InsideOUT: Exhibition of contemporary bindings of private press books

The Designer Bookbinders stunning and ambitious InsideOUT project celebrates the art and craft of contemporary bookbinding and private press printing.

The project is a collaboration between thirty-four binders based in the United Kingdom and twenty-five based in North America and ran from 15 May to 22 August 2014 in the Layton Room Gallery at St Bride Foundation, Bride Lane, off Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8EQ, before continuing to the United States.

More than beautifully bound books, the exhibition shows the heights this art form can attain: these are finely crafted three-dimensional objects that are gorgeous to behold!

Seeing this exhibition was so awe-inspiring, especially for someone like me, who is just beginning their journey of discovery in the world of fine-bindings. I can only gasp in amazement at the finely crafted designs and hope to one day achieve something vaguely close in conception.

If you missed the exhibition in the UK, it continues in the USA (details below). I now look forward to the upcoming Designer Bookbinders lecture: Paul Johnson – Movable Book Artist and Teacher at St Bride’s on Tuesday 28 October 2014, 7.00pm.

USA Tour
Houghton Library
, Harvard, MA 11 September – 13 December 2014
Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis 10 January – 28 March 2015
Bonhams, New York 10-19 April 2015
San Francisco Center for the Book, California 6 June – 5 July 2015


Participating Private Presses
Arion Press (USA), Barbarian Press (Canada), Incline Press (UK), The Lone Oak Press (USA), Midnight Paper Sales (USA), Old School Press (UK), Old Stile Press (UK), Shanty Bay Press (Canada), The Whittington Press (UK).

A fully illustrated catalogue of all the bindings will be available at the exhibition venues and may also be purchased from the DB Online Shop.

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Why was Leena McCall’s “Portrait of Ms Ruby May, Standing” removed from a London Exhibition?

“Inappropriate”, “bad taste”, “pornographic” or fine art?

The woman, one hand on her hip, the other holding a pipe to her lips, looks directly at the viewer with an air of confidence. She wears a fur-trimmed vest encircling the cleavage of her breasts, with her trousers dropped casually open at the waist, revealing a small strip of dark pubic hair.

The work was selected to hang in the gallery for the 153rd annual exhibition of the Society of Women Artist’s (SWA), but two days after a charity event and private viewing of the show, the piece was removed by the gallery, apparently “too pornographic and disgusting” for public display.

This image could be regarded as a beautiful one, with its carefully crafted brushstrokes and its finely rendered details, yet London- and Berlin-based artist Leena McCall’s Portrait of Ms Ruby May, Standing was removed from this year’s SWA exhibition at the Mall Galleries this summer, for fear that it may have corrupted and offended the public.

The Mall Galleries issued the statement:

“As an educational arts charity, the federation has a responsibility to its trustees and to the children and vulnerable adults who use its galleries and learning centre. After a number of complaints regarding the depiction of the subject and taking account of its location en route for children to our learning centre, we requested the painting was removed.”

Much of the controversy centred around why this picture was censored in the first place: Is it pornographic? Obscene? Is it too erotic for the general public? Is it because she is looking directly at the viewer and not submissive? Is it because she is partially clothed? Is is because she is not completely naked as in a classical “nude” painting? Is it because pubic hair is clearly displayed?  Is it because she is smoking?

It is in the name of children and vulnerable adults that McCall’s Portrait of Ms Ruby May, Standing, was censored. The artist said that removing the piece from public view only serves to underline the precise issue she was trying to address, she said:

“My work deals with female sexual and erotic identity. The fact that the gallery has deemed the work inappropriate and seen it necessary to have it removed from public display underlines the precise issue I am trying to address: how women choose to express their sexual identity beyond the male gaze.”

Further, McCall’s commented that throughout art history, women’s sexuality is consistently portrayed as something for and controlled by men, and she seeks to challenge that paradigm. Her work is a deliberate attempt to use the traditional language of portraiture in a way that’s less patriarchal.

