First year MA student’s Interim display at the Camberwell College of Arts Postgraduate Summer Show 2016

UAL_MAVA_CCA_PGshow2016As the summer heats up (well, we can hope) the graduate and post-graduate shows are happening all over the country. If you want to be amongst the first to see the most exciting new talent emerge, pop-in to see the  University of the Arts London’s (UAL) freshest graduates open up their work to the public. Visit the UAL summer shows – a series of free art, design, fashion, communication and performance exhibitions taking place across London.

Of particular personal interest are the up and coming artists and designers of tomorrow at the Camberwell College of Arts Post-graduate Summer Show, featuring work by graduating students from the MA Visual Arts courses:

Sharon Low is in the first year of the MA Visual Arts in Printmaking at the Camberwell College of Arts. MA Book Arts and MA Printmaking first year students are putting together an “interim display”, to give visitors a taster of the MA projects they are each concerned with.

The Private View is on Thursday 14 July 2016, from 6pm – 9pm.

The show is then open to the general public:

Friday 15 July – 10am – 8pm
Saturday 16 July – 11am – 5pm
Sunday 17 July – Closed
Monday 18 July – 10am – 8pm
Tuesday 19 July – 10am – 8pm
Wednesday 20 July- 10am – 8pm

Visit the UAL website for more information.

 

 

 

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The Candyman of Artists’ books

The Magic of Paul Johnson: Movable Book Artist and Teacher

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson: book artist and children’s literacy expert

Last year I was fortunate enough to experience first-hand the art and magic of British book artist and children’s literacy expert Paul Johnson, as part of the Designer Bookbinders autumn series of lectures at the St Bride Foundation in London.

In her interesting blog about making books with children, www.bookmakingwithkids.com, Cathy Miranker said:

“Johnson’s specialty is doing exceptional things with single sheets of paper, and he uses his magic in two ways, teaching book arts to school children (and training teachers to use bookmaking in their classrooms) and making many-layered pop-up paper constructions.

“His show-and-tell session was electrifying, the most inspiring talk I’ve heard. The audience applauded and applauded—they just couldn’t stop. There was a lot of hugging, too, as if people hoped to catch some spark of his.

 

 

PaulJohnson_34

“Paul himself is modest, low-key, soft-spoken, undemonstrative. Except that as he talked, something extraordinary began to happen: a quiet passion seemed to take possession of him and spill over into the audience, too.

“I was completely carried away by the story of how he discovered paper—he said he didn’t notice it until he was 45, and then he couldn’t help but change his life—his endless fascination with the possibilities in a single sheet of paper (“I didn’t add anything, I didn’t take anything away, but look what it turned into! I think this must be Zen.”), his work habits, his love affair with color, his belief in book arts as a compelling path to literacy for children.”

 

 

Paul Johnson has an international reputation for his pioneering work in developing literacy and visual communication skills through the book arts. He is author of over fifteen titles including A Book of One’s Own, Literacy Through the Book Arts and Pictures and Words Together (all published by Heinemann,USA.)  Recent teaching tours include Sweden, South Korea and Thailand and he regularly teaches in the USA.

 

Innovative educator and successful book artist, the work of Dr Johnson can be found in the collections of the Tate Gallery, London, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, the National Gallery, the Library of Congress, Washington DC, and many US universities including UCLA, Berkeley, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Yale and Harvard. His work was selected for the Stand and Deliver USA touring exhibition of pop-up editioned books, as well as the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild’s, The Art of the Book touring exhibition  for which he also received the guild’s Book Art Colophon Award. He is on the UK Craft Council’s select list of British designer-makers.

 

 

 

Johnson studied at Norwich School of Art and Rabindranath Tagore’s University of Santiniketan in India. When he was and art educator at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the late 1980s Paul Johnson inaugurated The Book Art Project, the main focus of which was to teach writing to children through the book form. Since then he has made books with over 200,000 children and over 25,000 teachers worldwide.

Paul Johnson says, ‘It was seeing the sculptural bindings of Phillip Smith over thirty years ago that inspired me to look beyond the book as something to read.’

pauljohnson_05In the Designer Bookbinders autumn series of lectures presentation, Paul Johnson shared his life experiences as book artist and teacher. It was simply delightful “eye candy” to see several of his unique carousel pop-up books: first in the flat-pack state, then assembled into the 3D form. An added joy was hearing how these books inform the pop-up books that children – some as young as four years of age – make in his workshops.

pauljohnson_06More information

 

New English Art Club Annual Open Exhibition 2016

NEAC2016_h1-Quadrat-Simon-Thames-Path

The New English Art Club (NEAC) Annual Open Exhibition held at Mall Galleries opens to the public on Thursday 16 June and runs until Saturday 25 June 2016.

