Interviews

Great Masters and naughty goings on in the woods combine to great effect in George Shaw exhibition

The Foot of a Tree

The Foot of a Tree, 2015-2016, Enamel on canvas, © Courtesy : The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London

Two and a half years spent amidst some of the best art works in the country has resulted in a stunning new exhibition for Coventry-born artist George Shaw.

George has been the National Gallery’s Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist – and the exhibition he has produced as a result shows the influence of time spent among the Old Masters, but also growing up in Coventry.

George’s paintings, which saw him nominated for the Turner Prize in 2011, focused on the urban landscapes of Tile Hill in Coventry, where he grew up, plus some of its back paths, semi-derelict garages and surrounding woods. Further works showed the remains of buildings such as pubs which have now been lost.

Here, there’s not a building in sight, but still plenty of evidence of human intervention in nature. The exhibition is called My Back to Nature, which can be read several ways, and is certainly a title George has thought about and played around with.

George

George Shaw in his studio, Photo © The National Gallery, London

At the press preview, the typically plain-speaking George talked about his first feelings at being asked to take on the residency. He said: “The initial reaction was complete mystification – how did I make the list. The second drove me to the toilet and I don’t think I have been off the toilet since.

“I spent about six months wishing I had never been asked. But I could hear a 14-year-old boy [himself] saying do it, that’s why you have been doing this for more than 30 years, or it’s been a waste. And I could hear my dad whirring round wherever he may be saying do it.

“It’s a very humbling experience, it’s like having your trousers pulled down in the shop window and you have to stay there. The bullshit of contemporary art slips away but you can’t hide behind vague theory, you have to be in the firing line.”

He shook his head, slightly in amazement still: “Setting up this exhibition, I had Velasquez staring at me – while I was pinning my drawing on the wall Velasquez was on the other side of the gallery.”

George had been a regular National Gallery visitor since he was a child. He said: “My first visit would have been when I was eight or nine years old and came down with mum and dad on the coach, walking through St James Park from Victoria, and my first stop was the National Gallery.

“My parents met in London and knew London quite well and they were aware that if you wanted to see art the National Gallery would be the place to come. We would have come here first then we would go to the newly-opened London Dungeon. I saw no distinction between the two.”

In one cabinet in the exhibition there is a drawing after a work by Piero Della Francesca, from 1984 – and when you remember George was born in 1966, then there’s the proof he’s been a long-time visitor.

He added that, like the 1970s cartoon character Mr Benn who always returned from a journey with a souvenir in his pocket, whenever he ventured away on an adventure to an art gallery, he would come home with a reminder in the shape of a drawing of a painting: “It was more I made a record of my time spent in front of the pictures. I am very aware of the anxiety of time passing, and I am aware my paintings and drawings are very about the sadness of time passing and sadness has a strong relationship with beauty. That’s where art lies, in the gap between sadness and beauty.”

In the Heart of the Wood

The Heart of the Wood, 2015-2016, Enamel on canvas, © Courtesy : The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London

George says in a film showing with the exhibition that he came into work every day like the other Gallery staff, but in his case to a studio to paint. Colin Wiggins, Special Projects Curator at the National Gallery, said in the film: “He’s got this pose that he’s just a working man, doing a working man’s job.”

But this job involved studying masterpieces, and he found unlikely connections with his previous inspirations in Tile Hill. One example he cited is The Triumph of Pan by Nicolas Poussin. As strange creatures and beasts frolic semi-naked, food and drink vessels lay abandoned on the ground; not dissimilar to scenes found on weekend mornings in Tile Hill woods, he thought.

He said: “I realised that there wasn’t a room in the gallery that didn’t have a woodland in it and there wasn’t one without a lady parading round in it, and very few that didn’t have a Jesus in it.

“It seemed to be the opposite of nature, to go into the woods take your clothes off and run around being half man and half animal and have sex with anything that will come along. I thought that quite exciting. I quite enjoyed the chance of that – I missed out on it when I was young because I was painting. I was never invited to that party.

“My return to nature was where I bring everything with me.”

The Tossed

The Tossed, Enamel on canvas, © Courtesy : The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London

He felt everything seemed to be happening on the outskirts of towns, in the woods, away from the culture. Along with scepticism about going back to nature to find yourself, he decided he had his back to nature – hence the exhibition’s title.

