The back half of this year has been somewhat chaotic so I’ve had little time to reflect. Along the way I made brief notes so here, for anyone following this!, is a brief round up of some of what’s been seen. One or two shows have also been mentioned in my personal blog Plainly Painting so cut along there if you haven’t already.
See Here at the old Neale’s Auction House, in Nottingham way back in late June was a very welcome event. Not least as it was good to see old friends still working away and a host of other artists not previously known to me. Bill Ming and Nadia Nagual are amongst the best that the region has to offer. Bill showed his sculpture in the context of installation and alongside collage, an interesting and exciting development. Nadia has always shown great sensitivity in her work and this was very much on display here. There were solid outings from artists I’ve admired over the years, Carole Hawthorne and Roy Pickering, the guiding hand behind the show. Not known to me was Mwini Mutuku, but whose work showed both sensitivity and energy nor Jim Jack, whose cultural pieces I’d like to see more of.
Also good to see artists willing to experiment in public…Roy himself in collaboration with Sardul Gill, Richard Perry with his daughter Josie, and several artists working outside their comfort zone, experimenting with the available spaces. Roy and everyone associated with this show are to be applauded.
In the Henderson Gallery buried in the bowels of the Malt Cross in Nottingham, one of our best kept secrets here in the Midlands, Pamela Clarkson was showing her Mariam and Waleria & other prints. One of, if not the, premier printmaker in the region…she exhibits a range of techniques, not in itself especially important, but put to really great effect in a very satisfying show.
Early autumn saw a trip into the city to Lakeside. Ostensibly to see Rena Begum’s Space Light Colour, highly recommended by some this was something of a disappointment to me. These were too slick, and seemed gewgaws for the rich (Dubai seemed to be, naturally enough, home for many of them), had little to say to me beyond retreading old modernist tropes – I felt it was faux Art as sophisticated interior design drawing on such hard working talent such as Yaacov Agam who has thoroughly mined this territory starting nearly half a century back (and still going at 90!)…still everyone to their own I’ve seen quite a few rave reviews of it.
Luckily the Angear provided a little more meat with a selection of Steffie Richards recent paintings. I’ve written about these before (though there were interesting new developments) so suffice to say one of the new works on the back wall was an absolute cracker. Over in the Wallner Gallery Claire Morris-Wright showed her Hedge project – as its past now I’m not going to write extensively about this but I think its the best, most rewarding and meaningful encounter with quality I’ve seen over the late summer/autumn. Luckily delay in posting this round up means I’m able to recommend the unabridged version of this show – on at Kettering’s Alfred East until 5th Jan. 2019.
Trix & Robert Haussman are architects, but are more often found in the design magazines on the continent where their playful ‘interventions’ have, particularly in the past twenty years or so, struck a chord with fellow professionals and public alike. The show at Nottingham Contemporary was rather a delight bringing together a wide range of their work from conceptual art documentation through adaptations of modernist classics and onto shop fittings. In the other two galleries an artist previously unknown to me Pia Camil presented a stylish and original installation that brought together textiles, ceramics and performance, through effective video presentation. Her interests reflect aspects of mass consumerism, interactions between workers as producers and the audience as consumers, references to prior artworks and epochs and trans gender issues. It might sound a bit scattergun but the artist had woven the elements together with some elan. Both shows were full of interest and humour – and one imagines they reflect the new management at the venue…in which case things are looking up.
Coming into autumn proper it was up to the Walker, Liverpool to view the latest John Moores. Actually this was rather refreshing with many painters I’d not seen before (and hardly any big names). I struggled to find much of merit in the first prize-winner but overall there were plenty of things that spoke of painting’s persistence in the face of institutional indifference. I especially enjoyed Black Star by Virginia Verran, from those I knew of and Kos Town Paradise Hotel Front Terrace by Gary Lawrence from those I didn’t.
And talking of really good painting a short while back we ventured into the New Art Gallery, Walsall to see the real tour de force that Elizabeth Magill has assembled of mainly recent, larger canvases but also encompassing a selection of her sublime small canvases over the past decade. Magill is a quite exceptional painter, no doubt about it. And her productivity over these past few years is impressive. If I have a criticism of sorts it might be that the scaling up of the pictures could become formulaic, but it hasn’t yet and, given her pedigree, I doubt she’ll let it.
A necessary trip up north, saw me visiting the gallery in the Creative Arts faculty at the University of Central Lancashire where Nottingham based Laine Tomkinson is showing prints and other works on paper in a solo show – Wiggle Whoogie til Dec. 6th. These new works suggest the artist is pushing forward with both structure and, significantly, the sophisticated use of colour. Where earlier work I’ve seen was vibrant and exuberant the palette seems to be cooling a little encouraging more ambiguous shifts in the register and reading of the imagery. This aspect of the work intrigues the viewer, where seemingly form is often inverted by use of elements that are by products of the making process. The extensive use of layering of colour and form adds to their elusive qualities. A most satisfying show from an artist who is maturing into a very distinctive voice.
And finally, back to a regular haunt over the years…Harrington Mill in Long Eaton. Here Sheila Ravnkilde is showing the results of a three month residency Poured Lengths. As always there is directness to the work, the titles that rarely brook any ambiguity being especially appropriate to the nine (as I recall) lengths of – what? – three by three timbers that have been subjected to repeated pourings of pure pigmented paint of a single colour each. Where previous works rarely betrayed the hand of the artist recent offerings have made a feature of it, albeit in the form of process rather than signature. A key, perhaps the key, aspect of the work is the interaction between the space and the interventions in it and as always this had been meticulously considered, especially with regard to the colour relationships. This kind of minimalist work has to be well executed as it was here. A fitting finale to shows at the Mill that is regrettably closing this December, a loss in an area where exhibiting opportunities (not to mention highly affordable studios) are at a premium.