concorde See ad opposite

Foyles 6 Quakers Friars Cabot Circus Bristol BS1 3BU t: 0117 376 3975 e: cabotcircus@foyles.co.uk 6.15pm – 7.30pm 6 December 2011 Eric Ravilious Talk Bristol-based James Russell is an acknowledged authority on the life and work of English water colourist and designer Eric Ravilious, having written widely and given illustrated talks on the artist’s life and work to audiences across the UK. For artists and history buffs alike. Venue: Upstairs at Foyles, Bristol Tickets: Free, see website or email cabotcircus@ foyles.co.uk

Grant Bradley Gallery Bedminster Parade Bristol BS3 4AQ t: 0117 963 7673 e: info@ grantbradleygallery. co.uk Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm 3 – 31 December Eight Linked in Ink Contemporary print makers: Nic Dartnell, Rebecca Howard, Liane Stevenson

The Holburne Museum Great Pulteney Street Bath BA2 4DB t: 01225 388 547 e: k.jenkins@bath.ac.uk www.holburne.org.uk Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm Sun 11am – 5pm (Closed 24, 25, 26 December and 1 January) To 8 Jan 2012 Gainsborough’s Landscapes: Themes and Variations The first exhibition solely devoted to Gainsborough’s landscapes explores six principal landscape types, paintings and drawings spanning his whole career. £6.50 / concessions

Jamaica Street Artists The Showroom 31 College Green, Bristol t: 0117 924 1171 e: jsadevelopment09@ yahoo.co.uk Mon – Fri: 11am – 6pm Late opening Thurs til 9pm Sat: 10am – 6pm Sun: 11am – 5pm The Art Box 8 – 23 December A pop-up shop and gallery by Jamaica Street Artists.

Jane Cartney Art Studio & Gallery rear of 80 Regent Street Weston-super-Mare BS23 1SR t: 01934 418 198 m: 07779 178 736 e: artist@ janecartneyfineart.co.uk By appointment daily Jane Cartney: Paintings Permanent, changing exhibition. Recent work by Scottish West Country colourist-expressionist. Inspired by Cows; Architecture: Boulevard and W-s-M; Glasgow; Jedburgh; The Pheasant Series. Portrait Commissions.

The Redfern Gallery 20 Cork Street London W1S 3HL t: 020 7734 1732/0587 e: art@redfern-gallery.com Mon – Fri 11am – 5.30pm Sat 11am – 2pm (Closed for holidays: 23 Dec 2011 – 3 Jan 2012) To 26 January 2012 Kurt Jackson: Recent Work Kurt comments that: “Unlike many of my shows that focus on one body of work – a so called ‘project’, this time I decided to bring together half a dozen different strands of my work – a series of small projects.”

The Jerram Gallery Half Moon Street Sherborne Dorset DT9 3LN t: 01935 815261 e: info@jerramgallery.com www.jerramgallery.com Mon – Sat 9.30am – 5pm 26 November 2011 Christmas Exhibition 20 Invited Artists A Mixed and Festive Show of Pictures and Sculpture 18 February 2012 Drawn to the Landscape Carry Akroyd, Emma Dunbar and Fiona Millais Three artists’ interpretations of the British Landscape and its Natural History

Sky Blue Framing 27 North View Westbury Park, Bristol BS6 7PT t: 0117 973 3995 Mixed Christmas Exhibition Quentin Blake, John Knapp-Fisher, Sam Toft, Susie Brooks and other favourites.

Lime Tree Gallery 84 Hotwell Road Bristol BS8 4UB t: 0117 929 2527 m: 07879 475 462 e: bristol@ limetreegallery.com Tues – Sat 10am – 5pm To 15 January 2012 Christmas Exhibition Mixed exhibition of favourite gallery artists, including many from Scotland.

