Twelve Little Birds

And three parrots. Our window this month at the Rowley Gallery is home to a diverse flock of brightly coloured miniature tropical birds. It’s an aviary of twelve unique life-size watercolour paintings. The parrots are screen prints. And they are all by Fanny Shorter, whose work we have been lucky enough to show for the past ten years now, during which time she has developed from a printmaker of exquisite little birds and fishes into an internationally renowned textile designer. So it was a great pleasure to ask her to make twelve little paintings, just for a change. Read more

Frames of reference

Comfrey & Coggeshall Grange Barn

The plan was to take a circular walk from Kelvedon to Coggeshall and back again via Feering through gentle Essex farming countryside. That was the promise of the guidebook, Walks In The Country Near London, but it had slept on our bookshelf since 2003 and it needed waking up. Or perhaps it’s fairer to say we needed waking up, because it seemed like we stumbled and fell at the first hurdle. Read more

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Never Failed Me Yet

A 12-hour continuous performance of Gavin Bryars’ iconic piece Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet at London’s Tate Modern. Produced by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the event brought together musicians from the Academy, Southbank Sinfonia and the Gavin Bryars Ensemble who performed throughout the night alongside people with experience of homelessness.

The performance was preceded by more than 50 hours of music making workshops at two day centres for homeless people in London.

‘None of us were homeless last night. Instead we were welcomed and royally entertained as special guests of one of the city’s most glamorous and sophisticated palaces of art!’ Gerry Salmon, participant from The Connection at St Martin’s.

‘Last hour spellbinding, moving, uplifting.’ @domcavendish (Theatre Critic, The Telegraph)

It was outstanding and, in its own way, astounding. And quite, quite beautiful’ The Afterword

Tate Modern / Academy of St Martin in the Fields

Frames of reference

Le Chêne Vert

This little painting hung on the wall of our house in Calvi. It looked like the campanile of one of the churches we visited yesterday, perhaps in Calenzana or maybe Montemaggiore.

The Genoese… besides tending their gardens, they built churches, so many over the centuries… that the region was called ‘holy Balagne’; today their bell towers charmingly punctuate the landscape like a series of mild exclamation marks.

Corsica: Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

But when I took it down I found Église d’Avapessa handwritten on the back. Read more

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La Balagne

For one week in May this was our bedroom window, with its view of the Golfe de Calvi and the mountains beyond, with Monte Grosso 1,938 metres and Monte Padro 2,393 metres, two of the highest in Corsica. Every morning their silhouette was gradually illuminated as the sun rose behind them, projecting fast-moving cloud shadows onto their faces, with every morning a different view. Read more

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Which Way Up

For John McLean, 1939-2019.

Sadly I’m not allowed to post this video on our blog, but please watch it here.

John McLean is a Scottish abstract painter with work in some of the world’s great public art collections. In 2013 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This feature-length documentary charts McLean’s struggle to carry on working as the disease takes hold. He proves to be an engaging, humorous and always fascinating companion as he allows us access to the most private of spaces; the artist’s studio. Parkinson’s gradually locks him into disability but he heroically and resolutely refuses to give up on his paintings.

“If you walk down the street with him he’ll notice some small architectural detail really high up quite obscure, and a little detail on a chocolate biscuit, the concaveness of the centre of it, which seems quite minor at the time, but it just shows this exploration into things visual and shapes, it’s all comical quite often and witty but then also deeply like kind of comes from being intrigued by life.”

Jack Fawdrey, studio assistant

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Jonathan Christie: Paintings & Drawings

This is a rare opportunity to see several pictures by Jonathan Christie gathered together in one place; it’s his first solo exhibition anywhere and we’re honoured to host it in our window throughout June. Paintings and drawings inspired by favourite places and favourite artists, from Venice to St Ives via Ben Nicholson and Eric Ravilious and all stations to Alfred Wallis. Read more

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Hepworth | Nicholson

Another beautiful Ben Nicholson exhibition, this one shared with Barbara Hepworth and framed within the elegant rooms of Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert in Bury Street, St James’s, until 12th July.

‘Barbara Hepworth | Ben Nicholson: Sculpture and Painting in the 1930s’ brings together over thirty works created by two of the most influential artists of the Twentieth Century. As the first ever loan exhibition to focus solely on this pivotal period in their careers, co-curated by their granddaughter Sophie Bowness and Professor Christopher Green of the Courtauld Institute, it presents sculpture, paintings and works on paper produced during this formative decade. The show contains work borrowed from major private and public collections, including Abbot Hall Art Gallery, the Courtauld Gallery, the Pier Arts Centre, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the National Galleries of Scotland, and will feature rarely seen works from the artists’ family collections, as well as archival material from the Hepworth Estate. Read more

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Delicious Solitude

This little booklet is no bigger than a postcard. It’s a pocket book. It was published in 1989 for a joint exhibition of drawings by John Hubbard and photographs by Paul Joyce at the Royal Festival Hall. The exhibition toured to other venues, including Warwick Arts Centre. I didn’t see the exhibition but fortunately I found this book, another discovery in the treasure house that was Notting Hill Books. For many years its tiny reproductions were my only knowledge of John Hubbard’s charcoal drawings, until I saw his exhibition at Kew Gardens in 2006, Spirit of Trees, which included some of the drawings reproduced here. I found this book again today and felt moved to share its pages. Read more

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Rivers & Tides

I was just told about this film. I’d not seen it before. Why had I never heard about it? It is wonderful. It was made in 2000 but it still feels fresh and full of magic.

Landscape sculptor Andy Goldsworthy is renowned throughout the world for his work in ice, stone, leaves, wood. His own remarkable still photographs are Goldsworthy’s way of talking about his often ephemeral works, of fixing them in time… Now with this deeply moving film, shot in four countries and across four seasons, and the first major film he has allowed to be made, the elusive element of time adheres to his sculpture.

Director Thomas Riedelsheimer worked with Andy Goldsworthy for over a year to shoot this film. What Riedelsheimer found was a profound sense of breathless discovery and uncertainty in Goldsworthy’s work, in contrast to the stability of conventional sculpture. There is risk in everything that Goldsworthy does. He takes his fragile work – and it can be as fragile in stone as in ice or twigs – right to the edge of its collapse, a very beautiful balance and a very dramatic edge within the film. The film captures the essential unpredictability of working with rivers and with tides, feels into a sense of liquidity in stone, travels with Goldsworthy underneath the skin of the earth and reveals colour and energy flowing through all things.

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