The gallery offered her the opportunity to replace her painting with another work, but she said that would be tantamount to admitting there was something wrong with it. Given the long history of the nude figure in art, particularly of the nude female figure, it is difficult to see why this was an issue. Indeed, compared to most music videos or advertisements today, there is less skin on display, and the woman’s breasts show less cleavage with her nipples not actually even visible.

Remarkably the painting was replaced by another nude painting, so obviously the nudity itself was not the issue. It seems that the pose of the subject was the reason for the complaint and subsequent removal of the painting from the exhibition.

The replacement was another, less provocative, nude: no tattoos, unbuttoned clothing or brazen attitude, suggesting that the Mall Galleries‘ clientele can cope with nudes, as long as the model is passive and unthreatening to a (male?) viewer’s gaze. This has been described as “a desperately outmoded form of prudishness, like the wartime strippers at London’s Windmill club who were allowed to pose naked, by the Lord Chamberlain’s reluctant acquiescence, so long as they didn’t move. They posed with one foot forward, obscuring any glimpse of “the fork” (ie vulva). The implication’s clear: the minute a woman is alive and free to move, an active agent of her own sexuality, she is a menace to society.”

Ruby May, the subject of the painting, said:

“I don’t think people realise how threatening a sexually empowered woman is to a paradigm that is still patriarchal at its roots. Thankfully, the world is evolving, this outdated paradigm is crumbling, and forms of censorship such as this are becoming unacceptable to the wider public.”

The executive secretary of the SWA, Rebecca Cotton, said:

“We thought the painting was beautifully executed and the composition was much admired. We saw nothing wrong with it; had we, the piece would not have been selected. We hire the gallery space from the Mall Galleries for the period that the show is on. The gallery took it down without seeking our approval.”

Society today teaches young women that they should be waxed, shaved, buffed and polished to perfection, such messages are pervasive and uncensored. In such a world view, girls grow up believing that beauty equals pain, to be sexy is a hairless, pre-pubescent ideal, and boys expect girls to look like submissive porn stars.
McCall’s Ruby is not size zero, like the models used to sell clothes to women aged 14-years-old upwards. Ruby does not lie submissively with her legs splayed like the centrefold of a lad’s magazine; she is not made of silicone or plastic and there is no overt sexuality: she’s beautiful, confident, and real.

The Mall Galleries may have been “thinking of the children”, yet hiding the human body, when shown so positively and in an empowering way, does nothing for a child’s awareness, safety or self-belief.

McCall  is understandably incensed at the censoring of her portrait: it is ironic that her work should be removed from an all-female exhibition, curated by women.

When contacted via her website, the artist explained that:

“Ruby May (who leads erotic workshops) had proudly wanted to own the pubic hair that is so often waxed, covered or air-brushed away in contemporary depictions of the female body – and rarely glimpsed in classical ones, come to that… [one] can’t begin to understand how a painting that reveals no intimate flesh, other than the pelvic triangle, could possibly be described as pornography.”

The artist subsequently launched a social media campaign asking supporters to contact @mallgalleries using hash-tag #eroticcensorship – to see if she can get people talking about sexuality in that medium instead.

Writing on Twitter, McCall described the move as “erotic censorship”, adding; “How is this painting ‘pornographic’ and ‘disgusting’?” Twitter users lamented the “19th century Victorian ideas” at play, and asked: “How is that any more outré than classical nudes?”

One wonders if those (men?) responsible for censoring and removing the portrait have ever seen Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde at the Musée d’Orsay, with its splendid sprawl of black-haired vulva, or indeed Britain’s much loved Stanley Spencer’s Self Portrait with Patricia Preece, and what they make of them.

References and further reading

 

 

Pastel Society Exhibition 2014

Jason Bowyer PNEAC RP PS - Rhythm - Pastel

Jason Bowyer PNEAC RP PS – Rhythm – Pastel

The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2014 ran from the 10th to 21st June at the Mall Galleries. A new fan of this art society, I enjoyed the exhibition very much and look forward to future exhibitions by them.

