D4D

An example of the unreasonable man who makes all the progress

Archive for the category “Art”

Already Taken

This morning I came across something that sounded really interesting – Yorkshire Sculpture Park are doing a “Room to Breathe : Four walks in four seasons” event, walking and talking around the park, similar to outdoor/walking therapy.

(Facebook event details here, which includes the dates and so on)

Then I looked on my phone at my diary. Oh cock.

So… despite the event being on four different dates through 2018 (right through to September) I’ve already got stuff booked in on each of them.  All four, already taken. *sigh*

You know when I said that one of my targets for 2017/18 was to ‘do less’? Yeah, look how that’s already working out…

New Zealand War Memorial

Last Sunday, I was in London to meet friends and eat food. (I know, it’s a shock)

I was hugely early (also not a shock) but semi-intentionally so, as I’d originally planned to do a decent-ish walk (still no shocks) and then meet up.  But other plans from the day before had changed, so I started off by knocking the planned 8-miler on the head, and instead taking the Tube in to London, have a smaller more sensible walk, and then meet up.

And then I walked, and it all changed a bit, so I ended up still doing a nearly-eight-miler. Because I’m an idiot. (Hey, where are those shocks? Nope, still not happening)

The route was a bit different to my usual ones though, and on a couple of occasions ended up with “Oh, I could go that way, but I’ve done that before. So let’s go this way instead”.  On one part of that, by Hyde Park Corner, I opted to cut through by Wellington Arch instead.

And in there, it turns out that there’s a huge sculpture piece for the New Zealand War Memorial. It really is quite epic – and yet dwarfed by the buildings, arches and other stuff nearby.

I really liked it – and although this time I was on a bit of a stomp, I’ll definitely go back on an occasion where I’ve more time, and look at them properly.

Saturday – Chris Ofili, Weaving Magic

Following on from seeing the Giacometti and Soul of A Nation exhibitions, my final visit was to the National Gallery, to see “Weaving Magic” by Chris Ofili.

A friend of mine had seen this and really liked it, hence why I wanted to see it.

It’s a fantastic tapestry – designed by Ofili, and then handwoven by Dovecot Tapestry Studio, and based on “I know why the caged bird sings“, by Maya Angelou. It’s also been staged and displayed really well, in a room of its own, which has also been decorated by Ofili.

So you end up with a room covered in murals like this

And then the tapestry itself, the only thing of colour in the room

It’s well worth seeing – if you get the chance to go before the end of August, I’d recommend it. Even better, it’s free to go in and see it, which is… noteworthy, in the current climate.

Saturday – Soul of A Nation

While I was in Tate Modern on Saturday, I also went to see the “Soul Of A Nation” exhibition, which is about Black Art during the Civil Rights movement.  It’s not one I was really planning on seeing, and more of an impulse “Oh, why not” thing, but it was still interesting.

The Civil Rights movement happened in the US before I was born – not by much, but obviously by enough.  I know the basics of it, but not a lot of the detail, and always feel I should know more about it.   It absolutely amazes me that it was all relatively recent, that it was all happening fifty years ago. In that context, it’s amazing how far we’ve come – although there’s still a long way to go.

Anyway, it was an interesting exhibition – although there was a significant amount of (in my opinion) shite stuff, there was also enough to make it worth having gone in.  I also got to learn about AfriCOBRA, the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists – most of which was admittedly bad, but still, made me laugh just for its honesty.

One of the other things I found interesting (and slightly sad) was that in an exhibition so deeply connected to Black Art, African-American History and Civil Rights, every single person viewing it was white.  There was a quote on one wall, the gist of which was that Visual Arts were the biggest bastion of White Male artists, and the exhibition visitors certainly helped to reinforce tbat.

All told, it was interesting enough. I don’t think I’d bother seeing it again, but I’m still glad I did get to see it.

Saturday – Giacometti

On Saturday, I went into London for a walk, and to visit a couple of exhibitions – which turned out to be three – as well as food and the like.  As there’s other stuff going on this week that I can’t be naffed to go into right now, I thought I’d write a bit about some thoughts related to the exhibitions. So that’s the plan.

The first one on the list was Tate Modern’s exhibition of works by Giacometti. Up ’til now, I’ve seen a few of his works, but not loads – and I’ve honestly never seen the appeal of them. They’re certainly distinctive, strange, and of note – but I certainly didn’t love them, and didn’t really get why he’s so well regarded.

Having seen the full exhibition, I still don’t love them, but I understand more of why he’s regarded. Oddly, his statues still do very little for me – I find them kind of odd, and kind of unsettling, but nothing more than that – and I certainly couldn’t sit and just look at one block of statues, as one person was doing. (He’d even brought along his own camping stool in order to do so, God love him)  However, I really liked some of the sketches, and some of his oil work that looked like it had been done in charcoal.