But how does he fit into the great tradition of British landscape painting, he was asked by National Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi.

“I was told I don’t. I don’t find landscape painting the most exciting part of painting, I find painting Jesus Christ being tortured on the cross, or sexual activity or nudes more exciting. The big question is why don’t I do that – because I can’t.”

He said the teenage boy who didn’t get invited to the exciting parties dreamt instead of being Van Gogh or Rembrandt, and he’s still striving for that, saying about this exhibition: “My reference point was six Rembrandt self-portraits, the way he painted them was the way I wanted to paint a tree.”

The more he looked at the National Gallery works, and the woods around Tile Hill, the more he started to use elements in the landscape figuratively and physically. Three trees together started to be the three crosses at the Crucifixion, at Calvary.

The young George had always loved Titian’s Death of Actaeon at the gallery, and by the time he became Associate Artist the gallery also had Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto.

George said: “Death of Actaeon is one of the greatest paintings in the galleries and it’s one I go back and look at and it’s always impressed me on many different levels.

“I knew I wanted to deal with that subject in a way. I am drawn to the subject of the story.”

In the story, the hunter goes into the woods, finds a curtain which he pulls aside to reveal women bathing. One is Diana who turns him into a stag, and his own hounds devour him – and in the Titian painting she is seen raising a bow and arrow for good measure.

George added: “Maybe coming from Coventry the subject matter attracted me, the tradition of Lady Godiva protesting about taxes in the city and Peeping Tom has his eyes burnt out for being drawn to her.

“I went into the woods as a young man and my dad was pointing out all the finer points of flora and fauna and I was more drawn to the copies of Penthouse magazine blowing around. I thought I would come back later and get it.”

Every Brushstroke is Ripped From My Body

Every Brush Stroke is Torn Out of My Body, Enamel on canvas, © Courtesy : The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London

When George ordered three canvases, 178×198 cm, Gabriele said it only meant one thing – they were the same size at the Titian works, and he was going to create his own version. A chance find to take the place of the curtain helped.

“I found a builder’s tarpaulin in the wood. When I saw it I thought are you joking me, I feel I am being set up here.”

George still paints in the Humbrol enamel paints he started using about 20 years ago, and said they become unusable very quickly “It’s very difficult. I enjoy it – I don’t know if that’s really my Catholic upbringing, if you enjoy something it must be bad.”

The paintings are created from photographs, drawings of the same scene and then he varies what is there to suit what he wants, and said by working in the National Gallery he’s been glad to get away from the feeling of his photos bullying him.

He has also tried painting on canvas for the first time. “The gesture and mark making became a little more free form, shaking off my British anal retentiveness.”

In the film also on show at the exhibition he’s seen laughingly fretting about paint running on one of the big works, then he notices more: “It’s like Zulu, they are all coming!”

Most of the painting went on at the National Gallery studio, though there was quite a lot of travel between the “Bermuda Triangle” of London, his home in Devon and Coventry, and some of the smaller paintings travelled with him to be further worked on.

He revealed: “I don’t like my work. I wouldn’t have it because I always see it may be better. When I had about six months remaining here I wanted to be around for another year because I had not made a great painting yet.”

The exhibition is on in the Sunley Room at the National Gallery until October 30 for you to judge for yourself.

The Old Country

The Old Country, 2015-2016, Enamel on canvas, © Courtesy : The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London

 

 

 

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Excellent Nancy Upshall exhibition puts Deasil gallery on the map

Adrift

A Coventry-based artist is holding a retrospective of her work with paintings and drawings going back to the 1960s.

Nancy Upshall moved to the city from Dorset to teach art at the then Barkers Butts School in the 1950s.

She said: “I left my first job very easily – I was teaching art and they had a polished floor in the art room and the caretaker would grumble (about it getting dirty) so I gave my notice in. After about two months I thought I better get another job and when I applied for Coventry I thought that’s the furthest north I am going to go. It was a secondary modern school, and they had been told by an inspector their art and music was useless. They wanted to get a graduate in and I thought when I was being shown round, this job is mine!

“I came from a small town in Dorset and coming to Coventry it was so industrial … I couldn’t believe people lived like that, it was a real eye opener for me.”

Nancy thought she might stay in Coventry for a couple of years, but then, as she put it, “love struck” and she has been in the city ever since.

