After a couple of weeks stuck in the house with bronchitis it was with great excitement that I headed up to town last Friday with Sue. I had an invitation from Alice Fox to the preview of the Society of Designer Craftsmen at the Mall Galleries ( she had a piece in the 25 x 25 x 25 project as did fellow Rydal Hall retreater Julie Bunter) ).
As it didn't start until 6, we fitted in the 2 linked exhibitions by Maggi Hambling 'Walls of Water'.I'd already seen the paintings at the National Gallery and was a bit underwhelmed so I was interested to see the monotypes at the Malborough Fine Arts Gallery . As I'd suspected, far more interesting! The range of marks was amazing - very aware of the fingerprints etc. (read the interview about the processes here) Also the compositions, especially those with a diagonal , were far more satisfying.
Malborough Fine Arts was also the venue for the John Virtue paintings I saw last year. These black and white seascapes on very different scales , draw you i to the picture , you can feel the splash of those waves
Slightly less interesting to me were the monotypes done with silver ink - partly I think due to the black paper they were printed on but mainly because the range of tones wasn't so marked and that horizontal line more obvious.
It was interesting to compare similar compositions in monotype ( above with an accidental touch of blue) and paint (below). Besides the difference in size and colour, I think the processes used also contribute. The print making is one-off and deductive, taking ink off the printing plate ( hence those dense velvety blacks) . When I did a printing course a few years ago at City Lit that was a revelation
Whereas the painting is additive and I know how easy it is to go too far.
More food for thought at the Society of Designer Craftsmen show. For all the colour and diversity my favourite was a large quiet piece by Beverly Ayling-Smith composed of a multitude of tiny mended pieces of cloth ( she had a similar piece in the Prism exhibition which also caught my attention.) A lot of her work is based on ideas around shrouds and burial traditions. Interestingly she also has a background in science, trained as a microbiologist:
" I feel that the scientific way of working (making small changes in experimental processes and the documentation of these experiments) has spilled over into my artistic life"