Ever since I first visited the Alhambra in Granada, it had been my intention to create a pebble mosaic as a reminder of a very special place. Studio work and other projects intervened, so it has taken an inordinate amount of time to complete the project. It was a case of learning on the job, as I had no experience of this sort of work, but a few weeks of back ache proved well worthwhile and I am very pleased with the result.
Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain
Primrose Hill, Autumn Morning, 1968
The show, currently at Tate Britain, selected by Auerbach himself includes eight or 10 paintings, mostly private loans, from each of the past six decades.
“It is the architecture that gives his paintings such authority,” Lucian Freud noted. “The composition is as right as walking down the street. The weather changes, so does the light.” His painterly approach moves in sync with developments to the city itself. Standing before “Winter Evening, Primrose Hill Study” (1974-75), a spiky pattern of thick black lines — trees, poles, fences — flaring from a damp green rectangle amid patches of sombre red and far-apart streetlamps, one remembers viscerally chilly, dark, empty, large-skied 1970s evenings.
In portraits, too, Auerbach’s shift is from opacity to clarity, impasto to greater fluidity, darkness to luxuriant colour. Always hints of posture, gesture, gaze, define the individual aura of sitter and milieu.
Auerbach seeks “to pin down an experience in its essential aspect before it disappears”, in a raw idiom born of the postwar conviction that to sustain figuration, as Bacon foresaw, “reworking the image will demand more and more profound, sensational and evocative ways” of handling paint.
No living British artist has grasped that nettle more inventively and intelligently than Auerbach. “Painting for me is a set of connections,” he says, “a set of sensations of conflicting movements and experiences, which somehow one hopes has congealed or cohered or risen out of the battle into being an image that stands up for itself.” Many magnificently memorable images stand up for themselves in this memorable exhibition.
Open House 2015
Although numbers were down on the previous year, sales were reasonably healthy, with twenty pots sold and with several buyers vying for the same pots. This was particularly encouraging as these included some of my most recent pots. Attendees at the Private View seemed pleased to have the pick of the selection and the idea arose whether there was any way to have more regular showings of work in progress on my website. My solution is that I intend to send out a timely reminder email every couple of months or so, linking to the latest work, together with prices, for interested clients.
If you are not already on my mailing list and you would like to be kept informed, please contact me via the website and your details will be added to the mailing list.
Pithos, plural pithoi, is the Greek name for a large storage container. The term in English is applied to those containers used among the civilizations that bordered the Mediterranean Sea in the Neolithic, the Bronze Age and the succeeding Iron Age. Pithoi had been used for bulk storage, primarily for fluids and grains; they were the equivalent of the drums, barrels and casks of recent times.
There are many Pithoi found on archaeological sites in Crete. These huge pots are sometimes as tall as six foot and used to store, as well as export such commodities as olive oil, wine and other such items. Sometimes they have been found complete like those discovered at the Palace of Knossos and Malia Palace.
On a recent family holiday in Crete, we were privileged to see several wonderful collections of antique pithoi. There are a few potteries still making these impressive pots.
Impressive too are the artisan jugs and vessels. These were in a gem of a local village museum showing workaday objects in their original context
Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy
Exciting to see that a Richard Diebenkorn exhibition opens at the Royal Academy in mid March.
Regarded as one of the most important post-war artists in America, Diebenkorn surprisingly does not have the same levels of public recognition in the UK. This is the first major exhibition of his work here for over 20 years. There is a useful summing up of his work on the RA website, particularly so for those new to Diebenkorn, and there are many of the. Very much a painters' painter, this show should see a deserved surge in appreciation of a very important artist.
Richard Diebenkorn is in The Sackler Wing at the RA from 14 March — 7 June 2015.
Managed to catch up with the new film Hockney, Randall Wright’s unashamedly affectionate portrait of the now, unbelievably Grand Old Man of British Art. From his earliest drawings and paintings, through his experiments with theatre, photography and iPad imagery, Hockney remains enthusiastic about finding new ways of looking, constantly challenging viewers to broaden their horizons, to see beyond the frame. And all he does is always underpinned by the need and the ability to draw. If only that philosophy was still uppermost in British Art Schools.
After healthy sales at my last open house exhibition, it was pleasing to clear my shelves and have space for new pots. I have felt inspired to try a slightly new direction. Essentially still "making" in my usual way but now adding colour as a slip, which is then bisque fired and decorated with a further very thin slip in a freeform way with a second firing to stoneware. The initial results are encouraging and give the pots a painterly quality with the initial reaction to this new departure for me, very positive. It's still early days but as I develop the approach I hope it will give further freedom to my work.
I realised a long cherished ambition in the summer, when finally we managed a visit to Cezanne's studio in Aix-en-Provence. And it had been worth waiting for. Managing to arrive early in the morning before the arrival of the tour parties, we were able to enjoy the very special atmosphere of the studio where the majority of his late masterpieces were created, largely as he had left it.
Important to book tickets beforehand which can be done online at the studio website with the rider that the tickets themselves have to be collected beforehand at the Tourist Office in Aix.
The Friday evening private view before my annual Open House weekend coincided with a spell of good weather this year and produced a very good turnout. There were 72 pots on show, my cumulative production for the year. On the night, 14 sold with 20 further sales over the weekend, and further specific commissions for particular pots. What is particularly gratifying, was that a number of sales were to existing clients who wished to add to their collection.
Working solitarily in a studio has its advantages, but having the chance to experience informed reaction to your work is always very valuable to an artist. Thanks as ever to my regular clients, supporters and friends, whose support is what makes it all worthwhile. And to those who weren't able to make it, I have cleared my studio shelves and am inspired to produce new and satisfying shapes in the coming months. If at any time you would like to see the new work, drop me an email and with a little notice, a visit can be arranged.