Sunday, 26 May 2013

Inky Leaves at the Espacio Gallery - Preview Night

So it was the opening night of 'Natural Selection' at the Espacio Gallery on Bethnal Green Road on Friday night and it was an absolute blast! It was super seeing all the other artists work and to meet my friends. I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me, including you. Without the encouragement of my readers and followers this exhibition might not have happened.

The Botanical Paintings all in a Row
Sally was everyone's favourite - she is such a poser!
There was a lot of excellent work on the walls in this show, so do pop in if you can. I am invigilating the space a couple of times during the fortnight, so drop me an email if you want to meet me in the gallery. My favourite work was by Kit Boyd who had some really beautiful etchings on show. Apparently he also has a solo show from 31st May at the Barbican Library so I might have to pop in and see that. It was his little creatures in seed pods against a London skyline that I liked so much, they had a wonderful nurturing quality to them.

I also liked Carlos Martybn Burgos' work. He works in tea, so naturally a favourite! I very much liked Tania Beaumont's work - she had several beautiful  prints on display and a couple of really seductively made three dimensional canvases which had a Georgia O'Keeffe feel to them. Kirsty O'Leary had some super graphite pieces on show. She interestingly draws on plaster which actually gives the graphite a super smooth quality to it - such a great idea! I think you guys will like her work as she does a lot of beautiful trees. 

Pod by Richard Rogan Brown
The incredible work by Richard Rogan Brown

Lastly incredibly detailed work by paper artist Richard Rogan Brown is on show too. I have never seen anything like it. I am impressed that someone can work both two and three dimensionally in one piece

Interviewing Inky Leaves at the Espacio Gallery
This took me by surprise - there was a camera crew there and they came over to my corner for an interview.
Inky Leaves at Espacio Gallery
Team Monthope Road (my street) came to support me on the night. I am so lucky to have such great friends
Espacio Gallery
A view of the upstairs portion of the gallery space - a busy night!
Putting on the Inky Leaves stickers onto my prints - my step dad made these for me and it was brilliant getting them on the night.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'

We had a lovely delivery in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art this week - six bottles of beer, filled with water and each holding one cut Old English Florists’ Tulip. Naturally, these are no ordinary Tulips - they are very special varieties which had come all the way from Wakefields. Dating from 1836, the Wakefield andNorth of England Tulip Society is a long established floral society with a tradition of growing English Florists' Tulips and today it is the only society left specialising in Tulips. They have an Annual Show which is held in the Wakefield area each year. This is open to the public and I really want to go!
Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'
Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'
English Florists' Tulips had their peak of popularity in the early 19th Century, with many florist societies growing the Tulip and other florist's flowers such as Carnations, Anemones and the Auriculas. The English Florists' Tulip has to conform to certain strict standards, particularly in having a shape like half a hollow ball, and having a base colour cleanly white or yellow, on top of which the darker colour is overlaid. The attractive markings on some of the flowers arise when their bulbs are infected with Tulip Breaking Virus. The markings have been known about since the days of 'Tulipomania' in the 17th Century, but it wasn't until the 1930s when Tulip Breaking Virus was discovered to be the cause. The flowers do not seem to suffer from the infection (one of the oldest cultivars known is Habit de Noce (Wedding Coat), dating from the 1790s, and it is still grown by society members today). 

Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'
Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'
Two of the six bottles in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art each had a very special Tulip in – Tulipa ‘Rory McEwen’, named after the man himself! They were so uttlery beautiful. You can really feel their rarity - they are like diamonds in a botanical world. I just had to take a photograph, complete with the traditional beer bottles in the background, which Wakefields traditionally exhibit their Tulips at shows.

Web Cow Girl has lots of images from one of the shows if you are interested...

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Coffea arabica - a painting still very much in progress!

Coffea arabica - a work still very much in progress!
A great day in the studio today - even if I say so myself! I was really happy at the board and got totally lost in the leaves. It felt great. I haven't posted a picture of the entire painting for you all for a while - I kept doing 'cropped' and 'crazy angled' shots to try to keep you on the edges of your seats! But I have had such a good day and feel so positive I thought 'what the heck?' ... So here she is! 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Anne Middleton Gates of Paradise - Rebecca Hossack Gallery

2nd May - 1st June 2013

This exhibition shows the incredible and sublime paintings of Anne Middleton. It’s apparently taken her 3 years to create this beautiful body of work. The show marks a major development in her investigation into the natural form - her paintings continue to push the boundaries of botanical art and photorealism. I hope to go to the exhibition tomorrow... will keep you posted, but if you are in London for Rory McEwen I think it's worth the trip into town to see this show too.

