Australia: Contemporary VoicesGroup Show 12 Nov 2013 - 31 Jan 2014 The Fine Art Society presents a group exhibition of twenty young to mid-career artists from Australia, curated by Guest Curator Geoffrey Cassidy.
Australian Art is often associated with the landscape, a looming and defining presence in the Australian psyche. The works presented in Australia: Contemporary Voices don't so much provide an alternative narrative, as highlight the numerous narratives that contribute to the complex, urban, immigrant and sophisticated society that is Australia.
The exhibition aims to show the quality, originality and diversity of work currently being produced in Australia, informed certainly by international ideas but often provincial in the best sense of the word - protected, quirky and speaking with it's own voice. Australia: Contemporary Voices presents work in a variety of media. Sculptors include Alexander Seton and Julia de Ville. Works on paper will be shown by Kim Buck and Maria Kontis alongside paintings by Sam Leach, Michael Zavros and Del Kathryn Barton. Adrienne Doig works with tapestry and Janet Laurence and Joan Ross use a variety of new media. Archibald Prize winners include Del Kathryn Barton and Sam Leach and the latter was also a recipient of the Wynne Prize. Sean Cordeiro and Clare Healy represented Australia at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009.
Geoffrey Cassidy, Guest Curator of Australia: Contemporary Voices, explains his objectives and exhibition focus:
"The idea is to throw a spotlight on the best of Australian Contemporary Art. Austrlian art last had its moment in the sun in the UK in the sixties and seventies, when artists such as Arthur Boyd, Sydney Nolan and Brett Whitely had numerous successful shows at a time when artists had to be here to be noticed. Australia still sits on the periphery of the international art world, both geographically and conceptually. With the Royal Academy of Arts staging its landmark show this September, the time was right to refocus on the exceptional aristic talent emerging from Australia - and show a side to Australian art that international observers have not seen - work that shows a breadth of influences as wide as, but not including, the wide brown land."
Four Living National Treasures of JapanJun Isezaki, Kunihiko Moriguchi, Kazumi Murose, Noboru Fujinuma 31 Oct - 21 Nov 2013 The Fine Art Society is proud to present the latest in a series of homages to the arts of Japan: a series stretching back to the 1880s, as you will read in Rupert Faulkner’s fascinating and informative introduction. The most recent in this series was in 1992 with Opening the Window: British Artists in Meiji Japan, with an introduction by the former British Ambassador to Japan and Chairman of the Japan Society, Sir Hugh Cortazzi. This is also the latest exhibition in partnership with Michael, and now Mariko, Whiteway; a series of co-operative ventures that commenced in 1972 with the appropriately titled The Aesthetic Movement and the Cult of Japan – an exhibition that charted the influence of Japan on British arts and architecture in the 1860s and 1870s. We are also delighted to have the support of the Embassy of Japan with this venture, and it is our first exhibition under the excellent umbrella of Asian Art in London. And it is a remarkable coincidence that 2013 happens to be the 400th anniversary of the first official contact between our two nations; as the British Association for Japanese Studies so ably recounts: in September 1613, King James I gave the Shogun a precious goblet. He gave his father, the all-powerful former Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, a telescope – the first ever known outside Europe. The items, with letters of friendship, were conveyed by the newly formed East India Company. The Japanese responded with two suits of armour, ten sumptuous paintings and permission for the British to reside and trade in Japan for ever. It could be said that we are the beneficiaries of this friendship; but without all her infectious enthusiasm, and the hard work of Mariko Whiteway, this exhibition might have been still-born. So we are delighted that these four wonderful artists, Jun Isezaki, Kunihiko Moriguchi, Kazumi Murose and Noboru Fujinuma, great men in their own land, are allowing us to exhibit their work nearly 6000 miles from home.
Rob and Nick CarterTransforming 4 Oct - 2 Nov 2013 The Fine Art Society Contemporary presents a major solo exhibition for British artist duo Rob and Nick Carter marking 15 years of their artistic collaboration.
