Tuesday, 17 July 2018

George Shaw: My Back to Nature

George Shaw, 'The Living and the Dead', 2015–16
© The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London

Managed to steal an hour out of the data mines on Friday to visit the art gallery for an exhibition of paintings by artist George Shaw.

There are a number of different elements to this exhibition: paintings and drawings by Shaw, a couple of paintings from the National Gallery’s collection from which he took inspiration (see below), a collection of works from Southampton City Art Gallery’s collection curated by Shaw, and a film about his ideas and processes.

Hendrick Van Balen the Elder, Pan pursuing Syrinx,
after 1615, oil on copper. National Gallery, London

The main exhibition was made up of a series of paintings of trees and woodland settings which he had made whilst on a two-year residency at the National Gallery. Inspired by works in the gallery's collection, Shaw created paintings that 

'offer a contemporary response to the mythological landscapes painted by masters such as Titian, Poussin and Constable.
Shaw is interested in how the stories in these paintings – often featuring violence, illicit sex and drunkenness – have parallels in the way that people might behave in the woods today, when they think they are unobserved. This is complemented by Shaw’s interest in Christian imagery, especially how landscape artists of the past often alluded to the Crucifixion in their depiction of trees.'

Sebastiano Ricci, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1700-1710, oil on canvas
National Gallery, London
Interesting idea which enriched my experience of the paintings (links to Greek myth grabbed my attention immediately of course) and encouraged me to watch the 15 minute film (below) in which Shaw talks about his ideas and processes. Also, he visits a Humbrol enamel paint factory! Worth a watch.


Shaw also selected various works from Southampton City Art Gallery's collection displayed under he title ‘A good day for looking out’, a phrase used by his mother for bad weather days. I didn't find this group of paintings terribly interesting  though I liked what Shaw said about it, particularly this:

Looking back at my selection I can see that it has an air of sadness about it. It is one of the few national characteristics I’m content to inherit so I make no apologies for the gentle beauty of the show. Perhaps it is evidence of Edward Thomas’s ‘melancholy wrought magic’. Or perhaps it just comes from the weather and not getting out much. In the end it is the transformative influence that painting has to take the mortal facts of the world and concoct a heady, strange and enduring potion.

The exhibition continues until 1 September 2018.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Flying south

Finally got the box sets for the Falkland Island Printmakers all packed up and in the post this week. Hope they get there safely. I have no idea how long the journey takes. Having left the UK in a record heatwave, they will arrive in the depths of winter, possibly to snow. How weird is that. Anyway, I hope the recipients will enjoy them as much as we northerly printmakers have.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Open Studios

,,It’s that time of year again. Local artists are preparing to throw open the doors of their studios to welcome visitors to view their work. The one I’m taking part in isn’t until August but I thought I’d get my prep done early as things are pretty intense down in the data mines at the moment. Spent the last couple of days packing unframed prints and ordering frames so I’m all ready to go. Fingers crossed for a sale or two.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Mes Ecrits - James Ensor

I did a brief thing about the Belgian painter James Ensor recently at our monthly artists’ group meeting. I can’t really call it a talk; it was more of a muddled ramble about what I like about his work with a few biographical details thrown in. This is a new thing we’re doing - bringing artists to the group that members may not have come across or not paid much attention to.

In doing some research for the session, I found that the more I discover about Ensor, the more intriguing I find him - his work, his life and he himself. So, I got hold of a copy of his selected writings. Just one snag - it’s in French... Having scraped an O level in the language (that dates me!), reading it and understanding it is going to be something of a challenge. It could be my life’s work...

Friday, 29 June 2018

North and South

The box sets are finished and were distributed to the northern participants this week. What a great set of prints. The southerly set will soon be winging their way South to the Falkland Islands so I hope the participating printmakers there will enjoy them as much as we are. Here's the front and back - pics of individual prints to follow.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Thing update

Lost a bit of momentum with this due to the prolonged data mining going on at the moment, but it’s nearly there. Just working on the hair now. Having built out the back of the head, it’s become rather top heavy so may need to think about the base and stabilising it somehow. Doing a thing about James Ensor next week so I may take it along with me in - grotesque papier mache masks and all that.

Sunday, 17 June 2018


This was the pallet that my press travelled to and from York on. Was going to get rid of it but decided to upcycle it into a rather 'rustic' garden table for the Aged P. Spending an awful lot of time down the data mines at the moment due to fast-approaching, non-negotiable deadlines so it was good to set all that aside and make something tangible for a change. It's not a thing of beauty particularly, but it's functional and has a certain agricultural charm.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Gerhard Richter at the new Hansard gallery

Gerhard Richter '4900 Colours' (2007) - John Hansard Gallery © Steve Shrimpton

Visited the first exhibition in the new John Hansard Gallery this week. Interesting exhibition (Artist Rooms: Gerhard Richter), fabulous space. One piece worked particularly well in its situation 4900 colours, 2007. I don’t envy those who had to measure up to install it. Also fun with badges. Well worth a visit.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

And the gluing goes on...

The Thing is taking shape. Thoroughly enjoying the process... amazed at how easy to use papier mache is. My new favourite thing. May try making some paper clay next.

Not sure what I’m going to do with it when it’s finished... maybe put it back into a print, if you see what I mean. I’ve been thinking about making some of my characters in 3D for a while, since Captain PB in fact. Also thinking about the characters that Paula Rego makes to paint. Maybe that’s the way forward. Layer them up so they’re constantly evolving... drawing to print to ‘sculpture’ to drawing to print and so on. Hmm.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Etching and monoprint

Back to the printmaking briefly. Had a rare day printing with friends at Red Hot Press last week. Still on the Greek theme - etching and monoprints.

Monday, 21 May 2018

The thing progresses...

Fun in the garden with newspaper and glue! Have been having a relaxing time sitting in the shade of the plum tree (which provides very useful hooks to hang the Thing from as I work on it) building this up with papier mache. What larks! Haven't done any of this since I was at sixth form. Took a while to get the hang of it - very sticky. The newspaper seemed more keen to attach itself to me than the wire. Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Making a thing...

Does the shape look familiar...?


No escape for me but this little etched character is breaking free!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

No escape...

Feels good to be starting a new etching... apart from my small North and South print at the beginning of the year, it’s been a while. Not quite sure where this one will go but it will have monoprinted elements as well.
A couple of months ago, we had a session looking at our progress so far with North and South. One of my fellow printmakers said to me of my image, ‘it’s very you.’ It got me thinking about the work (and lack of!) I’d been trying to make over the last eighteen months or so, and how I’d been trying to move away from narrative ‘illustrative’ images. Without much success. It was a really useful comment as it made me remember that you can’t really escape yourself when it comes to making art - you have to make the work you make. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to progress and push your work forward - it’s still perfectly possible and vital to do that. You just can’t force your work in a direction it doesn’t want to go. So, for me it’s back to weird, slightly grotesque narrative images. The techniques will change though, and that's what will push the work forward.

And if anyone is wondering where the life drawing has gone, that’s all on hold at the moment as too much other stuff going on. I imagine I'll get back to it at some point.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

New stuff

No idea where this will go... work it out on the plate.