Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Art News

Yesterday I visited this exhibition and was not sorry. The involvement of David Hockney, though, is a mixed blessing. A national treasure and all round good guy he undoubtedly is, but when it comes to his watercolour landscapes - well, the less said (and seen) the better. Happily, only one of his efforts is on show, and his selection of Turner sketches and 'beginnings' is excellent and instructive. The rest of the exhibition is curated by other hands and adds up to a good digestible overview of Turner's prodigious achievements, mostly in the watercolour field, which as ever leave one stunned and agape.
The highlight of the exhibition - and worth the trip if it was the only picture on show - is the astonishing finished watercolour The Blue Rigi. I once ate a 'Rigiwurst' atop that mountain (cloud-draped at the time, needless to say) - and Mark Twain wrote a very funny story about his own visit to the famous summit. It's in A Tramp Abroad (downloadable on Gutenberg, and worth the effort). That's enough Art.


  1. Except to add that the money raised to buy The Blue Rigi was infinitely better spent than the millions raised to save this dubious item.

  2. you have a 404, young man! suspect it's the www.appleyard muscling in on the url.

    hockney is more of an acrylic man

  3. Sweet Jesus, Ian - that must mean something, but I've no idea what? Apart from the acrylics - you're dead right there.

  4. I have learnt (thank you, Wikipedia, yet again - and Ian). It is fixed. Sometimes I surprise myself.

  5. Not sure how Ian made teh surmise & whether tis true or not but he is preumably referring to the Roland 404 Sampling Workstation.
    It features are:
    -12 large pads, three control knobs, jumbo display, same friendly operation as SP-303
    -29 effects, including new Subsonic, BPM Looper, and more
    -Built-in microphone for quick sampling
    -CD-quality sound
    -Expanded sampling time
    -12-voice polyphony
    -Realtime loop recording
    -Sample-editing tools
    -Import/export WAV/AIF via CompactFlash card slot; supports up to 1GB card

    This a relative to the much more famous 303, 808 & slightly less famous 909 synths/drum-machines all made by Roland. All extremely important in the history of electronic music though unwittingly so as when made in the early 80s they were a flop & only seen as accompaniments for the practicing guitarist. It was only later that they began to be manipulated by intrepid souls into producing strange, squelchy dance music & so in a sense the true nature or destiny of these electronic beasts was inherent in themselves & well beyond the imagining of their creators.
    Have you managed to make much interesting stuff, Nige?
    And to add, with some exceptions, Raphael doesn't quite tend to do it for me either.

  6. Once more I am stunned and agape, Andrew. To think the world should contain such things...
    Agree about Raphael (not that the Nat Gall painting is one, probably) - too finished, easy to admire, hard to like.

  7. I'm agape too, Nige; it's so much safer than eros.

    I'd love to see this exhibit -- watercolors more difficult than any other kind of painting. One false splash and you're done.

    Master of the craft in this country is Winslow Homer. Who is it in G.B.? Not Turner or Hockney, certes.

  8. But in other ways they're a very user friendly medium with great effects from a minumum of effort. You could create a complete finished work in minutes- something impossible in oils...also the water is offering effects of its own accord whereas again, nothing like this really happens with most other mediums.

  9. Rolf Harris to your final question, Susan.

  10. Ignore that troublemanker, Susan - if you really want to know, the top names after Turner are probably the short-lived Thomas Girtin, Francis Towne, J.R. Cozens, and John Crome and J.S. Cotman of the Norwich school. More recent, nearer to your neck of the woods and well worth a look is the Canadian David Milne, who used watercolour like nobody else.

  11. Susan B., image lover,July 12, 2007 1:02 pm

    Thank you, Nige! Seeing the Milne pictures really makes me want to paint today. It's one of my hobbies, too, though I'm really far better with pen and ink (long ago I was actually a cartoonist for a newspaper), or colored pencils, since they're precise. Best of all are *watercolor* pencils where you can do the drawing first then ever-so-carefully apply water to get the watercolor effect (but without the fear of blot that wrecks all).

    Okay -- gotta go out in the garden and compose!

  12. My feelings exactly about actually doing watercolour, Susan - and all the more so after seeing all those Turners close to. Many of his effects seem just downright impossible...