Journey Through Japan is attractive but not without confusion

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The Children, a hand coloured glass lantern slide 1903

A Japanese-themed exhibition in Warwickshire takes a look at life in the country more than a century ago.

It does though seem a bit confusing. Journey Through Japan is a touring exhibition on loan from Horniman Museum & Gardens in London, complemented with some work from Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum’s own collection, for the show at the gallery.

It is described in the press release as a selection of “intricate and beautiful lantern slide photographs taken in the early 1900s which allow you to experience the stunning landscape of Japan during that era”, taken by Marjorie Bell and her cousin Leslie, when they travelled around the country in 1903 for two months. They had left Marjorie’s home on a sheep station in Victoria, Australia, to travel with her mother Hester.

The information in the gallery said Marjorie, who was only 13 at the time, had her photos processed in Japanese studios. She wrote a detailed diary, and the pictures in the exhibition have her interesting descriptive captions alongside them relating to the image.

What causes confusion however is that some of the photos were clearly not taken by Marjorie and her cousin, which raises the question of whether any of them were, and why this isn’t specified. (See bottom and the helpful comment below). There is even one illustrating people in Japanese costume of the day in snow, when Marjorie wasn’t there.

There is one attractive picture of a young family, the oldest child carrying a baby on her back, and Marjorie’s comment is that this was something they saw frequently amongst young children. Some other young children are featured and after Marjorie’s diary quote about children, there is a comment that she may not have seen children this poor which raises the issue that she couldn’t have taken that photo.

She travelled to the popular island of Miyajima and there is a photograph of people at work, with hand-pulled carts, big straw hats to keep off the sun, and young children accompanying them. The famous entrance gate to the Itsu-kushima shrine, which appears to float on the water when the tide is in also featured.

Some dancers in a hotel are shown, and there are a number of attractive countryside photographs; a huge lake, and some gushing waterfalls in very green and tree-filled countryside, a part of Japan not so often pictured. An avenue of enormously-high bamboo trees has a couple of people wandering down the middle to show the scale, and in Nara small deer wander around waiting to be fed, the same as today. In this image a brightly-coloured patch of orange leaves on a tree catches the eye. Nagoya Castle stands proud and attractive, five storeys high, and some streets capture people, shops (with huge signs outside showing what they sold) at this period.

A photo of Tokyo is very different from today, with lots of low-level buildings and fields, but a sumo wrestling match looks similar.

In Nikko, Marjorie’s diary commented that she wished she’d been able to see the attractive red bridge which had been washed away in high waters – so the picture of the red bridge intact was clearly taken by someone else.

In one of the last ones, Mount Fuji is artistically reflected in a lake where there is a solitary fisherman.

The confusion over how many or whether any of these photos are taken by the young Marjorie detracts from simply being able to enjoy these attractive moments from this period in the country’s history.

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The gallery has added some of its own Japanese-related items to the exhibition too. These include some dolls, an Oriental-building shaped box, and a Satsuma jar, with an attractive picture on top of a bird taking flight.

There are also a number of woodblock prints, including several by Kikugawa Eizan, on showing what is described as a tipsy girl dropping her drinking cup, and also a couple by Kitagawa Utamomo II depicting a high-class courtesan being escorted through a crowd by a servant and her apprentices. They are all worth seeing and it’s good they have been given a chance to come out of the stores.

oriental-box*It has since become clear none of the photographs were by Marjorie but from the Horniman Museum’s own collection of lantern slides,  taken by Frederick Horniman himself.

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Subodh Gupta’s vision turns village mementoes into works of art

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Subodh Gupta, Chanda Mama door ke (From Far Away Uncle Moon Calls), 2015, found aluminium utensils, fish strings, steel. Photo Ken Adlard, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Once on holiday in San Gimignano, I wandered down the crowded, sweltering hot street, and caught a glimpse that made me stop, and slip into a cool, unknown space. Hundreds of silver cooking pans and tiffin pots were arranged in a beautiful, tumbling art work. On the floor were rows of low metal stools arranged as if ready to seat 45 for a traditional Indian meal in front of round silver trays full of bowls.

