I stumbled over this story about “Urban Sketchers”. It took me a moment to recognise that these pen and ink style drawings where not all of the same place, as there is something rather “same-y” about all of them. And I’m not sure what those splodges of colour are all about.
I was initially intrigued by the concept of them sketching “urban clutter”. I somewhat expected a focus on the urban mess; graffiti, recycling, waste, the “night-time economy”, the building’s structural elements. But their definition of this seems to stretch to the elements (buses, trams, shops, houses, buildings) that actually define an urban environment – The infrastructure.
It seems there is a small gathering of these “USK’s” around the globe. With the social media we have available today it has seemingly translated what would once have been isolated local groups into a global forum and a movement.
Perhaps there is an equivalent “Rural Sketchers” movement? Or maybe they just call themselves artists.
The truly fabulous Bayeux Tapestry is not just a remarkable work of art but also a wonderfully detailed account of the conquest of England in 1066. The tapestry is a monumental work, over 70m long, and 50cm tall. Within that space they tell a remarkable story, not just of the blood and fury of the decisive Battle of Hastings, but a rich human re-telling of civil life at that time, with detailed work in the top and bottom margins, and Latin text emphasising some of the action.
Over 900 years old, this work has been available to view in France at the Bayeux Museum, but now President Macron of France has announced the intention to allow the Bayeux Tapestry to be transported to a museum in England. But don’t rush, they yet need to work out how to package and transport the object, and so it will be around 2020 or even 2022 before the tapestry makes its way across the English channel. And despite its name, it is actually an embroidery, being stitched together rather than woven. But oh what detail, what humour, how evocative that work is, and when you see the teeming human life being recounted in blazing colour and detail it can almost seem touchingly contemporary.
For those who believe understanding our past helps to understand the here and now, the Bayeux Tapestry not only reveals intimate details of the conquest of Britain, but the enormity of trade and warfare during the medieval period. The Normans beat the English who never had an English King again, yet it could well be we defeated ourselves. The Vikings had already invaded England and much later the Vikings invaded France, to get rid of them they were given land well away from Paris, In Normandy. They became Normans who then with William the Conqueror of France invaded England. Historians might quibble that there is no exact evidence of that being true but go and visit this remarkable work, in France or England and see for yourself.
Probably of all of them I prefer the “Eye of the Tower”. It’s a curious and alternative view on something that has probably been photo-processed many times. Something you would normally expect to look up at, and Ascend is transformed and appears you are looking down on this enormous bell. I love the hard-edged brickwork and strong vibrant colours and textures. While the image is still, somehow there seems to be movement and power captured there.
The short list is full of fascinating images, from the “Cemetery of 21st Century” (don’t worry it’s not an actual cemetery.) which is eerie and evocative, almost Chernobyl-like, but it hardly seems to qualify as an actual building.
The “Bicycle Rider” is so stark and lifeless it looks more like an artist’s illustration or a page from a graphic novel rather than a photograph. Reminds me a bit of David Hockney’s work such as “A Bigger Splash” with its flat child-like colours.
The “Cross Bridge Waltz” shot from the air is mesmerising and joyful, almost a photographic version of naive art.
So your chance to vote is available until the 8th of January 2018, and of course you can always think about entering next year. You can see previous winners and my view on last year’s.
If you’ve read this far why not add a comment and tell which one is your favourite and why.
So this is just a follow-up to Landscapes where I mentioned we had artwork that resembled the photographic image of Josh Cooper’s “Meandering Mawddach”, (Gwynedd, NW Wales).
Our artwork is an etching by Pauline Meade, “Torridon Hills” with similar light, and striking monochrome features:
Of course this might have been far more impressive artwork if I could have captured a good image. Our picture had been professionally framed, and I thought they used non-reflective glass but it seems it isn’t. So I spent a happy (sic) few minutes walking around the house trying to find somewhere to take a clean image, without glare and reflections (TIP: Not outside in the sunshine). This is my best attempt, apologies to everyone. Ironic really, given that it was a photographic competition that generated the original article!
So central Birmingham is spending £2 million on a clock. Ignoring the contentious fact that this is part of the controversial HS2 project, it does once again raise the question of what public funds should be used for.