Transforming presents a body of work that reengages with art of the past, harnessing the most cutting edge new media to create a sustained engagement with old and modern masters. At the heart of this exhibition is a conviction that the rampant technological revolution in our midst can be subverted from its tendency toward soullessness and image overload. Instead the Carters exploit all that is dynamic and groundbreaking in the digital age to facilitate a return to the art of sustained and deep looking. The focus for their new body of work is Transforming Still Life Painting (2012). This ‘digital painting’ brought to life an oil painting from 1618 by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder and was made in collaboration with creative studio MPC. It creates a rare intersection between Old Master connoisseurship and contemporary new media art. It is currently on display at Manchester Art Gallery and has been accepted into the Mauritshuis permanent collection but has not yet been part of a Carter exhibition and will be exhibited by the artists here for the first time.
Joining it will be three new time based media works made with MPC that also adopt an old master painting in a groundbreaking form of homage. Transforming Vanitas Painting (2012-2013) is based on the 1630 oil on copper, ‘Dead Frog with Flies’ by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Younger. In the sequence the Carters underscore the original presentation of sensitive vanitas by directing the scene from the last few minutes of the creature’s life through to various stages of decay and ultimate decomposition. The viewer is always conscious that visually this is very much a painted frog.
Transforming Diptych (2013) brings to life a pair of still life paintings by Justus Juncker from 1765. The Carters have drawn inspiration from the monumental and mysterious presentation of the fruits by Juncker. Their work ostensibly appears to be two independently framed, quiet paintings but not only have the Carters brought the scenes alive, they have created a deep interconnection. Rendered in real time, a butterfly will leave one frame, disappear into the space of gallery wall and reappear moments later on the other fruit. MPC have developed sophisticated programming that results in an infinite cycle of activity that cannot be predicted or repeated.
In perhaps their most anticipated endeavour yet, the artists and MPC have also taken on the challenge of Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus in Transforming Nude Painting(2013). The Carters have breathed life into the scene, transporting the viewer to the Venetian landscape where Venus peacefully sleeps as the day passes. In a similar vein to the gentle passage of time in Transforming Still Life Painting (2012), the scene passes from dawn to dusk imperceptibly. This is a deeply evocative, highly naturalistic presentation of a goddess sleeping where her chest rises and falls, occasionally her foot twitches or hand stirs. Presented on a 4K screen, the piece marks a huge development in the employment of digital rendering and sculpting, blending actual footage of a sleeping model with digitally generated imagery. For this series of time based media works, the Carters were partly motivated upon learning that the average time we spend looking at an artwork in a museum or gallery is 6 seconds. These time based media works encourage us to look again and reward sustained engagement, bringing a remote historical period back into focus. To the same end but via different means, the Carters have created their first two works of sculpture.
The artists worked with MPC to turn paintings into completely three dimensional digital files. These files are then given form using 3D printing which forms the basis for a lost wax bronze – allowing for a level of detail and delicacy not possible even 2 years ago. Sunflowers (2013) gives an entirely new, sculptural form to Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece. The finished sculpture is one of the most complex and detailed bronzes ever produced. Black Tulip (2013) is based on a watercolour of a red tulip by Judith Leyster from 1643. There is a quietness and subtle beauty to the Carters’ sculptural rendition. It takes the viewer full circle to marvel at Dutch Golden Age realism and allows us to share in that culture’s delight of an exotic flower.
Chinese Whispers (2013) draws attention to the area of copying and forgeries. The Carters selected various Andy Warhol works which they then requested by copied by hand in enormous workshops in China. The finished copy was forwarded to a second unsuspecting artisan to again be copied many times over, in the form of an artistic Chinese whisper. The mistakes and variations made by each artist were adopted and built upon, completely transforming the original. The Carters have brought together each work to form a large sequential collection. This is a witty series that draws attention to wider concerns of authenticity and Western imagery in the East.
