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Fishink In Edinburgh

September 17, 2018

Welcome back to Fishinkblog. It’s been a busy couple of weeks this side of the postings as I’ve been to both Liverpool and Edinburgh, spending some time catching up with art (i.e. The surprisingly good Egon Schiele exhibition at The Tate, on until 23rd September) and just seeing what’s new (and old) in two of my fav cities.

Great to revisit Cafe Tabac at the top of Bold Street, It’s been around since 1974 and has always been a fab artistic cafe to meet creative folk in the city centre. Also spotting this rather over sized cat terrorizing the local seagulls, or perhaps it’s the other way around.

Edinburgh was a very welcome mini break, recharging batteries and reacquainting myself with this fine city.

At the Modern Art Museum, there were some very impressive entries in a schools competition organised by Tesco.

Judged in about 4 age categories, I was delighted to see such wonderful finalists.

Lovely to visit a little of the outdoor spaces too.

Edinburgh has some of the finest architecture and buildings.

I spent a whole day mooching around the Stockbridge area which is a great mixture of some really interesting independent shops and some of the best charity shops I’ve ever been in. Golden Hare Books has a lovely children’s reading room in the back, where I could easily have spent a small fortune !

Gift shops galore too, I particularly liked this one An Independant Zebra who sell plenty of great locally designed goods.

Something for everyone.

Even and Angie Lewin’s fabric covering an antique chair.

Another beautiful store is called Life Story, a Scandinavian design led shop with both Nordic and home grown brands.

A few of my own gifts to the friend who was kindly letting me stay.

A quick trip to the Scottish Gallery and an exhibition of the work by Stephen Bowers.

More great places to discover.

Thanks Edinburgh for being such a bustling and creative city, oh and for the sunny weather too.

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Vintage By The Sea, Morecombe 2018

September 10, 2018

I came across a Vintage Festival in Morecombe last weekend. It’s the brainchild of fashion guru Wayne and Geraldine Hemmingway and they’ve been popping up for the last eight years in different locations and at different times of the year. It encourages a lovely crowd of people who have a love of clothing, music and cars from a bygone era. Talk about style !

There was quite a mix of eras but whether it was the 1930’s or the 1970’s they were still amazing to see and in great condition too. I wondered how many of them would still be around in another 80 years time.

This old NY Taxicab was huge.

Using the Art Deco Midland Hotel as a central point for the whole festival. It first opened it’s doors in 1933. Throughout its history The Midland has been a favourite haunt of celebrities such as Coco Chanel, Sir Laurence Olivier and Noel Coward, along with many of the actors and musicians performing at The Winter Gardens. Today it stands restored as the jewel in the crown of the British coast.

Oliver Hill commissioned the renowned sculptor and engraver Eric Gill to carve two seahorses for the outside of the building. Inside the building he carved a circular medallion in the ceiling overlooking the staircase. It shows a sea god being attended by mermaids and is edged with the words “And hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn”. Gill also designed an incised relief map of the Lake District and the Lancashire coast for a wall of the South Room, which is today the Eric Gill Suite.

Eric Ravilious first visited the hotel in 1933 and was commissioned to paint a mural for their Rotunda Cafe. Sadly the plaster on the newly decorated room wasn’t quite ready when Ravilious was instructed to paint the room and within a few years it had peeled off. More info here.

In 2013 artist Jonquil Cook paid homage to the original piece with her own interpretation.

Arguably Eric Gill’s greatest work for the hotel, and perhaps even his career, was the huge bas-relief for the hotel’s entrance lounge entitled “Odysseus welcomed from the sea by Nausicaa”, (below) which today stands grandly behind the main Reception desk in the main lobby of the hotel. Carved into six tonnes of Portland stone and measuring approximately 5m by 3m, it depicts a naked Odysseus stepping from the waves being greeted by Nausicaa and three handmaidens bearing food, drink and clothing – a scene meant to symbolise the hospitality being offered to guests by the hotelier.

Gill’s original design for the relief was called “High Jinks in Paradise” but its cavorting naked youths and maidens proved a bit too risque for the LMS who asked him to submit a less explicit composition!

Even though the hotel opened to mix reviews in 1933 (people thought it was garish and ugly), I thought it was stylish and beautiful.

There was a designer craft fair in one room.

I applauded anyone who made such amazing efforts to dress up, they all looked fantastic.

