Saturday, 31 July 2010

Local 'Art' News

This notice of a planning application has appeared at Gants Hill. It warns of the erection of an "Installation of steel and bronze wire public art structure comprising 16m high column topped by irregular shaped feature 9m long by 4m wide uplit with base lights and associated landscaping" at Gants Hill Roundabout, Ilford, Essex. Sounds gross to me, as well as being a shameful waste of public money during a time of austerity. So I've objected. If you feel like objecting too, click the title link. The planning application reference number is 1600/10. Act swiftly.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Kieron Williamson 2

It's all schoolboys selling art lately. Yesterday I featured the "next Picasso" Hamad Al Humaidhan (CLICK). This morning Picturecraft in Holt, Norfolk, sold out of paintings by seven-year-old prodigy Kieron Williamson at an auction which fetched £150,000. I've featured Kieron on my blog before (CLICK). He is a very talented young artist and the term "prodigy" is appropriate. His painting Winter Lakeside, shown above, is a fine example of his work. Potential buyers camped outside Picturecraft for up to 48 hours, some of them from the USA. CLICK for a BBC video.

Sand Sculptures

The annual Sand Sculpture Festival at Western-super-Mare is open to the public (title link). This year's theme is Great Britain, which includes everything from William Shakespeare to Wallace and Gromit. Above is Monty Python's Flying Circus. The sculptures are treated with a protein based solution that will protect them from the British weather until 5 September, when the exhibition closes. Admission charges: adults £3.50, silver surfers £2.50, children £1.50, family £8. CLICK for a BBC News slideshow.

Met Safe

London's Metropolitan Police has launched its first ever youth website, aimed at 11- to 16-year olds. It's called Safe and it is hopeless. Click the title link if you don't believe me. The development of this pathetic website might have been improved if the fuzz had looked at what children actually search for on the Internet (CLICK). Okay, you can't have porn on a police website, but you could have a friendly face, ideally belonging to a glamorous and sexy policewoman. This graphic of a pseudo-American cop brandishing her truncheon is a tongue-in-cheek suggestion, but with serious intent. Give the thugs ... er ... cherubs a face they can send messages to. And remember that many of them are semi-literate or illiterate. So icons are essential.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Next Picasso?

Meet Hamad Al Humaidhan, a 10-year-old British schoolboy who is being hailed around the globe as the next Picasso. According to BBC News, he has "stunned the art world by producing paintings that look like Picasso's". He hasn't stunned Coxsoft Art. I've always claimed that any child could produce tripe like Picasso's. Hamad is a charming lad, despite the affectation of a French beret, and I wish him well. I just hope all this misplaced adulation from ignorant art pundits doesn't deter him from attending art school when he's older and learning how to paint. Click the title link for a BBC video of Hamid and his parents being interviewed by Anna Holligan.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


For those of you who don't know what Morph is (see next post down) here's ... er ... a statue of the little fellow on display at the National Media Museum in Bradford. He was a Plasticine stop-motion character designed by Aardman Animations to appear with the late Tony Hart on BBC TV's art programmes for children. He first appeared in Take Hart in 1977. His most recent outing was in 2009, when he made a guest appearance in the BBC TV series Ashes to Ashes. Click the title link for more information.

Not A Caravaggio

Here's a slightly better photo of that Martyrdom of St Lawrence which L'Osservatore Romano claimed to be a newly discovered Caravaggio (CLICK). The Vatican newspaper has now published an expert's opinion that dismisses its own claim. Looking at this graphic, it is obvious that St Lawrence's anatomy is doing some weird and wonderful things that only Aardman Animations' Plasticine Morph could achieve, but that aren't so funny. Caravaggio? Oh come on. Compare the anatomy of his Amor Victorious (CLICK).

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

French Drawings

The Wallace Collection is the 7th most popular attraction within London. There is something for everyone, and admission is free. So this is an excellent prospect for a family outing over the school summer holidays. Once the kids are back at school, the Wallace Collection will open Poussin to Seurat: French Drawings from the National Gallery of Scotland. The example shown is Georges Seurat's Seated Nude: Study for Une Baignade (1813). The exhibition runs from 23 September to 3 January 2011, admission free.