The NEAC Annual Open Exhibition is now firmly established as a fixture of the London Summer Season, exhibiting painting and drawing made from direct observation.

The exhibition includes painting, drawing and prints selected from an open submission alongside the work of member artists.

During its early years, the NEAC was well-known for its Impressionist style, and the influence of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism continues. More than a century since its inception, today the NEAC is regarded as a “well respected institution and one of the foremost exhibiting societies”, and today continues in a realistic, figurative style.

Tthe NEAC seeks work which “demonstrates excellence in both concept and draughtsmanship”, and views its place and aim as a “centre of excellence for drawing and painting”.  Current distinguished artists include Jason Bowyer PPNEAC PS RP, Melissa Scott Miller NEAC RP, Daniel Shadbolt NEAC, Diana Armfield RA NEAC Hon Rt RWS, Anthony Green NEAC LG RA Hon RBA Hon ROI and Ken Howard OBE PPNEAC RA RBA RBSA ROI RWA.

Visit the NEAC website to see the full list of exhibiting artists. All works are for sale and available to view online as well as in the gallery.

New English Art Club

References and further information:

Be nice to your portrait artist…

In a lesson to sitters to be nice to their portrait painters, renowned British portrait artist, Daphne Todd, discussed hidden meanings and items that portrait artists have put in their paintings, when speaking on a recent episode of BBC Radio 4’s “Today Programme”.

From the shadow of Monica Lewinsky’s dress in the recently unveiled Nelson Shanks portrait of President Clinton, conversation moved to the horns that Todd admitted will appear above someone’s head in years to come in one of her own works.

David Sanderson in his Times’ article entitled: “Top portrait painter takes devilish revenge on rude sitter”,  joked the “x-ray machines are being ordered. Just where are those devil horns?”

Daphne Todd was the first female president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and a winner of one of the most prestigious art prizes in the world, the BP Portrait Award. She is regarded as one of the UK’s leading portraitists, and she has painted some of those from “the upper echelons of nobility, academia and the arts world”. On the BBC programme she confessed that hidden underneath the hair of one of her subjects lies a “devilish surprise” that will make clear her dislike of the man when it is eventually revealed.

Daphne Todd said she this came about when she decided “to wreak her revenge on an ‘obnoxious young gentleman’ whose portrait she had been commissioned to paint”. She said:

“I painted a pair of horns… I painted hair on top but in future years these horns will bleed through… He was rude really… I had a four-hour round trip over the Christmas period in the early hours of darkness to get there for first light. And then they can’t be bothered to get out of bed.”

However, she refused to reveal who this notorious person was, laughing: “Oh, I would not do the dirty on them… That’s not right.” Daphne Todd did admit that it would all be revealed, in time:  “It may be 50 years or 100 years, who knows. But they are there if you x-ray it.”

When further questioned,  the artist did provide some clues, that it was: “at a time when she could not afford to walk away from a commission,” it was a “young gentleman”, who, at least at the time of the sitting, had hair.

Todd’s biographer, Jenny Pery, recalled a conversation with the artist when she spoke of an difficult unknown sitter, part of a double portrait so the portrait in question could be of a husband and wife. “She was travelling a lot for the portrait,” she said of Todd’s journeys to paint the “devil”.

Daphne Todd further added:

“They can jolly well turn up on time. It is just extremely bad manners. A lot of people treat portrait painters as tradesmen but quite often they are serious artists of extraordinary national importance.

“I think people should treat their portrait painter properly… We have got little powers that we can deploy.”

This all follows in the rich historical tradition of hidden messages in art: Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait hides a tiny figure, presumably the artist, waving back at the viewer.  Famously, Hans Holbein the Younger continues the discussion by his placement of a memento mori at the feet of The Ambassadors: when viewed from high on the right side of the picture or low on the left side, the image is clearly a anamorphic perspective depcition of a skull.

Shortly after Daphne Todd’s confession of her own little artistic subterfuge, another portrait painter, Mark Roscoe, admitted to including one himself in the painting of Bill Oddie, the TV wildlife presenter: it was “the shadowy form of a bird – a long-tailed tit – with its name in Latin alongside, in a pointed reference to the television presenter supposedly being long in the tooth”.

David Lister, in the Independent, stated:

“My experience with the brilliant, if now notorious, Daphne Todd taught me that there are artistic imperatives for the sitter as much as for the painter in portrait sessions.

