Month: January 2011

Art Fund lecture focuses on 17th century court painters

The paintings of court artists Anthony Van Dyck (whose triple portrait of King Charles I is above) and Diego Velazquez will be discussed in an Art Fund lecture, illustrated with slides, by member, Margaret-Louise O’Keeffe, at Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum on Thursday, January 27 from 5.30-7.30pm.
Both artists were born in 1599 and helped immortalise the courts of Spain and England respectively. The talk is open to members of the Art Fund and anyone else interested, who can contact David Page on 01564 773825 for tickets which cost £12 including a glass of wine on arrival.



Help save fantastic paintings of Coventry

A set of fantastic watercolours of Coventry painted in 1819-20 has been discovered – but the public’s help is needed to secure it for the city.
Coventry’s Conservation Officer George Demidowicz spotted the album of works by William H Brooke on an auction house’s list of items for sale. He persuaded The Herbert that they should be bought for the city, and the gallery has now launched a £12,000 public appeal to buy them and make them ready for display.
The album is dated 1819, and includes about 80 watercolours and lots of line drawings of familiar and unfamiliar sites in the city centre. (more…)

How teens took to morris dancing for art’s sake

An interest in how current identity is shaped by the past inspired Faye Claridge to look at morris dancing during her year as artist in residence at Rugby Art Gallery & Museum.
She had a bit of a head start on the subject, as her dad was a member of Green Man’s Morris in Birmingham, which itself is interesting as morris dancing comes across as much more of a village pursuit.
She said: “I am very interested in how people connect to history and relate to history and my dad was a morris dancer so I spent a lot of my early years going to folk festivals.”


New year, new exhibitions

This is the weekend when lots of Coventry and Warwickshire art galleries really get going with new exhibitions for the new year.
I enjoyed a glass of wine and nibbles at the first night of Faye Claridge’s Seaside Holidays for the Working Classes exhibition at Rugby Art Gallery & Museum on Tuesday. The show’s a mixture of video, projection and photography and part of it looks at what happens when a group of Rugby girls decided they WOULD try morris dancing… it’s entertaining, educational and fun. An interview with Faye will follow on here next week.


The Shysters’ night to shine

The red carpet was rolled out in Coventry last night for the premiere at the Belgrade Theatre of what was billed “The Shyster Theatre Company in Collaboration with Rick Medlock presents the making of theatre – an actor’s journey”.
The documentary focuses on the work of the Shysters theatre company, a group of learning disabled actors. There’s no voiceover commentary, it just follows a small group of performers as they go about their rehearsals in the lovely if slightly ramshackle surroundings of Coventry’s former court building at Drapers Hall.


Picture this – your work at the Mead

There’s a chance for people to get involved in the exhibition opening next weekend at the Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick.
The gallery will be showing the first solo museum exhibition for 10 years of photographs by Hannah Starkey, works which are described as creating a tension between figure and environment where ‘each appears to reflect and define the other’. She apparently composes scenes which give a sense of a story presented through small clues, such as the position of a glass, a shadow or someone’s averted gaze.
The Mead is calling on people to get involved by finding a space in Coventry and creating an image in response to Starkey’s work. If it arrives at the gallery before January 14 it will be added to the public wall and exhibited online throughout the exhibition. Images arriving after this will be added as soon as possible after they arrive.


Help Unravel an arts event

If your family wants to take part in a nationwide arts event, there’s a chance at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery tomorrow (January 8)
An art project called Unravel is coming to the gallery as part of a national tour in an attempt to make the longest hand-painted film in Britain. Unravel aims to represent each metre of land between John O’Groats and Land’s End by one frame of a 16mm film, which will be hand painted by the public which will apparently result in a 16-hour epic.
People are invited to go along, with their children also invited to take part, at the Ikon between 12-3pm tomorrow.

Art events which stand out from 2010

It’s that time of year when it’s customary to look back as well as forward. In the newspaper column on Friday I looked at some of the highlights coming up this year, and now I’m mulling over what will stick in the memory from the local art world in 2010.
The Leamington Studio Artists set up their own exhibition space, Gallery150, in the town’s old library, and held some memorable exhibitions there, including Dominica Vaughan’s vibrant paintings. There was also the memorable first night of one exhibition which clashed with the meeting of a local history group, whose members resolutely sat there while I tiptoed round the edge taking notes, and the private view was called off. Gallery150 has now moved into new premises in the Regent Court Shopping Centre and ended the year with a show of excellent photographs of Paris by Florian Louineau.
Bill Zygmant also exhibited his 1960s photos at Gallery150, and seemed to be everywhere, even popping up at a 60s weekend at Compton Verney, but he has such great stories to tell it’s always a joy to bump into him.
The White Room in Leamington continued its mix of shows, but is still successfully promoting young artists, including Tom Lewis who is rewarding their support with national success. What I remember most from their private views is interviewing artists on the pavement outside as they take a smoking break….
Coventry’s The Lock moved to new, more-characterful premises at the end of the year and it will be good to see what shows energetic Emma O’Brien pulls in this year. Interviewing Angela Hallam there, who turned out to be the creator of Sky Blue Sam, has stuck in my mind from lastyear!
At The Herbert, the Street Art show was given a huge launch. The show personally left me cold, and the first night was chaotic. Inviting everyone to the opening may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the young drunk lads, carrying their own bag of cans and lighting roll-ups in the gallery, who I eventually saw getting thrown out, proved the need for a better door policy.
The Herbert’s David Rushton exhibition, Models and Metaphors, Concepts and Conceits, was an intelligent show which was a joy to visit more than once, and earlier in the year the Robert Longden canal life photographs was also stunning, and an Arts Council touring exhibition brought world-class names to the city.
The Mead at the University of Warwick continued its eclectic mix of exhibitions and Lindsay Seers’s works focusing on her missing sister stayed with me.
Rugby Art Gallery‘s continued to stage exciting exhibitions to bring new works to the town, including a show by Japanese and Norwegian artists, and one focusing on dance and film.
Leamington Spa Art Gallery showed works by former local photographer Harry Hammond which brought music icons to life. Compton Verney‘s Volcanoes exhibition showed how to make a success of a thematic show with works from several centuries.
There’s a load of exhibitions opening across the area in the next few weeks, so it will be interesting to see what we remember from 2011….