Mid afternoon there was a flyover by a Lancaster Bomber, which stopped everyone in their tracks.

Such a mix of costumes and eras. A fab old bookshop you could get lost in along the seafront too. Not sure who everyone has come as !

Also spotted a welcome tribute to British Comedian Eric Morecombe, with the words to the well known song “Bring me Sunshine” etched into the steps below. Great seagull statues and even a traveling vintage cinema!

More birds on lookout duty.

I love to be beside the seaside.

Even though it wasn’t a sunny day, it still looked great.

As did the crowds. Thanks once again everyone for a making such great efforts.

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Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole

September 3, 2018

Continuing on from my recent trip to North Yorkshire, I visited the most charming village of Hutton-le-Hole. This is one of the most popular beauty spots in the North York Moors.

The village is known for its long, winding village green with a stream running down the middle and foot bridges crossing the stream.

The first written record of a settlement comes from the Domesday Book, where a village called Hoton is recorded. It was a small village even then, with 8 carucates of land, enough to support 8 families. The village name was transformed over the medieval period, from Hedge-Hoton to Hoton under Heg, to Hewton, and then in the 17th century Hutton in the Hole.

The present name Hutton-le-Hole only appeared in the 19th century. But what does the peculiar name mean? Several theories have been put forward, but the most likely is that ‘Hole’ refers to burial mounds. Several ancient burial mounds can be found around nearby Barmoor, so it seems plausible that the name simply means ‘the place near the burial mounds’.

The Ryedale Folk Museum contains 13 rescued and reconstructed historic buildings, including an Iron Age round house, 1950’s period shops, thatched cottages, an Elizabethan manor house, barns and workshops. I was looking forward to exploring it’s vintage memorabilia, and it didn’t let me down.

This was certainly one of the highlights, a perfectly constructed 1950’s Post Office and shop. Complete with numerous items of fifties packaging. There’s an old radio playing popular tunes of the time and the whole experience was like a time travel to a period before I was even born.

Look at this fun packaging and advertising.

Ok some of the designs were a bit lack lustre… kelloggs have thankfully developed their design quite a bit from these dull boxes.

But on the whole it was bright, smiling and upbeat.

There’s a cobblers, an ironmongers,

A whole Chemists shop.

Even an old school room.

A scaled down village and some of the local farm residents.

Boo wondered what the pigs were up to.

The Iron Age roundhouse is a reconstruction of what a typical North York Moors roundhouse might have been like. It provides an atmospheric idea of how Iron Age people might have lived, from its central fireplace, simple beds, weaving loom and other domestic items such as quern stones.

There’s a small orchard with an impressive selection of fruiting trees.

The Manor House is often considered to be one of the most impressive buildings. Its simple cruck-framed construction creates a magnificent open space inside. Originally built in the late 16th century, it was moved from the nearby village of Harome by volunteers, and rebuilt at the Museum in 1971. You can get a sense of the scale and majesty of a Manor House.

There’s also an 18th Century thatched cottage, a Victorian thatched cottage and a Medieval crofters cottage too.

All set up to look like the inhabitants have just popped out for some firewood or cooking herbs.

Also an impressive collection of farm machinery and artefacts from different time periods.

Ryedale Folk Museum is home to The Harrison Collection. Amassed by local brothers Edward and Richard Harrison over the last sixty years, the collection includes antiques and rare curiosities spanning five centuries of British history. It covers everything from cooking pots to brain surgery tools. Around half of the collection is on display at the Museum in a dedicated building and exhibition space, which opened in 2012… I liked this metal Roman Sun Buckle below.

And the lettering on this Magnifying glass too.

Painted bottles, glass bottles and great labels.

These lovely wooden pieces. “When this you see, pray think on me…” is a carved poem to remind a loved one that he is thinking of her.

A large gingerbread mould and an amazingly intricate wooden comb.. imagine carving all those teeth !

The RyedaleFolk Museum from February to December and is about £8 for an adult ticket which you can use again for up to a year. Dogs on leads are also welcome, thankfully. The kind lady on the ticket desk also sometimes gives out dog biscuits too ! Woof and well worth a visit.

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Clouds

August 27, 2018

I was away the week before last, soaking up some sunshine in North Yorkshire on a campsite with my dog. As a consequence of being outdoors for most of the day, I was struck by how often I found myself gazing at the heavens. The slightly flatter landscape meant that I could see much further in a single view and the clouds in particular were astounding. I took quite a few photos as proof… as you can see.

