Considering I used to spend every weekend in an art gallery (in fairness I did work there) it’s been far too long since I last visited an exhibition.
On a sunny Saturday, in search of an afternoon of culture, I headed to the Royal Academy for their 2018 Summer Exhibition. Curated alongside Greyson Perry, this year’s exhibition was always going to be a splash of colour and design.
I love the way the Summer Exhibition is created, art is suddenly everywhere, a mix-match of style: landscapes and portraits, still life and photography. Even politics and brexit got a mention. It was full of expression, of discussion starters as it evaluated life in the here and now.
Everywhere you looked there was something to catch your attention. Larger works of art sitting loud and bright, smaller pieces that needed to be spotted, sculptures, textiles, models and videos.
There was even a bar.
This may be my first Summer Exhibition, but I’ll be back for 2019.
Ai Weiwei’s exhibition is a depiction of art and politics, presenting how one man through a variety of mediums can stand up to his beliefs.
The Royal Academy has produced this exhibition in such a way that a clear story can be felt through the artwork, not too obvious at first, yet as you make your way through the exhibition space, the message of a repressed, limiting and secretive society can be unearthed.
There were a few pieces that really struck me, the twisted bars to represent each child killed in the 2008 earthquake; flattered now but still holding scars in a slight curve or bent in the metal. It was unimaginable to believe that these children were not named nor represented by the Chinese government. Remarkable in number yet so simple and symbolic in Weiwei’s work.
It was these deliberate decision to ignore that alters to the drastic need to observe as you’re moved through the exhibition. It’s hard to imagine Weiwei’s artwork without the overshadowing nature of his own political beliefs. The security cameras made of ceramic portray this shattering line of reality and fear.
But what caught my the attention most had to be the recreated jail of Weiwei, held without reason and observed 24 hours a day. The parallel of it being included in the exhibition opened it up into two-way mirror, as we observed Weiwei’s own observation. It was overpowering and impossible to see how this happens in the modern world, making me reevaluate the freedom we hold in our county.
Ai Weiwei’s exhibition is on at the Royal Academy until 13th December, certainly worth a visit.
Following the artistic theme my blog is currently making, its seems the perfect time to introduce one of my favourite places; Salts Mill. As the largest permanent collection of David Hockney’s work in the UK, and holding a fabulous bookshop, homeware store and other little retail spaces it’s certainly well worth a visit.
The Mill began life in 1853 as Sir Titus Salt opened up in the heart of the industrial revolution. Now hosting Hockney’s art work and his most recent exhibition The Arrival of Spring, the character and history of the building enriches the mill experience. Although Hockney is not my favourite artist, the bright colours and innovation found through his work manages to amaze me. His determination to move his artwork ever forward, embracing technology while capturing his homeland of Yorkshire.
The exhibition is colourful, bright and open. The surrounding shops holding books and stationery that I cannot stop myself from buying. You can easily spend an entire afternoon wandering around, and I couldn’t recommend it more!
Salts Mill is in Shipley, West Yorkshire open 10:00-5:30 every day.
Leeds College of Art holds their Foundation Diploma in Art & Design end of year show this week, and being the twin of one of the student I was able to take a peak on their opening night.
For the most part, I’ll admit contemporary art tends to go over my head; yet the foundation’s show held some beautiful pieces, art work that was clever, presentations that made me think. There were aspects that were a little more interactive; a show almost. Performances of animations to a girl sewing the jumpsuit she was currently wearing, were just the start.
Each room was bursting with art work and inspiration; models, photos, textiles, projectors to depict the many art forms of this imaginative group of students. I, however, found myself most attracted to the art of nature; both camouflage in the form of a leaf cloak to the observational writing embedded into bark. Then in a different interpretation the aspects we associate with nature, yet in a new format; a world formed out of words and coral mad from metal.
The exhibition encapsulated a range of art, although at times it felt a little cluttered as though some pieces needed more room, more detail to allow the full impact to arrive. Equally the projects could have been placed alongside the final pieces; allowing the full story of each piece of art to be shown.
If you’re in the Leeds area hurry to this showcase of work, by the 28th May it’s going, going, gone…
Leeds College of Art; Going Going Gone 22nd-28th May 2015.
Moving slightly away from the literature theme my blog has so far taken, to an adventure around Manchester.
The main port of call is the newly reopened and refurbished Whitworth Gallery, after its closed doors of the past two years it’s no wonder I could both hear and see the fireworks on its opening night. With the space bright and open, it’s an inviting mix of the old 19th century red brick to the great glass walls giving a largely modern feel. This theme follows through inside, most prominently in the portraits gallery, the modern and contemporary mixed with tradition portraiture. Although on first impression there is almost too much to look at, by having such contrasts surrounding each piece, it’s individual and distinctiveness arrises on its own. However these were by far not my favourites pieces, I’ve learnt I prefer more interactive art something to really study, explore and discover within.
Cold Dark Matter (pictured above) proves this the most, with a literal explosion of objects, meaning and interpretation awaiting each new visitor. Then the distribution of shadows makes the whole thing expand, I also enjoyed the room filled with the out cuts of poppies, echoing the lives lost after this centenary year. Something so small, but equally effective. A collection of embroiled definitions (pictured left) also fascinated me, viewing contrasts as a part of one another and placing the question if one can function without the other. I was also quite pleased my linguistic skills meant I could read the phonetic transcription.
There is much more to be explored, although the exhibitions don’t take long to go around, I’d be impressed if you’re able to fill half a day here. With a light and bright café, serving an array of food, lunch may help pad out an afternoon. Other then that with a disappointingly small shop it’s worth a visit; just be aware two hours may be its limit.
The Whitworth Gallery is situated on Oxford Road, Manchester.