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TUBES “in the studio... with Ian Norris”
our featured painter has an informal chat with the Editor
Exhibition & Book Launch, Gateway Gallery, Hale, Cheshire...Full Review Exciting...New move for the Contemporary Six Gallery in Manchester Art Education...”what about the kids” What age should Art be taught? ‘Spike’ on Tretchikoff...our resident culture critic has a dig at art snobs Exclusive...Art History Editorial “Affirmation Art in a Disaffirmative Climate”
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p4 Editors pages the Editor introduces hinself, and says welcome this the first issue of painters Tubes. And gives an opinion of the business side of Art in the Manchester area of the NW of Englnd.
p29 Review Pages Martin Regan, Gateway Gallery, Hale, plugs his new book and the Gallery puts on an anniversay exhibition at the same time with the same title and the same paintings as in the book... “the Northern School- a reappraisal”
p6 “in the studio with...” a regular feature page of a painter that is especially selected by the editorial staff #1 issue...an informal chat with Ian Norris, a painter from Preston in Lancashire. He talks about his work process, his life and future work at his new & bigger studio...
p36. Historical Art Essay exclusive essay in two parts... written in 2002 by (the late) Professor of Art, renown author and art historian Nigel Whiteley phd, FRSA. “Affirmation art in a disaffirmative climate” Published for the first time - within an Art Magazine...a must read
p17 ’Spike’ our resident culture critic takes a swing at the bias of art instutions in the past. Case in point - Vladimir Tretchikoff...
p40 “What about the kids?” Art & Education... is it time to create a state run Art school for exceptionally talented children? Ongoing series of articles on the future of a new generation. Casepoint: Manchester High School of Art
p25 Big move for Contemporary Six Alex Reuben of Contemporary Six upsticks and moves to a cool new space in Manchester...
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ptmag- #1 - 2017- 02- 23
Editors pages Hello, and welcome ... ...in this first issue the focus is pointed to the North of England. It’s the ground that I know best and intrinsically. It will come as no surprise, to those who have known me as an artist over these last 30 years, that my decision to seek out editorial and interesting art stories have been sourced and found in that part of England. Over the last few decades the dominance of intellectualised art, in the UK, has resulted in a sort of renaissance in the popularity of painting in general. No doubt fuelled by social media and a public hungry for ‘understandable’ visual Art. We have also witnessed the distinct move towards owning a piece of original art rather than a reproduction of it. Without having to travel very far or wide, a quick Google and a click of the mouse, anyone can discover a multitude of very talented artists work to choose from.
Denis Taylor. Artist. Editor of Painters Tubes. Photograph. ©Marianne Arnberg 2016
way back in 1981, when I was setting up a showcase in Manchester, a wise man told me...
“...customers will only like what You show them, so show more.” Today all creatives have the advantage of utilising on-line software which makes creating interactive and cool looking websites extremely simple. If there is one problem with Art on-line, it is the total lack of the real life experience of it. This is particularly true of visual Art and specifically, paintings. The full appreciation and true value of a good painting only comes from the the interactions that the viewer gets from the real thing. To stand in front of an original work of art is a totally different experience than viewing it as a jpeg reproduction on screen, in as much as a reproduced print never captures the magic of an original work of art.
So it’s not that surprising that these commercial galleries tend to go for a ‘safe sell’ with proven subjects. Things are changing as alternative spaces for art are populated by the artists that are unrepresented on the high street. Which is good to see. Hopefully these new spaces will open a door or two for unknown artists, and the high street galleries will begin to take notice and take a risk on some new contemporary subject matter in due course. For now, the physical spaces left over from the industrial North are being utilised by these artists or groups. Affordable rents are quantified by the physical effort the leaseholder has to put in to make them presentable. There is so much diversity and talent to choose from at the moment that the gallery single genre concept, to many outside of the area, are confused by it.
a younger generation. Of course this is all outside of the world of the Art collector, who measures, what is termed ‘Northern Art,’ perhaps as risky long term financial investment. Particularly if the work is not signed by any of the acclaimed Artists from the North. Maybe a wider strategy may result in an even bigger & booming creative visual arts sector? Perhaps exhibiting art that is still regionally aware, yet experimental, even risk taking, or exciting, rather than the safe traditional Northern subject matter, is the way forward for artists and galleries into middle to early years of the 21st century. Let’s hope so.
In keeping with the words of advise from that wise man The high street Galleries, at from way back in 1981. least in the Manchester area, 2017 will see this magazine seem to promote, exhibit, or bringing you much more...... hold in stock, similar or more we’ll be taking a look at all accurately the same genre points of the compass. of art as each other. It is not And thus developing the uncommon to see the same The dynamic change of the editorial pages to bring the artist with various examples architectural environment and reader paintings and art stories of work on the walls at almost the life style of people is evident from much further afield, with every one of the established in the northern conurbation something new or different art high street galleries. and this is slowly resulting in by authentic artists who are To be fair to these galleries, a broader taste of the general in our opinion, exceptionally it is not easy to finance and maintain an art business today, public. As the nostalgia subject gifted in painting. quickly loses its appeal to let alone make a profit. Denis Taylor Editor.
in the studio with...
7 “...the local train from Manchester to Preston arrived on time, it was 10.30 am and within a few minutes Ian Norris appeared in front of me. Although we had only spoken via email, Face Book profiles enable easy face recognition with real life meet ups. Ian had kindly offered to pick me up in what he called his mobile studio (a medium sized van).”
Before too long we approached his home having first drove past a wonderful old building next to a church, which Ian had pointed to the bay window on the top floor as being his ‘next’ studio. “It’s larger than the one I have at present, that will enable me to ‘up the size’ of canvas.” He said in response to our tentative driving-chat about ‘size’ of work and how a larger canvas enables a greater physical and perhaps deeper psychological involvement whilst painting. The advantage of being a painter, when interviewing another painter is that it doesn’t take any time at all to be on the
same wavelength, especially when it comes to creating real Art. And so, with little time was wasted in ‘getting to know each other’ with normal polite discourse could get right down to the important stuff, which we did, even as the kettle was boiling for a welcomed cup of tea. I’d noticed that Ian has a number of other artists work that he admires dotted about on the walls of his home... “...I tend not to put my own work up on the walls at home, just in case I’m tempted to take them down again to change them.” (a feeling that most panters would recognise as something that we can be tempted to do).
8 “You can destroy original vitality of a work by post-mortem changes and maybe the record of how you were as an artist, of when you created it.” I said to him to justify his reasoning. He suggested we walk down the garden path to his studio and I took my cup of tea with me. The studio is a converted out house, from a size point of view it was reasonable. The light was good and he had organised the space efficiently into areas of working, viewing his own work and being able to read and seek answers from his large collection of Art books. These covered the era of Art and Artists, that he much admires. I commented on the ‘tidiness’ of the space to which he smiled and told me he had ‘a tidy up’ before I arrived, at which point we both gave a long and knowing laugh... . These first paragraphs set the tone for the three hour interesting discussion
that covered the last few years of Ian’s work which began with a brave decision to give up his ‘day job’ and paint on a full time basis. A decision that his partner wasn’t totally convinced was such a good idea. “It takes courage to be an Artist”. Knowledge of that famous artist statement must have been forefront in mind as Ian courageously gave up a lucrative guaranteed income and pitched his lot into creating Art. Thus began his own personal journey into what may be called the “agony of creative enjoyment” It’s perverse how creating something wonderful can be, at times agonising, like giving birth to a child I imagine. Ian is almost a classicist in the way he prepares his subject matter. Study, then more study with exacting sketches, made (usually) in charcoal. Perhaps this is his ‘getting to know the subject’ period in intimate detail,
“the spring, the summer, the chlding autumn, the angy winter.”