A few of the works in the exhibition are from the early years. Nancy said: “Some of them go back quite a time, and some of the early ones are from when I was first married and living in Coventry.”

She recalled going out on a Sunday morning when she only had her first daughter, Jane, and Nancy would draw and Jane took her drawing book along too, but it got too complicated by the time her second daughter came along.

The post-war reconstruction was going on in earnest. She said: “I remember being on the roof of Broadgate House and painting – there’s one in the Herbert in Coventry which I did of Smithford Street.

“There were car parks which for me were ready made abstracts, you got a space and beyond it another space.”

Now retired but still painting in Earlsdon, Coventry, Nancy taught for many years at Coventry Technical College, a Lanchester Polytechnic annex, Rugby School of Art and until recently on open studies classes at the University of Warwick.

This exhibition at the recently-opened Deasil Art Gallery in The Warehouse in Oxford Street, Leamington, has around 50 paintings, prints and drawings on the walls, plus 70 prints in racks.

The early works include a pen and ink drawing of the Owen Owen building being constructed, with the old stone of Holy Trinity also visible, from 1962, and a painting of the rebuilding made of lots of bright squares from 1964. Portrait of Greta, a delicate close up of a woman with a beehive hairdo is also an early work from 1962.

Later works develop her familiar wide palette of colours, usually including purples. Some works are entirely abstract, others more figurative but in the same colour-filled style. Others stand out as very different.

Mind the Gap from 2004 has what looks like a large cut-away bit of earth so you can see what’s below ground, while the words ‘mind the gap’ are repeated and fall into a hole. Not Waving but Drowning of 1976 is a rather symbolic pencil drawing showing a small hand waving from behind a curtain in a house, which in front of it has a hedge and two fences. Green Belt of 1981 is a larger-than-normal work with a green bit in the middle, dividing many overlapping pencil-drawn houses.

Le Plongeur

There are also a few works inspired by a visit to Ayers Rock in Australia in the 1990s, including Tree Ancestors, a delicate screenprint of strange-faced creatures.

Geranium from 1980 is an identifiable plant, and Inkwells from 1983 uses what is now a flaking orange paint as the background colour, with three inkwells painted on. Other more abstract works feature brightly coloured shapes and swathes of colour, some in series like the Division series of 2007, or the large Rift from 2004. And it’s good to see Nancy’s still working, as the Poseidon’s Kingdom, with what look like watery bubbles, from 2015.

It’s a wide-ranging exhibition from an interesting and popular artist which shows the variety of her work from over the decades, in a pleasant, fresh-looking space which plans to show new exhibitions every three weeks.

The retrospective is the third exhibition at Deasil Art Gallery, a pleasant, clean-looking space on the ground floor of what was Oceans nightclub, and is now occupied by creative businesses,a design company and social media firm.

Deasil is run by Kate Livingston and Kate Bramwell, and the name Deasil apparently comes from the meaning of the direction of the sun’s movement clockwise, moving forward, to tie in with the Kates’ aim of being an Art Agency and displaying art in different venues across the Midlands – moving art forward. I look forward to hearing more from them, and seeing what other exhibitions they put on in the future.

 

Faye Claridge’s Kern Baby is striking sight at Compton Verney this year

A haunting vision greets visitors to Compton Verney art gallery in South Warwickshire all this year.

Kern Baby is the creation of Warwickshire-based artist Faye Claridge. She stands five metres tall, wears a long white gown – and has just wheat for her hands and head. The lack of a face as you approach and realize there is none there is the most striking thing.

The installation is backed up by an exhibition in the café area at the gallery, which explains where she comes from. Faye has had a residency at Library of Birmingham where she was working on the Sir Benjamin Stone photograph collection. Stone was a former Birmingham MP and Mayor of Sutton Coldfield who also travelled widely in the UK to photograph important historical places, festivals and pageants to record them for future generations in the late 1800s and early 1900s.Thousands of his prints are at the V&A and in Birmingham.

Faye said growing up with her Morris dancer father and folk singer mother she can remember a book of Stone’s photographs in the house as they gained a temporary popularity in the 1970s. She said: “To me they are very much about personal identity. Painting was felt to be in decline and photography was the new way of capturing something that was going to be lost.”

