Gallery visit – Gerhard Richter

Artist Rooms Gerhard Richter(28th July 2018)[Exhibition] John Hansard Gallery. 28th May-18th August 2018

This exhibition doesn’t contain as many paintings as I would like, the problem being that Richter has such a broad artistic vocabulary that it needs to encompass all his genres to be a good representation of the man.

As a result there was tapestry, squeegee painting, magnified paintings, photos of paintings magnified, photos, phots with paint on, pigment coated glass, blocks of coloured squares and a 30 minute video explaining his stained glass window at Cologne. There was also a room with facsimilies of the 48 heads.

Downstairs, the first pieces you see are 4 representational Persian rugs, that are patterned with a squeegee image almost like a folded ink blot picture. The friend I went with took issue with the fact that a Persian rug has to have an inbuilt imperfection, my counter to that is that maybe Richter already feels his work is imperfect given his attitude to painting photos? The initial pictures that the patterns were based on where different so the colour composite are not the same between works, in fact as I walked around the corner it took a while to work out that these where stitched pieces accuratly portraying his painted works, they aren’t small either. According to the booklet accompanying the exhibition, these represent 1 of his paintings split into 4, each quarter being used to create one full rug. Looking at them trying to see if there is meaning in the patterns and just amazed at the ability to get the colours to still look like queegee paintings.

The next room is a full squeegee painting and another smaller picture a portion of which was blown up in size and painted 4 fold larger than the original. The texture has been lost in the repetition (on purpose) as the original is quite impasto. While this links to the rugs and curates well as another explanation into Richter’s facination with replicates, it didn’t have the same impact as the abstraction visible in the actual squeegee painting on the wall 90degrees to its right.

Upstairs are 3 rooms, the first contained 3 abstract paintings, I was struck by silicate 880-4 as an enlarged microscopic view that had been softened by over brushing. The rythmic brush-strokes put me in mind of a vinyl record with their uniform marks and the light reflected like on an album. I would be interested to have seen how much paint was originall on the canvas before overbrushing. The repatition in the pattern seen so large had a soporific effect and I could have sat there for a long time.

I was less impressed with his pigment on glass pieces, the colour opposite sheets placed at right angles to reflect each other in a corner of the next room seemed to just be playing with colour, which as a lead in to the 4900 colours in the corner room seemed a bit cheesy.

The 4900 colours is almost reverential in the space at the Hansard gallery, the room is more than double height and the white background shows off the colours well given the huge amount of natural light and the view of the city from the huge window that takes out a full corner of the room. The video available to see on the floor below has Richter explaining that to him, it is difficult to read anything into the design, computer generated algorithm mixing the colours to make the pattern.

The 48 portraits are ambigous to say the least, originally painted for the German Pavillian at the 36th Venice Biennale in 1972 they show 3 sets of men as closed in head and start of shoulder portraits. They represent writers, musicians and scientists but where picked more for aesthetics over who they were, also, as they were put up 3 walls of a 4 walled room, it was noticeable they looked in and from the middle looked forward to you. They all still look like individuals though and there is inconsistancy in the softening so some of the eyes are clearer than others. I think my concerns where

it was like walking into a memorial of dead white men.

If Richter has such conflicting views on painting photos, how does he get around allowing photos of his paintings that are softened views of other photos? Which image has the greatest value to him? And bear in mind he allowed 4 sets of copies to be made…

I would like to see more of Richters paintings, he remains an enigma.

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Civilisations – BBC

Pt 1

Ancient history and recording animals 30 000 + years ago. musical instruments found at the same time link music to art. Creativity.

Are these memories, or wishes for the future, or wishes to be remembered by the artists?

Minoans from Crete. Islands still covered in architecture, spaces created for ceremony

recorded social art, decorative work to continually entertain, bull jumping as a national sport reproduced for posterity. Seal stones beautifully decorated in miniture then set in jewellery.

Greece Mysenaeans. Grave goods, grand gold rings + 1500 seperate objects decorative things and first fight scene carved into a seal stone 1.5″

Petra built by Nabataean carved into sandstone 4bc nomads trade in incense

Mexico and myans built theatres of political and religious significance. Gruesome bunch.

Mayan gods made small and large, and glyphs, very decorative.

Honduras, Copan(?) 16 generations of kings survived until the civilisation suffered years of drought and drifted away.

Pt 2 How do we look?

Almec 20′ high carved stone head. leading into looking at our socially predefined views on good looks?

Hadrian (?) goes to look at an ancient stone statue and record the experience in graffiti on the statue by a lady in waiting in the party through verse.

Ancient Greece, Athens art devoted to athletic human form. pottery covered in images that show them how to be Athenians. Athenian wives were for making babies and creating wool.

Wine container shows the line between man and beast (pissed blokes). “Deeply gendered and hierarchical.” Statue as memorial.

Roman Egypt portraits painted on coffins. individual likeness, layers of paint for flesh and highlights in the eyes. Silhouette created on a wall as a memory of a travelling love.

China, Emperor Chin 1974 discovery of terracotta army 7000 pieces all different, individual.

