The other Saturday HB and I went for a wander around Birmingham City and discovered by chance this amazing exhibition in the Waterhall – part of BMAG . It’s called Still Life Reconsidered and aims to raise the question of what is considered still life – subject matter, materials and arrangement in their broadest sense.
Historically, still life has grown from the painting of details in larger compositions with subjects. Once it had become a subject in itself, it became layered with religious, moral or political symbolism and later used as a vehicle to challenge style and approach to painting as well as a safe foundation from which to make challenging statements.
I often look at still life in a purely visual manner especially if the piece appears to be ‘domestic'; I find it hard myself to answer the question of ‘what does it say’ when I’m asked about my own work – so it was challenging to read more about painters commenting on mood, memory, personality and illness through still life painting. Still life isn’t always just a pretty picture – but sometime it is – both are valid.
Picasso drew Goat Skull when he was in his 70’s and may be a reflection of his own feelings of mortality.
Winifred Nicholson shows the symbolic start of Spring in a setting she loved most, her home in Cumberland.
She believed that colour and tone could be used to show the spiritual truth; beauty in the ordinary.
My choices to show here don’t represent the more abstract end of the still life spectrum in the exhibition but that’s just because I wanted to record what I liked and what could inspire me to think further.
It is a very well-chosen, broad selection of pictures – some of them by rock stars of the art world that are exciting to see in real life just because.
Very inspired to see my first Mary Fedden in the flesh – not disappointed – look at the texture on that paper and I love the gesture you see in her brushwork.
It runs until 31st December 2014 and it’s free.