An evening walk to find Stoney Littleton Long Barrow, near Wellow. You may remember our ill-fated attempt to find it a few weeks ago, when we were thwarted by mud, ice and big puddles. This time, being dragged by the dog, I made it. And very impressive it is. I had imagined it higher up the hillside, but it was quite a distance from the top, and difficult to get a view of it silhouetted against the sky. Very good views are to be had from the site, of the surrounding hills, and the longbarrow itself is in very good condition. You can enter the long Barrow, past the side chambers to the far end, then make your way out emerging reborn!
Archive for March, 2012
Whilst looking for Hockney images on the web I came across this website, with a very interesting quote from the man himself. His position is that photography did not appear out of the blue, but came about because of the single-viewpoint approach of western artists, which was itself the result of the invention of the lens, allowing artists to isolate, frame, and project from a fixed viewpoint.
Why go on painting in Yorkshire?
Is it possible to do anything new in the landscape genre? Most of the art world thinks it’s not worth doing anymore.
In Europe, the idea grew that painting was finished, not needed. This is because it had been replaced by something – the photograph – the pencil of
nature, the truth itself. This assumes photography is modern; at least it’s only 180 years old. If one rejects the “immaculate conception” theory of photography – it came from nowhere, about 1839 – one begins to see another history.
The optical projective of nature is a view of the world from one point. It is not a human view. The camera sees surfaces, we see space.
If one begins to see that both perspective (one point) and chiaroscuro come, not from observing nature, as art history suggests, but from observing the optical projection of it on a flat surface, as I suggest, one gets a very different view of the past and of today. (Is film stuck because it just uses one camera to make pictures and is therefore Alberti’s window, which now seems to be a prison?)
It is the position I now find myself in, realising that two hundred years ago Constable would have thought the optical projection of nature was something
to aim for. I now know it is not – so stand in the landscape you love, try and depict your feelings of space, and forget photographic vision, which is distancing us too much from the physical world.
David Hockney, February 2007
So, as you probably know, Hockney attempted to free the camera from it’s single perspective viewpoint, creating montages (joiners) by combining several viewpoints within one image, bothfrom a stationary or moving position. In this he was influenced by Eastern art which strives to record movement, time and space in a different manner to the western tradition. One in which the viewer is an active participant in the completion of the image. For these reasons Hockney identifies Cubism as the most important art movement in recent western art, with its desire to free painting and image-making from the constraints of single point in time or space. Hockney has subsequently attempted to apply this revelation to his painting.
This is the website where the research and ideas about the use of the lens within western art is explained. www.optics.arizona.edu
I’m finding it very difficult to wander around the spring landscape (rapidly becoming summertime) at the moment without thinking of David Hockney’s recent paintings. His “paintings” of the Yorkshire Wolds have been widely publicised, and difficult to avoid if you are interested in this sort of thing. And as the wolds are the land of my birth, I feel a particular connection and affection towards them. I don’t quite see the colours as brilliant and bold as he does, but the dry and dusty browns, purples and greens are all there if you look. The rows of trees silhouetted against a pale sky, branches reaching and weaving upwards, lanes snaking into the distance, disappearing over undulating hills.
My images here are quite unremarkable, which is appropriate, but I apologise for the quality of some (I do need a new camera!)
I have become increasingly interested in Hockney over recent years. His art has never held much appeal for me, but his ideas, restless energy, inquisitive mind and intellect I have found very interesting. And there is no denying his skill and learning. His investigations into the history of art, and his explorations of new media have been well documented through interviews, documentaries, books of conversations.
This is another example of how current experiences are influenced and coloured by previous knowledge and appreciation of the work of others. So I see further labels and signposts in the actual landscape within my minds’ eye. Constable clouds, a Turner mist, a Palmer golden evening sunset, a gnarled Sutherland tree stump, a Ravilious ploughed field…
There are two interesting and related artists being exhibited at the Victoria Gallery in Bath. Gillian Ayres and David Brayne. Both artists have local connections, living and working in the Bath area.