“what is the main reason behind the last series of painting?” which to me is obviously the objective. A practice that, theoretically at least, allows the painter the freedom to make something that goes beyond reality and enters the realm of a new vision. And by which transcribes the subject, inwardly and using only pigments on a flat surface, Ian creates works of Art rather than simple representations of an existing environment. (Why do that when we have superb digital cameras to do that job quite adequately for us). Ian paints in oil, a choice and feels is the medium that fully satisfies the inner ‘need of the Artist’, more so than does say acrylic or polymer paints. Perhaps it’s a fluidity or rather flexibility of the colour that certain painters prefer oil over other mediums, it is certainly takes far more time to fully master (and dry) than acrylics or polymers. A mastery of oil paint that Ian’s work shows he has in abundance.
“Never so weary, never so in woe”
Ian has worked diligently to become a painter of note and that combined with his natural talent has gained recognition from organisations such as the Manchester Art Academy. He also re-educated himself in formal art and gained a degree from University. Even so, he is grounded enough to understand that institutionalised recognition and Art Degree’s do not make one a great painter or indeed are even necessary to become one. It’s the work that counts and the painters own personal measurement of a paintings visual success that matters most. Like many of the excellent artists, ones that I know or have met in the past, Ian is his own most vocal, visceral and art critic, which is why I think his work is so interesting and authentic. It’s a critical state of mind that becomes clearer to understand in one a particular series of work, a series we talked about in some detail and for quite some time.
“Why do they run away, this is a knavery of them to make me afeard”
10 “through the house give gathering light, by the dead and drowsy fire.”
Not only of the work itself but what lay behind them in their conception. Initially, the prologue to these particular paintings were other banks of work that was exhibited at the Castlegate House Gallery in Cumbria, “Tracing the Derwent.” was one series. This was his second solo show, at that gallery that sold out. The subject matter was landscape. And, even after many hundreds of years, landscapes are still the most bought paintings by the art loving public. So it’s not a complete surprise why Ian’s wonderfully rendered authentic canvas’s of landscapes were so quickly snapped up by the Galleries client list of art collectors. The Gallery did a great job of both the catalogue and the marketing of those particular exhibitions, probably knowing that the ‘nature’ series of work was collectable and therefore very sellable. It was after the ‘sold-out-shows’ that Ian experienced a shock related to his health.
The shock took the form of a diagnosis of an illness that came from nowhere. It involved a procedure or a program of treatment that leaves a person in state of unbalance both psychologically and physically. And it was a treatment that would take time to become successful. As is so often in circumstances like this, Artists tends to retreat into themselves and try desperately to alleviate their mental stress through their Art. It’s a sort of self-help treatment, one which only recently is being recognised by medical experts as a sure fire way to help people deal with dramatic health problems. And having gone through a similar life changing circumstance myself, I understood Ian’s position, his reaction to it and the triumph of overcoming it. Ian created a series of paintings that would, in some way, bring him from the brink of sort of self-reproachment, even though he knew he was blameless. And
11 so he relied on one of the giants of literature, William Shakespeare that gave him solace. He took the story of ‘a Midsummers Night Dream’ which had stayed in his mind since watching a performance of the stage drama of many years ago. He chose certain parts of the play to set down in oil on canvas, his own vision of what the words represented. It could be that particular drama highlights for us ordinary mortals, that, “real life really is but a dream”. Perhaps Ian saw in it the escape from reality, or at least a deflection, that he sorely needed at that time? Whatever the reasoning, the paintings were important to him and probably more important than any he had ever created previously. These works encompassed his whole being at a time when he must have felt that fate had dealt him a cruel and fatal blow. It was after the series was completed that his personal disappointment to their public showing followed. Ian felt the exhibition was short [on reaction] of what he had expected. It could be that the simple answer is that the Galleries clientele did not appreciate
Shakespeare, certainly not as much as obviously the Artist did. Even though it was the 400th year anniversary of the bard during the exhibition, Ian still felt the show fell flat despite the efforts of himself [and the Gallery] had put into it. Most likely the artists intimate reasonsing at the time for doing these works were not fully shared nor understood. Having created works on similiar very personal lines, I can sympathise with Ian and perhaps suggest to him that ‘painters important’ works like these, are not always met with an immediate positive public outcome. More often than not, meditative art takes time to ferment and grow in the eyes and the hearts of the viewer of it. It’s a steady pace which our high speed consumer world invariably has little time to allow that invisible artistic quality to gain a foothold. Intially the result being a preference to view only the surface of the ‘image’ without the truer and deeper meaningful value of the art work, that resides within it to be accepted by the viewer.
“are you sure that we are awake. It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream.”
12 in a way which is deliberate and stylistically recognisable, or even purposefully over stylized. Some of the midsummers night dream paintings have now been acquired by astute buyers, and I suspect for the very reasons already stated; that it is their originality, authenticity and emotional content, that is appreciated, but only after a slow burn. And it is only then that the paintings connect, perhaps faster for those who know the hidden story behind them, that the work truly comes into it own. The latest studio work is a series, which for convenience sake, you could call urban. It was one of these series that I was first attracted by and gave me the impetus to want to visit Ian in his studio. Not so much for the subject itself, but the way in which it was painted.
above: “Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me. I evermore did love you, Hermia.” For me the whole bank of work certainly isn’t a failure in any dimension at all. These paintings hold a original reality, they are authentic, and are something far more than decoration on a wall. Don’t get me wrong, decorative Art is all well and good, but great Art has sustainability far beyond that of a painting that may be a pleasing image. More than say one painted in a specific contemporary style, or perhaps even more common these days, one painted
The preparation methodology of how these paintings have been created is much the same as the previous series, but here we see him pushing himself to almost carve out the very essence of an urban existence and pushing himself beyond the visual effects of multi-layered coats of oil paint. They are more aggressive, just as Cities are, compared with the imagined paradise of an untainted nature and a rural existence. Ian told me a story of how, during his preparatory sketch work, he would position himself on the roof top of a multiple storey car park and begin to capture the overall shapes and feel of the City. One particular day he was ‘scolded vehemently’ by a car park attendant who suggested ...
city scapes #2 “You shouldn’t be up here’” [on the roof] It begs the question of ‘why not’? or “where better to view the City of Manchester?” I thumbed through his sketchbooks of this ‘urban’ series which were recognisable as Manchester City centre and was privy to view some of the ‘beginnings,’ as Ian may refer to them. He had lined them next to each other on a support bar fixed to the studio wall which made it interesting to see the progression of each one in turn. One bigger canvas was positioned on the easel and was perhaps the first of what you could say was a painting that stemmed from the former smaller experiments. The heavy texture was evident as he had laid on layer upon layer of paint. In some parts the oil had been scraped off and in other parts dribbles or runs of oil cascaded down the canvas. Under all that oil paint the image still remained, not hidden but absorbed by the process of the continual layers and scape off’s. I realised that I was viewing a painting that would probably change considerably as Ian would relentlessly pursue obtaining a vision that fitted his sensibilities, yet, for me I found this work perfectly finished as it was. It is a position I have faced many times, when someone views my work, what I would consider unfinished, others do believe is totally complete.
