Category Archives: Museums and Galleries

A Cautionary Tale
Claire Partington’s Solo Show
at the James Freeman Gallery

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A Cautionary Tale is Claire Partington’s first solo exhibition at the James Freeman Gallery. Part fairy tale, part social commentary, part art-historical treasure trove, the show exhibits a wide collection of her ceramic figures together with a series of plaques and smaller precious works.

Claire Partington is an artist who revels in historical influences. After graduating from Central Saint Martins in 1995, she went on to work at a number of museums, most notably the V&A. In A Cautionary Tale we see Golden-age Spanish portraiture, eighteenth-century salt glaze bears, Renaissance madonnas and medieval pilgrim badges. We previewed some of the pieces ahead of the opening on the 7th September.

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Two of the pieces that stand out (pictured above) are the devotional plaques inspired by the works of the fifteenth-century Italian sculptor, Luca Della Robbia. A single mother cradles her infant; she wears her engagement ring around her neck. On the right, a bull terrier, garlanded with fruits, standing guard. The borders have been decorated with apples, lemons, and pears which would feature in Robbia’s work, but in this case they remind us of Eve and the Garden of Eden as well as the apple which is present in pictures of the Madonna and infant Jesus as a sign of redemption, and as a warning against sin and temptation.

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Folklore and fairy tales are an important influence on her work, both for their vivid imagery and for how the narratives mutate over the years and in different contexts. Some works make direct references such as that of a Flemish saint holding a silver nutmeg and a golden pear in allusion to the Tudor nursery rhyme. Other sculptures are zoomorphic reflecting fairy-tale characters. On the above right, a super-gold Goldilocks is seen engaged in a private moment with a towering bear which appears to be dripping in maple syrup. Goldilocks lightly places her palm on top of the bear’s paw, gently pushing away his grizzly advances.

Alongside these are figures that seem to have emerged from an unspecified history; characters surrounded by animal friends drawn from a medieval master’s symbolic lexicon. A dandy king with a white hart standing to attention (above left) – is this Richard II? And in the middle, A matron, making her entrance. Small colourful birds hold up her hair as she holds her squirrel monkey, on a small gold chain. Her outfit – part armour and part tapestry, displaying intricate patterns.

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Underpinning all of Claire’s work is a social commentary, particularly about women, and particularly about power. All Claire’s women have attitude; these are women who use their aesthetic presence to project strength and power more than to attract. Contrast this with her dandified male figure counterparts who seem beholden to whimsy. In part, this is a conscious redressing of the gender motifs that have prevailed unquestioned for centuries in folklore and aesthetics. But it is also a means of re-evaluating the beautiful object – that beauty can be far more complex and far more mischievous than it may at first appear.

A Cautionary Tale is on show at the James Freeman Gallery from the 7th to 30th September, 2017

Read our previous Q&A with Claire Partington.

RePortrait at Nottingham Castle
27th May – 10th September

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Reportrait presents thirteen artists who have reimagined historical sources, altered or disrupted typical notions of how the portrait is defined, or used an image or reproduction as a starting point to create something new.

Consisting of new commissions made in direct response to Nottingham City Museums & Galleries collections, alongside loans, and works straight from the artist’s studios, the exhibition showcases painting, photography, installation, digital art, sculpture, video and drawing, many of which have never been seen in public before.

Philip Gurrey, Maisie Broadhead, Glenn Brown, Sasha Bowles, Paul Stephenson, Matthieu Leger, Annie Kevans, Antony Micallef, Jasleen Kaur, Samin Ahmadzadeh, Julie Cockburn, James E Smith and Jake Wood-Evans Continue reading

Juliette Clovis – Solo Show
Mondapart Gallery, Paris

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As a result of her past 12 years of reflection and creation, Juliette Clovis invites us for the first time to enter the jungle of her different personalities, techniques and questionings. About forty new artworks will be presented, most part of them are her last porcelain sculptures, a very new series of drawings, an installation entitled Chaos and some cutting artworks on plexiglass as we already know.
Juliette Clovis is an emergent French contemporary artist. Her plastic work is organized around 3 big topics that are the links between human and nature, the opposition between life and death and the dialogue between tradition and modernity. Continue reading

Elizabeth Price’s A Restoration
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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As a fresh graduate from The Ruskin School of Art in 1998, Elizabeth Price worked for a year in the Bodleian Library’s underground stacks. She remembers the damp, the haphazard stacking of books, the way the floors got smaller as they went further and further down beneath the cobbles of Broad Street. A book could be declared lost for twenty five years and turn up in a pile a few centimetres away from its original place. In the stacks books were arranged by size rather than subject, and Price would spend most of her shift reading books in unexpected succession.

This sense of the subterranean, along with the archival practices of collecting, collating and cataloguing, are key components of Price’s new video installation A Restoration.