Pharaohs of Egypt and monumental statues. Even hidden in temples away from propaganda positioning. Carved for the pharoah himself? to help remind him of his own power?

Naxos, Greece. Marble used to carve huge statues, one half hewn and left in the quarry.

This leads to the greek style of statuary that has movement and muscle, anatomicly correct. Boxers statue, worn and tired he sits in his injuries head turned to the light. Made in Bronze to portray a character in a story, a forgotten person who is not the young athlete of most Greek art (lost in his own world).

Back to Frassiclaya(?) looking you in the eye with honesty.

a few hundred years later, and the female form is an object not doing anything, just to be looked at. And so it began…

Erotic, her hands hiding her form or teasing? Assumed male viewer in western art.

Syon House, England. resting place for antiquities brought there by its rich owners. Dying Gaul(?) opposite replica Apollo Belvederi(?) pleasing youth embodies a higher civilistation. Nude figures of humans doesn’t show a higher civilisation. it just defines how we see ourselves. She’s right, it is narrow.

Amlec wrestler using a greek style of proportion view of classical form in western way of seeing. expressive twist of body – realistic face.

Pt 3 Picturing Paradise

Painting landscapes to give yourself a space. Mu Xin under house arrest drawing the landscape he could remember.

Painting not as the world is, but as we would like it to be.

To be civilised meant to paint landscapes.

Scrolls unroll to tell stories.

Carpets show images of the structured garden.

Virgil extolling the rustic life.

Villa Barbaro(?) Building and architecture filled with painted friezes. Trompe l’oeil. Mixing man with gods. A paradise painted up that didn’t exist. “Buccolic Dreamscape”.

1500’s Bovaria Albrecht Altdorfer Landscape overtook the myth he inserted into a background. I think the link between a tree and a crucified Christ is a bit thin. Start of the reformation and the end of religious painting on the scale there was before. Also, aas a picture made with either a really fine set of brushes or a dip pen, I think Schama is wrong to atribute its creation to that level of energy over the control to make that delicately and it is a tight little picture.

Pieter Bruegel the elder 1560’s(?) from Antwerp credible depiction of country life. mixed his geography giving it a fairytale quality? “whole picture laid out as a moment… the whole human condition and our place inside it”…

Jan Van Guyen Landscape jobbing artist. pride in the flat lands the people had created. honest pictures of mud.

This progressed on to a more oppulent time and the landscapes moved on too, the clouds become dramatic high theatre in a painting of a windmill. 1670 Dutch going it alone in Europe.

1860’s American civil war Frederic Edwin Church Thomas Moran Propoganda p

Winslow Homer the veteran in a new field. a man cuts the corn in a field filled with ripe harvest. Painted shortly after a bloody battle and the assassination of a president. Solitary man many corn stalks.

Ansel Adams. used a red filter to darken the sky. His photos where his view of the landscape, twisted with filters burning and dodging the large scale negatives.

Pt 4 The Eye of Faith

Spring equinox Cambodia sunrise at temple at Angkor Wat. Heavily carved Hindu temple 12thC building built to unify man and devine world.

Dilemas religions face when they try to show god in real world?

Religious awe or curiousity peeking into world of devine. How do they work?

Ajunta caves? 200bc Buddha carved out of the rock. Earliest Buddhist painting in the world recorded. Redefined them as Italian renaisance rather than Indian art, a culture apart. You need to understand the significance of the art int eh spaces they were created for, not in galleries.

The eclectic path of the painted stories on the wall mean you should know the stories to find them. Seek out the message for themselves and find there own path to enlightenment.

Christian conquest of pagan Rome. Mosaics show stories from the bible. Shows unity of church state and military.

Jesus at the heart of early Christian battles.

How devine was he? was he made of the same stuff as God? shown in 3 states, younger, as the lamb and older as the man with a beard.

Venice. Coula di San Rocco. Religious meeting house, opulent place  for the rich to remember to give to the poor. C16th Tintoretto.

Overwhelmed by size, distracted by busy detailed. contrast by light and shade. Emotion Ruskin said it was to hard to analyse.

Some where C16th dress to bring the observer into the painting, Crucifixion is a historic part of our time and a religious event that is still relevant. However it was painted while the brotherhood was being criticised for paying for the opulence over the good deeds.

However, perils of vanity in religion abound…

Seville Church of the Macarena Madonna crying at death of Jesus, intended to have an aura of humanity. added to over years, dressed in a vast wardrobe. Festival of our lady in Easter. Idolatry? uncomfortably close to worship of images over faith.


Sancaklar Mosque religious space stripped of all the non essential. reminiscent of cave of Hera(?) Islam as a faith of the word. Istanbul different view of Islam. Rich patterned tiles/carpets, the writing as decoration.

Aysha Makes a wall art which isn’t allowed by Mohammed but she is ok to cut it up and use it as cushion covers.

Calligraphy. graphic, balance.

Blue Mosque C17th no idols or living creatures, walls covered with plants and flowers on ceramic tiles and monumental calligraphy. which when it was made most of the viewers would have been illiterate and the script is high above your head and almost unreadable, go to absorb some of the blessing. Image becoming the word and word becoming the imagery.

