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.
Friday evening saw me taking advantage of the V&A’s late opening and head to their Shoe: Pleasure and Pain exhibition.
Although I’ve had an interest in fashion for quite a while, I’ve never thought shoes had the same appeal. That for some reason they weren’t as detailed, descriptive of really differed from one another. I have been clearly proven wrong.
Shoes throughout time have altered with fashion, and as our tastes change we’ve gained shoes of every shape, colour and texture. Shoes with platforms, heels and straps. Shoes made for the tiny binded feet of Chinese woman. Shoes that showed status through their inability to allow you to walk. There’s such a history to our fashion choices, with reasons behind our choices of style that we mostly remain oblivious to.
The exhibition portrayed the story of the shoe, not just in its evolution and history, but the designing and manufacturing processes. We were given an insight to the designer’s world, explanation to why a heel shape is chosen or a range is created.
Following the organised and aesthetically pleasing style, the V&A is famous for, this exhibition, regardless of your knowledge of shoes, is a must.
Shoe: Pleasure and Pain is at the V&A until January 2016.
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.