”no one artist has successfully integrated reality and abstract into one painting.” One of the privileges of being a creator of Art, is that it is he and not others to decide when a work is finished or not. Abstract Expressionism, an art movement now many decades old, is still practised by many painters today, as is impressionism, an art style older than abstract expressionism. Some painters today find those two styles still suit them well, but does holding onto a style encourage progress as painters? From a personal view, I think not. How could they when the possibilities (and limitations) of both those art styles must have surely been fully explored by now. The work of Ian Norris should not be misinterpreted as a form of abstract expressionism even though many, non-artists, use that word because they lack the intimate knowledge of them that do paint. It’s an annoying tendency of the self elected art experts to pervert words from Art History books and to label artists to justify their own narrative. The Story of Modern Art, the title of a book written by the art historian Norbert Lynton (first published 1980 with updated reprints in ‘82,’86, ‘89, & ‘92) is one of those books that artists tend to read over and over and discover, between the lines, something new each time on reading it. In this book Lynton, suggests, in a one liner, that “no one artist has successful integrated reality and abstract into one painting.” but that was written in 1989. I saw that statement as challenge and I feel that same artistic challenge is central to Ian’s work. Perhaps Ian’s ‘absorbing reality’ does result in abstraction and
city scapes #3
city scapes city scapes #4#4
In the 21st century all art be regarded as nonregional & non-national, shouldn’t it? reality integrated onto one plane? At the very least it seems his work is on the way to meeting Norbert Lynton’s challenge. We discussed Lynton’s book and others and Ian readily agrees that ‘reading’ unbiased analysis of past Art is a definite contributor to the creation of future artworks that are dynamic, new and substantial. So far Ian has explored nature, he has delved into combining emotional and literature into his work and moved on into the urban City subject, a subject that seems, at present, to dominate the walls of the high streets commercial galleries and the websites of independent artists and on-line art galleries alike. They all come under, what some people refer to as, ‘Northern Art’ or ‘Northern School’, a title that is both contagious to an art loving public and to many of todays artists, contentious, if not vacuous and despised. In the 21st century shouldn’t all art be regarded as non-regional & non-national? Above all, Art should not be given any form of label, which narrows its audience down to a specific type of person, but rather be variable and choose subject matters for the many tastes. Art cannot be created as if it were a can of tomato soup, same, same, but in 57 different flavours. But hey, that’s a whole different artists debate, one that I am sure my fellow artists will present in convincing and separate logical arguments, both for and against the idea of labelling paintings or artists as a member of a school
city scapes #5 or as being a this, or a that sort of Artist . It remains to be seen what direction Ian will take in the future. A dramatic change may well occur as he moves into his new space in that bay windowed building, the one that he pointed out to me. And as he said, in his ‘mobile’ studio (the van), he can now ‘increase the size of the canvas,’ because he has the space that will handle them comfortably. It is perhaps natural that subject, method of working and style or application of paint will change. Perhaps, not at first, but slowly and surely and in Ian’s case, it will be the result of much thinking, reading and having inward frank discussions with himself, of that I am sure. It will be interesting to witness as 2017 rolls by as to exactly what those possible changes will be visualized like. Perhaps it would be a good idea for me to go back to his home town in a year or so and partake in another cup of tea? I do hope I have the opportunity to do exactly that. Denis Taylor was in the studio with... Ian Norris, Preston Studio (16th November 2016).
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in this issue ‘Spike’ our resident culture critic, is talking about the most detested (and the wealthiest) painter of the 20th Century. The one and only, the incredible Mr Tretchikoff... a painter, who was attacked, derided and admonished for most of his life. An artist who proved them all wrong right up to his death at 92 years old. It’s an odd thing that when the art critics decide to rubbish an artist, they really do go for the throat. Like a pack of dogs hunting a fox. Egged on by their own superiority complex and the metaphorical whistles of their masters, the art institutions. In this particular case the Fox fooled them completely by his mastery and knowing the complex map of humanity. And he was cock sure what direction he should take. Meanwhile the dogs followed the well trodden road marked by the artistic sign posts on a path of a self proclaimed superior cultural knowledge. The Artist in question is Vladimir Tretchikoff and you will be forgiven for not knowing his name, but perhaps you will know of one of his paintings the Green Lady, also known as the Chinese Girl. This painting hypereal, (almost surreal) portrait was the highest selling reproduction in the world, bar none and the most hated by the art elite’s and art critics alike. If not now, then most certainly from 1953 to the early 1980’s. I am getting a clear vision of a bunch of culture journalists, huddled in a dark corner of a pub in Islington (London), groaning over the fact that the original ‘Green Lady’ just sold to a South African art collector for closing in on a million quid.
“Chinese Girl” 1951
Tretchikoff once said that the only thing different between him and Vincent Van Gogh, was that... “..he was poor, and I am rich.”
19 The artist once said the only thing different between him and Vincent van Gogh was that Vincent was poor and he was rich. A statement that did nothing to endear him to the Art Museums or public Art Galleries in the UK, who never bought any of his art work. His story as an Artist is perhaps unique, his story as a human being is certainly different enough from the rest of us to wonder how he survived at all. Born in a community (sect) of spiritual christians known as Molokans, whose main philosophy is best summed up by an old proverb they abided by, “Work hard as if you were to live forever, do good as if you were to die tomorrow.” Conservative in outlook the religious group frowned on drinking booze and smoking. The crux of their faith was that they believed all humans were equal as brothers and sisters through Christ. Freedom of will was of prime importance to the Molokans. Apart from the non- smoking and drinking clauses, they don’t sound too bad a bunch to me. But to the Russian authorities their preaching that ‘war was a deadly sin’ sort of pissed them off and the Molokans fled from the fighting that ensued with the Russian revolution. They landed in Manchuria (China). Tretchikoff took his natural gift for art and used it to earn a living, drawing cartoons for newspapers and later he gained a position as an illustrator for an advertising agency. But it was because of his work for British propaganda department that got him in trouble. When the Japanese Empire invaded Singapore in 1941 he was evacuated. His evacuation ship was torpedoed and sunk. He managed to survive by scrambling aboard a life raft. The raft drifted for weeks before landing in Java. The Japanese had by then overtook that country too and Tretchikoff became a prisoner of War. His family, who had escaped safely weeks before Vladimir had done, presumed him dead. After he was released from the prison camp, he found himself in the safe haven of South Africa and it was here that he produced portraits which, one presumes, he was pretty good at, as this became his mainstay for
pictured above: Monika Pon-su-san, the model for the Chinese girl seen here in 2016 - reunited with the painting the first time since 1951.