One of Stone’s photographs was of a Kern Baby, or corn dolly, from a festival called The Harvest Home in Northumberland in 1901. The community celebrated the wheat harvest by using the last gathered crop to create a human shape dressed in good clothes, and called it the Kern Baby. It was then kept over winter, then buried the next year: “It was buried in the first ploughing and planting in the new ground so the spirits of harvest went back in so she would grow again. I decided it should be revived.”

The work also chimes with the large British Folk Art collection at Compton Verney, and with the “Britishness” theme of the first two other new exhibitions of the year, Canaletto: Celebrating Britain, and The Non-Conformists, photographs by Martin Parr of Hebden Bridge in the 1970s.

The tall Kern Baby can be seen from the distance as you approach the gallery, and from a distance looks like she’s just escaped the building. She’s striking and unsettling, and worth circling to see from all angles and against different backdrops, some including the house and others just the trees and lake.

The structure is Faye’s biggest work to date, and involves more than 30 metres of theatre-grade polyester in the dress, which she sewed herself “on my ancient sewing machine”, and later added an underskirt as the structure underneath could be seen too easily. There is a yellow sash to reference the oilseed rape so prevalent these days.

The metal and water tank ballast which holds her in place was made with the help of a structural engineer and theatre design company, and she took four people six hours to put in place. It is hoped she will withstand the weather between now and December, though she will weather a bit and some wheat might be replaced.

Ironically, the Kern Doll was not conceived as the main part of the exhibition.

In the exhibition, Benjamin Stone’s photo The Harvest Home, Kern Baby, from 1901 is shown, a three foot white-clad figure in a plant bed, and Faye’s is a much bigger version of it. There is also an image of children holding hands around a huge pile of wood, entitled Northumberland Baal Fires: St John’s Eve, the prepared faggots, in what looks like a very strange scene from 1903.

Faye said: “I decided it would be fun to make a great prop to produce a new photo and to create a sculpture, but it was incredibly naïve but it got commissioned. I’ve done nothing on this scale before.”

She has though involved local schoolchildren from Welcombe Hills School and Hampton Lucy C of E primary to make her own version of the photo, with the uniform-clad youngsters solemnly surrounding the Kern Baby on a cold February day at Compton Verney. The photo was taken after working with them so they weren’t spooked by it.

She said: “My children (aged three and five) saw it when it was going dark and it was a full moon and she did look pretty ethereal.”

They gripped her hands tight, asked why she didn’t have a face and turned down an offer to touch!

Other photographs of Faye’s in the exhibition come under the title of A Child for Sacrifice, again inspired by Stone and photographs he took of youngsters in the Warwick pageant, and of the Wroth Silver ceremony. These depict youngsters from Marton, in Warwickshire, posing for her camera. Faye received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to work with Marton’s Museum of Country Bygones to use some off their items to recreate pictures by Benjamin Stone.

These are the ones, when I’m trying to find the right word, Faye suggests are “edgy”, though parents were always on hand, and the children photographed picked their costumes. It is their confidence in strange garb and poses which is quite unsettling.

In one, a girl sits on a throne in a cornfield, corn sceptre and orb in hand, and in some she has lace obscuring her face. A boy becomes a scarecrow with a blacked-up face, and another boy in Plough’s Demon has some anonymous arms reaching round him. Another very young boy in a field is Faye’s own son.

The Kern Baby is immediately impressive and striking in the landscape but the Stone photos, the stories behind them and Faye’s own photographs inside are also intriguing and throw out questions about traditions from the past and how we relate to them.

* Next year Kern Baby will get a new dress and go on show at Birmingham Library – changing her setting from rural to urban, and where visitors will be able to glide past her on escalators. Three showcases about Faye’s residency in the library are on show at the moment.

Coventry graduates among winners in New Art West Midlands 2015

Foremark Reservoir IIShufflebotham

New Art West Midlands is in its third year and getting your work into it is a prestigious draw for recent art graduates – last year 100,000 people are said to have visited the exhibition across three galleries.

This year there are four involved – the Herbert in Coventry, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and the Barber Institute of Fine Art, showing the work of 30 people in total. All have graduates in fine art from one of the West Midlands art schools in the past three years, with successful works chosen by artists John Newling and Bedwyr Williams, and art historian Amna Malik.

There are four Coventry University graduates showing in the exhibition, and I spoke to them at the opening in Birmingham.