There were other items too, but it was those two which took my breath away.

I made a note of the name of the artist and felt entranced by the contrast between the shiny but utilitarian Indian utensils turned into art works, and the expensive designer shops in the Tuscan tourist mecca outside. It was 2008 and I didn’t think I’d ever see his works again

Since then I’ve accidentally come across an enormous nuclear explosion of his stainless steel utensils filling a huge space at the Tate in London – and now he has a solo exhibition in Coventry until March.

Subodh Gupta – the name copied down several years ago – even visited the Mead Gallery at the University of Warwick for an In Conversation with Curator of the Mead Sarah Shalgosky before the official opening.

The exhibition itself shows relatively few pieces in the large space. One of the larger pieces, which I had seen in Italy, is School, a work showing five rows of nine low stools, with a table in front set with a sparkling thali dish ready for a meal. Each brass stool is cast from that of the artist’s father, with patterns and initials clear to see on it.

This combination of homely items and mass-produced pieces is typical of Gupta’s work. In the In Conversation he ran through more of his art works from over the years that reflect that.

He showed an image of 29 Mornings, from 1996, which consisted of wooden stools with items from everyday life placed on top; they were memories of life in the village he grew up in, when he had moved away to the city. Similarly, small bundles of sticks used to brush teeth in the village, then discarded, are turned into an artwork. He said: “When it’s been cast in aluminium it becomes closer to me and further away from the people who are now not going to use it.”

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Subodh Gupta, There is always cinema (v), 2008, Three elements – found object, (wood, cement, paint), brass casting nickel painted, brass casting coated. Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photograph Zurich. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

There Is Always Cinema (V), which was also made specially for the show I saw at Galleria Continua in San Gamignano, consists of three ‘sack trolleys’ used to transport goods around. One is in its natural state, one cast in bronze and one nickel plated apparently suggest the idea of worn items being able to move things around to a brighter part of the city.

Another piece that is in the Mead show is Two Cows, a pair of bicycles cast in bronze and hung with chrome milk pails. As he said before the opening, in the village he would get milk from the cow, but in the city it was carried in pails on bikes, hence the name.

The attention-grabbing work is clearly Chanda Mama door ke, or Far Away Uncle Moon Calls, which is a reference to a Hindi children’s nursery rhyme in which the child is talking to the moon as though her uncle. The work consists of dozens of used cooking pots, some very used, burned and bent, hanging from the ceiling on fishing line, looking from some distance like a re-imagined moon. It’s spectacular but in a way simple too.

Gupta trained as a painter and there are three paintings in the show, close ups of used pans or plates.

One of his themes in his work he explained is the cosmic and the everyday, and “I can see the universe in my plate.”

Some of his new works include two Pressed for Space exhibits, consisting of old cooking pots crushed into rectangles, with bits of cloth mixed in with them.

He explained that in some larger pieces eyes look out at the unexpected viewer; was he trying to shock Sarah asked. No, he said, he didn’t want to do that, but he liked to mix performance and sculpture and had a strong sense of the audience looking at his works: “We live in shock, we don’t know where we are going.”

Other topics and works covered in the talk included God Hungry, a huge work in Lille featuring cooking pots seemingly cascading through three windows of the church, and This Is Not a Fountain, a mixture of pans with taps poking through, focusing on, Gupta said, the big issue of taps being left running in India parks.

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Subodh Gupta, Two Cows, 2003-2008, bronze, chrome. Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photograph Zurich. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

He has also been a performer, and showed a clip from a video which was engrossing and also gross; he was he said “showering in cow shit”, and he’s last seen in it, naked and coated in the brown stuff walking out of a room. He said it related to the importance in India of cow dung, used wet for painting and rituals, and dried and used as fuel or for building. His work My Mother and Me from 1997 was a creation of a cow dung tiled house.