Jewish Bible. patterns around text warning of idols and images. Jewish artists celebrating islamic patterns from medieval age, cultural blending Christian tradition of image of King David.

Ely Cathedral. Jewel of Gothic architecture Paint still visible. high arches Oliver Cromwell hacking off bits of statues. worship of images as a distraction from God. Saints, life of the Virgin, removing whole statues or heads and hands. Iconoclasm.

Artful narrative of religious conflict.

Muslom armies invaded India, Hinduism was a bit of a shock, many Gods and much idol creation. Dehli first mosque. 1190’s ornate colonnade. Hindu structures taken apart and used in its construction. to assert conquest by Islam? built the right way up as respect for the human image?

The Parthenon, Athens originally for Athena. Where do I come from what is my place in history. modern faith is civilisation. grand narratives bringing people together in shared believes.

What is civilisation? Little more than an act of faith.

Good answer.

Pt 5 The Triumph of art

Italian renaissance wasn’t the start of art being amazing, look further back to eastern art and you can see links between two. Istanbul, the higher sphere built as part of a christian church. It was then converted into a mosque. .

Great Fridays Mosque the engineer was born a Christian. Indivisibility of space. all in it together. Islam is a religion of law and simple faith. weightless dome raised on 4 pillars.

Rome St Peters Basilica Dome seated on a drum with a colonnade around it

1506 building started. Michealangelo took over. This was being built at the same time as the mosque.

Michelangelo threw a party as the cornice below the dome was complete.

Knave added as it looked far to pagan. Taller than other domes.

Florence, Cellini goldsmith trying to talk up his artistry to the same level as Michelangelo.

created Perseus holding up the head of medusa in one cast. Pointed it across the courtyard from David so it looks like its turned Michelangelo’s work to stone.

Hindu temple built with Indian ideas and some from Persia. Akbar as a ruler could paint so this dictated the rise of art in his time.

However, the art was a touch derogatory of the other rulers, like Turkish and English, seen below feet of emperor

European art got bigger and better. Carravagio.

Madonna di Loretto, madonna bares her feet, her neck and decollage in a (at the time) contemporary Italy.

Artemisia Gentileschi painted the allegory of painting in a self portrait as a female artist.

Valazquez Painted the royals, Las Meninas paints himself in it. who or what controls the way we look. Role reversal King and queen as a faint potential painted reflection at the back of the room.

Rembrandt’s The Night Watch as a theatrical enactment about to move off the canvas. watch out art, but watch out the world.

He copied Indian miniatures in pen and ink, sketchy little images, shows styles also moved from east to west.

Taj Mahal. took 20 years to complete as a monument. But was preceded by another tomb 10 years earlier, filled with a created garden.

These ideas then spread across to England with the empire.

Pt 6 First Contact

In the west, the issue with African art being possible when the Victorians believed them to be lesser.

Loss as the bronzes are in The British Museum in London not in Nigeria

Portuguese where there first a few centuries earlier. They went to trade, not conquer.

Met a civilisation that wasn’t in isolation.

Benin itself had a deep history which continued to develop. They took on Portuguese elements and represented them. Carved ivory head of a queen mother with a headdress of Portuguese heads backing up her knowledge.

Art sold West recognisable 16th C europeans carved on salt cellers.

The portuegeues became more outward looking, their architecture took in African ideas, including a rhino.

Albrect Durer created a woodcut from a sketch of another artist and sold thousands of images of this rhino.

Artist unknown the Kings fountain. Lisbon near the water, traders, and all class of white and black people that mingle.

Aztecs Mayan calendar and sacrifice for appeasement of gods and continuation of life.


1519 Tenochtitlán . Cortez and Montezuma meet. Cortez was gifted a Turquoise covered two headed snake (which I’ve helped yr 3 remake as a mosaic before). Spanish only wanted gold and mostly beet the Aztecs with European diseases.

aztec statues and temples raised and burned. the people forced into Catholicism to get rid of the sacrificing.

A book created for Spain by Aztecs to help understand them before overtaking them.

Day of the dead, a mix of Catholicism and Aztec. Not a western concept of negative view of death.

Spain got rich on gold they stole

El Greco brought to Spain the greek authodox art 1596 view of Toledo rich depiction of cathedral rising above landscape. Sacristi disrobing of Christ His crucifixion is raw.

Japan, Feudal society to robust to be conquered, Porteguese sailers driven there by storm. Highly sophisticated culture. So they traded with them instead.

Folding screen Namban screen(?) japan wasn’t impressed with european standards of hygene etc. Screens show the traders with exotic wears, the poeple shown, Africans, free and enslaved, Arabs and Europeans.

As missionaries arrived, the ne dynasty closed rank, killed off Christians and shut the kingdom off from the rest of the world. They instigated a revival of their own culture and banned travel.

Dutch merchants lived on an island in a harbour as inofensive traders who werenot interested in forcingthier religion on Japan, this way technology could travel to the kingdom.

Japans art took in new tech, ocular aids to help art become more three dimensional. Maruvama Okvo Bamboo in wind and rain (c1776) Room dividing screen, one side bamboo painted as if in wind, the other its painted as if in rain, layers of bamboo fading into distance.