“First, avoid falling asleep, which can be surprisingly tricky when you are sitting still for three hours at a time. It might appear a little rude.

“Second, only speak when you’re spoken to. Artists aren’t keen on their concentration being interrupted.

“Third, realise that all questions put to you are all a subtle part of the artistic process, and your answers, both in tone and content, will somehow inform the finished work.

“Lastly, if you are in their studio, be aghast at the astounding talent the works on the walls show.

“Otherwise, like the “young gentleman” and Bill Oddie, you might end up being punished for posterity.”

Further reading

Related artist’s websites

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.

 

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.

£500 raised for Oxfam Mother Appeal

We are very proud that The Lots Road Group, together with public support, have raised £250 for the Oxfam Mother Appeal – and which the government will double to £500!

This total of £250 came from a combination of a percentage book sales at the exhibition plus postcard sales and other donations. Many thanks for to everyone who came along and gave such generous support.

If you would like to find out more about where your money is going and what it will do, please visit the Oxfam Mother Appeal.

Renaissance Impressions: Chiaroscuro woodcuts from the Collections of Georg Baselitz and the Albertina, Vienna

Of course I’m biased as a printmaker, but surely even non-printmakers can appreciate the amazing beauty in the Chiaroscuro woodcuts from two of the finest collections in the world currently on show at the Royal Academy.

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael Archimedes (?) c. 1518-20 - Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from five blocks, the tone blocks in beige, pale brown, brown and blackish brown 44.5 x 34.7 cm Albertina, Vienna. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienna - RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/10

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael Archimedes (?) c. 1518-20 – Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from five blocks, the tone blocks in beige, pale brown, brown and blackish brown 44.5 x 34.7 cm Albertina, Vienna. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienna – RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/10

These works were either conceived as “independent works or based on the designs of the greatest Renaissance artists such as Parmigianino, Raphael and Titian”. The pioneering 16th-century printing technique:

“breathed new life into well-known biblical scenes and legends; from Perseus slaying the Medusa to Aeneas Fleeing Troy, and the Miraculous Draught of Fishes.”

In this exhibition the RA has gathered 150 of the most exquisite and rare examples of this forgotten art form, with a focus on the chiaroscuro method and the craftsmanship of its proponents in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, which created the first colour prints “that make dramatic use of light and dark.”

I am in awe at the beauty and technical perfection of these marvellous prints. The exhibition is on at the RA now and runs until June 8.

Take a look at the article and images for the “Renaissance Impressions” exhibition on the RA website: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/10

Master printmaker Norman Stevens at the Royal Academy

Norman Stevens ARA Painswick, Moonlight 1979 - Etching and aquatint Private collection © Estate of the artist - from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Norman Stevens ARA Painswick, Moonlight 1979 – Etching and aquatint Private collection © Estate of the artist – from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

I’m looking forward to catching the RA exhibition of the works of the much admired Norman Stevens ARA, who originally trained as a painter alongside John Loker, David Hockney RA and David Oxtoby in the 1950s at Bradford College of Art. The exhibition features works from Stevens’ first black and white etchings to the large-scale prints he made in in the 1980s.

Norman Stevens ARA Levens Hall Garden 1985 - Screenprint Private collection © Estate of the artist from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Norman Stevens ARA Levens Hall Garden 1985 – Screenprint Private collection © Estate of the artist, from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Described on the RA website as “a master of the medium”, Stevens is a self-taught printmaker, and found in this work “an art form that perfectly suited his meticulous and subtle approach.”

Stevens’ prints “make use of colour, light and shade to powerful and often haunting effect” as he explores the built environment and landscape.

Indeed, the art critic, William Packer, likens Stevens’ work to a “game of hide-and-seek with the real world”, where “”human presence is always suggested but never shown.”

 

 

 

Norman Stevens ARA Morning 1973 - etching, aquatint and mezzotint Private collection © Estate of the artist, from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Norman Stevens ARA Morning 1973 – etching, aquatint and mezzotint Private collection © Estate of the artist, from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

I’m looking forward to seeing “in the flesh” the prints that the RA describes as “at the heart of the exhibition” – the important groups of prints which include his depictions of Venetian blinds and ‘clapboard’ houses, as well as his “distinctive images of Stonehenge and his captivating views of English formal gardens.”

I can’t wait to discover  more about the work of this artist who developed, over the course of his career, “an international reputation for his technically brilliant and beguiling prints.”

The Norman Stevens ARA exhibition is on at the RA now and runs until May 25.

Read the RA article about the Norman Stevens exhibition https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16