NASA tells us that a cloud is made of water drops or ice crystals floating in the sky. There are many kinds of clouds. Clouds are an important part of Earth’s weather. The sky can be full of water. But most of the time you can’t see the water. The drops of water are too small to see. They have turned into a gas called water vapor. As the water vapor goes higher in the sky, the air gets cooler. The cooler air causes the water droplets to start to stick to things like bits of dust, ice or sea salt.

Most of the water in clouds is in very small droplets. The droplets are so light they float in the air. Sometimes those droplets join with other droplets. Then they turn into larger drops. When that happens, gravity causes them to fall to Earth. We call the falling water drops “rain.” When the air is colder, the water may form snowflakes instead. Freezing rain, sleet or even hail can fall from clouds.

Clouds are important for many reasons. Rain and snow are two of those reasons. At night, clouds reflect heat and keep the ground warmer. During the day, clouds make shade that can keep us cooler. Studying clouds helps NASA better understand Earth’s weather. NASA uses satellites in space to study clouds. NASA also studies clouds on other planets.

The present international system of Latin-based cloud classification dates back to 1803, when amateur meteorologist Luc Howard wrote The Essay on the Modification of Clouds. The International Cloud Atlas currently recognizes ten basic cloud “genera,” which are defined according to where in the sky they form and their approximate appearance. High-level clouds typically have a base above about 5 000 meters (16 500 feet); middle-level clouds have a base that is usually between 2 000 and 7 000 m (6 500 to 23 000 feet); and low-level clouds usually have their base at a maximum of 2 000 m (6 500 feet).

Most cloud names contain Latin prefixes and suffixes which, when combined, give an indication of the cloud’s character. These include:

–   Stratus/strato: flat/layered and smooth

–  Cumulus/cumulo: heaped up/puffy

–  Cirrus/cirro: feathers, wispy

–  Nimbus/nimbo: rain-bearing

–  Alto: mid-level (though Latin for high)

The 10 genera are subdivided into “species,” which describe shape and internal structure, and “varieties,” which describe the transparency and arrangement of the clouds. In total there are about 100 combinations.

It also proposes some new “special clouds,” such as Homogenitus (from the Latin homo meaning man and genitus meaning generated or made). Its common names include Contrails (from aircraft).

The new International Cloud Atlas is a tribute to the generosity of the Hong Kong Observatory and the dedication and enthusiasm of a special WMO Task Team, which spent nearly three years revising the text and collecting and classifying images and data. It increases and enriches our understanding of clouds and will serve as an invaluable resource for many years to come.

I love the way these pitted forms just filled the entire sky.

Dramatic and beautiful, we’re so lucky to have such variety in our skies.

A few slinky and seductive, low lying clouds coloured by the setting sun.

People get very excited about UFO shaped clouds, here’s some strange examples I found online.

Fortunately I didn’t encounter many of these heavy rain clouds last week. Someone up there must have been looking after us !

Before the drama of the back-lit effect at the day’s end.

Whilst writing my blogpost today, I found out that there’s a Cloud Appreciation Society where people from across the world post photos of the clouds they’ve spotted, another featuring painted clouds on Outdoor Painter. Discovering and capturing a great cloud formation is obviously more than just a fine art !

Many thanks to NASA and the World Meteorological Organization for the technical info on Clouds used in my blog today. Do you have any great cloud photos or memories ? I will be talking more about my holiday travels during the next couple of weeks so do check back in.

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Charles Wysocki Midcentury Illustrator

August 24, 2018

Charles Wysocki was born in 1928 in Detroit, Michigan. From the time he was small, he always wanted to be an artist. His father was an immigrant from Poland who worked on the assembly line at Ford Motor Co. for over 35 years. His father was not thrilled about his son’s artistic aspirations. Most of his encouragement came from his mother. She fully supported his artistic tendencies.

Charles went to high school at Cass Technical High School and focused on their art program. For a time he worked as an apprentice in Detroit art studios. Then Uncle Sam snatched him up. Charles was drafted in 1950 during the Korean War. He should have been sent to Korea where he may have met his fate, but right before he was to be sent out, he was granted a leave of absence to visit his brother Harry who was very ill.

After he returned to hook up with his unit, the powers that be said, “You’re going to Germany.” He was stationed in Hanau, West Germany from 1951-1952. After his two-year obligation in the Army he decided to trade in his rifle for a paintbrush.