There was some discussion too about the relationship between his works and that of Duchamp, though he reiterated there was no connection, as he said Duchamp made an object into an art work, but he, Gupta, made an object into a material and in that form becomes the art work. It was an interesting discussion and one that could go on.

It felt like there could have been more at this exhibition, but I have been spoilt by seeing some of his largest, most spectacular works before. The exhibition – on until March 11 – is still definitely worth seeing and a breath of fresh air in he 2017 exhibition scene.

 

Deasil decides to Begin with Beauty

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Machir Storm by Rachel Weston

In the bleakness of January, Deasil gallery in Leamington is trying to cheer us all up with an exhibition called Begin with Beauty.

It consists of work by a number of their regular artists, plus the back room is taken over for the first exhibition there held by Rachel Weston, who lives near Leamington.

Rachel explained: “It’s the first time for a long time I’ve shown my work. I did a fine art degree at Exeter School of Art and carried on painting for a while and then got into the games industry for a long time, and carried on with the art as a sideline.”

All her works on show are land or seascapes, some local, such as Great Alne, with beautiful browns and earthy colours in an autumn view, and others featuring the dramatic countryside and skies of Scotland, which Rachel visited last year

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Sligo Bay by Rachel Weston

She said: “I do photos and sketches and I have to have been somewhere. I used to be far more abstract and I am now looking for primary symbols within a landscape.”

Her pastel works include Machir Storm, with dark skies heavy over some small white cottages, and a large sweep of beach, and Saligo Bay, a beach with dramatic sharp rocks, and a different cloudy sky.

Other artists featured in the exhibition include Cult Zero, who had his own show last year. There are several large digital prints of his strange creatures, and some smaller animal-focused one.

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Spectrum by Caitlin Burton, Minds Eye by Sonia Bublaitis and Poseidon’s Kingdom by Nancy Upshall.

Sonia Bublaitis is showing several brightly-coloured paint on Perspex pieces including Serendipity and Blue Waves, and Coventry-based Nancy Upshall has some of her familiar colourful abstract paintings such as Poseidon’s Kingdom, a look into an underwater world.

Jenny Clark has several mixed media works featured, including The Joy of Farthingstone, an attractive if rather idealised-looking village, and Hakeshead, churches and houses on a hill.

It’s a colourful, cheering exhibition to start the new year, and a good introduction to Rachel Weston’s work.

The exhibition is on until January 26.

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Cupid by Caitlin Burton  

Rugby Open provides showcase for local talent in lots of media

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Graham Grimmett’s Tread Lightly, Walk True (Nature Morte)

The Rugby Open exhibition is on again, showing an interesting diversity of works.

Apparently 236 items were entered, and 97 have made it through to the exhibition, with a few artists showing two or three pieces. Paintings not surprisingly dominate, but there is a good variety of style and content, plus works in other mediums.

Tony Baker’s We Are Sailing is one of the few photographs, and taken from an interesting angle, looking down at a selection of balconies on a cruise boat, and the people on them. Another photograph is Jean Sutton’s Patterns of Birmingham, showing swirly reflections in metal.

Linda Cavan’s The Red Speck is strangely compelling, a small red speck on an inkpen drawing of what looks like some sort of bag or container.

Lilly Martina Gardener, a former winner of the Rugby Open, has two works on show, Winter Snows over Weedon, showing people walking along in a snowy scene at her home village, and Blackbirds and Tea. Both are in her distinctive style, which appears to be influenced by Henri Rousseau, with every bit of the canvas covered in activity and colour, with dense fronds of greenery.

Julie Bett’s Reflections is a landscape in mixed media, a bit Piper-esque. Nancy Upshall has two colourful abstract paintings in the show including The Bridge, a collection of small shaped colours creating a path across the canvas.

Eric Gaskell is another familiar name at Rugby Opens, and he has three linocuts featured, including one which called Boxed Boundaries – a linocut slider game, which is unusual. Helena Godwins’s sculpture Cat & Mice is made out of a breeze block so has a strange, holey, texture to it.