Somerset Guild of Craftsmen The Courthouse Gallery, Somerset Guild of Craftsmen, Market Place, West Street, Somerton TA11 7LX t: 01458 274 653 e: courthouse@ somersetguild.co.uk www.somersetguild.co.uk Open all week, including Sundays 11am – 4pm 13 Nov – 7 Jan Free admission Sense of Place: Christmas Exhibition The gallery will host over eighty of the finest craft designer-makers from the length and breadth of Somerset, exhibiting and selling handmade gifts during the festive period – ensuring you are spoilt for choice this Christmas.

Gallery Pangolin 9 Chalford Ind. Estate Chalford Glos. t: 01453 889 765 e: gallery@pangolineditions.com Mon – Fri 10am – 6pm Sat 10am – 1pm Show 1: Jon Buck – Making a Point: The Point of Making Until 17 December A review of over twenty years of Jon Buck’s work, tracing his themes and preoccupations through changing imagery. The exhibition includes sculpture, prints and drawings and will be accompanied by a newly published book. Show 2: The London Art Fair 18 – 22 January 2012 Gallery Pangolin and Pangolin London on Stand G48

SNAP 20 – 21 Lower Park Row Bristol BS1 5BN t: 0117 376 3564 Tues – Sat: 10am – 6pm Mondays by appointment. www.snapstudio.org.uk SNAP: Studio, Gallery, screenprint workshops.

Artful quotations

// Listings

“Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.”

Rembrandt “The whole point of painting is that it has the potential to be humanistic, so expressive. To give that up is a tremendous mistake because then what you are doing is imitating forms of technological expression which can be manifested more directly, more efficiently, and frankly, more beautifully, in their original form.”

Sean Scully “At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.”

Salvador Dali “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.”

Steve Jobs “Our secret desire is for a change in the order of things.”

René Magritte “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”

Degas “The only true voyage of discovery would not be to visit strange lands but to behold the universe through the eyes of another.”

Friedrich Nietzsche “I think a painting is more like the real world if it’s made out of the real world.”

Robert Rauschenberg “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”

Emile Zola

Chosen by Jilly Cobbe RWA magazine

Winter 2011

55

Back Chat Scott Wishart

Mike Whitton

Joan Bakewell

DBE

What was the first work of art that you purchased? It was an etching of Yeats by Augustus John. I bought it with my then husband, Michael Bakewell and I think it cost us about £60. I am not a particular admirer of Augustus John as a painter, but I was very interested in the subject matter and this piece is from a beautifully executed drawing. Since then I have collected a variety of work as my tastes are quite eclectic. Who was the most interesting artist that you met in course of presenting programmes such as ‘Late Night Line-Up?’ I interviewed Marcel Duchamp in 1968 and found him to be delightful company. He was a charming, quizzical man with a very dry sense of humour. In the interview he explained the ideas behind conceptual art, the influence of Dadaism and so on. A copy of the interview is now held by the Tate. Should artists feel free to shock us and to break taboos? Yes, absolutely. Obviously they should stop short of breaking the law, though prosecutions for libel can be fought in court. The obscenity law is largely in abeyance in this regard. In 1982 Mary Whitehouse was

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RWA magazine Winter 2011

born 1933 unsuccessful in her attempt to bring a prosecution against Howard Brenton’s play The Romans in Britain and more recently various individuals failed in attempts to prosecute Gerry Springer: The Opera. I wrote and presented on BBC2 in 2001 Taboo which examined the boundaries of decency and censorship and was thought very controversial. It was great fun to make. Are the arts well represented on television today and, if so, by which programmes? The arts are well represented, but you have to search for them. Andrew Graham-Dixon is very reliable and recently made a wonderful programme on Coptic art. Matthew Collings is good; very lively and engaging. Waldemar Januszczak is a Jack-in-a-box, bouncing up and down with energy. Mark Kermode knows every film that’s ever been made. Of those artists who have tackled the themes of ageing and of old age, who is the greatest? Rembrandt of course – wonderful paintings, including the self-portraits. Also Lucien Freud: uncompromising and with nobody spared, including himself.

