Category: Front Page

Claire Partington – Exhibition
A Cautionary Tale – 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 “RePortrait at Nottingham Castle
27th May – 10th September”

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 “Juliette Clovis – Solo Show
Mondapart Gallery, Paris”

Max Naylor
At the Prema Gallery, Uley
31 Oct – 11 Dec

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Max Naylor is an artist currently based in Bristol. Born in Cheltenham, raised in Cornwall and having spent time exploring Berlin, Delhi and London, a sense of place is deeply rooted in his practice.

His recent works warp the conventions of landscape painting, at times playing within the confines of perspective and scale and at others rejecting these notions completely. Somewhere between drawing and painting, his distinctive mark making approach combines the figurative with the abstract evoking a sense of mystery.

Familiar yet exotic, these mindscapes have as much to do with the inner subconscious realm as they do the external world.

Max recently completed a postgraduate course at the Royal Drawing School, he has exhibited widely in the UK and in 2016 won the Jackson’s Art Prize.
Continue reading “Max Naylor
At the Prema Gallery, Uley
31 Oct – 11 Dec”

“Primordial Soup”
at the James Freeman Gallery
Carolein Smit, Chris Berens, James Mortimer, and Sam Branton
9th September to 8th October

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Opening Reception:
Friday 9 September, 6:30 – 8:30PM

Trusting instinct over reason is rather frowned on nowadays, the implication being that it is a lack of discipline to be tamed. But for many artists, unfettered magical thinking sits at the core of their artistic practice, allowing them to tap into hidden ideas and give some shape to things that don’t make sense. In ‘Primordial Soup’, we present four artists who each use this approach as a key part of their work: Carolein Smit, Chris Berens, James Mortimer and Sam Branton.
Continue reading ““Primordial Soup”
at the James Freeman Gallery
Carolein Smit, Chris Berens, James Mortimer, and Sam Branton
9th September to 8th October”

In Search of an Author by Lex Thomas
An Art Circus Book

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In Search of an Author is a collection of 62 fluidly drawn ink studies, individual drawings in their own right, but interlinked by the subject of belief and the stories we tell ourselves. Artist Lex Thomas examines unexplained natural phenomena such as the supernatural and paranormal as well as magic, cults and UFO religions. The effect is a non-textual, fragmentary narrative echoing the idea that ‘truth is in the eye of the beholder’. The title acknowledges the playwright Pirandello, credited with breaking through the ‘fourth wall’ with his creation of Mirror Theatre.

In Search of an Arthur is currently available at BookArtBookShop, ShoreditchGosh! London or direct from Lex Thomas’ Website.

Continue reading “In Search of an Author by Lex Thomas
An Art Circus Book”

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 “Elizabeth Price’s A Restoration
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford”

Island Hopping
The 2016 Setouchi Triennale

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From this week onwards a small cluster of islands in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea will host its third international art festival. The 2016 Setouchi Triennale will run for a total of 108 days, and is expected to receive upwards of a million visitors, along with over one hundred new artworks joining the permanent installations already dotted across the archipelago.

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Twelve islands in total will be taking part, along with Uno Port on mainland Honshu and the town of Takamatsu (known by fans of Haruki Murakami as the setting of Kafka on the Shore) on nearby Shikoku. This year’s thematic focus looks both inward and outward: paying particular attention to local Setouchi cuisine and traditions alongside ‘cultural exchange among Asian countries that are connected by the sea. Continue reading “Island Hopping
The 2016 Setouchi Triennale”