A Bigger (Digital) Splash

David Hockney, perhaps Britain’s most famous living artist, has never been one to shy away from the use of new technology. Whilst a student at the Royal College of Art he embraced acrylic paints when they were still quite new in the 1960s and has used the photocopying machine and a Polaroid camera to create collages, exploiting the unique characteristics of each of these mediums. Recently Hockney has turned to the iPad and this month’s image, from a group called The Arrival of Spring in East Yorkshire, was made on the iPad, printed out on a large scale and is currently on show at the Royal Academy, London. Read the full article here: http://www.bcs.org/content/conWebDoc/43630  See also a related post here:http://www.spiritofplacenorfolk.org/pages/aspects.html

Wonderful new Graham Sutherland show at Oxford

A marvellous new exhibition of around 80 pen & ink drawings, watercolours and gouaches has just opened at Modern Art Oxford. These rarely seen works on paper, borrowed from private collections and mostly regional museums (no doubt where much of it has been residing in storage for many years), demonstrate Sutherland’s almost obsessive drive to paint his subject the English and Welsh landscape, over and over again each time capturing something new  a subtle change in form, or light or colour. Sutherland’s post-war thorn cross & head paintings, his giant tapestry at Coventry Cathedral are well-known, but in this show we see a quieter side to him and through careful curation are able to learn about his working methods.

The exhibition has been selected and curated by George Shaw a painter whose own work centers on depictions of Tile Hill, a post-war council housing estate on the south side of Coventry where he grew up (and in my opinion, the artist who should have won the Turner Prize this year). By reconsidering Sutherland through this painter’s eyes we also understand more about where Shaw is coming from in his own work, which uses hobby Humbrol paints to talk about his sense of memory and loss within decaying suburbia  a place with nothing but recent history. Shaw says, ‘It is not about place  it is quite abstract. The painting is of how far away you are from there. It is a tethering so you know how far you’ve come.’ [quote from Daily Telegraph Review, 3/12/11, p.7]

Scenes from the Passion: The Fall, 1999, copyright George Shaw, courtesy Wilkinson Gallery, London. (From the Herbert Gallery website)
Scenes from the Passion: The Fall, 1999, copyright George Shaw, courtesy Wilkinson Gallery, London. (From the Herbert Gallery website)

All of this raises interesting and timely debates around a sense of place. According to Shaw, Sutherland was an artist as much rooted in the past as in the world before him  a world forever unfinished. Shaw’s world is also unfinished (he is now nearing his 180th painting of Tile Hill). He uses his place  Tile Hill as his device on which to hang timeless painterly concerns, and so doing he tells us something of the anxieties of 21st century living.


George Shaw I Woz Ere at the Herbert Gallery until 11 March 2012

Spirit of Place Website Launches!

The website for my new project about landscape art is now live, beautifully designed by Nigel Marshall.  Spirt of Place Norfolk is mapping contemporary artists living and working in North Norfolk. It is an attempt to understand better the genus of the place, its heart, its core, by an examination of the art work produced by the artists who are rooted in this place. Visit soon!