Last week the RCA opened their doors for the public to view the degree shows. As one would expect it was a mixed bag of styles, standards and end results. It was all fascinating. Here are some of the offerings from students studying in many different disciplines including, print, painting, photography and video, ceramics and glass, and contemporary art practise.
What do you feel is the purpose of art ?
Coming to a show such as this it raises many questions.
Is the purpose of art to hold up a mirror to society?
To open people’s eyes?
To add beauty to a dying world?
To give a new perspective on what exists?
To show skill and craftsmanship?
Here are just a few examples of the work that was on show.
The first artist shown above has developed her practise to show in visual terms what poor mental health looks like. She has made insightful video’s of people on the edge. Her work informs, enlightens and and educates the viewer.
Having lost her partner to a freak accident, and already embarked on her MA, Mirielle’s work explores grief in its various forms and and attempts to to embody a sense of a personal and universal loss. The work considers clouds as feelings and a metaphor for grief.
The work of the artist shown above is about plastic pollution and its environmental impact.
National Portrait Gallery, London 27 June – 15 September 2019
Cindy Sherman’s groundbreaking series,Untitled
Film Stills, 1977-80, is currently on public display for the first time in
the UK, in a major new retrospective of the artist’s work at the National
Portrait Gallery, London. Cindy Sherman, explores the development of her
work from the mid-1970s to the present day. The exhibition features around 180
works from international public and private collections, as well as new work
never before displayed in a public gallery.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s leading
contemporary artists, Cindy Sherman, (b. 1954), first gained widespread
critical recognition for Untitled Film Stills, the series that she
commenced shortly after moving to New York in 1977. Comprising 70 images, the
work was the artist’s first major artistic statement and defined her approach.
With Sherman herself as model wearing a range of costumes and hairstyles, her
black and white images captured the look of 1950s and 60s Hollywood, film noir,
B movies and European art-house films. Building on that layer of artifice, the
fictional situations she created were photographed in a way that recalls the
conventions of yesterday’s cinema. As a result, each photograph depicts its
subject, namely the artist, refracted through a layer of artifice – a veneer of
It is important to realize this is in no way similar to today’s instagram selfies. Unlike those who post themselves on instagram, wanting to be seen and admired, Sherman uses herself as a blank canvas that is hidden, transfigured and disguised. The exhibition sees all five of Sherman’s Cover Girl series, completed when she was a student in 1976, displayed together for the first time. Other key works are from the artist’s most important series including Rear Screen Projections, Centrefolds, History Portraits, Fairy Tales, Sex Pictures, Masks, Headshots, Clowns and Society Portraits. In a revealing juxtaposition, Ingres’s celebrated portrait of Madame Moitessier has been borrowed especially for the exhibition and is displayed alongside Sherman’s version of that historic painting.
‘Centrefolds’ was a commissioned piece by Art Forum magazine in 1981. It was presumed that Sherman would photograph women laid out for delectation of the male gaze, but instead she showed women as a psychologically frail, and with personality. The work was rejected by Art Forum as it showed an opposite impression to delectability, that of vulnerability.
Cindy Sherman is at once disgusted and fascinated by magazines. Between 1983- 84 she was asked to produce some fashion shots of the clothes of Jean Paul Gaultier so she shot them, on her disguised self, looking fraught, depressed and deranged. The irony is, that the more she attacks the fashion industry the more the fashion houses love her work.
Cindy Sherman focuses on the artist’s manipulation of her own appearance and her deployment of material derived from a range of cultural sources in order to create imaginary portraits that explore the tension between façade and identity. She is famous for her use of make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics to create complex and ambiguous photographic images. A range of source material from the artist’s studio is shown in order to provide unprecedented insights into her working processes. Taking a quotation from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film, Rear Window, which Sherman has cited as an important influence: ‘Tell me everything you saw and what you think it means’ as its central theme, the exhibition examines in detail Sherman’s rich and varied visual language – which draws on cinema, television, advertising and fashion.
Paul Moorhouse, Curator, Cindy Sherman,
says: ‘Cindy Sherman’s art is completely distinctive. By inventing fictitious
characters and photographing herself in imaginary situations, she inhabits a
world of pure appearance. No other artist interrogates the illusions presented
by modern culture in such a penetrating way – or scrutinizes so tellingly the
façades that people adopt. Probing the elusive connection between appearance
and meaning, her work explores contemporary life – and with sharp observation
exposes its deceptions.’