Which recent exhibition has especially impressed you? The Power of Making at the V&A. It is full of eccentric inventions and creations. For example, there is a piece of lacework, enlarged and made out of metal. I took a grandson who liked it so much he went twice. Is there one feature of contemporary life that you particularly detest? As I get older I try to become more tolerant of things I do not like, such as certain kinds of pop music. However, I do hate shoddy TV – crappy, cheap audience-wooing programmes full of mindless chatter. I keep well away from stuff like that. If you could take just one piece of art to your desert island, what would it be? It would be Las Meninas by Velázquez. I get so much pleasure from it. It’s a brilliantly constructed work; quite eerie and full of puzzles. It tells many stories. How would you most like to be remembered? As a Grandma.

BEBB SEKERS

DAVID SHEPHERD

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Henry Cliffe (1919-1983) Original Oil Bath Signed Size: 50 x 37 cms

No. Crewe Works from Life, a Standard 9F

John Piper (1903-1992) Landscape Wales Original Watercolour Signed and dated 1955 Size: 37 x 54 cms Provenance: Private Collection

Kyffin Williams (1918-2006) Original Linocut Waterfall Signed and numbered 53/100 in pencil Size: 30 x 75 cms

Barbara Hepworth (1905-1975) Original Screenprint November Green 1970 Signed and numbered 58/60 in pencil Size: 77 x 58 cms Collections. Tate

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Each painting chosen by David for the significance it has to him from his over 50 years in painting and conservation. All pictures reproduced to his exacting standards. Includes many rare or out of print images as well as new paintings and iconic pictures

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“This collection is a very rare opportunity indeed, it is the sort of book that is usually only published to commemorate an artist’s work long after he is gone. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to choose and present my own selection from my life’s work”

Michael McEntee One off Lead Sculpture Title: The Penitent Man Signed Size: 50H x 25W cms

Apply now and receive a complimentary Limited Edition Print ‘Tiger Haven’ and a DVD on David’s life and work

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HANG OUT WITH US... Anthony Whishaw issue // Ivor Abrahams RA

Come to our Sunday food and craft Market. A place to browse or shop, to meet, eat, drink, enjoy live music and affordable art. A place for everyone.

“It is a gem and well worth seeking out” Bristol Evening Post.

We use largely fresh local produce, with organic or fair trade ingredients.

The Barley Mow was saved from extinction by the Bristol Beer Factory to become one Bristol best local pubs, of Bristol’s serving ‘the Dings’, north of Temple Meads Station. It is adjacent to the Bristol-Bath cycle path.

Friday night live music in the hold bar - a great venue to hire all other days.

It can be hired for parties and for business breakfasts out of normal hours.

Situated in the old Ashton Gate Brewery near the Tobacco Factory. The Bristol Beer Factory may be small but it brews some of the region’s best ales. awa Our Milk Stout was awarded a gold award by Taste of the West, one of only 2 beers to receive the accolade. We use locally grown malt and hops and are fighting for our independent pubs. p Demand our locally produced cask ales in your pubs and bars: Red, No7, Sunrise and Bristol Stout.

Illusion & Allusion: Whishaw RA

// Sister Wendy Beckett

Close-up // Garry Fabian Miller

BackChat // Joan Bakewell DBE

Winter 2011

07 Winter 2011

// Ivor Abrahams

07

If you have not been to the Tobacco Factory you have not experienced Bristol!

Enjoy panoramic harbour views and watch the Matthew and others sail past while sipping our Bristol beers and European Wines. Try our home made pies and taps and sample our exquisite daily specials.

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Brave it across the water to South Bristol’s cultural phenomenon - a theatre and centre for the performing arts - and so much more.

// Sister Wendy Beckett // Garry Fabian Miller // Joan Bakewell

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Sunday brunch, market, live music and theatre


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