Cracked ice (late c18) subtle painted on paper cracks painted with depth into distanc, budism imperfection and impermanence Beauty and perfection important to western art. there’s the link.

From Dutch point of view, it was one of many trading partenrships.

Amsterdam. centre of trading. Blue and wite chinese pottery, Japanese laquerware, clothes of fine silk from persia.

Dutch art comodified, art trading became a ‘thing’. wanted art that showed themselves.

Jan Vermeer paintings set in the Dutch home, ordinary life the rest of the world outside. shown in the objects in the paintngs, wall hangings, chinese pottery on the table, oriental rugs, silk robes on the people.

Maria sevilleraion. a Botnist who illistrated her findings. Showed lifecycles of bugs and plants they ate, created a big book of her pictures to fund her travels to where the Dutch had traded to sketch indiginous creatures.

Johan Zophany Calcutta, East India company Colonel Mordents cock match(1786) Painting on canvas fight put on for moab of oud(?)British cockeral is on the verge of killing the Indian bird, British walking off with the with Indian woman.

Company paintings commisioned by men of the company who had gone native, uncomfortable association with the interloperd.

Ghulam Ali Khan Colonel James Skinner () Painting of a mixed race chap in his military finery  Also painted architecture before western culture overtook that too. Calcutta headquarterd Govenrment house 1803 in British style.colonades a picture fronted palace. to show superiority. Political theatre, shock and awe.

Pt 7 Radiance

Gothic cathedral and stone, cold bleak colour. Some painted and bright light of gospel, light of creator, light throgh stained glass windows, showing pictures of bible stories so illiterate could understand. Believed gems could emit light and transport you to heaven, stained windows as a result showed visions of paradise.

Venice took the silks and rugs from the east to decorate itself.

Drawings to precede larger pieces separated Venice from the low arts. Saw drawing as the best solution and colour as pleasing the masses. The sacred conversation Bellini G, draped fabrics crisp rounded, colour balancing the picture

Titian a man with a quilted sleeve, fabrics painted in expensive ultramarine for a none religious painting. Titian Bacchus and Ariadne seperates the natural and earthy in browns to the higher ideals in the blue.

1750’s Joh Baptista Tiepalo 4 continents fresco releals earth over the heavens the higher up the stairs you go. The earth painted for the humans over the rulers and the religion.

India, Celebration of Holi artist unknown (c. 1775) Death of Vali; Rama & Lackshmana Wait Outside the Monsoon., picture created to be carried into court and shown alongside the reading of a poem about the picture. Bulaki Three Aspects of the Absolute, 3 images backed in gold, as a start in nothing but blank gold, the next the nearly perfect person centred in the gold  and the third the ‘physical material of the world’ is coming into being in silver. calming depiction of creation.

Madris, Goya 1788 The anual festival of Saint … the pursuit of happiness as people enjoy festival. next year Goya painted same picture but a more gutteral version light and joy gone. the San Isidro Pilgrimage (c. 1820-3) pain evident on the raw faces on the large panoramic canvas Napolean in the centre and his invasion of Spain. torture and horrors of war drawn out by Goya. in his 70’s Goya painted 14 pictures on the walls of his home as his response. Saturn devouring one of his children. Not a child, a shrunken naked woman.  Lights on in painting as 2 peasants fight to the death with sticks, beating each other. Goya is Godless in these paintings. Painting of dog on own looking up into empty sky. Dog without a master.

Japan, wood block print.Suzuki Harunobu, A Woman Running to Escape a Sudden Shower  (c.1765) up to 12 layers of colour, current and local and commercial for entertainment. Kitagawa Utamaro, The Oiran Yoso-oi at Her Toilet (c. 1799) courtesans waiting for customers, block prints of porn. Katsushika Hokusai 36 prints of mount Fuji beautiful blues. Waves in Kajikazawa in Kai Province (c. 1831), nearly overwhelming the land, all lines in blue, foam on top of waves, fisherman pulling in his lines. Fuji as a talisman of immortality, not just postcards but as a calming spirituality.

Giverny France Monet had 231 of the Japanese prints, painting the light not the object. Impressionism reshaping space and depth. painting modern art (at the time) of the peolpe around them observing nature over suburb. a series, many paintings of the same subject at different times and angles, Monet took this in, Rouen Cathedral, 30 versions. all with different light.  no object in the building is important, only how we see them. Deconstruction?

Van Gogh. Pere Tanguy (1888) the Harvesters woodblock colour and a rural setting. Starry night over the Rhone (1888) night scene, lights reflected in water, use of colour brings pallete throughout the picture, stars shiing brightly. Gas lights illuminate the waterside. radiance of here and now.

Matisse, Tangier Morocco. Islam pulls him, people of Tangiers surrounded by art Moroccan Tryptich as his view of Tangiers, blue green in all 3 paintings.

Back in France, his collages utilised colour and shape that came with him in his travels. The ROsary Chapel, stained glass light and colour tiles with depiction of Mary and Jesus as a mother and child over deity. Stone picked because shells are visible in it. Islamic pattern in hte glass, african pattern in wall art.

great art gives bolt of illumination.