all images ©artbookspublishing 2013
20 “Ndebele Woman.” -1959
income. With a back story like this you would of thought the Art World would have opened their arms to him, as a sort of artistic hero. And in Cape Town, they kinda did (if no where else). His first major exhibition was in 1948 and for twenty or so years his reputation as a fine artist grew exponentially. In the very early 1960’s he had a show mounted in the shop for the well off middle class of London, Harrods. This drew thousands of visitors. It was at this point the art critics began their attacks, calling him the “master of suburban kitsch” - compared to other verbal abuses he endured that was quite mild. Tretchikoff though, shrugged them all off with typical Russian bravado, an attitude that only a person who has experienced encounters with the real threat of actual death could possibly do. “I eat critics for breakfast,” he’d say and retaliate by pronouncing all his critics as “failed artists.” The distance of history gives us the pleasure of imaging the envy and the
“Balinese Girl.” -1959
loathing that some of these art journalist must have gone through, especially when faced with an Art which railed against the trend of the time. Modern, [the new art], which had by then become accepted and which dominated the contemporary art world was the global movement ‘Pop Art’ spearheaded by Andy Warhol. It’s ironic that Vladimir actually succeeded in the early ambitions of Warhol to bring Art into the realm of the common people (and out of the hands of the elitists). Warhol failed miserably with this self same appointed mission, because he allowed himself to be absorbed by the ‘cool’ set of NYC and the culture media of the Art Institutions of Europe. They must have saw in Andy an answer for their own agenda. One of creating an homogenous cultural world they controlled, in preparation perhaps for a New World Political Order. Which, in our own century we have seen to have totally failed (for humankind)
21 “Zulu Girl.”-1959
with a dogma that has begun to unravel slowly as ordinary people have woken up to the fact that they have not benefitted from it, in fact quite the reverse has happened. It was the commonality of the Chinese girl image that cemented Tretchikoff as the world most sold and most hated of all painters (and the richest) of the 20th century. When he visited the USA he mounted an exhibition to show his stuff, he sold the Chinese girl to a private collector. Being a street wise guy he had carefully taken a copy of it. It was this paintings that was reproduced by the millions and sold in high street shop empires (such as: Woolworths in the UK) for a quid a print. That green face, and other Tretchikoff’s ladies would soon be looking down on middle class households as the backdrop to a suburban new life of supper parties, smart functional designed furniture and the painted white walls of the 1950’s and all through to the 1980’s.
“Miss Wong.” 1959
“...I eat critics for breakfast. They are, he said, “failed artists” Even inside the down trodden North of England, with their vast council home estates built by enthusiastic Socialist local politicians, were decorated proudly by the Green Lady. It became a sort of symbol of modernity and global awareness of the exotic life outside of Great Britain. The more that the ‘ordinary’ people liked Tretchikoff, paintings the more the Art snobs hated him. We see a similar situation today with the bizarre Turner Prize - which J.M.W Turner could never win, even if he was alive today. And yet it was the ‘PostModernists’ belief in resurrecting and copying past artists work, that sort of gave Tretchikoff an extended artistic life. ‘Kitsch’ had become the new cool.
all images ©artbookspublishing 2013
all images ©artb
For example Artists such as Odd Nedrum who painted, what Nedrum himself named the ‘Kitsch’ style, has sold his paintings for astonishing amounts of money in NYC. In the UK the London new designer in crowd decorated their million pound apartments with colour prints of many of Tretchikoff’s portraits. He gained a whole new trendy fan base. The untrained naturally gifted Russian Artist from the middle of nowhere in Siberia, was once again, for the second time, the King of Kings Road and London SW1. Even Tretchikoff himself was completely dumbfounded by his sustained popularity.
To a lesser extent the negative attitude Art Institutions still have to ‘natural born’ nonart educated artists such as Tretchikoff, who haven’t taken the predetermined road map of artistic qualification, are still, usually, ignored. These unfairly ignored artists fall into the trap, as Tretchikoff did, of measuring their own success [as an Artist] by Money. A mind set that many unscrupulous Vanity Galleries take advantage of. Vladimir would have disapproved of the practise. I am sure and suspect his advise to many of the ‘ignored’ talented painters of today, would simply to say to them...don’t ask for help...get working, do it yourself !
23 left: photograph of: Wayne Hemmingway, a renown designer, reads a newspaper below the large reproduction of “Lady from the Orient.” installed at his home in London, UK. Wayne has been a life long fan of Tretchikoff ever since his grandmother had a print of this artist in her home in Preston, Lancashire.
Vladimir Tretchikoff c.1913 to 2016 If you would like to discover more about the life and work of this painter then we can recommend the book: “Incredible Tretchikoff” Life of an Artist and Adventurer. Written by Boris Gorelik and published by:www.artbookspublishing.co.uk ISBN:978-1-908970-08-4 Art Book Publishing.co.uk - ISBN 978-1-908970-08-4
Wright Marshall Fine Art Auctioneers
Forthcoming sale Saturday 11th February 2017 Northern Art and Modern & Contemporary Art (entry deadline 16th January)
L.S.Lowry RA (British, 1887-1976. ‘A country landscape with buildings’ pencil drawing. Estimate £5,000-8000
Harold Riley (British .b.1934) ‘Empire’ pastel. Estimate £1.500 -2,000
Brian Shields “Braaq” FBA (British 1951-1997) ‘The Boat Lake’ oil on board £2000 -3,000
For further information contact Nick Hall email@example.com
Knutsford Salesroom 01565 653284
Theodore Major (British 1908-1999) ‘Snow in the wood’ oil on canvas. £8,000 -10,000
photograph of Alex Reuben outside his new gallery space.ÂŠ2016 Lee Harrison
Alex Reuben up sticks and moves to a cool new space in Central Manchester... ..the 30 something year old, Alex Reuben, has moved to a new space from the first gallery he opened in 2010 in central Manchester...
26 ...When we dropped by to visit Alex he was stressing about the road works outside of his new premises. The workers were placing tracks for the expanding tram system that services central and all parts of Greater Manchester. “They think it will be done in a week or two.” He said with his fingers crossed. Contemporary Six had its grand opening exhibition on the15th December 2016. The proud owner of the new space explained that the reason for the move was partly due to the success that he had experienced at his former space (the parade between Cross Street and St Annes Square) had given him the encouragement to spread his wings, metaphorically speaking. “I still think of myself as a sort of a newbie as a gallerist..” Alex said, in his typical modest manner, but make no mistake, he is fully aware of what is what, in the very small world of the Manchester contemporary commercial gallery scene.
guided him into the paths of artists who created work that he not only admired, but had proven to be winners, certainly as far as sales were concerned. Rearmed and rethought the Gallery started to become known with the buying public. The position of this first Gallery gave him ‘passing-traffic’ and the glass fronted double windows provided an enticement for the passers by to walk in. Alex also made a point of understanding his artists in depth, by having regular social meetings and being sympathetic to the ‘production’ rate of quality work rather than pressing them for paintings in quantity. A mistake many Galleries in the past, have been very guilty of. It was with this balanced approach that he began planning his next big move, which became a reality this year.