Roger Griffiths is also a known name from Rugby exhibitions, and his Rugby Cement from King’s Newnham watercolour shows a well-known Rugby site too, the huge building towering over colourful out-of-perspective landscapes. Val Hunt’s sculptures made from drink can metal are familiar and the one on show here is particularly charming, entitled “A conference of endangered birds discussing their future. Nightingale, lapwing, barn owl, cuckoo and house sparrow”, with the birds, looking very knowing, sitting on a branch together.

I’ve seen Bryan B Kelly’s work in Leamington before and The Folly is in his usual exuberant style, with lots of colour, the paint applied in dots, and a regular pattern to the scene.

Linda Keller has created Coventry Cathedral out of acrylic paint and mixed media, and Susan Moreton’s In the Footsteps of Monks is also a mixed media of what looks like a monastery or cloister.

Helen McChesney’s three oil painted landscapes are very pleasant to view, with pale colours, entitled Summer, The Wheat Field and The Ploughed Field. Neil Moore, former Leamington Open winner, is exhibiting The Lightness of Darkness, an oil painting of a person lying down in his highly realistic style.

Gérard Mermoz, a former winner of both Rugby and Coventry Opens, is showing Interior, two classic old paintings of women in domestic scenes becoming one by being placed on top of each other.

Teresa Wells’s Hashtag Tragedy Take 2 is an unusual sculptural installation of several small naked models on the floor, some enacting a boat capsizing tragedy and others watching it or filming it. Graham Grimmett’s Tread Lightly, Walk True (Nature More) is a plastic resin creation, sticking out from the wall full of colourful bright flowers.

It’s an interesting variety of work with something for all to enjoy, and is on until January 14.

  • The exhibition winner was David Broadfield, for his charcoal work Lime, Newnham Paddox. David Kearney won the World Rugby award for his watercolour and pen and ink work Winter Trees, Val Hunt’s drink can metal sculpture mentioned above won the Rugby Decorative and Fine Art Society award and Roger Griffiths won the Brethertons LLP award for Newton Rugby.
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Nina Cashmore’s Lisa

Blurred lines and bold colours shape Hichmough retrospective

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Colin Hitchmough, Dictionary of Silences (Aurora Bognorealis), 2015, acrylic on canvas

A display of bold and sometimes baffling works fills a Warwickshire gallery, showing many work’s from an artist’s long career.
Dictionary of Silences is a retrospective of paintings by Colin Hichmough, who lived in Leamington for many years, and whose works are now being shown in the Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum until January 8.

Hitchmough studied fine art at Liverpool College of Art in the late 1960s, and then Birmingham College of Art. He then worked in Rugby for three years, before moving to Leamington where he lived until 2009, most of the time teaching at Warwickshire College. He also taught on the Fine Art Degree Course at Leamington Warwickshire College and the University of Central England. He is married with two sons, and now lives with his wife on the West Sussex coast.

This exhibition shows works dating from the 1970s to the present day.

In a well-written and attractive brochure to go with the exhibition, senior curator Chloe Johnson writes that “the ideas underpinning Hitchmough’s works are varied, but they deal with one single, complex concern: the notion of painting”.

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Colin Hitchmough, Flag, 1982, acrylic on canvas, collection: Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum

He was also exploring the physical materials used in painting, and began to suspend canvases like banners or flags rather than stretching them. In the 1980s the focus switched apparently to the surface of paintings and fluid brush work, and in the 1990s to box-like shapes, or “containers for ideas”.

The People’s Flag from 1982 is a big mostly black canvas with white stripes, and another from 1972 is blue and textured, looking like denim, with an almost tie-dye look to it. Untitled from 1971 is the earliest work in this show, and takes up one wall of the gallery, a T-shaped work with bits pulled up and held there, subverting the idea of the flat canvas.