The exhibition also includes works of a photographic nature that relate to the Carters’ past explorations into the central tenets of colour, light and form including Pixelated Paintings (2013), Flowers in a Wan Li Vase in 9 Parts(2013) and 6 Portraits in 6 Colours, After Miereveld (2013) which transform an existing moment in art history with digital manipulation and presentation in analogue format on Cibachrome.
A Family Collection from Boxted HouseRobert Bevan & other Modern British Art from the collection of Bobby and Natalie Bevan 18 Sep - 3 Oct 2013 All of the works in this exhibition are offered to the market for the first time by the Executors of the Estate of Natalie Barclay and by members of the Bevan family. They were all part of the collection at Boxted House in Essex, which was the home of Bobby and Natalie Bevan from 1946 until 2001.
Bobby was the son of the Camden Town painter Robert Polhill Bevan (1865–1925), and inherited a significant group of his father’s paintings, drawings and prints. These form the corpus of the present show, and include dazzling Post-Impressionist landscapes painted in Devon, Sussex and Poland, exceptionally rare hunting lithographs, and Bevan’s characteristic studies of horses.
At Boxted Bobby added works by artists he or Natalie were friends with, and so also exhibited at The Fine Art Society are pictures by Augustus John, Arthur Lett Haines [cat.21] and C.R.W. Nevinson [cat.19], the last of whom Natalie had accompanied on a painting expedition to France in 1928. Robert Bevan himself had been able to acquire works by his fellow Camden Town Group members Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner, and so also included here is a characteristically ‘dotted and dashed’ Van Gogh-influenced landscape drawing by Gilman [cat.17] and an exuberant canvas of boating at Richmond on the eve of the Great War by Gore [cat.15].
The Boxted Collection was of high merit and impor - tance and this was recognised by the large-scale exhibi - tion that was staged at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh in 2008, and which afterwards travelled to Brighton Art Gallery – the town of Bevan’s birth – and Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury. 1 Several works were acquired subsequently by museums, including the Tate, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, National Portrait Gallery and Brighton Art Gallery, under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme.
Arthur Melville7 Sep - 18 Oct 2013 Although Arthur Melville was a ‘tremendously vital’ Scot, it took an English, London-based art critic to remind us of Melville’s genius. Reviewing the Glasgow boys exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2010 in the Evening Standard, Brian Sewell wrote about the richness of Melville’s work which he found ‘quite astonishing’. He also noted his compositional modernity - ‘ as satisfyingly proportionate and abstract as a Mondrian’. He declared that he ‘would enter a Faustian pact to possess Awaiting an Audience with the Pasha (no 3).
However, Melville has for too long been a prophet in his own country. Oils such as Chalk Cutting and Contrabandista (both in this exhibition, see nos 11 and 14) are strikingly avant-garde for an artist who died in 1904. However it was as a watercolourist that he was in a class of his own as far as technique is concerned. big set piece works such as Corpus Christi, Rialto Bridge and Tangiers make the case for calling him the most accomplished watercolourist working in Britain in the late nineteenth century.
This is only a modest exhibition in terms of numbers of works. It is high time that a major museum staged a defining exhibition of Melville’s work ideally in London, as well as in Scotland.
The generosity of Melville collectors has made this exhibition possible and I would like to thank them all on behalf of The Fine Art Society. Kenneth McConkey has written perceptively on the artist, as he has done for so many of our exhibitions over the years, and we are very grateful to him for this.
Emily YoungWe are Stone's Children 6 - 26 Sep 2013 The Fine Art Society is pleased to announce that from 6 - 26 September the gallery will host a major exhibition of works by Britain’s pre-eminent stone carver, Emily Young (FRBS). This will be the second stage of the critically-acclaimed show, titled We Are Stone’s Children, which has been on view in the cloister of the Madonna dell’Orto church in Venice over the summer, coinciding with the 2013 Venice Biennale.