BA in Fine Art graduate Jennifer Shufflebotham’s work (top) had already been recognised before she was also selected for New Art West Midlands. She was offered a residency at the Pod in Coventry after her degree show last summer.

At the Birmingham gallery she I showing two paintings inspired by a box of slides she found in her grandparents’ attic in Burton on Trent about four years ago, showing family holidays in the 1960s, when photography was more of an effort than today when people can take pictures by taking their phone out.

She said: “I’d never come across them before and I was really interested in the balance of analogue photography and the easy access to photography and Instagram that we have today.”

She has re-layered them to create paintings, with blurred and slightly strange images produced. Foremark Reservoir II is particularly interesting, with one person reduced to a dark shape which could be deliberately cloaked.

MichaelCarrMessagetoyourudy

Michael Carr’s work includes Instructions Not Included, a screen print of the instructions for looking after a vinyl disc, and A Message To You Rudy (above), a digital ink work showing Lynval Golding from the Specials depicted on a street map of Coventry. If you pick up the exhibition leaflet you get your own copy of this.

Michael came into the world at the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry and said music of the Specials had been “a big influence on my life”, and puts the work in the context of “a vision of psycho-geography and how music can motivate and change lives and people”.

He started this work with an illustration of Lady Godiva on a map: “The Specials and Lady Godiva testify to the strength of the city. A lot of people speak badly about Coventry but if you look at the invention of cars, sewing machines, watches and all its industry there’s a lot of strength there.”

Michael has just finished an MA in Contemporary Art Practice but his undergraduate degree was in graphic design, and he hopes to get a studio and have some links to the university still. I’d already seen his work at a couple of exhibitions in Coventry, showing he’s getting out there already, and with his energy and enthusiasm he’s sure to go places.

SONY DSC

Reece Kennedy’s work was inspired by talking to his Coventry University tutors about art education, studying, and the student’s audience. He chose to capture the paradigm of the art fair by creating an installation of a room from the Frieze art show entitled Greatness Engine Future Prospectus (above). Reece graduated with a BA in Fine Art and is running his own printing business in Birmingham.

SparkesAn Ode to Christian Joy

Other works on show at Birmingham Art Gallery & Museum included Emily Sparkes’s self-portrait in a colourful costume, Ode to Christian Joy (above), and she also has some paintings on show at the Herbert of Pearly Queens, relating to cross dressing and gender roles. They are interesting and keep the attention. James Turner’s reworking of paintings from the gallery’s collection sees beams of light coming from the painted women’s eyes, distorting how they are viewed and turning them into light box works.

At the Herbert in Coventry, Andrea Hannon is showing her installation works. Housekeeper is a lightshade with things hanging from it, and Territory Formula features flowered wallpaper and cut outs of women from magazines. Puppeteer includes more cut outs, an old framed mirror, and little character cut-outs, including a Victorian woman.

Coventry born and bred, Andrea has recently completed a Fine Art PhD at Coventry University. She used to do large paintings, but has now moved into multi-media installation and collage works.

She said: “It was during the masters I became interesting in structures of knowledge and how we become defined as one thing or another.”

She uses a lot of magazine and encyclopaedia images, and this set of work is based on the idea of what it means to be the ideal woman, as seen through the media, being good at cooking and housekeeping. Andrea has now moved to live near Stratford, and is teaching at the college there and working with some other former Coventry University students.

FishandChipsMeganSherida

Also at the Herbert are varied works including Megan Sheridan’s documentary-style photographs depicting British people on a traditional seaside holiday (above), or having lunch on the grass in Birmingham’s St Philip’s Square. There’s also an intriguing video from Jade Blackstock entitled In, In, In (below), in which she wears white and paints her skin white and is then sprayed with white liquid foam, an unpleasant claustrophobic experience which aims to turn ‘white’ from an adjective to an actual object.

In In In

I’ve visited two of the galleries and at first sight haven’t been as impressed overall with the selection as last year. Maybe that’s because there’s nothing as stand-out impressive as Lucy Hutchinson’s masks and wallpaper, James Birkin’s paintings, or the transformative sculptures of Sikander Pervez, who is currently exhibiting at the New Art Gallery, Walsall, after being selected for a solo show.

But only time will tell whose work from the 2015 exhibition we will be seeing more of on a larger stage.

