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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Out and about

In the final weeks of my sabbatical I've enjoyed seeing the following:

  • Monument at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is an exhibition which draws together works by artists who address the idea of the monument in a great variety of ways. This exhibition is part of an EU Interreg funded, cross-channel collaboration between galleries in England, Normandy and the Pas de Calais. These regions have in common 20th century war memorials that are a feature of nearly all towns and villages. While on the European leg of my sabbatical art pilgrimage, I saw the section of Monument which is at the Musée de Beaux-arts in Calais.
  • John Virtue: The Sea at the Sainsbury Centre is a body of new work based on Virtue’s time on Blakeney Point, North Norfolk, walking and drawing this stretch of coast each week, immersed in the sea and sky in all seasons and in all weather. From this part of the coast the uninterrupted panoramic views across the salt marshes and shingle beaches lead directly to the horizon. The artist’s connection with this place is communicated through the encompassing scale of these canvases. His expansive gestures, the bold handling of paint, draw the viewer in to the image and the environment he captures, the intensity and turbulence of the sea.
  • Sense and Sensuality at the Sainsbury Centre presents some 65 works drawn from the Arwas Collection, the Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau (already in the Sainsbury Centre holdings), and from various other private collections. This exhibition looks at those Art Nouveau designers who were interested in the darker, more complex side of life. The show embraces the sensuality of Art Nouveau, which at times is risqué, and features a wide range of works from sculpture, graphics, and books to ceramics, glass and furniture.
  • All Saints Selsey was an early commission for G. F. Bodley, a young architect who had got to know the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood in 1858, and it was his promise of commissions that contributed to the establishment of a fine arts design firm by William Morris that included Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, and Philip Webb. This remarkable partnership of artists and intellectuals was called upon to design stained glass windows for the new Church. The distinctive saddleback tower of All Saints rises over a hundred feet to catch the changing Cotswold light on its French Gothic gables; it is the last of the great Cotswold wool churches, and the first to exhibit work of the English Arts & Crafts Movement.
  • Holy Trinity Slad is a small country church in the village made famous by Laurie Lee's "Cider with Rosie" - he now lies in the churchyard and this has become a place of pilgrimage for many admirers of his writings. The church has recently had a new stained glass window installed to commemorate Laurie Lee. The Museum in the Park at Stroud has also been celebrating Laurie Lee's centenary.
  • Gerardo Dottori: The Futurist View is the current exhibition at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art. Dottori was one of the pivotal figures of Italian Futurism during the inter-war years. His expansive and intensely poetic visions of the Umbrian landscape, viewed from above, were among the earliest and most striking examples of ‘aeropainting’ – the dominant trend within Futurist art throughout the 1930s, exploring the dynamic perspectives offered by flight.
  • To Be or not To Be at the Whitechapel Gallery features Italian artist Giulio Paolini who immerses us in elegant installations of canvases, windows, fragments of statuary and checkerboards – sometimes presented by 18th century footmen. Believing that every work of art embodies earlier traditions, Paolini pays tribute to artists such as Chardin, Lotto and Velazquez. His own face, hands and eyes reappear throughout the show, as he asks Hamlet’s question of the artist. From To Be or Not to Be (1994–95) where canvases radiate across the floor into infinity to the existential drama of The Author Who Thought He Existed… (2013).
  • Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacobs Ladder is an installation by Kader Attia at the Whitechapel Gallery. A series of marble busts of wounded soldiers from World War I and repaired North African wooden learning boards (ketab) observe a towering structure of bookshelves filled with centuries of accumulated human knowledge. The process of repair is central to Attia's work, which he sees as an underlying principle of development in nature as in culture, and a motive to re-invigorate his extraordinary library. Inside the structure of books lies a warmly-lit cabinet of curiosities above which a vast mirror reflects a horizontal beam of light, transforming it into rungs of a ladder to infinity. This commission is inspired by Jacob’s vision of angels ascending to heaven, as well as by the space itself which is steeped in history as a former library reading room.

Lone Justice - Shelter.

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