As always, I loved the work of Jason Bowyer PNEAC PS RP, and his work here was no exception – stunning as always – but there were also many other works that captured my interest and thus more artists I will be following!

After the Leaves Have Fallen 3 - Pastel - by Roy Wright PS

After the Leaves Have Fallen 3 – Charcoal- by Roy Wright PS

Roy Wright PS exhibited an ambitious and captivating charcoal drawing “After the Leaves Have Fallen 3”: it’s rich texture and detail draws the eye from the grass, up the trunk, to be lost in the intricate branches against the pale winter sky.

Cyclaman - Pastel - by Robin Warnes PS

Cyclaman – Pastel – by Robin Warnes PS

Works ranged from the highly realistic to the more abstract, from minimalist drawings to the very painterly, deeply layered works, in charcoal, pastel and mixed media.

Cheryl Culver PPS - Sunrise - Pastel

Cheryl Culver PPS – Sunrise – Pastel

Cheryl Culver, President of the Pastel Society and a member of the Royal Society of British Artists, known for her serene and shimmering pastel paintings of woodland and landscapes in sensitively beautiful muted palettes which are often exhibited in prestigious London galleries including the Mall Galleries, shared her thoughts on the Jackson’s Art Blog before the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition: visit the Jackson’s Art Blog to read the full article. 

View the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2014 virtual gallery online.

Visit the Pastel Society website.

 

Now the hungry lion ROARS, and other stories: Paintings by Atul Vohora

A new exhibition by artist Atul Vohora begins this week at Lauderdale House at Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG.  Atul Vohora is a painter who has lived and worked in London since 2001, and studied at Canterbury Christchurch and The Prince’s Drawing School in London.

Atul Vohora is a much loved and respected teacher at the University of Greenwich, The Slade School of Art (on the Short courses and its Summer School), and the Heatherley School of Art in London. He continues to exhibit in London and nationally. He studied in Canterbury and at The Prince’s Drawing School in London.

Drawing is central to his practice as an artist, and many of his insightful ideas and theories can be explored more fully in Atul Vohora’s recent book, Painting the Human Figure: Ideas and Perception: visit www.atulvohoraartist.co.uk for more information.

New paintings by Daniel Shadbolt

Oil on canvas by Daniel Shadbolt

Oil on canvas by Daniel Shadbolt

New paintings by the talented painter Daniel Shadbolt is a new one-man show this June at the Jonathan Ross Gallery 286: 286 Earls Court Road, London SW5 9AS.

Artist Daniel Shadbolt

Artist Daniel Shadbolt

The New Paintings exhibition features wonderful examples of both Shadbolt’s still life and portrait work. For the past few years he has worked from his studio in a house in West London which has again proved inspirational: “the interiors that he depicts are the distillation of an artist’s life” (Gallery 286 website).

Oil on canvas by Daniel Shadbolt

Oil on canvas by Daniel Shadbolt

A graduate of Chelsea College of Art and Design with a BA Fine Art: Painting, as well as completing the prestigious Drawing Year at The Prince’s Drawing School, and receiving the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Bulldog Bursary in 2008, as well as host of other awards and selection for many distinguished exhibitions, Daniel Shadbolt is a accomplished artist and well known as an inspiring teacher (at schools such as the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London), with a warm sense of humour and love of life and people that shines through in his work.

Oil on canvas by Daniel Shadbolt

Oil on canvas by Daniel Shadbolt

Personally I most admire Daniel’s lively brushwork and shimmering use of colour: his paintings seem to breathe and move before your eyes and I find them quite mesmerising.

Oil on canvas by Daniel Shadbolt

Oil on canvas by Daniel Shadbolt

For some time I had planned to visit this charming gallery in London’s Earl’s Court and this was the perfect excuse. In summer the garden is open and it is gorgeous – worth the visit alone – but of course Daniel Shadbolt’s paintings are stunning and the best reason to visit right now. Moreover, June has brought such lovely weather so it’s the ideal time to visit Gallery 286.

The exhibition continues until the end of the month, but already well-received it looks set to be possibly sold out, with lots of red dots in evidence at the first private view and even more by the second one!