The PR spin will say this is a worthwhile project that will provide footfall to Birmingham, based on in-depth analysis that an additional XX visitors will spend YY, that means it will generate Billions and make the £2m a paltry insignificant sum. Except that they are spending an actual £2m, that could be spent on hospitals, libraries, other public services. Any exponential visitors are hard to measure. So here’s a competition – Hull, is the current European city of culture, this year they will get loads of extra visitors. Name one thing that all those visitors are coming for? Thought not, it’s the overall events and activities. Had they spent £2m on a clock, that wouldn’t be bringing in any additional visitors, it would just be one more attraction for those visitors to go too.
But there is another problem with these grandiose schemes. These huge art competitions tend to create a culture of international artists trying to implement challenging schemes to win. And thankfully some of these were overlooked, the train crash one, possibly all too apt with HS2! They are international, they are not local. This clock has nothing to do with Birmingham, it is just an anodyne artwork parachuted into that location. Of course by the time it gets built and modified it will have a developed a local flavour, local voices, but does this really make it unique to Brum? Not really.
Another possible public folly is the garden bridge in London, currently being reviewed to evaluate if it justifies the expense. Couldn’t they just put flowers and greenery on all the existing bridges? Well they could, and that might look really nice. But it wouldn’t be a “concept” would it, so that won’t count.
The Royal Academy of Arts is now showcasing “Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932”. While this at first seems a fairly innocuous retrospective, when you re-consider those dates and the consequences of that title the reflection is one of a momentous period of change and upheaval. While that timeline could probably be dragged pre 1917 and post 1932, those dates do somehow capture that period of significance.
Artwork that initially resembled the appeal of 19th century railway posters, bold colours, striking iconography, transcends into evocations of the tumultuous history of the period. Far-reaching and shattering in its consequences.
Curiously some of the work seems to go beyond the boundaries of time and space. Look at Alexander Deineka’s Textile Workers, 1927. They resemble robots, blank and automated, that conjure visions of the mindlessness of the coming late 21st century rather than a historic period piece.
Or Kazmir Malevich, ‘Peasants’, c.1930, a kaleidoscope of colours and the inhumanity of those staring figures with no facial features, breathtakingly prescient.
And if you are able to get to the exhibition and it fascinates, then follow that up later this year with the Tate’s Red Star over Russia. Up the peasants, up the workers!
I can feel and hear the sea when I gaze at these images. Can almost smell the salt of the sea and sense the shifting clouds re-creating shapes and memories. Where’s you favourite seascape? Have you never yet been to the sea – in for a treat when you do.
Murphy House, named after Richard Murphy, the architect and home-creater and owner, won the RIBA house of the year award this year.
Love it or loathe it, a least it’s a fascinating design, and looks like some sort of house. Other shortlisted ones included the ubiquitous endless glass panels of the Outhouse. Oh come on, give in with the sliding glass doors; and for goodness sake at least try and make it resemble a private dwelling rather than a trendy office block with lifestyle fixtures!
Meanwhile the CIOB are showcasing some fabulous photographs in their “Art of Building” competition. I know with Instagram and endless image banks there are already plenty of striking images, but trust me, these are striking images worth looking at. Plus unlike RIBA it’s a public vote so you can have an input into this year’s winner. But only if you’re quick, before 23rd January 2017. And if you’re not quick, you can look at next years!
My favourite? The art deco of “Control”, by Roman Robroek, from Hungary.
The competition attracts fabulous talent, so is a great opportunity for any budding photographers out there.
So spent time this month creating a website for Sally-Anne Adams, artist. I was going to create the site on WordPress, also looked at Wix and Weebly.
Jimdo seemed easy to set-up and had nice clear crisp templates to choose from, and the benefit of not having so many choices that its hard to select one. I started doing a mock up on that. Then realised the site went live straight away, so decided to stick with it and make it active. Working on live site isn’t that recommended though!
While the template fitted well I then had a play with selecting other templates and viewing how the site looked with those. The editing was fairly straightforward and seemed OK and the site uptime seems fine so for a free website quite impressed. Have just added it to google so hopefully will be active soon.