Sir William Nicholson     Pink Still Life with Jug c 1936

Sir William Nicholson Pink Still Life with Jug c 1936

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.

Raoul Dufy        Lis

Raoul Dufy Lis

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.

William George Scott    Still Life: Flowers and Jug

William George Scott Still Life: Flowers and Jug

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.

William George Scott    Still Life: Flowers and Jug - detail

William George Scott Still Life: Flowers and Jug – detail

Picasso drew Goat Skull when he was in his 70’s and may be a reflection of his own feelings of mortality.

Pablo Picasso  Skull of a Goat

Pablo Picasso Skull of a Goat

Winifred Nicholson shows the symbolic start of Spring in a setting she loved most, her home in Cumberland.

Winifred Nicholson   Flowers at a Window 1939

Winifred Nicholson Flowers at a Window 1939

She believed that colour and tone could be used to show the spiritual truth; beauty in the ordinary.

IMG_4525

Winifred Nicholson Flowers at a Window 1939 – detail

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.

Henry Moore          Elephant Skull

Henry Moore Elephant Skull

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.

Mary Fedden Basket of Fruit 1998

Mary Fedden Basket of Fruit 1998

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.

Mary Fedden Basket of Fruit 1998 - detail

Mary Fedden Basket of Fruit 1998 – detail

 It runs until 31st December 2014 and it’s free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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