I think that in some ways I wasn’t convinced of Giacometti as being an actual artist – OK, he could do the sculptures, but that could’ve been just the one thing. Having seen the sketches, drawings, and paintings, I do realise that he’s a lot more of an artist than I’d thought, and a lot more talented.

That doesn’t make me like the sculptures and so on, and I still wouldn’t go from here to the bog to see another exhibition of his work, but all the same, I’m glad I did go.

 

Durham Lumiere 2015

Two years ago, I went with friends to see the Lumiere exhibition in Durham – which was ace.

This year, it was back, and so were we.

While it’s organised by the same people, and has some of the same artists, it was utterly different – and still brilliant. The weather this time was absolutely rotten – my coat still isn’t dry – but still it was great. The theme (if there really is one) was more about science and maths this time round, with the main ‘showpiece’ projection onto Durham Cathedral this time, “The World Machine” being more about the birth of modern cosmology from the 12th century until the present day.

One of the big draws this year was Mysticete, a projection of a whale on the river Wear, visible from the bridge above. Done by the same people as the Elephant last year, it was ace – and so clever, being projected onto a water-spray. (although with the heavy rain they could probably have just done the same onto the rain)  Sadly, because of that weather it got cancelled on the Sunday, but it was well worth seeing. (we were there on the Saturday)

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

We got to see a good portion of the exhibits – although not all, by any means – and really enjoyed it. Some of the stuff was really magic and fun, other bits were ‘just’ excellent.

As per the last one, I will definitely be going again when it’s next on.   I may also visit the one they’re doing in London in January 2016 – I hope that’s as clever and fun as the Durham ones are.

Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy

Following on from yesterday’s post about my most recent day trip to London, this one focuses on the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the RA.

It’s a great exhibition, and shows a wide range of Weiwei’s works, including his massive (and understandable) loathing of China.

The first thing you see, as you enter the RA’s courtyard, are the trees, made of assorted pieces of wood

TreesHidden in there as well is what looks like a knackered leather armchair. Only it turns out to be made from black marble…

In the exhibition itself, there are just so many different things. Tables that have been melded with timbers from 14th century temples, and/or bent to rest with legs against walls, epic cubes (including one that is a ton of compressed tea leaves), video installations, 3000 porcelain crabs, and many others.

The cubes are fantastic, and a particular favourite of mine was the wooden epic-scale puzzle box (that needs two people to get it to work) which was just beautiful, and so tactile…

Mystery BoxThere’s also a work called ‘Straight’, which is entirely constructed from steel reinforcing rods, and is a thing of beauty. (Although you do wonder just how long it took to get it all to work!)

Straight - Steel rodsOn the walls in that room there are also two panels, listing every single identified body from the 2008 earthquake. Just the scale, the number of names, is gob-smacking, and upsetting in a strange way.

There’s also a lot of humour in the exhibition – surprisingly so, and in contradiction to what I’d imagined and understood of Weiwei’s work. My personal favourites of the entire exhibition are the two wallpaper designs. (Yes, wallpaper)  The first is this, whole patterns created from a stencil of a man’s torso and arm, ending in a fist with a raised middle finger.

wallpaper1I think it’s the first ever wallpaper I’ve seen and gone “Yeah, I could live with that”. Although at nearly £500 per roll, I won’t be able to do so…

The second wallpaper, “Golden Age” is even more clever. Surveillance cameras and Twitter birds predominate

wallpaper2And then you look closer, and realise that in every Twitter bird, there’s Ai Weiwei’s face. And that’s really clever.

wallpaper2_detail

There are many, many other pieces – in a variety of sizes, materials, and styles. (I also loved the chandelier built from bicycle wheels) It’s an impressive body of work, and I suspect a number of pieces will stick with me for quite a while.

All told, I loved the exhibition. It’s so much better than I’d expected/assumed, and is so worth going to see.

Bike Chandelier

Even better, the RA are actively encouraging people to take photos of the exhibits, to promote it themselves, and to touch most of the items. It’s very tactile, very open – and so nice to see that kind of understanding. (Although they did still tell off the German who slammed his camera and bag onto one of the bent tables, impervious to the fact it was an exhibit – but you can’t do much about idiots, in fairness)

The only (small) downside is that for the price you’re paying to see the exhibit, and the fact it’s only ticketed admission, it was still crowded. I would rather that there were fewer people allowed in at once, and thus those people can see the exhibits better, without being being constantly blocked, wandered into, and having others drifting into one’s eyeline. But then, I’m an antisocial git.

All told though, it’s great. I’m actually considering going again before it finishes…

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