Visit Daniel Shadbolt’s website for more information about the artist and his work.

Visit the Jonathan Ross Gallery 286 website for more information about this and other exhibitions.

Society of Women Artists 153rd Annual London Exhibition 2014

Society of Women Artists (SWA) logoThursday 26 June to Saturday 5 July
(closes 3.00 pm on the last day)
Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1

Private view: Wednesday 25th June 10.00 am – 8.00 pm
11.00 am – official opening and presentation of Awards

I’m delighted to again have work accepted for the Society of Women Artists annual exhibition this year, and even more excited to have been made an Associate member. This follows having works accepted over the past few years, and this year having six works accepted (the maximum of four to be hung and two accepted but not hung).

For an invitation to the private view and free entry throughout the duration of the show, please visit my website at www.sharonlow.com or send an email to exhibitions@sharonlow.com

I hope to see you there there!

About the Society of Women Artists (SWA)

SWA Flyer 2014Originally founded as the Society of Female Artists (SFA), this unique group has held an annual London exhibition of the work of women artists ever since 1857.

During the mid-nineteenth century, women were not considered serious contributors to the field of art and they had great difficulty in obtaining any public showing.

At the first exhibition of the SFA, 149 women showed 358 works. It is a reflection of the times that some of the artists hid their true identities for fear of social recrimination.

At this time the art world was dominated by the Royal Academy which, when founded in 1768, had just two women among the founders; there were no other women Royal Academicians for over 150 years, until Annie Swynnerton SWA (a member since 1889) was elected as an Associate in 1922.

Some of the most noted artists of the time were attracted to the Society: when Lady Elizabeth Butler’s “The Roll Call” was displayed at the Royal Academy in 1874, even Ruskin, with his peculiar views of femininity, revised his opinion that “no woman could paint”.

The SFA was involved in education for women artists: female artists were effectively excluded by the mores of the time from professional training – even for those who gained a place at art school, the model in the women’s class would be decorously draped on grounds of propriety.

As access to professional training increased, the Society’s exhibitions attained higher standards, and a name change came in 1869 to the Society of Lady Artists. The mid-Victorian persona was discarded in the last year of the century, and the twentieth century was embraced by the Society with the new name: The Society of Women Artists.

Among its members the Society has had many famous artists: Dame Laura Knight, the first woman Royal Academician for over 160 years, was elected President of the SWA in 1932;  Mabel Lucy Atwell, the world-famous illustrator, was also a member. Current members include Daphne Todd OBE, the first woman President of the Royal Portrait Society; June Mendoza OBE, the well-known portraitist June Mendoza; the late Suzanne Lucas, Past President of both the Society of Botanical Artists and the Royal Miniature Society (in 1980 was elected as the first woman president of a Royal Society); and Philomena Davis, elected first woman President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1990.

The Society has enjoyed Royal patronage since 1865 and the current patron is HRH Princess Michael of Kent. The current President is Sue Jelley.

Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2014

I was just in time to catch the recent Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2014 at the Mall Galleries before it ended. As expected, I was impressed by the high calibre of all the artists.

I was particularly looking forward to seeing paintings by artists and friends I admire, such as Sarah Jane Moon, Bulldog Bursary Prizewinner 2013-2014, with her portrait of Dr Laura Bridgeman and Flora Watson, who was Winner of The £3,000 de László  Foundation Award for artists 35 years and under with “Studio 26”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also much anticipated were paintings by Hero Johnson and Ian Rowlands, with their portraits of each other that were also featured in recent editions of the Artists and Illustrators magazine; and a host of others, some of whom I’ve pasted images from below and which can still be viewed on the Heatherley School of Art blog.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs
Tate Modern: Exhibition
17 April – 7 September 2014

If you haven’t seen “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” at London’s Tate Modern yet, I encourage to you to so as soon as possible. I plan to visit at least once or twice more as I found it inspirational and surprising: as is so often the case when images are familiar from books and magazines, the scale and intensity of colour “in-the-flesh” was astonishing – Matisse’s cut-outs are BIG, much bigger and bolder and brilliant in colour than I had anticipated; and the fluidity and speed at which he wielded large shears to cut out the shapes with the confidence of a lifetime’s mastery of shape and colour was astounding.