Cindy Sherman is curated by Paul Moorhouse, independent curator and writer,
formerly Senior Curator of 20th Century Portraits and Head of Displays
(Victorian to Contemporary) at the National Portrait Gallery. He is the author
of Cindy Sherman, published by Phaidon in 2014.
Cindy Sherman 27 June – 15 September 2019 at the National Portrait Gallery, London www.npg.org.uk
Tickets without donation: Full price £18, Concessions £16.50
Tickets with donation: Full price £20, Concessions: £18.50
Free for Members and Patrons
Cindy Sherman is sponsored by: Calvin Klein
Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE, opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00
(Gallery closure commences at 17.50) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday:
10.00 – 21.00 (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Nearest Underground:
Leicester Square/Charing Cross General information: 0207 306 0055 Recorded
information: 020 7312 2463 Websitewww.npg.org.uk
As part of the Weavers of the Clouds exhibition there is a section on
the weaving of the women who make up Awamaki, a
non-profit organization that connects artisan women in the Andes to global
Here is some of the work designed and made by 21 weavers in the community of
Each of the 21 weavers took images from
their daily life and wove a piece that illustrates them, images include llamas,
alpacas, birds, ducks, bats, turkey, deer, condors, houses, cornflowers, stars,
eyes, foxes, native plants, mountains, lagoons, parrots, dogs, Andean geese
Huallata, hummingbirds and owls.
Awamaki was formed in early 2009 to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in the Andes of Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Kennedy Leavens, from the U.S.A, and Miguel Galdo, from Peru, had worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the weaving cooperative for two years. When the predecessor organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. The organization grew rapidly to include programs in health and education, as well as other artisan cooperatives and a sustainable tourism program. In 2011, Awamaki spun its health program off into an independent sister organization, and made the strategic decision to focus on income improvement and market access through fair trade artisan cooperatives and sustainable tourism.
provides training in product development, business skills and leadership.
Artisans have the opportunity to share their culture and sell their crafts to
tourists through Awamaki’s sustainable tourism program. They collaborate with
international designers to make contemporary handmade accessories throughout
Awamaki’s guiding principle is that
income in the hands of women is the best way to help families be self-sufficient.
In the rural Quechua villages where Awamaki is established, men leave to work
in the tourism economy, while women stay in the village to care for farms,
homes and children. Although highly skilled in traditional crafts, most women
do not read, write, speak Spanish or have anyway of earning money.
as the rural economy has shifted towards paid labour, traditional textile arts
such as spinning, plant dyeing and weaving have experienced a decline. Awamaki
was founded to give these women the opportunity to earn a living while
encouraging them to continue practising traditional crafts.
the majority of artisans who have been in the program for at least seven years
earn the same or more than their husbands. They invest in the health and
education of their families, and are building a prosperous, sustainable future
for Quecha villages in Peru.
Awaki is based in Ollantaytambo, Peru, in
the heart of the Sacred Valley of the
Inca. It welcomes volunteers, tourists and other in support of its work.
21 June -8 September 2019 at the Fashion and Textile Museum London
Weavers of the Clouds brings the captivating
designs of Peru to the UK, showcasing some of the world’s oldest and most
colourful art and textiles. Peru has a world-renowned heritage of fibre arts
and costumes, from a lineage that dates back thousands of years. Weavers of the
Clouds examines the vibrant applied crafts, heritage and traditions of Peru,
celebrating the culture and customs of the artisan and their influence on
design, fashion and beyond.
The exhibition features rarely seen objects from
private collections and national museums, including the Museo de la Nación,
Museo de Arte, Museo Nacional de la Cultura Peruana in Lima and the
British Museum in London, including full costumes, tapestries, adornments,
trimmings and accessories.
Highlights include a 16th century Quipu – knotted fibres that were traditionally used by the Incas as a form of communication – and a four cornered hat, dating from 600 AD. Also on display; a rare pre-Hispanic tunic created in orange, yellow and blue macaw feathers, a sequined and embroidered waistcoat, emblazoned with birds and flowers and a Shipibo costume from the Amazon Rainforest, embroidered to reflect the astrological map.
Tapestries and weaving from a private collection
include a ceremonial tunic created using a Scaffold weave, one of the most
unusual weaving techniques in the world, previously existing only in the Andean
region of South America. Despite dating to 800 AD, the influence of these
techniques can be seen across hundreds of years and in the works of many great
designers, including the Bauhaus and Anni Albers. These incredible costumes and
textiles are complemented by a selection of varied and engaging paintings,
photographs and illustrations.