Young is a leading figure in the field of stone carving and her work echoes a sculpting tradition that looks back to humankind’s earliest relationship with stone. She fuses this sense of tradition with a distinctly contemporary approach, creating a strong paradox between the age- old principles of carving and a progressive, widely informed attitude to form and composition.
John McLeanAnother Light: Prairie Journey 6 - 26 Sep 2013 John McLean is the son of a painter, the late Talbert McLean (1906-92), and was an artistic prodigy at an early age. He is now in his seventh decade of giving independent painterly creations to the wide world. For, despite his Scottish heritage, McLean is an internationalist. Raised in Kirriemuir and Arbroath, he studied at St Andrews University before moving to London to join the Courtauld Institute of Art in the mid-1960s. At the Courtauld his innate judgement of painting (and sculpture, and architecture) was enlarged by expert discussions of European and American culture in former centuries. He also met people who knew about recent American art and its clear new beginnings after the decline of Abstract Expressionism.
Natural SelectionHugo Dalton, Paul Davies, Stewart Helm, Janet Laurence, Peter Newman, Angela Palmer, Mario Rossi, Gina Soden and Stephen Sack 29 Jul - 29 Aug 2013 Natural Selection is a group show of international contemporary artists that dealt with the duality between the manmade and natural. The exhibition included photography, painting, sculpture, installation and drawings.
The works consider the relationship between built and natural environments. Some works such as Janet Laurence’s photographic installations explore the way in which urban and manmade activity can be threatening and others point to instances of harmony between the two forces, for instance Peter Newman’s cityscapes and Paul Davies’ evocative paintings of modernist buildings in powerful landscapes.
Gina Soden and Angela Palmer consider the destructive and overwhelming power of natural forces in their own unique ways. Soden’s painterly photographs depict mother nature reclaiming abandoned and derelict buildings left to ruin. In her dolls house installation Palmer allows wild ivy to suffocate the symbol of our civilized architecture.
Stephen Sack elicits a sense of awe at the micro processes of the plant world and how they have a key part to play in modern science. Mario Rossi’s paintings play with the sensation of the sublime in nature, presenting both beauty and danger in his watercolour seascapes.
Hugo Dalton's plein air work takes in the minutiae of London park life via a hand drawn path of interconnected stories, flora and forna. Finally, Stewart Helm’s overwhelming ink drawings present the indeterminable boundaries between the animal world and humankind.
Testing Freedom's TemperatureChi Ming and J S Tan 3 - 26 Jul 2013 Testing Freedom's Temperature marks the London debut of Chi Ming and J S Tan and follows on from a joint exhibition of the artists at Atkins and Ai Gallery in Beijing last year.
Visually the artists differ, but explore the same pervading themes of their young post-Mao generation and raise questions about the implications of China’s economic and cultural change. For two decades Chinese youth have lived, unlike their elders, without the ‘religion of Mao’. Theirs is a new culture with bigger boundaries and rampant materialism.
Shandong-born artist Chi Ming presents a unique snapshot of his generation, blending everyday realism with a mildly surreal approach to figurative painting. His grandfather and his father both painted in the service of Mao Zedong. Following their creative footsteps, Chi Ming moved to Beijing in 2001 to study at The Central Academy of Fine Arts. Chi’s creative environment was dominated by the prolific painter and professor Liu Xiaodong, whose fluid and narrative style of realism rode against the wave of Political Pop and Cynical Realism. Chi went on to forge his own brand of realism, pursuing emotional honesty over innovation for innovation’s sake, and a philosophy of mankind as “earth-bound”. He is personally championed by Liu Xiaodong, who has spoken of Chi Ming’s works as "delicate poetic language to convey complex emotions". For Chi Ming, China’s rapid era of economic change delivered one form of freedom but also a new imprisonment under materialism and cultural dissipation. The urge for freedom takes shape in Chi Ming’s works as a defiance of accepted social norms, distorted perspectives and in some cases, a sublimation of reality, dancing between Realism, Surrealism and Romanticism. The parallel of reality to theatricality in Chi Ming’s body of works reveals a desire to treat life with the same hallowed reverence that directors and actors reserve for the stage.
