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October 5th 2022

Just been to London to see a few things (first time in an age). Saw stuff at National and Tate Britain. Winslow Homer show was intriguing and well worth a look with his recurrent themes of man against nature and existential threat etc. wish there had been more watercolours there . . . . .  Off to Tate Brit to see Huw Locke in the Duveen Galleries……. Spectacular in the ‘street presence’ of its carnivalesque procession through the space but in the end a bit disappointing. Interesting in parts, the printed banners and faces, clothing. The groupings had vitality but the use of mannequins was the disappointment.  Seemed like an easy solution rather than a necessary sculptural aspect of the making. . . . .the army of helpers was evident in the labour intensity of the production with everything constructed towards the show/spectacle not the objects / figures as sculptural forms. All a bit like dressing up for a party (which might have been the overriding intention)……. but for me rather empty nevertheless

Cornelia Parker’s show . . . .always interesting of course and the films were the main revelation. Short (as befits gallery viewing!) with a real cinematic flair /use of camera and light (always a major element in her work). Curious how much the work is dependent on the gallery info panels. There is little way into quite a lot of the work without the context. Indeed, the experience of the object isn’t sufficient in and of itself since the made objects (sculpted/printed etc) do not reveal their narrative. Whilst the object can have presence (like the squashed brass instruments) and can excite many and varied readings (a sort of ‘poetics of the quotidien’) they can remain oddly inarticulate whereby the explanation becomes the key. i.e. words bringing meaning and extension to the work. One might argue that such descriptions represent the only/authorial reading/meaning. There is always the nagging thought that the work could just as easily been witnessed in book form since the object serve to illustrate a sort of concept. That said, some works always stand out, especially the early stuff Cold dark Matter etc the casts of the street cobbles and the poppy tent all really good where the object fly free and become fully present with each encounter. . . . the greenhouse in the end room rather redundant and lightweight ….. anyway, good to see her in the Tate with this retrospective. BUT meanwhile, in the bookshop, what did I find but a new (to me) book by Isabelle Graw on painting entitled ‘The Love of Painting’ published 2018. I’d read some of her earlier essays and this book draws together strand around her semiotic approach to what she refers to as ‘the aliveness’ of paintings. This for me links very strongly to the debates around art education that I’ve been thinking about. . . . . .  I’ll return to more of this asap!

September 15th  2022

Well, I haven’t quite got this blog together as yet. . . . its been a long summer !

Lots of work to do for forthcoming exhibition (April) so lots of time!

Of interest to me is the current state of Fine Art education in the UK. Seems to me it’s in a bit of a crisis (isn’t everything?) Various people have already identified some of the issues and I will inevitably draw on their views. Let me start by identifying 2 aspects that, to me, seem of central importance. First the relationship of ‘theory to practice’ this includes ways of engaging in a critical /historically informed dialogue and secondly the role of knowledge and skill in the application of materials and processes. This might sound a bit old and reactionary ((ah things aren’t like they used to be sort of schtick) but it’s really, for me, an issue of how to make art radical again. ……..I’ll take it up shortly . . . .I’m just initiating things to make me step up and get on with this. . . . . . . .

more  to come . . . have to dash!