Today – a lovely autumnal day with unbroken sunshine – is my first day back at the desk and the laptop for some time and, while I have plans for writing and painting over the autumn, I am conscious that several ‘arty’ things from the summer have not been posted.
So, briefly, notes on some art exhibitions I visited:
Houghton Hall: Damian Hirst (2): Part 1 is above (20 July), when I dealt with the exhibition inside the Hall. A few Hirst sculptures were in the grounds. Very striking was a pair of animals, a unicorn and Pegasus, facing away from each other across the centre of the west facade of the Hall:
Well away from the Hall was a large human male figure, entrails exposed,
but perhaps the most striking figure outside was the well-known little girl sculpture, several times life-size, greeting visitors as they came into the courtyard of the grandiose stables for a cosy cup of tea:
I did not realise what this work is really about until I looked closely at its base and round the back: far from being a rather sick joke about collecting money for children with polio, it is actually a vicious comment on the society which made such collecting necessary, for the collecting box has been forced open by the crow-bar at the back and coins are scattered on the base:
Something completely different which also intrigued me was not strictly-speaking art yet in a way it was natural art. This visit to Houghton was on 11 July after weeks without rain and at the height of the heat-wave, so parch-marks, as over much of the UK, were showing in the dry grounds. In the lawn close to the south end of the west wing of the Hall, for example, was the outline of an earlier garden-bed arrangement (on left below) while south of the stables a broad parch-mark indicated an earlier road or track outside the walled garden (on right):
Halesworth: the annual Open Exhibition in the Art Gallery during September was, I thought, of a relatively high standard, with very few not-very-good paintings. This is worth remarking, given the ‘open’ nature of the intake. And it is a lovely space in which to exhibit – though not a good space to get in to, with steep, narrow and bendy stairs. I invigilated one day for a couple of hours and was glad to welcome, despite the difficulties, a goodly number of visitors. I failed to sell any art, however, except to myself. Both my two exhibits were unsold at the time, and indeed remained so at the end.
Birkin Haward exhibited dozens of his mainly recent works at the Beardsmore Gallery exhibition at the Eagle Gallery in \clerkenwell in September. As I own four of his works, I was particularly interested to see his current output, and indeed meet the artist. I pressed him on the whereabouts, which I could not personally identify, of his viewpoint of ex-military buildings on Orford Ness for one of his/my paintings, and he conceded that perhaps some artistic licence had come into play. I didn’t buy another painting this time, mainly because I could not see among the many any one particular work which my eye found outstanding. Of course, most of the paintings were excellent and interesting but my impression was that the artist’s distinctiveness was diluted by so many works together in a not particularly large room. Anyway, his prices have gone up. Good news for those who already own four! – not. of course, that I had such an unworthy thought.
That’s enough for one post, so more exhibition notes will follow in another.
I didn’t manage to get to the RA Summer Exhibition