*New Art West Midlands is on at Wolverhampton until April 26, both the Birmingham galleries until May 17 and the Herbert until May 31.

Shed show for found art at The Herbert

Shed in the Herbert   Joanna Rucklidge's work

The Shed – Collect – Shed exhibition in The Herbert, and Joanna Rucklidge’s miscellaneous collection

Visitors to the Herbert might wonder why a rather basic-looking shed has suddenly appeared upstairs on the landing.

But it’s a well-travelled shed which has already had several lives as an art gallery, and has re-emerged from artist and curator Lorsen Camps’s Coventry garage for this outing.

The shed is officially known as the Coventry Centre for Contemporary Art, and was taken over by Lorsen after it was used in the Bob and Roberta Smith installation at the Mead Gallery in 2009. Its first appearance was then in the grounds of Earlsdon Primary School, showing an exhibition of found objects by Lorsen, plus Martin Green and Joanna Rucklidge. The three are reunited for this Herbert exhibition.

The show is called Shed – Collect – Shed, playing on the different means of the words, but Lorsen explained the idea is to explore the relationship between their own found objects, and the Herbert’s collection of Coventry-related pieces.

Lorsen said: “We are bringing found objects which are the collection of three artists into the museum setting and starting to play with ideas of what the Herbert specifically does. I met with the Herbert’s collections curator Paul Thompson and he was explaining the Herbert collects Coventry’s identity and that was quite interesting.

The idea is Martin and I collect in Coventry in a different way. Joanna has come down from Sheffield to do a different thing but it’s all related to Coventry.”

Martin and Lorsen also took a trip to one of Coventry’s twin cities, Cork, to create some of the works in the exhibition incorporating photographs and found items, Paradise Disregarded, Paradise Reclaimed, which also uses things found in the Paradise area of Coventry.

They include clips and tiny pens, plus against a Gothic-type image there’s a spooky white eyeless doll, plus a black plastic avenging angel.

Joanna visited Coventry in June and said she ended up with aching thighs after bending down at least 200 times to pick up circular items she wanted to use in this exhibition, noticing a theme from Coventry and its history.

She said: “I was inspired by trying to collect something from the streets of Coventry. The ring road dominates, and there’s the history of Coventry, of clock and watchmaking, cars and cycles and so I thought I’d use all sorts of circular pieces.”

She found all her pieces on four circular walks on one day in June, and has used them in various ways. They are displayed in similar groups, such as clear bottle lids, and metal bottle lids, some just shown and others in colourful screenprints on paper.

Lorsen said about his work: “What I am showing them is an extension of what we showed in the shed. I have played around with the ways the Herbert presents its objects.”

One item, My Fond Knotted Crisp Packet Collection (below), is deliberately like an old-fashioned display board of butterflies pinned to a cork board. A display of Mini Beasts includes plastic animals and toys, a special interest of Lorsen. Standard Triumph uses a row of matchboxes to show small plastic toys. A window frame has been turned into a modern-looking lightbox display with a sea horse air freshener and hairband around it.

My Found Knotted Crisp Packet Collection   Martin Green's City Boxes

Another item is an old found wooden door with small, colourful items stuck neatly to the back of it. Another consists of boxes with bits of jewellery and other sparkly items in them. A found fridge shelf is used to frame a collection of pens and pencils.

Easy to miss, over the door are some trophies, a swan statuette and a plastic flying bat, both in gold-sprayed frames which on closer inspection come from the polystyrene packaging from white goods.

Martin Green’s new work is called City Box (above), and there are 12 boxes, all arranged on some shelves. He said: “It’s based on using boxes as a sculptural form. I was trying to give some sort of personality to the piece so I have collected things to do with travel.”

Each box is held up by a shoe heel found by Martin, or a stand made by a cigarette packet, colourfully wrapped with material from a found umbrella. There are different things in each one. They include wheels from suitcases, zip ties, rucksack buckles, bits of lighters, wheel weights and sunglass lenses.

There is also a DVD slide show with images of 100 items in situ flashing up on the wall outside the shed.

Lorsen admitted he was quite pleased to have the shed out of his garage after three years, and this may be its last outing, at least with him: “We are thinking about what next and we are seeing if other people are interested in taking it over.”

* The exhibition is on until November 2.