Pt 8 The Cult of Progress

19 century industrial revolution and western civilisation believing theirs was the best way to go everyone else was primitive.

18th C harness nature. IR middle England, Architecture revolving around the factory. Joseph Wright of Derby painted this first cotton mill for it’s owner. Wright fascinated by this new. Progress. An Experiment on a bird in a bell pump. Oil painting of a science experiment, shows the peoples views and a bird dies, showed the fears of the age.

French army Napoleon invaded Egypt because he thought he was taking modern civilisation back to its original home.

Took artists along for ride, documented lost world and hieroglyphs. Dug for victory and took it away for betterment of wider world, became fascinated by Egypt and used designs round Europe.

Wanted to reeducate Muslim world, he failed to the brits who took over, We became obsessed with an imaginary view of exotic people and places.

Delacoix painted oriental world. Only he never saw the women of Arab household so he probably painted Jewish Parisian models. He made it up.

Nude women portrayed as a common site, European fantasies to escape industrialisation.

Europe changed, Turner painted it, old destroyed as new grew. Cities showed human cost of mechanisation.

USA new country and forged in enlightenment, Virgin territory art showed this god blessed country Thomas Cole Brit born Artist Landscapes took place of ruined Architecture added indigenous people, scene shrink them into features. Noble Savage of uncorrupt to be tamed.

His best work was allegorical view of rise and fall of civilisations on the principle that this happened to all civilisation. 5 paintings.

Manifest destiny, take their view of civilisation to furthest destinations. Indigenous coralled and hounded into being a disappearing culture George Kattling(?) painted portraits of real people, created an Indian gallery of paintings. still thought they were “doomed and must perish”.

Ignored the art of the native Indians which began to show the effect of the westerners

New Zealand. Gottfied Lindoer arrived in New Zealand from Czech to record Maori  1890’s however, Moaori were on increase. so they got Lindoer to paint them how they wanted to be painted, in a western style. and mixed western Maori dress.

Moari architecture, houses faced with patterns and characters, tattoos to link with ancestors and cultures. Tamoko

Camera and photo long exposure to start with.

Houseman transformed Paris from medieval  crammed housing to boulevards Nedar photo’d change and portraits of his time

Painters started to record human experiences Impressionism, light and colour

Flaneur  Monet recorded train station as modern France and Paris, golden age. tried to record dislocation of modern city Gustav Caillebotte paints disconcerting Paris no eye contact within or outside of rain soaked city street

Mary Cossatt painted someone looking at stage while being looked at by another audience member, male gave

A Bar at the Folie-Bergere Bored bar maid. see reflection of society lapping it up behind her. Social comment., maybe she is a commodity and prostitute.

a masterclass in ambiguity. everything is for sale doesn’t bear close scrutiny.

exposition universe, Eiffel Tower also colonial exhibitions people shown in mock cities with their art shown with superiority of France.

Paul Gauguin escaped modern life to Arles but kept going back, after exposition, left for Tahiti. 1891 local elite did well, then locals had war disease and alcohol, west arrived and decimated culture.

Gauguin found 13 year old lover and muse acknowledges modern issues with relationships, praises new style of painting. recorded decline of a culture . while searching for his mixed cultural self.

turn of 20th century Cubism? African mask Picasso. Primitive art was the basis of Cubism. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, uses African mask stylisation in painting for female faces  (prostitutes)  barbarity of European culture.

Flanders reduced to some primitive level. Otto Dix spent 3 years on westerner and eastern from partially in machine gun base, drew horrors he saw German artist no consolation of victory war cemetery. gas mask icon of total war home grown barbarism war triptych as paradox against religious painting, panel show before and after war, broken bodies traumatised, central panel wasted western front, rotting flesh skeleton referring to crucifixion, PTSD transferred onto art.

Pt 9 The vital Spark

1941 concentration camp for Jews Brandheis took art materials into camp and taught them art. momentary escape into imaginations. post war 2 suitcases containing more than 4000 pieces of art made by children where found. Poignant. What does art do in the face of war? does it have a place in this time or is it just a commodity.

Japan, Naoshima created art island, a place to view art chi chu(?) art museum.

Mondrian, Line form and colour, (negative form?) lines of abstract form to create the ocean. simplified and magnified. flat lines and calibrated for balance. Then in the 40’s Mondrian moved to New York and his art livened up. lost the black lines that weighed the art down and abstraction after the war took off, Jackson Pollocks splatter paintings.

Warhol pop culture. Du champs anything can be labelled art.

Keifer. War child (same as Scharmer) Heard Hitlers voice repelled by it so started journey. posing in a provocative way photo’d in places relevant to the salute. His major works where huge physical pictures of the desolation of war. Walhalla as a resting place of great names used by the nazis and reborn by Keifer as a hospital ward. Soiled and smoking landscapes.

Covers lead strips with film images as spools.

Stone mountain Georgia carved relief about the supporters of slavery, KKK founded in 1950’s here. Paper silhouette cut outs Kara Walker uses to show a culture abused by slavery

Ink wash and drawing murals of modern violence hark back to Goya’s depiction of war How do we do these deeds, how do we look at them. A series of racist events?