Sardine. The Burial of Winter, 2013 by Anne Middleton
Sardine. The Burial of Winter, 2013 Oil on Belgian linen 96 x 126cm

Red Tulip; the day of death, 2012 by Anne Middleton

Red Tulip; the day of death, 2012 Oil on Belgian linen 96 x 126cm

14th May 2013

Popped over this morning to see the work. Stunning pictures, but I have to say they weren't my cup of tea. I was surprised at how vanished they were and I didn't like the contrast of the shine with the mattness of the canvas behind - but that's my personal take on the works. I have to say the strawberries were outstandingly good and it is very clever how Middleton gives such a 'dewy' effect on the subjects. My favourite were the fish - they had so many amazing colours in them - Middleton had captured the rainbows in the silver scales superbly. I also think that I may have been a bit spoilt by seeing Rory McEwen's work this week, so all plant matter is inadvertently compared to his in my silly brain. Can't help it, the thought process goes something like this:  'fish = good, plants = not as good as Rory's' - how ridiculous is that?!

Furthermore, the trouble is that it's got me doing it with my own work now too and I am beginning to feel daunted when looking at my paintings and slightly overly critical. I guess this happens to a lot of artists some of the time and I presume that it's good character building stuff - strengthening your confidence as an artist, allowing yourself to recognise how debilitating it can be for the creative process when focussing too much on the end result. There is also the added bonus though that self critiquing your work does force you to stop  and ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and what it is you are hoping to achieve. I personally think it is good to stop now and then and align yourself with whatever it is that speaks to you so that your work has integrity. Things change, we change. 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Botanical Illustration in East London

A day off from work on Friday meant that I could sit at the big drawing board and paint my big coffee plant. It was slow going though, as I am a bit tired after helping to install the Rory McEwen show. On top of that I feel a bit daunted painting all these leaves after seeing Mr. McEwen's work! Still, I soldiered on and am glad I did.  Progress in small steps is still progress and I am glad I have seen Rory's work, as it's given me a new perspective on how to achieve certain textures and hues with a brush.  I do wish it was vellum I was painting on though rather than this quite 'spongey' Saunders Waterford (I just can't get the detail on this paper). I wonder how much piece of A0 vellum would cost, if indeed you could ever go that big...?! I am not sure calves can be that big. 

Coffee Plant Painting

So I did some work on the leaves in the middle this time, one just left of the darkest one, and the two lighter ones above it. I am still stunned by how much pink I am getting through with this piece. It's amazing how much there is in this green. 

Caroline, the East London Coffee Plant, is doing amazingly well. She loves her new abode. There's lots of light for her here and she's put on another two sets of leaves. I think she'll need a trim soon. I am doing my best to 'bonsai' her so she remains portable. She'll be 10 next year but you wouldn't think it looking at her size. 

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Exhibitions Galore

Rory McEwen's Tulips in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, Kew

Rory McEwen The Colours of Reality is now open until 22 September 2013 at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical ArtKew Gardens. It was my day off of work on Friday so I didn't get to see the final bits that needed to be done when I finished on Wednesday. It was really refreshing and exhilarating coming in this morning to see it all finished, polished and ready. 

Longer version of the Rory film is here:

The Telegraph have published an article on the show today in their Saturday paper if you are interested and there is a lovely slideshow on their website.

Whilst thinking about the Rory McEwen show I thought it a good idea to visit The Whitechapel Gallery to see their Karl Blossfeldt exhibition yesterday. Rory McEwen was a big fan of Blossfeldt's work and held a number of 'Homage to Karl Blossfeldt' exhibitions during his lifetime. 

I thought that the Whitechapel show was really well curated. The spaces lent themselves to Blossefeldt's work. The sharp edges of the false walls and the industrial grey backdrop contrasted, and at times complimented,  the different shapes, textures and hues found in all of his photographs. Everything in the exhibition was arranged sensitively and the photographs were grouped together with an impeccable about of consideration and thought. Seeing Karl's original work in the flesh like this was extraordinary and I can see why Rory was so inspired. The amount of detail that Blossfeldt managed to capture is mesmerising - I felt like an insect. This exhibition exposes plants and their secret world. No frond is left unfurled and no hair is left tucked away. Everything is examined and elegantly composed.

Inside the Karl Blossfeldt exhibition, The Whitechapel Gallery
Inside the Karl Blossfeldt exhibition, The Whitechapel Gallery