Sunday, October 22, 2017


Great to go out again to the Whitechapel Gallery - it's a nice sized place and has a great history.

Reason for my visit was to see some of the work of  German born photographer Thomas Ruff (it's perhaps worth noting that Germany has produced some great contemporary photographers like Wolfgang Tillmans for example) .
 Can you see the ID vibe ?

What I liked about Ruff's work was the breadth of subject matter from the amusing interiors made while he studied to the 'Cosmic' pictures derived from data supplied by the ESO.

Ruff also produces portraits but these are not typical and use something of the Police Identification style.

Some of the pictures on show used the artefacts from jpeg (digitally compressed files ) to show something of the modern communication/media process.

Using Jpeg images of twin towers

There were other things to see at the Gallery including ISelf -End of Love  - which included some rather sad wedding photo's taken Akram Zaatari in the Lebanon and unusual 'installation' work by Portuguese born Leonor Antunes.

Iself - varied
Iself exhibition 

Spatial work by Leonor  Antunes - The Frisson of Togetherness, strangely evocative

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Who Was Henry Wellcome?

Earlier in the week I got around to visiting the Welcome Collection in London's Euston Road - adverts for 'Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? had intrigued me.

Previously I'd thought that Welcome was some 'grey' part of 'Big Pharma' but in fact the story of Henry Welcome is more interesting and the Philanthropy he demonstrated something to celebrate.

Samaritans Campaign 

And in fact Graphic Design can Save your Life (perhaps) - nice to see Samaritans recent campaign  included - the jury is probably still out on the Smoking adverts versus health warnings (or is it?) but the subject was well covered - with Silk Cut adverts deconstructed with the help of Semiotics (and quotes from David Lodge).

It was good to see too the AIDS and Samaritans' campaigns  on show.

Earthly Delights 

William Price- He was a bit of  an Eccentric

I also took the opportunity to look at the Art displays and was much taken with traditional work in the Wellcome history  I liked the Painting of William Price of Llantrisant (by  A C Hemming) - Price was a pioneer in promoting cremation.

Also good to see  'the Garden  of Earthly Delights' an  Oil painting after Hieronymus Bosch.

But biggest buzz was to discover Eat 22 by Ellie Harrison - this shows commitment and book and video both great

Reminded me of my 365 project but wow

Here it is

Friday, October 20, 2017

Indian Photgraphy and Samuel Bourne

Until March 2018 at Science Museum

London's Science Museum somewhat (perhaps) unexpectedly has a fantastic (and arty) exhibition showing 160 years of Indian Photography - from early Colonial pictures to modern documentary work what I found really illuminating was the way the Indian indigenous agency fed into work with hand colouring making a fascinating hybrid.

Also noticed that one of the early British Photographers  was a 'Samuel Bourne' who spent about 7 years in India from 1863.

Also on at the Museum are examples of Indian Technology  and science from Tuk-Tuks to brilliant mathematicians.

Bose - Brilliant at Maths

A typical Indian Tuk-Tuk

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Week 4 looking at Paintings - National Gallery again

National Gallery -A Gallery that's hard to fault or imagine better

Back with the excellent Julia Musgrave who is leading the CityLit looking at Paintings course yesterday and again the National Gallery.

Portraits this week and I reckon they're great -although in the hierarchy of paintings we see Portraits below History (in the Hierarchy of Genres) - this  seems to me to be pretty arbitrary anyway.

Something we didn't really unpick was when a picture becomes a portrait - is it just a single figure, looking at Portrait definitions it seems that head and upper body should dominate. 

The power plays involved in portraiture were very evident in our tour, our first painting was Portrait of Pope Julius II by Raphael (of which there are several versions)  and the fact that it was commissioned by the sitter who was probably the most powerful man in Europe means that it is his message that is at the forefront - what I loved here was finding out about how the work at one stage had a blue background - this made it almost like a Pop Art picture (to me anyway).

Julia also highlighted some of the other detail which reflected Julius's family and his extravagance (the rings on his fingers).
Nonnius a clever Doctor 

Looking at the painting of Christina of Denmark by Hans Holbein (the Younger) we were educated to the fact that Holbein had been dispatched to capture a likeness of the young widow so that Henry VIII could weigh up the possibility of her being his next wife (she was luckily spared this fate) - the court Painter was being used as a sort of dating app (a primitive Tinder).

The painting of Ludovicus Nonnius by Rubens  reveals another function of earlier portraits, here the items placed around the sitter show his standing - he was accomplished and intellectual, a doctor and in the painting we can see his learning (the books)  and the bust of Hippocrates (showing the medical associations) -  The artist shows his skill (perhaps a little showily) with the foreshortened book.

Klimt's portrait of Hermine Gallia was another highlight and reflects changes to portraiture that were apparent with the introduction of photography - the subject was an important figure in Austrian society prior to the period of Nazi rule.
Not the bling sometimes associated with Klimt
Women are (as so often) the subject more often than the painter but some subjects were influential - like Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame (by Francois Hubert Drouais (1727-1775) - here we see a painting of a clever woman with many interests.

There was a painting that stood out - it was a Self Portrait of an assured woman - smiling, this was Self Portrait in a Straw Hat by  Elisabeth Vigee le Brun.

 Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame

An early 'Selfie'

For me seeing a portrait now I am interested to know about  who commissioned the work and what other indicators are included in the work to help us understand the message being made by the work - perhaps odd that we didn't visit the National Portrait Gallery next door for this week 4?

And lovely biscuits

On the subject of Art - I really like the lovely Gaufrette biscuits from Beniko not too sure on what Hokusai connection is..

Lovely biscuits