El Anatsui creates sumptuous huge fabrics from waste. flattened bottle tops (his father in Ghanaian wove Kentei(?) fabric for celebrating, so a continuation?) strongest modern art has magical power of transformation take last mights rubbish and turn it into something enduring.

Gunpowder Fireworks used to create art through explosions enduring art on paper. Lays out stencils on canvas. covers with coloured gunpowder adds real plants over top then lays card over and weights, which restrict explosion stencils protect the white. resets with black gunpowder and covers with blank canvases lights fuse layers of history hiding a lightness.

plus ghost on blank canvases

Ai Weiwei huge sculpture of refugees on an oversized blow up dinghy.

suspended up high with bodies lost floating on the floor. much like terracotta army created to accompany emperor into afterlife. the dispossessed a repeating cycle.

Mikal Rovner long lines of animated figures walk never endingly across the wall, projections of people like runes moving on stone tablets.  New building made from detritus of Israeli and Palestinian homes

Can art do something about it? can it heal a rift based on more people than are involved in creating the art?



Shared humanity is the message of the series





UPM Part 5 Essay

Tate. 2018. Edouard Manet. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 July 2018].

Price, A. 2009. Art Classics: Manet. 1st ed. USA: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.

Google Arts and Culture. 2018. The Railway – Edouard Manet (1873). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 July 2018].

Saatchi Art. 2018. Ingrid 3 (A Kind of Loving) Painting by Alli Sharma. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 July 2018].

Alli Sharma. 2018. Paintings. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 July 2018].

The Courtauld Institute of Art. 2018. A Bar at the Folies-Bergere. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 July 2018].


I have chosen to look at the oil painting technique of Alli Sharma in comparison to that of Edouard Manet. My reasoning is that looking back through my work for this course, the portraits that stemmed from looking at Sharma’s work in research for part 1 have followed me through to part 5, so an opportunity to look further into her technique whilst comparing it to Manet -who has been in my peripheral vision since I saw his A Bar at the Folies-Bergere (1882) at the Courtauld for a level art over 2 decades ago- through their use of oil paint, is a great opportunity.

Edouard Manet (1832-83) was an important figure in the change from classical art to impressionism and the move to modern art. His use of oil paint began with his study of formal academic art by copying grand masters like Titian and Lippi. Manet’s technique shifted after this and in his private studio he worked in a looser style which did not include all the blending prevalent in the realistic style that had been en vogue for so long. In fact (visible here as a close up of a hand holding a book from his oil painting the Railway) the next phase in impressionism is clearly visible.


Strong brush strokes with blocks of colour that show the 3 dimensional shape of the hand, a confident use of paint that allows for the shadow of the book making the detail of the finger beneath it even more vague.

In comparison, Ali Sharma creates even less detail in her paintings, brush strokes are only visible as confident single strokes over a gesso’d background that shows through the thin paint. In fact the paint is worked so thin it splits on the canvas Ingrid 3 (A Kind of Loving) Paintin by Alli Sharma or a minimalist palette (as shown in Brown Long eared Bat available on This page). In comparison, Manet’s palette produces realistic skin tones and more believable substance than Sharma achieves, his objects often more solid and touchable, while Sharma’s remain almost ephemeral in feel.

Both artists display confidence with their use of the paintbrush to create form. Both also allow the canvas support (gesso’d or not) to show through and work in their pictures. Manet whilst -new to his time- using less detail, obviously does more than Sharma and his content as a result is more static (and thought through), from life, over Sharma’s swift glimpses into a much briefer snapshot paintings, taken from film stills. Or painting objects and animals as swift documents, using speed in her painting to give the life and energy that detail and more colours would achieve in a longer time.

These two are good examples of artists of their times, using oil paint to document and comment upon their era. I think that their differences in the use of oil paint are also a reflection of the over 100 years between them and the change in the pace of life since the 1800s.



Assignment 5 UPM

I wanted to continue my look around outside of the house for the assignment, exercise 5.2 is stuck in my head, as is the initial George Shaw research painting of the tree, the inference of magical and childlike in the area primarily as a route to and from the school.I went around this area at night with my camera and the magical light quality of the time I took the photos is good.

This led to sketches of the steps, which as images of ascent/ descent have a more religious connotation than I am inferring.

This turned into a quick watercolour/ tonal study


Which led to an a1 oil painting.


I really didn’t want to overwork the piece, however, it took a bit of paint to make the steps appear and to achieve the tunnel like effect with the trees and perspective view


2 other oil paintings later, after playing with ombre skies and which blue to use, the colour is heading into ultra violet and Prussian was too grey, so I used Prussian mixed with a light touch of Alizerin Crimson, leading into Winsor blue (red shade with titanium white right at the bottom. This is over black Gesso which remains largely unpainted in the finished picture it’s not a totally comfortable mix having a smooth ombre over a sketchy foreground but the sketchy sky took away from the feel of the colour blend in real life and thats part of the magic of the time of day.

It became evident that for this part of a journey, the rest of the estate and area wasn’t necessary, but to explain the staircase, the handrail was.  I also didn’t want the final assemblage to just be oil paintings.