He was educated at Handsworth School (in the midlands) and went on to achieve a BA degree at Leeds Metro University. He then worked for Moss Bros for a couple of years and saved every penny he could to realise his dream of opening his very own Art Gallery, which he did in 2010. His other ambition, as a Artist himself, took second place to showing other artists work. He discovered that he had not only a gift for doing precisiely that, but also loved doing it. His first shot at being a modern gallerist however, fell a little flat. “I showed more advanced art, from all over Europe, and it didn’t go down too well with the visitors who came into the Gallery.” He was wise enough to seek words of advise from two of the legendary Gallery owners in the North of England, (Wendy Levy of Levy Gallery in Didsbury and Dave Gunning of Todmorden Gallery). Both of whom were more than happy to provide him with pearls of wisdom and maybe
Alex inside the new gallery. Photograph: ©painterstubes 11/2016
27 The new Gallery is represents the continuing story of success for Alex. He told us of his plan to use the ‘extra’ space downstairs in the cellar after he had completed the extensive make over for ‘special exhibitions. We visited the gallery when it was partly finished. This is specifically for special exhibitions. It would be a refreshing change to see some strong contemporary work, be it figurative or abstract. Work which would reflect the dynamic force that is showing the seismic changes from a dour industrial landscapes and decaying architecture of the 20th century to the new exiciting structures that are sprouting up all over the City, not to mention the cultural change and sophistication of the inhabitants.
photograph of the opening night, ©2016 Lee Harrison photos.
photograph of the opening night, ©2016 Lee Harrison photos.
Alex with a client at the opening exhibition.Photo ÂŠ2016 Lee Harrison Photography
For now, Alex Reuben and Contemporary Six Gallery seem destined to become one of the leading Art venues in Manchester. And from what we hear through the grapevine, the opening exhibition of the 15th December, was a great success and even the Lord Mayor of Manchester turned up in support to wish the business all the best for 2017.....Andy Burnham take please take note. Contemporary Six Gallery, 37 Princess Street, Manchester. www.contemporaysix.co.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org telephone +44 (0)161 835 2666
New Exhibition & Book
Gateway Hale, Cheshire, 17th November 2016
“the Northern School a reappraisal”
30 The anniversary of the opening of Gateway Gallery in Hale, Cheshire, was celebrated with a large Exhibition entitled “the Northern School a re-appraisal” - The show took the name for the launch of the book, written by Martin Regan, a Director of the Gallery. Martin is responsible for choosing and advising on the style of Art shown with his co-Director Susan Eyres, looking after the running of the Gallery and handling adminstration. Both have a passion for Art and both have been avid collectors of paintings, generally inspired from the Northern art genre. The Gallery premises is a good space which has two floors, whilst the top floor is not perfect for showing perhaps larger paintings, it is utilised for ‘special’ shows which are mounted regularly for the new intake of gallery artists giving them a solo exhibition. It’s a well appointed modern gallery and as you would expect from experienced entrepreneurs, the gallery is professional in its outlook. It prides itself on giving Art collectors honest and up to date information on investments in the Galleries chosen genre of Art. Although they also keep one eye open for new work that they feel is in keeping with their own profile. Susan Eyres is a delightful person, who really feels for art in a genuine and sincere way.
Martin, who at 54, is also well versed in the publishing business, not only from his time when he was a founder Director of the Excel Publishing Company in Manchester, but he also keeps his finger on the cultural pulse with the Cheshire Today magazine which he is the Director and Editor for. He originally opened a private Art Gallery, with the same name (Gateway), in Macclesfield in 2011. It was here he exhibited a variety of work that he had collected over a period of time, mostly by well known artists, like Peter Howson
above: Sue Eyres in the gallery admiring the work of Theordore Major. painting entitled: “the kebs”.
31 for example and then introduced new local artists, with the likes of Ben Kelly and Dean Entwistle. As you might anticipate from the introduction of the Directors above, the exhibition was curated as a mixture of art gleaned from the Directors private collection and the Galleries stable of Artists. In the mix were works selected from Valette, Theodore Major, W.R.Turner and living established artist, (Geoffrey Key and Steve Capper). I was very pleased to have had the opportunity to engage with a quick chat with the latter, as they both attended the same art school as myself. Although our conversation was more about the personality of the “pennie road.” ©stevecapper headmaster and some of the teachers at the school, than it was about the Art on that was being exhibited. Many of the (younger) artists who’s work were on show in the gallery were stylistically, an eclectic mix too. A few stood out from the rest, Steve Bewsher was one painter who’s work is based on the currently ‘ubiquitous views’ of the changing urban landscape in Manchester. Although I felt he could well create some really interesting contemporary abstraction paintings in the future. I was also intrigued by some naive, semiabstracted canvas’s by Ben Kelly.
“Rubble with Visqueen” ©stevebewsher
“guitarists with Arches.” ©geoffreykey
32 And of course I took full advantage of being able to get really close (within 6mm) to one or two paintings by Theodore Major, in the hope of examining his brush work, was a rare chance to ‘feel’ how Major worked and in detail. Steve Capper, with his unmistakeable style, had a few larger works up on the wall as did Geoff Key, who’s examples of work seems to be in every single gallery in the North West of England at the moment. Another unfamiliar artist to me, who’s work was dotted around the gallery, was Helen Clapcott. She paints in muted hues, bordering on mono-coloured, mainly with detailed compositions of terraced houses or industrial buildings. And who is no doubt one of Martin’s favourite painters, as one of her works was chosen as the front cover and featured many full pages of her work in his book. The show was very well attended, this however, rarely gives space for viewing art, most opening nights in private galleries are like that. They are not about looking at the work on show per se. Generally, it’s about meeting the artists or enjoying a glass (or three) of wine and snacking on the goodies. Which in this case, were quite wonderfully served and prepared by Susan Eyres sister and her crew. (btw, the mini Bakalava’s were delicious). Of course this opening was slightly different to normal art exhibitions, as it was clear that the evening was all about the launch of Martin Regan’s book. I had placed an advanced order for a copy of it, which Susan had reserved for me. Although to be honest there was more than enough of them for the exhibitions visitors to go around, so I needn’t have worried. All in all, it was a very good exhibition, yet when a Gallery does try and mix the dead with iving (artists), there is always something in the air, something for me that is inexplicably saddening - for the want of another more suitable description of it. Perhaps you could call it an invisible melancholy that overcomes me. That’s the trouble with Artists - many are not only temperamental, but sentimental, simultaneously - well, some of us are.