After leaving the Army, Charles attended Art Center in Los Angeles (it is now in Pasadena) on the G.I. Bill. After completing his studies, and majoring in design and advertising illustration, Charles joined the staff of freelance artists at McNamera Brothers in Detroit in 1955. He lived at home with his parents during this time. Charles moved to Los Angeles in 1959. There he formed an advertising agency with three other artists called “Group West” and was very successful doing freelance commercial artwork.

Some of his clients included General Tire, Unocal, Carnation, Chrysler, United California Bank, Otis elevator company, and Dow Chemical Co. to name a few. Here’s a poster he created for General Tire in 1960.

During this time he won numerous awards for his illustrative talents. Then he met Elizabeth, and she unleashed the primitive artist that was buried within him.

Charles and Elizabeth met at an ad agency in Los Angeles. She had just graduated from UCLA as an art major. She was working at this ad agency when she heard about a hotshot illustrator (Charles Wysocki) that was coming in to do some freelance work for them. Well, when they met, it was love at first sight. Elizabeth’s family was one of the first to settle in the San Fernando Valley.

Charles was enamored of the simplicity of this farm life and wholesome values. This influence is what started his whole primitive style that we all know and love. Charles and Elizabeth were married three months after they met, in July 1960. During this time they made several trips to the East Coast. They went antique shopping and visited places such as Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

In the early 1960’s Charles worked as a commercial artist, but his heart was in the primitive style. At night and on the weekends, he worked on his Americana/primitive paintings. After he did a one-man show at which he sold every painting in this style, he decided to leave commercial art for good and just focus on his Americana art. For most of the 1960’s he made a good living off of the original paintings he sold. He also published greeting cards, posters and a huge number of jigsaws, along with other licensed merchandise of all kinds. During this time Charles and Elizabeth had three children. David was born in 1965, Millicent in 1967, and Matthew in 1969. It is also during this time that they moved from Los Angeles to Lake Arrowhead.

In 1979, Charles published his first limited edition print, “Fox Run”, with The Greenwich Workshop. His published numerous prints with them during this time from 1979-1993. He also traveled around the country and made personal appearances at galleries all over the United States. Charles won many awards for his work including the one he was most proud of, the medal of honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the society’s highest honor. Charles also published two books during this time, “An American Celebration” in 1985 and “Heartland” in 1993. He also appeared in People magazine July 7, 1986, and was invited to the White House Independence Day celebration in 1981 (for which he did a painting that still hangs there).

Charles painted his whole life, and up to his death at the age of 73. He died July 29th, 2002 surrounded by family. It was also his 42nd wedding anniversary. He will be sorely missed by many, but his artwork will live on. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, his three children, David, Millie, Matt, and his two grandchildren, Emily and Jackson.

For me Charles earlier work from the sixties has much more life and vibrancy to it. I love his painterly skies and textures so much more than the Americana style he later adopted, which although they’re busier, they are also crammed full of people, detail and flatter perspectives. It’s almost as though they are the work of two separate artists.

What are your thoughts ? Many thanks to the the dedicated work of Leif Peng who tirelessly collates all this information on Flickr and who first introduced me to Charles’ amazing work. If anyone else has any other examples of Charles’ work from this era, I’d love to see them.

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60 Years of John Moores Painting Prize. Part 2

August 22, 2018

Welcome back to Fishinkblog and part two of a post featuring my selections from the 2018 John Moores Painting Prize.

Firstly I just wanted to acknowledge a wonderful portrait of the ‘Sex in the City’ actress Kim Cattrall that I saw in the Walker by artist Samira Addo. Reading a little more, Samira took part in Sky Arts Portrait this year and painted singer-songwriter Emily Sande and fashion designer Zandra Rhodes whilst on the series. After seeing these portraits she won a commission of £10,000 by the Walker Art Gallery to paint Liverpool-born actress Kim.

It’s a stunning portrait, don’t you agree. It feels very sixties even though it was only painted last year.

Ok back to the John Moores exhibition. The chosen entries from the jury panel are currently on view at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, from now until November 18th. If you’ve not read my previous post on the subject, you can find it here. It will tell you some of the background story to this celebrated exhibition. Now in it’s 60th year, it remains one of the UK’s best known and longest running painting competitions.