This week we’ve had the end of year production from Yr 6, this has meant evenings in the school for performances and a consentration of efforts into it. As a resulot, the reason for most of my use of the stairs came up so I mutilated a couple of my son’s old school books and looked at a couple of plants in the area in felt tip pen (appropriate to both my children and me) IMG_3387

however, felt tips aren’t bought with a view of the work lasting forever and school paper isn’t sized for water, so blending Berols isn’t going to be an exact science in this context. I moved to permanent markers because I have them in more muted colours and wanted to see if I could use the school paper to monoprint in the same way the photocopy paper had done in part 3

This is all a bit faint in comparison to the larger oil paintings so I worked up a couple of quick oil sketches of the plants which I felt worked better

At this point I looked back at the oil paintings and realised that as much as they explained the actual the purpose was missing so worked up a couple of looser pictures in the same size with marker pen lines and ink over

The initial monochrome version lacked life so I did it again and added the green.


10 pieces of work to curate from varying in size from a4 to a1. I asked to borrow the school hall as the wall is both large enough and pertinent to the work

I tried a few permutations based on grouping versions, adding gingham to clarify the school connection (which just seemed to be an affectation over anything necessary).

I kept coming back to angling the supports (handrail) and it looked better when they were linking the whole together. The original oil painting didn’t add anything over the school paper one which I felt asked more questions of the viewer. excluding the night time painting lost a burst of magical colour and mystery, even though the handrail isn’t visible so the view isn’t clear unless you live here.

Next steps, I could quite happily expand this series into the area above and below the stairs, it could expand around in sequence to be a journey in itself that you have to physically walk through. I’m not sure where I would end it though, it could stop at the school gate, which could be open or closed, both of which pose questions as to what is happening the other side.

I think that adding the steps from the top turns the person around, however I think the question of what you do when you reach the end of the journey is still open.

In terms of Bachelard, this still feels very much like my home, it is enclosed and inside as a space, the out is at the top and bottom of the tunnel. Maybe I need to look at the view out from the top and bottom? Whats outside?


After feedback on part 4 from my tutor, I looked again at the assignment pieces to see if I could draw more of the ambiguity from looking at Frankenthaler’s work into the collection. I couldn’t reconcile the steps without clear lines to delineate what they are, the night view is already ambiguous, I asked the ladies who work in the office to have a look and the consensus was that it could be water over a path leading to the steps. So that only really left the day top of the steps to play with.


I didn’t want to get away from the hole in the centre, it is the area with the most questions, so the lines needed the next reduction with the larger paint bursts

The more muted one has the greatest potential to me, I’ve used acrylics larger again partially because of size and the fact that acrylic ink is made up and I have a good selection of colours already, partially because I know there won’t be any colour shift in any detail over the top.  I played with a line to highlight the top of the steps on the black paper, however this wasn’t necessary in the final options.

Of the 2 I still prefer the muted version, it seems calmer less scarey.

I can’t crop in as much to repeat the size exactly of the oil paint version it would be replacing, however judicious framing and the fact it is still less than half the size of the night and up pictures means it should still balance the work on the wall without over-powering.


During the last hangout with my tutor, we discussed altering the original stairs down to cover a bend in the pipe so it is now included as part of this assignment over the 2 more incomplete versions above. we also discussed redoing the night painting a lot larger, which given time and resources would be a good next step, it would alter the layout of the curated pieces on a wall. I also looked at helping the focus in the night piece by darkening the area to the left, 

This does push the eye to the right, but I’d probably choose to fade out the sky over painting in a fictitious tree, however, to get this in for formal assessment without it sticking to the rest of the assignment pieces because it isn’t set properly isn’t a risk I’m prepared to take. I have attached my fake tree to the back of the relevant picture with masking tape so the assessors may see the effect.

The essay that accompanies this part of the course has it’s own post  500 words isn’t enough to do a full review of 1 painting from one artist so it is a really brief look at the differences and similarities between them.

Part 5 Review

Development of visual skills.

My work for this part of the course has been driven by my research which resulted in a loose painting style and structured sketches backing it up. The exercises explained both medium options and supports required so it was a bit difficult to move around that, 5.1 was a better chance to play in the sketchbook, my practise seems to benefit from observational work before achieving a free-er finished final work, and thats only if I consciously work to a time limit to stop over-working into pictures and stiffening them up.

As a result, my observational skills have improved especially in looking at where the light falls in a situation.

Quality of outcome

I’ve taken to making many more final versions of pictures, this has increased the opportunity for at least one to go right. Using George Shaw’s exhibition as a lead, creating the main elements of a picture in a couple of different mediums creates chances for more frame-able art. I think I’ve begun to make more considered choices in my colour palette which opens up options in the emotional impact of a picture and lessens pressure in painting. My colour mixing still needs work, but part of that is the expense of paint and this has been a difficult couple of months financially to negotiate.

When I look at my pictures I get a sense of history and of individual moments recorded, as much for me as for a response from another viewer. whether it’s an expression or the play of light on a person, I recognise that my work is a recollection over a new observation from my imagination.