“doing deals (Spinnigfields)” ©BenKelly
Gateway Gallery 116 Ashley Road, Hale. +44 (0) 161 928 7884. www.gateway-gallery.co.uk
the Northern School A Reappraisal by Martin Regan Published by Gateway Gallery Hale. 195 pages with 131 colour illustrations /photographs - 90 being full pages book size: 17cm x 23cm Martin Regan, known for his lively polemic style of debate in the small world of the contemporary art community in the greater Manchester area, passionately attempts to tackle a new appraisal of what many call â€˜the Northern Schoolâ€™ and to what many others prefer to use the generic tag, of Northern Art -
“I’m an Artist, that just happens to live and paint in the North”
any international minded artists are bewilded by the fact that Art labels for contemporary art still exist in the 21st century, but it’s not that surprising in the North of England. Especially when one considers that the business side of the commercial galleries depend on a ‘special’ status for painters from the North of England, ones that is bestowed on by Gallerists. Perhaps this is to convey this ‘specialness’ to a wider public? Maybe it’s also to encourage art collectors to believe in a long term advantage in owning a painting by one or more of the artists that are seemingly grouped randomly within this ‘school’ or genre? Qualification for membership of being given this label that many artists neither seek, nor want any association with (from brief discussions the reviewer has had with a few artists currently working in the area today), “typically they’ll say...”I’m an Artist that just happens to live and paint in the North” However, Martin Regan seems incredibly passionate about ‘Northern’ art - especially his hero, L.S Lowry, whom he always refers to as ‘the great Man’ - And which may give the impression, that his opinion on Art could almost border on Northern Art myopia. One which may well override any wider discussion about Art that one could hold with him on a wider platform. Yet the dubious subject of ‘questioning’ the historical existence of a Northern School of Artists today. or at all, he questions himself in the introduction. Of course this is not the first, nor probably will it be the last, that goes out of its way to promote or highlight ‘Northern Art’ and ‘Northern Artists’.
L.S.lowry painted by W. R.Turner ©privatecollection
Another Gallery, literally a stones throw away from the authors own Gallery, has also recently sponsored an artist and writer (Peter Davies) to ‘re-write’ a book on Northern Art, from one that was first published and written by him in 1989. This new version is entitled ‘Northern Art Revisited’ and is also published by Clark Art Limited. ‘the Norther School - a reappraisalthe author says, attempts to fill the gaps that, that book and other books on the same subject have missed out on.
35 To fans of the Northern Art scene, Martin Regan’s book has been long in the waiting for. The author spells out in the ackowledgements page how, five years of numerous false starts, contributed to his lapse of completing it. And one can understand that delay. Taking on a subject matter like this relies heavily on ones own opinions and maybe even personal experiences. Experience that can be then woven around historical facts in justification of those opinions, which a tricky task to say the least. The history part of that conundrum is handled diligently by the author in three general chapters (Valette and the Post Impressionists, Sickert and the Expressionists, St Ives and the North) and four specific chapters of named artists. (Edgar Rowley Smart, Harry Rutherford, Theodore Major and William Ralph Turner).
help to create new and different work. I began to ask myself if this book, or indeed the Peter Davies ‘revisited’ book, could ever be put alongside others on my prized art book shelf. If there was one thing against that positioning it was the over riding feeling that both these books are part of an overall marketing strategy of the respective galleries who published them. A cynical viewpoint maybe, but one reinforced by the frequent quoting of names of Artists that the galleries already have in their stable. It was this re-occurring thought that made this book hard to enjoy and a bit of a slog to read. Because once you identify that undercurrent as a possible reason for the books creation, it’s difficult to dismiss it as unfounded, the further you read. Overall, I believe the author has worked It was in those chapters that I started to feel hard to realise this book. It’s a fact that distinctly uneasy about the tone of the book. writing any book on Art is extremely difficult The author highlights personality flaws in Major and something of a personal challenge. and Turner without any mention of the human It is fraught with the danger of subjective personality flaws that L.S. Lowry undoubtably judgement and populated by barriers to had. It’s as if the author wants to elevate his overcome concerning fighting yourself to ‘hero’ above all ‘others’ - Yet, there are people be as unbiased as you can. And to keep an who hold the opinion, that these two artists open mind on other artists work. (Major and W.R.Turner) are just as ‘important’ Art that one may not personally think if not, indeed more progressive artists, than are either viable or contributory to the Lowry ever was. A subjective opinion perhaps, contemporary art world, or even in sympathy that once again raises it’s head in the ‘who with the kaleidoscope of current taste. It is was the better artist’ debate of which there are also difficult to overcome pushing preferred several reasonable and well formed arguments artists work, that is if you set out to write for and against all three of them. Alas that a comprehensive cover of any specific discussion is not to be found in this book as it movement or genre of Art, and keep the is more of one man documentary than it is to reader engaged. - the Northern School - a stimulate any group discussion. reappraisal - falls somewhere between ‘the twixt and the twain’ of that description. At Which brings me onto the reasoning for art around twenty quid per copy, it remains books and their publication. I’m not unlike many incumbent on the individual reader to independent painters, that have a library of art make the decision wether or not the author books. It’s as you grow as a person and as an has actually succeeded with an unbiased artist, that you do tend to read and absorb a reappraisal of this over talked-about 20th whole variety of authors viewpoints who have century genre of painting. written about art and artists, some books about artists work that are not really favoured or “the Norther School- A reappraisal” even liked. It is one way ‘painters’ can inwardly by Martin Regan change and discover the underlying process available from Gateway Gallery, Amazon & the book of their own artistic thinking and consequently shop at the Lowry Centre, Salford.
36 Published for the first time in an art magazine, painters Tubes Magazine is delighted to bring you a fascinating essay about Contemporary Art as it appeared at the turn of the millennium. Written by the late renown art professor and author, Nigel Whiteley for the Heart 2 Art Exhibition in Stockholm (2002). The essay is published in two parts
e n O rt
he mass media thrive on spectacle and controversy; artists create art with those characteristics; the media reports it. At times it seems as if the more that artists coolly deny responsibility for any content that involves rigour or talent, or clear moral position, or humanist concern beyond the narcissistic self, or any visual quality or interest, the more the work is hailed as ‘creative’ ‘thoughtprovoking’ ‘subversive’ or, most ironically of all, ‘intelligent’. What is at stake here is not one style or another, one passing fashion as opposed to a self-congratulatory fad, but a whole system of values about art, a whole set of beliefs. Broadly, I am thinking in terms of
types of art which may be termed either disaffirmative or affirmative. By disaffirmative, I mean work that undercuts and undermines any notions of pleasure, enjoyment, aesthetic emotion, spirituality or feeling of communion or community. Disaffirmative artists want to scupper your belief, spoil your enjoyment, shatter your dreams or sabotage your illusions. In this article, I want to explore some of the underlying disaffirmative assumptions about dominant contemporary art, then show that fundamental alternatives, epitomized by the affirmative thinking is not anachronistic or irrelevant to society today, but deeply, indeed, urgently necessary.
