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We are just back from a week away in the Peak District and I had forgotten just how beautiful it was up there.
We did lots of walking as the weather was extremely kind to us and I even got to sit and sketch on a couple of days.
And we took in a lot of art when we visited Chatsworth house.
The wallpaper was AmAzInG!
There was a whole wall of Lucian Freud work.
And this Gainsborough – I didn’t notice until I looked back at the photograph that her expression is both quizzical and a bit sassy – both unusual for a woman in a portrait of that time.
And there were gorgeous Spring flowers to inspire everywhere.
A few weekends ago, HB and I had a little sojourn in Bristol and whilst there came across the Lubaina Himid exhibition showing at Spike Island.
Naming The Money is an installation of 100 life-sized wooden cutout figures representing Africans brought to Europe as servants.
Historically these slaves were given new names and roles and Himid attached their printed stories on the back of each figure.
I found this to be one of the most touching things – both sadness at their loss and humiliation but humbled by the positivity too.
The fact that these were freestanding and you could walk among them was very effecting and their life-size-ness really made me connect with them as the real people they represented.
Himid was originally a set designer and wanted this exhibition to bring slaves out of the shadows and corners of traditional portrait painting and give them center stage.
Half term has been a welcome break in the normal in and out of running classes and has afforded me a block of time to paint. It’s been a while – on day one I had zero concentration for it and had to really plug away but it always falls into place if I keep at it.
And the slower mornings have meant a cup to tea in bed accompanied by something from my enormous post-Christmas reading pile. Inspiration abounds now.
We made a family visit this weekend and while ‘Up North’ made a trip out to Salts Mill.
The mill is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire and as such exhibits lots of Hockney.
These beautiful paintings were part of the history of the Mill in the People and Process exhibition.
These are some of Hockney’s iPad drawings which make up The arrival of Spring exhibition.
They are studies done in the same location, Woldgate, as the seasons passed.
The colouring, the textures and mark-making were so inspiring.
At the weekend I crossed off a Bucket List wish when we visited Crosby Beach in Liverpool.
This is the home of Antony Gormley’s Another Place permanent exhibition. Almost all Gormley’s work focusses on the human figure and its relationship to spaces.
Here there are 100 cast iron figures set along 3K of beach all looking out to sea, or as the tide comes in, in it too, all in contemplation – Gormley says of it himself ” It is…just the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe, facing a horizon busy with ships moving materials and manufactured things around the planet.”
It was beautiful day and the sky was enormous with spectacular clouds but there was also something spellbinding about inhabiting the beach with these silent, still observers. You couldn’t help looking where they were looking and standing still next to them. Such a simple idea but so connecting.
The only one who didn’t do any of that was our dog Lottie, who pranced about joyously in the water – I love this picture of her mid-prance!
We split our recent holiday in France, into two destinations so that we could cover more of the south coast in the time we were there.
I had heard of Grasse being the perfume capital of France (and read that book years ago!)
And I also knew that it would be cheaper than any where on the coastline to stay and that it was the home of Fragonard perfumes.
And I am a big fan of Fragonard packaging so all in all it was the perfect destination.
I love the styles of illustration and painterly florals that they use.
And spent a happy time snapping away at all the beautiful displays.
I’ve got to tell you I saw an assistant throw a beautiful box in the bin, and if I hadn’t had to navigate the convo in French I would have asked for it!
Being the home of Fragonard, the town of Grasse had several Fragonard shops in it all with beautiful displays.
So I have come home with oodles of inspiration…oh a bit of perfume too 😉
Where does the time go? The Summer seems to be hurtling past and these past few weeks have been really busy and are only set to get busier with children’s classes to run at MAC and a lovely holiday to look forward to.
So I’m prompted to finish some work I’ve started inspired by my travels earlier in the year and edit and store all my many Amsterdam photos.
These shots come from the Rijksmuseum which is one of the most beautifully set out buildings for art that I’ve been in.
The layout, the wall colour, the space…it all set the pictures off to their very best.
It had a few ‘rock-star’ pieces like these Vermeer’s (below) which are truly lovely and made all the more so by being quite small in reality; intricately painted and full of emotion.
There were also some other sweet, candid, real-life scenes from painters I’d not heard of.
They appeal to me for their subject matter – a little like walking past an open door and catching sight of a life being lived in a snapshot moment.
Other paintings appealed for their colour palate – sorry it’s blurry but the colours are gorgeous.
Others caught my attention because of their sense of history – this one is a beautiful composition and the notes on the plaque explained that a family being painted playing music was symbolic of their harmonious life together.
Finally, when in The Netherlands you’ve got to love a Dutch countryside scene.
There are 3 main galleries the guide books suggest you visit.
The Van Gogh museum is a must-see – however long queues outside, big crowds inside, one or two ‘famous’ pieces of his but then bulked out by works by his contemporaries, made the expense of it feel a little bit like it was a money spinner exhibition.
The Stedeliijk museum of Modern Art was alright! Not a massive fan.
The Rijksmuseum was my stand out favourite.
(PS To those people who asked me about this, sorry it took me so long to write about it – you’ve probably had your trips by now and discovered for yourselves!)
One of my favourite sources of inspiration for some Sunday kickback today 🙂
This pavilion is the oldest building in the Alhambra.
During the period of my life when I was busy bringing up toddlers but still had a heart to paint (which wasn’t happening) I saw an artist tackle a similar scene and it was so inspiring it stayed with me.
Her name is Jean Martin and I think this is the painting I saw propped up on a gallery floor waiting to be framed.
I had to work hard to take inspiration without copying or loosing my own authenticity – I chose to turn up the colours as The Fauves would have.