Saturday, 17 June 2017

Study Visit Brian Sanders at the Lever Gallery and a degree show

Brian Sanders was interviewed by Robert Elms on Radio London.  I'm not old enough to remember his work but it has a lovely familiar feel so I guess I must have seen it when I was a child. The Lever Gallery is dedicated to showing illustration and when I visited it was being manned but a very chatty man who told me loads about the process of creating artwork in the 1960's.
The figures in the drawings are realistic but loosely executed, Sanders used a confident flowing line to draw. The backgrounds are realistic but he isn't afraid to make buildings lean or have his people at an angle to make the pictures dynamic. The exhibition focused on his commercial work from the 1960's and reportage art made for the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The original work for Kubrick has been lost so this part of the display was of prints made from photos of the works. I was fascinated by the way he had painted the space suits which looked as though they reflected the light. The bubble and streak technique which was very popular in the 1960's was an attempt to recreate the effects of acrylic paint which was available in the states but not here. It makes paintings look as though they have been stitched and must have been incredibly difficult to handle without making them look muddy. They represent a world where illustrations were much more common in magazines. Sadly many of the originals were never returned to the artist and either got thrown away or were taken by magazine staff.

I also went to the degree show at the University of Hertfordshire - just about. Its always quite difficult to work out when it is but this year I had a tip off from another OCA student. The problem was that it was only open for a few weekdays between 10 and 4 which is when I'm at work. Apparently you could apply for tickets to the private view which was a Tuesday evening but I wasn't aware of that and it was too late. Luckily a very nice staff member let me in to the illustration room for a quick peek although as she was about to finish work it was hardly relaxed viewing. The work was well executed and presented but there seemed to be a very strong house style which I found a bit disappointing. I expected a degree show to be much more experimental. I post this because I felt that as a distance learning student I have a much better deal. I can look at what is produced by my fellow students but its influence is no greater than the influence I gain from other established artists so I am in a better position to create more individual work. Also, should I make it that far, because I'm an independent student I can (and will) choose the venue and times of my degree show to suit the viewing public.

The RCA degree show was in another league. I didn't understand a lot of the work which included work for the MA in Information Experience Design. In the past I have found that the only way to understand design is to ask the designer to explain their work me but on this occasion I was short of time. I watched some lovely videos form the MA in Animation. There was a lot of stop motion work with models and an interesting piece about children mining cobalt which makes me feel a bit guilty about my art materials, I need to do some research. Short animations are a good way to tell unpalatable stories.

Charcoal drawings by Latifah Al-Said stood out. Her displayed work was about human slavery and was both thought provoking and hauntingly beautiful. The RCA building has three staircases which does seem a bit excessive. She had drawings and lettering on the steps of one of these. I wish that I had taken a photo. Here is her instagram photo of the work in progress

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Study Visit Jo Brocklehurst at the House of Illustration

This was great. Big bold drawings of big characters. The punks particularly leapt off the pages so lively. I hadn't heard of Jo Brocklehurst before but I've enjoyed previous exhibitions at the House of Illustration and I was reminded in time to visit by an interview with Isabelle Bricknell by Robert Elms on Radio London.

The figures took up all of the paper but there was rarely any background, seated figures with nothing to sit on except each other - many of the subjects were couples drawn together. The works are on fairly thin cheap paper, mainly in pastel with ink and metallic or fluorescent paint in a supporting role. There were touches of collage and hand drawn lettering. Her lines were sweeping, bold and confident. Apparently she wasn't interested in capturing beauty so she was free to draw pouting lips and dead limpid eyes but somehow they still looked beautiful to me. The hands were slightly oversized and knobbly drawn with confidence. The drawings are lively and energetic because she drew rapidly even when there was time available. The lines were often in orange, blue or red, or latterly in fluorescent colours. She drew live in darkened nightclubs whilst wearing dark glasses so I guess whilst she was making them the colour was irrelevant and it was the shapes that she was concentrating on.

Information about the exhibition at House of llustration Some images here and Vice tells you more about her as a person here. She was taught by Elizabeth Suter who also did some brilliant figures of women.

There was also a small selection of drawings by Linda Kitson which are so much nicer in real life than I could have imagined from the online photos.