Images by highly influential photographer Martin
Chambi and paintings by Indigenista Peruana – a group of painters who were
active in Lima from 1890s – 1940s – are accompanied by finely drawn paintings
by Pancho Fierro and Francisco Javier Cortés. A further selection of vibrant
watercolours by Francisco Gonzaláz Gamarra’s will be on show for the very first
time, illustrating and celebrating traditional costume.
Finally, The Fashion Studio hosts a display
curated by Claudia Trosso and supported by award-winning Peruvian restaurateur
and chef, Martin Morales, exploring the work of 15 contemporary Peruvian
artists and makers. These ground breaking artists combine the patience and
skill of traditional techniques with contemporary materials such as nylon,
copper, wire, photographic paper and thread.
Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts. The exhibition is curated by Guest Curator Hilary Simon in collaboration with Dennis Nothdruft, Head of Exhibitions and The Fashion and Textile Museum. Interviews available on request.
The Fashion and Textile Museum is at 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF T: 020 7407 8664 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Museum opening times: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm; Sunday, 11am – 5pm; Late night Thursday until 8pm; Last admission 45 minutes before closure. Ticket prices: £9.90 adults*, £8.80* concessions, £7 students and free entry for under 12s *including Gift Aid. Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts.
winner of the BP Portrait Award 2019 was announced this week at
the National Portrait Gallery, London. The exhibition is now open for the
public to view until Sunday 20 October 2019.
2019 marks the Portrait Award’s 40th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 30th year of sponsorship by BP. The BP Portrait Award, one of the most important platforms for portrait painters, has a first prize of £35,000, making it one of the largest for any global arts competition. This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.
As I write this I am very aware of the opposition to BP sponsoring the Portrait award. Despite the controversy the work is an incredible standard and the show is worth visiting. This year is particularly good as the work depicts people from all walks of life different ages cultures and ethnicity.
“There should be no role for an oil company in the artistic decisions of any cultural organization, and especially not in determining the winner of the world’s leading portrait award.” wrote the award’s judge, artist Gary Hume in a letter published with the group Culture Unstained. “This is the 30th year of BP sponsoring the Portrait Award, and I would argue that 30 years is enough. As the impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent, the Gallery will look more and more out of step by hosting an oil-branded art prize.” This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.
first prize was won by Brighton based artist, Charlie Schaffer, for Imara
in her Winter Coat. This is a
portrait of a close friend of the artist. It was selected from 2,538
submissions from 84 countries. The judges admired the mannerist style of this
portrait, which has a strong sense of a living presence in Schaffer’s composition. The
judges went on to say, ‘the skilful depiction of a combination of several
different textures including faux-fur, hair and skin are revealed by prolonged
looking and together these produce an image that is traditional, but clearly
from London, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins before graduating with a
degree in Fine Art from the University of Brighton in 2014. He has gone on to
win the Brian Botting Prize ‘for an outstanding representation of the human figure’
portrait Imara in her Winter Coat portrays Imara, an English
Literature student he met after moving permanently to Brighton. Schaffer said:
“She immediately struck me as someone who is uncompromisingly open and who
wants to learn about anything and everything.” Sittings for the portrait took
place over four months, with Imara posing in her warmest winter coat to
withstand the studio’s cold conditions. Schaffer set out to paint only Imara’s
face, but subsequently added the coat after being inspired by Titian’s Portrait
of Girolamo Fracastoro in the National Gallery, London, with its pyramidal
composition and the subject’s similar attire
Toksvig presented Charlie Schaffer with £35,000 and a commission, at the
National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £7,000 (agreed between
the National Portrait Gallery and the artist).
London in 1992, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins and then the
University of Brighton where he graduated in 2014 with a degree in Fine Art.
This is the first time he has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibition.
Schaffer’s practice is mainly concerned with the act of painting, and how the
process that allows the painter and sitter to spend time with one another forms
unique and intense relationships.
The second prize of £12,000 went to Norwegian painter, Carl-Martin Sandvold, for The Crown, a self-portrait in existential thought. The judges were particularly impressed by the assured handling of paint, and keen observation, creating a portrait that had made a memorable impression, and lingered in the mind.
The third prize of £10,000 went to Italian artist, Massimiliano Pironti, for Quo Vadis?, a portrait of his maternal grandmother, Vincenza, a former miller and factory worker now aged ninety-five. The judges were captivated by the excellent depiction of the subject, in particular the sitter’s hands in contrast with the surrounding textures including rubber, tiles and curtains.
