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.

GRAHAM SUTHERLAND, AN UNFINISHED WORLD until 18 March 2012

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

Ada Lovelace Day

Today (Oct. 7) is Ada Lovelace Day, in commemoration of the 19th-Century British mathematician who collaborated with Charles Babbage to create the early mechanical computer the Analytical Engine by writing algorithms. Because of this she is often called the first ‘computer programmer’. This Day aims to raise of the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths, who are still underrepresented in these professions.

Here is Ada, Countess of Lovelace painted in 1836 by Margaret Carpenter (1793-1872). The painting belongs to the British government and is currently located at the #10 Downing Street residence in London
Here is Ada, Countess of Lovelace painted in 1836 by Margaret Carpenter (1793-1872). The painting belongs to the British government and is currently located at the #10 Downing Street residence in London.

See my previous post of Lovelace quoted in this year’s Venice Biennale here

AND read Sydney Padua’s highly irregular , wild and wonderful webcomic about Ada’s life & times. This series has been running for over 2 years and has been hailed one of the best webcomics on the net. The amount of effort and artistry that goes into this work is truly inspiring.

Ada Lovelace Day is about giving heroines the credit they deserve, so why not visit the site FindingAda and share your story about a woman whether an engineer, a scientist, a technologist or mathematician who has inspired you to become who you are today. I’m nominating Prof. Jane Plant, one of Britain’s most eminent scientists, who offered scientific proof of dairy-free diets as a cure and prevention for breast cancer. Her first book Your Life in Your Hands was groundbreaking, daring as it did to challenge the status quo. I cannot recommend this book (and her subsequent ones) highly enough, particularly if you have a history of this hideous disease in your family. It changed the way I eat and gave me hope for a future free from disease