Joana Vasconcelos

If you're into "embroidery and crochet, sex and simulacra" plus tampons, this is the show for you: I Will Survive, an exhibition by Portuguese ... er ... "artist" Joana Vasconcelos at Haunch of Venison Gallery, London. Shown is Trigger (2009), a nostalgic reference to Roy Roger's horse. Most of her exhibits look more like Victorian throwbacks than modern art, but in February a pair of her 10ft stilettos made from stainless steel kitchen pans sold for £505,000. The Telegraph has posted an online slideshow of her stuff (title link). The exhibition runs until 25 September.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Armed Forces Art

The 76th exhibition by the Armed Forces Art Society will open at the Mall Galleries in London on Tuesday 27 July and continue until Sunday 1 August. All the artists who belong to the AFAS are either serving or have served in the armed forces. Above is Graham Pook's painting High Five (2010). Exhibits will include paintings, drawings, original prints and sculptures. Admission is free.

Leonardo In London

A future Winter biggy at London's National Gallery promises to be fascinating as well as expensive to enter: Leonardo Da Vinci: Painter At The Court Of Milan. It will run from 9 November 2011 until 5 February 2012 and will include works never before seen in the UK. The example shown, Madonna Litta (c. 1492) will travel from the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia. La Belle Ferroniere (c. 1490) will be on loan from the Louvre museum in Paris. The unfinished Saint Jerome in the Wilderness will travel from the Pinacoteca Vaticana in Rome. And of course the National Gallery has its own Leonardo treasures. CLICK for a Telegraph slideshow.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Bodypainting Festival

The World Bodypainting Festival took place in Seeboden, Austria, last weekend. Carly Utting and Dominic Skinner from England won third place in the Brush/Sponge Category. I was hoping to show you their entry, but the website organises pictures in photographers' albums, most of which don't include captions for the artists. It's a mess; but, if you have nothing better to do, it's worth wading through these albums to view the wide variety of entries in the championships. Click the title link.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Stirling Prize

The shortlist for the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) Stirling Prize includes two new London buildings. The first is dRMM's freestanding addition to Clapham Manor Primary School, shown above. The second is the Bateman's Row development by Theis and Khan Architects. The winner of the £20,000 award will be announced at London's Roundhouse on 2 October. Click the title link for more information and CLICK for a BBC News slideshow.

Language of Line

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of John Flaxman's appointment as the first Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts, the academy will show The Language of Line: John Flaxman’s illustrations to the works of Homer and Aeschylus from 27 July until 29 October. This detail is taken from Flaxman's elegant line drawing Lampetia complaining to Apollo (1792-1793) using pen and ink with pencil on paper. You'll find the exhibition in the Library Print Room, next to the Sackler Galleries. Admission is free. There is also a free curator's talk on Flaxman on Tuesday 5 October at 3.30pm in the Library Print Room, no booking necessary.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Cameron's Art Pressie

It has emerged that British Prime Minister David Cameron went to Washington DC armed with this canvas by London artist Ben Eine - Twentyfirst Century City - as a pressie for President Obama, together with scented candles for Michelle and two pairs of candy-coloured wellies for the girls. What about a chew for the dog? And will Eine's painting, allegedly worth £2,500, find a place on the walls of the White House or disappear into a broom closet? My choice would be the broom closet. If this artwork doesn't sour Anglo-American relations, nothing will.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Aviation Artists

Today the Guild of Aviation Artists (GAvA) opened its latest exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. This is the world’s biggest aviation art exhibition. Look at this magnificent example of the treats on display: Surprise, Surprise by Michael Turner FGAvA (President). Wow! "Subjects range from early flights through the World Wars to the latest civil and military aviation subjects." The exhibition is on for 5 days only, closing on Sunday at 3pm. Admission is free.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Murillo Export Ban

Culture czar Ed Vaizey has imposed an export ban on this early painting Virgin and Child by Spanish master Bartolome Esteban Murillo, due to its "outstanding aesthetic importance". It gives Brits a chance to come up with the £3m needed to save this work for the nation. If no major attempt to raise the readies is made by 18 September, the export ban will be lifted and the painting will be allowed to go abroad. This deadline could be extended until 18 January, if funds are in the offing.