37 To give an idea about what I mean by contemporary disaffirmative art, I’ll focus on the rising British star, short-listed for the Turner Prize, Martin Creed. The inaugural exhibition of the revamped Tate Britain in 2000 was entitled Intelligence and it featured ‘New British Art’, including some pieces by Creed such as Work no.74: as many 1” squares as are necessary cut from 1” masking tape and piled up, adhesive side down, to form a 1” cubic stack (1992). Creed’s title was descriptive of what the viewer encountered, a one-inch cube comprising layer upon layer of masking tape. Another Creed piece was Work no.220: DON’T WORRY (1992) in which neon writing announcing that cliché turned on/off every second or so. The catalogue explained how ‘The calming influence of this oft-repeated phrase is undermined by the fact that every other second the neon lights go off. Such words of reassurance are often used when we feel most anxious. Seen in the context of the gallery, they suggest the kind of utopian role that artists might wish for, while puncturing any such ambition.’ A further example is Work no.143 (1996), a neon banner of text across the pediment of the Tate, proclaiming ‘the whole world + the work = the whole world.’ Again, the catalogue explains that, ‘Reading like a mission statement or artist’s manifesto, this dictum suggests that the work of art, and Creed’s work in particular, has no impact whatsoever on the world.’ Creed himself states that ‘I find it a lot easier if [the art] negates itself at the same time as pushing itself forward. Given that I don’t feel sure about
it, I feel a lot more comfortable if I can make it and sort of unmake it at the same time. This presumably explains the inspiration behind Work no.88 which consists of a sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball, and exhibited, and a small blob of Blutak placed in the middle of a gallery wall. The notion that art in general and the artist’s work in particular ‘has no impact whatsoever on the world’, or that the artists are so uncertain about their work that they feel more comfortable negating it, is a deeply depressing one. It may, of course, be intended ironically like so much art nowadays. More likely it is having it both ways – denying the sense of responsibility that comes with optimism; but soaking up any applause or controversy that comes from media coverage or public interest. For example, in a brochure that has arrived as I am writing this, an announcement for a lecture by Creed at the Tate describes how he is ‘known for the rigour and purity of his work which often pushes the boundaries of Conceptual Art to their limits..’ This seems a bold claim for the self-indulgent and trite gestures I have outlined above. What is the relationship of Creed’s type of work to Heart2Art? The answer: very little, but a lot. Very little in that the concerns of artists in this exhibition, and their vehicles for expressing them, bear almost no relationship to ‘New British Art’ or ‘New Swedish Art’, or new art from the majority of countries dominated by the values of ‘global media art’. A lot, in that an exhibition like Intelligence
Mona Sahlin of the Swedish Governments Estonian Trust Fund opened the ‘invitation only preview’ of the exhibition on the 11th January 2002
38 is representative of many of the things that artists in Heart2Art decry as a selling short of the possibilities of art; even a denial of the probability of art as an affirmative and optimistic force in life. Of course, it is easy to misrepresent artworks as well as intentions, by being highly selective, and by disguising prejudice as argument. I am willing to be convinced otherwise about the work of Creed, but that is not really the point. The point is that his work is typical of a lot of art you find in major galleries and it is broadly representative of a value system that frequently dominates what is perceived to be important and interesting in contemporary practice. Seldom does that value system get seen for what it is a particular, optional set of assumptions which are themselves open to question and scrutiny; more often the values are assumed to be inevitable, and thus beyond challenge, especially given the (media) conditions of the post-modern age.
bourgeois ‘art lovers’, while the ‘ready-mades’ such as Fountain (1917) – a urinal placed in a gallery – may also enrage but more effectively raise questions about the institutions of art, the nature of creativity, fetishism of uniqueness and the very role and function of art.
Duchamp declared that he was seeking to avoid as much as possible ‘“pleasing” and “attractive”’ attributes because he ‘wanted to put art once more again at the service of the mind.’ His reputation gained ascendancy in the 1960s when Conceptual Art shifted art away from a concern with the visual, toward the philosophical, often using text directly to interrogate the viewer about her or his assumptions. Artists such as Joseph Kosuth exhibited textual definitions in place of paintings, confounding our normal expectations. John Baldessari parodied Greenbergian ideals about essential formal properties and flatness by exhibiting a canvas on which was painted the sentence The values of this type of art derive from ‘A Work With Only One Property’ (1966-68). Marcel Duchamp, the high priest of subversive Baldessari was more uncompromisingly art. However much the complexities of disaffirmative in a work of 1972 in which he Duchamp’s gestures and practices have been arranged for students to write repeatedly “I reduced to a simplistic attitude of negation by will not make any more boring art” on the recent generations of artists and writers, the walls of a gallery. Conceptual artists used idea that art should be disaffirmative can be disaffirmative strategies to try mortally to traced back to that highly influential artist. Why wound art. was Duchamp disaffirmative? The moustache drawn on the Mona Lisa and entitled Conceptual Art had a major influence on a L.H.O.O.Q (1919) was calculated to outrage generation of students in the late 1960s and
Nigel Whiteley with Marianne Arnberg discussing a painting by Astri Edith Rygh.
39 1970s, a generation that was ‘politicized’ by the anti-Vietnam War protests and the ferment around the upheavals of 1968. Cultural radicalism followed the political and social radicalism, and established itself as a central ingredient in late twentieth century art. An aspect of this broad tendency was summed up by the British artist Terry Atkinson in 1987. Atkinson had been involved with the Conceptual group ‘Art & Language’, and their thinking had led him to the conclusion that:-“The possibility of making an affirmative culture today seems to me to be... absurd”. The world’s dominant political systems are prurient, selfregarding and barbarously repressive. Any cultural work that celebrates such a world - intentionally or not - that holds uncritically to the status quo of the relations of production and relations of distribution can be seen to have, on rudimentary historical reflection, a carefree charlatanism or - in harsher judgement - a grotesque negligence. Atkinson was not only articulating his view, but formulating his version of a disaffirmative art which, borrowing from the ideas of the art historian T.J. Clark, might make use of 14 ‘negating practices’ which included ‘Deliberate displays of painterly awkwardness... The use of degenerate or trivial “unartistic” materials... [and] The parody of previously powerful styles.’ If his art lacks quality (intentionally so, of course), it certainly does not lack clarity of purpose, underpinned, as it is, by his totally uncompromising belief that ‘a lifeaffirming art is ridiculous’ because it is part of the same values and system that produced Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Atkinson represents a fundamentalist position about the need for disaffirmation. More widespread since the 1980s has been art shaped by post-structuralist thinking about disaffirmation.Post-structuralist artworks attempt to expose art’s assumptions about such things as authorship and the selfhood of the artist, authenticity and originality, gender and race, and the relationship between the producer
above: Denis Taylor with Nigel Whiteley at the “heart 2 art” exhibition, just prior to opening.
and consumer. The cultural theorist Janet Wolff has called for a post-modern practice in the visual arts, which ‘...self-consciously deconstructs tradition, by a variety of formal and other techniques (parody, juxtaposition, reappropriation of images, irony, repetition, and so on).’ Cindy Sheridan’s ‘film still’ photographs are examples of work which question assumptions about narrative and personae in relation to gender. Her stated intention is ‘...to put the viewer on the spot and make them feel uncomfortable, perhaps in recognition of their expectations.’ In a series of pictures based on ‘centre-folds’, she deals with the male gaze and its connotations of voyeurship and ownership. The male viewer is, she writes, often a ‘violator’ with the photographs, ‘I’m trying to make someone feel bad.’ Part Two - Affirmation Art in a Diusaffirmative Climate will be published March-April issue.
