Today I visited the Laing art gallery to see an exhibition about Thomas Bewick and his apprentices. Bewick is most famous for his small intricately detailed wood engravings of birds and animals. I began to look into his work when I was looking at turning some of my biro drawings into engravings. The method he used is called ‘white-line’ engraving, it’s a dark to light technique where the lines to remain white are cut out of the wood block.
He loved the countryside and he was fascinated with fishing, flowers and watching birds and animals; this proved to have a great influence on his work in later life. On display were some initial sketches and watercolours he did in preparation for his engravings. The meticulous detail of the feathers was truly impressive and personally has made me reconsider my patience whilst drawing.
I felt the style of his engravings is not too dissimilar to how I draw with biro. Although I use a cross hatching technique whilst Bewick use lines. It was a lucky coincidence that his work was being shown in a gallery near me and has helped further my thought process for my current project. This exhibition is on until the 19 October 2014 and is definitely worth a look if your interested in engraving.
So it’s been a week or so since the Narrative exhibition and looking back there was one particular piece that stood out for me. Someone had carved out an old book and inside were small hand drawn figures and other small bits. It made it look as though a little fairy garden party was taking place inside, with the miniature bunting and books setting the scene. I think the particular aspect which stood out for me was how delicately drawn the fairies were. They we so beautifully sketched in coloured pencils and reminded me of the illustrated pictures in childhood story books; I guess it’s ironic then too that it’s inside a book.
I’m one of those people that hopes fairy-tales and all those other childhood stories come true, when I know they just won’t. So I think this piece weirdly gave me a comfort knowing someone else still remembers, what I felt was, key memories from childhood. To me this piece had a presence in the room, when I walked in it was the first thing I noticed. It was elegantly displayed on a plinth slightly below eye level. So when I looked down into it, I got the same feeling as if I were looking into a dolls house. It had a homely feeling about it, something which said I should be displayed on an oak bureau in dainty farm house.
After days of late night studio sessions, four Biros and weeks of research, I finally finished my A1 drawing for the Narrative exhibition. So here it is:
I’ve realised that I haven’t mentioned the UV light in previous posts so you’re probably a bit confused right now. As you (hopefully) have previously read, my work for this exhibition is based on the homeless and a blog I found called “Invisible people”. I began writing real life stories I heard from the blog and recording them in UV pen in my sketchbook, I then drew the picture over the top. The background as to why I chose these particular scenes is in one of my previous posts, so check it out to save me retyping it. After testing a few of these out in A5, I decided I couldn’t tell their stories in the way they should be told, directly from them and unchanged. So I went and sat on a bench in the cold and rain and wrote down what I felt sat there when people just walked past me. I tried to think what I possibly might feel if I knew I had nowhere to go at the end of the day, to keep warm and dry off. Although I know I could never feel how they do unless I was in the same situation as them. I recorded how I felt in a piece of writing which I wrote underneath the A1 drawing in the UV pen.
(click on image to enlarge it)
Below my A1 drawing in the exhibition I decided to show my sketchbook and the writing in it. Although at first I wasn’t to sure as a sketchbook is quite a personal thing to display in an exhibition. But after I got some feedback off various people I decided it would give the viewer an insight into what the Biro image above was about.
The ‘Narrative’ exhibition is on from Friday 28th February over the weekend ending on Sunday 2nd March 2014. So if you’re in the area come and see it! There’s tonnes of interesting pieces on display from all the first year students at Newcastle University!
Rarely do I find an exhibition I really get into and enjoy, but when I visited the Hatton Gallery I did! I’m fascinated with Marilyn photography so the exhibition ‘Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair’ organised by the National Portrait Gallery sent me crazy. One of the key things I liked about this collection of photographs and magazine covers was that they included honest imagery. In this day and age we are constantly exposed to fantasy bodies in the media that girls can literally only dream of; yet here we all see a stunning actress who has not been photo-shopped to have a smaller waist and a gap between her thighs, so why do we feel the need to do that now? An image I picked out to show you was by Baron, who chose to show her in a casual loose shirt and without all the lights of studio setting.
Photograph by Baron
She’s gorgeous, many would say the same, so why are there so many that wouldn’t? Marilyn’s so relaxed here but if we compare it to other photographs in the exhibition, such as one in preparation for a Pin-Up magazine cover, we see another side of her. The gentle, loving housewife previously photographed by Baron has been restyled to look more like a fun but classy show girl. This is not only in the clothes she’s been given to wear but also the pose and props used in the image. I still really appreciate this photograph, and Reisfeld, as even though its aimed at another audience, so is composed very differently to Barons, they’ve still kept to her true shape using only lighting to accentuate her body parts.
Photograph by Bert Reisfeld 1954
The last image I picked out from the exhibition was the vintage poster from ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’. I’m not entirely sure what my overall opinion of this is as I understand this is advertisement for a film. So it is very fitting for this purpose, but as a photograph alone I don’t particularly like it. I know you can’t just say I don’t like something so I’d probably have to pick out that I feel it’s very male dominating, depicting a submissive woman (although I’m not quite sure that’s the best way to describe how I feel about it). If Marilyns face was hidden you would expect to see a crying scared woman being grabbed by a slightly aggressive male actor from behind. So maybe that’s why I don’t quite feel at ease with the image.
‘The Prince and the Showgirl’, Vintage Poster 1957
My work is not similar to this at all so I can’t really compare it to any of these artists. Although it’s given me a few ideas with composition of photographs and how that can easily change who will appreciate your work and their opinions. I just really enjoyed looking around this so I think the ‘Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair’ is a must see for everyone! Whether you’re interested in photography, film or just have an interest in the arts I’d definitely recommend it!