There is a big doughnut-shaped sculpture on the Brighton seafront, called Afloat. There’s something about the doughnut hole that makes people want to look through it, and this is a mum lifting her son into the aperture. I liked the lines and textures of the sculpture’s bronze segments and the mum’s puffer jacket sections.
Antony Gormley’s sculptures on Crosby Beach are the main reason I wanted to go to Liverpool. “Another Place” is 100 life-sized cast iron figures looking out to sea. Some are on the beach and some submerged in the ocean, spanning 3km of the coast.
We turned up on a cool, sunny morning. The scene was peaceful. I reckon that on a dark and cloudy day, it would feel quite eerie. As it was, the motionless figures on the sand were a little bit spooky. The ones in the water looked like men wading out to drown.
Nevertheless, Crosby beach feels very local and the silent figures mingle with the township, their children and their pets. I’d love to go back for summer twilight.
This is one of my favourite London statues – the fat lady sculpture in Exchange Square, out the back of Liverpool Street station. I don’t know if she has an official name. However, she lies languidly on the wall while bankers swirl around her eating lunch, having drinks and generally hanging out in the sun.
My London summer to-do list usually includes the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of the Arts. It’s usually a little bit mad because there are so many pieces of art spanning the spectrum of traditional, alternative and 3-dimensional media. And they’ve been running this big open entry exhibition for 250 years. That’s just amazing.
To start with, when you walk into the Wohl Central Hall, you are greeted by a life-sized sculpture of a man balancing a dozen cakes on his back. It made me smile and it wasn’t the quirkiest piece I saw that evening. Several of the rooms were hung with wall to wall, floor to ceiling pieces of art in a jigsaw of frames – so many that you don’t know where to look first. You need to go to the exhibition more than once to take it all in properly … although I’ve never done that.
The best thing about the Summer Exhibition is that it is accessible. There is £20 art and there is £20,000 art, but it doesn’t matter. As long as a piece speaks to you in some way, it has made its mark.
We’ve having wonderful summer weather in London and it has motivated me to get out and about. One Sunday afternoon, I went on the Street Art London walking tour which traipses around the areas of Old Street, Shoreditch, Hoxton and Hackney.
These Street Art London guys have a good network with local street artists, are familiar with their signature styles and keep up with the ever-changing scene. A lot of street art gets cleaned up by the council and what is around one week is gone several weeks hence. It’s a tough old world unless you’re Banksy.
My favourite piece on the walk is The Wasp at the Old Street roundabout. I already knew it but didn’t know its story. It was made by the artist Zadok one Friday night and he finished to a round of applause. The building owner loved it, and there it stays, preserved. Because of course, graffiti of this kind is illegal.
Big well-known pieces in a public area attract other artists and therefore, you tend to find the art occurring in clusters. Increasingly, however, street art and graffiti are becoming accepted art forms and some of the pieces we saw were commissioned.
As you would walking around a museum, I liked some pieces and I didn’t like others. I can’t possibly describe everything I saw – and it would take the fun out of your tour – but there were two that I found especially fascinating. One was Ben Wilson’s colourful works on chewing gum that’s been permanently embedded into the pavement. And the other was the Mexican-born Pablo Delgado whose humorous miniature paper scenes are elusive to the un-trained eye. You have to get down and dirty on the pavement to spot them.
Note though, the tour is 4 hours and includes a lunch break at the halfway point. I went on a hot day and flagged in afternoon sun in the last half hour of so. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and at £15, great value for money.
You find surprising little gems in Australian country towns.
We came across the National Art Glass Gallery in Wagga Wagga on one of our country New South Wales car trips. I’m using this picture of a red glass marionette for the Work of Art theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge.
The Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition is at the Tate Modern and I was very excited when the good folk at Bank of America Merrill Lynch invited me to a private viewing … along with about 600 of their other best friends. As a young adult I was enamoured with Matisse’s collage work, and I fancied that I too could cut out shapes from coloured construction paper and make art.
This was my first time seeing his work live. What amazed me was the size and scale of some of the pieces. Having broadly seen the collages in art books and postcards, I was surprised to find that some were wall-sized – The Snail – and others easily fit into an A3 folio.
Matisse made these collages in the last decade and a half of his life, after a cancer diagnosis. He called it “painting with scissors”. Largely housebound, he created his garden around him, with trees, leaves, fruit, and birds. From his wheelchair, he instructed his assistants – clad with pin-cushions tied around their waists – as to where the coloured pieces should go on the wall. They carried out his bidding, pushing their step-ladders back and forth, until the composition was exactly as he wanted it.
It’s a wonderful story, to have found creativity out of what could have been a very disheartening period in his life.
I don’t have many pictures, as I discovered inadvertently that we weren’t allowed to take photographs in the exhibition. But do go along. I found a piece I hadn’t known previously called The Bees, which look like bees – or nuns – flying across a courtyard in an arc. It’s very clever. You’ll see what I mean.
I thought I wouldn’t have an image for the Letters theme in the latest Weekly Photo Challenge. However, I found a photograph I took several years ago of this bit of street art on the side of a building on Abercrombie Lane in Sydney. It was a stylistic collection of cursive words and names, and we wondered what they meant to the artist. Cowlick said that it was originally the entire wall, and the lower part had been painted over. Moo Cow reckoned that she could see her name inscribed above.
I presume that by now, it has been whitewashed over in its entirety.