The BP Young Artist Award of £9,000 for the work
of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30 has been won by 30 year-old
Brighton based artist Emma Hopkins for Sophie and
Carla, a portrait that depicts the photographer Sophie Mayanne and her
pet dog. The judges liked the way negative space had been used in the portrait,
and how the artist had refreshed the traditional depiction of the nude with an
interesting mutual gaze between the artist and sitter. Emma Hopkins was
born in Brighton in 1989 and turned to portrait painting after graduating with
a degree in Make-up and Prosthetics for Performance from the University of the
Arts, London. Self-taught, Hopkins first exhibited her work in a staff show at
the Chelsea Arts Club while working behind the bar, now she is a member of the
Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Hopkins’ expertise has fed directly into
her painting, which focuses almost exclusively on nude portraits and studies of
Hopkins’ portrait Sophie
and Carla depicts the
photographer Sophie Mayanne and her pet dog Carla. Mayanne is known for Behind the Scars, a photography
project about people’s scars and the stories behind them. It is an interest
that Hopkins shares, she says: “I want to understand as much as I can about
what it means to be human. We are not just the clothed person we present to the
world. We are the mind and body that we inhabit.”
winner of the BP Travel Award 2019, an annual prize to
enable artists to work in a different environment on a project related to
portraiture, was Manu Kaur Saluja for her proposal to travel to the Golden
Temple at Amritsar, India. Saluja intends to make portraits of the men and
women from all walks of life who volunteer to work in the temple kitchens that
operate year-round, providing meals to over 50,000 people free of charge, every
day. The prize of £8,000 is open to applications from any of this year’s BP
Portrait Award-exhibited artists, except the prize-winners.
The winner of the BP Travel Award 2018 was Robert Seidel for his proposal to travel along the route of the river Danube by train, boat and bike to connect with people and make portraits in the regions through which the river passes. His excellent portraits work are displayed one floor up from the BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition.
At the end of Chelsea Flower show and the
opening of many Gardens under the International Garden Scheme it seemed like a
good time to visit Kew gardens. If like me, you choose a bank holiday Monday,
go by public transport as it is near impossible to find a place to park. Having
said that, once you are in the gardens they are so vast even with the large
numbers of visitors it feels tranquil and not crowded.
had two reasons to visit, beside all the magnificent plant specimens, the first
was the Hive the 17 meter high Installation and the second was to see the work
of glass artist Dale Chihuly in the natural surroundings for which it was
From a distance the hive looks like a swarm of bees, as you get closer you can see the honey comb structure. The hive is made up of 169,300 pieces of aluminium and steel. You can climb up and see the sky through the hole in the top of the structure or look down through the glass floor beneath your feet.
The Hive, a symbol of UK creativity and
innovation was commissioned by the UK Government for 2015 Milan Expo. It was
created by Wolfgang Buttress, Simmonds Studio, Stage One and BDP. It gives a
glimpse into the life of a bee colony.
bees communicate through smells and vibration, different pulses translate into
different messages. Installed in the hive are 1,000 LED lights that connect to
one of Kew’s bee hives. The illumination of the lights represent the bees’
‘communications’ and the vibrational changes occurring within Kew’s hive.
the dazzling display is a beautiful
symphony of orchestral sounds performed in the key of C – the same key that
bees buzz in.
Chihuly is one of the most daring and innovative artists working in glass. You may already know his work, as his Chandelier ice Blue and Spring hangs under the glass rotunda at the entrance to the V&A museum in South Kensington.
Chihuly’s dazzling sculptures transform Kew Gardens and glasshouses into a contemporary outdoor gallery space.
Unique art installations are situated across the grounds, including the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. Here you can see his Drawings and Rotolo series – the most technically challenging work Chihuly has ever created – and Seaforms, undulating forms that conjure underwater life.
One of the highlights is the film that is shown in the
Shirley Sherwood Gallery. it includes Chihuly’s progression as an artist , his
working methods and how each piece is conceived made and installed. His
ambitious site specific projects include
Chihuly over Venice, Chihuly in the light of Jerusalem and his current work in
There are many outstandingly beautiful pieces to see.
The celestial vibrant blue masterpiece Sapphire
Star welcomes you as you walk through Victoria Gate.
The Temperate House is home to a brand
new, specially designed sculpture inspired by the cathedral space it
inhabits until the end of October.
Kew is decidedly family friendly and amongst other things there is a Family trail following the art works with a booklet for children. The Chihuly exhibition runs until 27th October 2019 kew.org