Art Circus Spotlight
‘Remembering the Mountains’ by Ester Svensson

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‘Remembering the Mountains’, as the name implies, is about remembering a landscape. Remembering, longing for something which may no longer exist. Much of my work takes personal experiences as a starting point, and so do these pieces. My parents are Swedish, but i grew up in Pakistan. I went to boarding school in Murree, at the foothills of the Himalayas, surrounded by mountains. In the summers, we often went walking in Northern Pakistan, getting much closer to them – the Himalayan, Karakorum, and Hindu Kush ranges. I left Pakistan when i was 19, and since then i don’t see many mountains. But when i think of my childhood, they are always there. Much has changed since then, of course. The mountains i have in my memory have changed – glaciers melting, new roads, less forest, more houses. Other things have also changed – greater political and societal unrest, drones and terrorism, water shortages and floods, to name a few.

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First, i made the mountains in clay, and then made a mould from them. Then we put the moulds in a kiln, and the RCA glass technician Anthony Harris filled them up with molten glass. Since they are big and solid, we had to wait for one and a half weeks until we could take them out of the kiln, and crack open the moulds. I usually work in ceramics, but i made these in cast glass; clay was too solid and physical. Glass seemed more transient, translucent, intangible – like memories.

See more work by Ester Svensson

Art Circus Spotlight
‘Arab Autumn 2011’ by Agnieszka Kolek

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The idea for the series of three photographs “Arab Autumn 2011” has been growing in me since my involvement in the work of One Law for All and Passion for Freedom London Art Festival. I was following the events in the Middle East and what struck me the most was the sheer enthusiasm on the side of Western media and commentators. It all looked so simple. The headlines claiming that internet through Twitter and Facebook are bringing freedom and democracy to all the countries involved in political unrest. I was thrilled too, yet I could not believe the headlines. The news stories started to look more like mere fantasies than actual events. Maryam Namazie, the activist leading the work of One Law for All (an organization campaigning against the Sharia courts operating in Great Britain) was receiving numerous e-mails from Egypt and Tunisia in particular telling the other side of the story. The persecution of secularists and atheists, the pressure to introduce Sharia law for all citizens whether they are believers or not.

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I started to think how does it feel to lose your own freedom, how does it feel when you are forced to slowly submit yourself to that power? The images started to play in my mind. The final result come to me in Madrid. Only after seeing the result I have noticed that the body posture changes dramatically with every step of submission. “She is not the same, she’s broken”.

See more work by Agnieszka Kolek

The Art Circus Looks At – The Portrait

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Having a portrait painted was once a luxury afforded to the elite. The wealthier and more powerful the subject, the larger the painting and the rarer the colours used. Dressed in fancy attire and shown amongst their wealth, their property or their land, this was the way the subject would be remembered through history – dictated by themselves with very little evidence to contradict.

With the introduction of photography and the belief that it would replace drawing and painting, some portrait painters switched to photography whilst others became obsessed with capturing the sitter. Rather than having a paying sitter, the artist would use family, friends, muses, lovers and quite often, the artist themselves. To stand out, many artists established a niche behind their practice whether the style and medium of the work or type of sitters from whom they took their inspiration. Continue reading “The Art Circus Looks At – The Portrait”

Q&A with Eleanor Watson

Eleanor1Eleanor Watson graduated from Wimbledon College of Art in 2012 with a BA in painting.

You’ve said ‘The absence of the inhabitants is important because it allows for the room and its contents to describe a story’. Do you feel it would be possible to create stories with the absence of a room and contents with only people remaining?

Yes absolutely, and that is exactly what my boyfriend paints. I have been more interested in the distortion of a narrative, or of a potential narrative, which is intrinsic to an empty room. Whether the drama has already taken place or perhaps they are a set for a dreamed life. I have more recently been playing with images with people, but they are more like the figures of Bonnard; handled in the same manner as the rest of the image. But it is early days for them. Continue reading “Q&A with Eleanor Watson”

Art Circus Spotlight
‘Interior’, ‘Black Grid’ and ‘Praxis’ by Ed Smith

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My prime interest is in spatial configurations of pure form and colour. To heighten this, I employ a rigorous hard-edge geometry, eliminating any obvious signs of brushwork, while favouring an extended family of hues that includes cerulean blue, prism violet, eau-de-nil, pinks, teal and, above all, black and white.

There are two distinct types of work – the static or “inclusive” and the “dynamic”.

The painting “Interior” is one of the former, an enclosed space in which the forms are self-referential, locking into each other in ways that raise the question of exactly what is interior and what is exterior, and whether it is in fact no more than just an arrangement of form and colour where the title is, in fact, misleading. By contrast my “black” paintings, a short series of four (an example being “Praxis”, shown below right), are “dynamic” in that the forms are not bound by the picture frame, but by using strong diagonals and large partial forms, have the capability of continuing virtually to infinity in some black void.

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“Black Grid” (shown above left) lies somewhere between the two – an hommage to Mondrian, perhaps, but using my palette and the black background, the white grid also has the potential to extend beyond the frame, while the blocks of purple, teal and white are locked into their position between the verticals and horizontals, static, immovable, unable to shift even a fraction without destroying the balance of the composition.

I work entirely in acrylic on canvas, most paintings to date being no larger than 76 x 102cm to keep a sense of unity, but with a view to increasing the scale – and the palette – in the near future.

Ed Smith’s paintings are exhibited at Bistro 51, which is shared between 51 Buckingham Gate and adjacent Crowne Plaza St James, until the end of January. A viewing can be organized if visitors ask at the concierge desk.