A New Caravaggio?

A New Caravaggio? wonders L'Osservatore Romano, the mouthpiece of the Vatican. And just in time to mark the 400th anniversary of his death! Unfortunately this is the photo it published of The Martyrdom of St Lawrence supposedly by Caravaggio. The painting's one notable feature is that it breaks with tradition. All the other works I've seen which show the roasting of St Lawrence over a fire have him on his back, looking pious and with a free hand pointing to Heaven, as you do when you're bucking for sainthood. The light source seems a bit iffy for Caravaggio.

Sunday, 18 July 2010


"Wallpaper" tends to be used as an insult for poor quality, unimaginative paintings. So an exhibition of Wallpaper at the Cuming Museum in Southwark, London, didn't immediately strike me as something worth bothering with. However, these are arts and crafts wallpapers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And live and learn, Walter Crane (1815-1915) is one of the artists whose wallpapers are on show! I had no idea he created wallpapers. The one shown here is Meadow (1896). I've tweaked the contrast and gamma settings to make the pattern clearer. The exhibition continues until 28 August (title link).

Friday, 16 July 2010

Caravaggio in Rome

If you happen to be in Rome this weekend, it's worth noting that churches and art galleries in Rome will be staying open overnight to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Caravaggio, one of the greatest artists ever. Click the title link for a BBC video of Duncan Kennedy's report from Rome. Above is Caravaggio's Amor Victorious (1602-03). CLICK for another of his masterpieces and a link to a Telegraph gallery of some of his finest works.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Acts of Mercy

Today, in its Sunley Room, The National Gallery in London opened Frederick Cayley Robinson: Acts of Mercy, which continues until 17 October, admission free. The exhibition comprises four giant paintings commissioned for the entrance hall of The Middlesex Hospital. The hospital has now been demolished and ownership of these exquisite paintings has been transferred to The Wellcome Library. They are on loan to The National Gallery (title link). The BBC has published an excellent slideshow by Paul Kerley: CLICK.

Computer Portraits

While I'm on the subject of portraiture, how about this for a portrait of Karen Gillan, who plays Doctor Who's leggy sidekick Amy Pond? It looks good enough to be a still from the TV series, but it isn't. It's a graphic from the BBC adventure game City of the Daleks. This is truly modern art. For those of you suffering from withdrawal symptoms from Doctor Who, you can download the first two adventure games here: CLICK. (Do make sure you download a version that is compatible with your computer.) To read what players think of these games, click the title link.

Alice Neel

Question: Why pay £8.50 (concessions £6.50) to view bad portraits at the Whitechapel Gallery (title link) when you can see great portraits at the National Portrait Gallery for free (CLICK)? Answer: Alice Neel: Painted Truths is the first major exhibition in Europe of works by this influential American artist (1900–1984). It brings together more than sixty of her most important works from a host of international public and private collections, including this ghastly portrait of The De Vegh Twins (1975). If you want to take a close look at Andy Warhol's operation scars, it's a must. Alternatively, CLICK to visit the Telegraph slide show. The exhibition continues until 17 September. Tip: entry is free on the first Wednesday of the month. Wow!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Children’s Art Day

Today is Children’s Art Day, opened in London by Mayor Bouncy Boris (CLICK). Bit of a misnomer that, because events across the UK continue until 18 July. The majority of them are in London, cos we're more cultural in the capital. Click the title link for the list of public events. I noticed the Vestry House Museum is hosting Draw, Sketch, Paint! on the 18th (CLICK). The most intriguing event which caught my eye is The Dogs That Wee On Our Wall, which runs for most of the week, hosted by Art and Clay (CLICK). I'm sure the little devils will love that one.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Peter Rabbit's Tale

If you're looking for an art display for children of all ages to visit over the school summer holiday, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London has recently opened Peter Rabbit™: the tale of The Tale, which draws on the Beatrix Potter collections of the V&A and Frederick Warne & Co to trace the story of The Tale of Peter Rabbit from its conception in 1893 to its publication by Frederick Warne & Co in 1902. The original illustrations to the tale are displayed in sequence alongside the text of the story. Beatrix Potter's preliminary drawings, manuscripts and personal correspondence are also shown. And the price is right: admission free. Click the title link for more information and illustrations.