Both artists have colour and texture as a central aspect of their work. One uses earthy and natural colours in a subtle manner, whilst the other uses manufactured and man-made colours in a bolder, more vivid manner. The complementary textural qualities in the artists’ work are created through the unique and individual processes they use. The physical activity and technique is very important to both artists, and the viewer is keenly aware of the materials and the way they have been manipulated to create a particular effect.
David Brayne has an unusual painting method, using rare pigments or sourcing and grinding his own pigments, some from local mines. He is literally painting with earth and the landscape itself, using dust bound together by a glue or gum (arabic). There are delicate and gentle variations in colour, tone and texture, created through meticulous layering on paper. The imagery of flat, watery landscapes is familiar, and has local references. The figurative aspect is the part I find weakest, and I prefer the images that focus on large abstract shapes, allowing you to study the pigment and texture.
The Gillian Ayres works cover her career, and include prints, drawings and paintings. All demonstrate her love of vivid and bright colours, and abstract, expressive shape, reminiscent of either Matisse or Kandinsky. She uses a range of printmaking processes, which seem complex and physical, often lending a textured and relief quality to the images.
The way Ayres uses titles reminded me of Howard Hodgkin, who I later realised she had taught alongside, and worked closely with, for a time in the 1960′s, and gives clues to their intention and inspiration. I do remember first seeing Gillian Ayres work, years ago whilst studying A Level or Foundation, at a point when I was beginning to enjoy the fluid textural qualities and vibrant colours of oil paint. Subsequently my interests developed in a different direction.
Apologies for the poor photographs which don’t do the pictures justice.
Added to my collection of Alasdair Gray books the other day. The wonderful Toppings Book Shop in Bath just happened to have a few copies of A History Maker on the shelves. And I couldn’t resist. Alasdair Gray describes himself as “a fat old asthmatic Glaswegian who lives by painting and writing.” If you haven’t read him, do! This is his website.
A History Maker is written with his usual wit and playful pastiche, and is set in a futuristic Scottish Borders. Men and women have clearly defined roles; society is matriarchal and men fight wars as a spectator sport. This short novel muses on civilisation, the organisation of society, and the place of an individual within it, but presented in a surreal and humorous manner, with his usual literary cleverness.
I also decided I had waited long enough to purchase a copy of A Life in Pictures, his “Autopictography”. This is a beautifully produced book (as his always are), with great care taken over images, text and layout. He uses images of his own work, and those that inspired him, to tell the tale of his life and loves, his trials and tribulations, his dreams and desires. It gives an interesting insight into his creative pre-occupations and process, revealing a restless imagination at work.
Some photographs from the latest exhibition at the Bo.Lee gallery, Bound. I have posted pictures by most of these artists before, but they are worth repeating. The exhibition celebrates the current Bath Literature Festival, and all the artists create work related to books and reading, reappraising and re-interpreting the received form of the book and it’s contents.
Rose Sanderson paints beautiful images of insects and birds onto covers which have been torn from the books. The animals are delicately and finely painted onto these discarded and tattered book covers, leaving the meaning of this juxtaposition for the observer to decide. Ephemeral, delicate and transitory. Caught, collected and catalogued.
The altered books of Alexander Korser-Robinson are getting increasing exposure in galleries and shows. Encyclopedias are carefully and precisely cut to create imaginative and richly populated scenes of historical, scientific and cultural imagery. You can lose yourself in the varied imagery, finding yourself creating constructed narratives and associations.
The large glossy photographs of Natalie Tkachuk reveal books that are animated and in motion, the pages apparently turning themselves. Like all the books in this show they are moving and changing, never stationary and static. The secret lives of books.
Finally, Mike Stilkey has painted a strange character, who could have come from a Chris Riddell or Lemony Snicket novel. He is painted on the spine and cover of a carefully piled stack of books.