Born in Hong Kong, raised in Beijing and educated in the United States, J S Tan has departed his early interest in figuration, for a series of enigmatic charcoal drawings and inks where shapes and lines, bricks and wire and unnamable objects float in space. With the meticulous gradation of a monochromatic palette, Tan begins to liberate from the breakdown of manmade hierarchies into the order and security of unchanging geometric laws.
In his conceptually rich practice, Tan also incorporates computer science, design and art theory. As both a student and a practitioner at Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University, U.S., he cites the digital design guru John Maeda as a major influence. Tan has embraced a new world of “magic”, programming vast, sprawling digital universes. For Tan, technology presents an alternative opportunity for creative play. The longing for other worlds, once satisfied by religion and visions of heaven, is now being answered by virtual universes with new social architecture and identities.
Chris LevineLight 3.142 17 May - 29 Jun 2013 Chris Levine’s iconic work, Lightness of Being has proven by now that it is not an image one forgets. It is not a portrait in the conventional sense, but then Levine is not conventional. His life and his artwork are consumed with an exploration into lightness, meditation and the experience of seeing. Throughout his career the majority of his masterpieces have been made to be experienced – as opposed to seen. These are pieces that transcend the gallery wall, the magazine page or the email attachment. They exist only in the moment.
Light 3.142, was the artist’s first major gallery exhibition at the gallery, providing an opportunity to fully grasp the range and depth of his practice. Levine employ all manner of new media as a way to remind us that light is fundamental to our existence. If all matter is made of light then there can be no past, no future, just a continually evolving present. His artworks are signifiers of living in the here and now and aim to focus our attentions and quiet the mind.
His highly anticipated new series, She's Light presented a woman possibly photographed more than Queen Elizabeth II – Kate Moss, the Head of State for contemporary culture. Levine depicted his famous sitter as having far more in common with the great muses of art history than with modern celebrity. The striking composition takes us beyond the surface and distils the icon. This is a face we all know, but Levine focuses our attention with an unselfconscious image that is sharp in the clarity of its form.
The titles of Levine’s Light Portraits directly refer to Levine’s raison d’être: Lightness of Being, Equanimity, Equanimous, She's Light, Stillness at the Speed of Light. His work is underscored by the practice of meditation, where the subject aims to create an equanimous state of mind – a focussed state of observing not reacting. The resonances these titles have with subjects who transcend fame, whose individuality or humanness is completely supplanted by a public persona, are enormous.
Levine achieved something incredibly rare in an age saturated with images and at a time when audiences are highly literate in a visual sense. He surprises us and confounds our expectations, not just of how the Queen or Kate Moss should look, but also how we expect to experience an artwork.
Following this exhibition, the apotheosis of the She's Light series was unveiled in the window of Selfridges, Oxford Street. The site-specific light installation presented Kate Moss in an entirely new fashion and was made in collaboration with the leading make up artist Charlotte Tilbury.
Whistler on the Thamesan exhibition of etchings and lithotints 17 Apr - 9 May 2013 The idea for this exhibition grew from the extraordinary etchings Whistler made in the late summer of 1859. I was intrigued by the idea of him arriving in London, charged with Realist zeal inhaled in Paris, and taking lodgings in a rough, working class district of London. In Wapping he got to know the longshore men, dockers and boatmen, he frequented the cafes and pubs where they ate and drank and made them the stars of his revolutionary etchings. In 1922 Campbell Dodgson wrote, ‘The Thames etchings have been praised so often and so well that it is difficult to find anything new to say about them. One can but endorse and reaffirm what others have said about the keen eye for the picturesque, the masterly and careful drawing, the nice adjustment of the line to every variety of building material in the ramshackle old riverside houses, which made such plates as Thames Police, Black Lion Wharf or Eagle Wharf … unsurpassed and unapproachable in their particular genre.’ Elegantly and concisely put.