After winning the Contemporary Art Society Award in 2013, Price received a commission to make an artwork in response to the collections and archives of the Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean Museums in Oxford. During the course of her research, Price became particularly interested in the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. After holding the position of Keeper of the Ashmolean, Evans achieved fame for the excavation of the Cretian palace of Knossos at the turn of the 20th century. He set about restoring the site with what Price calls ‘a kind of energy that is unreserved and febrile and exciting’, adding concrete pillars and filling in frescos with an ‘extraodinary’ creative license. Continue reading

‘Into the Night’ by Christopher Gee
On Show At The James Freeman Gallery

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23rd April – 9th May, 2015

Christopher Gee’s paintings draws the viewer in with their intimate scale, dusky colours and naive, painterly charm. In these eerie, spectral landscapes we see eclipses and comets wiz by; abandoned churches and glowing towers left as reminders; lone gaunt figures looking back knowingly; and midnight familiars, appearing and disappearing into the blackness. The viewer has the feeling of rummaging through a collection of old photographs, inspecting the images and trying to piece together what ominous events may have taken place.

‘Into The Night’ is on show at the James Freeman Gallery until the 9th May, 2015 and you can find out more about Christopher Gee in our Q&A.

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Art Circus Show
‘The Last Man’ Views From The Gallery

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Here are some gallery shots of The Last Man exhibition at the James Freeman Gallery, along with some photos of the opening night. We had a great evening and would like to thank James Freeman, the artists involved and to everyone who came down. The show is on until the 2nd August 2014, so a few more weeks to check it out. Continue reading

‘The Last Man’
An Art Circus Curated Show
In Collaboration with the James Freeman Gallery

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4th July – 2nd August 2014

Opening Reception:
Thursday 3 July, 6:30 – 8:30

The Art Circus is very pleased to announce our first curated group show in collaboration with the James freeman Gallery. Artists on show will include Vasilis Avramidis, Christopher Gee, Miguel Laino, Hyunjeong Lim, Mackie, Tom Shedden, Eleanor Watson.

Change is one of the few certainties in life. After death and taxes, the only thing we can be sure of is that nothing stays the same. As such, it begs the question: what happens when we’re no longer around?

Taking Mary Shelley’s apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826) as its inspiration, this show explores the mysterious absence of humankind from the spaces they once inhabited. The ecological concerns of Shelley’s novel bring to mind: if mankind disappeared, would the natural world be free to reclaim what belonged to it? Visitors thereby get to take the place of Verney, The Last Man, in becoming the sole observer of an eerie lost world.

Seven painters come together to create this atmospheric exhibition. The unnerving images of Christopher Gee and Miguel Laino create a haunting, ominous presence, as if even before the disappearance there were clues, portents and signs. The paintings of Eleanor Watson and Mackie depict abandoned landscapes and structures like solitary markers, with empty rooms seen through external walls creating a sense of dereliction. In Vasilis Avramidis’s luscious works, green mossy hills emerge in the black of night from a subterraneous realm and morph into arms, fingers and heads. The Bosch-like theme is continued in Hyunjeong Lim’s drawings of twisted landscapes that depict a contemporary Golgotha through a cacophony of comic-book images. It is left to Tom Shedden’s paintings of an Elysian future to suggest a counterbalance of harmony with the new elements. Continue reading

‘Volkan Aslan: A Day Not Yet Lived’ at Pi Artworks, London

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6th Jun – 5th Jul 2014

A Day Not Yet Lived, is Volkan Aslan’s inaugural solo exhibition at Pi Artwork, London. For the exhibition, Aslan will create an ambitious site-specific installation that will act as an unconventional platform for his well-known broken figurine series. A body of work that deals with subjects that the artist has been interested in exploring since his childhood, and that was first exhibited as part of his solo exhibition at ARTER / Space for art, Istanbul, Turkey.

Driven by nostalgia for his teenage years, the artist regularly sources and collects ceramic ornaments that remind him of the statuettes that where prominent in the homes of the village where he grew up. The artist gives new meaning to these found figures by shattering them, compiling the broken pieces, and then reconstructing them into a series of hybrid configurations. By amalgamating parts from various human and animal statues, Aslan creates nameless characters with jarring characteristics: a roaring lion’s head atop the body of an exotic parakeet or a braying stag atop a slender female flower picker. The artist uses this procedural template of breaking and fixing as the mechanism for the creation of new and unexpected beings.

For A Day Not Yet Lived, the artist has produced creatures that appear to be straight out of folk legends or mythology, yet backstories for these figures do not actually exist. They are brought into existence with no scripted journey and the artist deliberately leaves the viewer to shape their stories and interact with them free from judging eyes and minds.

For more info, please visit Pi Artworks.

Sarah Ball’s Damaged Humans
At The Coningsby Callery, London

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27 May – 7 June

The work explores the definition of its own title and asks the viewer to contemplate the crimes or woes of each subject. The term, ‘damage’ can reach an understanding that in fact all humans experience damage and that this pain, woe, experience or ailment can be shown with beauty through facial expression. Ball asks not only to see the subject’s ‘damage’ but to interpret the concept of ‘Damage’ and in some cases let the portraits reflect the suffering or injustice many have endured. Continue reading

‘Diamond Bullet’ at the James Freeman Gallery, London

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30th April – 31st May 2014

”The mind is a jungle. Kurtz knew it; most artists do too. Set off in exploration, and very soon you find yourself consumed by the penumbra, scrambling about to find something familiar to cling onto. Trying to get to grips with such an environment is no small task, and in Diamond Bullet we are pleased to bring together three British artists who use their painting to step up to that challenge: Simon Burton, Orlanda Broom (shown top), and Irene Godfrey (shown just above).”