Gallery visits – what they do for me

Since starting my Foundation Degree course I have been fortunate enough to visit a fair few galleries and exhibitions, some through the college, others with my family. This is a brief post about these visits, what I saw, and how much they have impacted on me and influenced my art practice.

Berlin – September 2012

The weekend before I started the Foundation Degree course I was in Berlin. While in Berlin I visited the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin. There I was moved by Hans-Peter Feldmann‘s A3 photographic images of people (police officers, hostages, terrorists, and civilians) who have lost their lives as a result of violence and terrorism.I also came across Morton Bartlett‘s bizarre collection of per-pubescent dolls, which became useful later on when we studied collections in our tutorials. Cy Twombly also featured in an exhibition there at the time of my visit. I wasn’t particularly moved by his work at the time, but it came up in our tutorial about ‘What is drawing?’ which made me question the notion of drawing. I also remember seeing lots of work by Joseph Beuys whose work affected me in different ways. His large lumps of animal fat repulsed me (inviting an abject response), his ‘tactile’ felt sculptures amazed me, and his bizarre videos fascinated me.

Lumps of Fat in the middle of Berlin

Lumps of Fat in the middle of Berlin

Liverpool – October 2012

In October I took part in a student trip to Liverpool to visit the Walker Gallery. The past and current works of the John Moores Painting Prize had a lasting affect on me and gave me much inspiration in my art that followed. In particular I remember Hu Wenlong‘s phenomenal photo-realistic oil painting ‘Aphasia’ which made me realise I will never be able to paint like him, Dan Hay‘s ‘Harmony in Green’ whose use of colour and line reminded me of my interest in the affect of colour and shape on perception, Peter Doig‘s ‘Blotter’ which inspired me in my work on the Contrast project of the time (looking at water reflections and patterns). I was also influenced by Jack Smith’s ‘Creation and Crucifixion’ for its ‘ordinaryness’ and Peter Davies’s ‘Super Star Fucker‘ for its humour.

Aphasia - a photo or an oil painting?

Aphasia – a photo or an oil painting?

Edinburgh – February 2013

For half term my family and I took a trip to Edinburgh and while we were there I dragged everyone to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Edinburgh. This visit interested me because I was able to test the extent I could engage my children in art. It seemed, as it turned out, not very far. They were more interested in tactile and physical artwork such as Helen Chadwick‘s piss flowers or Ernesto Neto‘s ‘It happens when the body is anatomy of time’, than any two-dimensional art they saw despite my attempts to engage them.

It has an aroma that appeals to children.

It has an aroma that appeals to children.

Birmingham – March 2013

One slow Sunday afternoon after half term I dragged my reluctant family to the MAC in Birmingham to see the Drewood Drawing Prize entries. After our experiences in Edinburgh I thought that they’d struggle to find inspiration in the artworks there (especially as they would likely have less colour). I was wrong. They loved looking at the drawing, examples of interesting mark making and collages they saw. Perhaps because some of them had a rather primitive child-like quality to them. They particularly enjoyed watching the video installations. I found particular inspiration there from Tanya Wood’s ‘Pillow’ which was a pencil drawing of a pillow (making the ordinary extra-ordinary), Min Kim’s ‘Waiting’ as it had been created through an intense desire to make marks, ‘Ishai Rimmer‘s ‘In the Kitchen’ as another example of making the ordinary extra-ordinary and making it large. Finally the most influential piece was Carol Randall‘s ‘Notes from the Tokyo Underground’ which inspired some later studies of people in ordinary situations which I used for my ‘Near and Far’ project. Overall, I was impressed with the diversity of the definition of drawing – drawing really could be almost anything (and back to our first tutorial: What is drawing?’)

The ordinary people of Tokyo

The ordinary people of Tokyo

Glasgow – March 2013

The day after going to Birmingham I took part in a three-day student trip to Glasgow, where we visited a lot of art, some of which inspired me in my practice, such as Colin Gray’s ‘Scans‘ of ordinary objects from around his parents’ house which provided an interesting example of a collection of ordinary things expressed in an extra-ordinary way and Alexander Hamilton’s Cynotypes which inspired my work with colour even further. The most inspirational visit was a tour of the Glasgow School of Art. I almost ached with jealousy of the art students studying there. It made me think a lot about the choices I’d made in my life so far, including not to pursue an education in art age 18. While we were there I made a few sketches of the other students and people in the galleries viewing the art, which inspired me with my ‘Near and Far’ project.

No broken bones here

No broken bones here

 So are gallery visits good?

Absolutely! Not just for me but for my children too. Where can I go next?


Journal notes

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