Visitors who walk through the woodland at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s old home, Little Sparta, in Scotland, happen upon a mossy tombstone placed at an angle between the ferns. Like many of Little Sparta’s artworks – paths, blocks, even beehives – it bears an inscription. Continue reading
Placed like an invocation in a winter vegetable garden is a penguin with a story to tell. On last month’s visit, this part of Ness Botanic Garden was looking (I won’t say sorry for itself, as it was well-tended) out of season. It wasn’t going to feed a family of four any time soon, though nature being what it is, I’m sure magic was taking place under the soil.
For plenty, we had to look to the surrealist style painting of fruit, roots, leaves and tubers that covered the surface of the bird. I spotted onions, cauliflowers, garlic, parsnips, garden peas, carrots, sweet and hot peppers, grapes, lemon, marrow, fennel, cabbage, broccoli, aubergine, lettuce, gourds and an assortment of mushrooms, but that’s not all, by any means. I’m glad nobody needs to find shoes to fit our penguin’s sweetcorn and celery stick feet. Continue reading
I’m a fan of Harold Miller, a contemporary sculptor, who works in mixed media with a focus on clay and ceramics. His largest works are staged on 3D surrounds that have more in common with a theatre set than a traditional frame. Heads and figures, often embellished with tin or jewellery, emerge from textural backgrounds made from clay, stone and/or beautifully stained driftwood.
These two smaller figures show Harold’s technique and storytelling ability. The figures look self-contained, but their silence is lyrical. The man above is one in a series of wind figures wearing stylised, windswept cloaks. It’s almost impossible for the viewer not to imagine the story of his life, as if the clay could have its own history.
But when I first saw Harold’s work exhibited at Chimneyville Crafts Festival, it was this lady, captured in prayer, that I admired most. Her slim frame seems vulnerable and she is rapt in her faith. Though she is made of clay, she overflows with humanity. I can’t tell you her story, but I seem to feel the strength of her heart.
The Manchester Art Gallery recently removed what is probably their best-loved painting ‘to prompt conversation’. The story of Hylas and the Nymphs dates back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans and has come down to us in a variety of tellings which means the story can be interpreted more than one way. I like J.W. Waterhouse’s painting of the subject and was sorry to learn it had been taken from view.
Controversy was intensified by this Guardian interview with the curator Claire Gannaway which included the quote:
“We think it probably will return, yes, but hopefully contextualised quite differently. It is not just about that one painting, it is the whole context of the gallery.”
By the time my sweetheart and I called in to the gallery earlier this week, the picture had been replaced, now above a sea of post-it notes.
A glimpse of colourful, funky, arboriscape walls from across the courtyard was enough to capture my attention, and draw me in. What followed was a ‘woo hoo!’ moment – it only gets better inside. Continue reading
The weekly challenge asks us to share something tiny. If you’re viewing this on a phone, you won’t make out the messages on this keepsake box – blessings, exhortations and affirmations – so I’m writing them out for you:
Peace · Joy · Lucky · Contentment · Devotion · Prosperity · Happy · Laugh · Tranquility · Fun
Picked out in beads on a keepsake box at the Attic Gallery, Vicksburg, MS
Every city should have an Attic Gallery – it’s our communal loss that so many of them don’t. You can travel for miles before you’ll find anything that truly compares. This long established, family owned gallery specialises in southern contemporary art and fine crafts. Their reputation and instinct for seeking out regional talent has helped them gather a definitive collection of work. Continue reading
Reflections streaking down the walls entice visitors entering Chihuly’s Garden And Glass Museum in Seattle to look up. Continue reading