New York House from 2001 is very different, mostly black with a six dark grey and white, sharp-sided rectangles painted in the bottom.

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Colin Hitchmough, NY House, 2001, acrylic on canvas

Terrapins and some similar works combine wood and canvas with sticky substances to create things that look organic and wholly fake at the same time.

Small silences from 2014 is a series of small works with parallel hand-drawn black lines stacked up like papers, or further apart to change the unity of the work. This is one of the works inspired by a holiday visit where Hitchmough misheard a guide talking about what he thought was a Dictionary of Silences, and the lines represent piled up canvases. The Dictionary of Silences painting is large and black, with imposing white blurred lines across it.

It’s an interesting exhibition which in many ways I struggled with at face value, but Chloe’s writing and the useful information on the gallery walls brought more knowledge and understanding to what is a large body of work, in more ways than one.

Exhibition finally shows Val’s pottery talents to wider audience

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A potter who has left behind a large collection of works never shown in public before is amongst artists whose work is on display at an exhibition in Birmingham.

Val Gill was originally from Smethwick, but had lived in Birmingham for many years. She died on October 11, aged 63, leaving many of her creations in her flat.

She had studied at Liverpool Art College in the early 1970s and later worked behind the scenes at Birmingham Repertory Company and Birmingham Hippodrome. In more recent decades she had enjoyed working on her pottery skills in classes and then in the studios at the mac in Birmingham.

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Some of her work had been seen in a students’ show at the mac back in 2006, but she had always declined being exhibited more generally; however friends, some of whom worked alongside her at the mac, have put a number of her creations on show in the Midlands Potters open exhibition at Woodbridge Gallery in Moseley until 3pm on Sunday, December 4. Visitors can take one of her works away with them for a donation of a least £10 which will go to a cancer charity.

The works are in her very recognisable style, including some small, symmetrical raku works and others with a shiny glaze. There are also larger, typically asymmetrical, pieces, some of which look like different pots works merged together to create one. They are in a range of colours but nothing too dramatic, mostly blues and aqua, or sandy or grey earth colours. Some which look like vases are larger at the top than the bottom, and others have a Moorish look to them.

The exhibition over the two floors of the gallery also features works by other Midlands Potters members. Karen James, one of the friends behind displaying Val’s works, is showing attractive bowls and vessels with swirly, attractive internal glazes.

Sally White’s practical creations including jugs feature ship motifs, and Jennie Howe, who had a MA in fashion and textiles has created ceramics with a frilly look to them. Graham Taylor’s works are ornamental chunks depicting the sea with boats sailing on them, and in the room upstairs Mirta Vargas’s works are influenced by pre-Columbian art, with small bobbles of clay and layers built up defining the shape.

Apart from Val Gill’s works being offered to raise money for charity, all other works are for sale. It’s an interesting exhibition showing the variety of work being done by potters from across the Midlands.

Op Art from across the decades continues to confuse and educate

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Op Art may not be new, but there are some new names to savour from across the decades in Op Art Past and Present, on show into the new year at The White Room gallery in Leamington.

Gallery boss John Gilks is a fan of op art so much of what is on show has been in his possession for some time, and he has provides short biographies of the artists to further inform us.

Ivan Picelj was a Croatian artist and a particular favourite of John’s, so much so he once nearly visited Zagreb to track him down – them bitterly regretted not making the trip when the artist died in 2011. At one end of the gallery are three of his untitled works, large colourful circles, made up of coloured circles within (pictured above).

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Described as the grandfather of op art, Victor Vasarely is represented by a strange work that seems to warp and move, with net-like circles and squares (above).

Genevieve Claisse was born in 1935 in Quiévy, France, the great niece of abstract painter Auguste Herbin. Her prints on show here are large, overlapping circles.

Carlos Cruz-Diez, who was born in 1923 in Caracas, creates metallic works and there are circles and squares here in different colours which look different as you move around in front of them.