“what about the kids?” There is a belief that: “You cannot teach anyone to become an artist.” And there is a great deal of substance to that view, that is if you believe Artists are born and not made. This debate has gone on for many decades if not centuries, but perhaps none more so than from the middle of the 20th century to present day. In many ways. the valid point, that every single human on the planet is an Artist. It’s is an argument that many Artists make often, and it is one that the Editor of this magazine has firmly believed in before today. Obviously the criteria for natural or made artists has opposite opinions and is centred on that ‘old bone’ we all chew over now then, i.e. “What is Art.” Intellectual theories and academic definitions don’t really clarify the debate on that particular piece of well chewed bone, and it probably never will. Today, it seems that he only real option left open to us is to simply to say “everything is Art.” Or “as long as the object is shown in an Art Gallery, then it must be Art”, by the very fact that it is in a Gallery. This neo-liberal viewpoint has perhaps led to an Art that is more open, free and diverse, some people have said, although many will totally disagree.We live in a world today that is constantly updating itself on social media, especially on ‘likes’,
but rarely on their ‘dislikes,’ as far as Art is concerned. Some see this as a way to encourage, rather than discourage any person who throws their lot into creating Art Personally, and as an painter, I do agree with that position, but I can add that, pointed criticism can be delivered in a strong yet positive way and not necessarily with negative criticism.
“all my own work” What’s all that to do with Education and Art? probably everything. It’s clear that an academic dogma of what Art is and what Art is not, has pervaded in the UK’s Universities and Art colleges, if not now, then certainly over the last 30 years or so. For example, ‘painting’ has not only been taken off most of the University curriculums, but they have actively discouraged students to submit paintings within their portfolios for consideration for a degree. Indeed, I have been told by at least one parent (confidentially), that a professor told their child, categorically, that by including ‘painting’ in their final year assessment portfolio, would lead to automatic failure.
There may well be a change in that ‘unofficial’ academic policy soon, for it is clear that ‘commercial interests’ have realized that paintings are far better suited, as far as turnover and regular profit is concerned, than much of the other forms of art can generate. And like all things in this world, money always talks the loudest, unfortunateley.
Case in Point: 1947/9 to 1984. Manchester High School of Art. Manchester UK.
Here, I have to declare a conflict of interest . I went to an Art School from the age of eleven years old. And so I may be bias with my opinion in this article (I will try very hard to be even minded). However,I am hoping many other voices will present themselves to contribute to this series to either substantiate my thoughts or provide arguments that are diametrical in opposition to them.
photograph: Freddie Taylor, aged 7 years old, first orginal painting ©studio5sweden 2016
42 Children that demonstrated more than the normal ‘interest’ in creating art, ones that continued to do so, on a year by year basis, from their first days at elementary school, was the basis for the creation of a specialised secondary school. This school (one of the few in the UK) was made into a sort of experiment by post world war two Governments. Perhaps it was the need to nurture the natural talent of children that would become a sort of creative backbone for the needs of a society that was rebuilding after the second world war that was the main motivation behind the concept of Art Schools for the very young.. A society that required designers and innovators in industries such as product manufacturers, textiles, construction and numerous new creative industries like advertising and marketing. The essential concept was to take selected children from various social, ethnic, religious and economic (classes) and provide a curriculum that was slowly graduated from the normal academic teaching (the 3 ‘R’s) to have a bias on creative skills as the child progressed through the School. The idea for the autonomous state funded MSoA sprang from the Manchester Art College who had, maybe by foresight, created a junior department around 1947. The first location being Byrom Street in the City centre. By 1950 the junior school was renamed as the Manchester High School of Art with an open (curriculum) mandate issued to it’s first (and only) headmaster, Earnest. A. Goodman (OBE). 1955 saw the introduction of what is now the infamous, ‘eleven plus’ examination, which graded children in three main categories - Secondary, High and Grammar levels. The Secondary school level could well be seen as a ‘factory-labour’ supply chain, the High School stream, as middle management providers and the Grammar School stream as the management and industry leaders and decision makers. A system that clung onto the Victoria values of ‘class’ and ‘social status’ that ‘controlled’ how society functioned in the UK from the 1800’s and had proved itself (Governments and the ruling class) to be successful. The MSoA was graded as a High School because there wasn’t really an actual yard stick to measure how it would perform. The middle grade option, must have seemed a reasonable fair bet at the time. The School was
the Manchester High School of Art, Cheetham Hill, Manchester. In the background the tower of Strangeways Prison.
43 relocated to it’s own premises in a former Magistrates administration building opposite the City’s main prison, Strangeways, in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, a stones throw from the city Centre. The centralisation of location was important as the prospective pupils would be gleaned from all the extended Manchester City council borders that was within reach of the public transport system. Pupils were chosen, or recommended by the teachers from, multireligious, specific-religious and official Church of England state funded or private Schools. One pupil (in general) from each school from each district of Manchester was the overall modus operandi that was used. This was a difficult choice for some right and left winged thinkers at the time. They saw conflict of culture in mixed relgious schooling, not integration of cultural thinking as a threat to a future society. More so than a beneficial contribution to it. A fear that was to be proved totally unfounded throughout the course of the Schools existence. In fact, the reverse happened, as the pupils became united by the School badge of ‘Exploramus’ and as being equal and fellow artists. the Art School badge with the motto which was the School’s founding principle. The School was finally forced to close in 1984 by the local Government as it was viewed as ‘elitist’ and went against the general comprehensive education dogma of the time.
Mr Goodman and his staff were obviously in advance of 21st century thinkers of even today, who only now are re-thinking the education system in the UK. His way of thinking is one that Schools should perhaps seriously ponder on. And consider what kind of Schooling is the way forward, one which will unite and encourage a better society where all citizens see each other as equal members. The MSoA proved that having grown together from a young age, to respect each others personal choice, through Art Education. This extends into respecting a belief in one God or another or not, as may be the case. From the evidence we see, especially today, I fear that is not the position in the UK or the rest of Europe. or indeed, most parts of the Western World and beyond, more’s the pity. Perhaps Art in education should not be seen as creating Artists, but as a vital ingrediant to nuture a more balanced and even mided indiviudal, one that will contribute to enrich our and develop the whole of society. Denis Taylor. Editor.
magazine for Art, Artists and Galleries
March-April 2017. issue #2
*ISSUE #2 March April be the first to recieve your free on line copy. www.painterstubes.com register with your name & email
Art inheritance from the Industrial Revolution
in the studio with.... unearthing a master painter in Wales. provincial Art Galleries, making a comeback on the Street part two- Affirmation in a disaffirmative climate Spike. â€œis it all about the money in contemporary art?â€?
e s fre y a alw line on
painters Tubes art magazine single printed isues and annual subscriptions available www.painterstubes.com *register for preview note: features: issue#2 front pages can differ from those advertised painters Tubes magazine is produced by studio 5 sweden article submissions are welcomed: contact the Editor. email@example.com