Thu, 24 Oct 2019
Power of Seeing

This is about something I went to a few months ago but never got around to mentioning. There may be a few more like this.

I went to Two Temple Place earlier this year to see an exhibition about John Ruskin called The Power of Seeing. This was the first time at Temple Place and it was quite eye-opening.

The venue is an amazing late Victorian house by the Thames, built in 1895 by William Waldorf Astor. It contains, what appears to be, acres of oak panels, carvings, stained glass and paintings: a sumptious interior that must have cost him a fortune. Luckily he had one, and it really shows. In fact, the artists and craft-people who built this gothic and literature-as-architecture palace had the backing of a bottomless wallet. Ruskin is a perfect fit for a place like this. Beautiful venue and a very good exhibition.

From the page linked above, you can download the exhibition flyer and PDF catalogue. Two Temple Place is not open for exhibitions often but I would definitely suggest visiting when it is.


Mon, 21 Oct 2019
50 Years to Make

Victoria Crowe in Edinburgh


Above: Reflected Drama, San Giorgio, 2017, oil, 76x91cm

Victoria Crowe's big retrospective at Edinburgh's City Art Centre, 50 Years of Painting, has just finished after a long run over the summer. I must have visited six or more times over the last few months and enjoyed it a lot. An excellent exhibition by an artist I had not really been very aware of before.


Above: Twilight, Venice (detail), oil, 114x102cm

Laid out over three floors in chronological order, we see Crowe's development through the years; early works in the fields of Kittleyknowe (in the Scottish borders) and sometimes featuring her neighbour, the shepherd Jenny Armstrong, to later works of Venice and a more mystical and abstract feel. A slightly different style of art than I'm normally drawn to, but the work grew on me a huge amount as I absorbed it. Her work is as much about our inner landscape as the external world. Something she quotes is her old art teacher Prunella Clough telling her not to "make it real"; to avoid just painting a superficial, realistic representation of te subject. I struggle with this concept in my own painting.

Strong and beautiful colours with amazing surface texture and effects repeated. I spent time trying to understand how some of her technique is done: the way she overlays "print" work (whether photographs, text or other art works), the stencil like patterns and various textures on the paint surfaces.

Some repeated motifs appear, including the Giovanni Bellini Magdalene, a star attraction for me at the National Gallery Mantegna and Bellini exhibition in late 2018. A beautiful portrait of the saint that Crowe lays over (or under) many of her works, sometimes barely seen.

Right: Mantegna and Bellini (catalogue cover detail)

The full painting by Bellini was made in 1490 and is called Madonna and Child between Saints Catherine and Mary Magdalene. See the full painting on wikipedia.


Above: Blue Snow and Fiery Trees, 2011, oil, 101x127cm

Now the exhibition is closed, it feels like a part of the city is missing. On to the next one: Mary Cameron.

Victoria Crowe's home page is here.


Thu, 10 Oct 2019
All By Himself

David Cobley at The Mall Galleries

Having let my blogging slip for a while, I now want to try and catch up on things I have seen or done. It's been a very good year actually. One recent show was David Cobley's one man exhibition at the Mall Galleries last month : All By Himself. This was on two days before I left for Edinburgh. I managed to have a chat with him as well : a very down to earth and pleasant guy.

Like Mark McLaughlin, Cobley's an artist I have noticed in the past, liking his work and technique. Seeing them all together in one show was a great chance to have a proper look. The photograph above shows a work he was auctioning: an obvious homage to a very famous Hockney painting. A very good painting in its own right.

Hockney's painting Portrait of an Artist was sold at auction in 2018 for over $90 million, the most moeny ever made for a work by a living artist.

One of the pictures I really liked of his before was something called "Wordplay", I think shown at the Royal Society of Portrait Artists show earlier this year :

Above: Wordplay, oil, 76x112cm (detail right)

I imagine a very successful commission here. What I particularly liked was the expression on the girl's face as she watched her brother at work.

Cobley's web site showcases his work and it will be clear that he has a wide array of subject matter, and much imagination. Some very quirky stuff but all painted very well.

Below: Bandwagon To Oblivion, oil, 117 x 213.5 cm


Wed, 09 Oct 2019
Light and Dark

I wanted to hop onto the computer and get back in the swing of the occasional blog post. A post on the Jackson's Art blog prodded me to do it today : an interview with artist Mark McLaughlin.


Above: Mallorcan Landscape,, 2019, Oil on canvas, 51 x 66 cm

He's based not far from where I used to live in South London (Camberwell) and he's an artist I've noticed a few times, coming across paintings in the Mall Galleries mainly. He's very strong on the contrast of dark and light, with dark shadows often almost black. The paintings displayed in the linked interview are beautiful, and I'd love to see them in real life.


Tue, 08 Oct 2019
Hello Edinburgh

Now time to explore Edinburgh, starting from my base in Stockbridge, a lovely and central part of the city. There's plenty of life and a vibrancy to the area. Being by the river (Water of Leith) and a short walk to Inverleith Park and the Botanic Gardens, it's also possible to disappear into an almost rural setting, away from noise and cars. I feel this is a more liveable and walkable city than London; a lot smaller of course, but this is the reason for its attraction now. Not all upside: it's at the bottom of a hill, so I tend to get a work-out before I get to the gym (by bike) for my real work-out. Edinburgh's built on hills but at least it's downhill coming back! I've also been lucky with the weather so far. I'm to get settled and hopefully blog a bit more again.