There is a swirly purple and green print by Bridget Riley, and going down the age range somewhat, Damien Hirst is represented by one of his dot paintings.

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The very present is represented in the exhibition by Carl Cashman (one work, Chanel, above), with several of his works included. Cashman is more of a street artist who is inspired by Op Art and created a long mural on a wall at the Glastonbury festival. Here there is Peace Hurts, the CND symbol hidden amongst blue and white stripes. Jam Hot and Hot are more like street art, small but with glitzy paint. Love Hurts has the letters for Love in different colours in a square.

It’s an interesting exhibition, introducing some older artists who are still not that well known except to op art aficionados.

Masterji’s photos earn him a solo show of cultural change

There’s still time (just) to see the Masterji & Coventry exhibition which has received widespread coverage including TV and national press.

The project is funded by a number of organisations including Coventry City of Culture Trust and the city council, with support from Coventry University, City College Coventry and Fargo Village. It is on show at The Box at Fargo until November 20.

Maganbhai Patel came to Coventry in 1951 from Bombay, and as the story goes he was bored with his job and decided to photograph his very different new home city. By 1969 his photographs were proving so popular he was able to set up his own studio. Anyone who has driven up Stoney Stanton Road in the past decades must have noticed Masters photo studio on the right hand side over the canal bridge, driving out of the city.

Masterji as he became known, now aged 94, had his works included in the Imagine Hillfields Exhibition in the same venue in August 2015, but this is the first solo show of his work. There are some gems here; portraits of many people from the South Asian countries, posing with their families, their possessions and their new lives, including the photo below, which apparently shows a bus conductor who later moved to Canada.

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The influence of Elvis Presley can be seen in some of the portraits from that era, with men displaying slicked back hair and quiffs. Later, weightlifters have bouffant hair and early gym wear as they lift weights to impress. In one photo a man lounges incongruously on a coffee table, with a book and some flowers, and in another a wild-eyed man stares out of shot, his moustache pulled into sharp points.

The decades pass and some people have their pictures taken in Masterji’s studio – some of which has been transplanted here for the exhibition – or crowded outside their own new homes. Perhaps they were anxious to reassure people back home they were ok, or show off their own properties.

There are also his own family photos. In one, a young boy takes a bath in the kitchen sink, and hopefully the Ajaz container nearby had been left there only by accident, and wasn’t in use.

It’s a fascinating exhibition put together by Coventry photographer Jason Tilley, Mark Cook and others who prefer to use the group name Photo Archive Miners. It’s just a shame the exhibition isn’t on for longer so more people could get to see it.

Cult Zero’s sketches become strange creatures in Deasil exhibition

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An exhibition of work created as a therapeutic “hobby” is currently filling a Leamington gallery.

Chris Putt, who lives in the town, creates most of his pieces under the name of Cult Zero. He hand sketches them, mostly strange cartoon-like or robotic creatures, then scans them and finishes off the work on computer, adding in the colour as he goes. There are also some works which are like living collages, built up in layers

Chris showed his work as part of a joint exhibition at Gallery 150 in Leamington three years ago, and is now showing in a solo show at Deasil in Oxford Street.

He said he had studied graphic design at the then Mid-Warwickshire College some years ago, but has worked in the transport business.

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Chris said, of his original sketches and inspiration: “It’s my hobby and it’s just taken off. It’s what’s in my imagination and it just comes out of my head. I doodle – it’s my own therapy. I had all these sketch books piling up. I put a couple of things in the exhibition at Gallery 15 and they sold.”

That was several years ago and this exhibition represents his body of work since.

Chris does most of his works under the name of Cult Zero but there are some new works out under this own name, some images familiar to anyone who’s been to St Ives. Fore Street and the harbour in the town are shown, with much of the texture missing; the brick walls of building in the street are a bland grey, with the people wandering about in typical seaside style are the only spots of colour.

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It’s an interesting exhibition of works which, in their final state, are hard to imagine as the original therapeutic sketches in a notebook.

The exhibition is on until November 10.