Dreams Part I: A surprise house in the woods and a bed in a field – Packwood House installations intrigue

Embedded close up
Dreams – so important for all of us, as two art shows visited on the same evening showed.
At the National Trust property, Packwood House, near Lapworth in Warwickshire, the sun shone as artist Hilary Jack led visitors on a tour of her installations in the grounds. One is a large wooden four-poster bed which was inspired by a quote from a 1930s visitor’s book at the house, which described it as “a house to dream of, a garden to dream in”.
More of this exhibition below, but it was soon off to The New Art Gallery in Walsall for Dealing with Dreams, the Garman Ryan Collection’s 40th anniversary exhibition. As one of the women, Lady Kathleen (Garman) Epstein wrote in 1973, the year before the collection was first exhibited in Walsall “I feel we are dealing with dreams and about to house them in a solid Midlands setting for posterity. How delightful.” More about this exhibition here.
Delightful would also be one word to describe Hilary Jack’s installations at Packwood House. Although based in Manchester, her work has recently been seen in Empty Nest at Compton Verney, and she was afterwards asked to work at Packwood, and Packwood Follies is the result.

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Jeremy Deller exhibition at Mead focuses on industrial and musical past to raise valid questions

It’s been D-day in Coventry- Jeremy Deller day. All That is Solid Melts Into Air is the title of the touring exhibition he has curated which is now showing at the Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre, at the University of Warwick in Coventry.
On the opening day Deller was in Coventry to take part in an In Conversation with Mead curator Sarah Shalgosky held at The Herbert in Coventry and then there was the exhibition opening party at the Mead. I caught up with Deller in the morning as the final touches were put to the exhibition – including fixing the jukebox which takes central position in one room.

adrian street and his father 1973 photo dennis huthinson (c) dennis h    (2)Adrian Street and his father1973 photo Denis Huthinson (c) Denis Huthinson
The exhibition is described as “Jeremy Deller takes a personal look at the impact of the Industrial Revolution on British popular culture, and its persisting influence on our lives today”.
He told me that wasn’t what he had set out to do: “Originally it was to be a show much more about music culture and industry but when I started looking at the industrial revolution it became fascinating to me and I became more and more interested in it and the effect it had on people and urbanization and the show became less about music and more about the social and cultural aspect.”

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George Wagstaffe and Michala Gyetvai brighten January with joint exhibition

Michala and George 2
An artistic relationship which has helped two artists to become newly-inspired and revitalized has led to a joint exhibition in a great setting.
Michala Gyetvai and George Wagstaffe opened their show Powerful Forces with a talk about their work. The exhibition is open to the public until February 13 – and well worth the journey.
It is on at the Michael Heseltine Gallery at the Chenderit School, a visual arts college in Middleton Cheney, near Banbury. The gallery is made from glass and galvanized steel with cedar panelling, and is built in lean-to style against the school wall, offering wall spaces and plenty of room to display Michala’s large textiles and George’s sculptures in a way that looks like it was designed around them.

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Missing Naiad is ‘locked away’ reveals Coventry sculptor George Wagstaffe

EXCLUSIVE
The mystery of the missing Naiad has been partly solved, but it’s not a happy ending.
For years the sculpture of a the dreamy nymph sat in the pool in Priory Square in Coventry city centre, but after suffering vandalism and the removal of the water, which exposed the fact she has no lower limbs, she was moved to Lady Herbert’s garden.
Recently, the Roots gallery in Priory Square showed an exhibition including work by artist Caroline James – which Naiad artist George Wagstaffe visited and enjoyed – which focused on the square. At the opening Caroline lamented what it had become since her childhood memories of it. One of her photographs was of the pool, now lacking water and its Naiad, and she wondered where it was now.
Speaking at the opening of the new Ragley Gallery and Studios at Ragley Hall, where he is showing two sculptures and a painting in the inaugural exhibition, George Wagstaffe said: “The council have got her locked away somewhere.

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Legacy of Coventry’s post-war modernist architecture is inspiration for fascinating exhibition

Jo Gane and Caroline Jones
An exhibition by two artists has found new ways to focus on the legacy of post-war modernist architecture in Coventry, and both are fascinating in their separate ways.
Jo Gane and Caroline James, who met on the London College of Communication’s photography MA course, are exhibiting in Nostalgia for the Future (Past) at the Roots Gallery in Coventry city centre.

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