As to preferred medium, thats a tough one. I enjoy painting in water colours, acrylics, oil paints and inks so I’d rather not be pigeon holed into one. The final picture generally dictates what I need to be using and likewise size is a thing that isn’t fixed (especially after ex 5.2 and many postcard sized paintings).

Development of creativity

I’m definitely heading down a looser than classical style over abstract expressionism. I enjoyed the assignment piece for part 4, it was well thought through and not a simple blob the paint on the surface choice though so I’d prefer my work to ask questions other than what the hell is it trying to be? I think the fact that my painting skills are improving is allowing me to free up and add less paint to the surface. which is still a bit restricted, it’s not that I don’t embrace experimentation, I have concerns about longevity. I like the feel and effect of oils on unprimed paper, yet I am aware the oil will help the paper degrade. Unless I choose acrylics on any pulped substrate this is always going to happen.

I am a sketchbook convert, I didn’t understand their value for any of my art A level decades back, I wish that they had been explained better, I haven’t stuck the photo’s I’ve taken and in some cases worked from into my sketchbooks, they would have filled the pages. I will go back into the shed and collect them all up and put  some of the textural ones in as add ons to the work, over the course of UPM I’ve printed out about 300 photos, some of which I have worked from more than once(mostly portraits), some have been used only as colour references after monochrome sketching done in situ. Some used for placement of items with real examples used for the colour and detail. The sketchbook work has included all the work around this and for part 5 includes more notes as source rather than the learning log, this is more relevant going forward because it sets better stages for the books use in the future.


For this part I looked into the work of Walter Sickert, George Shaw, Thomas Hall, Tim Stoner, Tanya Wood and Daniel Silver, The reading matter for this part had a great effect too, WG Seabolds The Rings of Saturn was a rich text with historic ties and layers that I hope have made it into my work, Walter Sickert has affected my technique, placement of light in oil painting whilst considering the theatrics (or at least the elements around them). Shaw is process and subject, 5.2 was a really good exercise in content mostly to shrink it all down onto postcard sized paper., thinking about The exhibition of his work I looked at definitly had an effect on the views I chose. Tim Stoner I think has reiterated my need for speed to keep my work fresh, I don’t see his perspective filtering into my working practise too much (which is funny given my new found love of No.5 from the ashmolean exhibition I went to in the last part of the course).

This part of the course has centred around my comfort zone within 5 minutes of this house as a historical note, we have lived here for 11 years and our 2 children have done most of their growing up in these walls and surrounding couple of streets, their first schools (infants and Junior) are on top of the hill behind our house (I’m sat in the back garden typing this and I can see it over the tops of the houses behind ours) there is a path from the top of the steps that curls around the back of the school field onto the ridge path and continues on for just shy of a mile (our estate on the left and fields on the right). A couple of minutes walk on this path leads to a shorter set of steps that lead onto another road on the estate at the end of which is our street. Our children use the 118 steps everyday still to walk to senior school about a mile further on now.

Our home has been a dust filled building site for 2 years while we fit an understairs toilet in (which involved digging up the driveway and moving meters, fuse boxes etc) building a log cabin for all my art stuff -which had been under the stairs- and terracing the back garden, as this is Salisbury and it isn’t flat (until you live inside the ring-road, most properties are built into the hills between the 5 rivers that converge in the centre of the city). so from a historic point of view, in the back garden we have created it all.

My point is that this part of the course has centred around my history as a wife, mother and worker in this area. It is deeply nostalgic and the fact that we live in a city yet so close to fields reflects the oddity that is Salisbury. Unlike Seabold though I am still building the history, it isn’t decaying which I believe is evident in my paintings. The packaging exercise 5.4 was the toughest to engage with, the streets are clean, children 600 or so of them) are encouraged to pick up their own waste on the way to and from schools (and most don’t use the back gate and stairs), so there isn’t anything really to work with and the challenge of working the rubbish white on white would be lost on a brightly coloured sweet wrapper anyway. However, as an aside to the part and as an exercise in the whole course, it is a skills led set of pieces.

I think it is difficult to separate my love of the area from the work, it isn’t a dispassionate documentation of places, I have to acknowledge that.


Iain Sinclair – Swimming to Heaven : The Lost Rivers of London

Sinclair, I., 2000. Swimming to Heaven – The Lost Rivers of London. 1st ed. London, Great Britain: The Swedenborg Society.

This is a very short book which details a re-edited speech by Sinclair about the lost Rivers of london, it is intermingled with literature quotes throughout history as well as his own observations and history with these waterways.

The overall conclusion is to mix the loves of the Londoners with these possibly unknown waters, swilling them up with all the other liquids that slosh around a city, the feel of the history is heavy as if that should remind people of the water beneath their feet even if they don’t know it’s there. The feeling is one of hope and colour and life with a back-story that people don’t even know about. Its a happier read than Rings of Saturn, which I preferred, possibly for the more romantic prose, possibly because it was a more fulfilling read even if it was morose in comparison. This text is rooted in now rather than nostalgia. It’s an energy with layers I hope I achieve in my pictures, however if I succeed in getting the almost opulent degradation of Rings of Saturn, I’d be just as happy.