The level of entries are, it must be said, quite varied and there are some pieces (to be very honest) that I was quite surprised to find in such a high level exhibition. Fortunately by the time I had got to the end of the show, I had seen more pieces that I liked, than those I did not.

For what it’s worth here are my selections from the 60 artists featured.

We start with the smile making Alan Fears ‘My Favourite Chair’, before proceeding to the slightly unnerving and almost ghoulish untitled piece by Laura Lancaster. A printed paper piece by Billy Crosby.

The Walker is a great place to exhibit the paintings as it’s such a beautiful space, how fab do they look here.

A sensual painting ‘Giants’ by Joseph O Rourke is contrasted by the painstakingly accurate, checkerboard painting by Nicholas Kulkarni. A desert landscape and almost a set design from Kathryn Maple.

There were a number of entries on loose fabric this year, the best of them being Emma Talbot’s Intense and Remote Connectivity. Emma asks searching questions in her piece like ‘Can you tune into the pressure of rotating planets’ ?

Carla Busuttil’s painting made me smile with it’s title ‘Trophy for a Dull Man’. Andy Barker’s painting consisited of collaged photographic and hand painted elements and made me think of both David Hockney and John Minton’s work.

A touch of realism in the three pieces by Liz Bailey, Graham Martin and Ben Johnson’s almost Si-fi, futuristic corridor painting.

More quirky, fun paintings from John Kiki and Tom Howse.

My second choice would be this ‘Shape No 3’ by Duan Xiaogang, I also liked another Chinese entry, ‘Staring’ by Wang Yi.

Which brings us to my favourite painting in this year’s John Moores Painting competition and it’s called ‘Milk’ by Gareth Cadwallader. Firstly it’s not a big painting, in fact it’s about the size of an A4 piece of paper but the detail is amazing. I liked the fact that the subject is almost facing away from the viewer, and you’re drawn to look at what’s absorbing his attention…. a small pool of spilt Milk that he is running his finger through! Then beyond the central figure, there’s a lovely frosty landscape which takes you even further into the piece.

The viewing public can vote for one piece each and quite by chance the person I went with also cast their single vote for this painting… Good luck Gareth !

Which was your favourite and why ?

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60 years of John Moores Painting Prize. Part 1

August 20, 2018

It was a grey drizzly day yesterday so making the most of it, we headed over to Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery to take in the Sean Scully exhibtion, also view and help celebrate 60 years of the John Moores Painting Prize.

Taking in some of the sixties, seventies and more recent architecture on the way.

Sean Scully was a prizewinner in the 1972 John Moores Painting Prize and again in 1974. He is widely regarded as the master of post-minimalist abstraction. Revolutionising abstract painting with grid systems of intersecting bands and lines, his artwork uses the shapes and forms of concrete geometry, infused with a lyrical emotion. They create great visual depth and textile-like complex structures.

in this exhibition, Sean revisits his early works which reveal the origin of his continued fascination between stripes and the spaces inbetween. In the summer of 1969, he travelled to Marrakech and saw for three months, thousands of stripes in the streets. On returning to Newcastle he drove over one of the Iron Bridges and made his mind up there and then to make a striped painting.

These works on paper are taken from his student sketchbooks and made between 1967-69. He had left school by the age of 15 and trained as a typesetter amongst other part time jobs. In his apprenticeship he was trained to work with a pen and ruler, These drawings show Sean’s reliance on these tools, until the confidence of freehand expression begins to assert itself.

The John Moores Painting Prize entry criteria, award structure and prize money has changed over the years. Until 1965, although not every year, as well as a painting section there were categories for sculpture, French and junior artists. From 1969, sculptures, kinetics, watercolours and graphic arts were firmly excluded in favour of painting.

Here’s a small selection of some of the past winning finalists.

This is one of my favourite paintings from past years. ‘Harmony in Green’ by Dan Hays, 1977. It demonstrates a traditional artistic concern with te truthful representation of visual reality. Dan adopts a very shallow perspective and an unusual treatment of the spaces between the bars. The colours form a random, harmonious pattern. The work’s title is also the sub-title of a water-lily painting by Monet. Dan recalled Impressionism as he worked on this, stating “Green is the colour of nature.” Since winning the John Moores Painting Prize in 1997, he has continued to exhibit internationally.

This year the exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool is open now until the 18th of November so you’ve plenty of time to pop over and see it. I will be revealing my own personal selection from this years entries, later this week so catch up again here at Fishinkblog then. Happy start to your week everyone.

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