Henri Matisse is widely regarded as one of the giants of modern art. In this landmark show at Tate Modern, the final chapter in Matisse’s career is explored: when he began “carving into colour” and his series of spectacular cut-outs was born.

The focus is on the period of his life when Matisse was in his late sixties: a time when ill health first prevented him from painting, when he began to cut into painted paper with scissors to make drafts for a number of commissions. “In time, Matisse chose cut-outs over painting: he had invented a new medium.”

“This exhibition marks an historic moment, when treasures from around the world can be seen together. Tate’s The Snail 1953 is shown alongside its sister work Memory of Oceania 1953 and Large Composition with Masks 1953 at 10 metres long. A photograph of Matisse’s studio reveals that these works were initially conceived as a unified whole, and this is the first time they will have been together in over 50 years. Matisse’s famous series of Blue Nudes represent the artist’s renewed interest in the figure.”

This exhibition is a perfect example of why I love living in London, it is a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to see so many of Matisse’s work in one place, to “discover Matisse’s final artistic triumph”:

“From snow flowers to dancers, circus scenes and a famous snail, Tate Modern’s unique exhibition brings together a dazzling array of 120 Matisse pieces from around the world. Bold, lively and often large scale, the cut-outs are a joyous celebration of colour and shape.

“A giant of modern art, this landmark show explores the final chapter in Matisse’s career as he began ‘carving into colour’ and his series of spectacular cut-outs was born.”

Unfortunately I can’t make it to a participating cinema on Tuesday 3 June 2014 at 19.15 to catch “Matisse Live from Tate Modern” but I’m sure it will be an extremely interesting show. I hope Tate will allow it to be shown on free-to-air TV or streamed via their website at a later date.

This promised “intimate, behind-the-scenes view of this blockbuster exhibition with presenter Francine Stock and Tate Director Nicholas Serota” will include a “breathtaking new performances by Royal Ballet principal dancer Zenaida Yanowsky, and jazz musician Courtney Pine” and a British actor whose voice I love, Simon Russell Beale, will bring “insight and emotion to the words of Henri Matisse himself” with the actor Rupert Young providing the film’s narration. All this will be “complemented by interviews with art experts, friends of the artist, and rare archive footage of Matisse at work.”

If you miss it in London, after September the exhibition will travel to New York at the Museum of Modern Art, after which the works return to galleries and private owners around the world.

(text in quotes is from the Tate Modern website)

Father and Daughter Exhibition

Katherine Firth and Bill Everett in a father and daughter exhibition in Cambridge April 2014

Katherine Firth and Bill Everett in a father and daughter exhibition in Cambridge April 2014

Katherine Firth and Bill Everett in a father and daughter exhibition in Cambridge April 2014

Katherine Firth and Bill Everett in a father and daughter exhibition in Cambridge April 2014

Katherine Firth, one of the Lots Road Group of artists, is exhibiting alongside her father, artist Bill Everett, in Cambridge during the weekend of 26th and 27th April 2014.

For details please email katherinemfirth@me.com

Illustrator Draws A Fantastic Doodle Everyday For 365 Days

Something we can all aspire to: “a doodle a day for a year”.  Jillian Wong writes for Design Taxi about the Brazilian illustrator Gabriel Picolo who embarked on a year-long project to draw a doodle everyday for 365 days.

His ‘365-DaysofDoodles’ project began in an attempt to stop procrastinating: he sketched “wildly imaginative and detailed black ink drawings inspired by anime and pop culture characters in his Moleskine notebook”, and posted them online.

Picolo’s project is a “great source of motivation for fellow creatives in keeping one’s inspiration and creativity flowing.” Check out more of Picolo’s wonderful drawings and follow his project at his DeviantArt page.