Paintings by David Inshawon the occasion of the Artist's 70th Birthday 17 Apr - 11 May 2013 David Inshaw grew up in Biggin Hill and studied first at Beckenham School of Art (1959-63) and then the Royal Academy Schools (1963-6), where his tutors were William Scott and Derek Greaves. Peter Greenham, as Keeper in charge of the Schools, was someone he admired because he encouraged the students to hunt out their own identity and not just fit into particular modes of expression. Inshaw’s pictures of the 1960s were initially text based Pop pieces, or incorporated photographic elements into the painting. In 1966 Inshaw took a teaching position in Bristol, and it was here he began to evolve the deep emotional engagement with the West of England that has endured ever since.
David Inshaw has been painting for a long time. Indeed, his landscapes have become part of the landscape of contemporary British art. There is much to celebrate, but perhaps the most exciting thing is that this new major exhibition is not a retrospective. It shows an artist not prepared to rest on his laurels but eager to add to an already impressive body of work and to face new artistic challenges. This is not to suggest a radical departure from what has gone before. The new paintings are immediately recognisable. Inshaw’s landscape remains the Wessex of burial mounds, ironage hill forts, tracks and pathways threading their way through contours gouged by the last retreating ice age. It would be possible for such a vast prehistoric backdrop to diminish the human drama set against it, but Inshaw’s figures always seem at home in their setting, however teasing, poignant or puzzling their presence may be. Women wait, welcome and depart. Men and women set up camp and enact the Big Top circus routines of sexual engagement around a little scout tent. Inshaw magically manages to provide intimacy without voyeurism, and as all successful art does, surprises us into unexpected recognitions.
Janet LaurenceThe Ferment 12 Apr - 11 May 2013 For over thirty years Janet Laurence has created evocative, poignant and pioneering work that deals with the complex relationship between manmade and natural environments, making nature at once her subject and her object. The Ferment followed on from numerous museum exhibitions in Australia, notably a permanent installation set amidst the historic collections at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and the award of the 2013 Glover Art Prize.
The scope and inventiveness of her artistic enquiry is staggering. Since the 1970s she has worked with painting, photography, sculpture, site-specific installation and architectural intervention. Despite her remarkable multidisciplinary approach, Laurence remains utterly focused on a subject that cannot be exhausted or singularly defined.
Laurence has long been drawn to the way in which we study, observe, collect and present the natural world and throughout her career she has returned to imagery derived from scientific laboratories, museums of natural history, greenhouses and botanical gardens. Removed from their clinical and academic origins, Laurence transforms these motifs into poetic, ghostly creations that correspond neither solely to the laws of science or nature. These are no doubt beautiful presentations and doubly important as they have a very considered and powerful point to make.
There is a duality at the heart of her work. She endlessly enjoys juxtaposing opposites including: science and nature; growth with decay; stasis and yet flux; art that is science and reality against memory. These are the ways in which Laurence takes the viewer to the heart of her practice, which is to show the ‘interconnectedness of things’.
British Murals and Decorative Paintings 1910-197014 Feb - 9 Mar 2013 As a consequence of remaining out of the public domain murals often end up being written out of the accounts of the lives of the artists who created them - not withstanding the fact that for sheer size and scale it might be assumed that they were amongst the most ambitious projects they ever undertook. The inspiration for this exhibition was the recent re-emergence of a number of historically important murals: two by Mary Adshead commissioned for Lord Beaverbrook’s dining room, (previously listed as destroyed), a cycle of large scale studies by Brangwyn for the Rockefeller Center, Edward Bawden’s The English Pub (1949-51), important works relating to the Festival of Britain by Alan Sorrell, John Piper, John Armstrong, Gilbert Spencer and Charles Mahoney, Barbara Jones’ mastepiece Man at Work (1961) and Peter Lanyon’s Porthmeor Mural (1962). Almost without exception these works have not been shown in public for over a generation and in most cases have never even been reproduced in colour. This in itself is remarkable. This exhibition coincides with the publication of British Murals & Decorative Painting 1920-1960 (Sansom & Co.). A debate is now long overdue – a debate about heritage, about murals that have been lost and murals that might still be recorded and saved. It is also time for a more inclusive view of 20th century British Art in which murals and decorative paintings are fully accounted for.