New Moquette For TfL

Here's a pattern Londoners will soon find themselves sitting on. It's a moquette fabric called Barman designed by WallaceSewell (Emma Sewell and Harriet Wallace-Jones) which beat 350 entries to become Transport for London's new design for seats on the Underground, as well as on overground trains, trams and buses. The East London Transit bus route between Ilford (my home town) and Dagenham Dock Station will be among the first to sport the new design in 2011. The colours are pleasant, relaxing and patriotic, but the abstract London Eye in red looks like a chopped off question mark. Why London? Why TfL? Why me?

Students' Art

Next Tuesday the National Students’ Art Exhibition 2010 opens at the Mall Galleries in London and continues until Saturday 17 July, admission free. I rather like this unconventional Double Portrait by Caitlin Edley, which gets up close and personal like a family snapshot. Click the title link to learn more.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Captain Mainwaring

Thinking of the seaside reminds me of Walmington on Sea, the fictional village where Captain Mainwaring strutted his stuff in the BBC TV series Dad's Army. The real town where many scenes were filmed is farther inland: Thetford in Norfolk. Last month a life-size bronze cast of Captain Mainwaring, played by Arthur Lowe, was unveiled in Thetford near the Old Anchor Hotel. Bill Pertwee, who played Warden Hodges, returned for the unveiling by script writer David Croft. The statue, sculpted by artist Sean Hedges-Quinn, was paid for by the Friends of Dad's Army Museum. Click the title link for details of the museum.

Donald McGill Museum

Today a new museum opened in Ryde on the Isle of Wight dedicated to the king of the smutty seaside postcard Donald McGill (1875-1962). Above is a typical example of the 12,000 original artworks he produced for the postcard industry from 1904 to 1962: Now then Missus, get a move on and let the tide come in. The Establishment loathed his vulgarity and eventually took him to trial. In the stifling atmosphere of today's politically correct Britain, his work is beginning to look refreshingly innocent. The BBC's Nick Higham visited the new museum for a preview; click the title link to see his video. For Londoners unwilling to board the ferry for the Isle of Wight, there's Rude Britannia at Tate Britain (CLICK) and The Cartoon Museum (CLICK).

Friday, 9 July 2010

BP Portrait Winners

For those of you who missed the announcement, first prize in the BP Portrait Award 2010 was awarded to Daphne Todd for Last Portrait of Mother a devotional study of her mother, Mary Todd, on her death bed. The BP Young Artist Award 2010 was awarded to Elizabeth McDonald for Don't Be Too Serious (shown). Click the title link to see the portraits by the five winners. The exhibition of 58 selected works continues until 19 September, admission free. Prints of the exhibited works are available.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Portrait Appeal

London's National Portrait Gallery has launched an appeal to raise £100,000 toward the £555,000 needed to save this painting for the nation: William Hoare's Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (1733). The subject is an ex-slave who was invited to England by lawyer Thomas Bluett. That's a religious book - the Bible or the Koran - dangling from his neck. The Heritage Lottery Fund and The Art Fund will also contribute to the cost of the painting. You can see it at the National Portrait Gallery, where it is on temporary display.

Turner Record

At Sotheby's Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale yesterday, JMW Turner's Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino (1839) fetched £29.7m, a record price for a Turner at auction. It pole-vaulted over its estimated value of £12m-£18m. The 5th Earl of Rosebery bought the painting in 1878 while on honeymoon with his wife Hannah Rothschild. A descendant put it up for auction.

Summer Pavilion

It looks as though pyramids are back in fashion. This is Jean Nouvel's Summer Pavilion (2010) for the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, which you'll find in the centre of London's Hyde Park. It opens to the public this Saturday, admission free. Jean Nouvel will be in the new Pavilion on Monday 12 July at 5pm to discuss his design (CLICK). Entry to this talk is also free.