Queen Victoria, Paris and Picasso are unlikely mix of stars for Compton Verney autumn exhibition

 

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Max Berthelin, Royal Visit to Napoleon III, The Grande Galerie des Fetes at the Hotel de Ville, Paris, 23 August 1855, Royal Collection Trust 2016

Two contrasting exhibitions end the year on a high for Compton Verney art gallery in south Warwickshire.

Queen Victoria in Paris features watercolours from the Royal Collection, and Picasso on Paper: Prints from the collection of the Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf, is self explanatory.

The Victoria exhibition is an unexpected joy. It features 44 watercolours which are from three different sources. In 1855 Napoleon III sent Victoria 10 watercolours depicting her visit to Paris from 18-27 August that year, she then commissioned 15 more and the final ones were sent by Baron Haussman. They are seen together in this touring exhibition for the first time – and some have never been seen before in public. The occasion marked the first time Britain and France were fighting on the same side, in the Crimean War, and only 40 years after the Battle of Waterloo.

Compton Verney has done what it does well with this exhibition, presenting them in rooms painted a gorgeous deep blue, and with the low lighting required to protect them.

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Charles Auguste Questel, Royal Visit to-Napoleon II, The Illuminations in the gardens of-Versailles, 25-August 1855, Royal Collection Trust, 2016

This is a collection where the names of the artists are less important than what is shown or represented. Indeed in some of them, the architecture of the buildings, inside and out, is what is particularly impressive – and apparently that was entrusted to architecture students to draw. There are scenes inside from various parties, including at the Hôtel de Ville, where there were 7,000 guests, and the high ceilings and decoration inside is impressively shown; regular artists painted in the people in the bottom part of the frame.

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William Wyld, Chateau de Saint Cloud, Royal Collection Trust, 2016

Victoria’s visit is depicted from her arrival in the Royal Yacht at Boulogne, through to a huge welcome in Paris, through a fake ceremonial arch built temporarily for the occasion. There are landscapes of Saint-Cloud, where she stayed, and which was razed to the ground when Napoleon III fell in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, and some gorgeous interiors of the rooms, with Victoria and Albert shown reading in one. The detail of the rooms and of clothes and hairstyles will delight those interested in the era.

There’s a fantastic nightime painting of Versailles, a packed visit to the opera, and an exaggerated image of Victoria inspecting troops on a massive parade ground. The third room is dedicated to 19 scenes from the Hôtel de Ville ball. It’s an exhibition which is a delight in many different ways.

The Picasso exhibition features 70 works from the Dusseldorf collection, created over a period of 40 years from the 1920s-60s. The exhibition seems to work in phases, marked by Picasso’s changing women, and professional collaborators.

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Pablo Picasso, Head of the Faun, Colour Linocut, Edition 19/50, Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2016. Photo: Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Horst Kolberg, ARTOTHEK and

Pablo Picasso, Françoise, 14.06.1946, Lithography, Edition 4/50, Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2016. Photo: Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Horst Kolberg, ARTOTHEK

There is a portrait of Jacqueline Roque, who featured in more than 400 of his works, and also marked the start of his collaboration with Hidalgo Annéra.

There are some cute images of his young children, Paloma and Claude, the outlines of one created with his fingertips as he didn’t have tools to hand. Motherhood is an etching, with a few simple lines creating perfectly the woman and the young boy she is feeding. The Painter on the Beach from February 3, 1955 is a humorous work of several odd characters posing.

La Tauromaquia is a seires of 16 aquatint and sugar lift works showing simple scenes of bullfighting, and there is another series, Poèmes and Lithographs, featuring portraits and stream-of-consciousness text.

A move from Paris to the south of France resulted in a new collaboration with a potter there, and there are some works loaned from Leicester Arts and Museums Service, including the lovely Yellow Face of 1947, with the sweet face drawn with his fingers again.

So clearly a pair of exhibitions with no connection, but both interesting in their own right – and on until December 11.