Carlo Gavazzeni RicordiTeatri d'Invenzione 17 Jan - 9 Feb 2013 The Italian artist Carlo Gavazzeni Ricordi creates evocative photographic work that considers historical buildings and monuments in various stages of decay. The artist has represented Italy at the 54th Venice Biennale and participated at the III Biennial de Valencia, Spain. In 2012 he was honoured with a solo exhibition at the Hermitage in St Petersburg and Schusev State Museum of Architecture in Moscow.
His first exhibition in London showcased a series of photographic works that captured the forgotten monuments of Rome. Amongst Gavazzeni Ricordi’s favourite subjects is the 19th century theatre at Villa Torlonia, which he photographed before a recent restoration by Pirelli Cultura. This impressive structure was in disrepair for many years, but within its crumbling, graffiti-stained walls the artist was able to evoke the beauty of a neglected yet dignified interior. The space holds particular fascination for the artist, whose grandfather was principal conductor and artistic director at La Scala, as it is filled with memories of performances and unites his passion for art, music and theatre. He has also photographed landmarks of the Grand Tour including the Villa Medici, the Forum and the Castel Sant’Angelo, bringing their less familiar aspects into the consciousness of a contemporary audience.
An entirely self-taught artist, Gavazzeni Ricordi has developed his own techniques to create a range of effects in his work. His negatives are sometimes destroyed within two days due to the high level of chemicals and processes he uses. By repeatedly shooting the same negative to achieve different viewpoints, the artist creates a three dimensional quality and transforms the specifics of the location by reversing or superimposing the images. Their ‘liquid’ finish gives the work a highly contemporary appeal, yet their ‘sfumato’ aesthetic also harks back to a long artistic tradition.
Carving in Britainfrom 1910 to now 3 Dec 2012 - 12 Jan 2013 Although this is by no means an exhaustive survey of British carving of the last hundred years – exhibition space and availability of works have dictated that - it is an introduction to a field that has started to attract renewed interest.
It is possible to construct different Histories of Carving in Britain. A classic account,as featured in the excellent Carving Mountains catalogue of 1998 features the work of Frank Dobson, Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Eric Gill, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and John Skeaping. These certainly constitute the major figures in the development of Carving as a key element in what is considered Modernism in British Sculpture of the first part of the 20th century. The process of carving stone or wood has been defined as almost a talisman of being modern for sculptors. Many of them described their allegiance to this means of production in no uncertain terms, expressing pleasure in the physical effort of carving, chisel against stone, the direct relationship of the materials worked on to the vision they wished to express.
There are other sculptors in this exhibition who demonstrate the continued appeal of carving. The work of Gary Breeze could be considered as in descent ultimately from the letter cutting of Eric Gill, which was after all what turned him into a carver of sculpture. David Jones, who had been one of Gill’s closest friends and colleagues, turned to wood carving to create images for printing. Joseph Cribb trained with Gill and became a close associate before developing his own style in artwork and lettering. David Kindersley was a later apprentice and associate of Gill before setting up his own lettering and decorative sculpture workshop which developed away from too narrow an imitation of Gill. In this he was to be joined by his wife Lida. The exhibition includes a variety of present day practitioners in stone, though very different in character and commitment to the material: Andreas Blank, Jessica Harrison, Tom Harrisson, Angela Palmer, Alexander Seton, Rob Ward and Julian Wild. Last but not least of the great letterer and stone worker is the late Ian Hamilton Finlay.